Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Cruising the Web

President Obama, reportedly, has not attended over half of his daily intelligence briefings. Apparently, he thinks he's so brilliant that he's fine in just reading the report and doesn't need to question anyone to get more details or explanations of those reports. Allahpundit links to a column by Marc Thiessen to explain why the in-person briefings are so valuable that President Bush always met in person for his briefings that were held six days a week.
According to former officials who have detailed knowledge of the PDB process, having the daily meeting — and not just reading the briefing book — is enormously important both for the president and those who prepare the brief. For the president, the meeting is an opportunity to ask questions of the briefers, probe assumptions and request additional information. For those preparing the brief, meeting with the president on a daily basis gives them vital, direct feedback from the commander in chief about what is on his mind, how they can be more responsive to his needs, and what information he may have to feed back into the intelligence process. This process cannot be replicated on paper.
Perhaps this is one explanation for how Obama underestimated ISIS even though there were regular warnings from his intelligence services made in public. Allahpundit summarizes,
I do find it odd that a guy who was touted as having a restless, inquisitive mind allegedly thinks less of give-and-take with his security team than the supposedly “incurious” chimp-like warmonger he replaced. Although I suppose the reply to that is that O doesn’t need Clapper sitting right in front of him if he wants to ask a follow-up question about his reading material.
Maybe this approach to administering the government explains why Obama is constantly being surprised by the failures of Obamacare, the VA scandal, the IRS scandal, etc. And his arrogance explains why he ignored the advice of his commanders on the ground on the importance of maintaining our military presence in Iraq.

Even the NYT isn't buying Obama's excuse-making on Sixty Minutes about how the intelligence community failed to anticipate the strength of ISIS.
By late last year, classified American intelligence reports painted an increasingly ominous picture of a growing threat from Sunni extremists in Syria, according to senior intelligence and military officials. Just as worrisome, they said, were reports of deteriorating readiness and morale among troops next door in Iraq.

But the reports, they said, generated little attention in a White House consumed with multiple brush fires and reluctant to be drawn back into Iraq. “Some of us were pushing the reporting, but the White House just didn’t pay attention to it,” said a senior American intelligence official. “They were preoccupied with other crises,” the official added. “This just wasn’t a big priority.”
Paul Mirengoff adds,
The facts, then, are clear. Our intelligence agencies warned Obama not to assume that ISIS could be halted in Fallujah and Ramadi. Obama not only ignored the warning; he ridiculed it, as his remarks to Remnick make clear.

And now, he is blaming his failure to act on false claims that he wasn’t sufficiently warned.

America has had its share of dishonest presidents. But I don’t think we’ve ever had one as shameless as Obama.

Blake Hurst, a Missouri farmer, has an essay about how that, contrary to Thomas Frank's book, What is the Matter with Kansas?, there is nothing the matter with Kansas. Frank argued that residents of red states such as Kansas were voting against their own economic interests when they voted for conservatives based on social issues. What Frank didn't understand was that perhaps conservatives in those red states defined their economic interests as differently from the federal government redistributing wealth. Hurst points out that government over-regulation does indeed hurt their economic interests.
There is no doubt that this has been the slowest recovery in modern history, and it has been particularly bad for the kind of investors who populate flyover country. While low interest rates are good for Wall Street and a government that is $18 trillion in debt, they are ravaging Midwesterners, whose idea of a retirement plan is a certificate of deposit or two at the local bank. Perhaps even more alarming, low interest rates have contributed to an unsustainable boom in farmland prices, a boom that is destined to end badly. While Midwesterners have enjoyed the increase in asset values that follows historically low interest rates, the recent drop in crop prices will squeeze Midwestern agriculture in ways we haven’t seen since the 1980s.

Not only that, but the Obama administration’s environmental and regulatory policies have been devastating to industries that deal in actual commodities rather than ideas and silicon.

Missouri, my home state, doesn’t rank in the top 10 states for the percentage of our electricity generated by coal-fired generating plants, but we’re certainly more dependent on coal than most, and we do rank in the top 10 for carbon emissions. People here understand that the recent greenhouse gas rules advanced by the Obama administration will increase the cost of electricity. Most folks who live in rural Missouri are served by electric cooperatives, whose power grid was built during the Depression with the direct help of the federal government. These aren’t investor-owned utilities, but rather public-private partnerships of a kind that ought to please the left. Despite this pristine provenance, the cooperatives will be among the hardest hit of all utilities because of their reliance on coal-fired generating plants. Candidate Obama made no secret of the fact that the coal industry was in his sights, and that’s one campaign promise he has fulfilled. Unsurprisingly, not one of the top 10 coal-burning states awarded President Obama its electoral votes in 2012. Contra Thomas Frank, people voted, if not their economic interests, at least their electric bill.
Hurst goes on to connect the hysteria over women having to pay a few dollars a month for their own birth control to the sorts of concerns that Hurst and his fellow farmers have.
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision protecting the religious liberty of closely held corporations, the editorial pages spent hundreds of column inches worrying that female employees whose health insurance doesn’t cover the full cost of all forms of birth control will no longer be able to afford their $25 monthly contraceptive bill. Our farm in the corner of Missouri will face thousands of dollars in increased electric bills each fall as our electric cooperative replaces coal with natural gas and wind.

People vote the way they do for any number of reasons, and partisans believe, by definition, that the folks voting for the other side are voting against the nation’s best interests. Frank disapproves of how folks in flyover country vote and finds a ready audience among the chattering classes for his thesis that conservatives are, well, stupid. That’s no surprise, and it does sell books, but the last few years have not been kind to the theory. Folks in Kansas were right to be skeptical of candidate Obama’s promises. With another election looming, the accumulating evidence makes it pretty easy to see that folks in the middle of the country will continue to vote with their hard heads, not just their soft hearts. There’s nothing at all the matter with Kansas.
I well remember a fellow teacher who told me on the day after the 2004 election that he'd told his students that it was such a shame that so many people had voted against their own best interests. I replied that that perhaps some of his students' parents had voted for Bush and it was arrogant and offensive of him to suppose that he knew what their best interests were better than they did. He just smiled and said that he did indeed know better than those Bush voters what were their best interests were. Clearly, he was a Thomas rank acolyte. He was also quite obnoxious and had violated our principal's directive that we shouldn't proselytize our own political beliefs in class. And he was, thankfully, not rehired for the next year.

What is the matter with the Secret Service? They used to be an organization deserving our respect and gratitude.. And now we're hearing scandals about the Secret Service hiring prostitutes in Colombia. And now there is this cluster of stories of what seems like negligence or maybe just incompetence by the Secret Service. How does someone with a gun and a criminal record get on an elevator with the President?

David Hawkings writes in Roll Call that the government shutdown, which people thought was going to play such a role in this year's election has turned out to be a nothingburger. It just goes to show how much can change and how hard it is to extrapolate from a year out about what the deciding factors will be in an election. Things can even change in the remaining month. Who would have predicted several months ago that foreign policy would be again on the front burner for this election? Imagine how the whole race would be shaken up if we started to have more Ebola victims cropping up or more beheadings in the U.S. And I wouldn't get excited by polls showing a candidate ahead just a point or two. Things can change in five weeks.

Google is wonderful. Ask and ye shall discover. I wanted to know why Ebola is capitalized and other diseases like leukemia aren't. And here is the answer.
Diseases named after regions are capitalized.

Ebola is the name of a river in Zaire, and it was near the Ebola River that the virus first caused disease in humans. Thus, the disease became known as the Ebola virus.

West Nile in West Nile virus is capitalized for a similar reason: It was first found in a patient in the West Nile district of northern Uganda.

Diseases named after people are capitalized.

Some disease names are capitalized because they are named after the person who discovered them. For example, Alzheimer’s disease is named after a German doctor named Alois Alzheimer, and Down’s syndrome is named after a British doctor named John Langdon Down.
Of course, this makes teaching the correct way more difficult. My students seem to have generalized from the exception and tend to capitalize every disease now.

This is discouraging news about the preparedness of the Republicans in get-out-the-vote efforts in key races this year.
The Democrats’ spending advantage is greatest in states where they’ve had time to organize and plan for competitive races, and they are using that edge to register new voters; publicize absentee and early voting options; and, of course, make sure supporters actually go to the polls on Election Day. The efforts extend to states where the Republicans more recently made Senate contests more competitive, like Michigan.

Democrats have invested several million dollars in both North Carolina and Colorado for this ground game. Republican spending in those states so far has tended to focus on broadcast advertisements and direct mail.
Gah. Direct mail is so last century.

Mona Charen explains which party is the real party of the rich.

Apparently, Democrats are worried that these Secret Service screw-ups are not doing anything to give people confidence in the ability of the federal government to accomplish what it sets out to do.
But privately, some Democratic officeholders and strategists have complained that the episode contributes to a broader impression that the Obama administration’s competence has come under fire on a variety of fronts, including last year’s botched rollout of Mr. Obama’s health care program, the breakdown of services at the Veterans Affairs Department and the handling of a series of international crises.

Coming just weeks before midterm elections, they said, the intense focus on the matter might further undercut confidence in the government Mr. Obama runs even though it was hardly his fault an intruder with a knife made it into the White House.

David Catron addresses those on the right who are so fed up with some establishment Republicans that they are willing to keep Harry Reid in charge of the Senate by sitting out the election. How did that work out for conservatives when they sat out the 2012 contest because they didn't find Romney sufficiently conservative for them.
Regardless of the rationale, those abstainers are responsible for the domestic corruption and foreign policy disasters of the last two years.

And, if they engage in similarly sophomoric behavior in November, the results will be even more catastrophic. If Harry Reid remains in control of the Senate, he and his White House accomplices will “fundamentally transform” the nation into a social democratic hellhole. They will finish packing the court system — including the Supreme Court — with partisans who will kill any legal challenge to their unconstitutional laws and edicts. Obamacare will wreak further havoc on our health care system, the EPA will continue its war on the economy, the IRS will continue to abuse its power, the FCC will shred the First Amendment, ad infinitum.
Exactly. Very rarely when I go to vote am I voting for someone I consider the ideal candidate. Usually, I'm voting for the least bad candidate. I see no benefit in ignoring the good in favor of waiting for the ideal.

So now the man accused of beheading a co-worker in Oklahoma says that his action was based on race, not religion. So will he be charged with a hate crime?

The Obamas have a strange idea of what freedom of the press means. Meg Kissinger, a reporter from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covering Michelle Obama's speech in Wisconsin today was told not to talk to people in the crowd.
assigned to cover Michelle Obama's speech today and was told by a Mary Burke aide and one for the White House that I could not speak to the people in the crowd. To say that I was creeped out is an understatement. This is what reporters do in America: we speak to people.
At least that's how I've been doing things -- at all kinds of political events -- since 1979.
Where do these people get off? I bet that there wouldn't even be those sorts of restrictions if a reporter were covering the Queen of England. Do these sorts of episodes give reporters any doubts about their almost universal adulation for the Obamas just a few short years ago?

John Hinderaker tells an anecdote of how the Bill Maher people don't want conservatives to have their own tape of episodes to post for comparison with the way they prefer to edit a show's content.

Can anyone figure out what Martha Coakley really believes?

So why hasn't the administration given an operation name to our efforts against ISIS when they've already slapped an operation name on our efforts against Ebola?
Operation names for public consumption are always exercises in self-promotion, as the above references demonstrate amply. If the administration had taken a position to end that practice, that might have been a noteworthy effort in executive modesty. However, the Obama administration has been issuing operation names for everything else, as US News notes; the US effort to fight Ebola has been dubbed Operation United Assistance, when it isn’t even a DoD operation but a USAID mission.

The obvious conclusion in this case is that the White House has little enthusiasm for this fight. That’s a terrible message to communicate, really just another and more petty form of self-promotion. Maybe someone at the Pentagon can muster up the effort to put together an adjective and noun for the President to use — not necessarily for cheerleading, but at least to act as though this is his idea.

Don't believe the PSA's about how so many American children in America are going to bed hungry.
America’s children aren’t starving, not even slightly — not by any measure, survey or study.
If anything, too many kids are eating too much of the wrong stuff. Which is why the nation’s first lady is leading an anti-obesity campaign.

The only basis for Feeding America’s claim comes from US Department of Agriculture surveys in which heads of households were asked if at any time during a calendar year their children were a) unable to eat what they wanted; b) unable to eat in whatever quantity they wanted; c) forced to eat cheaper brands, or d) afraid their food supply might run out on any single day.

Fully 85.5 percent said “no”; just 14.5 percent replied “yes.”

The Agriculture Department tendentiously labels the latter group “food insecure.” And it is from this number, and this number alone, that Feeding America gets its nonsensical claim that one in five kids is fighting starvation daily.

The truth is far different; this is an issue that’s been studied for decades.
Look at Census polling that asks heads of households if any member of the family missed even a single meal, on one day a year, because of a lack of resources: Only 0.01 percent said “yes” — one out of 1,000.

This is what US taxpayers should expect: We spend almost $1 trillion a year on state and federal safety-net programs for the 46 million people defined as living in poverty ($21,000 per individual, nearly $87,000 per family of four).