Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cruising the Web

Michael Barone, who really used to be quite mild-mannered, really excoriates the Obama administration for its "astonishing incompetence."
It started with the stimulus package. One-third of the money went to public employee union members — a political payoff not very stimulating to anyone else. Billions went to green energy loans, like the $500 million that the government lost in backing the obviously hapless Solyndra.
Infrastructure projects, which the president continues to tout, never seem to get built. He's been talking about dredging the port of Charleston, for example, to accommodate the big container ships coming in when the Panama Canal is widened. The canal widening is proceeding on schedule to be completed in 2014. The target date for dredging the port of Charleston: 2024.
Then there's ObamaCare. Barack Obama has already said the administration will not enforce the employer mandate, will not verify eligibility for insurance subsidies and will not require employer-provided policies to cap employees' out-of-pocket costs. The Constitution's requirement that the president take care to faithfully execute the laws apparently does not apply.
ObamaCare administrators continue to miss deadlines set by the health care law — 41 of 82 of them, according to Forbes' Avik Roy's reading of the Congressional Research Service report.
Then there's the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law. According to the law firm Davis Polk, the administration as of July had missed 62% of the deadlines in that law.
All of which indicates incompetence in drafting or in implementing the legislation — likely both. We have a president who delights in delivering partisan speeches to adoring audiences but doesn't seem interested in whether his administration gets results.
It's all so true. Read the rest as Barone "blames" FDR for making administration look easy, particularly in his ability to pick the right person at the right time for the most important jobs, particularly for fighting WWII.

James Taranto ridicules the Charles Blow's agonizing about blacks moving from northern states to southern states in a reversal of the Great Migration. Rather we should be celebrating that movement as it indicates that the Jim Crow conditions in the South that drove African Americans to leave the South in the 1910s. And the return to the South today probably reflects job prospects there compared to the North rather than some sort of racial message.

Get ready for the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a voluntary exam for college graduates to take in order to prove to employers that they have reasoning skills. The promotion of such an exam demonstrates how employers don't have much trust in the value of a student's college GPA given grade inflation. I just wonder if employers would be willing to look at the grade an applicant could score on the CLA even if the applicant had never attended college. If the test really tells the employer something, perhaps it could be a way for those seeking jobs to bypass college and still demonstrate their readiness for employment.

Juan Williams has a depressing comparison of the songs of 1963 with rap today. It really is dismal.
Just as Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash had sung "This Train's Bound for Glory," Mayfield, a black Chicago singer steeped in church gospel music and the blues, sang about faith in the American struggle for racial justice.

"People get ready, there's a train a comin'; you don't need no baggage you just get on board . . . there ain't no room for the hopeless sinner who would hurt all mankind just to save his own. Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner. For there's no hiding place against the Kingdom's throne."

The uplifting lyrics made "People Get Ready" one of the earliest hits on both black and white radio. Bob Marley later used some of the words in his poignant song "One Love." Bruce Springsteen used the song as a healing anthem at concerts after the 9/11 terror attacks.

The songs by Dylan, Cooke and Mayfield have been ranked 14th, 12th and 24th on Rolling Stone magazine's list of greatest songs of all time. All three have roots in the March on Washington.

Now, half a century after the lyrical promise of that inspiring music and poetry, there is the inescapable and heartbreaking contrast with the malignant, self-aggrandizing rap songs that define today's most popular music.

In Jay-Z's current hit, "Holy Grail," he sings about "psycho bitches" and uses the n-word seven times while bragging that he is "Living the life . . . Illest [n-word] alive." Another top rapper, Lil Wayne, released a song in the spring with an obscenity in the title, using the n-word repeatedly and depicting himself as abusing "hoes" and "bitches."

Similar examples abound in the rap-music world and have persisted for years with scarcely any complaint from today's civil-rights leaders. Their failure to denounce these lyrics for the damage they do to poor and minority families—words celebrating tattooed thugs and sexually indiscriminate women as icons of "keeping it real"—is a sad reminder of how long it has been since the world heard the sweet music of the March on Washington.
Since the biggest news of the week is, apparently, Miley Cyrus's vulgar twerking at the VMA's, here are the best responses to her gyrations. The looks on Will Smith and his family's faces are priceless.

Walter Russell Mead has a long, but perceptive, column assessing Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East.
The Obama administration had a grand strategy in the Middle East. It was well intentioned, carefully crafted and consistently pursued.

Unfortunately, it failed.

The plan was simple but elegant: The U.S. would work with moderate Islamist groups like Turkey's AK Party and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to make the Middle East more democratic. This would kill three birds with one stone. First, by aligning itself with these parties, the Obama administration would narrow the gap between the 'moderate middle' of the Muslim world and the U.S. Second, by showing Muslims that peaceful, moderate parties could achieve beneficial results, it would isolate the terrorists and radicals, further marginalizing them in the Islamic world. Finally, these groups with American support could bring democracy to more Middle Eastern countries, leading to improved economic and social conditions, gradually eradicating the ills and grievances that drove some people to fanatical and terroristic groups....

With the advantages of hindsight, it appears that the White House made five big miscalculations about the Middle East. It misread the political maturity and capability of the Islamist groups it supported; it misread the political situation in Egypt; it misread the impact of its strategy on relations with America's two most important regional allies (Israel and Saudi Arabia); it failed to grasp the new dynamics of terrorist movements in the region; and it underestimated the costs of inaction in Syria.
Carl Cannon has a good look back at the history that lead up to the 1963 March on Washington and how the idea of such a march first came about in 1941 when the head of the Brotherhood of sleeping Car Porters, A. Philip Randolph, proposed such a march to protest that blacks were not allowed jobs in the defense industry.

The IRS is now targeting the American Legion.

Liberals are furious with Ruth Bader Ginsburg for refusing to retire in time for Obama to appoint her successor.

Glenn Reynolds argues that politicians should stop getting special privileges that ordinary citizens can't receive. Couple that column with this one by Mark Steyn which analyzes "Obamacare's Hierarchy of Privilege."
All third-party systems are crappy and inefficient. But socialized health care has at least the great clarifying simplicity of equality of crappiness: liberté, égalité, merde. It requires a perverse genius to construct a “health” “care” “reform” that destroys everything from religious liberty to full-time employment, while requiring multitudes of new tax collectors and other bureaucrats and ever fewer doctors and nurses. The parallel public/private systems of Continental Europe cost about 10 percent of GDP. The Obamacare monstrosity blends all the worst aspects of a private system (bureaucracy, restricted access, co-pays) with all the worst aspects of a government system (bureaucracy, restricted access, IRS agents) and sucks up twice as much GDP, ever less of which is spent on “health care” and ever more on the intervening layers of third, fourth, fifth, and sixth parties.
Of course. The union of university professors rejects any idea of trying to evaluate the education they're giving students. THey don't want any measurement device to question whether their students learn anything.