Monday, August 26, 2013

Cruising the Web

The Iowa GOP is worried that its role in the nomination process is weakening. They're particularly concerned that Republican candidates won't be coming out to participate in the silly Iowa straw poll. All this would be excellent news. The Ames Straw Poll is a ridiculous exercise that is manipulated by the candidate who is willing to spend lots of time and money to bus supporters in and pay for them to vote. The whole event was dreamed up by the state party as a fundraiser. All you need to know is that Michele Bachmann won it in 2011 yet she finished in last place in the Iowa caucus vote. I would love to see the whole Iowa caucus circus lose its primacy in the nomination battle. Caucuses are not a proper expression of a democratic vote since its limited to those people who can come out on a winter evening and spend more than an hour discussing politics. The state's Republican voters are disproportionately socially conservative compared to the rest of the country. It's just a fluke that Iowa occupies its position as the first vote in the nomination process. But that is unlikely to change and candidates will still have to compete there to show their ability to appeal to the Iowa Republican electorate even if the state has lost the aura of being the vote that will determine the eventual candidate.

Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina is running for reelection next year, but her Twitter feed doesn't even mention that she is currently serving in the Senate. As James Kotecki writes, her whole approach is to run against the North Carolina General Assembly rather than run on her record in the Senate. And that may well be a wise strategy. When you can't defend your own record, change the subject.

The Los Angeles Times has published a story that proves the whole mismatch hypothesis of how affirmative action leads to minority students being admitted to a college that is too difficult for them and the result is student failure and a devastating loss of confidence that may well bring a student to drop out of a university like Berkeley rather than succeed at a less competitive school. As Heather MacDonald writes,
The Times could not have written a more resounding confirmation of mismatch theory if it had tried. (The paper’s motivations for the story remain mysterious, since the Times is conventionally liberal on race matters.) Mismatch theory, most recently expounded by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor, is the most powerful critique of affirmative action yet developed, demonstrating empirically that students admitted to academic environments for which they are ill prepared learn less, and are less likely to pursue rigorous majors, than had they been enrolled in schools where their peers shared their level of academic preparation.

But the Times story conveys a subtler point as well: Racial preferences are not just ill advised, they are positively sadistic. Only the preening self-regard of University of California administrators and faculty is served by such an admissions travesty. Preference practitioners are willing to set their “beneficiaries” up to fail and to subject them to possible emotional distress, simply so that the preference dispensers can look out upon their “diverse” realm and know that they are morally superior to the rest of society.
Even the Associated Press is noticing that Obama has been a failure in foreign affairs. Even if he launches some missiles into Syria, it is already too late. Perhaps if he had intervened earlier, there might have been some chance that he could have prevented the mass deaths that the civil war there has caused. Instead he's proven his fecklessness by using tough rhetoric that he hasn't backed up with action.

Here's one way for the Pentagon to save money. They can stop funding the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute and Southern Poverty Law Center to provide materials warning of "extremists" who "will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place." Is this really what the Defense Department needs to worry about today?

Ah, typical government. The Veterans Administration can't process disability claims in a timely manner, yet those very same processors who can't do their job are earning bonuses.

The inability of Congress to do away with the Obamaphone giveaway program despite well-documented evidence of fraud illustrates why it will be impossible to defund Obamacare.

Yet another area where the Obama administration is expanding its executive powers into possibly illegal territory, as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is issuing waivers to No Child Left Behind that there is no power in the law for him to issue.