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Friday, August 16, 2013

Cruising the Web

Another year, another school years began yesterday. And with that grading all the assignments my students had to complete over the summer. I love teaching; it's the grading that wears me down.

Here's an idea for reforming education - fund early retirement for teachers. The idea is that the weaker teachers are the ones who would be more likely to accept the opportunity. The district can bring in younger teachers who are both less expensive to pay and might also bring in fresh blood. But it wouldn't work for me. I expect to keep on teaching as long as I am able; they'll have to carry me out!

Daniel Henninger hypothesizes that the Democrats are walking themselves back to a position where they'll be seen as soft on crime and on terrorism when they had previously done enough to shed that image.

Obama and the Democrats seem to like political only when it favors them.

The Washington Post's former ombudsman wants Jeff Bezos to fire Jennifer Rubin, not because she's a conservative of course, but because she makes right-wing arguments. He doesn't even realize how this sounds.

It sounds like Chris Christie gave a rip-roaring speech to the RNC yesterday. That's what he does best though he seemed to have skipped the opportunity to do that at the Republican convention last year. I've always believed that Christie will run in 2016. That's based on the fact that since he first appeared on the scene, someone on his staff has been inundating my inbox with links to every speech he gives or any article or statement praising him. Why would his PR office care about connecting with a small-time blogger in North Carolina if he wasn't interested in running nationally one day? And why bother picking a fight with Bobby Jindal unless he's interesting in jabbing a potential rival with whom he doesn't have strong ideological differences as he does with Rand Paul?

Sean Trende has a typically interesting and perceptive column looking at the results of elections and concludes basically that we may well be over-generalizing from the results of recent elections.
Unless your conclusions were radically different that what I’ve described, you’ve discovered a huge shortcoming with the basic narrative that the Democrats were too liberal to win from 1968 to 1988, and began winning only when they ran to the center. The truth is, from 1968 through 1988, Republicans had some pretty good luck with the playing fields. They won a close election in 1968 that the economic fundamentals suggested could have gone either way, and lost a close election that could have gone either way in 1976, but the rest of the elections would have been significant surprises had they turned out any differently. Put differently, if we can explain these elections well without reference to ideology, why put ideology in the discussion (we’ll talk more about this when discussing question No. 4 and in the conclusion).

From 1992 through 2012, Republicans barely won one election (in 2000) in an environment where they really didn’t have any business being competitive in the first place. They have split the elections that could have gone either way. Otherwise, they’ve had the misfortune of running in some pretty lousy environments.

So maybe all of this talk about party rebranding and the success of the Democratic Leadership Council running to the center may be irrelevant, or at least mostly irrelevant. It’s pretty clear to me that if Bill Clinton had run in 1984, he would have lost in a landslide -- probably not as big of a landslide as Walter Mondale, but still a landslide. If he’d run in 1988, he probably would have lost, although the election might have been close. We’d probably then conclude that DLC centrism was a ticket to oblivion, and celebrated the revival of New Deal liberalism when Tom Harkin defeated Bush in 1992.
He goes on in part two of his analysis to refute the idea that the Republican and Democratic Parties have grown more extreme.
If you’re trying to find a pattern here, it is probably this: Parties always end up in worse shape at the end of holding the presidency than at the beginning. Whether it is House seats, Senate seats, statehouses, or governorships, the party in power almost always finds its fortunes sagging after taking control of the White House.

So even if the Republican Party were to position itself better to begin winning the presidency, it would probably find itself losing Congress and the state legislatures in relatively short order
Exactly so. There are cycles in politics and strong victories yield more trouble down the road as the victorious party overinterprets their supposed mandate and ends up going too far and alienating enough people to motivate a return swing of the pendulum.

Get ready for all the stories of fraud surrounding Obamacare as crooks figure out how to steal people's identities or fake people out with phony exchange sites. It's a "privacy disaster waiting to happen."

Wendy Davis gets the full Vogue treatment, but that's not going to help her get elected to statewide office in Texas.

Jim Geraghty rightly ridicules Jesse Jackson Jr.'s lawyers attempt to blame Jackson's actions on his bipolar disorder.
Does bipolar disorder make you divert $750,000 in campaign donations to personal use? Does it make you use that money to buy items from a “$43,000 gold Rolex to cashmere capes — capes, plural — to nearly $20,000 of Michael Jackson memorabilia?” Does bipolar disorder somehow interfere with people’s ability to know right from wrong, or illegal from legal? When Jackson Jr. took that money and spent it on himself, was that the bipolar disorder, or just being a selfish, greedy jerk?

Jackson Jr. and his lawyer would undoubtedly insist they genuinely care about those with mental illness, and combatting the stigma it still carries in many corners of our society today. But how does it help those with bipolar disorder to emphasize the mental illness in the explanation of the crime?

Doesn’t that implicitly tell the rest of society that people with bipolar disorder are prone to commit fraud and use others’ funds for their personal use?

While I wouldn’t dispute that bipolar disorder can influence a person’s actions, all Americans, no matter their state of mental health or ill health, are bound by the same laws. The law says that if you ask people for money to finance your reelection campaign for the House of Representatives, you can’t turn around and spend that money on Rolexes and cashmere capes — even if you have bipolar disorder. This was not a one-time error in judgment or an impulsive purchase; this was many, many purchases over an extended period of time, and Mrs. Jackson was involved in similar criminal activity, with no diagnosis of bipolar disorder on her part.

Victor Davis Hanson remembers what a depressing period the years 1979 and 1980 were and sees parallels today.

Krauthammer asks if Obama can write his own laws? George Will ponders how Obama's claims to executive power go beyond the claims that Nixon made about the president's power. My question is whether our system has any way to stop him from totally revising the checks and balances of our system.

Remember how Obama promised us that if we liked our doctors, we would be able to keep our doctor, "period." Well, another promise broken as the WSJ reports how many health insurance companies will be limiting choice of doctors and hospitals.

Dennis Prager explains why we should resist the liberal efforts to delegitimize the Washington Redskins.

So could the explanation of why autograph dealers are throwing Johnny Manziel under the bus be traced back to his own efforts to enforce his trademark of his nickname, "Johnny Football?" How ironic.

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