Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cruising the Web

Did you realize this? We actually do have someone who is basically our Ebola Czar, Dr. Nicole Lurie. Her job is, in her own words,
to help our country prepare for, respond to and recover from public health threats.” She says her major priority is to help the country prepare for emergencies and to “have the countermeasures—the medicines or vaccines that people might need to use in a public health emergency. So a large part of my office also is responsible for developing those countermeasures.”
But she has been invisible during the whole crisis about Ebola.
So why has the top official for public health threats been sidelined in the midst of the Ebola crisis? Only the not-known-for-transparency Obama administration knows for sure. But maybe taxpayers and voters should force Congress to do a better job with its oversight rather than get away with the far easier passing of legislation that grants additional funds before finding out what we got for all that money we allocated to this task over the last decade. And then maybe taxpayers should begin to puzzle out whether their really bad return on tax investment dollars is related to some sort of inherent problem with the administrative state.

And you wouldn't have realized this if you'd been listening to liberals. The Republicans actually appropriated more for the CDC this past year than Obama had requested. In fact, Obama had proposed cutting CDC funding back in 2012. But that won't stop Democrats from blaming Republicans for Ebola.

The Daily Mail has some fun delving into the NIH budget to see what it's been spending money on.
The $30 billion U.S. National Institutes of Health blamed tightening federal budgets on Monday for its inability to produce an Ebola vaccine, but a review of its grant-making history in the last 10 years has turned up highly unusual research that redirected precious funds away from more conventional public health projects.

The projects included $2.4 million to develop 'origami' condoms designed with Japanese folding paper in mind, and $939,000 to find out that male fruit flies prefer to romance younger females because the girl-flies' hormone levels drop over time.

Other winners of NIH grants consumed $325,000 to learn that marriages are happier when wives calm down more quickly during arguments with their husbands, and $257,000 to make an online game as a companion to first lady Michelle Obama's White House garden.

The agency also spent $117,000 in taxpayers' grant dollars to discover that most chimpanzees are right-handed.

The same group of scientists determined, at a cost of $592,000 for NIH, that chimps with the best poop-throwing skills are also the best communicators. But while flinging feces might get another primate's attention in the wild, they discovered, it's not much good in captivity.

'I've never in my life seen a chimp be given a banana for throwing s**t at someone,' Emory University psychologist Bill Hopkins told Wired magazine.

The marital-argument research, conducted at Stanford and Northwestern Universities, involved 82 couples and found that when wives 'downregulated' their negative emotions during a spat, both partners had 'greater marital satisfaction over time.' Not so for men who held their tongues, however.

Part of a $666,000 NIH grant supported a University of Buffalo researcher who determined that watching sitcom reruns like 'Seinfeld' or re-watching old movies helps older people feel re-connected with pseudo-friends from their past.

Another outlay of $181,000 went to University of Kentucky researchers who studied how cocaine use 'enhanced' the sex drive of the Japanese quail.
So the result of the Democrats trying to blame Republicans for Ebola is that we're getting a good look on what one federal agency is spending taxpayer money on. Stories like this are not going to give the public more confidence in our government.

Bono gets it.
The front man for the rock band U2 got some people’s Irish up after he defended the low taxes of his homeland. “Tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known,” said the singer about the Emerald Isle. He’s absolutely right.

After touring the world with U2, Bono’s second career as an advocate for the poor — especially in forgotten Africa — has taken him to many spots not found on the standard itinerary for a rock band.

Unlike so many others, he learned: The best way for a nation to help its poor move into the middle class is to open up its economy and allow people on the bottom to benefit from the inflows of investment and the opportunities it brings.

Bono puts it well: “As a person who’s spent nearly 30 years fighting to get people out of poverty, it was somewhat humbling to realize that commerce played a bigger job than development. I’d say that’s my biggest transformation in 10 years: understanding the power of commerce to make or break lives, and that it cannot be given into as the dominating force in our lives.”

So Michelle Obama went to Iowa and kept flubbing up Bruce Braley's name by calling him Bruce Bailey. That was perfectly understandable - maybe she was thinking of the song. But now the Obama acolytes in the media are trying to argue that she messed up his name on purpose, perhaps in some convoluted attempt to allow him to separate himself from the Obamas. The Washington Post even tries to educate readers into the cognitive science explaining how difficult it is for people to open their mouths and have the correct word or name come out.

The media somehow managed to ignore how Democratic Congressional candidate John Foust derided his female opponent, Republican Barbara Constock, by saying "I don't think she's even had a real job."
The media quietly shuffled papers around instead of focusing like a laser beam on Foust’s snide remark, apparently because it has that emperor-with-no-clothes quality to it. The party that supposedly stands for women and has been tirelessly defending them against Republican bogeymen who are waging “war” on women has a track record of denigrating a choice that the vast majority of women still say they want: motherhood.

Had the situation been the reverse, a Republican man suggesting that an accomplished Democrat woman had never had a “real job,” denizens of the Internet would still be rending their garments. The talking heads would still be rolling. The hashtags would still be trending. The left would still be valiantly defending oppressed women everywhere.

Instead, Barbara Comstock, who had three children while attending night school at Georgetown Law while her husband was holding down a middle-class job as a high school teacher, is left twisting in the wind. (Well, maybe not twisting, as she is up in the polls.) And left with this as a Twitter “apology” from Foust’s party for his comment: “If @barbaracomstock were a man, she’d be down 20 pts w women. Her record & policies are horrible for women. But voters assume . . . ”

Assume what? Finish the sentence. That she is winning just because she is a woman? Not because of her brain or her qualities or her platform?

But the problem is this: Comstock is not a man. She is a woman. And her opponent, a man, made the most sexist remark of this political cycle. It’s one we’ve heard before from the Democrat Party’s echo chamber, notwithstanding that it hardly fits with the narrative that theirs is the party that cares about women. And they didn’t say sorry, because they weren’t forced to, because the press and party bosses didn’t make them.

The WSJ explains how Obamacare has forced universities to move student employees to being part-time workers in order not to have to pay their health insurance and how this might play in Colorado's Senate race.
Under ObamaCare, large employers must provide health benefits—including free contraception—to all employees who work more than 30 hours a week on average. Otherwise, they get whacked with a $2,000 penalty, er, tax per employee.

So Boulder is trying to circumvent the ObamaCare mandate by limiting hours of student workers. Why does Boulder want to take away women’s birth control?

The university says the policy is also intended to support “degree attainment as the student’s primary focus” and to “assist the campus in achieving Chancellor DiStefano’s initiative of increasing the six-year graduation rate.” But how will making it harder for students to finance their education improve the graduation rate? Maybe he wants them to take out more government loans.

Student workers are merely the latest casualties of ObamaCare. Dozens of colleges including Colorado Mountain College are barring adjunct professors from working more than 30 hours a week. Many quick-serve restaurants plan to do likewise. Yet in an interview last week Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, who provided the 60th vote for passage in 2010, hailed ObamaCare “all in all” as “a success.”

Stu Rothenberg warns Republicans that they'll be up a creek if they don't win the Senate this year.

Andrea Mitchell does her best to help Wendy Davis by casting doubt on what she calls Greg Abbot's "supposed disability." You stay classy, Andrea.

What would the day be without another corruption scandal concerning Kay Hagan's husband's company and how it benefited from the stimulus.
DC Manufacturing, a company co-owned by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband Charles “Chip” Hagan, lowered the total cost of a 2010 stimulus-funded energy project but kept all of the savings, sending none back to taxpayers who had funded the stimulus grant.

The company’s original application stated the total project would cost $438,627, and said JDC would contribute “leveraged funds” amounting to $187,983, or 43 percent of the total. As the project reached completion, however, JDC revised the total budget downward by $114,519 and applied all the savings to its share, keeping all the taxpayer funding.

Also, JDC’s decision to hire Solardyne/Green State Power, a separate company co-owned by Chip Hagan and the Hagans’ son Tilden, to install a portion of the stimulus-funded energy project at the JDC building appears to violate a conflict-of-interest provision that was included as part of the original application for the stimulus grant.

Roger Simon wonders "How anti-Semitic is the State Department?" He contrasts the State Department's condemnation of Israel for civilian deaths in Gaza despite the heroic efforts they made, at the expense of their own soldiers, to try to minimize civilian deaths. But the Obama administration has announced that Obama's restrictions against harming civilians will not apply in our efforts against ISIS.
But we don’t know much — hardly anything about the bombing, who was hit, how much damage, collateral or otherwise, occurred. Have there been civilian casualties? How many?

Compare this to a few weeks ago and the non-stop coverage of the Gaza War. Almost every day we had reports on the supposedly huge civilian toll from Israeli attacks coupled with admonishment from State Department porte-paroles Jen Psaki and Marie Harf that Israel should restrain itself, implying, of course, that the Jewish state was being excessive in defending itself against Hamas. Psaki, Harf and others repeatedly warned Israel that they were harming too many “innocent” civilians even though those civilians had been put there as human shields by their terrorist adversaries. Death and wounded statistics provided by Hamas and then parroted by the UN were almost always accepted at face value by the mouth pieces of our government.

Barack Obama gets no such treatment. Weeks into the bombing of ISIL, we know next to nothing. The reportage is vague at best. Some, like the left-wing UK Independent, say Obama’s strategy has been a fiasco. Who knows? Unlike Hamas, which has always exploited human shields to the hilt for propaganda purposes, ISIL prefers to keep reporters out (or slice their heads off) and employ social media for publicity and recruitment purposes. But still the bombs fall and innocents and not-so-innocents die or get maimed for life.

So why does the State Department blame Israel for using excessive force, even though the IDF appears to make even more effort than the U.S. Army or Air Force to avoid civilian casualties? Why does it judge Israel by a different standard from the U.S. — or anybody, for that matter?
This is the sort of discrimination that Joshua Muravchik does an excellent job of explaining in his book, "Making David into Goliath" about how Israel went from being an admired underdog into a much reviled country unfairly winning wars against Arab underdogs and how this has become the new leftist paradigm for regarding any conflict in the Middle East.

CNN describes five ways the CDC got and is getting it wrong about Ebola. It's not encouraging.

John Lott examines all the ways that the FBI is misleading in their recent report on mass shootings.

Greg Abbott strikes back against Wendy Davis just using the words of the media, liberal and conservative, attacking her for her ugly empty wheelchair ad. She'll be tied to that fiasco of an ad the rest of her political life.

Allison Lundergan Grimes continues to refuse to say whether she voted for Barack Obama despite having been a delegate for him in 2012 and having attended one of his inaugural balls. I guess that her approach is when she makes a mistake, she keeps on making it. As Ed Morrissey writes,
Sure, Grimes can keep refusing to answer the question, but it’s not because of principle. It’s out of naked ambition and self-preservation. This latest attempt to spin this as a principled stand is sanctimonious hypocrisy. It’s both dishonest and unfair to Kentucky voters, who after all will have to choose who gets to vote for them in the US Senate.

Two years ago, Grimes was “very proud” to announce her support for Barack Obama, and now McConnell is the only one “proudly” talking about the votes he cast in the last two presidential cycles. That speaks volumes about Grimes’ judgment, and this response speaks perhaps as loudly about her character.

James Taranto explains the tendentious claims of Davis's ad and then recites a number of instances in which her campaign has been using phrases like Davis "stands for what is right" or is "taking a stand" or how her critics haven't "walked a day in my shoes." Perhaps these are just innocent uses of common metaphors. But imagine the brouhaha if a Republican had behaved this way about a Democratic opponent confined to a wheelchair.

Get ready for voter fraud in Colorado due to the voter reform that the Democratic governor pushed through.

Ashe Schow describes how feminism is infantilizing women.
Women once were encouraged to be strong and independent, to brush aside insensitive words and actions and to emerge stronger. But now, politicians, pundits, even celebrities are feeding an outrage machine by telling women they should be offended by anything and everything.

The latest example comes from actress Lena Dunham, famous not only for her HBO show “Girls” but also for a 2012 political ad comparing voting for the first time to losing one’s virginity. Last week, Dunham told NPR that the phrase “too much information” — “TMI” for short — is a sexist phrase that “trivializes female experiences.”

What Dunham doesn’t appear to realize is that by claiming common phrases are sexist, women are actually being told that they need to be protected from free speech and that they should be offended more often because they are somehow being oppressed by that speech. This reinforces the idea that women are overly fragile and sensitive — an image that feminists supposedly have been fighting for decades.

TMI is just the latest word or phrase being flagged as sexist. In 2012, the Women’s Media Center created a list of more than 100 words and phrases that are harmful to women, including “aggressive” and “complain.”

Singer Beyonce and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg added a new word to that list in March — “bossy.” Suddenly women were told they were being marginalized if they were called bossy, even though some men are called far worse (far too colorful to mention here).

This need to protect women from even reading or hearing about the ills of society has become so pervasive that some colleges are including “trigger warnings” on class syllabi to caution students that they might be offended or feel uncomfortable about some of the subject matter.
What a surprise! If teachers aren't forced to pay dues to unions, they won't. No wonder they fought hammer and tong against Wisconsin's reforms. Teachers seem especially happy to not be forced to support an organization that was more about politics than education.

Jim Geraghty ponders the failure of the "Great Democratic Rural Hopes."

The WSJ exposes the political motivations behind the Democrats' urging that Congress pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. What they hope is that people don't realize that paying people differently based on their gender has been illegal since 1963. A new law is unnecessary, but serves to get Republicans to vote against something with such a nice name.
In reality, this bill would expand litigation opportunities for class-action lawyers seeking millions of dollars from companies without ever having to prove that the companies intentionally discriminated against women.

The Paycheck Fairness Act instead is meant to address the fact that “on average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns,” as the Obama White House explains on its website. This is not a claim that any woman earns less than any man for the same work. Pay “disparities” between men and women generally reflect other factors such as interrupting a career to raise children, the types of jobs men and women on average choose, the type of education they have (sociology vs. engineering), etc.

Since 1963 it has been unlawful under the federal Equal Pay Act for an employer to pay a female employee less than a male employee for equal work. Sex discrimination in wages is also prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For employees of federal contractors and subcontractors, Executive Order 11,246 prohibits gender-based pay discrimination.

Finally, 46 states have antidiscrimination statutes mandating equal pay for equal work. While the enforcement schemes of these laws vary from state to state, the remedies those statutes provide are comparable to those available under federal laws.

Today, the Equal Pay Act and Title VII provide a woman who prevails on her wage discrimination claim a virtual smorgasbord of effective remedies. They include, but aren’t limited to, back pay, attorneys’ fees, injunctive relief, prejudgment interest, $300,000 in punitive and compensatory damages, an additional $10,000 in penalties, and a prison sentence of up to six months for an employer who willfully violates the law.
There is no crisis, but pretending that there is one serves the Democrats' political purposes while helping a major Democratic group - trial lawyers - and that is all that matters.

What? Ed Morrissey reports on how Houston authorities have subpoenaed the sermons from pastors who might have preached against their equal rights ordinance. They want to know if these pastors had preached on LGBT issues. What is there about Free Exercise of religion that Houston's attorneys don't understand?

Don't believe all those Democrats like Alison Lundergan Grimes, Mark Pryor, Mark Begich, Mary Landrieu, or Mark Udall pretending that they're the nation's biggest foes of President Obama.
Had any one of these Democrats opposed ObamaCare, if only to force improvements, the law would not have passed the Senate without changes that might have made it far less destructive. Mrs. Landrieu famously traded her vote for $300 million extra in Medicaid funds, known at the time as the Louisiana Purchase.

Every Democratic incumbent also voted for Mr. Obama’s stimulus, and they all supported the Dodd-Frank law that has enshrined too-big-to-fail for large banks. They also lined up behind Majority Leader Harry Reid ’s gutting of the 60-vote rule for presidential nominations. That vote helped Mr. Obama pack the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals with three liberals who will make it harder to challenge Mr. Obama’s rule-by regulation on oil and gas that these Democrats claim to oppose.

They’ve also been loyal servants of Mr. Reid’s strategy to close off nearly all Senate debate and amendments. This has undermined the ability of these Senators to challenge the White House by forming bipartisan coalitions. By making the Senate less open to debate than the House, they abandoned any leverage to act as the independent actors they now claim to be.

Mrs. Landrieu and Mr. Begich, both from oil and gas producing states, were unable this year to get a floor vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, or even more rapid approval of natural-gas exports that might counter Vladimir Putin ’s energy squeeze on our European allies. They effectively neutered themselves.

Yet they now want voters to believe that if they get another six-year term they will somehow emerge as giants of principled independence. That promise will turn into a pumpkin the minute they again cast a vote to make Mr. Reid Majority Leader. The deny-Obama strategy may be a political necessity in the sixth year of this listing Presidency, but voters who fall for the ruse will get a continuation of the same failed policies.

TNR ponders the five awful things that could happen if the Democrats win the Senate. You know, I'm not at all horrified.

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