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Friday, October 17, 2014

Cruising the Web

Tom Bevan does my work for me. I'd just been talking with my husband about all the controversial decisions and actions that the Democrats have put off for after the election: Obamacare rate increases, Keystone Pipeline, immigration action, the report on Bowe Bergdahl's desertion, etc. I couldn't even remember all of them. Well, now Tom Bevan posits that the "Democrats' Kick-the-can strategy" is backfiring. His list adds to mine.
The number of significant issues they have attempted to kick down the road and dodge until after the midterms is substantial -- and growing by the day.

The Keystone XL pipeline, having already been punted by the president in two previous elections, remains in limbo, buried deep within the bowels of the State Department.

In April, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would delay issuing a regulation forcing new power plants to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions until after the midterm elections.

In September, President Obama, at the behest of vulnerable Senate Democrats -- and to the chagrin of many Latinos -- decided to delay taking executive action on immigration until after November.

This week we learned that Obama acquiesced to another request by Senate Democrats: to delay naming a new attorney general until after the election for fear that a “controversial nominee” might harm their 2014 midterm chances.

It was also revealed this week that the enrollment period for Obamacare this year -- when the public will be able to see how premium rates have been affected -- doesn’t begin until Nov. 15, 11 days after voters go to the polls. Last year, the enrollment period began on Oct. 1. On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest assured the press political considerations had nothing to do with the date change.
You can add to it all the votes that Reid won't let take place in the Senate even though it is clear that those bills would have had majority support. Reid just didn't want to force his senators to have to take a difficult vote on an issue that would drive a wedge between them and Obama. As Bevan points out, this strategy might not be working because people are waking up to what the Democrats have done. I'm still not sure. As I argued to my husband, most of the key elections will be decided by low-information voters who will have no idea that so many important decisions have been postponed for political reasons. So it won't matter how many bloggers and even MSM columnists point out the Democrats' cynical strategy; the election will be decided by people who just tuned in that there was an election the week before and don't know any of the details. We'll see.

Meet Elbert Guillory, the Democrat-turned-Republican black state senator in Louisiana who has been urging black voters to leave the Democratic Party since they haven't gotten anything for their near unanimous support of Democrats.
Guillory doesn’t think President Obama is any better, accusing him of having a “malevolent” indifference to the plight of the black community.

That charge goes far beyond a complaint made by Representative Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) in 2011, but the substance is much the same. “We’re supportive of the president, but we’re getting tired, ya’ll,” Waters said at a Congressional Black Caucus rally in Detroit. “We want to give the president every opportunity to show what he can do and what he’s prepared to lead on. We want to give him every opportunity, but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don’t know what the strategy is.”

Obama responded by telling the CBC to “stop complaining, stop grumbling,” adding that his proposed American Jobs Act contained provisions that would help Detroit and similar cities. The bill, regarded at the time as a campaign document in the run-up to the 2012 election, never passed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, black unemployment sits at 11 percent, more than double the rate for whites.

“I am not aware of any serious initiative that Obama has come forward with that would address the problem of high unemployment in the black community,” Guillory says. “When he did the car-industry bailouts, he did it on the front pages, and he explained to everybody what he was doing and why he was doing it. If he did something about black unemployment, he needed to do the same thing.”

Jim Geraghty warns us that it doesn't matter how wonderful CDC protocols might be if human beings are the ones who have to carry them out. That is why the spotlight on the inadequacies of the CDC reflect the bigger problem progressives have - putting faith in our bureaucratic overlords to fix all problems.
Thus, we see the familiar pattern, from the VA scandal, from Healthcare.gov, from insurance cancellations, to our foreign policy crises. Someone notices a problem. The government assures us they’ve got this under control. People outside government publicly express doubts. Government officials scoff and dismiss the critics. And then the critics turn out to be a lot more right than the government admitted.

Rick Wilson’s chilling – and at least somewhat prescient – little story on Twitter from late July stands out for his main point that in a crisis, human beings make mistakes. That is not avoidable, no matter the preparation, the amount of resources, or the leadership. It’s baked in the cake. So a realistic plan has to have contingencies to deal with those inevitable human errors.

So far, it seems that the Centers for Disease Control designed and implemented a plan that would have worked… as long as no one made any mistakes.

If the screener at the Liberian airport where Duncan got on the plane had detected an elevated temperature, or he had not lied in his answers on the questionnaire, as Liberia’s government claims, the plan would have worked.

If he had clearly communicated he had recently been to West Africa, and the hospital had clearly understood, the plan would have worked, or at least worked better.

If the first nurse indeed made (some yet undetermined) error in removing her protective gear, then yes, the plan could have worked better.

If the second nurse had not made the decision to get on an airliner while “being monitored,” and chosen to get onto a return flight with a 99.5 degree fever, the plan would have worked better.

And then the CDC “dropped the ball,” telling her it was okay to get on that flight.

The problem is that human beings make mistakes, and because of a variety of psychological factors – including fear and denial – they sometimes get worse at assessing risk and reward in circumstances like this one. Even people with a background in medicine and knowledge of the virus take risks that seem unacceptable to others. Nurses get on airplanes. The NBC News medical correspondent goes out for soup. (Links in original)
By the way, read through Rick Wilson's thought experiment about how easy it would be for Ebola to spread throughout the country. He wrote that back in July, but it explains exactly why people today want a ban on travel from West African countries suffering from major Ebola outbreaks. It is both terrifying and realistic, especially given our most recent news.

Yuval Levin expands on this same theme of the overconfidence man have in government bureaucracies.
This crucial process of learning lessons has been hampered so far by a peculiar attitude that often emerges in our politics in times of crisis and imbues our debates with the wrong approach to learning from failure. The attitude is premised on the bizarre assumption that large institutions are hyper-competent by default, so that when they fail we should seek for nefarious causes. Not only liberals (who are at least pretty consistent about making this ridiculous mistake) but also some conservatives who should know better respond with a mix of outrage and disgust to failures of government to contend effortlessly with daunting emergencies. But do we really expect (or even want) our government to have the power and ability to smooth all of life’s edges and be ready in an instant to address the consequences of, say, a major hurricane or massive oil spill or deadly disease outbreak? What do we think that government would be doing with that power the rest of the time? What we should want and expect is a government that can respond to unexpected emergencies by calling upon generally plausible prior planning, quickly building up capacity when it is needed, and learning from unavoidable early mistakes.
Of course, members of the administration and other liberals want to blame insufficiencies on lack of funding even though there is no evidence that more funding would have made any difference today.

Geraghty, whose daily emails are always interesting, also points out a familiar pattern of the administration assuring us that they have everything under control and no one should worry.
At this moment, you may recall that August 29, President Obama assured us, “our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low.”

Or you may remember CDC Director Tom Frieden pledging, “We will stop it in its tracks.”

This is a familiar pattern of statements and behavior from this administration, but with much higher consequences. We’re always being assured that the situation isn’t as bad as it looked.

August 9: “Because Israel is so capable militarily, I don’t worry about Israel’s survival.”

In May, “Our ability to mobilize international opinion rapidly has changed the balance and the equation in Ukraine.”

In January, he scoffed, that ISIS is the “JV squad.”

Back in September 24, 2012, he assured us that Benghazi terror attack was a “bump in the road.”

June 8, 2012, the private sector is “doing fine.”

People who already have health insurance “don’t have to worry.”

High gas prices and increases in the unemployment rate are, similarly, just “bumps in the road.”

Sometimes the assurances use the same trite terms…

“The system worked,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano after the attempted bombing of a flight over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

“The system worked,” said Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health after the first nurse tested positive for Ebola. (Links in original)
Of course, one could probably compile similar statements from any administration. Remember Herbert Hoover's efforts to reassure people about the Great Depression.

IBD is wondering why we aren't hearing anything from the woman in the Obama administration who is The Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response which includes responding to "public health emergencies." IBD wonders if she's "Leading from behind."

And then there is this story.
The Centers for Disease Control told the incoming Obama administration in 2008 that it should establish 18 regional disease detection centers around the world to adequately safeguard the U.S. from emerging health threats like Ebola, according to an agency memo.

But six years later, as the government struggles to contain the fallout from a deadly Ebola outbreak at home and abroad, the CDC still has only 10 centers — and none of them operates in the western Africa region hardest hit by the deadly virus.

“The existing centers have already proven their effectiveness and impact on detecting and responding to outbreaks including avian influenza, aflatoxin poisoning, Rift Valley fever, Ebola and Marburg virus outbreaks,” the CDC said in its memo to the Obama transition team, which The Washington Times obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

At the time, the CDC had five centers set up, and has only added five more of the 13 the agency had proposed “to complete the network and properly protect the nation.”

The memo sheds new light on the problems dealing with the current Ebola crisis, which intensified with the revelations Wednesday that a second Texas nurse had tested positive for the disease and President Obama used a White House Cabinet meeting to promise a “more aggressive” federal response to the threat.

The CDC’s plan outlined in the transition memo was based on the notion that the U.S. shouldn’t wait for a disease to enter the country but rather monitor threats in hot spots overseas to try to help local public health authorities control outbreaks before then.
Hmmm. I wonder how the Washington Times knew to submit a FOIA request for this information. Could it be that someone from the CDC leaked to them about the memo's existence in order to strike back at all the bad press the CDC has been receiving recently and sought to cast a little blame on the administration?

Charles Krauthammer discusses the balance between civil liberties and protecting people from a deadly disease. It's a discussion that authorities don't seem to want to tackle.
President Obama, in his messianic period, declared that choosing between security and liberty was a false choice. On the contrary. It is the eternal dilemma of every free society. Politics is the very process of finding some equilibrium between these two competing values.

Regarding terrorism, we’ve developed a fairly reasonable balance. But it took time. With Ebola, we don’t have time. Viruses don’t wait. The sooner we reset the balance — the sooner we get serious — the safer we will be.

Peggy Noonan asks "Who do they think we are?"
All of which returns me to my thoughts the past few weeks. Back then I’d hear the official wordage that doesn’t amount to a logical thought, and the unspoken air of “We don’t want to panic you savages,” and I’d look at various public officials and muse: “Who do you think you are?”

Now I think, “Who do they think we are?”

Does the government think if America is made to feel safer, she will forget the needs of the Ebola nations? But Americans, more than anyone else, are the volunteers, altruists and in a few cases saints who go to the Ebola nations to help. And they were doing it long before the Western media was talking about the disease, and long before America was experiencing it.

At the Ebola hearings Thursday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) said, I guess to the American people: “Don’t panic.” No one’s panicking—except perhaps the administration, which might explain its decisions.

Is it always the most frightened people who run around telling others to calm down?

This week the president canceled a fundraiser and returned to the White House to deal with the crisis. He made a statement and came across as about three days behind the story—“rapid response teams” and so forth. It reminded some people of the statement in July, during another crisis, of the president’s communications director, who said that when a president rushes back to Washington, it “can have the unintended consequence of unduly alarming the American people.” Yes, we’re such sissies. Actually, when Mr. Obama eschews a fundraiser to go to his office to deal with a public problem we are not scared, only surprised.

But again, who do they think we are? You gather they see us as poor, panic-stricken people who want a travel ban because we’re beside ourselves with fear and loathing. Instead of practical, realistic people who are way ahead of our government.

Here is some interesting information on which cable networks are favored by which party for political ads.

Could this be a world game changer? Of course, that would mean that fearmongers would let it go forward.
Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade.

Bloomberg terms the governor's race in Florida as the "worst campaign in America." The most recent controversy was over whether Crist could have a fan on him during their debate. Really? Please. could Governor Scott might not be inspirational, but if Floridians vote for Charlie Crist, they deserve him. What an opportunistic poseur he is. This GOP ad sums him up.
Though I do like this recommendation on how Rick Scott should have handled Crist's rule-breaking fan.
“What Rick Scott should have done is walk on the stage, shake [Crist’s] hand, bend down, pull the cord out, and say, ‘This is how rules work, bitch,’” said Rick Wilson, a Florida-based GOP consultant.
But apparently, Charlie Crist always requires a fan. He doesn't want to have a Nixon-like moment during any public appearance.

After much outrage and ridicule, Houston is backing down from subpoenaing pastors for their sermons and notes

That Deadspin supposed blockbuster story on Cory Gardner sure backfired, didn't it?

The Washington Post details how Democratic candidates are getting tripped up by Obama. Given that those incumbents running this year are ones who got swept into office on Obama's coattails, it does seem like a sort of divine retribution.

So it seems that every member of Congress who has enrolled in Obamacare has broken the law.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cruising the Web

So does this CBS report give you any confidence in the CDC? They gave the second nurse to have come down with Ebola, Amber Vinson, permission to fly on an airplane even though she had a fever.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Vinson called the agency several times before flying, saying that she had a fever with a temperature of 99.5 degrees. But because her fever wasn't 100.4 degrees or higher, she didn't officially fall into the group of "high risk" and was allowed to fly.
Really They thought that a nurse who took care of Thomas Duncan and had a fever even if it wasn't quite high enough would be fine to have her get on an airplane. Why not have her take a test in Ohio before having her get on the plane? Their seeming insouciance such as not sending a team to Dallas as soon as Duncan was discovered to have Ebola to make sure that their vaunted protocols were actually being followed boggles the mind.

The Washington Post awards four Pinochios to the the Democrats' absurd claim that only Republicans are to blame for cuts to Ebola research.

At least there is some promising news on the R & D front into fighting Ebola. Given that blood donations from Dr. Kent Brantly, the missionary doctor who was treated with ZMapp, the experimental treatment for Ebola, have been given to to three other victims and it has, apparently, helped, this seems like a promising line of research. Despite the tremendous losses in West Africa, there are people who have survived. If their blood could be drawn and the antibodies extracted, this seems like a very promising line of research. And there are other treatments and vaccines that are being tested and developed, so maybe there is hope in the long run.

28 members of Harvard's Law School faculty advise the university that its sexual harassment policy violates all standards of how suspected criminals should be treated.
As teachers responsible for educating our students about due process of law, the substantive law governing discrimination and violence, appropriate administrative decision-making, and the rule of law generally, we find the new sexual harassment policy inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach. We also find the process by which this policy was decided and imposed on all parts of the university inconsistent with the finest traditions of Harvard University, of faculty governance, and of academic freedom.
Read the rest for the details of how Harvard (and many other universities) think it's perfectly fine to scrap American principles of due process as soon as someone is accused of sexual harassment. It's disgusting, but good for these members of the faculty.

Concealed carry helps save two Democratic Pennsylvania lawmakers from armed robbery. Amazing how that works.

Oh, darn. CNN's Crossfire is canceled again. Who knew it had even been resurrected.

So where did it all go wrong for Obama? The Hill wonders. There are all sorts of excuses and then there are always Republicans to blame. But then there is President Obama himself and those with whom he surrounds himself.
But even former aides to Obama are casting around for explanations as to why his stock of political capital has depleted so rapidly.

“I’m still struggling to figure this out,” said one former senior administration official. “I think a lot of it boils down to this mindset that, ‘we all have the answers and we’re smarter than everybody else and we can do this.’ ”

This source said that the element of hubris was exacerbated by the “level of insularity,” adding, “I don’t know if the president has stopped trying or he’s tired of it but the White House seems to be perpetually in a bunker mode.”
Then they worry that he's just not that good at explaining stuff to the American people.
“The president is not engaging externally on a personal level,” said the first former official. “It’s all done through analysis and fact sheets. But he’s not someone with the retail side. I think he’s right on the facts but he’s wrong on packaging it and making people feel invested in it the way someone like Bill Clinton can.”
Wait. Isn't this the guy whose eloquence was compared to Lincoln's and who was elected really because people were so overwhelmed by the brilliance of his speeches? And now his go-to excuse is that he's not good on the "retail side"? give me a break. He's fine with selling the idea of him, but it takes more than an image to govern.

John Hood explains why the conflict-of-interest scandal about Kay Hagan's husband getting money from the stimulus matters.
The next time you have solar panels installed on your property at partial public expense, you may want to hire yourself, too. If there’s a cost overrun, you get paid more for the project. If there’s a cost savings, you get to pay less for the project.

Is the Hagan stimulus story the most important issue in the Senate race? Not to my mind, although it is certainly a relevant one. Its true import is to show how quickly government grant programs can become convoluted and self-serving. The state can and should make effective use of private vendors and grantees to supply legitimate public services. Retrofitting private buildings for private use isn’t one of them.

Get ready for more of a mess again with Obamacare.
And while major improvements have been made to HealthCare.gov's user experience, some parts of the system's "back end" are still under construction—including the mechanism that reconciles insurers' information with the federal government's, to make sure both systems acknowledge they've enrolled the same people.
How long are we going to be hearing about problems about the back end of the website?

Ellen Carmichael explains why Mary Landrieu's supposed charm and powerful family name just aren't doing it for her this time around. It's the hypocrisy, stupid.
Landrieu seems to think Louisianans crave a return to the “good ole days” of Huey P. Long, where strong-arming and corruption got them all their hearts desired. Even if that’s what her constituents do want today, her self-importance has hardly delivered any tangible results.

In fact, while Landrieu claims she is a champion of the domestic energy industry, which employs 287,000 Louisianans and pays $20.5 billion in wages each year, her political organization advocates for radical environmental interests over those of her constituents. From 2006 to 2012, she directed $380,000 from her PAC’s war chest to anti-drilling politicians whose efforts to undermine the oil-and-gas industry could strangle Louisiana’s economy and kill hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs.

At the same time Landrieu brags about all her imaginary power in a Harry Reid–controlled Senate, she claims independence from the liberal wing that has co-opted the modern Democrat party.

But her votes tell a different story. The senior senator has voted in lockstep with President Obama, supporting 95 percent of his policy initiatives, clearly unconcerned with how unpopular he is — a whopping 61 percent disapprove of his job performance, compared with only 34 percent who approve — in the Pelican State.

This is how "independent" Greg Orman is.
According to OpenSecrets.org, the extremely revealing website of The Center for Responsive Politics, Orman contributed $37,300 to political candidates and party committees between October 23, 1996 and January 12, 2010. Of this total, $34,800 went to Democrats, and $2,500 landed in Republican coffers. Thus, 93.3 percent of Orman’s political giving benefited Democrats. Only 6.7 percent of his campaign largesse helped Republicans....

Orman’s declarations of independence are belied by the fact that 93 cents of each of his political dollars financed Democrats. This makes it about 93 percent likely that, if elected, Orman’s first senatorial decision would be to vote for Harry Reid of Nevada as majority leader and try to restore his granite grip on the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. If Orman’s were the deciding vote, this would let Obama maintain the Senate as the mausoleum where reforms passed by the presumably Republican House would be laid to rest, rather than endorsed and forwarded to the Oval Office for signature or veto.
Will Kansans really be fooled by this guy?

Allison Lundargan Grimes got so much ridicule for refusing to say if she voted for President Obama that Michelle Nunn decided to emulate that idiocy. Apparently, that's one of those tough questions that Democrats refuse to answer.

The Daily Beast explains why Rand Paul would have such problems as the GOP nominee in 2016.
[H[ow do you think they [Berkeley liberals] will respond to the inevitable Democratic attack ad tying Paul's father’s bigoted newsletters to Paul's philosophical musings opposing part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to his hiring of a top staffer who famously wore a Confederate flag mas and celebrated the assassin of Abraham Lincoln in his past life as a radio shock jock?

I don't for a minute think Paul is racist. There is no reason he should be held liable for his father's newsletters and Paul's comments on the Civil Rights Act on MSNBC when he was an unpolished Senate candidate were philosophically consistent with a libertarian view of what the government should and should not be involved in. But politics is a tough business. It doesn't do nuance very well. These data points, along with his hiring of the "Southern Avenger," will help Democrats make Paul toxic to the very constituencies Paul has been nobly trying to bring into the Republican tent, such as young voters and African Americans.
It's not just Berkeley liberals and Bill Maher who will be repelled by Paul's past statements. Those statements and his father's wackiness will be tied around his neck just like "macaca" was tied around George Allen's neck and soon it will be the only thing a lot of people know about him.

Marc Thiessen looks at "Obama's 'blizzard of lies.'" And this is just a short summary.

Ramesh Ponnuru explains why we shouldn't expect any bill on immigration after the election no matter what happens.
A bill along the lines of the one the Senate passed has been consistently favored by business groups, unions, editorialists and both parties' leaders for years. Yet they've proven unable to get it enacted under just about every possible partisan configuration of power in Washington. A Republican president and a Republican Congress couldn't do it. Neither could a Republican president and a Democratic Congress, or a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress, or a Democratic president and a split Congress.

If you're getting antsy for some vote totals, you might want to check out the toteboard at the US Elections Project counting how many people of either party have already voted in early voting. I'm not sure how much it all means, but it can be interesting.

Richard Brookhiser has a new book out tracing the connections between the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln, Founders Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln. Brookhiser has an article today talking about how inspired Lincoln was from reading Parson Weems' biography of Washington.
Lincoln found Washington in Weems, but he also had to save him from Weems, or from those chapters of The Life of Washington that had the greatest popular impact. So powerful were Weems’s tales of Washington’s youth that the father of his country became an icon of moral virtues, beyond and above politics. Thanks to Weems, the most famous thing Washington ever said — “I can’t tell a lie” — was something he almost certainly never said.

When Lincoln first read Parson Weems, he responded most not to Washington as a good boy but to Washington as a man of action and principle, and he invoked that response again during his own trials decades later. Not that he reread Weems in 1861. He did not have to; Washington was inside him. As he said in Trenton, “You all know, for you have all been boys, how these early impressions last longer than others.” The Battle of Trenton was more useful to Lincoln, as an ambitious boy and as president-elect, than the cherry tree.

But Washington and the other Founders did not belong to Lincoln alone. Every politician of the 1850s and ’60s wanted to claim them, often for very different purposes. The struggle over slavery took the form of a fratricidal contest over who was the Revolution’s legitimate heir.

Lincoln spent years contending with rival visions of the Founding Fathers. He contended successfully — and legitimately. For all the times he squeezed the evidence or hurried over the record, he was more right about the Founders than wrong — and more right about them than any of his contentious contemporaries.
I've really enjoyed Brookhiser's biographies. He writes relatively short books that capture the essence of whomever he's writing about. I especially recommend his biographies of Alexander Hamilton, the Adams dynasty, James Madison, and Gouverneur Morris - that one was really fun. He also wrote a book answering questions about What Would the Founders Do? in which he searches through the writings of the Founders to get an idea of the approach they might take to current problems. That one was quite interesting.


I hope you don't mind me linking to these Amazon books. I get a 5-6% commission for anything that someone buys following either one of my direct links or by using the search box to the left of my page and it doesn't cost you anything. I try not to abuse the connection by only linking to books that I think my readers might be interested in.

I use the commission money to buy books and materials for my classes. Our school doesn't have a library and I like to buy books that students can use when they write their research papers. All my American history students have to write an in-depth paper using primary and secondary sources and it's hard sometimes for the students to find books at our public library so I like to stock up on books to lend students for the more popular topics. So if you could use the portal on my page whenever you have an Amazon purchase, I'd really appreciate it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cruising the Web

Did you realize this? We actually do have someone who is basically our Ebola Czar, Dr. Nicole Lurie. Her job is, in her own words,
to help our country prepare for, respond to and recover from public health threats.” She says her major priority is to help the country prepare for emergencies and to “have the countermeasures—the medicines or vaccines that people might need to use in a public health emergency. So a large part of my office also is responsible for developing those countermeasures.”
But she has been invisible during the whole crisis about Ebola.
So why has the top official for public health threats been sidelined in the midst of the Ebola crisis? Only the not-known-for-transparency Obama administration knows for sure. But maybe taxpayers and voters should force Congress to do a better job with its oversight rather than get away with the far easier passing of legislation that grants additional funds before finding out what we got for all that money we allocated to this task over the last decade. And then maybe taxpayers should begin to puzzle out whether their really bad return on tax investment dollars is related to some sort of inherent problem with the administrative state.

And you wouldn't have realized this if you'd been listening to liberals. The Republicans actually appropriated more for the CDC this past year than Obama had requested. In fact, Obama had proposed cutting CDC funding back in 2012. But that won't stop Democrats from blaming Republicans for Ebola.

The Daily Mail has some fun delving into the NIH budget to see what it's been spending money on.
The $30 billion U.S. National Institutes of Health blamed tightening federal budgets on Monday for its inability to produce an Ebola vaccine, but a review of its grant-making history in the last 10 years has turned up highly unusual research that redirected precious funds away from more conventional public health projects.

The projects included $2.4 million to develop 'origami' condoms designed with Japanese folding paper in mind, and $939,000 to find out that male fruit flies prefer to romance younger females because the girl-flies' hormone levels drop over time.

Other winners of NIH grants consumed $325,000 to learn that marriages are happier when wives calm down more quickly during arguments with their husbands, and $257,000 to make an online game as a companion to first lady Michelle Obama's White House garden.

The agency also spent $117,000 in taxpayers' grant dollars to discover that most chimpanzees are right-handed.

The same group of scientists determined, at a cost of $592,000 for NIH, that chimps with the best poop-throwing skills are also the best communicators. But while flinging feces might get another primate's attention in the wild, they discovered, it's not much good in captivity.

'I've never in my life seen a chimp be given a banana for throwing s**t at someone,' Emory University psychologist Bill Hopkins told Wired magazine.

The marital-argument research, conducted at Stanford and Northwestern Universities, involved 82 couples and found that when wives 'downregulated' their negative emotions during a spat, both partners had 'greater marital satisfaction over time.' Not so for men who held their tongues, however.

Part of a $666,000 NIH grant supported a University of Buffalo researcher who determined that watching sitcom reruns like 'Seinfeld' or re-watching old movies helps older people feel re-connected with pseudo-friends from their past.

Another outlay of $181,000 went to University of Kentucky researchers who studied how cocaine use 'enhanced' the sex drive of the Japanese quail.
So the result of the Democrats trying to blame Republicans for Ebola is that we're getting a good look on what one federal agency is spending taxpayer money on. Stories like this are not going to give the public more confidence in our government.

Bono gets it.
The front man for the rock band U2 got some people’s Irish up after he defended the low taxes of his homeland. “Tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known,” said the singer about the Emerald Isle. He’s absolutely right.

After touring the world with U2, Bono’s second career as an advocate for the poor — especially in forgotten Africa — has taken him to many spots not found on the standard itinerary for a rock band.

Unlike so many others, he learned: The best way for a nation to help its poor move into the middle class is to open up its economy and allow people on the bottom to benefit from the inflows of investment and the opportunities it brings.

Bono puts it well: “As a person who’s spent nearly 30 years fighting to get people out of poverty, it was somewhat humbling to realize that commerce played a bigger job than development. I’d say that’s my biggest transformation in 10 years: understanding the power of commerce to make or break lives, and that it cannot be given into as the dominating force in our lives.”

So Michelle Obama went to Iowa and kept flubbing up Bruce Braley's name by calling him Bruce Bailey. That was perfectly understandable - maybe she was thinking of the song. But now the Obama acolytes in the media are trying to argue that she messed up his name on purpose, perhaps in some convoluted attempt to allow him to separate himself from the Obamas. The Washington Post even tries to educate readers into the cognitive science explaining how difficult it is for people to open their mouths and have the correct word or name come out.

The media somehow managed to ignore how Democratic Congressional candidate John Foust derided his female opponent, Republican Barbara Constock, by saying "I don't think she's even had a real job."
The media quietly shuffled papers around instead of focusing like a laser beam on Foust’s snide remark, apparently because it has that emperor-with-no-clothes quality to it. The party that supposedly stands for women and has been tirelessly defending them against Republican bogeymen who are waging “war” on women has a track record of denigrating a choice that the vast majority of women still say they want: motherhood.

Had the situation been the reverse, a Republican man suggesting that an accomplished Democrat woman had never had a “real job,” denizens of the Internet would still be rending their garments. The talking heads would still be rolling. The hashtags would still be trending. The left would still be valiantly defending oppressed women everywhere.

Instead, Barbara Comstock, who had three children while attending night school at Georgetown Law while her husband was holding down a middle-class job as a high school teacher, is left twisting in the wind. (Well, maybe not twisting, as she is up in the polls.) And left with this as a Twitter “apology” from Foust’s party for his comment: “If @barbaracomstock were a man, she’d be down 20 pts w women. Her record & policies are horrible for women. But voters assume . . . ”

Assume what? Finish the sentence. That she is winning just because she is a woman? Not because of her brain or her qualities or her platform?

But the problem is this: Comstock is not a man. She is a woman. And her opponent, a man, made the most sexist remark of this political cycle. It’s one we’ve heard before from the Democrat Party’s echo chamber, notwithstanding that it hardly fits with the narrative that theirs is the party that cares about women. And they didn’t say sorry, because they weren’t forced to, because the press and party bosses didn’t make them.

The WSJ explains how Obamacare has forced universities to move student employees to being part-time workers in order not to have to pay their health insurance and how this might play in Colorado's Senate race.
Under ObamaCare, large employers must provide health benefits—including free contraception—to all employees who work more than 30 hours a week on average. Otherwise, they get whacked with a $2,000 penalty, er, tax per employee.

So Boulder is trying to circumvent the ObamaCare mandate by limiting hours of student workers. Why does Boulder want to take away women’s birth control?

The university says the policy is also intended to support “degree attainment as the student’s primary focus” and to “assist the campus in achieving Chancellor DiStefano’s initiative of increasing the six-year graduation rate.” But how will making it harder for students to finance their education improve the graduation rate? Maybe he wants them to take out more government loans.

Student workers are merely the latest casualties of ObamaCare. Dozens of colleges including Colorado Mountain College are barring adjunct professors from working more than 30 hours a week. Many quick-serve restaurants plan to do likewise. Yet in an interview last week Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, who provided the 60th vote for passage in 2010, hailed ObamaCare “all in all” as “a success.”

Stu Rothenberg warns Republicans that they'll be up a creek if they don't win the Senate this year.

Andrea Mitchell does her best to help Wendy Davis by casting doubt on what she calls Greg Abbot's "supposed disability." You stay classy, Andrea.

What would the day be without another corruption scandal concerning Kay Hagan's husband's company and how it benefited from the stimulus.
DC Manufacturing, a company co-owned by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband Charles “Chip” Hagan, lowered the total cost of a 2010 stimulus-funded energy project but kept all of the savings, sending none back to taxpayers who had funded the stimulus grant.

The company’s original application stated the total project would cost $438,627, and said JDC would contribute “leveraged funds” amounting to $187,983, or 43 percent of the total. As the project reached completion, however, JDC revised the total budget downward by $114,519 and applied all the savings to its share, keeping all the taxpayer funding.

Also, JDC’s decision to hire Solardyne/Green State Power, a separate company co-owned by Chip Hagan and the Hagans’ son Tilden, to install a portion of the stimulus-funded energy project at the JDC building appears to violate a conflict-of-interest provision that was included as part of the original application for the stimulus grant.

Roger Simon wonders "How anti-Semitic is the State Department?" He contrasts the State Department's condemnation of Israel for civilian deaths in Gaza despite the heroic efforts they made, at the expense of their own soldiers, to try to minimize civilian deaths. But the Obama administration has announced that Obama's restrictions against harming civilians will not apply in our efforts against ISIS.
But we don’t know much — hardly anything about the bombing, who was hit, how much damage, collateral or otherwise, occurred. Have there been civilian casualties? How many?

Compare this to a few weeks ago and the non-stop coverage of the Gaza War. Almost every day we had reports on the supposedly huge civilian toll from Israeli attacks coupled with admonishment from State Department porte-paroles Jen Psaki and Marie Harf that Israel should restrain itself, implying, of course, that the Jewish state was being excessive in defending itself against Hamas. Psaki, Harf and others repeatedly warned Israel that they were harming too many “innocent” civilians even though those civilians had been put there as human shields by their terrorist adversaries. Death and wounded statistics provided by Hamas and then parroted by the UN were almost always accepted at face value by the mouth pieces of our government.

Barack Obama gets no such treatment. Weeks into the bombing of ISIL, we know next to nothing. The reportage is vague at best. Some, like the left-wing UK Independent, say Obama’s strategy has been a fiasco. Who knows? Unlike Hamas, which has always exploited human shields to the hilt for propaganda purposes, ISIL prefers to keep reporters out (or slice their heads off) and employ social media for publicity and recruitment purposes. But still the bombs fall and innocents and not-so-innocents die or get maimed for life.

So why does the State Department blame Israel for using excessive force, even though the IDF appears to make even more effort than the U.S. Army or Air Force to avoid civilian casualties? Why does it judge Israel by a different standard from the U.S. — or anybody, for that matter?
This is the sort of discrimination that Joshua Muravchik does an excellent job of explaining in his book, "Making David into Goliath" about how Israel went from being an admired underdog into a much reviled country unfairly winning wars against Arab underdogs and how this has become the new leftist paradigm for regarding any conflict in the Middle East.

CNN describes five ways the CDC got and is getting it wrong about Ebola. It's not encouraging.

John Lott examines all the ways that the FBI is misleading in their recent report on mass shootings.

Greg Abbott strikes back against Wendy Davis just using the words of the media, liberal and conservative, attacking her for her ugly empty wheelchair ad. She'll be tied to that fiasco of an ad the rest of her political life.

Allison Lundergan Grimes continues to refuse to say whether she voted for Barack Obama despite having been a delegate for him in 2012 and having attended one of his inaugural balls. I guess that her approach is when she makes a mistake, she keeps on making it. As Ed Morrissey writes,
Sure, Grimes can keep refusing to answer the question, but it’s not because of principle. It’s out of naked ambition and self-preservation. This latest attempt to spin this as a principled stand is sanctimonious hypocrisy. It’s both dishonest and unfair to Kentucky voters, who after all will have to choose who gets to vote for them in the US Senate.

Two years ago, Grimes was “very proud” to announce her support for Barack Obama, and now McConnell is the only one “proudly” talking about the votes he cast in the last two presidential cycles. That speaks volumes about Grimes’ judgment, and this response speaks perhaps as loudly about her character.

James Taranto explains the tendentious claims of Davis's ad and then recites a number of instances in which her campaign has been using phrases like Davis "stands for what is right" or is "taking a stand" or how her critics haven't "walked a day in my shoes." Perhaps these are just innocent uses of common metaphors. But imagine the brouhaha if a Republican had behaved this way about a Democratic opponent confined to a wheelchair.

Get ready for voter fraud in Colorado due to the voter reform that the Democratic governor pushed through.

Ashe Schow describes how feminism is infantilizing women.
Women once were encouraged to be strong and independent, to brush aside insensitive words and actions and to emerge stronger. But now, politicians, pundits, even celebrities are feeding an outrage machine by telling women they should be offended by anything and everything.

The latest example comes from actress Lena Dunham, famous not only for her HBO show “Girls” but also for a 2012 political ad comparing voting for the first time to losing one’s virginity. Last week, Dunham told NPR that the phrase “too much information” — “TMI” for short — is a sexist phrase that “trivializes female experiences.”

What Dunham doesn’t appear to realize is that by claiming common phrases are sexist, women are actually being told that they need to be protected from free speech and that they should be offended more often because they are somehow being oppressed by that speech. This reinforces the idea that women are overly fragile and sensitive — an image that feminists supposedly have been fighting for decades.

TMI is just the latest word or phrase being flagged as sexist. In 2012, the Women’s Media Center created a list of more than 100 words and phrases that are harmful to women, including “aggressive” and “complain.”

Singer Beyonce and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg added a new word to that list in March — “bossy.” Suddenly women were told they were being marginalized if they were called bossy, even though some men are called far worse (far too colorful to mention here).

This need to protect women from even reading or hearing about the ills of society has become so pervasive that some colleges are including “trigger warnings” on class syllabi to caution students that they might be offended or feel uncomfortable about some of the subject matter.
What a surprise! If teachers aren't forced to pay dues to unions, they won't. No wonder they fought hammer and tong against Wisconsin's reforms. Teachers seem especially happy to not be forced to support an organization that was more about politics than education.

Jim Geraghty ponders the failure of the "Great Democratic Rural Hopes."

The WSJ exposes the political motivations behind the Democrats' urging that Congress pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. What they hope is that people don't realize that paying people differently based on their gender has been illegal since 1963. A new law is unnecessary, but serves to get Republicans to vote against something with such a nice name.
In reality, this bill would expand litigation opportunities for class-action lawyers seeking millions of dollars from companies without ever having to prove that the companies intentionally discriminated against women.

The Paycheck Fairness Act instead is meant to address the fact that “on average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns,” as the Obama White House explains on its website. This is not a claim that any woman earns less than any man for the same work. Pay “disparities” between men and women generally reflect other factors such as interrupting a career to raise children, the types of jobs men and women on average choose, the type of education they have (sociology vs. engineering), etc.

Since 1963 it has been unlawful under the federal Equal Pay Act for an employer to pay a female employee less than a male employee for equal work. Sex discrimination in wages is also prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For employees of federal contractors and subcontractors, Executive Order 11,246 prohibits gender-based pay discrimination.

Finally, 46 states have antidiscrimination statutes mandating equal pay for equal work. While the enforcement schemes of these laws vary from state to state, the remedies those statutes provide are comparable to those available under federal laws.

Today, the Equal Pay Act and Title VII provide a woman who prevails on her wage discrimination claim a virtual smorgasbord of effective remedies. They include, but aren’t limited to, back pay, attorneys’ fees, injunctive relief, prejudgment interest, $300,000 in punitive and compensatory damages, an additional $10,000 in penalties, and a prison sentence of up to six months for an employer who willfully violates the law.
There is no crisis, but pretending that there is one serves the Democrats' political purposes while helping a major Democratic group - trial lawyers - and that is all that matters.

What? Ed Morrissey reports on how Houston authorities have subpoenaed the sermons from pastors who might have preached against their equal rights ordinance. They want to know if these pastors had preached on LGBT issues. What is there about Free Exercise of religion that Houston's attorneys don't understand?

Don't believe all those Democrats like Alison Lundergan Grimes, Mark Pryor, Mark Begich, Mary Landrieu, or Mark Udall pretending that they're the nation's biggest foes of President Obama.
Had any one of these Democrats opposed ObamaCare, if only to force improvements, the law would not have passed the Senate without changes that might have made it far less destructive. Mrs. Landrieu famously traded her vote for $300 million extra in Medicaid funds, known at the time as the Louisiana Purchase.

Every Democratic incumbent also voted for Mr. Obama’s stimulus, and they all supported the Dodd-Frank law that has enshrined too-big-to-fail for large banks. They also lined up behind Majority Leader Harry Reid ’s gutting of the 60-vote rule for presidential nominations. That vote helped Mr. Obama pack the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals with three liberals who will make it harder to challenge Mr. Obama’s rule-by regulation on oil and gas that these Democrats claim to oppose.

They’ve also been loyal servants of Mr. Reid’s strategy to close off nearly all Senate debate and amendments. This has undermined the ability of these Senators to challenge the White House by forming bipartisan coalitions. By making the Senate less open to debate than the House, they abandoned any leverage to act as the independent actors they now claim to be.

Mrs. Landrieu and Mr. Begich, both from oil and gas producing states, were unable this year to get a floor vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, or even more rapid approval of natural-gas exports that might counter Vladimir Putin ’s energy squeeze on our European allies. They effectively neutered themselves.

Yet they now want voters to believe that if they get another six-year term they will somehow emerge as giants of principled independence. That promise will turn into a pumpkin the minute they again cast a vote to make Mr. Reid Majority Leader. The deny-Obama strategy may be a political necessity in the sixth year of this listing Presidency, but voters who fall for the ruse will get a continuation of the same failed policies.

TNR ponders the five awful things that could happen if the Democrats win the Senate. You know, I'm not at all horrified.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cruising the Web

So this is how the Democrats are seeking to politicize Ebola. A liberal group is running an ad blaming the GOP for not funding research. The NIH director Dr. Francis Collins >/a>is also blaming not getting enough support for research into a vaccine. Liberals are jumping all over this seeming opportunity to blame Republicans. The only problem is that a) NIH funding has doubled since 2000 and the funding for the US National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases went from $1.8 billion in 2000 to $4.3 billion in 2004. And cuts that have happened over the past few years are due to sequestration. Remember that idea originated in the White House and it was passed by both the GOP House and Democratic Senate. b) As Jim Geraghty points out, a lot of that funding is going for a lot of things that don't have much to do with researching true health needs. Noah Rothman links to Twitterer Counter Moonbat who is tracking down some of the more puzzling grants that NIH has been giving money to.














And most tellingly,
/blockquote>

Red State has some more examples. This is what the internet allows people to do that didn't use to happen before. Of course, who knows how much of this counter-argument will seep into the consciousness of those who aren't as plugged in to the conservative blogosphere.

Bobby Jindal addresses these sorts of allegations.
In recent years, the CDC has received significant amounts of funding. Unfortunately, however, many of those funds have been diverted away from programs that can fight infectious diseases, and toward programs far afield from the CDC’s original purpose.

Consider the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a new series of annual mandatory appropriations created by Obamacare. Over the past five years, the CDC has received just under $3 billion in transfers from the fund. Yet only 6 percent—$180 million—of that $3 billion went toward building epidemiology and laboratory capacity. Especially given the agency’s postwar roots as the Communicable Disease Center, one would think that “detecting and responding to infectious diseases and other public health threats” warrants a larger funding commitment.

Instead, the Obama administration has focused the CDC on other priorities. While protecting Americans from infectious diseases received only $180 million from the Prevention Fund, the community transformation grant program received nearly three times as much money—$517.3 million over the same five-year period.

The CDC’s website makes clear the objectives of community transformation grants. The program funds neighborhood interventions like “increasing access to healthy foods by supporting local farmers and developing neighborhood grocery stores,” or “promoting improvements in sidewalks and street lighting to make it safe and easy for people to walk and ride bikes.” Bike lanes and farmer’s markets may indeed help a community—but they would do little to combat dangerous diseases like Ebola, SARS or anthrax.
As Jindal goes on, these might be worthwhile endeavors, but we can't pay for everything that seems nice. My students don't seem to understand this. They're 10th graders so they have an excuse for not understanding, as Jindal reminds us, that "to govern is to choose."

The Berlin Wall has provided a great opportunity for social scientists to study how living in a totalitarian society affects people afterwards. It is rather a controlled experiment. Of course, the real evidence was how the West German economy flourished under capitalism and alliances with the West compared to East Germany's communist economy and domination by the USSR.

So which Democratic candidate this year is playing the role of Todd Akin? There are quite a few possibilities, but, of course, their gaffes aren't getting the blanket coverage that Akin's "legitimate rape" idiocy got.

Wendy Davis might be in the lead. After her terrible ad attacking Greg Abbot for getting a monetary settlement after he was paralyzed by a tree falling on him in an ad that has been widely criticized, she decided to fight back by having a photo op using people in wheelchairs as her protective props.

Noah Rothman is seeing a trend in how the Democrats are getting desperate in races across the country.

The Federalist examines how Cory Gardner was able to fight back on the Democrats' demagogic "War on Women" attacks. Other Republicans should be studying his campaign to know what to do because these attacks won't stop, especially if Hillary is the Democratic nominee in 2016.

So Hillary sent out a fund-raising request to help Democratic women candidates and includes Iowa's race among the ones that the money will go to help. Er....no.

Mitt Romney has a great joke making fun of Obama.

This year it is the Democrats who are whistling past the graveyard as they rush to tell themselves not to trust the polls. I've been there - all 2014.

Another day, another conflict-of-interest allegation against Kay Hagan.
Hagan, who is currently locked in a close fight in North Carolina, has campaigned on reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. She held a campaign kickoff event earlier this year at a company that benefits from the bank’s assistance, and she has attacked her opponent, Tom Tillis, for opposing the bank’s reauthorization.

But Hagan has stood to personally profit from her votes for reauthorization in 2012 and again last month. And if reelected, she would be voting for reauthorization once more early next year.

Hagan has reported in her personal financial disclosures that her husband owns between $100,000 and $250,000 of stock in Mother Murphy’s Laboratories, a flavoring manufacturer based in Greensboro.

Further, according to the company’s annual reports, Chip Hagan has served as Assistant Secretary for the company’s board since 2007. The financial disclosure reports show that Chip Hagan has been receiving income from the company, as well. This has risen substantially since Sen. Hagan first took office in 2009. In 2010, her husband’s income increased by nearly $29,000 at Mother Murphy’s. The most recent report, from last year, shows that Chip Hagan maintains his equity stake in the company and received $27,555 in compensation.

For every year since 2010, Mother Murphy’s has been awarded $300,000 in loans from the Export-Import Bank. As of earlier this year, the company has received a total of $1.5 million in Export-Import Bank loans.

Sen. Hagan’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether it was appropriate for her to vote on reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank when her family stood to profit from shares in the company.

Jazz Shaw reports on a New York City teacher who actually got fired. Hey, it just took three years to get rid of a teacher alleged to have done the following.
Jason Roberts, 36, was fired from Public School 78 in February for a slew of offenses, including allegedly telling a colleague, “Don’t worry, when bullets fly I will spare you and your family.”

It took a long time for the city to be able to fire Roberts — a perennial problem for the city when it comes to trouble teachers. That issue was recently highlighted again by the arrest of alleged perv teacher Sean Shaynak, who’s currently drawing a paycheck while sitting behind bars on Rikers Island.

Court filings say Roberts was hit with 33 allegations of wrongdoing between 2010 and 2013.

In that time, he allegedly warned that “bullets are going to fly;” blew a whistle directly into a student’s ear; gave another teacher the finger; spat on a student; hung up on the principal; told students they could attack another student and break his glasses; passed gas in students’ faces; threw a block of wood at a student, and shouted things like “bitch,” “white devil” and “suck a goat’s ass” when talking to students, parents and colleagues, according to court papers.
Shaw points out that the teachers union still paid for this guy's defense. Amazing what those dues will get you.

The supposedly independent Greg Orman is having a fundraiser held for him by the son of George Soros. That's a pretty elastic definition of "independent."

There is a new problem with climate change forecasts:
CLIMATE change forecasts may be overestimates due to a failure to take into account how plants absorb carbon dioxide, scientists warned today.

They said the impact of rising CO2 levels on plant growth has been underestimated by 16 per cent.

And as plants absorb CO2, this has led to overestimates of how much of the greenhouse gas is left in the atmosphere....

The study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences focusses on the slow diffusion of CO2 in plant leaves, with particular attention to the mesophyll or their inner tissue.

It concludes: "Carbon cycle models that lack explicit understanding of mesophyll diffusion will underestimate historical and future terrestrial carbon uptake.

"Consequently, they will overestimate historical and future growth rates of atmospheric CO2 concentration due to fossil fuel emissions, with ramifications for predicted climate change."