Monday, February 29, 2016

Virginia wants to allow parents to block the teaching of literature with sexually explicit material

On Feb. 26, Jenna Portnoy, in the Washington Post, asks, “In Virginia classrooms, should parents block sexually explicit literature for their kids”  Virginia’s General Assembly contemplates the first law in the nation to give parents the right to block books with explicit content.  In fact, the rules would require schools to notify parents in writing about sexually explicit literature to be offered in the humanities curricula.
But the concern is that major works Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” or “The Bluest Eye”, Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”, and particularly Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” would become unusable in English classes.  Classics like Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” could be seen as forums for underage sex and suicide.  Most of the passages of concern are heterosexual.  But Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” and “Macbeth” (and “Hamlet”) have plenty of violence. Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” has a putatively homosexual celebrant (The Pardoner).
When I worked as a sub, I do recall an English teacher’s explaining the age issues in “Romeo and Juliet” to a ninth grade class.  In older societies, girls could marry earlier than today.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

David Brooks (the "virtue guy") opines about three lenses for marriage

David Brooks, author of “The Road to Character” (Books reviews, June 15, 2015) has an important essay on p A27 of the New York Times, Tuesday, February 23, 2015, “Three Views of Marriage”.

The three views, or “lenses”, are “psychological”, “romantic”, and “moral”.  The “psychological” would correspond to Paul Rosenfels and his ideas about psychological polarity and mating.  The “romantic” for many people would be a prerequisite to start any relationship:  the chemistry, even physical attraction, has to be there. I tend to feel that I lost that particular opportunity early in life. Brooks mentions the book and film “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” (2001, John Madden)  as providing an example of how this process should work. The “moral” would serve a higher collective purpose of nurturing self-giving love, even higher than procreation.

I can’t help but wonder how these comments could affect same-sex marriage “equality” – and I put the comment here today rather on the LGBT blog.  Particularly of concern are the views of John Finnis, as explained in Wikipedia, as viewed by Andrew Sullivan.

In 2005, Paul Robinson, in a book “Queer Wars: The New Gay Right and Its Critics” wrote this "mouthful of words" about Finnis’s thinking:

"Homosexuality ... threatens the way straight couples need to understand the role of sex in their lives and its social implications. 'The deliberate genital coupling of persons of the sex is repudiated because  ... it treats human sexual capacities in a way which is deeply hostile to the self-understanding of those members of the community who are willing to commit themselves to real marriage in the understanding that the sexual joys are not mere instruments to, or mere compensations for, the accomplishment of marriage's responsibilities, but rather enable the spouses to actualize and experience their intelligent commitment to share in those responsibilities, in that genuine self-giving.' "

Friday, February 26, 2016

Obama and the Senate should do their jobs with the Supreme Court, but past may not always be reliable prologue

Should President Obama appoint a “moderate” candidate for the Supreme Court and let the GOP risk a political electoral backlash if the Senate refuses to consider him or her? 

The New York Times (David M. Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse) seems to think so, as it explains today.

The Constitution says it is the president’s responsibility to nominate a replacement and get it done with the assistance of the Senate.

But the record of the past is mixed.  Joe Biden was “guilty” of the same obstructionism in 1992 for the Democrats (Washington Times).   LBJ was rebuffed non Abe Fortas but pulled strings to get Thurgood Marshall on the court (Beast). And Rubio exaggerates on the 80 year war on lame ducks (Politifact).

Jordan Weissman of Slate argues that Obama is not yet a “lame duck”. 

But Obama should do the nomination and let the consequences follow. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Were the February mid-Atlantic tornadoes a result of "only" El Nino? Or climate change? Will this become more common?

An unusually violent late winter (February) low pressure system, moving up the Ohio valley, spawned tornadoes from Louisiana up to eastern Pennsylvania through yesterday. It behaved almost like a land tropical storm, spawning twisters on its northeast side.  Three died in a small town southeast of Richmond.  That turned out to be an EF1 in the earlier "warm front" portion of the storm, which would be unusual enough. In the later afternoon or early evening, there were longer tracking and wider EF3 tornadoes near Appomattox and then Tappohannock (60 straight line miles from DC). 
The storm was said to be fueled by El Nino.  Let’s hope so, because if associated with climate change instead, this could become a much more common event along the East coast, and would longer tracking, higher end tornadoes.

But what was shocking was the ability to generate miniature bows and Doppler tornado signatures even without much sunlight and normal heat.  However, most of the tornado generation stopped about 40 miles south of Washington as evening came on.   When the storm hit DC, it spread out, lasted longer, but became less intense, with most treetop winds under 45 mph,, but lots of dangerous lightning. The high temperature in Arlington reached “only” 65 degrees about an hour before the storm and fell into the upper 50s quickly.  Had there been more sun, or a longer day (had this storm occurred a month later), the results could have been much worse locally.

A day before, we were under “marginal risk” and then that got upgraded to “slight” and then “enhanced”.  WJLA has an explanation here

Before the storm, hit, weather maps showed a malignant, angry dark red welt running south to northeast, looking like Kaposi’s sarcoma.
The major tornado outbreaks of big tornadoes in the DC area occurred in 1998 (Frostburg, MD, a bizarre EF4 in the mountains), College Park MD (an EF3, with an EF4 in the VS Piedmont and an EF0 on the Mall, in late September 2001), and an EF4 in La Plata MD in 2002.  The Chesapeake Bay, with SE winds, can provoke small tornadoes to the NW around Baltimore sometimes.  

Homeowners should prepare for storm damage and floods with proper insurance (and homeowners should seriously consider whether they need flood insurance, even if not near water;  look at the possibility of hidden covered streams in the area).  Protect electronics and data by unplugging and taking to a safer place if possible during violent weather.   A normal policy should cover extended stay apartment housing during repairs.  But in case of a major area disaster (EF4 and higher), people will learn what it is like to be in shelters. 
On a tangential matter, climate change might have something to do with the increasing consequences of the Zika virus, and the possibility of sexual transmission needs to be closely watched.  

First picture: Tupelo MS tornado devastation, 2014, my picture. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"Art integration" helps teach students basic math; digital divide affects homework in lower income schools; father banned over objecting to lessons on Islam

In northern Virginia, teachers are using art and dance to help teach everyday mathematics, and sometimes social studies, as in a story by Moriah Balingit in the Washington Post Metro today, link.  They call this teaching technique “art integration”.

Of course, I can remember that “math concepts” had to be taught in shop class in Seventh Grade “industrial arts”.

This story fits in with a story about a math teacher in California who had students compose music (although a bit like hip hop) to learn math concepts, on my Drama and Music blog, Jan. 8, 2016.

There are a couple of other education stories of note Tuesday,

Emma Brown of the Washington Post reports that high school in La Plata MD banned a father (a veteran) from attending his daughter's school after he objected to a social studies lesson which he felt unduly promoted Islam, link.

And in the New York Times today, Cecilia Kang reports increasing problems that lower income kids are having with homework because their homes don't have reliable high speed Internet, link.  Silicon Valley companies, including Facebook, have been giving money do support Internet connections in low income areas, but much of this giving is for developing countries.  

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Continuing with Black History Month, a visit to Lucasville School in Virginia

Returning to my Feb. 14 excursion, I did find the Lucasville School today near Manassas Virginia, off of Rt 234.  The Virginia National Guard Armory and fairgrounds are nearby. Lucasville was originally settled by freed slaves.

The school is open on weekends this month for Black History Month.

This was a one room school, with only four rows of chairs.  Children had to bring firewood to school.  It required only a seventh grade education to be a teacher.

In 1819, it was actually illegal in Virginia for slaves to assemble to learn to read and write.

About 15 miles away, west of Haymarket in a pass through the “Bull Run Mountains”, there is a sign for “Free People of Color at Thoroughfare”.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ben Carson gets close to a Fundamental Theorem of Morality (oh, that's Calculus); Cruz gets a "cease-and-desist" from Trump

Jeff Stein has a short commentary on Vox about a comment by Ben Carson on the social safety net. “Carson on the good old days: ‘Someone got killed by a bear, everyone took care of their family’”.  I guess Carson hasn't seen DiCaprio's film "The Revenant".

That is to say, the only way to deal with inequality (and resulting social and security-related instability) and have freedom is if everyone pitches in and “gives back” as necessary, not always as a direct result of their own personal choices.

Of course, an idea like this play out in different ways, with a lot of different angles, when considering “family values” (including marriage equality), military policy, eldercare, the changes in acceptable “sales culture”, and even the distribution of speech (and how public voice correlates to responsibility for others).   With any particular issue, it’s pretty easy to get lost among the trees.
It's also important that the "localization" of the safety net can make it easier for politicians to leave in place large differences in (unearned) wealth among different classes of people, and allow racism to stay in place, with just the appearance of a false sustainability.

In the meantime, Ted Cruz has been showing off the cease-and-desist letter he got today from Donald Trump, for “libel”, for misrepresenting Trump as pro-choice. “Truth is an absolute defense to libel”.  New York Times and Reuters coverage and video here

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

States do poor job of background checks from out-of-state teacher applicants

Local media and sometimes national media outlets are aggressive in shaming adults accused (not necessarily convicted) of inappropriate interactions with minors, most of all teachers or school employees, and of course pastors and priests. 

USA Today has a “roll of dishonor” story by Steve Reilly, “Broken discipline tracking systems let teachers flee troubled pasts”, link here. A few teachers have resigned after exposure in the article even though not caught by the school districts. 

The article also has a “background check report card”, a map-chart that grades the individual states on doing teacher background checks, especially from out-of-state applicants.  Virginia was in the orange, a grade of “D”.

The private National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, NASDTEC  is supposed to maintain a database, which is not very adequate, apparently.

It does not seem that substitutes would be tracked, since in many states (including Virginia) they do not have to be licensed.  Furthermore, within a typical system in Virginia, a sub can be “banned” by one school and allowed to work at others (until they miss “three strikes”, which are sometimes covered up).

There’s a colloquial term for all this, “passing the trash”.
I bought a copy of the last USA Today hardcopy at a CVS store a while ago, with only one register open because of a storm-related power failure.  Another man walked in and was looking for the article!  It's online, but Gannett's site loads slowly and has too many frills for people who want the news quickly.
There was no media coverage of any of my issues as a substitute teacher, and no followup (summary  esp. March 6, 2014).  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

For Black History Month, I visit the wrong Virginia campus, but get a new history lesson anyway

Well, I visited an interesting historical place today, for Black History Month, but not what I thought I was visiting.

I had intended to visit the Lucasville School, a one-room black school from the segregation area (until 1926), on Route 28 near Manassas, VA, website here. The Washington Post had provided a writeup here.  It is supposed to be open weekend days 11 AM – 4 PM in February.

But, in haste, I misread the Prince William County webpage and didn’t realize that the school is not on the same campus as the Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre, south of Bristow, and south of Rt 28 a bit (as 28 heads out toward 29-211, south of Warrenton).  I haven’t run into this situation with history parks before, but one has to be careful (as with the many locations around Charlottesville and in Williamsburg).  I didn't fully realize this until I got home and looked at the site again, wondering why what I visited didn't seem to be open or quite match what I had read.  I didn't check my phone.

So I got an interesting walking tour on a sunny but frigid “upper south” winter day of the Brentsville Courthouse center, that has a lot of documentation of segregation anyway.  There is a “white” one-room school, the foundation of a tavern or bar (the forerunner of a disco?) and a one-room Presbyterian church that looks like it could have been used as a school house for a white, and if I read the notes right, maybe it was.  There is also a colonial-era courthouse, similar to Williamsburg.

I don’t have much time life in February to fix my error and revisit the correct location for Lucasville, but I’ll try. I wish it had more public open hours.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Scalia's sudden death sparks a nasty partisan fight about possible appointment blockage right away

The sudden passing in his sleep of Justice Antonin Scalia at age 79 has sparked a shameful partisan fight over whether Obama will get to replace him during 2016, before the election.

The Republicans in the Senate would probably block any “liberal” appointment, leaving the country without a justice for more than a year. A moderate pick, supported by Republicans at the appellate level, would put the GOP on the spot, however.

CNN  analyzes the political fight in a piece by Stephen Collinson.

Ezra Klein of Vox analyzes the prospects in a detailed piece quickly written today. Will this be a "profound test of the American political system"?

Earlier Vox reported on some nasty tweets by Ted Cruz, particularly.

Vox also analyzes the prospects for 4-4 ties, where a lower court’s ruling is upheld.    But in some cases that may work to the advantage of the “progressives”.

I may get back to Scalia’s ideas of “moral opprobrium” in gay cases soon.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Virginia high school student aces major AP math test at 15; does the world belong to prodigies?

Does the world change (mostly for the better) because of the work of relatively few prodigies?  Look back into history:  Leonardo da Vinci, Alan Turing, Albert Einstein (gravitational waves), more recently Mark Zuckerberg.  (I could give a whole long list in music, starting with Mozart.)  And then the Andraka brothers, as well as Taylor Wilson and Param Jaggi.

And now there is a Washington Post story by Nick Anderson, about a 15 year old student (Landon Labuskes) at a Catholic high school in northern Virginia being one of twelve in the world to get a perfect score on the Calculus AB Advance Placement Exam.  I have to say, I don’t quite follow the calculus problem on the board.

I do recall a student, when I was subbing, who as a sophomore got 100% on every single SOL in Fairfax County, VA (other than one physics question).  I believe he would be in medical school now.

Vox has an article saying "The kids are all right" and are better than we were. They don't smoke, use drugs, or even watch television as much as we did.  (I remember the Seventh Grade general education teacher in 1955: "Read, don't watch television". )

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Lithium battery safety debate is back; can it affect consumers?

Scientific American has an article (Umair Irfan) from Dec. 2014 shedding light on how lithium batteries, when packed together, can sometimes start fires (after one of them has an internal short circuit) even if not plugged into anything.

The NTSB says that new rules are needed concerning the shipments of lithium batteries in bulk, but apparently not regarding use by individual consumers in cell phones and laptops, ABC story

But shipping lithium batteries (which burn as hot as 1100 degrees F) as cargo on passenger planes is simply unsafe, as in this NBC News story. Let unsaid is whether there is an issue with commercial shipment on freight planes (like UPS, FedEx) or in long haul trucking.  This is a big deal, as consumers need lithium batteries for everything, and they will probably be key in designing all-electric cars with sufficient range.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What if we have a general election between Cruz and Sanders?

So, right now, we seem to be heading toward a possible presidential election between two extremes.  In general, I think that Cruz is more extreme than Trump (despite Trump’s statements on immigration and general recklessness).  Sanders is promising “free stuff” that he hasn’t shown how to pay for.  I think Cruz is more likely to get the nomination right now than Trump (despite NH, with White Mountains above).

It’s fun to support the idea of “revolution” for some people, and to gang together for support when you feel stepped on.  Remember how it felt to be drafted.

That’s the rub.  It sounds nice to promise free college educations, and free paid family leave.  You think Wall Street or employers will pay for these.  Maybe sometimes.  But paid family leave can mean that the childless work for free to support other people’s children and marriages, against their wills.

Likewise, Ted Cruzz’s ideology can certainly barge in on the lives of women, and reverse gains in the LGBT areas.

I’m fine with a real debate on paid family leave.  It does work (as Sanders repeatedly says) reasonably well in Europe – why?  Do we offer it to care for elderly parents as well as to have children?  Do we offer it for adoption?  Do couples have to be legally married?  Do we offer it to fathers (Mark Zuckerberg) as well as mothers?

Can we pay for it with another “insurance premium”?

The New York Times shared a link on the GOP’s own “Growth Opportunity” document.

Thomas B. Edsall has a probing perspective, “What about Ted Cruz?” today.

The biggest problem with more extreme positions in the GOP is, really, what are really “you” going to do about the poor, about the uninsured (in health care), etc, if you get your way? And someone like Cruz comes back and asks me, what will I do about it locally, personally, according to my own karma.  A big clue.

Let’s also note the Supreme Court’s recent rulings pushing the Obama administration back on both climate change and immigration (CNN story by Dan Berman and others) .  These are summary rulings that SCOTUS doesn't seem to publish on its website.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Climate change may exacerbate bird flu, Zika, and other infectious diseases

Sonia Shah has a booklet-length article (or “opinion”) in the New York Times Sunday Review, “Is Bird Flu Back?”, titled “What you get when you mix chickens, China and climate change” online.  The writer gives a vivid account of her personal visit to village and farm areas in  Guangdong province near Guangzhou, with the “closeness” of people to their poultry. 
She also makes strong arguments that climate change, with accelerated warming in polar latitudes (it was actually above freezing one day at the North Pole around Christmas, as a result of a big Atlantic storm) makes it easier for birds and their diseases to migrate to the Americas.

We still don’t seem to have done much work on vaccines against H5N1, H9N7, H10N8, etc.  So far, none of them seem to move person to person, once someone is infected from birds.  They also seem to be quite virulent, going to the lungs and GI tract.  It’s not clear if a pandemic would cause the catastrophic illnesses we saw in 1918, but it sounds possible.

In the meantime, the CDC has issued guidelines regarding possible sexual transmission of Zika, posing an apparent risk to unborn children.  Zika often produces mild or no symptoms in most adults, and there are concerns over whether mosquitoes could carry them in the US from an infected person eventually, or whether the virus could be transmitted in saliva.  Arboviruses tend to be rather species specific in vectors, so the former idea sounds unlikely.  The saliva exposure is speculative.  But one can imagine sci-fi scenarios (and the moralizing that follows) where the “behavior” of otherwise healthy adults is seen as amplifying a Trojan virus that endangers the unborn or leads to sterility.  We saw that ugly debate in the 1980s.     

There is also information suggesting that Zika virus can persist in male semen a long time after it has disappeared from the blood;  the reproductive system is somewhat shelter from the rest of the immune system.  A vaccine is said to be 18 months away. 
The Dallas Morning News has a perspective by Seema Yasmin, “Why is Dallas ground zero for infectious diseases like Zika?” which looks back to the Ebola case in 2014. 

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Mark Cuban argues that anti IPO-mentality maintains inequality; Rubio's robot-like memorization

Mark Cuban just wrote a striking blog post (the "Pre-Cognitive Anti-Trust Violation") on the decline of IPO’s for new companies, and argues that the lack of IPO’s (regulatory climate unfavorable to them) is one major reason for income inequality.  This is a striking argument from the libertarian right about inequality, one which I suspect May Ruwart  (“Healing our World”) will soon echo.  I don’t think I’ve heard any of the GOP presidential candidates talk about this (here we are two days until the New Hampshire Primary) and you would wonder why.

Cuban discusses the “stay private” mentality, as if it came from control-freaks. It does make sense for me, where some perceive me as the Madoff of knowledge, publishing so much with very few actual business transactions.  I maintain absolute control over what I say.  But I think I could help certain media companies (even public ones) in areas where they haven’t given deep enough coverage.
Let me mention one other thing, about the candidates.  It seems as though (judging from the Vox “really bad” label pinned on the debate performance)  Marco Rubio believes “all learning is memorization”, something I once said in accelerated Chemistry class in high school, to the disgust of some of the other students (well deserved).  Well, ask Taylor Wilson or Jack Andraka.  Maybe a pre-ghost of Rubio overheard me say, “Don’t kiss her on the lips!”, too. Rubio should watch more horror movies. And, yes, Marco, if your debate log is one long process-piece, it won’t get “less bad”.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

States need to be careful with solar energy policy -- problems in Nevada reported

John Sutter has a disturbing column ("Nevada's Perplexing War on Solar") on CNN about the politics of solar energy in Nevada.  Apparently a company named Solar City has reduced activity because the state has allowed utility companies pricing policies that undermine the investments of homeowners in solar equipment.   This has led to layoffs of some employees of solar power businesses, and suddenly higher electric bills for some homeowners who had invested in solar.

Sutter goes on to argue that the country cannot afford this sort of thing as it faces the eventual likelihood of having to abandon use of fossil fuels and go completely to renewable energy in a few decades.  Of course, it’s possible to argue that other ideas, like smaller nuclear fission plants, or even nuclear fusion, will be in the mix someday (Taylor Wilson’s ideas – and Taylor works in or near Reno, Nov. 7 posting).

It’s also disturbing because it shows that the state may not be taking seriously the topic of security for the grid itself.

It’s just possible that my own future plans could see living near Las Vegas or Reno someday – lower cost of living, with quick access to Los Angeles and San Francisco (and Silicon Valley) when needed. So this can be an important issue for me down the road.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Maryland physician-lawmaker will introduce bill further decriminalizing drug possession, facilitating treatment

The Baltimore Sun is reporting (story and op-ed by Lindsay LaSalle )  that Maryland state assemblyman Dan Morhaim will introduce four bills relating to drug use.  One of these would decriminalize possession of very small amounts of harder drugs, and three of them would facilitate treatment of users or addicts without legal ramifications.
Brian Witte of Washington DC station WTOP has a similar story here.
I have not heard how Republican governor Larry Hogan feels about the bill, but his own recent experience with cancer and treatment may have been humbling.  Media reaction to the bill is positive, and it was mentioned on NBC4-Washington in the 11 PM news tonight.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Amtrak train wreck in 2015 remains a mystery, leading to conspiracy theories after inconclusive NTSB report

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its findings on the horrific Amtrak train wreck north of the Philadelphia 30th Street Station on May 12, 2015, and finds no smoking gun.

There is no clear explanation as to why the train, under engineer Brandon Bostian, sped up as it approached a curve. One is still somewhat left with the idea that some sudden event distracted him, and that could have been an object, possibly thrown or shot, hitting the locomotive.  This could be prosecutable as a crime, like pointing a laser at an airplane. Or possibly the (previous) lack of automated positive train control simply leaves engineers open to rare but catastrophic human error.

There are some YouTube videos advancing “conspiracy theories”.

Atlantic weighs in with “The Mystery of Amtrak 188”.

I’ve ridden the route countless times, finding recently that the Acela is more reliable (doesn’t have to stop) and doesn’t cost much more if bought in advance.

Back in the 1970s, it used to be common for some trains to make an additional stop at “North Philadelphia”.

Update: May 17, 2015

ABC News reports distraction of the train's engineer by radio reports of rocks hitting another train, link.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Should women have to register with Selective Service? Senate Arms Services Committee pulls a surprise and takes up the question

The Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony about whether women should be required to register for Selective Service, according to a surprising story in the Washington Post Wednesday, February 3, 2016, on p. A3, by Dan LaMothe.   The hearing was reportedly motivated by Ashton Carter’s opening of all military jobs, even in the Marine Corps, to women who are individually qualified.  The reporter also has several other Post stories on female job performance in the military.

Army and Marine Corps chiefs supported the idea of female registration at the hearings.  For a brief period, the Marine Corps actually drafted men during the Vietnam war, but most of the draftees served in the Army.

But another concern is obviously how likely is it that Congress would ever re-authorize a draft again.  On Nov. 11 on this blog, I wrote a column asking if the Selective Service System is still needed.  And on my LGBT blog on Nov. 10, I took up the question of registration of transgender people. Maybe I gave people some ideas.  I hope so.

Registration of women would certainly re-ignite some “culture war” debates in a presidential election year.   But conservatives would face, even within their own ranks, the libertarian idea that the draft leads to involuntary servitude and should no longer be on the table.

Conscription could have influenced the debate on gays in the military until “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was finally repealed in 2011.

Israel requires women to serve as conscripts.

In 1981, the Supreme Court, in the ironic case "Rostker v. Goldberg" upheld the constitutionality of the male-only conscription exposure through Selective Service.  But it might hold differently now.

Update:  February 6, 2016

Christopher Preble, from the Cato Institute, replies that it is time to end Selective Service now. So does a Washington Post editorial.

Update: February 8, 2016

Michael E.. Schmidt writes in the New York Times, on p. A10 Monday, "Draft registration of women would stir a sleepy government agency" in Arlington VA.  Selective Service does contingent lottery drawings regularly, on the legal theory that Congress can re-authorize a draft at any time. The agency has asked what it would take to register women, and has said it would need more budget and employees.  Some in Congress reject the idea of registering women on "old fashioned" ideas that contradict today's focus on equality, but then the question is, should the U.S. keep Selective Service at all?  I say, get rid of it. You can save some money.

Last picture: Fort Jackson SC Basic Combat Training Museum (p.d.)

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Iowa results ambiguous for 2016 presidential race; will partisanship and ideology rule over pragmatism?

As of this writing, Hillary Clinton barely squeaked out a “win” over Bernie Sanders, and Ted Cruz stunned Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio (probably more moderate than the first two) finished almost tied with Trump.

Cruz bragged that the next president will not be chosen by the media, the Washington establishment, and lobbyists.  But at least his comments stayed away from sounding discriminatory (finally). Maybe he’s learning.  I hope so.  Cruz probably is the favorite to win the nomination.

In Iowa, the Democratic Party caucus process is a little more complicated than the GOP’s, but both take considerable time from voters.  Some people host caucuses in their homes.  The rules have changed several times in recent years, but it appears that in both parties the delegates are bound on the first ballot in a proportional manner, so there is no “winner take all”, and declaring a “winner” is not that critical.

Still, strategists are wondering if Trump’s tactic last week as "The Man Who Wasn’t There" (the 2001 Coen Brothers black and white comedy movie, complete with UFO’s) backfired after all, despite Cruz having appeared to be on the defensive.

I believe a race between two extremes (Sanders v. either Trump or Cruz) is not good for the country.  Except for immigration, Trump is more “liberal” on social issues than Cruz, as he had LGBT candidates on his “Apprentice” series and had no problem with it. Hillary’s email scandal is probably a sideshow (she probably had reason to believe that “working from home” would be OK when she did it) and her actual proposals are much more pragmatic and doable.  (If this is wrong, and she gets into real legal trouble, the Democrats are left with a far left candidate, not good.) The best matchup for the nation would be Hillary Clinton v. Marco Rubio.

 Fox News has the results here.

Picture is from Minnesota (2011).