Monday, July 25, 2016

Cruising the Web

I yield to few in how much I despise Donald Trump, but I do find that it helps sometimes to ask how the media would react if a story about Democrats were one about Trump and his supporters. Take this story that the DNC big wigs were conspiring to try to use Bernie Sanders' religious beliefs against him. It seems that some of them thought this could be a twofer. They could attack him for not living up to the beliefs of Judaism and portray him as a bad Jew and then they could also hope to turn Southern Baptists in Kentucky and West Virginia against him for being a Jewish atheist. Because those in the Bible Belt probably won't like either an atheist or a Jew, but would dislike the former more intensely. Just imagine if a similar sort of story had broken about Republicans or the Trump campaign plotting to use a rival's religion as a bludgeon against him. The outrage would be through the roof.

It isn't enough to have Debbie Wasserman Schultz pushed offstage at the DNC. The Wikileaks publication should horrify Democrats and electrify Sanders supporters. We'll see if the media spend as much time touting the divisions within the Democrats and the sleazy behavior of the DNC to torpedo Sanders' candidacy as they did trumpeting disagreements among Republicans at their convention. And how convenient that Hillary promptly found a job for Wasserman Schultz in her campaign after the DNC chair has agreed to step down after the convention.

The Philadelphia police union is disgusted
that the Democrats will invite relatives of victims of police shootings to speak at their convention but no relatives of police who have been killed in the line of duty.
"It is sad that to win an election Mrs. Clinton must pander to the interests of people who do not know all the facts, while the men and women they seek to destroy are outside protecting the political institutions of this country," the statement read. "Mrs. Clinton you should be ashamed of yourself if that is possible."

The statement came days after the Clinton campaign announced that former President Bill Clinton would speak Tuesday night along with members of Mothers of the Movement, a group that includes Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; and Lezley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown.

Clinton's campaign responded Wednesday, noting that two members of law enforcement are scheduled to speak at the convention, including former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey.
Jazz Shaw notes that the choice of which relatives of gun violence that they've chosen to have speak at the convention is particularly problematic.
I think most of the police might have been a bit more understanding if the speakers had been family members of people like Tamir Rice or Walter Scott because the circumstances of their deaths obviously elicit a lot more sympathy. But Eric Garner and Michael Brown were both involved in the commission of crimes when their fatal encounters with law enforcement officers took place and Trayvon Martin wasn’t even killed by a cop. At the same time, I have no doubt that there are many, many family members of fallen police officers who would have been willing – or even grateful – to address the crowd at the DNC convention and call for peace and calm. Yet they have been shut out of the proceedings.

That likely sends a powerful message to police around the country and it’s not one they are eager to hear. The support for law enforcement coming from the Obama administration has been tepid at the best of times and I doubt they’re looking forward to four more years of the same.

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Mike Pence's wife started her own business "That's My Towel" selling towel charms to help people differentiate their bath and beach towels from others. I have to say that, when I heard this, I thought of it as the sort of item I see in the catalogs that come to our house touting objects that I didn't even know that people needed. The charms are cute, but our family has never had a problem either sharing towels or differentiating among them. Maybe a lot of families, particularly those with more children, run into that problem. The Pences clearly did and, rather than cursing the darkness, Karen Pence decided to start a business to sell her towel charms. Good for her. People start businesses every day and take that risk. We should applaud people with the entrepreneurial spirit. I didn't think that identifying one's wine glass, but apparently there is a whole market out there for wine glass charms. Why should towel charms be any different? What is notable is how many people decided to mock Karen Pence's business. Erika Anderson chides those who decided to make fun of her business.
Feminist writers and lefty websites will defend women they like without question. They will quote Madeleine Albright’s infamous “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” line the moment one of their heroines or standard bearers are criticized.

But when it comes to conservative women, their “open minds” quickly close, as do — apparently — the gates of hell. The Left’s loathsome hypocrisy was on full display as self-proclaimed “feminist” writers opened fire on GOP vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence’s wife, Karen Pence, this week.

Karen Pence owns a business called “That’s My Towel!” She sells towel charms to hook onto beach towels, like wine glass charms, to distinguish similar looking towels at the beach or the pool. It may not be the next Yeti, but it’s her entrepreneurial venture — and she should be commended for it.

The Huffington Post, Jezebel, Fusion and even Forbes are just a few outlets who chose to mockingly spotlight Pence’s business, which has reportedly been “on hold” since her husband was chosen as Donald Trump’s VP pick.

The writers making fun of Mrs. Pence clearly find themselves all too clever as they take cheap digs at another woman’s small business venture. Such bored “journalists” can find nothing of actual substance to dish about the Pences, who appear to be a loving, principled, drama-free family.

No doubt, these same outlets will bemoan the travesties of sexism next week when some conservative calls Hillary Clinton a liar. I’ll be happy to remind them of that time they took glee in stomping on a another female’s business venture because they could find absolutely nothing negative about her to gossip about.

Rather than ridiculing Mrs. Pence for starting her own business even if it's not a product they're interested in, liberals might learn something from what the WSJ calls the "Indiana model" of governance under Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence.
All states have seen declines in the jobless rate, and Indiana’s has fallen to 5% in May from 8.4% in 2013 when Mr. Pence became Governor. The Indiana difference is that the rate has fallen even as the labor force has increased by nearly 187,000. Many states have seen their jobless rates fall in part because so many people have left the labor force, driving down the national labor participation rate to lows not seen since the 1970s. The Illinois workforce has grown by only about 71,000 in the same period, though it is roughly twice as large. Indiana is adding jobs fast enough that people are rejoining the workforce.

The Indiana turnaround began under Mr. Daniels, who took office in 2004 after 16 years of Democratic governors. His command to state employees was “we are here to raise the disposable income of Hoosiers.”

Mr. Daniels inherited a budget mess but eight years later Indiana was a rare state with a triple-A credit rating. He toyed briefly with raising the top personal income-tax rate, which we criticized at the time and was stopped by the legislature. He proceeded to cut the state corporate tax rate to 6.5% from 8.5%. He also took a big political risk by contracting with a private company to operate the Indiana toll road for $3.8 billion.

Indiana adopted right to work in 2012, allowing individuals to opt out of unions, a key signal for many CEOs about the business climate. He passed the most ambitious state-wide school voucher plan in the country, which appears to have contributed to better student performance. The state high school graduation rate has reached 88%, seventh best in the U.S. Mr. Daniels, who is now president of Purdue University, also reformed Medicaid and health care for state employees via health-savings accounts.

Mr. Pence has continued the progress, cutting taxes every year of his tenure even as the state has continued to pile up budget surpluses. He cut the individual tax rate to 3.3% in 2015 from 3.4% and it will fall to 3.23% in 2017, the lowest in the Midwest, according to the Tax Foundation. One reason the tax rate can stay so low and flat is because it applies to a relatively broad base of income with fewer loopholes than more steeply progressive tax codes.

Mr. Pence has also extended eligibility for the school choice program to siblings of voucher recipients, children living in failing public-school districts and those with special needs....Nearly 60% of students in the state now qualify for vouchers.

We could go on, especially regarding regulatory relief. But the broader lesson is that the Daniels-Pence agenda turned around a state that was struggling and has made it a fiscal and pro-growth model. The reforms focused on raising incomes by making the state more hospitable to capital investment and trying to improve the education and skills of all Hoosiers.
Of course, I doubt whether Trump understands the Daniels-Pence reforms and why they worked. And the Democrats don't either. Perhaps Pence can do the country a service by explaining why these conservative policies have been successful and should be emulated.

And while we're admiring the results of Republican governance in the Midwest, look at Wisconsin and how the reforms liberals fought in every venue there are now seeing very successful results.
Five years ago this summer, Wisconsin’s budget-repair law, better known as Act 10, went into effect. The legislation, which significantly curtailed collective-bargaining rights for public employees, was a signature part of Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to close the state’s $3.6 billion budget deficit. It sparked chaos in Madison: Tens of thousands of protesters occupied the capital. Fourteen Democratic state senators fled across state lines in an effort to stop the bill from passing. When it became law anyway, opposition culminated in a failed effort to recall Gov. Walker in 2012.

Looking at the law’s results half a decade later, it is safe to say that it was worth the trouble. Wisconsin’s example ought to embolden reformers everywhere: It’s possible to reform spending on public employees without damaging the quality of services.

Act 10 has saved taxpayers $5 billion since June 2011, according to the John K. MacIver Institute, a free-market think tank in Madison. Local school districts, government agencies and municipalities have acquired more affordable health-care plans, allowing them to put money into classrooms and critical services. Even Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Gov. Walker’s opponent in the 2012 recall election, used Act 10 to save his city nearly $20 million.

Because the law’s financial benefits have always been indisputable, Democratic lawmakers and teachers unions instead claim that Act 10 has led to increased class sizes and teacher shortages. A 2011 attack ad from a union-funded group claimed, without evidence, that the law was “so devastating that students are without chairs and a government survey found 47 kids in a classroom.” This earned a “false” rating from an independent fact-checker, but similar arguments too often go unchallenged. The top Democrat in the state senate, Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, claimed only days ago that the “sun is setting on public education.”

A new study from our organization, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, disputes that conventional wisdom. The Institute’s Will Flanders, along with Marty Lueken of the Friedman Foundation, conducted a comprehensive survey of Act 10’s effect on teachers’ age, experience, salary and benefits, as well as classroom size. Using data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the U.S. Education Department, the authors found that dire claims about Act 10 are greatly exaggerated.

For instance, the report shows that the number of students per teacher in Wisconsin has kept pace with surrounding states.

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It's a good question. William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection asks if anti-Israel academic boycotters will now boycott Turkey after Erdogan has shut down schools, charities, foundations, universities, and trade unions in response to the coup. Erdogan is busy purging universities and their faculty.
I would be against a boycott of Turkish Universities, but the anti-Israel boycotters should not have the luxury of boycotting just Israel and still claim to be acting on principle and not because of implicit if not explicit anti-Semitism.

The Turkish academic purge raises a test for the anti-Israel academic boycotters. Will they devote themselves this coming academic season to an academic boycott of Turkish Universities, in addition to other majority-Muslim nations where minorities are repressed and academic freedom stifled?

Will they, as Curtis Marez said, start but not end with Israel? Or as Alan Dershowitz said, will the boycotters start and stop with the only majority-Jewish nation on the globe?
I think we all know what the answer will be to Jacobson's question. These BDS activists are more about hating on Israel than any principled stand for supporting moral governance of other countries around the world.

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I hope the Olympic athletes are ready for Rio. The problems there keep increasing.
Adding to the list of setbacks and stumbles for the Rio Olympics, the Olympic Village, home to thousands of athletes during the Summer Games, has been called unfit for occupancy.

Sunday was supposed to be move-in day for many athletes, but the leader of the Australian Olympic delegation said its athletes would not be checking in because of problems with the gas, electricity and plumbing.

The opening ceremony for the Rio Games is scheduled for Aug. 5.

Among the issues with housing units at the village are “blocked toilets, leaking pipes and exposed wiring,” said Kitty Chiller, a former Olympic pentathlete whose title is chef de mission in Rio de Janeiro for the Australian Olympic Committee. There is also bad lighting in many stairwells and “dirty floors in need of a massive clean,” she said in a written statement.

“Water has come through the ceiling resulting in large puddles on the floor around cabling and wiring,” Ms. Chiller said.

Ms. Chiller said that delegations from Britain, New Zealand and other countries were experiencing similar problems in the village, which is in an area of western Rio called Barra da Tijuca. Attempts to reach those delegations were not successful.

I would so support bringing jousting to the next Olympics. I bet lots of people would tune in to watch that.

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If you're a Star Trek fan, you might enjoy Ilya Somin's essay on how the franchise embraced socialism.
The Federation isn’t just socialist in the hyperbolic sense in which some conservatives like to denounce anyone to the left of them as socialist. It’s socialist in the literal sense that the government has near-total control over the economy and the means of production. Especially by the period portrayed in The Next Generation, the government seems to control all major economic enterprises, and there do not seem to be any significant private businesses controlled by humans in Federation territory. Star Fleet characters, such as Captain Picard, boast that the Federation has no currency and that humans are no longer motivated by material gain and do not engage in capitalist economic transactions.

The supposed evils of free markets are exemplified by the Ferengi, an alien race who exemplify all the stereotypes socialists typically associate with “evil capitalists.” The Ferengi are unrelentingly greedy and exploitative. Their love of profit seems to be exceeded only by their sexism—they do not let females work outside the household, even when it would increase their profits to do so.

The problem here is not just that Star Trek embraces socialism: it’s that it does so without giving any serious consideration to the issue. For example, real-world socialist states have almost always resulted in poverty and massive political oppression, piling up body counts in the tens of millions.

But Star Trek gives no hint that this might be a danger, or any explanation of how the Federation avoided it. Unlike on many other issues, where the producers of the series recognize that there are multiple legitimate perspectives on a political issue, they seem almost totally oblivious to the downsides of socialism.
Gee, rather like a lot of liberals. Think Bernie Sanders and his supporters - they're totally oblivious to the "downsides of socialism."