Monday, January 11, 2010

More cruising the web

Scott Rasmussen offers his thoughts on what is going on in the seemingly widely divergent poll results for the Massachusetts Senate race.

The Defense Department review of Major Hasan's time serving in the military raises the big question. Why, despite recognizing the dangers of his increasingly erratic behavior and his public statements about Islam and criticisms of the United States, didn't his superiors pull his top secret clearance and still recommend him for overseas service? They voiced concerns, but kept giving him positive evaluations. How much of this was simply the Lake Woebegone effect of everyone getting a positive evaluation and how much was simply political correctness that prevented them from moving against a Muslim?

What a surprise! Just as many people warned when it was first passed, the Democratic construction spending in the stimulus bill has, according to the Associated Press, has done little, if nothing, to address unemployment at the local level.
Spend a lot or spend nothing at all, it didn't matter, the AP analysis showed: Local unemployment rates rose and fell regardless of how much stimulus money Washington poured out for transportation, raising questions about Obama's argument that more road money would address an "urgent need to accelerate job growth."

Obama wants a second stimulus bill from Congress that relies in part on more road and bridge spending, projects the president said are "at the heart of our effort to accelerate job growth."

Construction spending would be a key part of the Jobs for Main Street Act, a $75 billion second stimulus to revive the nation's lethargic unemployment rate and improve the dismal job market for construction workers. The House approved the bill 217-212 last month after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., worked the floor for an hour; the Senate is expected to consider it later in January.
All of this is important to recognize before we throw another $100 billion at the problem just to appear to be doing something in an election year.

The Telegraph reports on how private schools in England run by religious institutions face all sorts of government roadblocks to try to limit their admissions to those of that faith. In a striking indictment of government schools, parents are starting to pretend that they are of another faith in order to get their kids in that faith's schools. And the government wants to prevent the churches from doing anything to determine who is and isn't of their faith.

In order to go on the offense against Republicans who have been tsk-tsking Harry Reid's statements about Obama being able to win because he was a light-skinned black man who didn't speak in a Negro dialect, the Democrats are planning to publicize the NAACP's ratings of Republican politicians who criticize Reid. Because we all know that, if you're not in line with the NAACP's political choices, you must be a racist.

Jonathan Martin writes that Republicans would like to get rid of Michael Steele but they don't want to seem to be throwing out a black man. That could be for some. But how about not wanting to engage in a divisive internal battle in the middle of an election year? The rules of the party would also make it extremely difficult to oust a sitting head of the RNC. The idea that race as a factor seems more of a construct by the reporter than what is really going on.

Michael Calderone ponders the idea of changing the format of the Sunday shows. First you have a few politicians evading questions from DC journalists. Then a bunch of journalists sit around and give their opinions about the week's events. I could totally do without the newsmaker interviews. Their answers are almost always so predictable. If they're going to interview them, I like the idea of a fact check either the same day or on a later show. The one criticism that a lot on the left have is that there is not enough racial diversity in the journalists. We need more bean counting. I'm more struck by the lack of different backgrounds. Jerry Rosen has a point in his criticisms.
To Rosen, the problem is that “the more partisan environment overtakes the premise of a discussion based on mutually agreed-upon facts.” That’s why he is big on fact checking. But he also argues that producers should “diversify their ideas about balance and mix things up a bit.”

“For example, how about striving for balance between tea party conservatives and establishment conservatives, between blogospheric liberals and congressional liberals?” Rosen asked. “The fact that this doesn't even occur to them shows how evacuated the political imagination is on Sunday morning.”
And let's face it. They're never going to get young people to tune into these Sunday shows.

What would Frédéric Bastiat say
about the Democrats' health care bill? That is the question that Ross Kaminsky asks as he examines the broken-windows fallacies inherent in the Democrats' approach.
The relevance of Bastiat to the health care debate struck me when reading a quote from Nancy Pelosi in which she said that she wants whatever compromise health care bill emerges from their closed-door negotiations to "lower costs at every stage" of our health care system.

As someone who thinks carefully about word choices, I found her statement troubling not only because I know she's lying about what she wants. It took me a few minutes, but then it hit me. The Bastiat fallacy lies in the word "costs."

What Pelosi really means is that she wants to lower prices paid by end-user consumers of health care.

She wants it to appear that costs have gone down, but in fact the bill will exacerbate the single greatest existing flaw in our health care system: the insulation of consumers of health care from the costs of what they consume. The majority of Americans, when they go to the doctor, feel as if they're spending someone else's money -- a situation which both Milton Friedman and common sense tell us cannot lead to disciplined spending.
Tunku Varadarajan defends the tea party movement against the disdain of members of the so-called "educated class" such as David Brooks who just can't stand seeing the public engaged in political protests and assume that there is something distinctly anti-intellectual about opposing the spending going on in Washington. That whole Sons of Liberty action would have really gotten their goat.