Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cruising the Web

Paul Ryan dares Trump to free him from the onerous burden of being the chairman of the Republican National Convention by offering to step down if Trump asks him to. Don't you think that Paul Ryan would love to hand over that gavel which must seem like a poisoned chalice at this point.

William Murchison summarizes
the Ryan-Trump imbroglio and notes that all Ryan had said that he wasn't ready to support Trump yet, not that he was team #NeverTrump.
So first comes a friendly little hint that at Camp Trump, the most valued skill is bootlicking. Then saliva suddenly covers the speaker’s credentials for putting together a disciplined conservative program aimed at tackling the nation’s assorted problems. Ryan’s lively and still-developing agenda, offered on behalf of and in cooperation with the Republican House majority, encompasses significant reform of the tax structure; reduction of federal regulation; less federal tinkering with health care; and pro-growth policies based on free-market principles.

Adding injury to insult, the political wizard Sarah Palin says she’s going to rid the political world of Ryan and Ryan-ism; hence her pledge to help defeat the speaker’s re-election bid.
Yeah, how did that work out for her chosen candidate in Alaska's senatorial race against Lisa Murkowski. Palin might have grabbed onto Trump's campaign to attempt to make herself politically relevant again, but I think that train has left the station. Now she's dedicating herself to defeating Ryan by supporting his opponent in the GOP primary. That seems unlikely in a Wisconsin district that seems to really likes Paul Ryan and in which Trump didn't fare all that well in the Wisconsin GOP primary within Ryan's district.

Like Murchison, I'd rather stick with Ryan over Trump.
The Trump camp can’t stand to see the Master trumped by anyone: perhaps least of all by a member of that political elite so rousingly repudiated in the primaries. It’s Trump’s party now. So goes the apparent theory. You over there — Ryan, or whatever your name is. When the boss says jump, jump!

“Upon what meat,” many might inquire at this point, “doth this our Caesar feed that he is grown so great?” And what are the implications? The reality of Trump’s narrow-based electoral triumph can’t be argued. He won — or, to speak more exactly, is winning. And he won’t get over it: not until Hillary Clinton cleans his plow in November and proceeds to act as though Donald J. Trump never existed. Many Republicans, by that time, will wish he never had.

No one is entitled to predict the course of the Republican Party in a highly predictable post-Trump era. There may not be much of the party left. Or, alternatively, there may be enough that it can be patted back into hopeful shape by the likes of Paul Ryan — assuming the speaker holds off the yowling Palin-ite hordes. After a sharp jaunt to the left and an unpleasant experience with the command-and-control lefties who set Democratic policy, the country might be ready for renewal in the Ryan manner: less Washington, D.C.; more state capital and city hall; more genuine power to the genuine people.

The irony is that the party’s sharpest thinker (except, I guess, for Professor Trump, who seems to know everything) is treated as a candidate for expulsion from public life. We are at an exceptional and dangerous moment, when quality counts for less than noise, self-centeredness, and pride of the sort always said to end badly.

Sensible folks will stick as close to Paul Ryan as possible. They will need him to help clean up the big gooey mess we’re making of things.

Ben Stein ridicules Trump's suggestion
last week that he would deal with America's debt by borrowing money at low interest rates to buy back high interest Treasury debt. This is what Trump had learned when "he was 'the king of debt' when he was building his business empire."
Now, a much more potent bond market axiom comes into play: “There are no free lunches in the bond market.” The bond players are cagey rascals who know their math.

If the Treasury had high interest rate debt outstanding — let’s say 6 percent on the 10 year just to give an arbitrary number — and if the prevailing interest rate went to 2 percent, the market would bid up the 6 percent so high that its level of return was equal to within pennies of the return on the 2 percent bond.

That’s how the bond market works and I would have thought that the “King of Debt” would know that easily. It’s child’s play for investors.

There is no possibility of making money with the kind of trade Mr. Trump has in mind. By the way, Bill Clinton famously started to fish in these waters in 1999 when he was running surpluses. It didn’t even get to the starting gate. There are no free lunches in the bond market.

This sad episode shows just how little Mr. Trump knows about the world of money he is supposed to know so much about. I want to add that it’s exactly, precisely why Presidents have educated, qualified individuals advising them.

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Seth Masket at 538 examines the election results to see if down-ballot incumbents are experiencing the same sort of backlash that experienced Republican candidates suffered in the presidential primaries. Somewhat surprisingly, he doesn't find that backlash.
What I found was a substantial number of experienced, mainstream Republicans leading in their races for major office, which does not suggest a party that is cracking up.
After looking at results on a state-by-state basis, he concludes,
What all this suggests is that we’re not witnessing in down-ballot races a Trump-like assault on the Republican Party from the outside. The sorts of people who are running in open seats at the state level and are in positions to win are the sorts of people who have traditionally done well — seasoned politicians with roots in state politics.

A Trump nomination could well be costly for the party. If current polls are any indication, they could lose the presidency by a substantial margin, dragging down quite a few members of Congress and state legislators in the process, especially if Trump’s presence on the ballot drives up Democratic turnout. But the party should be able to recover from that. The presidency is obviously important to a party, but it is not all that a party is.
Depressed Republicans should be happy at any sign of relatively not terrible news.

Hillary Clinton's ignorance about the results of Obamacare was revealed yesterday in response to a small business owner telling her that her that the monthly cost of her health insurance had more than doubled.
Hillary Clinton was stunned Monday when a small business owner told her that the cost of her health insurance had increased nearly two fold.

"A $400 increase, assuming you didn't have some terrible healthcare event, which it doesn't sound like you did," Clinton said at a campaign event in Virginia. "I don't understand."

The voter told Clinton that her health insurance plan had a rigid income cut-off that was preventing her from qualifying for subsidies.

"I have seen our health insurance for my own family go up $500 a month in the last two years," the voter said. "We went from $400-something to $900-something … we're just fighting to keep benefits for ourselves."

The woman said that she was also finding it difficult to provide benefits for her employees.

"The thought of being able to provide benefits to your employees is almost secondary. Yet, to keep your employees happy, that's a question that comes across my desk all the time," she said.

Clinton offered numerous solutions but avoided addressing the source of the problem.

"What you're saying is one of the real worries that we're facing with the cost of health insurance because the costs are going up in a lot of markets. Not all, but many markets," Clinton said. "I think that the Affordable Care Act is a big step forward for the vast majority of Americans, but we have to look at out of pocket costs, copays, deductibles, premiums."

Clinton said that income cut-offs should be relaxed and that health insurance companies should be forced to explain why they are raising prices.

But she was still dumbfounded by the price hike.

"What could have possibly raised your costs $400?" Clinton said. "We've gotta pick that apart and really make sure we understand it."
Really. Does she not have any idea of what Obamacare has done for so many people? If she doesn't know the problem, how can she address it?

What a coincidence.
The State Department said today it can’t find Bryan Pagliano’s emails from the time he served as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s senior information technology staffer during her tenure there.

Pagliano would have been required to turn over any official communications from his work account before he left the government. State Department officials say he had an official email account, but that they can't find any of those records he would have turned over and continue to search for them.

“The Department has searched for Mr. Pagliano’s email pst file and has not located one that covers the time period of Secretary Clinton’s tenure,” State Department spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau said today, referencing a file format that holds email.
So the guy who set up Clinton's email server never sent or received a single email, text or Blackberry message about his job while he worked at the State Department? Is that at all likely.

Parents just don't seem to want to name their babies either Donald or Hillary.
The Social Security Administration’s 2015 list of the most popular U.S. baby names, released Friday, shows that the monikers of White House front runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are at or near their least popular levels on record.

Donald ranked as the No. 441 most popular name for boys born last year, with 690 babies getting the name in 2015. That’s its lowest ranking since at least 1900.

For most of the last century, Donald was among America’s most common male names, with a nine-decade run in the top 100. At its peak popularity, in 1934, 30,405 baby Donalds were born, making it the sixth most popular U.S. name that year. Donald began falling steadily on the list in the early 1990s and has been sliding ever since.

The name Hillary fared even worse this year. It didn’t break the top 1,000 most popular names, with just 136 baby girls getting it in 2015. Its alternate spelling of Hilary went to 53 girls last year.

Baby naming experts say that the name Donald is too common for even a personality as large as Mr. Trump, 69, the likely Republican presidential nominee, to single-handedly sway its appeal. But the name Hillary has had a popularity arch that appears shaped by the Democratic presidential frontrunner, who is 68 years old.

Hillary first appeared on the top 1,000 baby name list in 1963, when it ranked No. 863. It gradually rose to its peak popularity of No. 132 in 1992, the year Bill Clinton won the presidency in a campaign that prominently featured his wife. Just two years later, Hillary tumbled to No. 566.

“It’s generally regarded that the drop in the name Hillary is one of the sharpest drops in popularity” ever for a name, says Laura Wattenberg, Author of “The Baby Name Wizard” and founder of babynamewizard.com.
I could never understand naming a child after a living politician - there is absolutely no one I admire so much that I would want my child to carry that name. When my husband and I were choosing names for our daughters, I kept rejecting names because I could think of someone in history or literature who had that name and whom I disliked. I much prefer the tradition in Judaism to name a child after a deceased relative or ancestor. The problem is that most of them had rather unappealing names. Of course, parents don't always know what the future connections there will be to a perfectly fine name. I well remember a girl I had in middle school in 1998 named Monica and the miserable teasing that she received from other students. Who could have predicted that?

Oh, geez. Will the coddling of university students ever end? It has now infected Oxford University.
They are destined to be barristers and judges – but undergraduates studying law at Oxford are being told before lectures on cases involving violence or death that they can leave if they fear the content will be too ‘distressing’.

....One law student explained: ‘Before the lectures on sexual offences – which included issues such as rape and sexual assault – we were warned that the content could be distressing, and were then given the opportunity to leave if we needed to.’
If students are too tender to hear about legal issues with which they might have to deal as future lawyers, they need to drop out of the class right now.

The College Fix
links to a story from Claremont McKenna College where racial want to call out racial minorities who dare to not agree with their agenda.
Racial protesters at Claremont McKenna College created an enemies list of administrators and students who are racial minorities but disagreed with the protesters’ goals or otherwise earned their spite, the Claremont Independent reported Thursday.
The activits call themselves CMCers of Color and are calling those who dared to have different opinions "Shady People of Color" and have been compiling a list.
The Court Jester SPOC, David Brown (CMC ’19), was critical of the protestors’ lack of logistics and data as well as their tactics. Brown told the Independent, “If [CMCers of Color] had provided a single piece of evidence indicating that they were being systematically kept from performing well, I would have believed them. If I, in my own experience, had noticed a single instance where I was being held down based on the color of my skin I would have believed them. But they didn’t, I didn’t, and I don’t believe them.”

“I find the fact that they named themselves ‘CMCers of Color’ an insult. Instead, they purposefully use their name to manipulate their appearance as if to seem they were anything more than just 30 militant new wave liberal students,” Brown added. “I heard one of the protestors called a friend of mine ‘too rich to be black.’ Doesn’t it seem a little strange to you that the people supposedly fighting racism are the ones perpetuating racist stereotypes? The entire notion of fake or ‘shady’ people of color is just blatantly racist. Since when does being a person of color not allow you free thought? The whole point of this is so the protestors can still feel good about themselves by saying that they represent all ‘real’ people of color campus, but in order for them to consider you ‘real,’ you have to be one of them. Martin Luther King, Jr. said he wanted people to be judged off of the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Oddly enough, the protestors have consistently done the opposite. The protestors are the most racist group on campus I’ve seen to date.”
So what is the university doing to make sure that all students at their college can feel comfortable expressing their personal views?

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Sounds about typical of the French. They're holding a conference on Israeli-Palestinian tensions yet they're not inviting either the Israelis or the Palestinian Authority. Instead they're inviting groups that oppose Israel, including the US.
The EU, Russia, the UN, the Arab League ... and the Obama administration.

Each of the invitees tilt against Israel's current position. The Hollande government, by the way, received overwhelming Muslim support in France’s 2012 election and is dependent on that demographic. Secretary of State John Kerry has not yet announced if either he or a lower-level U.S. diplomat will be attending.

Going forward with such a conference at such a time represents a triumph of cynicism over experience, especially considering recent Mideast events
The Palestinians are violently divided between Hamas and the PA. All the Palestinians oppose a two-state solution. And don't forget all the violence taking place throughout the Middle East. P. David Hornik of PJ Media explains what is going on.
So why the push for a “peace” conference? Correctly, Israel does not see this French initiative -- nor the support it may gain from other quarters -- as benign, or even as rationally motivated. Instead, Israel sees France acting out of a growing need to appease Muslim populations in France and elsewhere in Europe. Additionally Israel sees the mounting tide of anti-Israel sentiment that often starkly reveals itself as simple anti-Semitism: for example, it currently appears within the British Labour Party.

Traditionally, the counterforce to such initiatives has been the U.S., which at least takes Israeli interests into account. Most crucially, the U.S. has historically defended Israel at the UN Security Council, which is the end-goal of the current French/Palestinian effort.

This time around, however, Washington is a frail reed to lean on.

Avinoam Bar-Yosef, president of the Jewish People Policy Institute, marvels as the results of the World Happiness Report 2016 which shows that Israel ranks as the fifth highest country of the 36 surveyed on the Life Satisfaction Index. How is it that Israelis, under so much threat from terrorism and its neighbors should be happier than Americans, the British, or the French?
The explanation probably lies in indicators not considered in standard surveys. For instance, a new study by my organization, the Jewish People Policy Institute, looked at pluralism in Israel and found that 83% of Israel’s Jewish citizens consider their nationality “significant” to their identity. Eighty percent mention that Jewish culture is also “significant.” More than two-thirds (69%) mention Jewish tradition as important. Strong families and long friendships stretching back to army service as young adults, or even to childhood, also foster a sense of well-being. All of these factors bolster the Jewish state’s raison d’ĂȘtre.
I wonder how Americans would rate with such questions. With so many people enjoying having their dissatisfaction and sense of victimhood stoked today in the United States, I somehow doubt that we'd have such high numbers of people rating that the nationality as Americans is significant to their identity or who feel ties to their country and culture.

So why is the FDA banning one of the most hopeful methods of combating the Zika virus?
The Centers for Disease Control expects that the virus will make it to the mainland United States sometime this summer. Absent a vaccine, the chief way to protect public health is mosquito control measures such as spraying insecticides where larva grow. However, a much subtler and environmentally friendly technique as been developed by the biotech company Oxitec: mosquitoes genetically engineered to pass along a gene that is lethal to Aedes aegypi larva. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the agency concluded that that technology is safe and actually issued a finding of no significant impact in March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has caved into anti-biotech activists and has delayed approval this technology.

In contrast, the Cayman Islands Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) has announced that it will begin a roll out of Oxitec mosquitoes as a way to fight the spread of the Zika virus.
What excuse could there be to not use the genetic approach when the FDA says that its tests show that the use of the genetically modified mosquitoes is safe?
"FDA found that the probability that the release of OX513A male mosquitoes would result in toxic or allergenic effects in humans or other animals is negligible based on the sponsor's draft environmental assessment," the agency said in a statement released Friday.

"Almost all of the OX513A mosquitoes released for the investigational field trial will be male, and male mosquitoes do not bite humans or other animals. They are therefore not expected to have any direct impacts on human or animal health," the FDA added.

And it's unlikely any human or animal bitten by a female modified mosquito could somehow be exposed to the altered genes, the FDA said.

Oxitec, which is owned by Maryland-based Intrexon Corporation, tested its mosquitoes in the small Brazilian city of Piracicaba and said the reduced the number of mosquito larvae by 80 percent in one area.

Now they want to test them in Florida. "The proposed investigational field trial would be carried out in Key Haven, Monroe County, Florida under Oxitec's supervision in conjunction with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District," the FDA said.
There is a lot of ignorant opposition because some people fear anything that has been genetically modified. But do we really want to base our response to a significant health threat on people's ignorance? The solution doesn't seem to be just to use the Oxitec mosquitoes, but a sort of "all of the above" approach.
The WHO advocates using a combination of mosquito control measures, including GM mosquitoes but also those infected with bacteria to make them less likely to carry disease, mosquitoes sterilized by radiation, as well as the use of insecticides, draining water, installing screens and educating the public.

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This is what socialism and Chavism has wrought for Venezuela.
Venezuela is on the verge of economic collapse. The price of oil has dropped precipitously over the past few years—that’s a budgetary nightmare for a nation dependent on its oil exports. As a result, basic necessities, like toilet paper, are being rationed. There’s limited access to television and long distance phone service. There are rolling blackouts due to energy shortages. And now the government is cutting back the workweek to just two days. This comes at a time when Venezuela’s citizens need government services the most. Supermarkets are not stocked regularly, so there’s a food shortage; people are starving. They’ve resorted to looting to survive. You would think that the government can’t really afford to print its own currency because it’s so broke would be the cherry on top of this socialist nightmare. Nope—the hunger games appear to have begun, as Venezuelans are now hunting stray dogs, cats, and pigeons for sustenance

Thomas Sowell discusses the rot in academia.
Today one can literally go from kindergarten to becoming a graduate student seeking a Ph.D. without ever hearing a vision of the world that conflicts with the vision of the Left.

Conservative critics who object on grounds that the views of the Left are wrong miss the point. Regardless of whose views become a monopoly, education suffers. John Stuart Mill understood this back in the middle of the 19th century.

As a young Marxist in college during the 1950s heyday of the anti-Communist crusade led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, I had more freedom to express my views in class, without fear of retaliation, than conservative students have on many campuses today.

After being invited by conservative students to give talks at various colleges, Jason Riley has then been surprised at how little those conservative students have said during the question-and-answer periods after these talks. But a Wellesley student explained: “You get to leave when you’re done. We have to live with these people until we graduate.”

Even liberal professors can be adversely affected by the narrow groupthink that prevails. Without an opposition to keep them on their toes, they can develop sloppy habits of dismissing or even demonizing differing viewpoints, instead of practicing and teaching their students how to come to grips with opposing beliefs.
Both professors and students would benefit from hearing the arguments from the right and having to grapple with something apart from the one-sided picture that has been painted for them throughout their academic careers.

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