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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cruising the Web

Myron Magnet writes about what has happened to New York City under Mayor de Blasio as he describes a couple of random attacks on tourists.
A few more incidents like this will stop tourists from coming to Gotham and choke off a rich growth industry, as top cop Bill Bratton recognizes. So while Mayor Bill de Blasio blathers about raising taxes on “the rich” to fight his chimera of inequality (which some days seems like his version of Kryptonite), his heavy anti-cop rhetoric, and the ongoing efforts of his city council allies to decriminalize quality-of-life offenses like fare-beating and public urination, threatens to sweep away many of the unskilled hospitality-industry jobs that the orderly New York of Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg nurtured. Think of de Blasio as the Inequality Grinch who could steal Gotham’s earned prosperity.

Take a walk around the Grand Hyatt and neighboring Grand Central Terminal these days. It’s often like stepping out of H.G. Wells’s time machine straight back into the 1970s or 1980s. Vanderbilt Avenue, in particular, is becoming once again the urinal of the universe, with one block wall-to-wall “bum stands,” as my son, with childhood inventiveness, used to call them: the stolen supermarket shopping cart, the garbage bag full of scavenged cans and bottles for redemption, the prone figure wrapped mummy-like in a filthy blanket. The heart sinks. It took so much effort by so many people to clear up the human wreckage that so many years of liberal “compassion” had created in a dying New York. And to see it all—I can’t put it any better than the esteemed New York Post—“pissed away” by a mayor not smart or perceptive enough to have learned one thing from the experience of the last 20 years, since his own personal demons have left him stuck in the politics of the 1950s and 1960s, is tragic. It is so hard to build; so easy to destroy.
I guess New Yorkers got what they voted for it. And they're getting it "good and hard."

How many times have we seen this sort of hypocrisy from union officials?
Union officials in Los Angeles are fighting to be excluded from minimum wage rules that they have lobbied to put in place.

Los Angeles city council is set to vote on a union-backed clause to its $15-an-hour minimum wage bill that would exempt workers covered by a collective bargaining contract. The debate is expected to start later this week when the council returns from summer recess.

In May, the Los Angeles city council voted in favor of raising minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. As the council prepared for a final vote on the legislation, the Los Angeles Times reported local union leaders had suggested an exemption that was common for such laws: to make companies with unionized workforces exempt from such wage increase.

The proposal was made by Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Hicks has been a leading voice for raising the minimum wage. He declined to comment for this story, referring the Guardian to previously released statements when he first introduced the proposal for the exemption clause.
This is reminiscent of unions hiring non-union people, even the homeless, to protest contractors who don't use union labor. High unemployment rates seems to provide plenty of people to accept hourly wages to protest employers who don't hire union workers.
"For a lot of our members, it's really difficult to have them come out, either because of parking or something else," explains Vincente Garcia, a union representative who is supervising the picketing.

So instead, the union hires unemployed people at the minimum wage—$8.25 an hour—to walk picket lines. Mr. Raye says he's grateful for the work, even though he's not sure why he's doing it. "I could care less," he says. "I am being paid to march around and sound off."
The Washington Post reported eight years ago that unions were outsourcing their picketing. So hypocrisy has long been a trend among unions.

Hillary Clinton has looked at the economy and found the culprit for its sluggishness - businesses and their shareholders.
But Mrs. Clinton then offered an analysis of this sorry state of affairs that was nearly 100% Obama-free. Aside from a vague reference to the disruptive impact of a government shutdown, the President’s policies were off the hook. Instead, Mrs. Clinton blamed “quarterly capitalism,” in which company shareholders pressure management to return cash to them instead of re-investing it in new factories and workers....
She thinks businesses are not investing in expanding their businesses because of pressure from their shareholders to pay out dividends or buy back stocks. She wants to put a stop to that. She really doesn't understand how businesses work.
Forget for a moment that Mrs. Clinton doesn’t seem to respect the rights of property owners to manage their properties as they see fit. A significant problem for Americans hoping for economic revival is that for all the time Mrs. Clinton has spent collecting money from Wall Streeters, she still doesn’t understand market incentives.

Activist shareholders win some and lose some. When they can convince most of their fellow shareholders that a business has few compelling opportunities to invest its cash flow and that shareholders would be better off investing that cash elsewhere, they win. On the other hand, if most shareholders are confident that management can generate a good return by building more plants and hiring more workers, the activists lose.

If the activists are having more success in this era, it means investors are less optimistic about the potential for growing the businesses they own. Is that because managements are suddenly less competent than they used to be, or is this era of slow growth putting a damper on investor expectations?

The emerging Clinton strategy is to first ignore the impact of President Obama’s record-setting volumes of federal regulation and his tax hikes on income, investment, health care, and much else. Step two is to pretend that the “new normal” of stagnant wages results from investor demands for returns that have existed for as long as there have been corporations.

“I’m looking for new creative, innovative, disruptive ideas that will save capitalism for the 21st century,” said Mrs. Clinton on Friday. How about disrupting just one of the barriers to growth created by Mr. Obama?

Ah, yes. Hillary Clinton, woman of the people.
Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton locked down part of Bergdorf Goodman, the luxury goods department store, to get a $600 haircut Friday at the posh John Barrett Salon.

Clinton, accompanied by a huge entourage, slipped into the Fifth Avenue store through a side door Friday, the New York Daily News reported.

The store shut down an elevator bank so the Democrat candidate could ride up alone and enjoy her hair cut in a private area of the salon, a source told the Daily News. "Other customers didn't get a glimpse," said the source.

Salon owner John Barrett normally charges $600 for a hair cut and blow-dry, and hair color costs an additional $600. Whether Clinton paid $600 for the haircut remains unknown, as she did not respond for a request comment.
Can you imagine if Mitt Romney had done this?

The next time Democrats talk about how much they care about veterans who have been neglected by the Department of Veterans Affairs, remember where their priorities really are.
The White House says President Obama will veto legislation that would let the Department of Veterans Affairs fire corrupt or negligent officials, in part because that change would make the VA a less pleasant place to work for federal employees.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., introduced the VA Accountability Act in response to the VA's failure to hold almost anyone responsible for the VA healthcare scandal, massive cost overruns at new construction projects and other problems.

But the White House said in a statement released late Tuesday that Miller's bill would be unfair to the VA, since it would create a "disparity" between VA workers and officials at other government agencies.

"It would make conditions of employment in VA significantly less attractive than in other federal agencies or in the private sector, and as a result, would discourage outstanding VA employees from remaining in VA and dramatically impair VA's ability to recruit top talent, including veterans," the White House said in a statement on the bill.

The White House says President Obama will veto legislation that would let the Department of Veterans Affairs fire corrupt or negligent officials, in part because that change would make the VA a less pleasant place to work for federal employees.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., introduced the VA Accountability Act in response to the VA's failure to hold almost anyone responsible for the VA healthcare scandal, massive cost overruns at new construction projects and other problems.

But the White House said in a statement released late Tuesday that Miller's bill would be unfair to the VA, since it would create a "disparity" between VA workers and officials at other government agencies.

"It would make conditions of employment in VA significantly less attractive than in other federal agencies or in the private sector, and as a result, would discourage outstanding VA employees from remaining in VA and dramatically impair VA's ability to recruit top talent, including veterans," the White House said in a statement on the bill.
Just like Democrats protect ineffective teachers from being fired are sticking up for corrupt or ineffective VA employees.

Michael Barone ponders our New Victorianism. He notes that thee has been a steady decrease in teens engaged in sex and teen pregnancies.
Conservative millennial author Ben Domenech sees these trends as a “triumph of soft conservatism over time,” but also as “another aspect of modern risk aversion.” That latter trend is also apparent in the decline in unsupervised play for children and removal of jungle gyms and slides from playgrounds.

A tendency to risk aversion also helps explain the movement against the supposed plague of sexual assaults in colleges and universities, with administrators running kangaroo courts in which the accused (almost always men) are assumed guilty and denied due-process rights. This has been carried, as my Washington Examiner colleague Ashe Schow has documented, to ridiculous extremes.

But one can also see it as an updated version of the college rules against male-female sexual contact that were being dismantled as “Hair” was premiering on Broadway. Students, headed to Aquarius then, are subjected to quasi-Victorian restrictions now.

California and New York legislators have chimed in with “yes means yes” statutes applicable to students (but not other adults). The American Law Institute is considering a similar approach, which Judith Shulevitz in the New York Times called “the criminalization of what we think of as ordinary sex.”

The 1960s saw a sharp decline in birth rates — the end of the baby boom — especially among the highly educated and affluent. But as Charles Murray documented in his 2012 book Coming Apart, the highly educated abandoned Aquarian rates of divorce and extramarital sex in the 1980s, while these rates have remained high among the less educated.

Now there’s been a trend since the 1990s toward higher birth rates at relatively late ages, and lower childlessness among highly educated women. And more women with higher educations are deciding the stay at home with children and pause their careers. Queen Victoria, a teen bride and mother of nine (the last at age 37), might approve.

Even the legalization and vastly increased approval of same-sex marriage has a Victorian aspect. The early same-sex marriage advocates Andrew Sullivan and Jonathan Rauch argued that marriage would domesticate homosexuals. There’s logic to that — marriage inevitably includes elements of restriction and restraint — and we will see how it works out.

The desire to divorce the Democratic Party from its previous heroes Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson continues. I guess all they have left are Woodrow Wilson, FDR, JFK, LBJ, Bill Clinton and Obama. Their bench is shrinking.

Political correctness never ends. Now we need to warn university students to not use the word "American." We wouldn't want to offend those from South or Central America or Canadians and Mexicans. Geesh! I wonder how many people from all those other countries actually use the word "American" themselves instead of the recommended terms "Resident of the U.S." or "U.s. citizen."

A lion gets killed and what is important to report -- the hunter's donation to Mitt Romney. Seriously. With all that is going on today, the killing of a lion is the story that has the world's attention? As John Hinderaker writes,
These are perilous times: Iran is on its way to getting the bomb, Russia is on the march, China’s economy is teetering, the U.S. has a historic election in prospect. So what is the number one news story in the world? Cecil the lion.
Daniel Halper writes tongue-in-cheek about the lion tragedy.
t's been a tragic couple years for Africa.

The death of Cecil comes on the heels of the tragedy of Ebola and the continuing murderous terror of Boko Haram.

Consider Ebola: "More than 23,200 people in Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone have contracted Ebola since March, according to the World Health Organization, making this the biggest outbreak on record. More than 9,300 people have died," the New York Times reported in January of this year.

And consider the terrorist group Boko Haram. "During 2014, Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 3,750 civilians died during Boko Haram attacks. .. Attacks in the first quarter of 2015 have increased compared to the same period in 2014, including seven suicide bombings allegedly using women and children."

At least the death of Cecil has been getting widespread coverage, especially here in the United States.

"[T]he news shows did find more than 14 minutes for a more important story: the “outrage” over the shooting of Cecil, a famed African lion, by an American dentist. Tuesday, the networks spent 5 minutes, 44 seconds during their evening news shows on Cecil -- and that’s not even counting the teasers. Wednesday morning, ABC, NBC and CBS lamented over the lion for 8 minutes, 17 seconds," Newsbusters reports.
And, of course, that is a whole lot more attention than the Planned Parenthood or Dr. Gosnell stories.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cruising the Web

Steven Groves of Heritage explains what John Kerry doesn't understand about what a treaty is and what the role of the Senate is.
At a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked why the administration did not submit the Iran nuclear agreement to the Senate for its advice and consent as an Article II treaty.

Kerry responded that the agreement wasn’t treated as a treaty “because you can’t pass a treaty anymore.”
So, since getting 2/3 of the Senate is difficult and needs consensus, the solution is just to ignore the Constitution. It's no wonder that Kerry would think that. After that is the reason his boss has given for ignoring Congress when it came to changing immigration law. And Kerry's assertion isn't even true. It would just be true of the terrible deal that he negotiated with Iran.
So a historically important nonproliferation agreement was created as a measly executive agreement not based on principle or standard practice– but solely for reasons of expedience.

This is not a good reason to avoid Senate scrutiny on important international agreements, particularly deeply flawed agreements such as the Iran nuclear deal.

Indeed, if the Iran nuclear deal was palatable, it may have sailed through the Senate since most senators, including the chairman and ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, prefer diplomatic solutions to war.

Moreover, during the administration of George W. Bush, the Senate managed to give its consent to ratification of more than 160 treaties.

Indeed, during his own tenure as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then-Senator Kerry ushered through a major arms control treaty with Russia—the so called “New START” nuclear arms reduction treaty.

Therefore the Senate is clearly capable of passing treaties, just not unpopular ones like the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, or apparently the Iran nuclear deal.
Yeah, it's those treaties with terrorist nations that are hard to get 2/3 support for.

John Kerry has another hole in his knowledge of or respect for the Constitution. Apparently, the administration he serves is above the law.
While testifying before the House of Representatives on the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry would not commit to following the law should Congress override a threatened presidential veto.

Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) asked what the administration would do if Congress overrides a veto and rejects the deal. “You strongly do not want us to override a presidential veto, but if we do that triggers certain American laws,” Sherman asked, “I’d like to give you an opportunity — you don’t want us to do it, you think it’s terrible policy, you think the rest of the world would be against us — but lets say Congress doesn’t take your advice, we override a veto. And the law that’s triggered then imposes certain sanctions. Will you follow the law even though you think it violates this agreement clearly and even if you think it’s absolutely terrible policy?”

Secretary Kerry said he could not answer that question. “I can’t begin to answer that at this point without consulting with the president and determining what the circumstances are,” he responded.

Sherman interrupted, asking, “So, you’re not committed to following the law if you think it’s a bad law?”

“No,” Kerry said, “I said I’m not going to deal with a hypothetical, that’s all.”
It might be a hypothetical, but there should be only one answer to a question about what the administration should do if the Congress passes a law regarding Iran over a presidential veto. But such mundane concerns are beneath this Secretary of State and this President.

Politico tries to figure out who Donald Trump really is and what he really believes. It's a tough job.
hich side is Donald Trump on?

Trump once endorsed a massive surtax on the rich. But he now wants the top income tax rate cut in half.
Story Continued Below

He opposed the war in Iraq, but says he now has a “foolproof” plan to defeat ISIL.

He’s praised single-payer health care, yet loathes Obamacare. But a decade ago he proposed “health marts” that sound suspiciously like today’s Obamacare exchanges.

Over the past two decades he was a Republican, then an independent, then a Democrat, then a Republican. Now, registered as an independent, he leads the Republican 2016 presidential field.

But what does Donald Trump really believe on policy? It’s hard to tell — his campaign will identify no policy director, he has no “issues” tab on his campaign website and he hasn’t given any substantive policy speeches on the campaign trail.

“His hair has been more permanent than his political positions,” said Thomas P. Miller, a health care policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “It’s a total random assortment of whatever plays publicly.”
Voters are drawn to Trump more for his I’ll-say-anything style than for his policy views. But a close inspection of Trump’s two published policy tomes, “The America We Deserve” (2000) and “Time To Get Tough” (2011), along with Trump’s public statements in interviews, on Twitter and in public appearances, indicate that Trump’s policy preferences are eclectic, improvisational and often contradictory.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump signs an autograph before addressing the Republican Party of Arkansas Reagan Rockefeller dinner in Hot Springs, Ark., Friday, July 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Some of his policy stances are flatout disqualifying to the Republican establishment, but that doesn’t seem to matter. The inconsistencies may even be an asset in assembling a coalition.

To a large extent Trump’s policy contradictions reflect his rapidly shifting political alliances over the past 15 years.

In 1999, Trump quit the Republican Party, saying “I just believe the Republicans are just too crazy right.” Trump was then conferring with political consultant Roger Stone about a possible presidential run as a candidate of the Reform Party, the political organization founded by his fellow billionaire Ross Perot.

In 2001, Trump quit the Reform Party to register as a Democrat. “It just seems that the economy does better under Democrats,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in 2004. The Clintons attended Trump’s Palm Beach wedding to former model Melania Knaus in 2005. The following year Trump gave $26,000 to the House and Senate campaign committees.
By the late aughts, though, Trump’s political giving had started shifting back to the GOP, and in 2009 Trump registered again as a Republican. Two years later he registered as an independent while contemplating a third-party bid.

It was during Trump’s leftward drift in 1999 that he first proposed a wealth tax — a one-time 14.25 percent levy on fortunes more than $10 million that inequality guru Thomas Piketty might salivate over. “The concept of a one-time tax on the super-wealthy is something he feels strongly about,” Stone told the Los Angeles Times.
The list goes on and on. It's a handy list for some Republican to stand up on stage at the debate next week and challenge Trump on or for reporters to ask him.

And some GOP voters were upset by the handful of flip flops that Mitt Romney had made.

Even if you're an angry Republican voter who is disgusted with the leaders of the party, why would Donald Trump be the answer to those complaints? Kevin Williamson writes on that theme.
The Trumpkins insist that this isn’t about Trump but about the perfidious Republican establishment, which is insufficiently committed to the conservative project. Fair enough. But what of Trump’s commitment? Being at the precipice of his eighth decade walking this good green earth, Trump has had a good long while to establish himself as a leader on — something. He isn’t a full-spectrum conservative, but he seems to have conservative-ish instincts on a few issues. What has he done with them? There are many modes of leadership available to the adventurous billionaire: Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who is the less famous and more competent version of Trump, is directly involved in campaigns, while Charles and David Koch have engaged in electoral politics and done the long-term (and probably more consequential) work of nurturing a stable of institutions dedicated to advancing the cause of liberty, and Bill Gates has put his billions behind his priorities. Trump has made some political donations — to Herself, to Harry Reid, to Nancy Pelosi, to Schumer — and his defense is that these were purely self-serving acts of influence-purchasing rather than expressions of genuine principle. There is no corpus of Trump work on any issue of any significance; on his keystone issue, illegal immigration, he has not even managed to deliver a substantive speech, a deficiency no doubt rooted in his revealed inability to voice a complete sentence.

Donald Trump, who inherited a real-estate empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars from his father, has had every opportunity to involve himself in the consequential questions of his time. He has been a very public figure for decades, with a great deal of time, money, celebrity, business connections, and other resources to put in the service of something that matters. Seventy years in, and his curriculum vitae is remarkably light on public issues for a man who would be president. One would think that a life spent in public might inspire at least a smidgen of concern about the wide world. He might have had any sort of life he chose, and Trump chose a clown’s life. There is no shortage of opportunities for engagement, but there is only one thing that matters to Trump, and his presidential campaign, like everything else he has done in his seven decades, serves only that end.

But don't worry about Trump - Mark Cuban likes him. I guess that billionaires stick together.

Debra Saunders reflects on how Hillary Clinton's server scandal links to everything people haven't liked about Hillary.
In 1996, The New York Times' William Safire branded Clinton a "congenital liar" in a column that cited the first lady's amazing acumen in the commodities market, her role in firing staff in the White House travel office and the mysterious disappearance and appearance of documents from her former law firm. The Clintons have a way of playing the clock until the public loses interest in an overcomplicated story.

The Clinton email/private server story is too technical, as well, but it directs attention to other Clinton vices:

1) Blind ambition. Clinton was her party's front-runner in 2008, but then Democrats bolted to a first-term senator from Illinois. Yes, they liked Barack Obama, but also, they did not trust Clinton, who had voted for the Iraq War before she turned against it.

2) Greed. Bill and Hillary Clinton raked in $25 million in speaking fees over 16 months. Clinton maintains she wants to fight for income inequality, even as she charged UCLA $300,000 for one speech last year -- and that fee, paid by a private fund, was her special "university rate."

3) Mendacity. Given Clinton's history in the White House, it is impossible to believe she thought she should use a private server for sensitive national security correspondence, which is part of the public record. If she wanted to keep her personal emails private, Clinton knows she should have kept a separate private account. It shows how little respect Clinton has for the public that she would contend that she simply did not want to carry two phones.

In July, Clinton told CNN's Brianna Keilar: "Everything I did was permitted. There was no law. There was no regulation. There was nothing that did not give me the full authority to decide how I was going to communicate." Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler gave that statement three Pinocchios for "significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions."

Clinton treated a top Cabinet post as a personal fiefdom. How do you think she would treat the White House?

Don't trust the recent news that the Social security Trust Fund had moved back one year the date when the Trust Fund is going to run out of money. The assumptions in that forecast are much more generous than the ones that the CBO and Federal Reserve and OMB have made.

Ah, the familiar dodge of Democratic politicians when they're caught out wasting energy like flying on private planes - they say they'll be "carbon neutral" by doing some sort of offsets. That's Hillary's campaign's answer to questions about her hypocrisy. Once again, as Boccaccio wrote, it's a matter of "Do as we say, not as we do." Back in the 16th century, those were called indulgences and they're as phony now as they were then.
An investigation by The Christian Science Monitor and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting has found that individuals and businesses who are feeding a $700 million global market in offsets are often buying vague promises instead of the reductions in greenhouse gases they expect.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?
They are buying into projects that are never completed, or paying for ones that would have been done anyhow, the investigation found. Their purchases are feeding middlemen and promoters seeking profits from green schemes that range from selling protection for existing trees to the promise of planting new ones that never thrive. In some cases, the offsets have consequences that their purchasers never foresaw, such as erecting windmills that force poor people off their farms.

Carbon offsets are the environmental equivalent of financial derivatives: complex, unregulated, unchecked and – in many cases – not worth their price.

And often, those who get the “green credits” thinking their own carbon emissions have been offset, are fooled. The Vatican was among them.
It's nice of the campaign to promise that they'll be offsetting their waste of energy; they know that no one will ever look into what they actually did and if that was effective.

Meanwhile, we have other things to fear.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that if the U.S. doesn’t respond to the recent cyberattacks on the federal government, it will cause digital adversaries to “get bolder and bolder.”

Pressure has been building on the Obama administration to retaliate or at least publicly accuse someone for the hacks at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The data breach exposed more than 22 million people’s sensitive information. Clapper called the stolen data “a gold mine for a foreign intelligence service, whoever it was,” during an interview Tuesday on “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”
Officials have said privately they believe China is behind the attack. But they have also indicated the White House will withhold from publicly blaming the Asian superpower over concerns about exposing classified intelligence.

Christian Schneider of the Milwaukee Journal sentinel exactly nails it that it is just lazy of politicians to jump to Hitler comparisons to describe their political opponents. He has in mind Wisconsin liberals who have reached for the Hitler comparison for Scott Walker. But if you're going to compare a politician with whom you have policy disagreements to a genocidal maniac, there are other choices out there.
For instance, you may want to opt for Mao Zedong, who made Hitler look like a piker. Hitler is blamed for the deaths of around 17 million civilians; Chairman Mao, on the other hand, is credited with the deaths of between 50 and 80 million people during his rule in China.

If Mao is too obvious, I'd suggest going with Josef Stalin, who's credited with the deaths of 23 million people. And if you really want to impress your friends, invoke the frequently forgotten Leopold II of Belgium, who was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 10 million Congolese citizens.

So if you're keeping score at home, you have Mao Zedong at 80 million casualties, Stalin at 23 million, Hitler at 17 million, Leopold at 10 million and, just a hair behind them, Gov. Scott Walker

Look, we are all rooting for you. So if you're going to embarrass yourself, be bold and unapologetic. Moderation is for people who just don't care as much as you do. With just a little research, you can finally reach your goal of being the smartest ignoramus we all know you can be.

It can be a very slippery slope to let the Supreme Court define what liberty is. Liberals might be concerned about that.
[Justice] Alito pointed out that under this view, “liberty” is in the eye of the beholder: A libertarian Supreme Court justice might be willing to throw out minimum wage laws under the “liberty of contract” or zoning laws as violating property rights; a socialist justice might decide that “liberty” includes free college tuition and a guaranteed annual income.

The Washington Post has a very nice article about Atlas Corps, the non-profit organization at which my younger daughter has worked for the past three years. We're very proud of her. And it's a great organization.

This is funny - "The 20 Biggest Plot Holes in World HIstory If It Was a Movie."
11. A real jump the shark moment was when they let Napoleon come back just for them to beat him again. Really lazy writing there.

13. A plague wipes out vast quantities of Europeans, and then shows up randomly later? Obvious sequel bait.
Hey, here is a movie idea - have Napoleon unleash a secret weapon at Waterloo - a Tyrannosaurus Rex and other giant dinosaurs. Because everyone knows that giant lizards would be on the side of the French.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cruising the Web

We still don't know how Chuck Schumer is going to vote on the deal with Iran. Yet, by his own standards, the deal fails five of the issues he laid out in May that should be necessary for a deal. We'll see if Schumer was just saying what his audience of Orthodox Jews wanted to hear or he really meant what he said.

And I'd be fascinated to hear the logic by which any Democratic senator would defend this.
Pompeo says they asked whether they could see those agreements. He says IAEA officials replied, “ ‘Oh no, of course not, no, you’re not going to get to see those.’ And so everybody on our side of the table asked, ‘Has Secretary Kerry seen these?’ ‘No, Secretary Kerry hasn’t seen them. No American is ever going to get to see them.’ ”

It turns out that only the two parties — the IAEA and Iran — get to see the actual agreements (though you can see a picture of Iranian and IAEA officials holding up what appear to be the secret accords here).

In other words, Obama is gambling our national security and handing over $150 billion in sanctions relief to Iran, based on secret agreements negotiated between the IAEA and Iran that no U.S. official has seen.

“We need to see these documents in order to evaluate whether or not verification is ample to make such a big concession to the Iranians,” Pompeo says. “No member of Congress should be asked to vote on an agreement of this historic importance absent knowing what the terms of the verification process are.”

In fact, the Obama administration’s failure to transmit these side deals to Congress is a violation of the law. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which Obama signed into law, explicitly states that the president must transmit the nuclear agreement along with “all related materials and annexes.” That clearly covers any side agreements covering the verification of Iran’s compliance.

Susan Rice told reporters the administration “provided Congress with all of the documents that we drafted or were part of drafting and all documents shared with us by the IAEA.” Sorry, that’s not what the law requires.

But the administration cannot hand over what it apparently does not have. For Pompeo, that raises even more troubling questions. “Why on earth is the president letting the negotiations [on verification] be negotiated by someone other than us?” he asks. How can it be that the administration would “do a deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, that’s spent its entire existence cheating, and we would sign off on a deal with them whose core provisions are completely unknown to our side? It’s remarkable.”

What is in the secret side deals? According to Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), one of the side deals governing inspections of the Parchin military complex allows Iran to collect its own soil samples, instead of IAEA inspectors. That is like letting Lance Armstrong collect his own blood samples for a doping investigation. “I suspect if we’re able to actually go over [these agreements], you find half a dozen that you would stare at and realize we really didn’t get verification,” Pompeo says.

Hillary Clinton wants us not to vote for us because she's a woman, yet she also wants us to vote for her because she is a woman. Her logic is as lame as her whole campaign.
"Clearly, I'm not asking people to vote for me simply because I'm a woman. I'm asking people to vote for me on the merits," Clinton said.

Then she directly addressed gender, adding: "I think one of the merits is I am a woman. And I can bring those views and perspectives to the White House."

Hillary Clinton seems to have left a lot out of her climate plan. And liberals aren't happy about it.
Hillary Clinton’s newly unveiled climate vision sounds ambitious on its face: 500 million new solar panels from coast to coast, eco-minded energy tax breaks and enough green power to keep the lights on in every U.S. home.

But just as glaring are the details she left out.

Does Clinton support or oppose the Keystone XL oil pipeline? Or Arctic offshore drilling? Or tougher restrictions on fracking? Or the oil industry’s push to lift the 1970s ban on exporting U.S. crude oil? Clinton avoided all those questions in the solar-heavy climate plan she outlined Sunday night and in her speech promoting it Monday in Iowa — and she declined yet again Monday to say where she stands on Keystone.

That means that liberals longing for Clinton to erase what they see as the dirtiest spot on President Barack Obama’s environmental record — his support for an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that includes domestic oil and gas drilling — have to keep waiting. Greens want to cheer for Clinton, but Democratic rivals Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley are already trying to outflank her with even more ambitious climate plans, while the GOP attacks her from the right.

“Clinton’s climate plan is remarkable for what it doesn’t say, yet,” California-based environmental activist R.L. Miller, who founded the Climate Hawks Vote PAC, said in a statement. Specifically, she added, Clinton offered “no effort to keep fossil fuels in the ground, no price on carbon; no word on Keystone XL, Arctic oil or other carbon bombs; no word on fracking.”

Chris Cillizza looks at four poll numbers that should really scare Hillary Clinton. The more people see her, the less they like her.

John McWhorter has a very thoughtful essay on what he describes as America's new religion - Antiracism.
Yet Antiracism as religion has its downsides. It encourages an idea that racism in its various guises must be behind anything bad for black people, which is massively oversimplified in 2015. For example, it is thrilling to see the fierce, relentless patrolling, assisted by social media, that the young black activists covered in a recent New York Times Magazine piece have been doing to call attention to cops’ abuse of black people. That problem is real and must be fixed, as I have written about frequently, often to the irritation of the Right. However, imagine if there were a squadron of young black people just as bright, angry and relentless devoted to smoking out the bad apples in poor black neighborhoods once and for all, in alliance with the police forces often dedicated to exactly that? I fear we’ll never see it—Antiracism creed forces attention to the rogue cops regardless of whether they are the main problem.

The fact is that Antiracism, as a religion, pollutes our race dialogue as much as any lack of understanding by white people of their Privilege. For example, the good Antiracist supports black claims that standardized tests are “racist” in that black people don’t do as well on them as other students. But Antiracism also encourages us to ask why, oh why black people are suspected of being less intelligent than others—despite this take on the tests, and aspiring firefighters and even teachers making news with similar claims that tough tests are “racist.” Now, to say that if black people can’t be expected to take tests then they must not be as smart is, under Antiracism, blasphemous—one is not to ask too many questions. The idea of a massive effort—as concentrated as the people battling cop abuse against black people—to get black kids practice in taking standardized tests doesn’t come up, because the scripture turns our heads in other directions.

And too often, Antiracism doctrine loses sight of what actually helps black people. Ritual “acknowledgment” of White Privilege is, ultimately, for white people to feel less guilty. Social change hardly requires such self-flagellation by the ruling class. Similarly, black America needs no grand, magic End of Days in order to succeed. A compact program of on-the-ground policy changes could do vastly more than articulate yearnings for a hypothetical psychological revolution among whites that no one seriously imagines could ever happen in life as we know it.

Antiracism as a religion, despite its good intentions, distracts us from activism in favor of a kind of charismatic passivism. One is to think, to worship, to foster humility, to conceive of our lives as mere rehearsal for a glorious finale, and to encourage others to do the same. This kind of thinking may have its place in a human society. But helping black people succeed in the only real world we will ever know is not that place.

Timothy Carney explains what has been going on with the Highway bill and Ex-Im Bank votes. It all leads Ben Domenech to wonder why the Republican Party even exists and what principle it serves.
Why does the Republican Party exist? What is its purpose as a political entity – to what end do its members work to elect their fellow Republicans? What are its priorities? Whose interests does it serve? Why is this political party still around so long after its primary motivations for creation – the defense of the Union and the end of slavery – were achieved? The Democratic Party exists to serve its clients – but the Republican Party’s justification is more ethereal. Is it just an arbitrary entity seeking a universal negative, designed to push back against Democratic policies and demand they be more something (efficient) or less something else (expensive)? Or does it have actual principles and priorities it seeks to make a reality?

The Republican Party’s voters and supporters certainly seem to have such beliefs. But they rarely seem to make it through the process of synthesis that turns such beliefs into actual policy priorities. Being a negative force is not nothing, and blocking bad policy is worthwhile. But when given the opportunity to put good policy into place, or to take steps to make such policy more feasible in the future, where is the Republican Party to be found?
David Harsanyi takes a stab on explaining why Republican voters are so disgruntled with the Republican Party.
There are, no doubt, countless answers to the above question, but let me take a stab at it: It’s conceivable, and I’m just spitballing here, that many conservatives are wondering: If the Republican Party is incapable or unwilling to make a compelling case against the selling of baby organs or the emergence of a nuclear Iran or the funding of a cronyist state-run bank—or all three—then really, what exactly can it do?

Setting aside presidential politics for a moment, three issues have filled the conservative ether the past few weeks: The administration’s pact abetting Iran’s efforts to become a threshold nuclear power, Planned Parenthood’s organ harvesting controversy, and, to a lesser extent, the renewal of the Export-Import bank. None of these are hobbyhorses of the wild fringe. They’re issues—ostensibly, at least—that are core issues of the modern GOP. And on all three, the GOP has, though it has plenty of leverage to raise a stink, capitulated. In fact, it has probably put more effort into evading confrontation than its standard response of pretending to court it.

I’ve long defended John Boehner’s House as one the most productive in history— obstructing more detrimental and intrusive legislation than any other in modern history. This is a meaningful legacy. From 2010 to 2014, the House was the nation’s checks and balances—inadvertently, perhaps, but still the only thing stopping a monocracy. Even most rank-and-file conservatives disagreed with this assessment. While no one (or, I should say, no sensible person) is expecting the GOP to demand a shutdown, what’s the point of a party that not only ignores issues conservatives are emotionally and ideologically invested in but ones that could appeal to a wider electorate?

How shameless was the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, as he laid into John Kerry at the Iran-deal hearings earlier this week? Corker had the temerity to claim the administration had “been fleeced” by the Iranians after listening to the administration’s rationalizations for the deal.

This might be true. It might also be true that Corker was willing to abdicate his responsibility of holding on to congressional oversight when he agreed to a framework that allows the Iranian deal to move forward even if a majority of the Senate votes no. It’s the risk-free alternative. Corker (and others) can now profess disgust at the outcome, lecture the administration about its impotence, and oppose the deal for the benefit of conservative voters while having, in essence, voted for it months ago.
So it is very depressing, but I don't think that the answer is Donald Trump.

I'm with John Podhoretz. He is depressed about politics for the vary reasons I have been.
No sense pretending: Donald Trump is the only news of the 2016 race, and this fact says something very troubling about the Republican party, the conservative electorate, the mass media culture, and the United States in general. Sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not. Really it’s not.

Ted Cruz goes to war with the GOP Senate leadership; Hillary Clinton proposes the highest tax rates in 70 years; Marco Rubio goes after John Kerry on the Iran deal in a Senate hearing. Well, big deal. Phffft. They’ve all been crowded out by the Trump noise. There will be the first Republican debate in ten days. It’s the most important political event of the year thus far. And it will be all about Trump. He will see to that; the reporters will see to that, and the minor candidates looking to move up will see to it by trying to pick fights with him and best him.

It’s not enough to say that there are matters of deathly serious to be discussed, from Iran to ISIS to the possible collapse of the Euro and the Chinese economy to the harvesting of fetal organs, because there are always serious matters to be discussed as elections approach. The issue with Trump is that his approach can only be called “the politics of unseriousness.” He engages with no issue, merely offers a hostile and pithy soundbite bromide about it. He yammers. He describes how wonderful things will be when he acts against something or other without explaining how he will act, what he will do, or how it will work.

The Trump view, boiled down: They’re all idiots and I’m very rich and I know how to do things and if you say Word One against me I will say something incredibly nasty about you and who cares about how the Senate works or the House works or international alliances work or how treaties work or how anything works. That stuff is for sissies and losers and disasters. I know how to do it I me me me I me me I I me. And me. And I.
Add in the Iran deal, and it's been an extremely depressing few weeks.

San Francisco has found a way to deal with one problem.
San Francisco is testing the idea of painting walls with urine-repellant paint that will soak the sprayer before the wall gets wet.

Mohammed Nuru, San Francisco's director of public works, got the idea to use the paint, Ultra-Ever Dry, after reading about its effectiveness in Hamburg, Germany. The paint repels most liquids so the urine would "bounce back" on the sprayer.

"The urine will bounce back on the guy's pants and shoes," Rachel Gordon, a public works department spokeswoman, said. "The idea is they will think twice next time about urinating in public."

After painting nine walls around areas with prominent nightlife or homeless communities, the city has received requests many other requests for the paint. In fact, it costs less money to paint the wall than to clean it, Gordon said, according to The Guardian.
I suppose that is innovative, but arresting and fining a few guys might accomplish just as much.

Oh, geez. Here is the latest wimpiness from the gender wars. Now, apparently men need to worry that they're buying into some macho stereotype by enjoying grilling.

Okay, Seattle raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour. but that leads to a problem. Now workers are earning too much money to qualify for subsidized housing and child care. Miss CJ at Chicks on the Right comments,
Sooooo... the point of a higher minimum wage wasn't necessarily so you could provide things like housing and food and childcare for yourself - it was just to have more money for whatever else you wanted while the government continues to provide all the free/cheap stuff they were giving you BEFORE you got the minimum wage raise? You mean that even when people don't have to be totally dependent on the government, they still WANT to be?


Basically, they want a "living wage" (whatever the heck THAT means) AND they still want all the freebies the government gives them. Because that's TOTALLY the point of working hard and being independent. And the sad thing is, liberals are seriously cheering this on

No wonder we're doomed.

Charter schools in New Orleans since Katrina have been a very bright spot in education reform.
Students that had been almost certainly destined for failure simply by having been born in New Orleans today have the chance to succeed. "There's nobody that can argue that children are not getting a much better education today than they were getting prior to Hurricane Katrina," Campbell said.

In May, the first group of kindergartners that started at Hynes after Katrina will graduate the eighth grade and head off to high school. With a long waiting list, Douglas said she's considering whether Hynes should open a second campus soon.

New Orleans isn't perfect, but there are lessons that can be learned from its education reforms. The old one-size-fits-all education model is a failure. Flexibility for school leaders can empower them to accomplish amazing things, even in the face of unprecedented adversity. Giving families a choice of where to send their children helps keep schools accountable.

Most importantly, when an education system fails students, don't wait until God intervenes to fix it.

Molli Hemingway lists the four most embarrassing things from Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards' appearance on ABC News with George Stephanopoulos. Hemingway totally describes the whole defense that the videos are edited.
There are a few problems with this talking point, however. First and foremost is that the journalists who taped the undercover videos took the additional step of releasing the lengthy full footage of the interviews at the same time they released shortened versions. Here’s the full footage of Dr. Nucatola, running 2 hours and 42 minutes. Here’s the 9-minute cut of the full footage. Here’s the full transcript. Here’s the full footage of Mary Gatter, running 1 hour and 14 minutes. Here’s the 8-minute cut of the full footage. Here’s the full transcript. Both the full footage and the edited cuts were released at the same time and all the videos are publicly accessible. Interested parties can and should watch both videos.

Another problem with the editing charge is that it’s basically meaningless. I mean, everything is edited. The “news” clip setting up the interview with Richards was edited. All news, whether broadcast or print, is “highly” and “selectively” edited.

No one, and I mean no one, actually fits this description of “deceptive” editor better than Jon Stewart, beloved liberal media figure. Oh look here. Here are 10 times Planned Parenthood praised Jon Stewart.

One major difference between Jon Stewart, who actually doctors videos, splicing answers from one question to a completely separate question, and the undercover journalists hitting Planned Parenthood hard is that only one releases full footage for all to see.

Precisely because Planned Parenthood is running so hard with this talking point, objective journalists need to make sure people know that unlike most all the things that are edited in the world, full footage is public and ready for anyone to see. On that note, the New York Times’ Jackie Calmes falsely claimed last week that the full footage was only released after Planned Parenthood complained about the edited version. That’s incorrect. Both videos were released at the same time. I contacted the New York Times corrections desk about this factual error at 2:15 PM on Tuesday, July 21. That was a full day before the editorial page repeated the error. It remains uncorrected.

Journalists also need to sit down and watch the full videos, which many of them rather obviously haven’t done. I would actually quibble with the editing of the videos in part because they left some of the most salacious details out. For instance, by watching the full second video, I saw that Gatter flat out said that some Planned Parenthood officials wondered whether it was legal to accept so much money for the body parts given how “we didn’t have to do anything” to get them. I might have put that in the shortened video if I were one of the journalists running this project.
Then Richards resorted to baseless character assassination of the leader of the group making the videos. Her defense has a lot of holes in it. She better brush up on her defense because David Daleiden, the man she accused of being part of the the movement that is "behind the bombing of clinics, the murder of doctors in their homes, and in their churches," says that they have total of a dozen videos. Who knows what Planned Parenthood employees said in those videos?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cruising the Web

Sean Trende, who is one of the sharpest people going when it comes to analyzing polls, explains why we shouldn't put a lot of trust polling today. First of all, the refusal rate is so very high. Then there is all the problems that pollsters have in creating their model of who will be in the electorate this time.
For most election analysts, the raw material for a prediction comes in the form of polling data. In theory, polls represent random samples employing uniform methodologies that are lightly weighted. In reality, pollsters use a variety of sampling methods, and then heavily weight the data before (and sometimes after) pushing it through varying voter screens. Much of this is considered proprietary, so we don’t really know what is going on, but suffice it to say that pollsters aren’t just presenting “pristine” random samples.

Even worse, pollsters seem to be increasingly engaging in something called poll herding: a tendency to either re-weight an outlying poll to fall in line with other pollsters or to fail to publish outlying polls altogether. In 2014 alone we saw evidence that PPP, Rasmussen Reports, Gravis Marketing and Hampton University all refused to release polls; forecasters suspect that there are many more instances like this (at least two of these polls were released by accident), but it is unknowable just how many.

This matters, because if a race shifts, or if the herd is wrong, pollsters will be unable to pick up on the movement—there is a collective “you first” tendency when the data suggest pollsters should break out of the herd. Moreover, for technical reasons, models that are denied access to outlying results will tend to understate the uncertainty of their predictions. The result, then, can be the types of massive misses that we saw in the recent elections in the United Kingdom and Israel.

Paul Mirengoff analyzes Donald Trump's absurd assertion that the reason he previously was a Democrat was because he blamed the Republicans for the 2008 economic crash. It just doesn't make sense.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t make historical sense; nor is it an honest explanation. The Bush administration certainly isn’t blameless when it comes to the 2008 crash. But, as we have argued and New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson and her co-author Joshua Rosen have shown, it was mainly the imposition of race-conscious lending practices on the banking industry that led to the financial crisis.

In 1994, Bill Clinton proposed increasing home ownership through a “partnership” between government and the private sector, principally orchestrated by Fannie Mae. Lenders proceeded to promote reckless borrowing, knowing they could off­load risk to purchasers of bundled loans, and especially to Fannie. In 1994, subprime lending was $40 billion. In 1995, almost one in five mortgages was subprime. Four years later such lending totaled $160 billion.

The Bush administration warned as early as 2001 about the problems these lending policies were creating, and in 2003, through Secretary of Treasury John Snow, pushed for reforms to address the issue. But congressional Democrats, led by Barney Frank, blocked reform legislation.

Yes, Bush should have done more to alleviate the situation. But no, Republicans don’t bear primary responsibility for the 2008 crash.

Nor did a belief to the contrary cause Trump to tilt to the Democrats. According to this account, Trump was a registered Democrat from 2001-2008. He switched his registration the very year that, in his telling, the Republicans “crashed the economy.”

In truth, Trump is a natural Democrat. His views on major issues are — or were until recently — standard-issue liberal.

Peter Wehner has the details.
[Trump] has supported massive tax increases on the wealthy, a Canadian-style single-payer health care system, and is a fierce protection. He once declared himself “strongly pro-choice” and favored drug legalization.

Earlier this year, he accused Republicans who want to reform entitlement programs — the essential task for those who favor limited government — of “attacking” Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Barack Obama couldn’t have said it better.
And Barney Frank couldn’t have better stated the Democrats’ line on who caused the 2008 financial crisis.

We need not consult Trump’s revisionist history of that crisis to figure out why he was a registered Democrat for most of the last decade. On key issues his views align closely with those of the Dems.

It’s as straightforward as that.
It would be nice to have a follow-up question to Trump as to why, if he blamed the Republicans for the recession, he chose that year to identify as a Republican.

It's pretty bad when Hillary Clinton's only response to the administration IG's finding that her personal email account mishandled top secret information is to blame the media. If her go-to excuse includes blaming the New York Times, she's really running low on scapegoats.

When she's not blaming the media or the Republicans, her only response seems to be, "whom do you believe - me or your lying IGs?" After all, what sort of defense does she have when independent investigators did find classified emails among those she sent from her private server. The irony really is quite delicious - of all her dishonest doings, the one that is hurting the most is due to her own paranoid efforts to avoid transparency.

But will any of this lead Democrats to stop supporting her? Nope. Matt Welch doesn't think that there is anything Hillary Clinton could do, even strangling a puppy on live TV, that would lead Democrats to back off their support for her.
So how much do Democrats value basic transparency, accountability, and honesty in their presidential candidates? Not bloody much, if you go by the handy polls over at RealClearPolitics. The six national polls taken this January and February, before the email scandal first broke, averaged out to a whopping 43 percentage-point lead for Hillary Clinton. How about the next six, in March and April? Plus 50. The 11 polls in May and June, when Berniementum first started sweeping the country, came in at +48, and the most recent five in July stand at +41.

Do Democrats have any aversion left to Nixonian non-transparency, which had been so anathema to them during the presidency of George W. Bush? Here's a possible bellwether: Key Nixon-administration turncoat John W. Dean, who wrote a 2004 book entitled Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, reacted to the latest Clinton story by tweeting "Leaking This Makes It Pure Politics," and "GOP Behind False Charges In NYT. It's gonna be a long 16 months.

President Barack Obama never paid any political price for pulling a complete 180 on his vows to have the most transparent administration ever, so none of this reaction should be surprising. Still, it's worth stressing that with Hillary Clinton, Democrats have dropped even the pretense of giving a sh*t about transparency. (links in original)
Apparently, her last name and gender trump everything else.

Michael Goodwin of the NY Post is wondering which "senior government official" leaked to the NYT the story about the IGs' report. His conclusion is that Valerie Jarrett, with the President's knowledge is behind the leak. Goodwin doesn't think that such a dangerous leak would have been made on Hillary without approval from above. Who knows, but it's just the sort of thing that Washingtonians love to discuss.

Jay Cost tweets out some good advice for the GOP leadership. His point is that Trump's rise can be explained by the base's dissatisfaction with GOP leadership and actions since being put in charge of the complete legislative branch. One way they can reduce the demand from someone like Trump is to take conservative action on issues like the Ex-Im bank and the highway bill. (link via Sean Trende)

Gosh, The Man is keeping us down. Who knew that they were using air conditioning now in the War on Women. All I can say is that I am very thankful to be kept down by AC.

One more liberal politician who wants us to do has he says, not as he does.
Democratic presidential hopeful and self-described socialist Bernie Sanders introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour this week.

However, Sanders pays his own interns just $12 per hour, notes the Media Research Center.

Red-state Democrats are not thrilled about the shift of their party to the left.
Centrist Democrats were wiped out in the 2014 elections and in their absence emerged a resurgent liberal movement, embodied most recently by the surprisingly competitive presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
But the suddenly ascendant left — its populist overtones becoming part of the mainstream Democratic pitch — is worrying Democrats who want to compete on Republican-leaning turf. The party lost every competitive gubernatorial and Senate race in the South last year. And Democrats didn’t fare much better in the heartland.

Now, as Bernie Sanders’ surge foreshadows a new burst of progressivism, moderate Democrats are looking to their counterparts in Washington with a plea: Don’t freeze us out.

“The national Democratic Party’s brand makes it challenging for Democrats in red states oftentimes and I hope that going forward, the leaders at the national level will be mindful of that and they will understand that they can’t govern the country without Democrats being able to win races in red states,” said Paul Davis, who narrowly failed to unseat Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback last year.

This story about Pearson publishing and educational testing company is sad, frustrating, and unintentionally humorous. It's making big bucks by contracting to conduct testing programs in states across the country. And it's getting those jobs without having to go through competitive bidding. As a teacher in North Carolina, this doesn't surprise me at all.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, for instance, declined to seek competitive bids for a new student data system on the grounds that it would be “in the best interest of the public” to simply hire Pearson, which had done similar work for the state in the past. The data system was such a disaster, the department had to pay Pearson millions extra to fix it.
Yup, I've had to use that site and it was indeed terribly designed. Fortunately, we have a teacher at our school, an English teacher even, who designed a grading program that we can use that is so well done and he is so responsive that we don't have to use Pearson except for entering our final grades. If one English teacher at a small charter school can do that for our school, why can't the mighty Pearson get its act together? I bet you had no idea how pervasive Pearson is.
Pearson wields enormous influence over American education.
It writes the textbooks and tests that drive instruction in public schools across the nation.

Its software grades student essays, tracks student behavior and diagnoses — and treats — attention deficit disorder. The company administers teacher licensing exams and coaches teachers once they’re in the classroom. It advises principals. It operates a network of three dozen online public schools. It co-owns the for-profit company that now administers the GED.

A top executive boasted in 2012 that Pearson is the largest custodian of student data anywhere.

And that’s just its K-12 business.

Pearson’s interactive tutorials on subjects from algebra to philosophy form the foundation of scores of college courses. It builds online degree programs for a long list of higher education clients, including George Washington University, Arizona State and Texas A&M. The universities retain authority over academics, but Pearson will design entire courses, complete with lecture PowerPoints, discussion questions, exams and grading rubrics.

The company is even marketing a product that lets college professors track how long their students spend reading Pearson textbooks each night.
Unfortunately, as Politico documents, there is little evidence that Pearson is achieving the gains it is supposed to be achieving.

Cathy Young examines the whole kerfuffle about Nobel Prize-winning British scientist Tim Hunt and his supposedly sexist comments that outraged feminists. Apparently, the whole thing was completely bogus and, as often, a mess of reporting by the media that didn't bother doing even a cursory amount of research.

For all those progressives who think so highly of European-style socialism, things aren't actually so great there for working mothers. (Link via Fred Schwarz) Amazingly, when employers are forced to give out two years paid leave, they aren't so eager to hire young women and treat them differently when they return.

Ace links to the story of Jon Stewart's reaction when his one black writer said he was uncomfortable with the way that Stewart was impersonating Herman Cain. Apparently, Stewart couldn't take the mere hint that he might be racist.

Find out the most conservative and liberal cities in America. No real surprises.

Scientists are trying to see if a computer can figure out, just by analyzing speech, whether politician is Republican or Democratic. They compiled a list of phrases that each party member is more likely to say in order to program their computer. What struck me was how the phrases they chose indicate that the parties talk about totally different subjects. You're not going to get a Democrat talking about the IRS or a Republican use the phrases "Tax breaks" or "wealthiest." And, apparently, Republicans are much less likely to use the word "bureaucrats" than Democrats. Just looking at the list tells us a lot more about the parties than some useless computer program.

Pew has an interesting interactive look at the political ideology of consumers of major news outlets. What I found striking is how few outlets there were that conservatives use, while there are a whole lot that liberals mostly use. Basically, if there weren't Fox News and a few online sites and radio shows, there would be no place that conservatives to feel comfortable getting their news from. No wonder Fox News drives liberals crazy. It's a lonely outpost.

So how do other countries cover the American Revolution in their schools? Apparently, most don't or, if they do, they cover it as a precursor to the French Revolution. Even in Britain, it seems to be a minor event and "historical curiosity." I get why European nations would find the French Revolution more important, but in the grand scheme of things, I think our revolution was much more important for the world.

Now that the Democrats are getting rid of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson as their party's heroes, they're in need of some new heroes. Mark Krikorian has some suggestions of other notable Democrats.
How about we offer the Democrats some friendly suggestions of other famous Democrats to rename their party’s annual dinners after? How about the Nathan Bedford Forrest-Roger Taney Dinner? The Alger Hiss-Angela Davis Dinner? The Lester Maddox-Robert Byrd Dinner?