Monday, October 19, 2015

Cruising the Web

One of the great things about the internet these days is being able to watch TV on my schedule. So, instead of staying up late on Saturdays to watch SNL, I can wait until I have time and pick out the skits I'm interested in and skip the ones I don't care about. SNL had a lot of fun with the Democratic debate. Larry David stopped by to play Bernie Sanders. He was perfect for Sanders. Though there is a lot more to make fun of Sanders for than just ridiculing him for being a crotchety old man. I notice that they didn't make fun of his socialism.

Kate McKinnon does a terrific job playing Hillary. Playing her as a crazily ambitious politician seems more damaging than the portrayal of Bernie Sanders as a clueless old fogey.

Noah Rothman derides Donald Trump's resurrection of 9/11 conspiracy mongering by blaming George W. Bush for not having prevented 9/11. It shouldn't have to be pointed out that it is only with the knowledge of what actually happened that people can look back and say that there was enough evidence to have led Bush's administration to prevent 9/11.
Only with the clarity of hindsight can it be said that George W. Bush could have prevented the September 11th attacks. The idea that they were an avoidable calamity stems from a series of national security memos warning of the threat.

The first was a January 25, 2001, National Security Council memo authored by National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism Richard Clarke and reviewed by the newly inaugurated president. The memo was sharply critical of the Clinton administration for failing to address the growing al-Qaeda threat or leaving the Bush administration with much of a reliable counterterrorism infrastructure in place. A subsequent August 6, 2001, memo warned that the FBI was monitoring Osama bin Laden-related plans to attack inside the United States. Those plots might include the targeting of federal buildings in New York City and even could involve the hijacking of airplanes. That memo looks prescient only in retrospection, however, as it noted that there were currently 70 ongoing FBI investigations into “bin Landen-related” [sic] plots.
Now Donald Trump, wh beclowned himself with his nattering on about Obama's birth certificate, is now joining liberals who also wanted to blame Bush.
Clarke’s testimony has been cherry-picked by Democrats to support the fantasy that 9/11 might have been preventable if only the Bush administration weren’t as blind to the threat of Islamist terrorism as the Clinton administration had been. The above isn’t all that Clarke said under oath.

“Assuming that the recommendations that you made on January 25th of 2001, based on Delenda, based on Blue Sky, including aid to the Northern Alliance, which had been an agenda item at this point for two and a half years without any action, assuming that there had been more Predator reconnaissance missions, assuming that had been adopted say on January 26th, year 2001, is there the remotest chance that it would have prevented 9/11?” asked Commission member and former Senator Slade Gorton.

“No,” Clarke replied simply.

Even those analysts who do fault the White House for failing to connect the dots ahead of 9/11 concede that the infamous stove-piping of intelligence and the territorial nature of the nation’s various intelligence agencies at the time was more to blame for the cascading failures that led that terrorist event. “Since we can’t run history backward, all we can say with certainty is that it is an indisputable fact that the proper sharing of intelligence by the CIA with other agencies about [hijacker Khalid] al-Mihdhar may well have derailed the 9/11 plot,” wrote CNN’s Peter Bergen.
Those weren't barriers on intelligence sharing that arose from the Bush administration, but earlier in the Clinton administration that had prevented sharing information between foreign and domestic intelligence analysts.
Trump has not outright claimed that George W. Bush was responsible for or might have prevented 9/11. He has merely implied that with a cowardly evasiveness that betrays the myth of his reputation as a fighter who tells hard truths without a politically correct varnish. Trump has raised from its grave the ignoble lie that the 43rd President of the United States allowed 3,000 Americans to die as a result of negligence, and only to slander one of his family members. Lesser offenses than these have resulted in political figures being drummed out of public life, but Trump’s army of prominent apologists have lashed their credibility to his campaign and cannot now let him go down easy.
Then Trump went on Fox News to say that 9/11 wouldn't have happened on his watch, partly because he would is so tough on illegal immigration. However, only three of the 19 hijackers were illegal at the time of the attack. They all entered the country on legal visas, but by 9/11 three of the terrorists' visas had expired. Trump might explain to us how he would, less than eight months into his presidency, have changed immigration laws to clamp down on temporary tourist and student visas and find those who extend their stay and deport them.

Do those who support Donald Trump align themselves with his conspiracy-mongering about 9/11 and George W. Bush? Perhaps a lot of his supporters don't care. They've ignored all his other conservative apostasies, and don't mind the idiotic things he says. So what is just one more baseless rant that, as Rothman points out, accuses a president of the United States allowing over 3,000 Americans to needlessly die on his watch, just so Trump can score a momentary political point against the president's brother?

One other note - when Trump answered the question, note the word he used.
He was president, OK?” Trump replied. “Blame him or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.”
Reign? We don't have reigns in the United States. Barack Obama might think that he has monarchical powers and doesn't have to worry about Congress, but even he knows not to refer to his term in office as a "reign." Is this a Freudian slip for the man who slaps his name on everything possible for how he would regard the possibility of his time in office?

Shop Amazon - Up to 20% Off Halloween Candy

Shop Amazon - Halloween Shop

Shop Amazon's Thanksgiving Store

Paul Mirengoff notes that Trump's slam at George W. Bush is part of a pattern he has to use Democratic talking points. But now he's going further than even Democratic politicans would go.
Donald Trump is fond of using Democratic talking points. This isn’t surprising. Not that long ago, he admitted to being more of a Democrat than a Republican on the issues.

Among other Democratic talking points, Trump has erroneously blamed Republicans for the recession of 2008 and criticized Scott Walker for not raising taxes while parroting Democratic claims that Wisconsin has a $2.2 billion deficit. And I’m not even counting Trump’s liberal positions on substantive issues ranging from taxes to health care to planned parenthood.

I’m going to call Trump’s latest talking point “Democratic” even though it probably goes beyond what most Dems are publicly saying these days. Trump wants to blame President Bush for 9/11....

In blaming Bush, Trump didn’t just rely on the cliche that “the buck stops here,” he pointed to immigration policy. According to the Post, Trump complained that “we had very weak immigration laws,” adding that perhaps if Bush had had a Trump-style immigration policy, replete with “the strong laws that I’m wanting, these terrorists wouldn’t have been in the country.”

Trump’s theory is baseless. Put to one side the fact that “the strong laws that [Trump’s] wanting” could never have been enacted in 2001 when Democrats controlled Congress (or now, for that matter). The key point, as Rick Moran at PJ Media highlights, is that all 19 hijackers entered the country legally on authentic visas, and 16 of them were here legally as of 9/11.

Would Donald Trump’s “tough” policies have succeeded in rounding up the three 9/11 terrorists whose visas had expired? It’s fanciful to assume so. But even if they had, al Qaeda could easily have recruited three other fanatics who were legally here. As the Center for Immigration Studies (the most effective immigration reduction advocacy organization I know of) pointed out in 2002, prior to 9/11 most foreign terrorists operating in the U.S. were here legally.

In addition to citing immigration policy, Trump noted that key U.S. intelligence agencies weren’t sufficiently communicating with each other, and he mentioned concerns expressed by CIA head George Tenet about an imminent attack.

It’s easy, after the fact, to say that Bush should have seen the attack coming, and one can always say that more should have been done. But this kind of second-guessing of 9/11 has always been the province of Democrats, not Republicans. And, as I noted, even Democrats have basically stopped doing it 14 years after the fact.

Trump, as is his wont, went on to hedge on the question of Bush’s blame. During the phone interview, after listing all the things he thinks Bush did wrong, Trump said “I don’t blame anybody.” And today on Fox News Sunday, after absurdly declaring “I believe that if I were running things, I doubt [the 9/11 terrorists] would have been in the country,”

....We’ve seen this before from Trump — recall the flap over John McCain’s war heroism, for example. First, he slanders a leading Republican. Then, if the Republican in question isn’t a direct opponent in this election, he backs off but not fully.

Do Republicans want four to eight years of this venomous clown in the White House? Do they believe the American electorate as a whole will consent to it? I don’t.

Biden is still dithering about whether or not to get in the race. I would think, if I were a Democrat, I would want a candidate who knows what he wants to do. If he is having such trouble deciding whether or not he wants to run for the presidency when he clearly arrived in Washington as a young senator thinking he should one day be president and ran twice, what is he going to do with all the decisions that a president needs to make every day? According to ballot deadlines, he needs to make up his mind in the next few weeks because we're going to be seeing several deadlines for getting on the Democratic ballot in November.
Ballotpedia lists the filing deadlines for states, noting that information can be subject to change. The filing deadline for Democratic candidates is listed as November 6 in Alabama, November 9 in Arkansas, November 10 for Texas, November 20 for Louisiana, November 27 for New Hampshire and November 30 for Illinois.
The deadlines come every few days then in December. He better get cracking. Maybe he's just waiting to see how Hillary testifies before the House Benghazi Committee. The more he waits, however, the more I think he's just enjoying being popular and the uncommon sight of people begging him to run. It rather reminds me of John Adams during the brief Quasi War with France when, for the only time in his life, he was so popular that people would cheer him when he would appear. It's hard for Biden to put an end to that. But if he does get in, I wonder what his arrival would do for Trumpmania. Trump has been living off all the media attention but, with the arrival of Biden, suddenly Trump becomes old news and the media will all be focused on the Joe-Hillary-Bernie dynamic.

Jonah Goldberg, having heard Hillary Clinton saying that "We need a new New Deal," writes that liberals always want a "new New Deal."
The depressing answer is that for progressives -- and please forgive the all caps -- IT IS ALWAYS TIME FOR A NEW NEW DEAL.

You can explain all day how the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression and they won’t care. They’re like our new canine visitor Pippa, who apparently thinks every moment is the best moment for a New Throw of the tennis ball.. After 9/11 Chuck Schumer raced to the pages of the Washington Post to explain that terrorism requires a new New Deal. After Katrina, liberals said “Aha! This proves we need a new New Deal.” Thomas Friedman has a shortcut macro on his keyboard that allows him to vomit up a column arguing that pretty much everything (but especially climate change!) requires, nay demands, a new New Deal.

They don’t always use the phrase “new New Deal.” Often, they use the hackneyed language of the “moral equivalent of war” instead (see this latest installment at The Atlantic of this ancient trope). But, as I’ve written 8 trillion times, that’s the same frickin’ argument.

The real appeal of the New Deal wasn’t its alleged success, it’s that the New Deal is synonymous with a time when progressives had nearly unfettered political power to do what they wanted. Liberals don’t really worship the New Deal, they worship themselves. The New Deal is just a talisman in their undying faith in their own ability to guide society and make decisions for others better than people can make for themselves.

And, at a fundamental level, the desire for an unending string of New Deals going on forever is indistinguishable from socialism. Liberals used to be honest about this point, as when Arthur Schlesinger let slip in the pages of Partisan Review that “There seems no inherent obstacle to the gradual advance of socialism in the United States through a series of New Deals.”

It’s all just so exhausting. And I guess what I resent most of all is the fact that I will spend the rest of my life arguing with people who not only think that their faith in progressivism and the State is smart and modern, but that their opponents are the ones who are stuck in the past. And in the process, they’ll keep making the country worse, with every failure providing the latest evidence that now, now, is the time for a new New Deal.

Fall Coupon Promo in Health and Personal Care

Best-selling Vitamins

Coupons for Vitamins and Dietary Supplements

Health and Personal Care Coupons

Why don't reporters ask Hillary why she allowed her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, while working for the State Department to also be a consultant for the UAE as well as other unsavory connections between the Clintons and UAE.
The question for the country is whether to again tolerate Clinton-size conflicts of interest in government officials. Ms. Mills’s defenders present her sideline negotiating with the Emirate as merely a theoretical conflict, but the UAE is a major player in the Middle East that had to figure in Mrs. Clinton’s policy considerations. A confederation of petro-kingdoms, the UAE is a U.S. ally and heavy purchaser of U.S. weapons but also a serial violator of human rights and home to various violators of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The Emirates appear multiple times in Mrs. Clinton’s emails—at least the ones she didn’t destroy—including a November 2012 missive from Ms. Mills. The chief of staff was sharing with Mrs. Clinton a Wall Street Journal editorial that noted the UAE’s supply of money and arms to groups vying for control of Libya. Mrs. Clinton asked for a printed copy.

Speaking of Clintonian conflicts, while at State Ms. Mills was among those who reviewed the paid speaking engagements of her former boss Bill Clinton. And based on an interview she gave to the Post, Ms. Mills started performing this role at State while she was still serving on the board of the Clinton Foundation. During Mrs. Clinton’s time at State, the department gave Bill Clinton the green light to rake in cash in the Emirates.

Mr. Clinton’s standard speaking fee in the petro-kingdoms seems to be $500,000. That’s what he collected for a 2010 speech in the UAE, according to CNN, and for a 2011 Abu Dhabi speech, according to Politifact. He received the same figure for a 2013 speech in Abu Dhabi, according to the Clinton campaign. The website Arabian Business reported in August that he has been paid a total of $5.6 million since 2011 by Dubai’s GEMS Education, for speech-making and other services.

The UAE government has given between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, and the UAE’s powerful Zayed family has given a similar amount. And so has GEMS. And so has the Dubai Foundation. Dollar Bill Clinton seems to have drilled every well of cash on the Arabian peninsula.
It's all very convenient for padding their coffers, isn't it?

Deals in Tools and Improvement

Best Sellers in Home Security & Surveillance

Storm Preparedness: Supplies and Tools for Storm Season

Debbie Wasserman Schultz continues to amuse. First she couldn't answer what the differences is between the Democratic Party and socialism today. Then she struggled make excuses why the Democrats shouldn't have more debates. Now she can't come up with an answer to the question "Were [your children] human beings before they were born?" All she can parrot that every woman has the right to make her own reproductive choices and that her children are children today.

I guess this is more of the random violence that President Obama complained about on Friday in truly insulting terms.
At a White House press conference, Obama said his administration was "concerned about the outbreak of violence" and said people in Israel should have a basic expectation of law and order. But he also pointed a finger at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"We also believe that it's important for both, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli elected officials and President Abbas and other people in positions of power, to try to tamp down rhetoric that may feed violence or anger or misunderstanding and try to get all people in Israel and in the West Bank to recognize that this kind of random violence is not going to result in anything other than more hardship and more insecurity," Obama said.
He still seems to think that all he needs to do is point out that violence doesn't do anything for people and they'll just smack their foreheads and say, "Duh! I guess I'll just end the violence now that Obama has pointed out that it is not helping people." And calling attacks of Palestinians against Israeli civilians after being goaded on by Palestinian leaders "random violence" truly denigrates the terrorism that is going on right now. But what should we expect from an administration that called the attack that killed 13 people at Fort Hood "an act of workplace violence"?

Tzipi Hotovely points out in the WSJ that Palestinian leaders have long encouraged young Palestinians to kill themselves while taking out Israelis.
The latest surge of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis has come in the immediate wake of explicit calls by the Palestinian leadership to “spill blood.” This well-orchestrated campaign of violence follows many years in which Palestinian children have been taught to idolize the murder of Jews as a sacred value and to regard their own death in this “jihad” as the pinnacle of their aspirations.

Such violence has deep roots. It goes back to the rampages at the behest of Haj Amin al-Husseini, a Muslim activist and at one point grand mufti of Jerusalem, in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. It continued with the fedayeen Palestinian militants in the 1950s and ’60s, and evolved into the terrorism of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Fatah under Yasser Arafat and now Mahmoud Abbas. Anyone who claims that Palestinian terror against Jews dates only to 1967, or is a response to Israeli settlements, should become more informed of the conflict’s history.

Yet the apathy shown by the international community to the death-culture fostered by Palestinian elites, and the unbalanced manner in which subsequent violence is often treated by the international media—as if there is any kind of symmetry between terrorists and their victims—is doing long-term, and possibly irrevocable, harm to generations of Palestinians....

The Palestinian Authority also pays handsome stipends to terrorists and their families, which serve as a powerful incentive to carry out acts of terror.

Is it surprising, then, that Mr. Abbas’s explicit call for “blood on its way to Allah” has resulted in a surge of stabbings and other attacks against Israelis? Is it any wonder that viewers of official television recently were treated to the sight of a Palestinian boy, dressed up in battle fatigues, telling a smiling talk-show host of his wish to become an engineer “so that I can build bombs to blow up all the Jews.”

The unending stream of blood-drenched caricatures and video clips that circulate virally through Palestinian social media is a telling indication of how profoundly the worship of violence is entrenched in Palestinian society. So are the many schools, city squares and sports tournaments named for arch-terrorists.

The cultivation of this culture of death is having devastating effects. As Palestinian terror touches more Jewish families, Israelis, especially of the younger generation, are increasingly resigning themselves to the fact that Palestinian society is guided by a dramatically different set of values.

Israeli society and Jewish tradition sanctify life. Palestinian society glorifies death. Israeli children grow up on songs of peace and the biblical vision of “nation shall not lift up sword against nation.” Palestinian children are taught to hate.

Yet there is no international outcry. No indignation at the exploitation of Palestinian children from all the nongovernmental organizations and U.N. agencies that profess to monitor human-rights abuses.

This is tragic because the international community could make a practical difference. About a third of the Palestinian Authority’s budget is financed by foreign aid. This money is intended to develop Palestinian infrastructure and foster economic growth, but it is being misused by the Palestinian Authority to promote the murder of Jews and to sow destruction within Israel. The international community can wield its influence toward a cessation of incitement.

Turning a blind eye to the enormous harm that the Palestinian leadership is doing to its own people—by raising successive generations of children on blind hatred of the Jews and Israel—is dooming these children to a bleak future. This ought to be a compelling reason for the international community to seriously rethink the strange tolerance it exhibits toward the Palestinian death-culture.

Changing this culture of death is no less important for the Palestinians than for Israel.
Instead we get this sort of biased reporting from MSNBC.
MSNBC has admitted that highly controversial graphics aired on the network that depicted Israel as stealing land from the Palestinians were “factually wrong” and that the broadcast would be corrected on Monday, according to a network spokesperson.

The cable news network has been fighting off criticism after it aired the graphics and analysis, including a map linked to conspiracy groups branded as anti-Semitic, that portrayed Israel as existing on territory expropriated from Palestine.

The graphics garnered criticism from pro-Israel advocates and has now prompted the network to acknowledge that the graphics were highly misleading.

“In an attempt to shed light on the geographic context of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, we aired a map that was factually wrong,” the spokesperson said on Sunday....

MSNBC broadcast images suggesting that Israel has stolen most of its land from the Palestinians since the Jewish state’s creation in 1948. The images promoted by the network have long been criticized by scholars and anti-Semitism watchdog groups as anti-Israel propaganda.

The maps closely resemble propaganda disseminated by anti-Israel organizations that support boycotts of the Jewish state and aim to portray it as stealing land once belonging to Palestine, a state that has never formally existed.
How does something like that even get by a news organization? But this is nothing new for NBC News.
The incident has added to already-widespread accusations of systemic anti-Israel bias from MNSBC-employed reporters and analysts.

Earlier in the week, Ayman Mohyeldin, an NBC News foreign correspondent, triggered widespread criticism when he described a terrorist who had been shot dead while rushing at Israeli troops with a knife in his hand as empty-handed.

Mohyeldin, who is a former Al Jazeera reporter, told viewers that “both of [the terrorist’s] hands were open and both of his hands did not have a knife.” Videotape taken of the incident by an NBC crew was playing on screen at the time and showed that the suspect had a knife in his hand. José Diaz-Balart, an NBC anchor, interrupted Mohyeldin to correct him.

Mohyeldin also failed to note that the terrorist was wearing a soldier-like camouflage uniform, which could be clearly seen on the video.

NBC News has struggled for years to deal with controversy over Mohyeldin’s reporting on Israel.

During the summer 2014 war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Mohyeldin posted a series of incendiary tweets attacking Israel and the U.S. State Department after four Palestinian children were accidentally killed in an Israeli strike on nearby Hamas infrastructure.

NBC News briefly pulled him from Gaza before sending him back a few days later in response to criticism from pro-Palestinian advocates.

Today's Deals at Amazon

Deals in TV, Video, and Audio

Deals in Appliances

Deals in Sports and Fitness

Rather quietly, Obamacare keeps failing.
It's hard to keep up with the failure of ObamaCare co-ops these days. As IBD noted yesterday, a total of six of these nonprofit, government-subsidized insurance companies had gone belly up. Today, two more got added to the list.

Colorado HealthOP announced that it would cease operations at the end of the year. According to the Associated Press, Colorado HealthOP was the largest insurer in the state, with 83,000 members. Other insurers in the state have requested massive rate increases for their ObamaCare plans, ranging up to 59%.

The same day, Health Republic, which covers 15,000 people in Oregon, said that it too would not last past the end of this year.

Last year, Colorado HealthOP lost $23 million, and Health Republic lost $14 million, according to an inspector general report released this summer.

ObamaCare started these nonprofits in hopes that they would provide price competition to commercial insurance plans. Of the original 23 in operation, only 15 remain. It's possible that more will announce plans to close before ObamaCare's open enrollment starts in November.

Colorado HealthOP got $72.3 million in startup loans from the federal government. It claims to be "well on its way" to paying some of the money back.

All told, the eight co-ops that have failed have put about $900 million in government loans at risk.

So how many Obamacare insurance co-ops might fail? The administration has a guess, but doesn't want to make that news public.
Federal officials have a secret list of 11 Obamacare health insurance co-ops they fear are on the verge of failure, but they refuse to disclose them to the public or to Congress, a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation has learned.

Just in the last three weeks, five of the original 24 Obamacare co-ops announced plans to close, bringing the total of failures to nine barely two years after their launch with $2 billion in start-up capital from the taxpayers under the Affordable Care Act.

All 24 received 15-year loans in varying amounts to offer health insurance to poor and low income customers and provide publicly funded competition to private, for-profit insurers. Among the co-ops to announce closings were those in Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee, Vermont, New York and Colorado.

Nearly half a million failing co-op customers will have to find new coverage in 2016. More than $900 million of the original $2 billion in loans has been lost.

The 11 unidentified co-ops appear to be still operating but are now on “enhanced oversight” by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, which manages the Obamacare program. The 11 received letters from CMS demanding that they take urgent actions to avoid closing.
It's not even clear if that 11 co-ops include the ones that have already failed or are in addition to those. This is more than a negative for Obamacare, but also a real problem for those people who had insurance with these co-ops and now have lost their insurance. Shouldn't people in other states be made aware that they are at risk of losing their insurance? But the Democrats aren't interested in that sort of transparency.
In creating the co-ops under Obamacare, Congressional Democrats exempted the co-ops from public disclosure rules that apply to publicly traded insurance companies and other publicly traded corporations on such exchanges as the New York Stock Exchange. Those rules require immediate disclosure of materially important financial details.

Any materially “significant event” by publicly traded corporations have to be disclosed in “real time,” according to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

The Securities and Exchange Commission identifies 18 “mandatory disclosure items,” for private corporations including “any material impairment of a company’s asset.”

The double standard rankles critics of the co-op experiment undertaken by the Obama administration. “The nonprofit co-ops advertise themselves as having a ‘market approach,’” said Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute. “But if it’s a market approach, they are responsible to their shareholders and to the taxpayers to reveal the status of their business.”

Grassley agreed, saying “disclosure requirements on publicly traded companies would be a good guidepost for CMS on co-ops.”

Pipes said taxpayers are stockholders in the non-profit health insurance co-ops. “We are paying for it. We have a right to know. They don’t like to release things unless they’re forced to, particularly if it shows them in a bad light or their program to be in a bad light.”

Taxpayer groups also expressed anger over the government secrecy.

And the administration itself isn't seeing much progress.
Millions of Americans remain uninsured, yet the Obama administration expects to make virtually no progress this season toward enrolling more of them in Obamacare health plans, according to estimates released Thursday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell is pegging the sign-up goal for the third year of Obamacare enrollment at a modest 10 million people, only slightly higher than the 9.9 million who paid for plans last year and less than a million above last year's expectations.

That's also well below the most recent projection by the Congressional Budget Office, which estimated that in 2016, 20 million Americans would have coverage through private plans sold in the insurance marketplaces set up under the Affordable Care Act.

Kindle Daily Deals

Deals in Kitchen and Dining

Deals in Bedding and Bath

Best Books for Children

Amazon Coupons

A New York City teacher who teaches in a charter school that is located in the same building as a regular NYC public school describes the differences between the two schools.
Over the past three school years, I unintentionally participated in a tragic educational case study on the west side of Harlem. I worked in the same building as the Wadleigh Secondary School, at which 0% of students in grades six through eight met state standards in math or English. That isn’t a typo: Not a single one of the 33 students passed either exam, though many of the questions are as straightforward as “What is 15% of 60?”

Two floors above Wadleigh, I taught math at Success Academy Harlem West, a public charter school. The students there eat in the same cafeteria, exercise in the same gym and enjoy recess in the same courtyard. They also live on the same blocks and face many of the same challenges. The poverty rate at Wadleigh is 72%; at Harlem West, it is 60%. At both schools, more than 95% of students are black or Hispanic. About the only difference is that families at Harlem West won an admissions lottery.

Yet for our students, the academic year ended in triumph: 96% were proficient in math—compared with 35% citywide—and 80% scored at the advanced level. In reading and writing, 75% of our students were proficient, compared with 30% citywide.

This was not easy. My students do not have easy lives. Many are in households in which no English is spoken, or have moved in and out of homeless shelters. Others shoulder the primary responsibility of raising younger siblings. Yet we set high expectations. Our school day runs from 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., and teachers spend evenings and weekends speaking with families about their children’s progress. This blueprint works. Rigorous, well-designed and joyful schools can overcome the challenges of poverty....

I often think about those Wadleigh students, navigating unruly hallways and classrooms. They hold the same promise as my students, but of those who move on to high school, fewer than 10% graduate with the skills to complete college-level work. What if those Wadleigh students had attended the public school only two floors above them?
Why don't NYC public schools study what the charter schools are doing to figure out what is successful with the population both schools are working with? I teach at a charter school, a very successful school. We regularly have people from around the country and world come to observe our school and talk to our faculty and administration about how our school works. But we don't get observers from the surrounding North Carolina counties to come and learn from what we're doing successfully.

Kimberley Strassel thinks that anyone who donated to the Bernie Sanders campaign should ask for a refund since he clearly isn't interested in actually winning the election.
A candidate who was in it to win wouldn’t have given Hillary Clinton an assist with her email problem, or ignored her Clinton Foundation entanglements. Mr. Sanders radiates that he is too pure of heart, too sincere a liberal, too focused on “serious issues,” to deign to address Mrs. Clinton’s ethics. He brags that he doesn’t run negative ads; he deplores “political soap opera.” No doubt many of his supporters admire him for that. Mrs. Clinton certainly does. ( Bill Clinton will too, once he stops laughing.)

But that isn’t admirable high-mindedness; it’s a sellout that undercuts the core of Mr. Sanders’s message. The senator’s biggest attraction is that he promises to end business as usual. Mrs. Clinton is business as usual. She believes she is not bound by the same rules as the 99% of Americans Mr. Sanders claims to represent. She and her foundation are tied into, and daily profit from, the “billionaire” class that Mr. Sanders claims is the country’s biggest problem. So does he mean it?

Precisely because Mr. Sanders is high-minded (go read his September speech at Liberty University on the importance of a “moral life”), how can he be blasé about the prospect of a low-minded, crony-connected, morally flawed opponent ascending to the presidency? It would seem he’d have some obligation to his supporters to address that question.

Not that Bernie had to go full negative on Mrs. Clinton during Tuesday’s debate. But he might at least have noted that she has some explaining to do, or said that he was reserving judgment on the email matter until the FBI finishes its probe. That’s a far cry from what he actually did: undercut a legitimate investigation by offering Mrs. Clinton pre-emptive absolution.

Jeff Jacoby refutes Bernie Sanders' admiration for a Scandinavian paradise.
As with most urban legends, however, the reality of Scandinavia's welfare-state utopia doesn't match the hype.

To begin with, explains Swedish scholar Nima Sanandaji, the affluence and cultural norms upon which Scandinavia's social-democratic policies rest are not the product of socialism. In Scandinavian Unexceptionalism, a penetrating new book published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, Sanandaji shows that the Nordic nations' prosperity "developed during periods characterized by free-market policies, low or moderate taxes, and limited state involvement in the economy."

For example, Sweden was a poor nation for most of the 19th century (which helps explain the great wave of Swedish emigration to the United States in the 1800s). That began to change as Stockholm, starting around 1870, turned to free-enterprise reforms. Robust capitalism replaced the formerly agrarian system, and Sweden grew rich. "Property rights, free markets, and the rule of law combined with large numbers of well-educated engineers and entrepreneurs," Sanandaji writes. The result was an environment in which Swedes experienced "an unprecedented period of sustained and rapid economic development." In fact, between 1870 and 1936 Sweden had the highest growth rate in the industrialized world.

Scandinavia's hard-left turn didn't come about until much later. It was in the late 1960s and early 1970s that taxes soared, welfare payments expanded, and entrepreneurship was discouraged.

But what emerged wasn't heaven on earth.

That 1976 story in Time, for example, went on to report that Sweden found itself struggling with crime, drug addiction, welfare dependency, and a plague of red tape. Successful Swedes — most famously, Ingmar Bergman — were fleeing the country to avoid its killing taxes. "Growing numbers are plagued by a persistent, gnawing question: Is their Utopia going sour?"

Sweden's world-beating growth rate dried up. In 1975, it had been the 4th-wealthiest nation on earth (as measured by GDP per capita); by 1993, it had dropped to 14th. By then, Swedes had begun to regard their experiment with socialism as, in Sanandaji's phrase, "a colossal failure."

Denmark has come to a similar conclusion. Its lavish subsidies are being rolled back amid sharp concerns about welfare abuse and an eroding work ethic. In the last general election, Danes replaced a left-leaning government with one tilted to the right. Loving Denmark doesn't mean loving big-government welfarism.

The real key to Scandinavia's unique successes isn't socialism, it's culture. Social trust and cohesion, a broad egalitarian ethic, a strong emphasis on work and responsibility, commitment to the rule of law — these are healthy attributes of a Nordic culture that was ingrained over centuries. In the region's small and homogeneous countries (overwhelmingly white, Protestant, and native-born), those norms took deep root. The good outcomes and high living standards they produced antedated the socialist nostrums of the 1970s. Scandinavia's quality of life didn't spring from leftist policies. It survived them.

Sanandaji makes the acute observation that when Scandinavian emigrants left for the United States, those cultural attributes went with them and produced the same good effects. Scandinavian-Americans have higher incomes and lower poverty rates than the US average. Indeed, Danish-Americans economically outperform Danes still living in Denmark, as do Swedish-Americans compared with Swedes and Finnish-Americans compared with Finns. Scandinavian culture has been a blessing for native Scandinavians — and even more of one for their cousins across the ocean.

No, Scandinavia doesn't "violate the laws of the economic universe." It confirms them. With free markets and healthy values, almost any society will thrive. All socialism does is make things worse.

Shop Amazon - All-New Fire TV, Now with 4K

Introducing Amazon Fire - $49

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Shop Amazon Fashion - Luggage and Travel Gear

I sometimes think that, if some terrible event were to happen now, how we would look back and ponder what the country had been absorbed by in the time leading up to that. Remember how we spent the summer before 9/11 absorbed in the mystery of what had happened to Chandra Levy and her affair with Congressman Gary Condit. Then terrorists struck on 9/11 and suddenly that didn't seem like such a big story. Of course, that didn't stop many in the public and media being transfixed by the disappearance of Natalee Hollaway. And if something were to happen now, we'd look back and wonder that for so long the public and media have been entertained by the whole talentless and tasteless Kardashian clan. These are truly terrible people. They destroy anyone who makes the mistake of interacting, much less marrying them. To tell the truth, since I have never paid any attention to them besides seeing the name creep up periodically, I had no idea how despicably they use and destroy other people. I can't believe that the country has made these people stars and multi-millionaires. Their behavior milking the collapse of Lamar Odom, despite their own role in his downward spiral, should spell the end of them, but they'll probably get even higher ratings. Life is short and it is truly disturbing that people for years have spent any part of their own lives following the Kardashian herd. I tremble for our country.