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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cruising the Web

Don't buy the Democratic accusations that it is the Republicans' fault that there is no Surgeon General. Remember that Harry Reid changed the rules in the Senate so that the Democrats could push through any nominee they wanted. The reason Reid hasn't brought Obama's nominee up for a vote is because there are Democratic senators who don't want to vote for him. So blame Obama for putting up a nominee even members of his own party don't want to vote for.

How lame has Wendy Davis's candidacy for Texas governor gotten? Now she and her supporters are suggesting that Greg Abbott would defend a ban on interracial marriage. The only problem with that insinuation is that he himself is in an interracial marriage and he proudly touts his wife's heritage in his campaign. Oh, and such a ban would be unconstitutional since the Supreme Court 1967 case, Loving v. Virginia. As Allahpundit writes, perhaps the reason she is running such an awful campaign is that she's really running to be an MSNBC commentator, not a Texas governor.
That point is often made half-jokingly by righties to needle Davis over her dumb, quixotic quest to win election in one of America’s most conservative states as an abortion crusader, but it would help explain some of her bizarre moves lately. As Guy Benson says, she accused Abbott 10 days ago of being a disabled man who doesn’t care about the disabled; now she’s accusing him of being a man in an interracial marriage who somehow opposes interracial marriage. None of that makes sense as a serious tactic to win a statewide election in Texas but it does make some sense as a way to get the attention of the sort of angry liberal given to watching MSNBC. Both of those attacks on Abbott depict him as a callous hypocrite who disdains people from more marginalized parts of the population, the very core of the lefty caricature of Republicans. It won’t help her become governor, but then that battle was lost months ago. Might as well shiv Abbott a few times during her last few weeks in the spotlight to maximize her value to hardcore liberal partisans going forward.

But then, what do the Democrats have other than to demonize Republicans as Neanderthals who want to keep women barefoot in the kitchen? Mona Charen writes,
Republicans, whipsawed by the results of 2012 races that featured large gender gaps, particularly among single women, and aware that women have trended Democrat for decades, seem bewildered. A Karl Rove-commissioned study found that women voters consider the Republican Party “intolerant” and “lacking in compassion.” Consultants, gnawing nervously on polling and demographic data, implore Republican candidates to emphasize economic questions and soft-pedal the social issues. The candidates themselves, uncomfortable with the whole subject and wondering why they can’t just discuss the capital gains tax, mumble about how much they love their wives and eye the exits.

Democrats are running against monsters. They are running to protect American women from the hostile, patriarchal, domineering men of the Republican Party. (Chivalry is not dead!) In the Democrats’ ghoulish caricature, Republicans are not just wrong on the issues that women care about, but are barely above criminals. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, used rhetoric only slightly more florid than the Democratic norm when she said of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, “What Republican Tea Party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back.”
But there are topics that Republicans can talk about instead of giving into the Democratic caricatures of Republicans who are obsessed with reproductive issues. As Charen argues, the real problem for Republicans with single-women voters is that women are risk averse.
As the American Enterprise Institute’s Karlyn Bowman has noted, women are consistently more risk-averse than men. They are more skeptical of military force, for example, and more likely to express nervousness about nuclear power. Women express more anxiety about terrorism and about health scares such as Ebola. Guns make them uncomfortable, and they dislike “stand your ground” laws. Financial planners find that men are more open to risky investments than women, who prefer safety. Bowman notes that when pollsters ask fanciful questions, such as whether one would accept the offer of a ride in a spacecraft, “the gender gap becomes a chasm.”

Risk aversion may be the key to understanding women’s votes. It would explain single women’s support of the Democratic Party, with its “Life of Julia” promises of government support. Married women, with husbands to rely on, are less drawn to Big Brother. The crude shorthand that single women are looking to the government to be a husband is probably accurate to a point.
And there are ways for Republicans to fight back against the ludicrous Democratic charges that the GOP opposes equal pay for women.
Equal pay for equal work, for example, has been the law since 1963. No Republican opposes it. They should heap scorn on the accusation and then emphasize Republican support for flex-time laws and job sharing, measures that are particularly helpful to and popular among women. Republicans have even gotten some chuckles pointing out that using the bogus measures Democrats always employ about the economy — simply adding up salaries and then comparing men with women without regard to time on the job, skill level, or any other factor — the White House and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are paying women less than men....

The electorate, as the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Henry Olsen observes, is like a three-dimensional chessboard. Single women tend to support Democrats, but you can slice it another way and say single women tend to be black and Hispanic. The Democrats’ playbook is to Balkanize voters and appeal to each constituency separately, often with scare tactics. This leaves the field open to Republicans to rip away the fright mask and craft a message that appeals across categories. They needn’t win a majority of resistant groups to win elections; losing single women, blacks, or Hispanics by smaller margins would do the trick. So would drawing more men or married voters to the polls.

Republicans should not fear women voters. They are not an army of Sandra Fluke shock troops. They are repelled by perceived extremism, and they are interested in whether a candidate can improve daily life. If Republicans don’t believe their ideas are better for women as well as for men, and if they lack the confidence to make their case forcefully, especially when they are caricatured and slandered, they should find another line of work.

Noemie Emery refutes the premises underlying Matt Bai's new book, All the Truth is Out, that Gary Hart this sharp candidate brought down by a new wave of media focus on candidates' personal lives. Er, no.

So the administration is now arguing that Obamacare exchanges can't survive without federal subsidies.

Mary Landrieu tries to convince voters that her 7,300 house in Washington, D.C. is not a mansion. Sure.

Another day another hint of Kay Hagan's self-dealing corruption.
Just a week after Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) recommended a North Carolina judge to President Barack Obama for a seat in the U.S. District Court, the judge ruled in favor of a company partially owned by Hagan’s husband.

The senator’s husband, Charles T. “Chip” Hagan, was a managing member of Hydrodyne Industries LLC when it sued a regional water authority for drawing water out of a river that had one of its hydroelectric dams built on. The lawsuit sought millions of dollars in damages and was carried out by Chip Hagan’s legal firm.

Superior Court Judge Calvin E. Murphy ruled the case in favor of Hydrodyne, setting the table for the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority to pay millions in damages to companies including Hydrodyne.

Murphy’s ruling was made on Oct. 23, 2009, just nine days after Sen. Hagan sent his name to Obama to be nominated for a lifetime seat on the U.S. District Court for Western North Carolina.

Barack Obama keeps sabotaging Democratic candidates by stressing how these senators running for reelection already vote with him to support his agenda. I'm sure they appreciate that.

And who says that there is no voter fraud going on? And it was all caught on video.

The every witty Mark Steyn is out with a new collection of his essays and columns, The Undocumented Mark Steyn.
Sounds like a fun read.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cruising the Web

Well, it's been an interesting few days as the public has gotten to see the curtain pulled back on how the government behaves. And, contrary to the progressive ideals, the people who work in the government are no more infallible than ordinary blokes. Just as the public has learned from the VA scandal, the IRS scandal, Benghazi, Obamacare, the stimulus, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Katrina, and on and on. You think that it would eventually sink in that the government is composed of ordinary people with no real incentives to get things right. Why they should be trusted with more and more portions of our economy and daily lives escapes me.

And the administration's actions have been so unimpressive that the White House has been reduced to leaking a story about absolutely miffed the President is. He is said to "seethe." But at least he got to relax by playing golf with Tony Kornheiser on Saturday.

I remember when he was angry at the launch of Obamacare, at the news of the IRS scandal, about the VA scandal. He must be one really angry man by now. Funny how all that incompetence just leads him to want the government to do more and more.

Jonah Goldberg points to Obama's habit of overpromising what he is capable of. The man has always had an oversized opinion of both his own abilities and the power of government. That is not a healthy combination.
liberals believe in government as a source of meaning, as a shaper of souls (though don’t ask them to use the word “soul”), a creator of values, and a reliable tool for the guiding hand of progressive experts to rightly order our lives. As the opening video at the Democratic convention proclaimed without a sense of irony: “Government is the one thing we all belong to.”

And this is why government incompetence, or even mere government fallibility and error, present a unique problem for the Party of Government. To be fair, plenty of smart liberals can concede that government gets stuff wrong. But it’s always a difficult concession to make. And if you divide up such concessions between instances where liberals place the blame squarely on government itself and instances where they blame politicians for not going “all the way” with government, you find that the vast majority fall into the category of “if only we had more government.” The overwhelming majority of liberal critiques of Obamacare, for instance, hinge on the complaint that it didn’t go far enough. If only we went with single payer, and completely chased the moneychangers out of the temple of health care, everything would be fine. The War on Poverty failed because $20 trillion amounts to woeful underfunding when measured against the yardstick of the infinite funding liberals desire.

In crude Marxist terms, liberals have a theory of infallible government that is constantly at war with the reality of life. Hence the old joke(s): “Sure it works in practice, but does it work in theory?”

Which brings us to the administration’s Ebola response. As I wrote yesterday (and earlier this week), the Obama administration and the various spokespeople for the public-health agencies seem to care more about the theory of government omnicompetence than about the practice of government competence. I understand that the challenge presented by this disease is complex. And I sympathize with the desire to forestall panic by giving an air of confidence and professionalism. And, whether I like it or not, I understand that politics must play a role in every major government effort, particularly so close to the midterms. But even with all of these caveats, it’s still stunning to watch the government cling to the theory of government infallibility....

Obama set himself up for this reaction. I agree that conservatives shouldn’t buy into liberal assumptions, but when liberals elevate the State to the Divine, it’s perfectly acceptable to point out how far short of their own standard they’ve fallen. I mean a month ago, Obama might as well have promised we wouldn’t see a “smidgen of Ebola.”

Meanwhile, when you divinize the State and then fail to demonstrate divine competence, you necessarily invite the secular version of a theodical crisis. Why would the God-State let such things happen? In such crises, liberals grow desperate. They ridicule the public for being fearful. They cast blame on underfunding in a way that sounds like, “If only we sacrificed more of our livestock to God!” They tweet idiocies that are greeted as wisdom by the faithful. Here’s Joy Reid of MSNBC: “To the anti-government wingers in my thread: so far, the only ‘spread of Ebola’ in the U.S. was caused by a private hospital in a red state.”

The Week magazine, no libertarian redoubt, ponders the same theme of how American institutions are failing.
Over the past 14 years, we've endured a series of stunning institutional failures. Going backwards in time, we have:

The Secret Service failure to stop a knife-wielding, fence-jumping intruder from making it into the White House before being subdued — or to keep an armed former convict from getting into an elevator with the president of the United States.
The badly botched ObamaCare rollout.
The failure of numerous regulatory bodies leading up to the financial crisis of 2008.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's utterly inept response to Hurricane Katrina.
The ruinous occupation of Iraq — a blunder so catastrophic that it destabilized the entire region and led to well over 100,000 deaths (and counting).
The monumental intelligence failure that precipitated the 2003 invasion of Iraq in the first place.
And, of course, the equally monumental intelligence failure leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks.
I'm sure I've missed a few more dropped balls. But you get the point. Government is failing, over and over again, to accomplish the goals we set for it, regardless of which party is running the show.

And just in case that sounds like a set-up for a libertarian manifesto in favor of privatization, note that institutional failures haven't been limited to government. From the banks and other financial institutions that nearly wrecked the global economy in 2008, to the sex-abuse scandals that have been rocking the Catholic Church for over a decade, to General Motors' deadly ignition-switch cover-up, big organizations, whether private or public, have been behaving badly and ineptly.
Damon Linker, the author of this piece doesn't know what the solution is, but sure hopes we find one. I wouldn't hold my breath.

And now the fix is to appoint a political operative whose most recent experience was handing out bundles of money in the stimulus. Yeah, that's a great recommendation for someone to have the problem-solving skills to oversee our reactions to Ebola. And his insights are so valuable that he didn't even have to be at the White House meeting on Ebola.

Look for Kay Hagan flip-flop ads on how she's reversed her position on whether there should be a travel ban on flights from the countries most plagued with Ebola.

And...of course. Just as the Ebola epidemic was getting worse in West Africa, the Obama administration expedited the immigration and visa process for people wanting to come to the U.S.

Mickey Kaus verifies the cocoon in which those who work for the NYT live.

Matthew Continetti marvels that this year it is the Democrats who are making the gaffes. He calls them the "Macaca Democrats." Sorry, they can be called that once the Washington Post writes over 100 articles and editorials about Democratic gaffes as they did about George Allen and that absurd macaca story. Until then, they haven't earned the title. But I will agree with Continetti that it is a change not to be seeing Republican candidates saying dumb things about "legitimate rape" or denying that they're witches. But, as he adds, we still have a couple of weeks to go. Still time for Republicans do embrace their internal duncecaps.

As an example, Mark Pryor has stumbled in the past week lessening his own reelection chances.
In Tuesday’s debate he said the middle class extended up to families making $200,000 a year — nearly four times the median household income of the Natural State. Days earlier, he’d struggled to come up with a response when asked about the Obama administration’s handling of Ebola.
Picture to yourself the outrage if Mitt Romney had said that $200,000 was the middle class.

Obama's standing among women is falling just at a time when Democrats have placed so many of their hopes on women falling in line for the election since they're already losing the male vote.

The Daily Mail profiles the ordinary young women who are joined the army fighting ISIS in Kobane. They sound like any young university students except they're battling for their lives and carrying guns to kill themselves in case they are captured by ISIS.

And now that genius diplomat John Kerry is blaming Israel for the rise of ISIS. I like the response from the Israeli Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett,
"Turns out that even when a British Muslim beheads a British Christian there will always be someone who blames the Jews," Bennett said. "The assertion that the absence of peace between Israel and the Palestinians is helping the Islamic State group provides a tail wind to support global terrorism."

"I propose listening to ISIS and believing them: These are terrorists who want to take control over the entire Middle East. We can fight it or we can explain it away. The choice is in the hands of the world, and the world will bear the consequences," Bennett added.

Guess what? We still have no idea how much Obamacare is going to cost. Remember when the President was promising us that it would not raise the deficit one dime? I guess that really meant it would raise the deficits by tens of billions of dimes.

One advantage to having a Republican House and Senate is that President Obama would have to use the pen he brags about to veto a whole lot of bills instead of depending on Harry Reid to bury them.

Eliana Johnson details how Harry Reid's Super PAC has been such an advantage for the Democrats this election year. And one reason is that the Democrats are willing to donate to a partisan Super PAC for which they are required to make public their names while Republicans, after some stories of retaliation against donors to Republican groups, has made them prefer giving to groups which can keep their donor lists privates but which can spend only 50% of their money on electioneering.

Don't believe Democratic candidates when they say that they are "Clinton Democrats."

Local governments sure can be dumb. Just in case you didn't believe that people who work for government cannot be as stupid as those who work in the private sector, check out these two stories :
"City demands girl tear down her playground..that she received from Make-a-Wish Foundation."
Tiffany Miranda is a 10-year-old girl from Santa Fe Springs, Calif., who suffers from a rare, serious and incurable disease called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Because of this condition, she frequently experiences seizures. Some can last all day.

Her parents, Jessica Torres and Felix Miranda, were concerned about bringing her to public parks. So they were thrilled when the Make-A-Wish Foundation provided them with playground equipment so Tiffany could play in the safety of her home.

“She’s gone through so much,” Tiffany’s dad said. “It really touches both my wife and I,” Tiffany’s grandfather remarked, “It’s a dream come true for her. I just love to see that smile.”

But not everyone loved to see her smile.

According to CBS Los Angeles, the city government of Santa Fe Springs issued citations that ordered Tiffany’s parents to tear down her playground–claiming the storage of items in the front yard and backyard playground area were a “public nuisance” (which is different from an attractive nuisance, such as a swimming pool without a fence around it).

“When I asked the city, ‘So where do you expect my daughter to play?’ they said ‘Well, the city’s not responsible for your daughter’s disability,’” Tiffany’s mother, recalled. “They said ‘Your Tiffany is not our problem.’”

After media reports of the incident began circulating, the city government quickly backtracked. Santa Fe Springs city manager Thaddeus McCormack told CBS Los Angeles that the city just wanted the family to clean up around the play set.
And then there is this: "5 year old who drew a gun in crayon forced to sign no-suicide contract with school."
A Mobile, Ala., mom says school officials forced her daughter to sign a contract promising not to commit suicide or harm others after the kindergartner "drew something that resembled a gun," then pointed a crayon at another kid and said "pew, pew!"

5-year-old Elizabeth was sent home after school officials made her take a questionnaire to evaluating her for suicidal thoughts, then had her sign the safety contract promising to contact an adult if she was thinking of suicide or homicide. This all happened while her mom waited in the lobby to pick her up, the upset parent told WPMI.

According to her mom, Elizabeth didn't know most of the words on the contract she signed. "Suicide," in particular, was a new one for her.

"Mommy, daddy, what is suicide?" Elizabeth's mother says she asked.

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.


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