Monday, February 02, 2015

Cruising the Web

Heather Wilhelm dissects the silliness that has erupted on the left as they attempt to bring down Scott Walker's nascent bid for the White House by alleging that he's a racist bent on polarizing America. Apparently, it's now racist to praising people for working hard and achieving the American dream. Oh, and he must be a racist because he's from Milwaukee which has a racist past in liberals' minds. Christian Schneider of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel totally debunked the silliness of that line of attack. I guess that running from a city that has been run by Democrats and even Socialists for over a century is more damning than running for a state famed for its stand against school integration and having fulsomely praised a man who had signed the infamous Southern Manifesto condemning the Brown v Board of Education decision and voted against the Civil Rights Act was not any reason for Democrats to suspect some sort of hidden racism in Bill Clinton's personal history as they are doing about Scott Walker simply because he's from Milwaukee.

So Chuck Hagel is taking advantage perhaps of timing to tell CNN that the reason he resigned from heading up the Pentagon is because the administration wanted him to release Gitmo detainees faster. And he picked the time when attention has fallen on how one of the detainees released in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, who may or may not be charged with desertion, has now returned to terrorist activities.

The same administration that adamantly refuses to call the Taliban terrorists also refuses to call the Taliban gunning down American civilian contractors at the Kabul airport terrorism.

Nebraska is set to change their Electoral College votes allocation. Instead of using the district system that allowed one Nebraska Electoral vote to go for Obama in 2008, they are prepared to go to a winner-take-all system.

West Virginia's Senator Joe Manchin in trying to decide if he should run for reelection in 2016 or run for the job he prefers - governor of West Virginia. It seems like a no-brainer to me. Being governor is always better than being senator, whether your party does or doesn't control the Senate. If he decides not to run for the Senate, it would be almost a sure Republican pick-up and make it even harder for the Democrats to regain control of the Senate.

Charles Lane ponders the President's blunder in recommending taxing college-savings accounts.
The idea of taxing 529s was, in hindsight, so politically naive that only an administration guided by a genuine belief that it was the right thing to do could have proposed it.

Otherwise, the president’s advisers would have understood that this idea was guaranteed to alarm at least four powerful groups: The financial industry feared losing a $244.5 billion business. Higher education feared the curtailment of a subsidy. State governments, which administer 529s, feared losing a popular perk for voters (and the power to allocate lucrative contracts to fund managers). And, of course, parents with college-bound kids freaked out, because that’s what parents with college-bound kids do.
As lane points out, this whole episode demonstrates how difficult it will be to enact any sort of tax reform. Lane also explains what many conservatives have acknowledged - that government policies are driving up the cost of college.
At present, government subsidizes both college saving, through 529s, and borrowing, through subsidized loans, and, in Obama’s proposals, more generous education loan forgiveness.

The net effect of this schizophrenic approach is to inflate tuition, because government’s support for tuition payment is not conditioned on cost-containment.

Everyone is aware of this, but no one has much incentive to do anything about it, because middle-class parents — i.e., voters — focus on the issue episodically, when their own kids go to college. And then their concern is, understandably, taking advantage of whatever subsidy for which they may qualify, not the system’s long-term sustainability. The status quo is the devil they know.

Meanwhile, the permanent players — institutions of higher learning, mainly — lobby furiously against the slightest whiff of “price controls.”

Sean Trende ponders the chances that the Republicans could end up with a brokered convention. With so many candidates running, it is quite possible that none of them would have a majority of the delegates going into the convention. And with the possibility of such a moment there would be a lot of incentive for the smaller candidates to stay in the race so they could exert some sort of influence over the nomination fight. As a political junkie, this would be loads of fun. And it might actually help the eventual nominee by focusing attention on the GOP race and away from the snoozefest that will be Hillary's passionless march to her nomination. I can also see how this would help Scott Walker. If he runs a reasonable race, he could well emerge as the most reasonable guy to be the second choice of various groups at the convention. In fact, a new poll from the Des Moines Register indicates he's the most popular second choice for likely caucusgoers. Given the screwy way that the caucus system works, that puts him in a favorable position. I can also see Marco Rubio in that spot. But not Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz or Rand Paul. I can't see someone who is a delegate for Bush going to Paul or Cruz as a second choice. And the same holds true for Cruz and Paul delegates. But both groups could go for a Walker or Rubio. Hey, that's how Lincoln won the 1860 nomination. Sometimes, the strongest position to be in is to be the person who hasn't ticked any other group off.

While we ponder that chance, we can also look back and the oddballs who seem to catch the momentary attention of Republican voters almost every year. Nick Gillespie has no patience with the temporary love affairs that Republicans have for totally inappropriate, doomed-to-lose candidates.
In the past, Republicans have coalesced around such obvious joke candidates as businessman Herman Cain, whose main achievements involved management stints at two of the nation’s most grotesque fast-food chains (Burger King and Godfather’s Pizza), and Alan Keyes, whose resume includes a brief stint as a Reagan appointee to the reviled-by-conservatives United Nations, hosting an ironically titled MSNBC show (Alan Keyes Is Making Sense), and a historic loss to one Barack Obama in the 2004 Illinois Senate race.

That Cain and Keyes are black is no accident. While the GOP struggles to crack double digits in terms of votes from African Americans, the party’s overwhelmingly white membership seems to have an unending appetite for high-profile, successful black men whose very presence on a debate stage softens charges of hostility and indifference to issues about race. This helps explain why The Weekly Standard is officially “Taking Ben Carson Seriously,” as Fred Barnes’ recent cover story puts it.

Even as sycophantic and try-hard a journalist as Fred Barnes admits that Carson has absolutely zero qualifications for and no shot at becoming the Republican nominee....

It’s not just latter-day incarnations of Booker T. Washington that captivate the Republican soul during primary season. Back in the mid-1990s, journalist and Watergate apologist Pat Buchanan took a break from defending Nixon and Nazi war criminals to actually win the 1996 New Hampshire primary and three other states over eventual nominee Bob Dole. That same year, publishing magnate Steve Forbes won primaries in Arizona and Delaware while pushing a flat tax and gifting material to Saturday Night Live.

A decade ago, during a little-remembered and best-forgotten lapse in judgement, various Republican apparatchiks pushed to amend the sacred text of the Constitution so that foreign-born Arnold Schwarzenegger might become president. Blame it on medical marijuana, maybe, or the fact that the Gubernator’s absolute incompetency in his public and private life had yet to reveal itself fully.

Al Sharpton, the White House's go-to guy when it comes to race-mongering, has a more widespread problem with not paying taxes than might have been originally known.
So far, every for-profit enterprise started by Al Sharpton and known to National Review Online has been shut down in at least one jurisdiction for failure to pay taxes, a review of public records in New York and Delaware reveals.

Records show that Sharpton’s beleaguered for-profit entities often overlap and intertwine, some sharing ties with the reverend’s nonprofit organization, National Action Network. Their financial records are copious, confusing, and sometimes outright bizarre, and together, they depict persistent financial woes for Sharpton, who also personally owes New York State nearly $596,000, according to active tax warrants.

“He clearly appears — based on the information that’s available to us — to have a history of noncompliance with tax obligations,” says Bernadette Schopfer, the director of taxation at New York’s Maier Markey & Justic, a certified public-accounting firm that has had no dealings with Sharpton or National Action Network. “It appears that [Sharpton] does not file [taxes for his businesses], and then opens up something else. At all the entities we see he has opened up, he has not been compliant with the obligations of the owner of a business. . . . He’s either willful in his behavior, or he’s just sloppy.”

Trying to imbibe as much as Winston Churchill did in a day isn't as easy as it might seem.

Here is the history of Groundhog's Day. We celebrate the actions of the lowly groundhog because German immigrants couldn't find badgers here in American and that was the animal they'd used to forecast the weather. Just thing, we could be celebrating Badger's Day. I bet the Seahawks are glad that they won't have to relive Groundhog's Day as Bill Murray did.

To increase the Patriots' joy today, there comes this update to the story of deflated footballs.
Eleven of the 12 footballs used in the first half were judged by the officials to be under the minimum of 12.5 PSI, but just one was two pounds under. Many of them were just a few ticks under the minimum.
So now we have one leak that 11 of the 12 balls were significantly under the mandated level - about 2 pounds per square inch below the regulations. We also learn that the NFL doesn't keep records of the PSI in the footballs. So this whole brouhaha is based on the official's memory of what he did, but we have no record what the exact PSI was of either the Colts' or the Patriots' balls. So we don't know what the measured result was before the game and now we're hearing that the supposedly suspect balls weren't all that much lower than the regulation pressure. Oh, and a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon has determined that most, if not all, of the deflation could be explained by environmental factors while major physicists who had been interviewed about the controversy now admit that they made a crucial mistake in the ideal gas law. And if it's true that all but one of the Patriots' balls were just a tick under the regulation and we don't know what the original measurements were in the first place. Maybe the difference between the Colts' and Patriots' balls stems from the Colts' balls being initially higher than the Patriots in the first measurements, but we'll never know because the ever-incompetent NFL doesn't keep a log of the measurements. But of course, the NFL won't clear up any of these leaks about the measurements because they were too busy trying to sweep the whole story under the rug until after the Super Bowl.

Mollie Hemingway explains why the worst Super Bowl ads were so awful. My dad was in advertising and I am always left puzzled as to what the pitch meeting was like that produced some of these things. The dead-child Nationwide ad was simply awful. And what was the message - that insurance stops child death?