Monday, October 10, 2011

Cruising the Web

Here is a story that should be receiving much more attention.
Marzieh Vafamehr's sentence was reported by an Iranian opposition website on Sunday. "A verdict has been issued for Marzieh Vafamehr, sentencing her to a year in jail and 90 lashes," reported.

"Her lawyer has appealed the sentence, which was handed down yesterday (Saturday)," the report added, without giving further details.

Miss Vafamehr was arrested in July after appearing in "My Tehran for Sale," which came under harsh criticism in conservative circles.

The film, produced in collaboration with Australia, tells the story of a young actress in Tehran whose theatre work is banned by the authorities. She is then forced to lead a secret life in order to express herself artistically.
Ah, I guess the movie was accurate, but that is no excuse in Iran. Why aren't all Hollywood stars speaking out about this infamy?

Guy Benson has a hilarious video from the OccupyAtlanta meeting that refused to allow John Lewis to speak. Apparently, the movement has adopted a chanting back to the speaker his words and voting with "jazz hands."
Unfortunately for him, the Congressman is totally unacquainted with the gathering's "rules," which make the US Senate look like a model of brisk efficiency. The group's "leader" (the hippie with the bullhorn) speaks in three-second intervals so the rest of the assembled group can chant his partial sentences back at him. They're speaking with "one voice," you see. In order to build a consensus, they "debate" whether Lewis should be permitted to speak, or if the program should continue as planned. This quasi-vote is taken through a juvenile system of silent finger-wiggling (yes, really). The consensus shifts several times before the group settles on a conclusion: Lewis is not any more valuable than any other human being, and his request to speak is therefore denied. This decision prompts an angry outburst from Lewis supporters, who immediately earn angry jazz hands of scorn for chanting out of turn. This is seriously beyond parody:
Michael Barone analyzes the difficulties that Democrats have in marshaling their coalition each election and Obama is facing more difficulties than usual.

Byron York has the behind-the-scenes story from the Values Voters meeting and the concerns raised by the Romney people about a controversial speaker who was scheduled to speak after Romney's speech. Romney called out the little-known speaker, Bryan Fischer, who had made inflammatory remarks about gays, Muslims, and Mormons. According to York, many people in the audience didn't know whom Romney was referring to. But putting this together with the obnoxious anti-Mormon comments that the Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress had made, the story coming out the meeting was the discussion of the role of anti-Mormon bigotry in the race. Kudos to Bill Bennett for his speech to the crowd, telling them "Do not give voice to bigotry" regarding Jeffress's words to the media that evangelicals should reject Mormons.

And such ugliness about Mormons hides the fact that the real opposition to Mormons comes from the left, not the right.
True, there is a small but significant minority who say they would never vote for a Mormon. According to Gallup, it’s around 22 percent of the population. But opposition to Mormonism doesn’t come from conservative Evangelicals or Catholics. On the contrary, Gallup’s polls show that it’s a liberal thing. Only 7 percent of Baptists and Catholics wouldn’t vote for a Mormon, compared with 32 percent of gays and 49 percent of atheists. Amusingly, the figure is also much, much higher among Mormons, at 22 percent. That’s right, 22 percent of Mormons would never vote for a Mormon. Perhaps they know something we don’t.
Or perhaps they fear the bigotry that emerges with a prominent Mormon running for public office. We saw some concerns among black voters before Barack Obama's candidacy took off.

It is time for conservative groups to do more screening of their speakers and to make sure that they are not sanctioning such bigoted comments about any religion.

George Will explains
why states should stop fooling around with the Electoral College.

Fred Barnes looks at how the televised debates this year have been the driving force behind the election campaign so far. They've spelled the knell for some candidates and have permitted some lesser known candidates to get a national audience. Some, like Hermann Cain have turned this to their benefit. Others, like Jon Huntsman, not so much.

Matthew Kaminski looks at how the blooming of charter schools has been going in New Orleans. There's good news and bad news.
Four out of five kids in New Orleans attend independent public charters. The schools under Mr. White's supervision are open to all students no matter where they live. "In other cities, charter schools exist in spite of the system," Mr. White says. "Here charter schools are the system."

The results are encouraging. Five years ago, 23% of children scored at or above "basic" on state tests; now 48% do. Before Katrina, 62% attended failing schools; less than a fifth do today. The gap between city kids and the rest of the state is narrowing.

But New Orleans schools still have a ways to go. A state report this week based on scores, graduation rates and attendance records said the majority of the city's schools merited a D grade or worse.
President Obama tried in his press conference last week to portray the unemployment situation as one that has recently been affecting the public sector worse than the private sector. As with most of that conference, the reality is different from Obama's portrayal. The problem is that governments have been avoiding their problems with paying pensions and then used stimulus funds to cover their budget shortfalls. So private employers had to cut costs by letting workers go.
The public sector's situation is worse than the private sector's only insofar as government pension and health liabilities are larger. For years, governments inflated and underfunded benefits and now the chickens are coming home to roost. Governments are finally coming to terms with these liabilities by asking their workers for concessions. Mr. Obama's jobs bill, which proposes $130 billion of aid for state and local governments, would obviate these reforms and take lawmakers off the hook for goosing workers' pensions in return for their political support. Paying governments to keep teachers and firemen on the rolls may sound good, but it actually creates a moral hazard.