Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Cruising the Web

There seems to be a theme among journalists this week in noting that this administration isn't all that competent. Doyle McManus summarizes this case.
The Secret Service can't protect the White House. Public health authorities can't get their arms around a one-man Ebola outbreak. The army we trained in Iraq collapsed as soon as it was attacked by Islamic extremists, and our own veterans can't get the care they need at VA hospitals. And, lest we forget, it was only a year ago that the White House rolled out its national health insurance program, only to see its website grind to a halt.

Yes, you can argue that these problems all have different causes.

But it's hard not to conclude that something basic is amiss in Washington.
The problems go back to our expectations that a huge bureaucracy can accomplish all the tasks that we keep giving it. And Obama doesn't have the management or leadership skills to cut through and accomplish what needs to be done.
Elaine Kamarck, another Clinton administration veteran now at the Brookings Institution, is tougher on President Obama.

In her view, Obama never made management a high priority — and it shows.

Until the Veterans Affairs scandal erupted this year, for example, there wasn't a full-time implementation officer in the White House to monitor the performance of federal agencies.

"This administration has been disconnected from the government it's supposed to be running," Kamarck charges (and, remember, she's a Democrat). "They seem to view the federal workforce as hostile territory. They don't engage with it…. They don't have a strong system of getting info from the agencies to the president."

The clearest proof: "They keep getting surprised by stuff. And the surprise is almost worse than anything else. It conveys the sense that the White House doesn't know what its own government is doing.

"You can't prevent all these problems from happening, but you can certainly get ahead of the curve on some of them."

Kamarck points to a larger historical trend at the root of the White House's failings: the transformation of the presidency since the 1960s into an engine of the permanent political campaign.

"Today, presidents travel nonstop and talk nonstop," she said. "That wasn't always true. This addiction to PR has been terrible for the presidency. Every hour he's on the campaign trail is an hour he could be talking with members of Congress. My advice to any president would be: Stop talking. Start working."

It seems that liberal colleges that are supposed to be interested in hearing arguments from conservatives think that they get to dictate what conservatives can say. Scripps College had invited George Will to speak as part of a program to bring conservative speakers to campus but then he wrote an article casting doubt on the supposed rash of sexual assaults happening on college campuses and they pulled the plug on his invitation. They weren't interested in his argument or evidence. Being politically incorrect was enough for them. As Charles C. W. Cooke writes,
By disinviting Will, the program’s custodians have telegraphed their true assumptions: namely, that students will gain a “better educational experience” if they are subjected to only those other “opinions about the world” that can be squared with the existing curriculum. This being a matter of private choice and not public law, Scripps’s faculty can of course do as it wishes. But it would be nice if, for once, those who made the call realized what they were doing. Philosophically, if not legally, this decision lumps the college in with those who propose that they believe in free expression but that there are some expressions that are too hurtful or mean or bigoted to be indulged. Just as there is no point whatsoever in a nation’s having laws that protect the right of free speech if they do not also apply to the eccentric and to the disliked, there really is no virtue in a college’s offering a horizon-broadening public-affairs program that is restricted by the very same pieties that its architects are seeking to escape. Presumably, the powers-that-be at the college established the Malott initiative because they were concerned that their charges were being exposed to a narrow bracket of opinions and that they would, in consequence, emerge from the university with a stunted and incomplete worldview. What, pray, can be the purpose of this remedy if it hews to the same norms it was established to shatter?

....The salient question, then, has to be this: Does Scripps know that, by ensuring that its campus will remain a parochial and intellectually cramped sort of place, it is doing its students a genuine disservice? Honestly, I doubt that it does. As politically and culturally useful as it might be for critics of the college racket to imagine otherwise, the authorities almost certainly did not disinvite Will in order to prevent the free-thinking among their charges from getting the “wrong” ideas about the United States. Instead, they will have convinced themselves that they were merely curating information in a manner that most effectively benefits the whole student body. Such attitudes, alas, are no longer relegated to the fringes, but have instead made inroads into businesses, charities, and even the U.S. government. Consider how often we see spokesmen say with a straight face that their organization is “too tolerant” to tolerate eccentrics, “too diverse” to allow outliers, and “too open” to permit free debate. Remember how perplexed we were to witness Brendan Eich’s being removed from his position at Mozilla on the grounds that his opposition to gay marriage could not be expected to fit with the company’s “big, open, and messy . . . culture of openness and inclusion.” Recall the acrid guffaws that a Swarthmore student provoked earlier in the year when she explained to the press that she was angry that the college had invited Robert George to speak because “the whole idea . . . that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion” left her “bothered.” “I don’t think we should be tolerating his conservative views,” the student added, “because that dominant culture embeds these deep inequalities in our society.” Thus was exclusion justified by an appeal to inclusion, and intolerance condoned by the invocation of equality.

How convenient. Remember when the Democrats used to bleat about the appearance of impropriety being just as despicable as actual impropriety because people would lose faith in their government? I guess it's not so much anymore.
Kay Hagan’s husband and son created a solar energy contracting company in August 2010, and then, using $250,644 in federal stimulus grant funds, her husband hired that same company to install solar panels at a building he owns.

Public records show that Green State Power was formed seven weeks before JDC Manufacturing — a company owned in part by Greensboro attorney Charles “Chip” Hagan III, Sen. Hagan’s husband — received the stimulus grant for the solar project at a 300,000-square-foot facility in Reidsville, N.C.

A story in late September on the Washington, D.C.-based website Politico revealed that JDC Manufacturing received “nearly $390,000 in federal grants for energy projects and tax credits created by the 2009 stimulus law, according to public records and information provided by the company.”

Democrats have gone from picturing Obama as Lincoln to perhaps visualizing him as LBJ and now they wish he could be Frank Underwood.

Leon Panetta joins an increasing pattern of former close advisers who become critics of the president they served. However, I always question such fortuitous criticism after the fact. What has happened to the honorable announcement of a cabinet official quitting when he or she has a strong disagreement with a president? Leon Panetta trashes the Clinton and Obama immediate claims that the attack on Benghazi was about a video and not a terrorist attack. Well, why didn't he say so publicly at the time?Roger L. Simon asks the same question about Panetta's criticism of Obama for not going after ISIS earlier.
It’s good that we know all this, or some of it, now, but I must ask the obvious question that even Bill O’Reilly omitted — or felt it impolite to ask. Mr. Panetta, why didn’t you do something about it at the time? Yes, I know you made your pitch — as you say others did — and the president just couldn’t be moved. But if that was the case, why did you stay there? Why didn’t you quit, leave this administration that was doing nearly everything wrong and hurting our country and the world, when it became increasingly obvious that you couldn’t change it, change him? Wouldn’t that have been the patriotic thing, to do something before it is too late? Because now, it may actually be… too late.

Here are some other questions I would like to ask you. What of the president’s infatuation and alliance with repellent Islamists like Turkey’s Erdogan or Egypt’s Morsi? Did anyone express skepticism to him at the time these might not be the proper allies for a democratic country, that they were Islamic fundamentalists whose allegiance was to a religious extremist ideology that sought to rule the world and deny basic rights to a huge number of its citizens? What did you think of all the apologies the president was making to execrable Arab potentates who oppressed their own people? What of the endless criticisms of our ally Israel for defending itself against missiles and terror attacks in a manner almost any country would? Looking back now, do you ever think that you should have come forward sooner?

James O'Keefe's merry video pranksters have more video of supporters for Alison Grimes in Kentucky is planning to kill Kentucky's coal industry despite all her claims to the contrary.

It's not a good sign when a Democratic senator can't figure out whether or not he wants to admit that the administration is doing a good job handling Ebola. The hemming and hawing of Mark Pryor does not deliver the message that he has confidence in the administration.

These are interesting infographics to depict how few people will actually determine which party will control the Senate.

Blame it all on the Normans.