Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cruising the Web

Sean Trende points to this map on advertising as explaining some of the polling trends we've been witnessing recently.

Gosh, how many times can Joe Biden say something that embarrasses him and which would become a weeks-long scandal if a Republican had said it. Now he's drawing criticism and has had to apologize for referring to bankers as Shylocks.
Biden’s slip came in a speech to the Legal Services Corporation, which provides lawyers to Americans who could not afford them otherwise. In his remarks, the vice president described the experience of his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, who was deployed for one year in Iraq.

“People would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being — I mean, these Shylocks who took advantage of these women and men while overseas,” Biden said.
I can well believe that Biden is just ignorant that Shylock plays on a painful anti-Semitic stereotype. Apparently, a NYT reporter is just as ignorant. I remember a friend of mine telling me about trying to sell her car and how a person was trying to "Jew them down on the price." She obviously was accustomed to using the term and had no thought of how offensive that was to me. But I can't help remembering the uproar and the over-100 stories that the Washington Post ran after George Allen used the nonsense word "macaca" and the media decided that that must have been a racial slur. Biden uses an actual ethnic slur and he gets off with an apology. Ed Morrissey finds something else to note about this story
There is, however, one curious thing about Biden’s story. His son’s service in Iraq came almost entirely during the first year of the Obama administration; he returned from his deployment in Iraq in September 2009. Biden telling of this story suggests that his son got this feedback after his return, which would mean that the issue of regulating bankers to avoid any supposed injustices and abuses would have been the responsibility of … Barack Obama.

Rand Paul has flipped his approach to what we should be doing against ISIS, but he refueses to say that he changed his mind. This isn't something new for Paul.
Why, asked Weekly Standard writer John McCormack, did Paul change his position about launching a U.S. military strike against the Islamic State, a terrorist group that has seized territory in Iraq and Syria and beheaded two American journalists?

“You were still uncertain about bombing back in August. Now you support it,” McCormack said. “What in your mind has changed?”

Instead of explaining why he recently came out in support of launching a military assault on the group — with authority from Congress — despite his warning earlier this summer against getting involved, Paul replied that nothing had changed.

“I still have exactly the same policy,” Paul said. “And that is that intervention militarily should be through an act of Congress.”

Well sure, Paul has always believed that Congress should have a say in military action abroad. But that wasn’t McCormack’s question. Instead of answering the question posed to him, which was a routine request to articulate if he thinks new circumstances call for a different response, Paul claimed perfect consistency.

Paul has made a curious habit of doing this, even when the facts show that his views, and, more critically, the way he is willing to speak about them, have shifted.

Over the summer, the first-term Kentucky lawmaker has offered a conflicting set of explanations of his core policy positions, reviving attention to evasions and denials that date back to his entry onto the political scene. From questions about the Civil Rights Act to his positions on foreign aid and military intervention, Paul has changed the way he describes his positions — and, in some cases, changed his mind completely — while simultaneously denying he’s done so.
Rand Paul likes to portray himself as a politician of true principles. Even if those principles may change.

And the Democrats are paying attention and have a video out to contrast the two Rand Pauls. GOP voters should beware of the problems inherent in nominating Paul.

Apparently, associate professors are not all that happy. It's not enough to have a tenured job. They are having to confront the reality that the job might not be as lovely as they always dreamed. I love these quotes.
"A lot of people who get doctorates are idealistic, they want to change the world or study something where they think they can make a true difference," says Ms. Trower. "Most of us teach at places, though, where students are after a credential, and where your colleagues—who you thought would be really smart—are people you don't even like all that much. Plus, you feel underappreciated. The president of the college doesn't even know your name."

Brent Chesley, a professor of English at Aquinas College, understands the phenomenon. "We were all accepted into a grad program, completed degrees, got a position, and got tenure," he says. "Then there is this point at which one realizes: Oh, I won't ever earn a huge salary. I won't ever get to live in New York City. But worst of all, I'll never be interviewed by Terry Gross."
Didn't these people go to college themselves? Where did they get the idea that students aren't after a credential? Where did they get the idea that professors earn the big bucks, especially a professor of English. But never being interviewed by Terry Gross? The horror, the horror.

John Hinderaker explains why the decision of the largest healthcare insurer in Minnesota to leave Obamacare is so ominous for the whole project of Obamacare.
Under Obamacare, you could say that the government only picks winners. Through 2016, taxpayers will subsidize insurance companies’ losses. Such subsidies were considered necessary to induce carriers to participate in the government-sponsored exchanges, despite the likelihood that the risk pool on the exchanges would be unfavorable. The fact that a company with 60% of the Obamacare exchange market considers the business unsustainable, even with federal subsidies, is ominous.

In Minnesota, PreferredOne’s decision will probably continue to reverberate. Individuals with PreferredOne policies purchased on the exchange will see those policies automatically renewed, unless they do something different. The catch is that, with PreferredOne no longer participating in MNSure, those people will no longer be eligible for Obamacare subsidies, so they will see premium increases–in many cases, huge ones.

This sort of thing will keep happening for years to come. Democrats are smugly telling reporters that Obamacare is now an established fact and we should all get used to it. In reality, the law is like a series of bombs timed to go off as various deadlines kick in. Ultimately, the awful economics of the law can’t be denied. Premiums and deductibles will rise, and coverages will shrink, insofar as they are able to given the law’s expansive and sometimes irrational mandates. By 2017, when the federal government will stop reimbursing insurance companies’ losses, premiums will be far higher than when Obamacare went into effect. The Democrats apparently hope that no one will notice. To me, that seems unlikely.
Why shouldn't this happen throughout the country as insurance companies ponder providing Obamacare insurance when the federal government risk corridors subsidies for insurance companies run out - right in time for the 2016 election.

Jonah Goldberg ponders Obama's equivocation about the actions he's ordering against ISIS.
Obama reportedly said that if he had been “an adviser to ISIS,” he wouldn’t have killed the American hostages. Instead, he would have released them with a note pinned to their chests reading: “Stay out of here; this is none of your business.” If only the terrorists had done that, the president seemed to be saying, I wouldn’t be stuck with this mess....For Obama, a successful counterterrorism strategy is one that simply saves him from having to talk about terrorism. That’s the approach that led to the rise of the Islamic State.

I can't imagine that the Scots are going to be persuaded to vote against independence because of a tweet from Obama. But hey, the world today is all about hashtag diplomacy.

Ed Morrissey examines the "Obama administration's nonstop incoherence on ISIS."
Which brings us to yet another bit of incoherence from the White House. Despite widespread incredulity, the administration continues to assume that the ISIS threat is analogous to that posed by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen or al-Shabab in Somalia. Earnest on Monday cited the U.S.'s counterterrorism operations in those countries as evidence that Obama's strategy against ISIS will work.

Not only has the U.S. failed to stop the terror threat in either country, but neither situation is comparable to ISIS. AQAP is a terrorist network that holds no significant ground in Yemen. Al-Shabab in Somalia is similarly situated. Their ranks are measured in the hundreds, perhaps low thousands, and they operate in ways that avoid the scrutiny of security forces.

ISIS has developed into an army that has displaced sovereign security forces and controls the ground on which it operates. ISIS militants have heavy armaments, thanks to the collapse of the Iraqi military in the region, and operate strategically as well as tactically. An air campaign alone will not dislodge them from the large footprint they occupy in Iraq and Syria. Only ground troops can do that, and only when deployed effectively with the proper logistical support.

Unfortunately, that is how wars against armies are won. Dempsey's testimony anticipates that. Obama's strategy clearly does not, and the discordant and contradictory indicators from his national-security team call into serious question whether the White House has any strategy at all.

If the White House set out to project incompetence, it could not have possibly done a better job over the last few days.

Hmmm. How would our country be different today if the men at the Constitutional Convention had signed the constitution they wrote on September 3, 1787 instead of the one they did two weeks later on September 17?

Damon Linker has an interesting essay pondering whether feminism has just become another word for liberalism.
But what if a woman chooses to use her civic freedom to fight against legalized abortion — organizing in support of the Hyde Amendment, pushing her state legislature to burden abortion clinics with so many regulations that they close down, thereby depriving women of the means to safely exercise the full range of their reproductive rights?

Is this politically savvy anti-abortion woman an anti-feminist? Or a feminist role model?

If abortion is too much of a hot-button issue, how about paid family leave, which would guarantee a paycheck to people who take limited time off from work to care for newborns and others family members in need? Both Shulevitz and Traister strongly support it — as have I, for many years. But what are we to make of a libertarian woman who writes influential essays against paid family leave because she believes it will produce far more harm than good for working men and women by driving companies out of business and leading to a net loss in jobs?

Is this woman an enemy of feminism? Or an exemplar of feminism in action?

You get the idea. If feminism is about empowering women to participate in American civic and social life without regard to the ends they pursue with that power and freedom, then of course these women are feminists. The opposite of being a feminist in this sense isn't to be an anti-abortion libertarian; it is to be powerless.

But many self-described feminists today define feminism in a way that is far more ideological and includes a range of specific policy proposals. To be a feminist in this sense, you must support abortion rights through all three trimesters, favor paid family leave, back government subsidized child care, and so forth.

Which means that to be considered a feminist, you must be a liberal Democrat.

Peter Beinart looks at the numbers among women for this year's elections and finds many similarities to 2002.

More plagiarism allegations against Fareed Zakaria. Apparently, he's been lifting things for years.

Check out these fake "quotes" from Thomas Jefferson.

The Onion has a great take on the Scottish independence vote.
David Cameron To Scottish People: ‘I’ll Kill Myself If You Leave’