Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cruising the Web

So Hillary isn't winning over either liberals or conservatives with her hawkish statements on foreign policy. Ron Fournier thought that maybe Hillary was being authentic and saying what she really believed. As if either Clinton has ever been authentic. She was calculating how to distance herself from Obama's disastrous foreign policy. Of course, that is difficult for her to do since she seems to have just discovered her inner hawk. And after the White House started pushing back against her criticisms, she scurried to release a statement to make nicey- nice again with Obama. They're going to "hug it out." Yech. Fournier retracts the slack he was momentarily willing to cut Hillary Clinton.
There are several problems with this statement. First, it's inaccurate. She certainly did criticize his policies, if not his leadership, most directly with the "stupid shit" formulation. Secondly, it's borderline demeaning, like a subordinate trying to get back in the boss' good graces. Clinton is an accomplished person who has challenged glass ceilings. She shouldn't have to come even close to apologizing for her opinions. Third, her interview wasn't "hyped," it was covered fairly, and now she's trying to blame the messenger. Finally, it's too cute by half, too Clintonian. It doesn't seem, well, authentic. She's trying to both distinguish her policies from Obama's without upsetting all the president's men. She can't have it all.
I suspect Hillary's clumsy attempt at triangulation has backfired into becoming strangulation for her. She's stuck now as she was in 2008 trying to explain why she was for the war in Iraq before she was against it. Once again, she has demonstrate that she doesn't have the political touch that her husband had.

James Taranto thinks that Hillary is going for a Goldilocks approach to foreign policy.
There's a bit of Goldilocks in Mrs. Clinton's interview, too: "You know, when you're down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you're not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward." That president was too aggressive. This president is too passive.

The implied message: in 2016, elect someone who's just right. We suspect even Barack Obama would not regard as too cynical our suggestion that Mrs. Clinton's distancing herself from him is a matter of opportunistic political positioning.

Whether it will succeed is another question. Mrs. Clinton seemed to make the politically expedient choice in 2002, too, when she voted for the then-popular Iraq war resolution. (So did John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden and other Democrats who saw the White House in their future.) Events between 2003 and 2008 proved her calculations wrong.

Mrs. Clinton's calculation is obvious: Obama's policy of retreat has proved disastrous, both strategically and politically. The same was true of Bush's policy of aggressive engagement. So she offers a happy medium--a moderation that seems hawkish, but only by comparison to the approach of the man she (presumably) seeks to replace.

At one level, it makes perfect sense--though at another, it's perfectly absurd. Why should anyone think that the average of two failed policies will be a successful one?

The political calculation is subject to considerable uncertainty, too. This columnist would prefer to see foreign policy move in the direction Mrs. Clinton describes. Polls show wide public dissatisfaction with the results of Obama's foreign policy, but that does not necessarily translate into support for more-interventionist policies among the general electorate, much less in the Democratic primaries. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton will turn out to have positioned herself perfectly, but opportunism is not necessarily the same thing as prescience.

Remember the celebration this Spring as the administration did a victory dance of having reached their goals of 8 million people signing up for Obamacare. Well, not so fast.
The nation's third-largest health insurer had 720,000 people sign up for exchange coverage as of May 20, a spokesman confirmed to IBD. At the end of June, it had fewer than 600,000 paying customers. Aetna expects that to fall to "just over 500,000" by the end of the year.

That would leave Aetna's paid enrollment down as much as 30% from that May sign-up tally.

"I think we will see some attrition ... We're already seeing it. And we expect that to continue through the end of the year," CEO Mark Bertolini said in a July 29 conference call.

It's not clear how representative Aetna's experience is of broader exchange trends, or whether its projection may be too conservative. (If it were representative, a similar 30% decline would drop ObamaCare enrollment to 6 million or less.)

Still, as one of ObamaCare's largest players, participating in exchanges in 16 states plus D.C., Aetna's experience provides a pretty good window into what is happening across the country, and there are other indications that enrollment has turned down.

Cash for Clunkers was worse than thought.
Researchers at Texas A&M, in a recently released report, measured the impact of Cash for Clunkers on sales and found the program actually decreased industry revenue by $3 billion over a nine-to-11-month period. Meanwhile, the "stimulus" also cost taxpayers $3 billion.
Amazingly, all the predictions of conservative critics of the program at the time have come to pass.

Rich Lowry explains that, contrary to Obama's boasting, he never ended the war in Iraq.
Iraq is perhaps the purest expression of the Obama doctrine.

We removed ourselves entirely from the country on the assumption that we could diminish our influence without baleful consequence and that there were effective substitutes to military power.

Now that the most powerful terrorist group of modern times controls large parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria, we are back at war, although without the requisite seriousness or comprehensive strategy.

What is happening in Iraq is exactly what we fought to prevent with the surge in 2007 and 2008.

It is heartbreaking commentary on President Obama’s recklessness that we are now in an arguably worse position, with fewer options to reverse it.

He never ended the Iraq War, as he so proudly said. He only abandoned it.
And Obama might be trying now to pretend that it was not his decision to pull all our troops out of Iraq. But unfortunately for him, there is a lot of video evidence of Obama bragging about pulling American troops out of Iraq.

Even the Obama administration can't explain what their objectives are now in Iraq.

There's been a lot of criticism of College Board's new rewrite of the of the AP US History exam. There is more of an emphasis on social history and environmental history is included as one of the themes with as much emphasis as political and diplomatic history. From what I can tell, there is an increased emphasis on Native Americans in every era of American history. For example, the test really used to start with Jamestown and now it starts in 1491. There are nine periods that the students need to know and one of those periods is the period before the founding of Jamestown in 1607. And the period from 1980 to the present is also one of those nine periods when, previously, there would be only a few questions from Reagan on. Now, we should expect to teach through to the 21st century.

That said, I don't think it's correct to say that students no longer have to study, for example, the American founding. What is different is that there is much less emphasis in teaching specific facts leaving it up to the teacher and/or textbook to decide what specifics to teach students so that they'll be familiar with the major themes of our history. There used to be 80 multiple choice questions which were often quite specific and sometimes rather esoteric. Those are all gone. Instead, the multiple choice will be based on primary sources. From what I can tell, the questions are a mix of reading comprehension and a test of historical skills and knowledge. So the kids still have to know facts, but not as many. I would like to continue to teach as I have in the past so that students come out knowing a lot of details of American history and can fit those events, people, laws, etc. into patterns to see the trends throughout our history. I just worry that I have to cover more time and so won't be able to go in as much depth. It will all work out, I'm sure, but I hate to feel that this year's APUSH students are going to be my guinea pigs.

So why did US taxpayers foot part of Hillary's travel expenses for promoting her book in case a few thousand dollars for one night in a luxurious suite in Paris?

Maureen Dowd uses one of the most unappealing and noisome transitions ever as she moves from paying a tribute to Robin Williams to talking about the writer Michael Kelly who died in the Iraq War to bashing Hillary for her original support of that war to Hillary's present disloyalty to The One.

There has been such a brouhaha, mostly among conservative commentators, that College Board has responded by releasing to the public the one sample exam that is available to teachers. So we're in the position of having to teach for this new format with only one model exam to draw conclusions from and to give our students to practice. And now that exam has been released to the public. Thanks, College Board.

Just showing that history, art, and math are everywhere. And check out this gallery of photos that also resemble Renaissance paintings.