Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cruising the Web

Greetings from snow, icy Raleigh. I was lucky in not getting caught in the massive gridlock that some faced going home. Fortunately, my school let out way before the storm hit. And we didn't lose power. But I did know that we had a snow day today and so I slept late. Lovely. Now my big task is figuring out how to readjust my teaching schedule so students still learn the necessary material before the AP exams. Those deadlines are inexorable.

Guys, don't buy into the commercials. Few, if any, women want a giant, life-size teddy bear for Valentine's Day. Where would we put such a thing? And, apparently, I'm not the only one who finds those ads where attractive, young women snuggle sexily with their giant Vermont Teddy Bear quite creepy.

Drew at Ace of Spades has a lot of fun with ridiculing Wendy Davis's sudden announcement that she was really, truly, sorta against abortion after 20 weeks. Say what? This woman's whole claim to fame was wearing sneakers while filibustering a state law to limit abortions after 20 weeks. Now she tries to convince Texans that she's against such abortions on principles, but just wants an exception for women and doctors to decide that is the best thing. Yeah, right.
But...the people who support her and made her a folk hero don't want any restrictions on abortions. More than that they don't want any sort of negative connotation associated with abortion. Having the latest poster girl for their holy cause even insinuate that it could be restricted or that the pro-life crowd should be catered to will be quite the blow.

Meanwhile, Charlie Crist emails to say, "Damn, this is some shameless pandering, huh?".
Even MSNBC is giving a hard time to the New York Times reporter, Kate Zernike, who has repeatedly jumped the gun to report bad stuff about Chris Christie. Dag. That's bad when MSNBC is forced to give balance to Christie's pushback against the shoddy reporting of a NYT reporter.

The data just don't support all those Democrats who were outraged at North Carolina's Republican-led legislature in scaling back unemployment insurance benefits. Gosh, that must really bite some people. It's hard to judge from the data from a few months from one state, but you can imagine what would happen if the data were the reverse of what it is.

Michael Barone has some good questions resulting from the administration's decision to postpone the dates of the employer mandate.
The first question is: Are employers’ legal counsel advising that those provisions might be enforced, retroactively, at some later date? After all, the provisions remain on the books. If this administration or a later one decides that, say, the employer mandate should be enforced as written, does the employer have to pay up? Of course there would be a serious argument that the president's announcement (or the blog post issued before a holiday weekend by an assistant secretary of the treasury) that the law would not be enforced should stop the government from enforcing it later. But large sums of money are at stake. Should employers prudently set aside money in reserves to protect them against such an eventuality? Just asking.

My second question is: What would stop a future administration from following Obama's precedent and declaring that it would not enforce other provisions in tax laws? For, remember, Chief Justice John Roberts' dispositive opinion in the Obamacare case upheld the law's mandates on the grounds that they are, though not labeled as such, taxes. Let's say a Republican president argued that smooth administration of the law required that instead of taxing high incomes at the 39.6 percent marginal rate, they would be taxed at only 35 percent (a nicely round figure). Could a successor go back and dun taxpayers for the difference?

Once you go down this road, where are you obliged to stop? Not clear, at least not to me.

Heather MacDonald rightly excoriates the vast exaggerations of the supposed rape culture that exists on college campuses.
The most radical assertion of female empowerment would be to embrace the message: If you don’t want to be “raped,” don’t drink yourself blotto and get into bed with a guy. Keep your clothes on and go home to your own bed at night.

Obama’s fleeting wisdom about male chivalry will surely be a straw in the wind. His own bureaucracy and its campus counterparts across the country are indifferent to any behavioral change that would diminish their power and supposed relevance. Like Obama’s all-too-infrequent mentions of paternal responsibility, his invocation of a male ethic of protection conflicts with the notion that the federal government can and should regulate intimate behavior as a substitute for personal responsibility. And in a culture that relentlessly celebrates unconditional sexual availability, it’s going to take more than a presidential mention to persuade males not to take advantage of female sexual liberation.
President Obama should have a word with his intelligence chiefs. Apparently, they don't agree with his campaign boast that al Qaeda is on the path to defeat.

David Freddoso points out that, despite all the criticisms about members of Congress not reading the Obamacare bill before they voted, it wouldn't have made any difference any way. The bill means what Obama and Sebelius say it means and it doesn't matter what the law actually says.

Wired covers how Obama officials used terrorism to cover up a paperwork error that erroneously put a wheelchair-bound woman on the no-fly list back during the Bush administration.
What happened next was the real shame. Instead of admitting to the error, high-ranking President Barack Obama administration officials spent years covering it up. Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and a litany of other government officials claimed repeatedly that disclosing the reason Ibrahim was detained, or even acknowledging that she’d been placed on a watch list, would cause serious damage to the U.S. national security. Again and again they asserted the so-called “state secrets privilege” to block the 48-year-old woman’s lawsuit, which sought only to clear her name.

Holder went so far as to tell the judge presiding over the case that this assertion of the state secrets privilege was fully in keeping with Obama’s much-ballyhooed 2009 executive branch reforms of the privilege, which stated the administration would invoke state secrets sparingly.
Yeah, tell us again why Holder is the best attorney general in modern history.