Friday, May 13, 2016

Cruising the Web

I wonder if Paul Ryan would have accepted the Speakership if he'd realized that that would put him in the position of negotiating with Donald Trump over the Republican political agenda and character for this election and the future going forth. I so don't envy him. As one member of the House, he might have felt more free to express his natural distaste for Trump's manner and policy positions. But, as the highest ranking Republican and one concerned for maintaining the GOP majority in the House as well as weaving together a recalcitrant and diverse caucus, Ryan has a job both difficult and often distasteful one.

My expectation is that Ryan will continue for a while with his middle position of saying some positive things about Trump, while still saying that there are divisions between Trump's policy pronouncements and the political agenda that Ryan would like the party to follow. The rapidity with which Trump is shedding his policy pronouncements, it probably won't take him all that long to suddenly adopt positions more to Ryan's liking. I wouldn't be surprised if, in a few weeks, Trump suddenly starts talking about reforming entitlements to limit federal mandatory spending. Perhaps someone will explain to him the realities of the federal budget and that just stating that he'd try to get federal creditors to accept a haircut on interest rates is a non-starter. Then, as Trump moves a bit closer to positions close to Ryan's heart, the Speaker will find a way to state his support for Trump. The last thing Ryan wants is to irrevocably split the party. He, perhaps to his personal dismay, can't take a #NeverTrump position or respond in a more principled way as Ben Sasse has to the wildness that is Donald Trump.

This is basically what the WSJ is recommending for Trump and Ryan to find a "modus vivendi."
Maybe Mr. Trump has realized that if he does win the White House, he’ll need help to make America great again. Mr. Trump is an unreliable guide to his own agenda, as his multiple positions on tax reform in recent days attest. He’ll need congressional assistance filling out those details, as well as reforming Veterans Affairs and rebuilding the military.

As for Mr. Ryan, he confronts the reality that Mr. Trump is the GOP nominee, for better or worse. His obligation is to limit any policy and political damage. In the statement and at a press conference, the Speaker made sure to recognize the new voters Mr. Trump says he is bringing into the Republican tent. By the nature of his office, the Speaker is right to show respect for opposing views.

But that doesn’t mean abandoning his core principles, or the independence to criticize Mr. Trump on the merits when appropriate. Mr. Ryan is still withholding a formal endorsement. His critics on the left and right are nonetheless portraying the meeting as the first surrender among many to Trumpism.

The liberal tears are of the crocodile genus. The liberals who claim to be alarmed about Mr. Trump are elated that he offers them a chance to retake the House and Senate.

The conservatives assailing Mr. Ryan for being insufficiently anti-Trump shouldn’t abet this strategy. A GOP House could be the last defense against Hillary Clinton’s worst economic proposals, and avoiding a nuclear exchange with Mr. Trump may be the only way to protect it. Mr. Ryan needs the pragmatic flexibility to navigate whatever surprises this election throws up next.

These critics should also be thinking about the best interests of the country if Mr. Trump wins. Mr. Ryan would then be crucial to steering a Trump agenda in a constructive direction, as well as providing a check on the New Yorker’s worst instincts on trade or foreign policy. Would the never-Trumpers prefer a GOP House run by Mr. Ryan, or by one of the early Trump supporters like California’s Duncan Hunter?

Mr. Ryan is trying to preserve the GOP as a movement dedicated to inclusive economic growth and government reform. If an armistice avoids a mutual self-destruct sequence, he’ll be proven shrewder than his critics.

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President Obama's commencement speech at Howard University expressed his vision of American society. Too often African Americans are held down by an "unfair and unjust" system. If they do succeed, they shouldn't really take credit for what they have achieved.
“And that means we have to not only question the world as it is,” Obama intoned, “and stand up for those African Americans who haven’t been so lucky–because, yes, you’ve worked hard, but you’ve also been lucky.”

As an aside, the President of the United States then told his audience of his “pet peeve.”

“That’s a pet peeve of mine — people who have been successful and don’t realize they’ve been lucky. That God may have blessed them; it wuddn’t nothin’ you did. So don’t have an attitude.”
Really? Is that the attitude Obama has to his own success in life - that "it wuddn't nothin'" he did? Republicans might agree, but I doubt if the President's admirers would. I thought he was LeBron and the man who could perform every job in his campaign better than those who actually held those jobs. He certainly has never sounded like someone who doesn't "have an attitude." And if what he says is true, that African Americans are victims of a "cruel and unjust" society and it's just a matter of luck if they're successful, why would individual young blacks work hard? It seems a very fatalistic message. It might be a strange comparison, but it sounds almost like a Calvinist message, one that Jonathan Edwards might have made - mankind is doomed to suffer and only those who are the elect will be saved. But it is nothing that any individual has done or can do to save himself; it is all due to God's grace. I don't find Obama's version any more appealing than I find the Calvinist message when I teach the Reformation in Europe or the First Great Awakening in America.

Edward Morrissey looks at the state of Obamacare today and all the promises that the President made about the program when he was pushing it through Congress. Of course, there was his "Lie of the Year" that if we liked our plan, we could keep it.
Almost three years later, there is little evidence of any more contrition on that failure, or others in Obamacare for that matter. Earlier this week , Charlie Rose interviewed three former Obama speechwriters on a variety of topics. After discussing their work on lighter-topic speeches, Rose asked whether they felt they had an impact on Obama’s more serious addresses. Jon Lovett replied that he felt most proud of his impact on “the most serious speeches – health care, economic speeches.”

That prompted his colleague, Jon Favreau, to interject. “Lovett wrote the line about ‘if you like your insurance, you can keep it,” he said, as the panel erupted in laughter. “How dare you!” Lovett shot back in mock indignation. “And you know what?” he asked as the laughter continued. “It’s still true … no.”

Are incompetence and deceit humorous? Perhaps in the Obama administration, the answer might be yes. For the rest of us, especially those who find themselves stuck between a federal tax mandate and an insurance market that has narrowed as significantly as its costs have skyrocketed, no is the correct answer.

In fact, those two dynamics continue to this day, despite promises that the ACA markets would stabilize after the first two or three years and would eventually “bend the cost curve downward.” Consumers have their plans cut out from underneath them each year as insurers have either pared back plans or exited exchanges altogether as Obamacare’s economic model continues to fail. At the same time, premiums and deductibles have continued to skyrocket, and tax subsidies cannot hide the impact on families.
We're looking at more and more price hikes with fewer choices. One insurance company after another is predicting higher plans and many of the biggest ones involved in the government exchanges are deciding to get out of the Obamacare markets as (surprise, surprise) they find out they can't afford to cover everyone with the benefits that Obamacare requires when younger and healthier consumers aren't joining the pools.

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Jonah Goldberg considers the polls that show that Millennials have very favorable views of socialism, in fact better than they do of capitalism, but they really don't seem to know what socialism is. They have very little knowledge of the history of socialism around the world and what it has led to when put into action. Instead they just view it as a form a being "nice" to help those less fortunate.
For generations, intellectuals — real and so-called — argued that economics was best left to “planners.” Time and again, reality — specifically, the reality dictated by human desires — refused to be bent to neatly arrayed columns of numbers and well-stacked slips of paper. The philosopher-economist Friedrich Hayek long ago explained that planners suffer from what he called “the knowledge problem.” Even the best bureaucrat couldn’t know what customers, suppliers, and managers on the ground wanted or needed.

And each time the planners insisted that if they just had a little bit more power, a bit more data, a few more resources, they could make planning work. When all you have is a hammer, you’re inclined to believe that there’s no problem a few more nails won’t fix....

The unrealism of socialism spelled its undoing — for a time.

The dilemma is that there is a reality underneath the fraud of scientific socialism. The first socialists were not economists or technocrats. They were romantics and nostalgists. They loathed the relentless logic of the market and its reward of merit and efficiency as judged by the marketplace.

They wanted to return to the imagined Eden of the noble savage and the state of nature. They wanted to live in a world of tribal brotherhood and mutual love. Long before the math of “scientific socialism” there were the emotions of socialism, both light and dark: egalitarianism and envy.

Young people understandably are drawn by the promise of “being together.” But they think the federal government can make it happen. If government planners can’t even provide goods and services efficiently, how will they ever provide togetherness?

The Democratic challenger to Debbie Wasserman Schultz's seat in the House probably has a better chance to unseat the incumbent than the Trumpian challenger to Paul Ryan's seat. Despite Sarah Palin's silly attempt to take Ryan down for the crime of holding off on endorsing the Donald, he's ahead of his challenger 78-14 in the most recent poll. Meanwhile, Wasserman Schultz's opponent is hammering her for her support of the Iran deal, an issue that may play well against her in that heavily Jewish district. Or, at least we can hope.

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Donald Trump assumes that every rich guy is just like him and makes decisions based on what would enrich his own pockets. Perhaps. Thus he explains the news that the Washington Post has 20 reporters assigned to uncovering his own background by saying that it is all about Jeff Bezos's desire to avoid an antitrust suit and higher taxes that Trump wants to impose.
"Every hour we're getting calls from reporters from The Washington Post asking ridiculous questions," Trump told Fox News' Sean Hannity. "And I will tell you, this is owned as a toy by Jeff Bezos ... Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise. He's using The Washington Post for power so that the politicians in Washington don't tax Amazon like they should be taxed."

...."He thinks I'll go after him for antitrust," Trump said Thursday. "Because he's got a huge antitrust problem because he's controlling so much, Amazon is controlling so much of what they are doing.

"He's using The Washington Post, which is peanuts, he's using that for political purposes to save Amazon in terms of taxes and in terms of antitrust."
Great. Now we have renowned antitrust expert Donald Trump threatening to destroy one of the best businesses out there for the American consumer.

Veterans are still waiting for the millions that Trump supposedly raised on their behalf when he boycotted the Megyn Kelly debate. If they think this behavior is aggravating, I'm sure that Donald will be much more efficient on following through on his promises if he were head of the Executive Branch, right?

This just what everyone who knew anything about the Clintons would have expected - their charity helped Clinton cronies make money.
The Clinton Global Initiative, which arranges donations to help solve the world’s problems, set up a financial commitment that benefited a for-profit company part-owned by people with ties to the Clintons, including a current and a former Democratic official and a close friend of former President Bill Clinton.
The $2 million commitment was placed on the agenda for a September 2010 conference of the Clinton Global Initiative at Mr. Clinton’s urging, according to a document from the period and people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Clinton also personally endorsed the company, Energy Pioneer Solutions Inc., to then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu for a federal grant that year, said people with knowledge of the endorsement.

The company, whose business plan was to insulate people’s homes and let them pay via their utility bills, received an $812,000 Energy Department grant. Mr. Chu, now a professor at Stanford University, said he didn’t remember the conversation.

The Clinton Global Initiative is a program of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The foundation has been a focus of criticism this political season over donations received from governments and corporations that had business before Mrs. Clinton when she was secretary of state and that could be affected by decisions she would make as president. The foundation has said it “has strong donor integrity and transparency practices.”

The Clinton Global Initiative’s help for a for-profit company part-owned by Clinton friends poses a different issue. Under federal law, tax-exempt charitable organizations aren’t supposed to act in anyone’s private interest but instead in the public interest, on broad issues such as education or poverty.
Why shouldn't they have steered money to their friends? They were busy using the State Department to steer money into their own pockets. That's the way these guys roll. Just imagine if they have the entire federal government at their disposal.

Too bad they couldn't do more for their idiotic son-in-law who lost millions in his hedge fund by betting on the Greek economy.
Chelsea Clinton’s husband is shutting down a hedge fund he founded after losing 90 percent of investors’ money.

Marc Mezvinsky promoted Eaglevale Hellenic Opportunity as a means to bet on, and profit from, a Greek economic recovery. The fund was a spinoff of Eaglevale Partners, a larger hedge fund founded by Mezvinsky and two colleagues from his days working at Goldman Sachs.

Eaglevale Hellenic Opportunity specialized in buying up Greek stocks and government debt, betting the country would finally get its house in order and come roaring back. Mezvinsky argued in 2014 that, despite many signs to the contrary, Greece would soon be on the road to “sustainable recovery” and investors would be able to take advantage.
Gee, it's too bad that Mezvinsky didn't have any connections to a former top diplomat and smartest woman in the world who might have advised him never to bet on Greece's ability to get its house in order. Oh, wait...

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