I was listening to this song on my iPod yesterday. The video’s got almost 350 million pageviews on YouTube, which is an astounding number, although I do think it’s an excellent song.
One of the curious things (at least to me) about Adele is that her singing and songwriting is very traditional, and yet she’s highly popular in this age of obscene lyrics and artificially-enhanced voices and instruments. But her song is a timeless one—lost love, and how to recover from it. Will her efforts to find “someone like you” be successful? Her words in the chorus sound brave, but her voice tells us it’s all bravado:
That song lyric makes me think of this one from the 60s. It’s got over 9 million views, which isn’t bad for a relatively obscure oldie—we’re not talking “Light My Fire” here. But although this song is linked in my mind with the theme and title of Adele’s, it is also its direct opposite. The singer here is still in a relationship with the loved one, and her “I Know I’ll Never Find Another You” envisions the sad and unresolvable aftermath of an imaginary breakup rather than a real one (at least, any breakup that might happen is as-yet-unrealized).
Yes, we try to move on, and often we do. Sometimes we even move on to something better—someone far more suited to us, with whom we can be happier. Whether we can imagine that replacement at the time of great loneliness or the time of great togetherness is beside the point, although it doesn’t seem that way at the time. But the truth is that we never do find another you—each person, and each relationship, is wholly unique.
I highly recommend Michael Totten’s excellent—and very sad—article on Cuba. Pay special attention to the story that Alfred Cuzán (whose family fled when he was a child) tells about the early years of Castro’s regime and how the leader initially fooled people and then clamped down.
Also of great interest is the tale of Garland Grant, a Black Panther from the US who believed the leftist hype about Cuba, hijacked a flight there in 1971, and got the surprise of his life on arrival. He ended up saying things like “Believe me, I’m all for the United States now. I’d even wear a Nixon button.” And that was after Watergate.
Actually, the whole thing is of great interest. Just read it.
The IRS is going to turn over to Congress’ House Ways and Means Committee all of Lois Lerner’s emails during the Obama administration and a little bit earlier.
Thanks very much. But who in his/her right mind implicates him/herself in emails that never disappear and can be rather easily accessed in a situation like this?
Well, the Bridgegate people do, and I’m sure they’re not the only ones; some of the Climategate folk come to mind. But even a non-conspiratorial type like me knows that if a person is engaging in some activity that might later need covering-up, that person should not use his/her official email address to conduct that business. More likely, he/she will use that address to create a false picture of innocence, and some other method of communication will be utilized for the shady stuff.
Carrier pigeon? Courier? Word of mouth? A different email account? I seem to recall that General Petraeus, while engaged in his sexual dalliance with Paula Broadwell, created a private email account that they thought was safe but really wasn’t. But at least he understood the principle of the clandestine operation.
Of course, Petraeus was only dealing with one person, and on business that was decidedly unofficial. So it was relatively easy to set up such a thing. Lerner was trying to communicate with a much larger group of people who worked under her in her official capacity, and the things she might be asking them to do would be highly illegal and controversial. So any alternative email setup would be a way of admitting to all recipients that what was about to go down was clandestine, a highly risky and self-incriminating thing to do. I assume, however, that if Lerner had originally received the order/suggestion from a higher-up in the Obama administration, that would have been accomplished through word of mouth in a face-to-face meeting.
Those of you with experience working in government bureaucracies—an experience I don’t share, although I’ve never before had cause to lament that fact—might be able to shed more light on how this all could work. Computer experts, please chime in, too.
Posted by neo-neocon at 12:53 pm. Filed under: IRS scandal
It’s the glasses that got my attention. Kudos, excellent!:
And for those who say this is superficial trivia, of course it is, but it’s the sort of superficial stuff that goes to make an image that people respond to one way or another, and one of those ways is politically.
Mayor Bill di Blasio of New York has wasted little time in his attempt to destroy the charter schools which serve the low-income minorities of New York and provide at least some children of their number with a good education:
The very existence of charter schools is an implicit rebuke to the public schools. It means they are not succeeding, and something new must be tried. That something new won’t be perfect—no charter school is, and some are more imperfect than others—but people still line up to get into them. And there’s something to the wisdom of crowds. When a school exists for the students, you can tell. When it exists for the unions, you can tell that too.
A lot of this is about the unions; in New York City they are especially powerful and especially leftist, and have been for a long, long time.
There’s also an interesting blue-on-blue element shaping up:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is not politically inept, made clear this week that he will stand with the charter schools. Mr. de Blasio had come to Albany Tuesday on what is called lobbying day. He brought more than 1,000 people and held a rally to press state lawmakers to increase city income taxes to pay for prekindergarten education. Mr. Cuomo, who had already told Mr. de Blasio that he backs pre-K but not a tax hike, decided to hold his own rally. His crowd, full of charter school students, teachers and families, was much bigger than de Blasio’s. Mr. Cuomo had fiery words. “They say it’s cold out here, but I don’t feel cold, I feel hot. I feel fired up,” he said. “You are not alone. . . . We will save charter schools.”
There is not, and has never been any question, who and what di Blasio is. He’s a hard lefist. Period. New Yorkers elected him, and they will reap what they sowed, including the minorities of New York who supported him in overwhelming numbers.
[*NOTE: The charter schools di Blasio is trying to destroy are part of a group called "Success Academy Charter Schools," of which there are 22 in the city. The woman who runs the schools is Eva Moskowitz, an old political foe of di Blasio and the teachers' unions.]
Before I get into the details of this, let me just state that the NY Times knows exactly what it’s doing. You may think the manipulation and/or lies of the editors are transparent, but not for a lot of its readers. Propaganda works, or writers wouldn’t bother to compose it. You can lead your audience to certain conclusions by distortion, and then repetition of that distortion, and they read and absorb it without thinking all that much about it because they trust you as a source. And after all, most of your friends, and all the smart people you know and hear, agree.
It’s actually a lot of work to read something and challenge it as you read it and then after you read it. It takes more than intelligence, too; intelligence doesn’t even begin to cut it, although a certain basic amount is necessary. And “intelligence” is not the same as book learning or credentials. In fact, book learning—which in academia all too often means swallowing what some authority says and spitting it back in order to get a grade—can even be quite counterproductive, and conducive to the swallowing of propaganda if the source is a trusted one.
It takes not only work to question things you read, but motivation. We may ridicule the NY Times, and people often ask me why I bother with it, but my answer is always that for many many people, including many movers and shakers in the world, it is still the great authority with all the news that’s fit to print, and challenging it proves to them that the person who does so is a crackpot.
So without further ado, we have the Times on the topic of President Obama’s newly-announced 2-year extension of the delays in cancellations of the non-Obamacare-compliant individual policies. The temptation is to include the entire thing and fisk it line by line, because it’s a true masterpiece. I mean that; I’m in awe of the editors’ skill at doing what they can with the mess they’re facing—doing what they can to explain that (a) the Republicans made Obama do it; (b) everything will be just fine with Obamacare; and (c) Obama and the NY Times know much better than you do what’s good for you.
Here are a few high/lowlights of the editorial, with my comments in brackets and highlighted in bold:
The Obama administration announced a new policy on Wednesday that will allow many people to renew their existing insurance policies for two more years even though the policies don’t provide the comprehensive coverage and consumer protections [much of which is useless and unneeded and unwanted by the person purchasing the policy, and responsible for raising its price] required by the Affordable Care Act. The move is designed to provide political cover for Democratic senators facing tough re-election campaigns in Republican-leaning states where the president is especially unpopular [this seems like an admission of something negative about why the administration is doing this---for political reasons---but wait, the Times will correct that possibly negative notion later in the editorial and turn it around on the Republicans].
The Democrats have been hit with a barrage of attack ads from conservative political-action groups highlighting the cases of individuals who complained that they faced higher premiums when their old (less comprehensive) policies were canceled and they were forced to buy new (and better) policies on the health care exchanges established by the reform law [without actually saying all those people are lying, the Times is telling us that the new policies are better, whatever those misguided people might think. Of course, if they're better, why postpone them? Why not have people experience them, so the Democrats can make ads with people saying how they loved their old policies and thought they were better, but now that they've experienced the new ones they realize how much more comprehensive and better Obamacare really is? The better plans will speak for themselves, and convince the foot-draggers---won't they?] Now the last date for renewing the old policies has been pushed past the 2014 midterm elections, reducing the likelihood of complaints on the eve of voting.
This policy change had the immediate, unfortunate effect of giving Republicans another convenient excuse to bash the Affordable Care Act as a failure that should be repealed [it's "unfortunate" when Republicans tell the truth, if the truth hurts the administration, the NY Times, and the Democratic Party. Oh, and by the way, Republicans don't just "criticize," they "bash." Nasty bashers.] In truth ["in truth" means that we have to emphasize that we're about to tell truth, because the veracity of the next few points we're about to make is especially shaky], it poses no threat to health care reform and will have no impact on the vast majority of Americans, who are covered by employer plans or public programs. The impact on people who buy their own insurance on the individual market is hard to gauge but is likely to be small and vary from state to state [just a few million, no problem at all---and by the way, if the impact would be so very small, why are Obama and the Democrats so worried about the effect that the change in policies would have in the 2014 election?]…
There are drawbacks to allowing continuation of these policies. For starters, some people who have skimpy coverage may be in for a rude shock if they develop a costly illness [ignoring the fact that "some" people---perhaps many more---would get a similar or even worse shock on Obamacare. Note also that the Times assumes an abysmal ignorance on the part of the consumer who has purchased the original individual policy and in some cases has had it for many years, an assumption by the Times that needs neither to be proven nor justified nor quantified, merely stated]….
There’s much, much more, but I’ll skip to what I think may be the most masterful part, the ending:
Ideally, President Obama would not have extended the period for retaining the less-comprehensive policies, but in the current political environment, he opted to take a step to protect health care reform against a Republican takeover in the Senate [he didn't want to do this, but the Republicans made him. It's too bad that Republicans make him compromise his ideals and those of the NY Times, forcing them to write this crummy editorial.].
Extending the old policies will allow some individuals more time to look at the options on the exchanges. They may be pleasantly surprised at the comprehensive coverage and the availability of subsidies for people with modest incomes ["they may be"; even the Times sounds uncertain about that one. Of course, the editors push the ideas of the subsidies---that's Obamacare's big selling point---without going into the knotty question of where that money comes from. The editors also ignore all the "you can keep your doctor, keep your hospital" issues that come with the new policies and are part of the reason that even people with "modest" incomes, eligible for subsidies, may be in for a very rude surprise. Another surprise might come from the high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs of these wonderfully "comprehensive" and "better" polices. And again, if the policies are so wonderful, why not force people into them and have them see for themselves how great they are? Just think of the great pro-Obamacare ads that could be made if that were to happen!].
Although I’m mocking this editorial, it’s a dark humor on my part. I have deep respect for the skill of its writers and their ability to take the sow’s ear of what’s happening with Obamacare and make it into, if not a silk purse, then an artifact convincing enough to pass for one with a lot of people.
Will it be good enough to allow Democrats to hold onto the Senate in 2014? I freely admit that I don’t know. But it was enough to allow Obama to be re-elected in 2012 despite his abysmal record, so I don’t rule anything out.
Or is this even true? Is it actually one of those “good-cop/bad-cop” tales instead?
I don’t know, but I vote for “true.” I think very little of John Kerry, but I think more of him than I do of Obama. The following seems characteristic of the president:
An Israeli newspaper is reporting that two officials close to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry are quietly accusing President Barack Obama of sabotaging Middle East peace efforts after giving an interview in which he sharply criticized Israeli government policy.
The unnamed officials also claim that Kerry was never given a heads-up that the president had planned an interview with reporter Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg View – just days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrival in Washington — on the subject of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Eli Bardenstein, diplomatic correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Maariv, reported Wednesday that “those close to Secretary of State John Kerry claim in private conversations that President Barack Obama sabotaged Kerry’s efforts to reach agreements over the framework agreement, in the aggressive interview he gave” Goldberg.
“Maariv has learned that the White House hid even from Kerry the very existence of the interview, in a way that is unacceptable in the U.S. capital,” the Israeli reporter added.
Why do I think it’s true? It is consistent with Obama’s arrogance, his go-it-alone sense of self. He has alienated even many of his friends and supporters—certainly quite a few of the Democrats in Congress—on a personal level by having very little to do with them, not asking their advice, and not even letting them know what he’s planning before he does it.
I’m especially fond of this part of the article:
Though Kerry allegedly wasn’t aware of the interview, Maariv’s unnamed D.C. sources speculated that Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett took an active part in arranging the Bloomberg interview.
One unnamed source told the paper, “It’s possible that Obama wasn’t fully up to date on the special cooperation that Kerry had achieved with Netanyahu and his team with the Israeli team. It’s also possible he ignored it.”
Anything’s possible, I guess—except that Obama had Israel’s or America’s interests at heart.
Be sure to read this article by William Voegeli in National Review detailing the history of Obama’s and the Democrats’ deceptions about Obamacare. If you think you’ve read tons before about the same thing—well, you probably have, but not quite like this one, which is especially fine.
Liberals rely on bait-and-switch tactics because they fear the results of describing their agenda clearly and candidly to voters, who can’t handle the truth. Even an elementary truth, such as the proposition that improving health care will cost money rather than save money, must be denied over and over, lest don’t-tread-on-me rubes start asking awkward questions about how much improving health care is going to cost and where the money will come from. Once a policy such as Obamacare is enacted and implemented, making the switch means admitting the obvious, and then claiming it’s so obvious — “everyone always knew” it would cost money and disrupt existing health-care arrangements — that it doesn’t really qualify as a switch. The villains in this story are not the liberals who spoke incontestable untruths when political circumstances called for telling people what they wanted to hear. The villains are conservatives who complain about the deceits by commission and omission.
But rather than discuss that sort of thing all over again, I want to focus on one quote about a figure from the past, FDR, that caught my eye. Voegeli writes:
Even though New Deal–era dreams about a centrally planned economy have been abandoned, liberals refuse to accept that a decent society can rest on the alchemy that purports to turn private interests into the public interest. Franklin Roosevelt hailed Irish and Hibernian societies around the country on St. Patrick’s Day in 1937 for their fealty to the motto “Not for ourselves, but for others.” That spirit, he said, should animate not just charity but private and public life, given that “selfishness is without doubt the greatest danger that confronts our beloved country today.”
Which brought me to the question: did FDR give a lot to charity? In other words, did he practice what he preached?
FDR was undoubtedly an extremely rich man by the standards of his era. His wealth was inherited (estimated at the equivalent of about $60 million today), and his career was almost entirely in public service and especially politics, at which he was wildly successful.
Here’s an article that discusses FDR’s taxes and charitable giving:
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s returns harken back to an era when federal tax rates where considerably lower. In 1929, FDR paid about 11% in taxes and gave away 12.5% of his income. Interestingly, following a rate hike in 1932, his charitable giving dropped to about 3%. (A couple of the recipients of his largesse: the Will Rogers Memorial Fund, $100; the American Ornithological Union, $3.) As Reason notes, FDR wasn’t above trying to avoid paying his fair share of taxes, either: In 1937 he tried to talk the IRS into taxing him at 1933 rates.
So, that doesn’t sound all that bad or all that good. In those days the tax rate was low, although he wasn’t above trying to get it lowered for himself in 1937. His charitable contribution seems high-ish, although he wasn’t above lowering it when the tax rate went up.
But delving a bit further, we find a curious thing. If you scroll down a ways, you’ll come to some charts of presidents’ incomes and their contributions to charity, and you’ll see this:
The taxes, and the percentage of income given to charity, are only on income. FDR’s income at the time wasn’t all that great. Although it was not inconsiderable, it didn’t even begin to reflect his actual wealth. Looked at that way, his charitable contributions were pretty paltry. Perhaps FDR reasoned that he didn’t need to be personally charitable because he forced every person with substantial assets to be involuntarily charitable through increased taxes. If so, that wouldn’t be an unusual point of view among liberals.
Also, if you look at the charts, you’ll see that the Bushes, both George H.W. and George W., had very high charitable contributions in terms of percentage of their incomes. Again, this doesn’t reflect their actual wealth, which was far greater than their incomes. But their voluntary contributions certainly represent a good chunk of what they earned, particularly for Bush the Elder, who made well over a million dollars in 1991 and gave away about 62% of that to charity.
[NOTE: Gerard Vanderleun recycled an old post of his at American Digest, an ode to the rainy season in Seattle. Which reminds me that, way back when, I wrote an answering poem---only mine was an ode to snow season in New England. Which makes me think it just might be appropriate to recycle it now, too, because if anything, this season has been even more snowy. In fact, I've come to regard snow as the default position.]
Just to make sure I receive full appreciation for the arduous work involved in writing it, I refer you to this. It explains terza rima, the convoluted rhyme scheme involved:
Terza rima is a three-line stanza using chain rhyme in the pattern a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c, d-e-d. There is no limit to the number of lines, but poems or sections of poems written in terza rima end with either a single line or couplet repeating the rhyme of the middle line of the final tercet…There is no set rhythm for terza rima, but in English, iambic pentameters are generally preferred.
So, without further ado, I bring you:
ACQUAINTED WITH THE WHITE
I have been one acquainted with the white.
I have walked out in snow–and back in snow.
I have watched drifts climb to impressive height.
I have felt blizzard winds that rage and blow.
I have shuffled my muklukked, booted feet
And sniffled wanly, crying, “Woe, oh woe!”
I’ve slipped on ice and skidded down the street
And heard those dying voices with my fall*
Then gone inside to fix myself a treat.
“Snow is design of whiteness to appall,”**
My favorite poet would say, with keen insight.
(Just note his name; he’s called “Frost,” after all.)
I’ve heard friends call me wrong, and far, far Right.
I have been one acquainted with the white.
…because now they’re being extended until October of 2016—that is, until further notice from our fearless leader, Barack Obama.
The audacious transparency of this move is almost breathtaking. Obama must truly think the American people are incredibly stupid and won’t catch on to what he’s doing. Maybe he’s even correct, although I think they’re catching on—much too slowly, but catching on.
But it’s becoming ludicrously apparent that every decision this administration makes is political, and that the Constitution means nothing to President Obama.
It’s crucial to grasp that last point, that extending un-canceled plans hurts ObamaCare financially. There’s no way that Obama would do this without a pressing political reason; just as Phil Klein says, the whole point of making insurers cancel plans in the first place was to force healthy middle-class suckers into more expensive “comprehensive” plans so that their premiums could be redistributed to people with preexisting conditions. Allowing those suckers to stay on their old, cheaper pre-ObamaCare plans means that insurers will have to rely on less revenue than they thought, which means Uncle Sam will be under even more pressure to use the “risk corridor” mechanism as a bailout mechanism to cover unanticipated losses. Healthy people will stick with their old plans, sick people will stick with their new ObamaCare plans (replete with guaranteed issue and community rating), and insurers will tear their hair out wondering how to pay for it without billions of dollars from HHS to help. Quite simply, Obama was forced to choose between doing something that would help his party at the ballot box but hurt his signature health-care law and doing something that would help stabilize the law financially at the risk of generating a nasty backlash to his party from consumers with cancellations. He made the political choice. Which is exactly what O’s critics feared would happen as government insinuated itself further into the health-care industry via O-Care. Decisions on health-care policy are now a species of politics. You’re welcome, America.
Allahpundit also asserts—and I agree with him—that before October of 2016, Obama will just extend the deadline again, past the election in November.
However, I do have one correction to what Allahpundit said: I’m not sure that the new delay in the cancellations of the old policies will have quite as disastrous an effect on the Obamacare exchanges as he seems to think it will, because there are certainly some sick people who will choose to remain on their original un-canceled plans, if they think those plans are better than what they could get through Obamacare. Nevertheless, I believe he is correct in saying that the exchanges will probably be composed of a significantly higher percentage of sick people than was originally projected, because some sick people previously without health insurance (or those with grandfathered plans who will now get a nice fat subsidy on the exchanges and are therefore willing to voluntarily give up their old plans) will sign up on the exchanges.
Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon. Read More >>