Monday, October 20, 2014

Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste

They're shameless, they really are:
In Connecticut, Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has returned a curious and controversial draft recommendation: the state should increase its oversight of homeschooled children with emotional or behavioral challenges. The proposal has outraged the state’s homeschoolers, who, like homeschoolers everywhere, are keenly aware of their sometimes conditional freedoms. In Connecticut, as elsewhere, the law allows parents to homeschool if they choose. But the practice has always been viewed as threatening by left-wing academics, social architects, and teachers’ unions—all well represented on Malloy’s 16-member panel. Sadly, this is only the most recent assault on the rights of Connecticut homeschoolers.
Lanza didn't shoot people because he was homeschooled, he shot them because he was crazy.  To single out homeschoolers like this, and to use that shooting as the reason for doing so, is only slightly less crazy than Lanza was.  It's also blatant manipulation of a tragedy for political gain, something that decent people everywhere should decry.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Impossible! Obamacare Is Working Perfectly

Anyone who thought this wouldn't happen was a fool:
Over 22,000 Coloradoans have had their health insurance canceled by Obamacare in the past month — and 200,000 are slated to be shut down in 2015, the state insurance department announced Friday.

The Colorado Division of Insurance wrote to state Senate Republicans Friday, notifying them that five more insurance carriers have ended plans for 18,783 more Coloradoans in just the last month. By far, the most canceled plans will come from Humana Insurance Company and Humana Health Plan.

That brings the state’s Obamacare total to almost 340,000 canceled plans, according to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who’s in a tight race for Senate with incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Udall.
Remember, Colorado is currently run by Democrats so you conspiracy theorists can't complain that this is some sort of Republican plot to make Dear Leader look bad.

Additionally, after taxpayers start bailing out insurance companies which will lose money because not enough of the "right" people signed up for Obamacare, I don't ever again want to hear a leftie complain about "corporate tax breaks" or "crony capitalism" or any other argument.  You are the worst purveyors of that disgusting brand of rent-seeking.

No Halloween At School

It's not a new argument; even when I was a kid there were parents who complained about the "pagan" or "satanic" nature of Halloween.  Then, as now, such people need to take a chill pill.  And while I'm at it, those who hyperventilate and convulse at the thought of a Christmas tree or a snowman at school need to do the same thing.

In the former case we have primarily protestant Christians and in the latter case primarily atheists (joined by Jews in some places), but in both cases the casus belli is the same:  I don't believe what you do, so I don't want you to enjoy what you do--and I certainly don't want to see you enjoy it.  Throw in a religious component and every killjoy in the country thinks they can cloak themselves in the mantle of the First Amendment.

This is why they're wrong:  while Christmas, and Easter, and Halloween, and Thanksgiving, all have a religious component, they also have a secular component.  Secular society has co-opted those holidays and created new components of them completely divorced from the religious side.  There's nothing at all religious about a fat man living at the North Pole or snowflakes or bunnies' delivering chocolate eggs or wearing costumes whilst begging for candy or watching football after eating Turkey.  There just isn't, and to complain about these things year after year is a silly waste of time that shows just how soft--and how soft-headed--our society has become.  There's no legitimate argument against having a Christmas tree in a classroom, or for that matter any other decoration that excludes overtly religious symbolism.

What started me down this particular road on this beautiful Sunday morning?  This post about Halloween from Joanne's site.  I like her conclusion, though:
Parents who think Halloween is the work of the devil must be frustrated by how much fun the holiday is for its celebrants. It’s tough to compete.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

How Would This Have Been Handled By The University's Sexual Kangaroo Court?

I would never say that law enforcement gets it right all the time, but they have a much greater opportunity to arrive at a just conclusion than a university does:
On Friday, a rape charge against UC Berkeley student Eugene Quillin was dismissed after prosecutors concluded that Quillin was innocent of committing the crime.

Quillin, 20, was charged with rape by use of drugs last week after an alleged sexual assault Sept. 27 was reported. The woman whom Quillin was charged with assaulting, identified in court documents only as “Jane Doe,” was “prevented from resisting by an intoxicating, anesthetic, and controlled substance,” according to the court documents.

But after reviewing the evidence provided by Berkeley Police Department and interviewing Jane Doe, district attorney spokesperson Teresa Drenick said, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office determined that Quillin didn’t commit any sexual assault Sept. 27 and motioned to dismiss the charges.  (boldface mine--Darren)
Let's not forget that while the accuser's name has been kept private, Mr. Quillin was already tried and convicted in the court of public opinion at Berkeley.  The comments on the linked article are evidence enough that these types of proceedings rightly fall under law enforcement and not in universities.

Lack of Leadership

I've pointed out before that President Obama is not a leader.  He fails every test of leadership, every time.  The ebola issue is just the latest in a long string:
Here we go again, as the NY Times puts out their obligatory "Obama is as shocked and dismayed by this latest Big Government fail as the rest of you poor suckers" story...

I have lost track of the number of times we have read that Obama is shocked to learn that big bureaucracies can be clumsy and plagued by poor communication, but I welcome some reminders in the comments; offhand, the Secret Service, the rollout and the VA spring to mind, but I also recall he learned about the IRS and Fast and Furious by careful reading of his daily newspapers. (Don't forget the existence of ISIS!--Darren)

My advice to Team Obama - encourage the Big Guy to take a look around. If he sees a playing field and thousands of screaming fans then he is probably in a luxury skybox somewhere and yes, he is free to cheer and boo like any other spectator. But if he sees a famous desk and slightly curved walls, then he is probably in the Oval Office and might want to remember that he is Chief Executive of the United States and is notionally responsible for the many bureaucracies he purportedly leads.
If this is how someone who loves government and thinks government is the solution to all problems--if this is how such a person runs a government, why on earth would you want to give government more power and authority? 

I do not understand the statist mindset.  I just don't.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Women Make 77 Cents For Every Dollar A Man Makes?

That's Myth #5 on Christina Hoff Sommers' 5 feminist myths that will not die.

Anyone conversant in economics could tell you that if it were true, no men would get jobs because employers would be crazy to hire them at 1/3 more than the cost of a woman.

I'm Getting Old

This was a view on my campus early on today:
As I said, I'm getting old.  I have next to no patience for teenage drama and angst, so you can imagine how, uh, resigned I feel on days like today.

Obviously it wouldn't be wise for me to share the information to which I am privy, but should you be interested in what's out in the public sphere, our local news organizations love to fan the flames of these kinds of stories with stories of their own that are not what I would call 100% accurate:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

She Has Big Boots To Fill

Lynda Carter is among the most attractive women who has ever lived.  That's partly why she was cast as Wonder Woman in the 1970s tv show.  Anyone who portrays Wonder Woman has to live up to Carter's portrayal of the Amazon princess as a tough, intelligent, and caring person without a hint of any character flaws.

In today's movie environment there's a trend of "going dark"--the good guys (and gals!) have an evil edge, or a dark secret, or they give in to human foibles or other weaknesses.  I'm not a fan of that trend, I want to see my good guys (and gals!) be good guys (and gals!).  I want them to be better than the rest of us, not just stronger--and that's how Carter played Wonder Woman.

In 2017 Warner Bros. is going to release a Wonder Woman movie.  Just a look at the released picture leads me to fear that Wonder Woman is going to be less Wonder and more Woman:
Dark.  That's not what Wonder Woman is supposed to be.  This is:
If they take away the feminine side of Wonder Woman and just make her a warrior who happens to be a woman, Warner Bros. will be taking away one of the important attributes of Wonder Woman. 

Anyone with special abilities can kick butt and take names.  There's more to Wonder Woman than just that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Only Good Communist Is A Dead Communist

Growing up during the Cold War I believed that, and I see no reason to change my belief today.  Some people just need killin', and communists are among them.  If any need to be kept alive it's only as showpieces, as examples to future generations of why we should not revere communists.  There is nothing in communist ideology that is of value except perhaps as an identifier of sociopathy or totalitarian intent, neither of which should be tolerated in polite society.

Think my words are harsh?  Perhaps you want to sugarcoat your history but I prefer to see it as it was and to learn from it.  You may be mamby-pampy and "tolerant" and think it's not nice to make others uncomfortable, I say you're what the communists themselves called "useful idiots".

No, on this topic I don't mince words.  I grew up with visions of global nuclear war with those people, and such a war would have been preferable to living with their boot on my neck.  "Live free or die."  "I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery." To me those are not just words.

So imagine my shock when I read who's being celebrated at UCLA:
Look whose photo graces the campus of UCLA, meant to be an inspiration to incoming students. The woman in the photo is standing above the slogan: “We Question.” On the right-hand side, in small letters, students are informed that they are “the optimists.”

This banner adds to the shadow that today is cast over so many of our major universities.

For those who can’t identify her, the photo depicts Angela Davis, the notorious former Communist Party USA leader who, beginning in the ’60s, molded together black nationalism with Marxism-Leninism. She created a heady brew for recruiting new cadre into the CP and the original Black Panther Party of Huey Newton.

Some optimist! Davis believed in the triumph of Communism.

For her loyalty to the Soviet Union and its foreign policies, in 1972 she was awarded a Lenin Centenary Medal in the Soviet Union, after which she spoke to thousands at an outdoor rally in Moscow. Next, speaking at a factory in Kirov, Davis praised the workers for not using “products of labor [to fuel] the irrational drive for capitalist profits as it is used in our country.”

As she left Moscow and went up the stairs to enter her plane, she yelled out with a clenched fist: “Long live the science of Marxism-Leninism.” There is not an iota of evidence that she questioned anything about the dreary reality in the Soviet Union and their Eastern European client states...

One might ask: Why is Davis so important? The answer is that today’s cultural elites, like whoever at UCLA decided to adorn the campus with her photo, treat any rebel — even a dogmatic ideologue like Angela Davis — as a leader from which students can learn valuable lessons. It is these academics who treat her as both a saint and a leader, and who constantly invite her to give major speeches on our campuses which they urge their students to attend.

To herald Angela Davis as a person who questions anything reveals the mindset of our university administrators, and is itself more evidence of the decline of standards at our major colleges and universities. Expect Ms. Davis to be a graduation speaker sometime in UCLA’s future. That is the logical next step in helping Angela Davis lead her march to a communist future via “the long march through the existing institutions.”
Some people hate Illinois Nazis.  As the Instapundit says, communists are just Nazis with better PR.  That UCLA is holding such a person up as an exemplar is sickening.  It's unjustifiable.  It's foul.  It's gross.

If you went to UCLA, you should contact your alumni association.  The rest of us can start here.

Even Harvard Law Professors Think The New Sexual Kangaroo Courts Are Out of Control

From Harvard and the Boston Globe, neither of which is known for its he-man-woman-haters-club credentials:
As members of the faculty of Harvard Law School, we write to voice our strong objections to the Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures imposed by the central university administration and the Corporation on all parts of the university, including the law school.

We strongly endorse the importance of protecting our students from sexual misconduct and providing an educational environment free from the sexual and other harassment that can diminish educational opportunity. But we believe that this particular sexual harassment policy adopted by Harvard will do more harm than good.

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.

Among our many concerns are the following...
You'll want to read the whole thing.  Due process is built into our national Constitution for a very good reason, and cynical political manipulations are not a good reason to ignore it.

Like so many other stupid things, this, too, shall pass when a couple of women get caught up in the dragnet.

Suspending An Honor Student

Yes, honor students sometimes do stupid things, too, but it's not the student who's acting stupidly in this story:
The 17-year-old Michigan honor student who was initially expelled after a 3 ¼-inch pocketknife was found in her purse during a football game in September will be suspended for the year instead and be able to take online classes and graduate with her class next year, reported.

Though the Dearborn Heights District 7 Board of Education softened the punishment, Atiya Haynes said the board, which met on Monday, made up its mind before it handed down the ruling.

Haynes, who reportedly has a 3.0 GPA and hopes to attend Howard University, does not deny having the pocketknife...(but) said she forgot about it.

The school board said its hands were tied in the case because it is required to uphold state laws. The state has a zero-tolerance rule.
When you don't have to think, you won't. They're not thinking.

Stupid laws, like laws that aren't enforced, breed contempt for all laws--and for the people who create and enforce them.  Good job, idiots.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I Kid You Not, This Really Happened

A teacher at school sent the following email today.  He says this really happened and gave me permission to post the story here.  Identifying information has, of course, been redacted:
This just happened in my class:

Five minutes into the essay test--after I had explained that it was open book, open notes, and that they could use any resource available to them—a cellphone speaker erupts:

"Hello, this Michael Pollan."

"Mr. Pollan, my name is XXXXX and I am a student at XXXXX High School and I was wondering if you could help me with my essay about your book?"


He let the answering service pu the next few tries…
I'm not sure what I should think about this.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Can't Challenge It. It's Science.

You know you want to go read the whole thing:
Few traits better characterize contemporary liberals than their false sense of intellectual superiority. 

We're all familiar with the clich├ęs.  Conservatives and libertarians who deviate from liberal articles of faith, from global warming alarmism to Keynesian economics to bureaucratized social engineering, are "deniers," unmoored from rationality and "settled science."  Leftist author Thomas Frank captured that mindset with the title of his book "What's the Matter with Kansas?," asserting that Republican voters aren't even capable of aligning their votes with their supposedly self-evident best interests. 

There's only one problem. 

The actual, objective sociological evidence continues to demonstrate that the opposite is true.  Republicans routinely prove themselves more knowledgeable than Democrats. 

The left-leaning Pew Research Center provides the latest example. 

Each year, Pew conducts its "What Do Americans Know" survey, which tests respondents on a series of questions.  This year, the topics included the federal minimum wage, the territory occupied by ISIS, the Ukraine, Common Core educational proposals, fracking, where the Ebola virus is centered, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the U.S. poverty rate, where Shiite Muslims outnumber Sunnis, who chairs the Federal Reserve, where the federal government spends most and the U.S. unemployment rate.  

Unsurprisingly, older adults demonstrated greater knowledge than their younger counterparts, as did better-educated respondents. 

But buried at the bottom of the survey report lies the subject heading "Partisan Differences in Knowledge," which itemizes each question and the percentage of Republicans, Democrats and Independents who answered each one correctly. 

So how stark were the partisan knowledge differentials? 

Out of 12 questions asked, Republicans outperformed both Democrats and Independents on 10.
I'm shocked--SHOCKED, I tell you!


Does anyone truly believe this will do anything to combat so-called childhood obesity?
Students celebrating a birthday at a northern Kentucky elementary school will have to do without birthday cake -- or any kind of food for that matter.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports Burlington Elementary School recently revised its wellness policy to address the growing childhood obesity rate nationwide.

It's among a few schools that have a no-food-for-birthdays rule.
When I was young I thought my generation would do a better job than the baby boomers when we finally got to be in charge. I was mistaken.  They're pikers compared to our ability to demonstrate idiocy.

Scientists Have Biases? Say It Isn't So!

How reliable is academic research? Not very, it seems, after noting that the Journal of Vibration and Control, a reputable academic publication, had to retract 60 different papers over the summer.

The editors concluded that Chen-Yuan Chen, a researcher in Taiwan, had created a “peer-review and citation ring.”

OK, it’s not exactly a “Sopranos” plot. But it’s pretty shady for the world of higher education. Chen went to great lengths to make up fake email addresses and even assume the names of other scientists to write approvingly of his own research.

In a sense, though, he was just exploiting the deep flaws of the peer review system. The academy has become a kind of club where friends give friends flattering assessments of research, which essentially guarantees promotions and tenure.
Sounds a lot like getting "consensus".  Sounds a lot like "global warming" or "climate change" or whatever they're calling it this week.

Political persuasion rears its ugly head, too:
The article, whose lead author is New York University’s Jonathan Haidt, finds that academic psychology has lost nearly all of its political diversity in the last 50 years and that the validity of the discipline has been “undermined” as a result.

And while the authors note that greater political diversity would improve things, nonliberals face a “hostile climate and discrimination.”
To liberals, it's OK to discriminate against conservatives.  It just is.

Teacher Fired in New York!

As reader MikeAT said when he emailed this to me:  Pigs have flown! Hell Has Frozen Over! The Saints are in the Superbowl! And New York fired a teacher!
In New York City – as with so many other places around the country – it’s generally a sadly accepted assumption that once a teacher in the public school system achieves tenure, they are in place for life. It doesn’t matter if you turn out to be a pedophile, a sexual predator or violent madman, thanks to the power of the teachers unions, your taxpayer funded paycheck is pretty much safe for life. At most, you might be sent to sit in a rubber room. Heck, in the current case of Sean Shaynak, you can collect your pay while sitting in jail on charges of kidnapping and trading good grades in exchange for sex with children.

But if the reports are true, Public School 78 in the Bronx has broken the mold after a series of drawn out court proceedings and actually succeeded in firing Jason Roberts.
Go read what it took for him to get fired, which includes claims that he
spat on a student; hung up on the principal; told students they could attack another student and break his glasses; passed gas in students’ faces; threw a block of wood at a student, and shouted things like “bitch,” “white devil” and “suck a goat’s ass” when talking to students, parents and colleagues, according to court papers.
Still, it took three years.  And of course, his union defended him.  I'm not saying they shouldn't ensure his due process rights weren't observed, but they actually tried to allow him to keep his job.  Holy crap.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Race No One Cares About--Is Heating Up!

Why would anyone care who California's Superintendent of Public Instruction is?  Is the job any more important, any more glamorous, any more influential than the state's Insurance Commissioner?  Some people think so, at least this time around:
Independent expenditure committees have set aside almost $5.5 million in the past week for the final stage of California’s hotly contested superintendent of public instruction race, an ideologically charged battle that has pitted incumbent Tom Torlakson against former schools executive Marshall Tuck over teacher job protections.
The CTA supports Torlakson, which would be reason enough for me to support Tuck had I not already formed an opinion of Torlakson a couple years ago when he spoke at a gathering featuring Diane Ravitch.  That night, and CTA's support, are two strikes against Torlakson in my book.

Read more here:

Geniuses at the TSA

Remember, after the 9/11 attacks these are the people we're counting on to keep us safe in the skies:
Among the many changes the Nobel Prize brought to Schmidt’s life: travel hassles. Here’s what he said it’s like to carry a Nobel medal aboard an airplane:

“There are a couple of bizarre things that happen. One of the things you get when you win a Nobel Prize is, well, a Nobel Prize. It’s about that big, that thick [he mimes a disk roughly the size of an Olympic medal], weighs a half a pound, and it’s made of gold.

“When I won this, my grandma, who lives in Fargo, North Dakota, wanted to see it. I was coming around so I decided I’d bring my Nobel Prize. You would think that carrying around a Nobel Prize would be uneventful, and it was uneventful, until I tried to leave Fargo with it, and went through the X-ray machine. I could see they were puzzled. It was in my laptop bag. It’s made of gold, so it absorbs all the X-rays—it’s completely black. And they had never seen anything completely black.

“They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’
I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’
They said, ‘What’s in the box?’
I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.
So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’
I said, ‘gold.’
And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’
‘The King of Sweden.’
‘Why did he give this to you?’
‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’
At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”
If the probability of a hijacking weren't so low I'd be concerned every time I got on a plane.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Turning Feminism On Its Head

That's what the new campus sex law in California does:
It is impossible to overstate the growing weirdness of the college sex scene. Campus feminists are reimporting selective portions of a traditional sexual code that they have long scorned, in the name of ending what they preposterously call an epidemic of campus rape. They are once again making males the guardians of female safety and are portraying females as fainting, helpless victims of the untrammeled male libido. (boldface mine--Darren)  They are demanding that college administrators write highly technical rules for sex and aggressively enforce them, 50 years after the proponents of sexual liberation insisted that college adults stop policing student sexual behavior. While the campus feminists are not yet calling for an assistant dean to be present at their drunken couplings, they have created the next best thing: the opportunity to replay every grope and caress before a tribunal of voyeuristic administrators.
Crazed feminists and their liberal go-alongs: the neo-Victorians.

The President Is A Failure

I've said it so many times, in so many different ways, but Stephen Hayes shines here:
The scandals and policy failures have had a devastating effect. With two years left in his presidency, Obama has no agenda. The major new investments and initiatives that he spoke of after his election never happened. Gun control measures he pushed went nowhere. Immigration reform​—​at least the comprehensive variety that Obama demanded​—​is dead. As the investigations of old scandals continue, new ones have taken their place on newspaper front pages across the country: the chronic failures of the VA and, most recently, a serious cover-up involving the Secret Service.

When he’s not on the golf course, the president seems to spend most of his time fundraising for vulnerable Democrats, threatening executive action on those things he can’t accomplish by leading, and working to minimize crises of his own making.

This is a failed presidency...

The top concern of Americans today, more than six years after Barack Obama vowed to “make government cool again,” is that they don’t trust their government. When Obama took office, 43 percent of Americans told Gallup that they were satisfied with the way the country was being governed, while 56 percent said they were dissatisfied. Today, just 27 percent say they’re satisfied and 72 percent say they’re dissatisfied.

A CNN poll taken in July found that trust in government is at an all-time low, with just 13 percent saying they trust government all or most of the time. Keating Holland, the director of polling at CNN, framed the results this way: “The number who trust government all or most of the time has sunk so low that it is hard to remember that there was ever a time when Americans routinely trusted government"...

Here, then, is the great irony of the Obama presidency: Barack Obama will be a transformative president, but not in the way he imagined when he spoke to the Reno Gazette-Journal a year before he took the oath of office. Rather than restore faith in government, the Obama presidency has all but destroyed it. 

Despite himself, Obama has made the case for limited government more powerfully than his opponents.
Is there anything he can accomplish besides fundraising?

Those same people who decry money in politics--and that's you, friends on the left--are the biggest crony capitalists around.  If you want to get corporate money out of politics, the only way to do that is to take away that which the money can purchase--and that's the ability for government to do someone's bidding.  Take power away from Washington, restore the federal government to one of limited, enumerated powers, and there will be no reason for corporations to buy influence--because there will be no influence to buy.  Keep consolidating power in Washington, and look what happens.  Are you proud of the way your government is operating today?  No?  Then why would you want more of it?

Barack Obama's presidency is the poster child for conservatism.

College Readiness

Joanne, freshly back from Spain, gives statistics that back up what so many of us have long believed:
Forty-three percent of SAT takers in the class of 2014 are prepared for college, reports College Board. The average SAT score was 1497 out of 2400, down a point from the year before. A combined score of 1550 predicts success in college classes.

Only students aspiring to selective colleges take the SAT.  College readiness rates are even lower — 26 percent — on the ACT, which includes some students required by their states to take the exam.
This causes one to wonder:  why do college costs keep going up?  Why are schools so crowded such that students have a hard time getting the classes they need in order to graduate in 4 years?  Why do we have so many remedial math and English students at universities?

If I were in charge, I wouldn't let unprepared students into public universities (private universities can do whatever the market will bear).  Take your remedial courses at community college and come to a university when you're ready to do university-level work.

It's an idea that's so wacky it just might work.  (BTW, complaining that there's not enough room at CC's is not a reason to warehouse students at higher-cost universities.  Just sayin'.)