From March, 2014

It Figures

On the deadline day to sign up for Obamacare1, we were treated to yet another website outage. This despite claims that the website was fixed. I wonder if we will be treated to yet another round of “the Koch brothers and the right-wing are trying to sabotage the website!” claims. And then there is this: The CEO of the Cleveland Clinic says that a majority of Americans who signed up for Obamacare have seen their premiums rise. “About three-quarters of them find that their premiums are higher than they had been previously with other insurance,” Toby Cosgrove told Fox News. Cosgrove…

More Government-Sponsored Violence in Venezuela

Behold: The masked gunmen emerged from a group of several dozen motorcycle-mounted government loyalists who were attempting to dismantle a barricade in La Isabelica, a working-class district of Valencia that has been a center of unrest since nationwide protests broke out last month. The barricades’ defenders had been hurling rocks, sticks and other objects at the attackers, who included perhaps a dozen armed men, witnesses told The Associated Press. Lisandro Barazarte, a photographer with the local newspaper, Notitarde, caught images of several of the men shooting into the crowd while steadying their firearms on their palms. “They were practiced shooters,”…

From the Department of Crazy Ideas . . .

I realize that policymakers are frustrated that it is taking so long to bring about peace between Arabs and Israelis. I understand that those who are working on the peace process must be looking for some ingenious short cut to a just and lasting peace. In many ways, I don’t blame them; were I working on bringing about peace between Arabs and Israelis, I would likely be frustrated too. But nothing–nothing–justifies the insane idea of releasing Jonathan Pollard to the Israelis in the hopes of winning concessions from Israel relating to the peace talks. Indeed, it boggles the mind and leaves one…

The Nation’s False and Dishonest Crimea Narrative

For those who believe that the recent annexation of Crimea by Russia might actually unite Americans of all ideological stripes in opposition to the thuggishness of the Putin regime, I give you this piece by editors of the Nation. It shows that even now, in the immediate aftermath of the annexation, while historical memories are still fresh, there are those who are willing to rewrite current events in order to advance a narrative filled with desperate attempts to explain away unjustified Russian bellicosity. And of course, it ought to surprise no one that the editors are willing to put forth false attempts at establishing…

The Next Time Harry Reid Attacks the Koch Brothers . . .

Someone should slip him a copy of this article and ask him whether he really is in any position whatsoever to throw stones at anybody. Of particular interest are the parts of the article that detail the degree to which members of the Reid family have profited off of their political connections, and the fact that Reid uses campaign funds in order to buy gifts for campaign staff and supporters. Of course, the Koch brothers would be raked over the coals if they did that sort of thing, but since they don’t–and Harry Reid does–perhaps it is time for the media…

New Jersey’s Silly Ban on Tesla Sales

In its dubious wisdom, the state of New Jersey has decided to forbid the direct sale of Tesla automobiles. This decision has no legal or economic justification whatsoever, as a group of law professors and economists point out. I am frankly amazed that we are even forced to debate the issue, but apparently, in some parts, it is not fashionable to preserve consumer choice, have free markets or combat senseless, undesirable regulations. Meanwhile, protectionism continues to have strong–if benighted–backing in too many quarters. Of course, those who innovate in the private sector have traditionally had to put up with a…

Robert Gates Regards Russia

And unsurprisingly, he has some good advice on how best to counter the aggressive policies of the Putin regime: The only way to counter Mr. Putin’s aspirations on Russia’s periphery is for the West also to play a strategic long game. That means to take actions that unambiguously demonstrate to Russians that his worldview and goals—and his means of achieving them—over time will dramatically weaken and isolate Russia. Europe’s reliance on Russian oil and gas must be reduced, and truly meaningful economic sanctions must be imposed, knowing there may be costs to the West as well. NATO allies bordering Russia must…

Surprise! (Obamacare Edition)

Who didn’t see this coming? The Obama administration has decided to give extra time to Americans who say that they are unable to enroll in health plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline. Federal officials confirmed Tuesday evening that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension. Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the…

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement Shows Its True Colors

In the event that you are looking for proof that anti-Israel activists on American college campuses refuse to tolerate any point of view other than their own, seek to disrupt the activities of others, do not believe in free speech and robust debate, and rely on shouting down people on the other side instead of actually defending their own views, I give you this. I suppose that in some sense, I don’t blame the BDS crowd for having adopted the thuggish tactics Jonathan Marks describes in his excellent and devastating piece. Any lawyer can tell you the old saying about…

Explaining Paul Krugman

Greg Mankiw is rightly exasperated with Paul Krugman’s propensity to write columns that “[take] a policy favored by the right, [attribute] the most vile motives to those who advance the policy, and [ignore] all the reasonable arguments in favor of it.” There are two possible reasons why Krugman likes doing this kind of thing: Krugman actually believes that the most vile motives should be attributed to people who advance policies that he doesn’t like, which indicates that Krugman is epistemically closed off from competing theories and beliefs; or Krugman knows that he is engaging in rhetorical excess, but does it anyway because…