Follow by Email

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New York Times Editorial, "Horror in Israel": Material for a New Opera by John Adams?

Writing of yesterday's murder of four men praying in a West Jerusalem synagogue (three held dual American/Israeli citizenship, while the fourth held dual British/Israeli citizenship) and of an Israeli policeman who came to defend them, The New York Times declares in an editorial entitled "Horror in Israel":

"There is no comprehending the murder of four men, including three rabbis, at a synagogue complex in a neighborhood of West Jerusalem on Tuesday."

Indeed, there is no comprehending this horror.

Yet The New York Times wrote in a September 19th editorial entitled "The Met Opera Stands Firm" and subtitled "‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ Must Go On":

"Protesting groups are demanding that the production be scrapped, contending the opera is anti-Semitic in depicting the 1985 murder of Leon Klinghoffer by Palestinian terrorists who seized a Mediterranean cruise ship and threw Mr. Klinghoffer and his wheelchair overboard after shooting him.

Music critics and opera lovers have found the opera, by John Adams, moving and nuanced in imagining a tragedy that gives voice to all sides, from the ruthless and aggrieved terrorists to Mr. Klinghoffer, an innocent Jewish-American who makes some of the opera’s most powerful points in denouncing violence as a political tool.

The Met should not have yielded to its critics, including Mr. Klinghoffer’s daughters, earlier this year when Mr. Gelb canceled live broadcasts of the opera in movie theaters around the world because of what he saw as 'rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.'"

How can The New York Times describe "The Death of Klinghoffer" as "moving and nuanced in imagining a tragedy that gives voice to all sides," yet denounce yesterday's murder of Jews engaged in prayer as incomprehensible?

Perhaps Adams should write a new opera about this abomination, again giving voice to all sides.

A double standard? You bet. Shame on the editorial board of the Times!

Monday, November 17, 2014

David Brooks, "Obama in Winter": "Gruberism" in Action

It's no secret that The New York Times has gone to extreme efforts to avoid mention of MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, whose recently revealed declarations concerning the stupidity of American voters and a lack of transparency involving the passage of Obamacare have aroused indignation throughout the United States. Well, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Obama in Winter," David Brooks writes of "Gruberism" as it relates to the Obama administration. Referring to Obama's threat to veto the Keystone XL pipeline and to take unilateral action on immigration, Brooks concludes:

"I’m not sure why the Obama administration has been behaving so strangely since the midterms. Maybe various people in the White House are angry in defeat and want to show that they can be as obstructionist as anyone. Maybe, in moments of stress, they are only really sensitive to criticism from the left flank. Maybe it’s Gruberism: the belief that everybody else is slightly dumber and less well-motivated than oneself and, therefore, politics is more about manipulation than conversation.

Whatever it is, it’s been a long journey from the Iowa caucuses in early 2008 to the pre-emptive obstruction of today. I wonder if, post-presidency, Mr. Obama will look back and regret that he got sucked into the very emotional maelstrom he set out to destroy."

Obama will look back and regret something in 2017 and the years thereafter? Sorry, David, not a chance. Owing to a narcissistic belief in his moral and intellectual superiority, Obama is not capable of regret. Everyone else is wrong. Everyone else is to blame. He was betrayed by those stupid American voters, who twice elected him to the highest office in the land. And given that Obama was betrayed, we can only expect total war with Congress and scorched earth during his final two years in office.

Obama has been "behaving so strangely since the midterms"? Not at all. It's all part and parcel of the Götterdämmerung of this tragedy's final act.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Paul Krugman, "When Government Succeeds": A Triumph of Imagination Over Intelligence

"Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence."

- H.L. Mencken


Paul Krugman must sure as heck love the Obama administration.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "When Government Succeeds," Paul Krugman crows over the successes of the Obama administration, among them Obamacare:

"Then there’s health reform. As usual, much of the national dialogue over the Affordable Care Act is being dominated by fake scandals drummed up by the enemies of reform. But if you look at the actual results so far, they’re remarkably good. The number of Americans without health insurance has dropped sharply, with around 10 million of the previously uninsured now covered; the program’s costs remain below expectations, with average premium rises for next year well below historical rates of increase; and a new Gallup survey finds that the newly insured are very satisfied with their coverage. By any normal standards, this is a dramatic example of policy success, verging on policy triumph."

Obamacare is "a  dramatic example of policy success, verging on policy triumph"? Maybe, if you decide to ignore a couple of things:

  • Let's ignore the farcical launch of HealthCare.gov.

  • Let's also ignore, "If you like your health care plan or health care provider, you can keep them."





  • Let's also ignore the law's 42 changes, including delayed implementation of the employer mandate.

  • But most important, let's ignore MIT Professor Gruber's take on Obamacare:

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass… Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not."

Obamacare is a "triumph"? Krugman is obviously head over heels in love.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

New York Times Editorial, "A Final Dash on an Iran Deal": Liars!

In an editorial entitled "A Final Dash on an Iran Deal," The New York Times tells its readers:

"For nearly a year, Iran has adhered to an interim agreement that froze and rolled back its nuclear program. This experience offers some hope that, subject to a rigorous verification regime, Iran will be able to fulfill a more permanent agreement."

Iran has adhered to the interim agreement? Oh really? Lee Smith's recent Weekly Standard article entitled "Caving to Iran" tells us that Obama received absolutely nothing in exchange for easing the sanctions regime against Iran one year ago. Mr. Smith writes:

"[T]he interim deal acknowledged Iran’s right to enrich uranium. It ignored Iran’s ballistic missile program (the most obvious delivery mechanism for a bomb), despite a U.N. Security Council resolution (1929) as well as several pieces of congressional legislation requiring Iran to cease such activities. It allowed Iran to continue building its heavy-water plutonium facility at Arak. The deal sought to limit Iran to research and development work on advanced centrifuges, but Tehran exploited that allowance and reportedly built up to 5,000 advanced centrifuges in the last year.

The issue is not just that Iran has repeatedly cheated, but that the administration keeps helping. When it became clear Iran was selling more than the million barrels of oil per month that sanctions relief permitted, White House spokesmen counseled patience: Maybe next month, they said, Iran would sell less and get under the cap. And when it didn’t, all the administration could do was shrug.

It’s the same now with inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Iranians won’t let the U.N. agency in to count and catalog the entirety of their program. It’s a concern but not a deal-breaker, says the State Department. After all, any agreement will include a mechanism to monitor whether Iran is keeping up its side of the bargain. But if the IAEA can’t get in to find out exactly what Iran has now, post-deal inspections to see if Iran is keeping its word are all but irrelevant."

With Obamacare destined for destruction when the US Supreme Court decides King v. Burwell in 2015 (the editorial board of the Times refuses to comment upon Jonathan Gruber's declaration concerning the stupidity of the American voter), the only thing the president will be able to show in the way of a legacy is an agreement with Iran. The alternative - heaven help the president - is to attempt to reinstate the sanctions regime, which has become a leaking sieve under his watch.


Is Obama capable of confronting Khamenei? Not a chance.

Thomas Friedman, "Who Are We?": ISIS Is a "Violent Mutation" of Islam?

Writing from Dubai, Thomas Friedman in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Who Are We?" would have us believe that ISIS represents something unlike mainstream Islam. Friedman writes:

"[T]he Islamic State, or ISIS, is homegrown; its aim is not to strike at enemies far away, but to spread and impose its vision of an Islamic society right here and right now; it’s attracting Muslim youths from all over, including the West; its ideology is a violent mutation of the puritanical, nonpluralistic, Wahhabi Islam, the dominant trend in Saudi Arabia."

ISIS is a "violent mutation" of a more moderate Wahabi Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia? Oh really? As reported by Janine di Giovanni in a October 14, 2014 Newsweek article entitled "When It Comes to Beheadings, ISIS Has Nothing Over Saudi Arabia," notwithstanding the outrage generated by the execution of Westerners by ISIS, beheadings are also commonplace in Saudi Arabia:

"[D]ecapitations are routine in Saudi Arabia, America’s closest Arab ally, for crimes including political dissent—and the international press hardly seems to notice. In fact, since January, 59 people have had their heads lopped off in the kingdom, where 'punishment by the sword' has been practiced for centuries."

Ms di Giovanni goes on to describe what it's like to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia:

"You will be dressed in something that leaves the soft skin of your neck exposed. Your hands are bound together behind your back. It’s better for all concerned to stay still, as is clear from a video of the execution of Rizana Nafeek, a 24-year-old Sri Lankan maid who was accused of murdering her employee’s 4-month-old son. She swayed from side to side, making her execution sloppier than most. (Nafeek pleaded not guilty, saying the baby choked on his milk bottle. She was beheaded anyway, in January 2013.)

. . . .

But even in death, you are not liberated. Your murder is meant to be a sign to the people in the crowd that Saudi Arabia does not tolerate dissent. A loudspeaker announces your crime. Your body may be taken away to be buried immediately. But if you were accused of banditry or drug smuggling, like seven Yemenis who were beheaded last year, your corpse will also be crucified."

The enormous difference between "moderate" Wahabi Islam and ISIS? Perhaps Tom would care to elaborate.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Charles Krauthammer, "The Gruber Confession": The Arrogance of Academic Liberalism

Go to the homepage of The New York Times and do a search for "Jonathan Gruber": You won't find his name. Now, go to the opinion pages of the Times and do the same search: Once again, his name does not appear [David Brooks is writing about George Eliot ("The Agency Moment"), and Paul Krugman is telling us about a carbon emissions agreement between the US and China ("China, Coal, Climate")].

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, however, believes that Gruber deserves mention. In an opinion piece entitled "The Gruber Confession," Krauthammer derides "the arrogance of an academic liberalism, so perfectly embodied in the Gruber Confession, that rules in the name of a citizenry it mocks, disdains and deliberately, contemptuously deceives." Krauthammer writes of the decision of the US Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case of King v. Burwell:

"Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case claiming that the administration is violating its own health-care law, which clearly specifies that subsidies can be given only to insurance purchased on 'exchanges established by the state.' Just 13 states have set up such exchanges. Yet the administration is giving tax credits to plans bought on the federal exchange — serving 37 states — despite what the law says.

If the plaintiffs prevail, the subsidy system collapses and, with it, Obamacare itself. Which is why the administration is frantically arguing that 'exchanges established by the state' is merely sloppy drafting, a kind of legislative typo. And that the intent all along was to subsidize all plans on all exchanges.

Re-enter Professor Gruber. On a separate video in a different speech, he explains what Obamacare intended: 'If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.' The legislative idea was to coerce states into setting up their own exchanges by otherwise denying their citizens subsidies."

A "legislative typo"? Krauthammer is obviously referring to Paul Krugman's inane opinion piece on Monday, "Death by Typo," which took the position that the Affordable Care Act intended to provide tax credits to plans bought on federal exchanges. Needless to say, the Krugman op-ed managed to avoid any mention of Gruber. Another example of "the arrogance of an academic liberalism"?

Compare, however, Krugman's attempt to ignore Gruber with Nancy Pelosi's effort to disavow any knowledge of the man or his involvement in enacting Obamacare.

It may take a few months, but Obamacare is destined to be walloped in 2015 by the Supreme Court and is headed for oblivion.

Linda Greenhouse, "Law in the Raw": Slaw Through a Straw

And in the aftermath of Paul Krugman's inane opinion piece on Monday, we are blessed with yet another "objective" analysis from the op-ed page of The New York Times concerning the Affordable Care Act. In a Times opinion piece entitled "Law in the Raw," Linda Greenhouse writes of the US Supreme Court decision to grant certiorari in the case of King v. Burwell:

"These two provisions, part of a 900-page statute that was cobbled together without going through the usual House-Senate conference committee in which it might have been cleaned up, are the source of the confusion. The answer to the problem, as the Fourth Circuit panel found unanimously in the King case, is obvious. It’s a basic principle of administrative law that when a federal statute is ambiguous, courts defer to the agency’s interpretation — here, the I.R.S. regulation that makes the tax credits available without regard to whether the exchange is state or federal."

Okay, but is the Affordable Care Act "ambiguous"? John Steele Gordon's article in Commentary entitled "Paul Krugman at It Again" provides powerful evidence that the statute says exactly what it intended to say:

"[Krugman] writes, 'you can ask the people who drafted the law what they intended, and it wasn’t what the plaintiffs claim.'

OK, let’s do that and ask Jonathan Gruber, one of the main architects of ObamaCare. In 2012, long before this controversy arose, he was asked at a public forum about subsidies being limited to the exchanges set up by the states. He says that limiting the subsidies to state exchanges was entirely on purpose, in order to coerce the states into setting up the exchanges. 'I think what’s important to remember politically about this,' he says, 'is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.'"

Jonathan Gruber? Why is there not a single mention of Gruber in Greenhouse's op-ed? Just this past week we learned of MIT Professor Gruber's take on Obamacare:

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass… Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not."

Obamacare was purposefully written in a "tortured way"? The "stupidity of the American voter" was "really really critical for the thing to pass"? "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage"?

Apparently, Greenhouse thinks none of the above has anything to do with a discussion of the Affordable Care Act's "ambiguity."

Yeah, right.