Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cruising the Web

So does this CBS report give you any confidence in the CDC? They gave the second nurse to have come down with Ebola, Amber Vinson, permission to fly on an airplane even though she had a fever.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Vinson called the agency several times before flying, saying that she had a fever with a temperature of 99.5 degrees. But because her fever wasn't 100.4 degrees or higher, she didn't officially fall into the group of "high risk" and was allowed to fly.
Really They thought that a nurse who took care of Thomas Duncan and had a fever even if it wasn't quite high enough would be fine to have her get on an airplane. Why not have her take a test in Ohio before having her get on the plane? Their seeming insouciance such as not sending a team to Dallas as soon as Duncan was discovered to have Ebola to make sure that their vaunted protocols were actually being followed boggles the mind.

The Washington Post awards four Pinochios to the the Democrats' absurd claim that only Republicans are to blame for cuts to Ebola research.

At least there is some promising news on the R & D front into fighting Ebola. Given that blood donations from Dr. Kent Brantly, the missionary doctor who was treated with ZMapp, the experimental treatment for Ebola, have been given to to three other victims and it has, apparently, helped, this seems like a promising line of research. Despite the tremendous losses in West Africa, there are people who have survived. If their blood could be drawn and the antibodies extracted, this seems like a very promising line of research. And there are other treatments and vaccines that are being tested and developed, so maybe there is hope in the long run.

28 members of Harvard's Law School faculty advise the university that its sexual harassment policy violates all standards of how suspected criminals should be treated.
As teachers responsible for educating our students about due process of law, the substantive law governing discrimination and violence, appropriate administrative decision-making, and the rule of law generally, we find the new sexual harassment policy inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach. We also find the process by which this policy was decided and imposed on all parts of the university inconsistent with the finest traditions of Harvard University, of faculty governance, and of academic freedom.
Read the rest for the details of how Harvard (and many other universities) think it's perfectly fine to scrap American principles of due process as soon as someone is accused of sexual harassment. It's disgusting, but good for these members of the faculty.

Concealed carry helps save two Democratic Pennsylvania lawmakers from armed robbery. Amazing how that works.

Oh, darn. CNN's Crossfire is canceled again. Who knew it had even been resurrected.

So where did it all go wrong for Obama? The Hill wonders. There are all sorts of excuses and then there are always Republicans to blame. But then there is President Obama himself and those with whom he surrounds himself.
But even former aides to Obama are casting around for explanations as to why his stock of political capital has depleted so rapidly.

“I’m still struggling to figure this out,” said one former senior administration official. “I think a lot of it boils down to this mindset that, ‘we all have the answers and we’re smarter than everybody else and we can do this.’ ”

This source said that the element of hubris was exacerbated by the “level of insularity,” adding, “I don’t know if the president has stopped trying or he’s tired of it but the White House seems to be perpetually in a bunker mode.”
Then they worry that he's just not that good at explaining stuff to the American people.
“The president is not engaging externally on a personal level,” said the first former official. “It’s all done through analysis and fact sheets. But he’s not someone with the retail side. I think he’s right on the facts but he’s wrong on packaging it and making people feel invested in it the way someone like Bill Clinton can.”
Wait. Isn't this the guy whose eloquence was compared to Lincoln's and who was elected really because people were so overwhelmed by the brilliance of his speeches? And now his go-to excuse is that he's not good on the "retail side"? give me a break. He's fine with selling the idea of him, but it takes more than an image to govern.

John Hood explains why the conflict-of-interest scandal about Kay Hagan's husband getting money from the stimulus matters.
The next time you have solar panels installed on your property at partial public expense, you may want to hire yourself, too. If there’s a cost overrun, you get paid more for the project. If there’s a cost savings, you get to pay less for the project.

Is the Hagan stimulus story the most important issue in the Senate race? Not to my mind, although it is certainly a relevant one. Its true import is to show how quickly government grant programs can become convoluted and self-serving. The state can and should make effective use of private vendors and grantees to supply legitimate public services. Retrofitting private buildings for private use isn’t one of them.

Get ready for more of a mess again with Obamacare.
And while major improvements have been made to's user experience, some parts of the system's "back end" are still under construction—including the mechanism that reconciles insurers' information with the federal government's, to make sure both systems acknowledge they've enrolled the same people.
How long are we going to be hearing about problems about the back end of the website?

Ellen Carmichael explains why Mary Landrieu's supposed charm and powerful family name just aren't doing it for her this time around. It's the hypocrisy, stupid.
Landrieu seems to think Louisianans crave a return to the “good ole days” of Huey P. Long, where strong-arming and corruption got them all their hearts desired. Even if that’s what her constituents do want today, her self-importance has hardly delivered any tangible results.

In fact, while Landrieu claims she is a champion of the domestic energy industry, which employs 287,000 Louisianans and pays $20.5 billion in wages each year, her political organization advocates for radical environmental interests over those of her constituents. From 2006 to 2012, she directed $380,000 from her PAC’s war chest to anti-drilling politicians whose efforts to undermine the oil-and-gas industry could strangle Louisiana’s economy and kill hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs.

At the same time Landrieu brags about all her imaginary power in a Harry Reid–controlled Senate, she claims independence from the liberal wing that has co-opted the modern Democrat party.

But her votes tell a different story. The senior senator has voted in lockstep with President Obama, supporting 95 percent of his policy initiatives, clearly unconcerned with how unpopular he is — a whopping 61 percent disapprove of his job performance, compared with only 34 percent who approve — in the Pelican State.

This is how "independent" Greg Orman is.
According to, the extremely revealing website of The Center for Responsive Politics, Orman contributed $37,300 to political candidates and party committees between October 23, 1996 and January 12, 2010. Of this total, $34,800 went to Democrats, and $2,500 landed in Republican coffers. Thus, 93.3 percent of Orman’s political giving benefited Democrats. Only 6.7 percent of his campaign largesse helped Republicans....

Orman’s declarations of independence are belied by the fact that 93 cents of each of his political dollars financed Democrats. This makes it about 93 percent likely that, if elected, Orman’s first senatorial decision would be to vote for Harry Reid of Nevada as majority leader and try to restore his granite grip on the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. If Orman’s were the deciding vote, this would let Obama maintain the Senate as the mausoleum where reforms passed by the presumably Republican House would be laid to rest, rather than endorsed and forwarded to the Oval Office for signature or veto.
Will Kansans really be fooled by this guy?

Allison Lundargan Grimes got so much ridicule for refusing to say if she voted for President Obama that Michelle Nunn decided to emulate that idiocy. Apparently, that's one of those tough questions that Democrats refuse to answer.

The Daily Beast explains why Rand Paul would have such problems as the GOP nominee in 2016.
[H[ow do you think they [Berkeley liberals] will respond to the inevitable Democratic attack ad tying Paul's father’s bigoted newsletters to Paul's philosophical musings opposing part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to his hiring of a top staffer who famously wore a Confederate flag mas and celebrated the assassin of Abraham Lincoln in his past life as a radio shock jock?

I don't for a minute think Paul is racist. There is no reason he should be held liable for his father's newsletters and Paul's comments on the Civil Rights Act on MSNBC when he was an unpolished Senate candidate were philosophically consistent with a libertarian view of what the government should and should not be involved in. But politics is a tough business. It doesn't do nuance very well. These data points, along with his hiring of the "Southern Avenger," will help Democrats make Paul toxic to the very constituencies Paul has been nobly trying to bring into the Republican tent, such as young voters and African Americans.
It's not just Berkeley liberals and Bill Maher who will be repelled by Paul's past statements. Those statements and his father's wackiness will be tied around his neck just like "macaca" was tied around George Allen's neck and soon it will be the only thing a lot of people know about him.

Marc Thiessen looks at "Obama's 'blizzard of lies.'" And this is just a short summary.

Ramesh Ponnuru explains why we shouldn't expect any bill on immigration after the election no matter what happens.
A bill along the lines of the one the Senate passed has been consistently favored by business groups, unions, editorialists and both parties' leaders for years. Yet they've proven unable to get it enacted under just about every possible partisan configuration of power in Washington. A Republican president and a Republican Congress couldn't do it. Neither could a Republican president and a Democratic Congress, or a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress, or a Democratic president and a split Congress.

If you're getting antsy for some vote totals, you might want to check out the toteboard at the US Elections Project counting how many people of either party have already voted in early voting. I'm not sure how much it all means, but it can be interesting.

Richard Brookhiser has a new book out tracing the connections between the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln, Founders Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln. Brookhiser has an article today talking about how inspired Lincoln was from reading Parson Weems' biography of Washington.
Lincoln found Washington in Weems, but he also had to save him from Weems, or from those chapters of The Life of Washington that had the greatest popular impact. So powerful were Weems’s tales of Washington’s youth that the father of his country became an icon of moral virtues, beyond and above politics. Thanks to Weems, the most famous thing Washington ever said — “I can’t tell a lie” — was something he almost certainly never said.

When Lincoln first read Parson Weems, he responded most not to Washington as a good boy but to Washington as a man of action and principle, and he invoked that response again during his own trials decades later. Not that he reread Weems in 1861. He did not have to; Washington was inside him. As he said in Trenton, “You all know, for you have all been boys, how these early impressions last longer than others.” The Battle of Trenton was more useful to Lincoln, as an ambitious boy and as president-elect, than the cherry tree.

But Washington and the other Founders did not belong to Lincoln alone. Every politician of the 1850s and ’60s wanted to claim them, often for very different purposes. The struggle over slavery took the form of a fratricidal contest over who was the Revolution’s legitimate heir.

Lincoln spent years contending with rival visions of the Founding Fathers. He contended successfully — and legitimately. For all the times he squeezed the evidence or hurried over the record, he was more right about the Founders than wrong — and more right about them than any of his contentious contemporaries.
I've really enjoyed Brookhiser's biographies. He writes relatively short books that capture the essence of whomever he's writing about. I especially recommend his biographies of Alexander Hamilton, the Adams dynasty, James Madison, and Gouverneur Morris - that one was really fun. He also wrote a book answering questions about What Would the Founders Do? in which he searches through the writings of the Founders to get an idea of the approach they might take to current problems. That one was quite interesting.

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