Friday, August 11, 2017

Cruising the Web

Having an embassy in Havana has led to a really bizarre and scandalous story.
In the fall of 2016, a series of US diplomats began suffering unexplained losses of hearing, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation into the case.

Several of the diplomats were recent arrivals at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of former President Barack Obama's reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Some of the diplomats' symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, officials said.
Of course, the Cuban government denies having anything with it. Do those on the left who are often so full of praise for the Castro regime find this just a benign treatment of diplomats?

Monica Showalter reminds us of incidents in which the Cubans filled the homes of U.S. diplomats with liquid and solid waste products or attacked family dogs. So what have we gotten from Obama's establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba?

Blue on blue attacks are always fun. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post reports on a mistake the New York Times made when reporting that a climate change report wasn't available even though it had been posted to the internet in January.
That correction, which sits at the foot of the story, dutifully straightens out the record. Yet given the magnitude of the screw-up, it should sit atop the story, surrounded by red flashing lights and perhaps an audio track to instruct readers: Warning: This story once peddled a faulty and damaging premise.
The Times had patted itself on the back for exposing the report that they characterized as being suppressed by the administration. Even when they made the correction, they still tried to pretend that something ominous was going on.
As part of its corrective effort, the New York Times has pulled the language saying that “a copy of it was obtained by the New York Times,” as well as the mistaken assertion that it has “not yet been made public.” Even so, the article continues to carry this line: “Another scientist involved in the process, who spoke to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity, said he and others were concerned that it would be suppressed.” As well as this one: “Scientists say they fear that the Trump administration could change or suppress the report.”

Though it may be the case that certain scientists maintain such fears, that’s a pretty tough position in light of the fact that the report “was uploaded by the nonprofit Internet Archive in January” and publicized by the New York Times in August.
It seems that the NYT eagerly jumped to a conclusion without doing sufficient investigation.

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Bernie Sanders is saying that support for a single-payer federal health plan should be a litmus test for Democratic candidates. He's willing to take on Democrats who don't pass his test. IBD hopes that the Democrats go for it.
While polls show support for single-payer health care creeping upward — in which all private insurance plans would be outlawed and every American would be put on the equivalent of Medicaid — that's largely because the polls never bother to point out the massive costs and disruptions of socialized medicine.

The latest IBD/TIPP poll, for example, found that, of those who are following the health care reform debate closely, an astonishingly high 57% say they support "a government-funded single-payer health care system in which all Americans would get health insurance from a single government plan."

That finding is likely exaggerated for the simple reason that those following health care closely may be predisposed to single-payer-style solutions.

Nevertheless, just scratch the veneer of single payer, and support among this subgroup of tumbles.
They point to a poll that they've done that found that results of the poll change if respondents are asked about the consequences of such a plan.
The IBD/TIPP poll asked a follow-up question, noting that some experts say the high cost of single payer would "lead to reduced access to high quality health care services, as well as longer wait times."

This is precisely what has happened in every country that has imposed single payer on their people, and on single payer programs like the Veterans Health Administration here at home. Government underpays providers, shortages result, and patients wait interminably for "free" treatments, if they can get them at all.

When that prospect is even hinted at, support for single payer drops to 50%. And that's only because Democrats remain firmly behind it. In fact, 65% of Democrats still support single payer when these side effects are mentioned, compared with 29% of Republicans and 49% of Independents. And, again, these numbers include only those following the debate closely.

When IBD/TIPP asked the question in a different way, support collapsed altogether. The poll asked if people believed that "it is the responsibility of the federal government to provide free health care for all Americans."

Just 47% say that it is. Since that's precisely what Bernie Sanders says he wants, it's not good news for the single-payer crowd.
This relates to a problem with polls that ask the public about policy questions. They often just present a brief question about a certain proposal that sounds like a good idea, but they leave the question free of any message about unintended consequences for such proposals.

Cato found similar results when they polled people if they supported laws guaranteeing that people with existing conditions were not penalized when they sought health care.

As Milton Friedman so succinctly put it,

Of course, changing the public's perceptions of such proposals necessitates having someone on the other side who can enunciate clearly and understandably the consequences of such proposals. I've never seen Trump as someone who can explain complex policy results for the public. Paul Ryan can do it, but is anyone listening to him anymore?

Yuval Levin explains
a proposal that Senator Mike Lee has made with a tiny, common-sense reform to what the CBO does when it scores a policy proposal.
A few days ago, Senator Mike Lee proposed legislation that would begin to point the way in that direction. It’s a modest first step, but it would be the right first step and an important one. Lee introduced what he calls the “CBO Show Your Work Act.” The bill would basically require CBO to follow the “data availability guidelines” that the American Economics Association recommends for academic economists. It would have to publish the data, the models, and the data-preparation routines used to arrive at its cost estimates and projections. Those could be used by other modelers, and through them by policymakers and analysts, to better understand CBO’s methods and assumptions, and to offer informed criticism, improvements, and alternatives. There would be protections for sensitive data used by the CBO in its modeling, which would be designed to make those constraints clear and to allow people who also have access to the data to replicate CBO’s work.

The bill doesn’t require CBO to change how it does its core work. It doesn’t really move the agency toward something more like tending and curating a set of open-source models. That should happen over time. But this first step toward transparency, which would only require CBO’s professional staff to follow the standards and practices their colleagues in academic institutions do, would make a big difference. It would strengthen, not undermine, CBO’s ability to offer the projections required of it by law, and would make it easier for the agency to answer critics and to pre-empt them.
Who would oppose the CBO having to do what academic economists have to do? Isn't transparency what everyone always claims they want?

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Daniel DePetris reminds us of how U.S. policy toward North Korea has been failing for years.
Convincing or forcing Kim to give up his nuclear weapons capability in return for security guarantees and a normalization of the U.S.-North Korea relationship has been the de facto U.S. policy over the last 25 years.

It was thought that, like many other governments, Pyongyang would come to the conclusion that pouring money into nuclear and missile research, testing, and production would only further their economic and political isolation. Eight rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions, including one last weekend, and threats of military action would eventually snap North Korea back into reality. The Kim dynasty would have no choice but to accept full and unconditional denuclearization if it wanted to survive.

Yet, for three generations of the Kim family, obtaining a nuclear weapon and attaining the ability to put those weapons onto a long-range projectile was the key to their regime's survival. Pyongyang rightly determined that no country, not even the U.S., would launch a preemptive attack if a nuclear counter-strike on the U.S. mainland was a possibility.

Negotiations, sanctions, diplomatic isolation, threats of force, and a combination of all four have all failed to produce the intended outcome that Washington sought.
Jim Geraghty looks at provocative actions that North Korea has taken in recent years. As he points out, the North Korean government has taken actions that, if it weren't a nuclear state could have earned serious consequences. Either North Korea doesn't recognize how provocative actions like firing on South Korean ships or firing on a South Korean island or planting land mines on the South's guard posts near the border aren't terribly provocative or that their opponents won't retaliate.
In other words, every once in a while, North Korea just goes out and tries to kill some South Koreans without warning because it wants to send a message. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they don’t. So far, South Korea is willing to suffer those casualties and respond proportionally, managing not to escalate a particular clash into a second Korean War. If the North Koreans sank a U.S. Navy ship, shelled U.S. troops in South Korea, or made some other direct attack, how would we respond? Would it be proportional to North Korea’s attack, or would there be an attempt to deter further attacks by demonstrating overwhelming force? More importantly, would North Korea perceive our response as the opening salvo in an invasion? These are big questions under any U.S. president, but Donald Trump is another giant X factor.

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Berkeley has built a back-door "escape hatch" for the university staff in the chancellor's office in case there should be student violence. They've also beefed up security around the home of the chancellor - seems he needs a $700,000 security fence. Staffers and members of the administration are plain scared of what might happen if students decide to target the chancellor at home or at work.
So there you have it: Administrators are no longer figuratively retreating or cowering from out-of-control students. They’re creating the physical architecture to literally do so. It might be more dignified and less expensive to have these kids arrested when they break the law.


tfhr said...

Mardony heralds the Obama decision to normalize relationship with the Castro Bros and Cuba, the world's largest slave ship, as a master stroke of Progressive diplomacy but US diplomats say, "What?".

mardony said...


"Nearly half of Republicans (47 percent) believe that Trump won the popular vote. Larger fractions believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted (68 percent) and that voter fraud happens somewhat or very often (73 percent)."

(These are results from WaPo's poll, released 8/10, in which zombies must have been oversampled)

Trump has repeatedly boasted that he would have won the popular vote if 3 to 5 million persons hadn't voted illegally, but has offered no proof and is unlikely to. Are his voters still waiting for Trump to show them the proof he promised that Obama's birth certificate was fake?

mardony said...

Betsy, have you ever been to Cuba? I've learned from my many visits there that the right wing blogs you dwell on, that always see socialism lurking everywhere, are reliably ignorant and hysterical with regard to Cuba today.

Today, your link to the American Thinker (after dredging up stories from 2005 and 2006) asserted this, "Now we are seeing far more serious acts against Americans, in what go beyond harassment into full acts of war." That's hysteria. Cue the Cuban Missile Crisis.

If you visit Cuba and speak to its people, you might not be so apt to ask, as you do today, "So what have we gotten from Obama's establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba?"

tfhr said...


SAY WHAT? (SMHID- Sorry My Hearing is Destroyed)

But enough about Cuba. Who was elected President in 2016 and who wasn't? [Insert Hillary face plant joke here - cue Mardony's head explosion]

What I find interesting is that so many on the left - and of course all butt-hurt Dems - want to dispense with the Electoral College. Why is that?

Obama won the Electoral College, was it broken then?

Bill Clinton won with less than 50% of the vote but won the Electoral College, was it broken then?

Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose when Presidential elections are held but one thing is certain, at least as of late, and it is this: You, Mardony, cannot bring yourself to accept that fact or even begin to understand why and the frustration that this causes you makes you act and sound like an ass.

tfhr said...


I meant to ask - but nearly forgot - just why is it that people flee Cuba? I mean, from listening to you and idiots like Michael Moore, it sounds like a paradise.

It's amazing that more countries don't follow the same path, really, I mean, look at the wonders Cuban assistance has done in Venezuela. OK, they've hit a bump in the road at the moment, what with no food or electricity, but why do Venezuelans come to the US for refuge and not Cuba?

mardony said...

tfhr ~

Your hearing is destroyed? That's the least of your sensory deficit disorders. You posted on 8/10, "you must have me confused with Neil Armstrong. I get that all the time". To be confused with a deceased person suggests you suffer from complete sensory deficit.

tfhr said...

Well Mardony, at least you acknowledge that you read the entry that asked you to answer these two questions:

Does Israel have the right to exist?


What is the capital of Israel?

You declined to answer both, because you are a coward that lacks the courage of his convictions and because you feel the need to obscure your political agenda and orientation because you know how repellent they are when exposed to sunlight.

But this reference back to your "resistance" to Israel is an effective dodge to avoid further scrutiny of your enthusiastic support for the continued enslavement of Cubans and your callous disregard for the harm done to the hearing of American and Canadian diplomats assigned to Havana, the lap of the Castro government.

tfhr said...

Good news! Mardony, it looks like you have a choice in religion. You can stick with Al Gore's Church of Global Warming Scientology or you can pray to Hillary on the cross.

From the Free Beacon:

"Hillary Clinton’s pastor compared her loss to Donald Trump to the death of Jesus Christ in a message he sent her the day after the November 2016 election".

Hillary as a pastor! Read the story! I can see it now: Bill and Tammy Fay Clinton!

tfhr said...


Here's the link for more about Hillary's desire to preach:

It's not too late to be saved, Mardony! You voted for her. Are you still with her?

mardony said...

Climate change denialists (Betsy?) pounced on a journalistic mistake that the NYT made publishing the 5th draft of the government's Climate Science Special Report. It technically wasn't a scoop because an earlier draft had been posted on an obscure site in January for public comment, and the NYT quickly admitted that. Forget the sobering scientific findings the Report conveys (it was reviewed and endorsed by the National Academy of Science), the blue NYT's screwup was all that Betsy today grooved and gloated on.

Question: As a draft had been posted in January, why hadn't any of Betsy's regular rightie blogging sources posted it and claimed the scoop?

This is why I read this blog.

tfhr said...


Here's your answer though you won't like it: I informed you of the previous posting of the draft report more than 48 hours ago. (See my 1:47 entry)

There's a saying about leading a horse to water but I think it normally is directed to the opposite end of the creature that you represent because it's pretty obvious that you either didn't read the comments prior to posting your screed today about this particular topic or you failed to understand that I provided you would ample evidence that the left's "fear" that Trump would somehow suppress the report was already proven false. Furthermore, I also brought you up to speed on where the NSF stands on Funding v. Science. (See my comments about the NSF and "gender in glaciology")

Go back and read Wednesday's thread and stop being a horse's ass. Impress me.

mardony said...

tfhr vegetable ~
Bad news and good news. Global warming will not increase your room temperature IQ. But, its increases in CO2 atmospheric concentrations will benefit some plant life. Maybe you're one of the lucky vegetables.

tfhr said...


At 3:31 today you said, "This is why I read this blog". The truth is that you don't read anything but what you think will conform to your beliefs, especially this blog and its accompanying threads.

Your NYT, to nobody's surprise here, printed an inaccurate claim that the draft report could be "suppressed" though it was already available. You embarrassed yourself by claiming that this was unknown to readers of this blog but I had already refuted you with proof made available to you two days before your attempt to deliver your insult.

You're just too much of a pussy hat wearer to admit that you were wrong.

mardony said...

tfhr veggie ~
Your 1:47 fetid emission was your usual incoherent delirium, and totally wrong. The Special Climate Science Report is not the National Climate Assessment. Got that? The Report is anticipated to be a source document for the National Climate Assessment which is due out in late 2018. But, keep babbling. It's all you're capable of. Mars is calling you to come home.

tfhr said...

Are you saying the draft is sourced with a draft? Great! What could be better than that? Which one has been suppressed and which one proves to you that politicians can control the weather?

The WaPo refutes the suppression fantasy and the NYT had to come around and admit that the draft is available now and has been for some time.

mardony said...

tfhr ~
Another fetid emission from you, more toxic contamination of our atmosphere driving up global warming. Why don't you go to Charlottesville and join your buddies. Maybe trigger warning is there.

Gallifreakin said...

Tell the little snowflakes at Berkeley there will be a mark on their permanent record, let them watch the corresponding episode of Seinfeld.
They get in line or are expelled. Violence is not allowed.
We are not Tehran after the fall of the Shah, unless authorities allow it. Then, we won't need helicopters. We will take them out.

tfhr said...


Can you go even one day without calling someone a racist for disagreeing with you? One string banjo!

mardony said...

tfhr ~
If the shoe fits.

Gahrie said...

I used to really enjoy this blog.

tfhr said...


You don't know me but you insist, for the sake of your politics, that I and anyone else that does not share your leftist tilt, must be a racist. There are two primary reasons for this:

1. The race card ends debate.

2. Without constructive debate meaningful opportunities to find solutions to shared problems will be missed.

Furthermore, when debate or expression of ideas is shutdown there will always be people that see this is as a condition that invites violence.

I look at events like this one as horrible and avoidable. You, on the other hand, see something like this as an opportunity to advance a vile narrative and maybe even engage in some bloodletting.

From the looks of it, one potentially violent and disgusting group got a permit to march and exercise their right to free speech. Another group, equally disgusting and repeatedly violent, show up to give the first group attention it is starved for and predictably, a violent reception.

Both groups are different sides to the same coin and plenty of politicians are scrambling today in an effort to make as much out of that coin as possible. The media eggs them on and they make bank on the violence as well. It's all a sideshow for morons that are incapable of expressing themselves in a rational or insightful manner but it's certainly an opportunity for someone like you and your Antifa/BlackLivesMatter brothers-in-arms. Things like this breed hate and never bring solutions, but as we've seen, that's all you've got.

Charlottesville is a great town and it will not suffer the fate of other cities that have been permanently damaged from events like this (Baltimore, LA, and Detroit come to mind) but depending on how the state of Virginia responds and how long this goes on, we'll only see more lives and resources squandered. (I'm thinking of two VA state troopers that have been confirmed dead in a helicopter crash and the millions of dollars burned up as these two groups of idiots clash.)

To you, this is what the "Resistance" is all about!