Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cruising the Web

President Obama might want to stop using Ronald Reagan's 1980 line against Jimmy Carter's presidency, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" People just don't feel like they're better off and there's a good reason. They're not.
Between 2009 when Obama took office and 2013, the latest for which numbers are available, median annual household incomes fell by more than $2,100 in inflation-adjusted terms, Census Bureau data showed last week.

"It's hard to make the case for 'Morning again in America' the way that Ronald Reagan was able to do in 1984," said John Ullyot, a former Senate Republican aide, now with a strategy firm High Lantern Group.

"People just don’t feel connected to the recovery."

White House economists have pointed out that the census figures do not reflect job growth and the rise in average hourly earnings seen this year, but any improvements have yet to register with the public.

Opinion polls make disturbing reading for the Democratic Party, which will have a tough time defending its slim Senate majority in the Nov. 4 election.

Roughly two-thirds of the population thinks the economy is heading in the wrong direction, survey data from polling firm Ipsos has consistently shown over the last two years.

About four in 10 Americans also strongly disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy and less than one in 10 feel he is doing a really good job. The president's own overall approval rating is stuck at around 40 percent.

Glenn Reynolds writes "Out: Bogus charges of racism. In: Bogus charges of rapism." in response to Ashe Schow's column about how Democratic women have been amping up language about how they're victims of attacks. I think it's such a hoot that Kay Hagan is claiming that she's taking punches because of out-of-state groups running attack ads against her. The biggest spender in the NC Senate race so far this year is Harry Reid's Senate Majority PAC which has substantially outspent the next biggest spender, the GOP-supporting Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies. In fact, the Democratic outside groupss are way out-spending Republicans this election season.
The Democrats' edge in TV ads of late is due partly to a string of super PACs that have ramped up their efforts in the past two months. Since July 3, the largest super PACs aligned with Democrats have raised four times the money of pro-GOP super PACs, and have now spent $60 million to Republicans' $38 million, data compiled by The Wall Street Journal shows.

The Democratic push is being led by Senate Majority PAC, run by people affiliated with Mr. Reid, which has raised more money this election cycle than any super PAC aligned with either party: $33 million, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. It has put $28 million so far into TV and digital advertising, with nearly half of that spent in the last 10 weeks. Its biggest donors include hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer, who has given $5 million since 2013, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has given $2.5 million.

....Senate Majority PAC, for example, has spent $8 million in North Carolina, where Sen. Kay Hagan, who entered the race as one of the Democrats' most endangered incumbents, has led in almost every recent poll. Roughly $6 million has been spent by super PACs on behalf of Thom Tillis, her GOP opponent, since 2013. Democrats have run about 4,200 ads in the state in recent weeks compared with 3,300 by Republicans, according to Wesleyan's analysis of data produced by tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG.
Maybe Tillis needs to run an ad about how he's the one who is taking the punches.

So why should the NFL have nonprofit status? Philip Klein writes,
The NFL’s nonprofit status was enshrined into law in a 1966 act meant to protect the league from antitrust issues surrounding its merger with the rival AFL (which was considered a lesser league until my Jets pulled off the greatest upset in football history in the 1969 Super Bowl).

The same law added, “professional football leagues” to the part of the tax code listing entities granted nonprofit status.

Though the league distributes lucrative television and licensing revenue among the 32 teams, which do pay taxes on their earnings, the teams also send dues to the NFL league office. The office does not pay taxes on those dues, and the fees could be deducted from the teams’ taxes.

The NFL reported total revenue of $326 million for the 2012 tax year, according to its most recent publicly available filing with the Internal Revenue Service. During that year alone, the NFL paid $44.2 million in compensation to commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell earned $105 million over the course of the five-year period from 2008 through 2012, according to a CNN report – more than any player.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has been fighting a lonely battle against the tax exemption for years, and in January, he introduced a bill that would have restricted the ability of sports leagues to claim nonprofit status if their annual revenue exceeded $10 million. His bill would not only affect the NFL, but the NHL, PGA Tour, and the LPGA as well and would generate $109 million in tax revenue over a decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Sounds like an easy and popular change to make. Senator Cory Booker has proposed a bill to do just that. It should be a bipartisan agreement.

The administration still hasn't fixed the security problems at the Obamacare website.

Matthew Continetti asks why foreign lobbyists should be able to keep their contributions to think tanks private. Good question.

Mary Anastasia O'Grady exposes Bill Clinton's dishonest in how he's portrayed his record on Haiti. Clinton has taken to bragging about installing Jean Bertrand Aristide in power there. Haitians aren't as thrilled about Aristide.
Mr. Aristide was put under house arrest in Port-au-Prince earlier this month in connection with an investigation into allegations of money laundering and corruption. If he decides to talk and remembers things differently than Mr. Clinton, the former U.S. president will be out in front with his version of events.

Speaking after his wife addressed the Iowa crowd, Mr. Clinton explained his 1994 Haiti intervention: "The military dictator down there was putting tires around people's necks and setting them afire, in an affectionate policy called necklacing," he recalled satirically. "I was told that nobody gave a rip about Haiti." But "we did it and no shot was fired. Nobody got hurt."

That's some tale. But as any Haitian knows, it was Mr. Aristide who championed Haitian "necklacing," aka "Père Lebrun" after a domestic tire merchant. Governing a democracy with a national assembly was more difficult than he had anticipated and he urged his followers to give Père Lebrun to his opponents, as an Oct. 1993 Congressional Research Service report documented.

On Sept. 29, 1991, the military stepped in and kicked him out. It employed its own paramilitary, which also practiced repression—but guns, not necklacing, were its weapon of choice.

Mr. Aristide fled to Washington, where President George H.W. Bush released Haiti's international telephone and airline revenues to him as the government-in-exile. There was never any accounting for those funds but they reportedly topped $50 million. Mr. Aristide lived the high life in Georgetown and mounted an aggressive and costly lobbying campaign for U.S. military intervention to restore his presidency.

Once Mr. Clinton put Mr. Aristide back in the palace in Port-au-Prince, his supporters picked up where they had left off. Opponents were hacked with machetes, set on fire and gunned down. Money disappeared.

Joe Pinsker asks in an article in The Atlantic: Why are men still paying for first dates? I guess some traditions still don't change. I happened to be reading this article right before the students in my advisory group came in today. I have 18 high schoolers in there so I asked them who paid now for dates among high school couples. The vote was unanimous that guys pay if it's an actual date. And when I asked who should pay, the girls agreed that the guys should pay. Some of the guys disagreed and said the girl should offer to split the bill. I asked if guys open the car doors for girls these days and the answer was no, though one guy said he tried to, but the girl always came out of the car before he could get around the car. Though they all agreed that guys still open doors into buildings for girls.

Tim Lebsack links to a story from California about how it is illegal for a for-profit company to use volunteer labor even if the volunteers are helping out so that they can learn the business. He writes, "Apparently your labor is the opposite of your sexuality in California: You can sell it, but you can’t give it away for free"
Whenever anybody who works in government talks about creating a level field for the marketplace, you know some small business owner somewhere is about to get screwed over. The story notes that there are many small wineries like this one in the area who rely on volunteers. They had to send them all home.

A stupid electorate attracts ridiculous politicians.

Check out which TV shows are the best for political ads.

So which doctor do you trust? This is quite cute.
Where's Dr. House and Dr. Frankenstein?

First it was the Montana Senator John Walsh who had to back out of running this fall because of having plagiarized a paper he wrote at the Army War College. Now the Democrat challenging Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin has had to apologize for having plagiarized or lifted quite a bit of her plan for increasing jobs in Wisconsin. Her excuse is that her campaign aide who wrote up her plan also wrote up some of the other plans that she had in her plan. Maybe it's no big deal that her plan was lifted from other Democrats' plans, but it sure distracts from her argument about how her jobs plan is the reason why she should be elected.
"In other words," McLaughlin concludes, "Burke isn't just recycling boilerplate on her website--she's spent months running around the state telling the voters that they should read her jobs plan because it's proof that she's smarter, more detail-oriented, and more qualified by private sector experience to help Wisconsin's economy grow."

Well, this is an inconvenient truth.
A new study released Monday found that warming temperatures in Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of North America over the past century closely followed natural changes in the wind, not increases in greenhouse gases related to global warming.

The study compared ocean surface temperatures from 1900 to 2012 to surface air pressure, a stand-in for wind measurements, and found a close match.

"What we found was the somewhat surprising degree to which the winds can explain all the wiggles in the temperature curve," said lead author Jim Johnstone, who did the work while a climatologist at the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington.

"So clearly, there are other factors stronger than the greenhouse forcing that is affecting those temperatures," he added.
This matches up with a column by Obama's former undersecretary for science in the Energy Department, Steven Koonin, explaining how climate science is nowhere near as settled as climate alarmists would like us to believe.
Even though human influences could have serious consequences for the climate, they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole. For example, human additions to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the middle of the 21st century are expected to directly shift the atmosphere's natural greenhouse effect by only 1% to 2%. Since the climate system is highly variable on its own, that smallness sets a very high bar for confidently projecting the consequences of human influences.

A second challenge to "knowing" future climate is today's poor understanding of the oceans. The oceans, which change over decades and centuries, hold most of the climate's heat and strongly influence the atmosphere. Unfortunately, precise, comprehensive observations of the oceans are available only for the past few decades; the reliable record is still far too short to adequately understand how the oceans will change and how that will affect climate.

A third fundamental challenge arises from feedbacks that can dramatically amplify or mute the climate's response to human and natural influences. One important feedback, which is thought to approximately double the direct heating effect of carbon dioxide, involves water vapor, clouds and temperature.

But feedbacks are uncertain. They depend on the details of processes such as evaporation and the flow of radiation through clouds. They cannot be determined confidently from the basic laws of physics and chemistry, so they must be verified by precise, detailed observations that are, in many cases, not yet available.

Beyond these observational challenges are those posed by the complex computer models used to project future climate. These massive programs attempt to describe the dynamics and interactions of the various components of the Earth system—the atmosphere, the oceans, the land, the ice and the biosphere of living things. While some parts of the models rely on well-tested physical laws, other parts involve technically informed estimation. Computer modeling of complex systems is as much an art as a science....

We often hear that there is a "scientific consensus" about climate change. But as far as the computer models go, there isn't a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences.

On what planet is this a good idea? The Wesleyan University planet, apparently.
Fraternities at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, must start accepting women and all residential fraternities must become fully co-educational over the next three years, the school’s Board of Trustees has ruled.

Hillary has to be careful to not let the fact that she's not particularly good at anything distract from how she's a woman.