Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cruising the Web

The NCAA is a joke. So now players get penalized for eating too much pasta? How does this work - does someone stand in the cafeteria weighing their selections? Who reported this to the NCAA in the first place? It's absurd. Yet they do nothing about the phony classes that UNC athletes took or the stories of grades being changed for athletes, sometimes without the professor's knowledge. Or the reliable report from a tutor that students had been admitted with literacy skills completely lacking the ability to do college-level work. That is a big nothingburger to them, but the extra helping of pasta? They're right on that.

While I'm showing which side of the Duke-UNC rivalry I come down on, here is a great cover story from Sports Illustrated about how Coach K is teaching freshman phenom Jabari Parker. What I really enjoyed reading about is how a great coach works with a player one-on-one to help him improve. I always enjoy these behind-the-scees looks at what goes before we see the kids on the court. And I'll be keeping my fingers metaphorically crossed all day for tonight's big game. My students know better than to mess with my head on game day! I let them know that I grade their papers during the time outs and so they should be pulling for Duke just to keep me in a good mood when I read their essays.

Here is a headline I never thought I'd see outside of The Onion: "Cambridge stool bank helps meet growing need for fecal transplants"

Here is some fun for SCOTUS junkies - your own fantasy league to predict how each justice will rule on the cases that come before it this term. Go here to sign up.

Philip Klein explains what "House of Cards" gets wrong about health insurance. (SPOILER alert at the article) Apparently, they're unaware of COBRA insurance even though it's been around since 1986 to help workers keep insurance for 18 months after they leave a job whether voluntarily or involuntarily.

Even some on the left don't like the IRS's proposed new rules to limit the free speech of 501(c)(4) social-welfare groups. If the IRS couldn't shut up conservative groups with their targeting before the 2012 election, how about some more overt efforts to limit political speech? Eliana Johnson describes the proposed changes.
The proposed changes, which were unveiled in late November, would classify much of the day-to-day activity of 501(c)(4) social-welfare groups, including voter education and registration, as political, thereby endangering their tax-exempt status. They would also prohibit public communication 60 days before a general election or 30 days before a primary election that identifies a political candidate — that is, nearly every advertisement aired by groups such as the conservative Americans for Prosperity or the liberal League of Conservation Voters — during the period when they are most effective.
Remember that the Supreme Court case Citizens United struck down such limitations on political speech. But that hasn't stopped Democrats from wishing and hoping that they could block political speech they don't approve of.
The move to rewrite the 501(c)(4) guidelines, which have remained unchanged since 1959, appears to have come at the behest of Democratic senators. Former IRS commissioner Steven Miller told congressional investigators he wasn’t “sure there was a problem” with the existing rules, but that Senator Carl Levin (D., Mich.) was “complaining bitterly about our regulation . . . so we were thinking about what things could be done.” As far back as 2010, Max Baucus, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, asked then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman to survey the activity of major 501(c)(4), (c)(5), and (c)(6) groups “to ensure that political campaign activity is not the organization’s primary activity” and to “determine whether they are acting as conduits for major donors advancing their own private interests regarding legislation or political campaigns.”
Groups on the Left such as the ACLU and Alliance for Justice have come out against the proposed changes. Other groups are afraid it will lead to an escalation that would encompass unions.
The proposed regulations have a host of left-leaning groups worried that the 501(c)(4) rules could serve as a template for regulations governing 501(c)(5) nonprofits (unions) and 501(c)(6) groups (trade associations), and they are speaking out. Service Employees International Union associate general counsel John Sullivan told the Washington Post that the proposed rules “would be totally inappropriate for unions” because they are “broadly phrased and categorical,” and that they would “seriously affect [unions’] ability to function.”
As James Taranto notes, we now have a conflict between liberal interest groups and the Democratic politicians they typically support.

Earth to Kathleen Sebelius: You might want to learn a bit about what your terrible law is doing to the country so you wouldn't make idiotic statements about how no jobs are being lost due to Obamacare. Er, no.
Obamacare’s medical device tax has already created a job loss of 33,000 in the medical device industry and 132,0o0 more job losses are expected, according to a new report from the industry trade group the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), obtained by the Daily Caller.
Jobs are going overseas and companies are cutting back on R&D and plans for new facilities.

Daniel Henninger posits that the Democratic Party, due to the failures of Obamacare, are now getting tarred with all the irritations that government provides citizens on a regular basis.
But for decades most Democrats have been floating through this low-performance public milieu, where standards of any sort can be diluted, if not wholly ignored. The idea that the $824 billion stimulus was for "shovel-ready" projects has become a butt of the government joke circuit. This sloppy mindset outputted ObamaCare, by acclamation the party's biggest product since Medicare. It looks like a Rube Goldberg machine.

The Rube Goldberg Democrats means that whether from laziness or arrogance, the party is now producing political contraptions that are monuments to inefficiency, incomprehension and unworkability. Before ObamaCare, it often went unnoticed. But the health-care law sits out in plain view, letting every voter connect the dots between political promise and nonperformance.
Their brand is now the brand of inefficient and damaging effects on the economy and society.

Watch out whenever Obama tells us the "all" or "most" economists support whatever policy positions he's staked out. If past history is a guide, he's just making it up.

So why does HHS need access to full Twitter data?
HHS provides a long list of requirements, including “access to real-time social media posts,” and “access to full Twitter firehose.”

The agency requires an archive that goes back at least five years of “full Twitter historical data.” The government will also need “access to multiple account log-ins,” “real-time alerting,” the “ability to construct lengthy Boolean searches,” and a function that can filter search results based on the location of a Twitter user.

Under “additional attributes that we would find useful,” HHS said the “ability to export full data into excel or another spreadsheet program” would be beneficial.
They say that they want to create a tool to alert the public over health concerns or emergencies. Yeah, like the department responsible for the Obamacare website should be in the business of designing such a tool or needs to see years of Twitter posts to design that.