Sunday, March 29, 2015

New law 'not about discrimination'

Celebrity Watch:

Chris Soules Kisses Whitney Bischoff on Romantic Date Night

Who are these people, and since when is a kiss headline material?

Lady Gaga spotted on Metairie Road (so?)

Is this news?

Michigan Couple, Expecting Baby Girl, Shocked to Give Birth to a Boy


Building your Vocabulary:


adjective: Pleasing or inclined to please.




The Republican Party is not conservative enough for Beck:


“I’ve made my decision — I’m out," Beck said on his radio show Wednesday, according to "I’m out of the Republican Party. I am not a Republican; I will not give a dime to the Republican Party. I’m out.”


The former Fox News host and founder of the Blaze supported the GOP during the last election cycle but has become disillusioned with the party in recent years over what he believes was its failure to stand up to the Obama administration — specifically, the Affordable Care Act and immigration reform.


Indiana governor: New law 'not about discrimination'

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence defended the new state law that's garnered widespread criticism over concerns it could foster discrimination against gays and lesbians and said Sunday it wasn't a mistake to have enacted it.


Pence appeared on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" to discuss the measure he signed last week prohibiting state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of "person" includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Of Bieber, Clerihew, and Jindal

Please indulge my inability to figure out how to format articles on this blog.

Celebrity Watch:

Best jokes from a Justin Bieber Roast

"Bieber has 10 million fans – most are in middle schools, or standing at least 500 feet away from one." – Kevin Hart

"Justin's fan are called beliebers because it's politically incorrect to use the word retards." – Natasha Legerro

Building your Vocabulary:


noun: A humorous, pseudo-biographical verse of four lines of uneven length, with the rhyming scheme AABB, and the first line containing the name of the subject.

Named for writer Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), who originated it. Earliest documented use: 1928. Here is one of his clerihews:

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, “I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul’s.”

Following Bobby Jindal:
Bobby Jindal is my favorite political target. There's just so much material there. Louisiana has suffered because of his trying to be "pure" conservative in the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. Well he is up to 2% in the polls. Is he really running for Vice-President?

Jindal sits at about 2 percent in national Republican polls. He has become such an afterthought that he recently resorted to asking himself a “gotcha” question. The media hadn’t bothered, and he wanted to stay in the conversation.

Last year, Jindal spent about 165 days — 45 percent of the year — outside of Louisiana, according to the Advocate newspaper. That included four trips to New Hampshire and five trips to Iowa.

Jindal has an elite résumé. He was a biology major at Brown University, and a Rhodes Scholar. He knows the science, or at least he ought to. But in his rise to prominence in Louisiana, he made a bargain with the religious right and compromised science and science education for the children of his state. In fact, Jindal’s actions at one point persuaded leading scientific organizations, including the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, to cross New Orleans off their list of future meeting sites (PDF).

Jindal signed a law the “Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), “which is named for what it is designed to destroy” says James Gill, a New Orleans columnist. Gill has also written an article titled “Bobby Jindal might stand out in Iowa -- as a 'financially irresponsible ideologue who wrecked healthcare and higher education.”

Jindal signed the LSEA into law in 2008, endorsing the thinly veiled attempt to allow creationism into the science classrooms of his state. The backers of the law made it clear that material on intelligent design would be high on the list of supplemental materials that local boards and teachers could present to their students.

In a 2008 interview on CBS’s Face the Nation, Jindal said that he wanted students “to be presented with the best thinking, I want them to be able to make decisions for themselves, I want them to see the best data. … I’d certainly want my kids to be exposed to the very best science. I don't want any facts or theories or explanations to be withheld from them because of political correctness.”


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

War with Iran

News headline of the week:

Celebrity headline of the week:

Feature article:

I don’t have much to say this week, simply that I came across an article that could interest you.This is the first time that I have seen war with Iran offered as a policy recommendation. Will it come out the author’s suggested way? It is doubtful, almost unthinkable, but perhaps we need to consider it carefully. The article was edited for length, but click on the headline to see it in full.

Let us know what you think.

By Joshua Muravchik, published in the Washington Post

About the treaty with Iran: What does Netanyahu offer as an alternative? War?

What if force is the only way to block Iran from gaining nuclear weapons? That, in fact, is probably the reality. Iran aims to carry its Islamic revolution across the Middle East and beyond. A nuclear arsenal, even if it is only brandished, would vastly enhance Iran’s power to achieve that goal.

Sanctions may have induced Iran to enter negotiations, but they have not persuaded it to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons. Nor would the stiffer sanctions that Netanyahu advocates bring a different result. Sanctions could succeed if they caused the regime to fall; the end of communism in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and of apartheid in South Africa, led to the abandonment of nuclear weapons in those states. But since 2009, there have been few signs of rebellion in Tehran.

Otherwise, only military actions — by Israel against Iraq and Syria, and through the specter of U.S. force against Libya — have halted nuclear programs. Sanctions have never stopped a nuclear drive anywhere.

Does this mean that our only option is war? Yes, although an air campaign targeting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would entail less need for boots on the ground than the war Obama is waging against the Islamic State, which poses far smaller a threat than Iran does.

Wouldn’t destroying much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure merely delay its progress? Perhaps, but we can strike as often as necessary. Of course, Iran would try to conceal and defend the elements of its nuclear program, so we might have to find new ways to discover and attack them. Surely the United States could best Iran in such a technological race.

And finally, wouldn’t Iran retaliate by using its own forces or proxies to attack Americans — as it has done in Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia — with new ferocity? Probably. We could attempt to deter this by warning that we would respond by targeting other military and infrastructure facilities.

Nonetheless, we might absorb some strikes. Wrenchingly, that might be the price of averting the heavier losses that we and others would suffer in the larger Middle Eastern conflagration that is the likely outcome of Iran’s drive to the bomb.

Yes, there are risks to military action. But Iran’s nuclear program and vaunting ambitions have made the world a more dangerous place. Its achievement of a bomb would magnify that danger manyfold. Alas, sanctions and deals will not prevent this.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Wednesday, March 04, 2015


The Republicans have a competitive field for their 2016 presidential nominee, but the Democrats seem to have conceded their nomination to Hillary Clinton. Oppo research on Clinton has revealed a number of "scandals." The GOP is having a great time investigating Benghazi, and will seize on Hillary's email practices until the public loses interest. Is there something there?
From the New York Times Op-Ed page:
What Hillary Clinton’s Emails Really Reveal
By MATTHEW CONNELLY and RICHARD H. IMMERMAN MARCH 4, 2015                          campaign: nyt2015_sharetools_mkt_opinion_47K78 -- 271975, creative: nyt2014_sharetools_mktg_opinion_47K78 -- 375123, page:, targetedPage:, position: MiddleLeft
HISTORY will be the judge: That’s the line leaders often use when making difficult decisions. Historians, after all, have the benefit of hindsight and archives full of once-secret files. But how will history judge a generation of leaders who don’t preserve the historical record?
The revelation on Monday that Hillary Rodham Clinton used only a personal email account when she was secretary of state and did not preserve her emails on departmental servers seems to reflect a troubling indifference to saving the history she was living. Mrs. Clinton’s aides eventually turned over 55,000 pages of correspondence. But the State Department’s Office of the Historian estimates that the department produces two billion emails a year.
From Fox News:
Hillary’s private email fiasco: Why she remains a huge media target
The New York Times exclusive on Hillary Clinton exclusively using a private email account during her four years as secretary of State—and that this “may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record”—is the latest story to feed that narrative. It follows aggressive reporting by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal on the Clinton Foundation raising big bucks from foreign governments even while she was in the Obama Cabinet, and in one case violating an agreement with the administration.
So much for the conventional wisdom is that the media are going to roll over for Hillary in the 2016 campaign. She has become a major target for the press, and here’s why.
One, she’s the only game in town on the Democratic side, with no real rival to draw the attention of investigative reporters. Simply put, she’s a big target.
Two, Hillary has a long history of testy relations with the press corps, which hurt her in the 2008 campaign and dates back to her years as first lady. So the coziness factor that many people imagine simply isn’t there.
And finally, while most journalists are more sympathetic to her politics than, say, those of Ted Cruz, Clinton isn’t liberal enough for some in the media, who view her as a Wall Street and foreign policy hawk. They prefer to swoon over Elizabeth Warren and her non-candidacy.
What the email furor and the foundation fundraising mess have in common is that Hillary’s usual media allies aren’t rushing to defend her. Indeed, the New York Times editorial page scolded the Clinton Foundation and called for an end to the buckraking from foreign regimes.
From the Twitter-Verse
Latest from @CNNPolitics: Why you should care about HIllary Clinton's email tactics. …
Libs get egg on face trying to nail Republican for Hillary-style personal email scandal  via @BizPacReview
#AmericaIsDoomed news "Using Private Email, Hillary Clinton Thwarted Record Requests" via NYT
Let us know how this matters to you.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Differing opinions on Netanyahu speech

I found Netanyahu’s speech boring and extreme, a variation on the “slippery slope to hell” way of thinking. Here is what others are saying:

Reactions to Netanyahu speech differ: David Vitter calls it 'Churchill-like,' while Nancy Pelosi labels it insulting.

(Note: I suppose those represent the extremes of opinion. I don’t think that anyone outside the Tea Party would compare Bibi’s eloquence to Churchill’s. It’s part of the Republican competition over who supports Israel the most. It’s comparable to the gun issue, where Republicans favor approving guns in bars and churches.)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Secretary of State John Kerry “confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess” 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium by the end of a long-term nuclear agreement that the U.S. is negotiating with Iran. That, Netanyahu warned, could put Iran “weeks away” from an “arsenal of nuclear weapons.”

But what Kerry really said was that a “peaceful program” can have a lot of centrifuges, and the purpose of the negotiations is to make sure Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful. “[I]f you have a civilian power plant that’s producing power legitimately and not a threat to proliferation, you could have as many as 190,000 or more centrifuges.

Obama says 'nothing new' in Netanyahu speech

US President Barack Obama said there was "nothing new" in Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial speech to Congress on Tuesday, insisting the Israeli Prime Minister did not offer a better option than negotiations. Netanyahu "did not offer any viable alternatives," Obama said speaking from the Oval Office.

Netanyahu leaps into the fray

The Israeli prime minister’s joint address to Congress exposed bitter divisions between the parties, as Democrats feel pitted between the GOP, Israeli politics and Obama.

New York Times (Thomas L. Friedman):

What Bibi Didn’t Say

Netanyahu never made a convincing argument as to why walking away from Obama’s draft deal with Iran would result in either a better deal, more sanctions or an Iranian capitulation — and not a situation where Iran would continue to build toward a bomb and our only two choices would be to live with it or bomb it, with all the mess that could entail. In that sense, Bibi’s speech was perfect for Congress: I’ve got a better plan, and it won’t cost a thing or require any sacrifice by the American people. The guy could be a congressman.



jbv's Competitive Edge 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Is Common Core Really Dangerous?

See article at:

Finding legitimate reasons to abandon Common Core has proven to be difficult. I did find an article on the objections of some conservatives.

As George Will stated in a Washington Post column, “What begins with mere national standards must breed ineluctable pressure to standardize educational content. Targets, metrics, guidelines and curriculum models all induce conformity in instructional materials.”

The creeping incrementalism theory never worked for me. It’s all about saying that this opens the door to a terrible situation; when it starts to become terrible, we stop it right there.

When SAT, ACT, and GED exams are “aligned” with Common Core, homeschooled students—as well as students educated in private schools—may be pressured into adopting Common Core for curriculum at home so that they are familiar with the presentation of material on the newly aligned college entrance exams.”

When one actually looks at the material, it becomes clear that they focus on skills, not content. Thus, one cannot really “adopt Common Core for curriculum”—it doesn’t really provide curricular content. One could use it to measure the difficulty and proficiency of one’s curriculum, but that’s slightly different.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says that the state should set the standards.  How’s that working? In a recent evaluation the state rated 48th among the states and D.C. I think I brought that out last time.

Does anyone doubt that much of the objection is because it is being promoted by President Obama? Is the opposition of parents because of the consequences of their children failing are so great?

The only objections that I can see are that teaching will be solely aimed at passing the test and that it may lessen the broader aspects of being an educated person. Perhaps the tests can be better constructed, but the concept is still sound.

Jindal’s Budgeting Skill

In a state the size of Louisiana, the shortfall is huge. But it is all the more daunting considering that the governor has unequivocally ruled out any plans for new revenue, bone-deep cuts have already been made to health care and higher education, ad hoc revenue sources that could be found to fill the gap have been all but drained and that robust economic growth, which might cushion the blow, has yet to materialize.

Tyler Bridges’ Scathing Assault on Bobby Jindal’s Budget Performance In POLITICO

But here’s what Jindal doesn’t say: Louisiana’s budget is hemorrhaging red ink, and it’s getting worse. He inherited a $900 million surplus when he became governor seven years ago, and his administration’s own budget documents now show the state is facing deficits of more than $1 billion for as far as the eye can see. There are no easy solutions today because Jindal has increasingly balanced the budget by resorting to one-time fixes, depleting the state’s reserve funds and taking money meant for other purposes. Louisiana finished 2014 with an operating deficit of $167 million. 

“There are all kinds of tricks in the budget,” said Greg Albrecht, the state legislature’s chief economist, a nonpartisan position. Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate has risen from 3.8 percent when Jindal took office, a point below the national average then, to 6.7 percent today—nearly a full point higher than today’s national average. 

For more on the story, see Rod Dreher’s “How Bobby Jindal Wrecked Louisiana,” published in, of all places, “American Conservative."


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Common Core

Celebrity Watch
Felicity Jones Loves Hot Baths- Here's Why! (VIDEO)

Vocabulary Watch

noun: A renewed activity after a period of dormancy.


Common Core

Common Core Standards attacked by Republicans

The Republican National Committee passed a resolution bashing the Common Core standards, calling them an “inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children.” Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, sent a letter to colleagues on the appropriations subcommittee that handles education funding asking that they “restore state decision-making and accountability with respect to state academic content standards.”

Of what are the Republicans afraid? They contend that curriculum is a state issue, Entrance to a university is not a state issue; admissions departments do not take into account that an unqualified applicant is from a state with lower standards, neither does the global jobs marketplace.

The Republicans are backed by an array of organizations with multimillion dollar budgets of their own and much experience in mobilizing crowds and lobbying lawmakers, including The Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, the Pioneer Institute, Concerned Women for America and FreedomWorks."

Bobby Jindal, Louisiana governor, was for CC before he was against it. His change of heart was caused by his attempt to be the perfect conservative, while campaigning for president.

According to the Report Card on American Education, Louisiana ranked 48th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It did, however, get an A- on identifying effective teachers. What the state does with that information is unknown. The state ranks 23rd in  cost per student.

Who is the constituency against CC? Where do the concerns of parents lie? Some parents simply want to weaken requirements for their children. Many are afraid of the consequences of failing the tests.

What are the best examples of successful educational programs in the world? Let us look at Finland and South Korea:

Ninety-three percent of Finns graduate from academic or vocational high schools, 17.5 percentage points higher than the United States, and 66 percent go on to higher education, the highest rate in the European Union. Yet Finland spends about 30 percent less per student than the United States. Against my point, Finland does very little testing.

Every year South Korea comes to a halt on the day of high school exams, for it is the most important day in most South Koreans' lives. The single set of multiple-choice tests that students take that day determines their future. This all-or-nothing exam is causing considerable stress and may be replaced in some fashion.

So what’s my point? I am a firm believer in a Common Core, but we may have to revisit the testing regime.

We will have more on legitimate reasons to oppose CC next time.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, February 08, 2015

For the Week Ending February 7, 2015

Celebrity Watch
I don’t read People magazine, but I get their three top headlines on my home page. I think some of their headlines show shallowness of entertainment folk, and what its readers apparently want to read. It also shows the low bar for achieving “celebrity.”

Behati Prinsloo Gets Piece-y Bangs: Are You Loving Them?

Vocabulary Watch

1. A stupid person.
2. A hunter.
Not much respect for hunters


Pentagon spent $504,816 on Viagra last year

The Department of Defense spent more than a half a million dollars on the male enhancement drug Viagra last year, according to government contracts.

The Washington Free Beacon reports the Pentagon issued 60 contracts worth $504,816 for the drug in 2014. All 60 contracts were awarded to Cardinal Health Inc., a pharmaceutical distribution company based in Dublin, Ohio.

It’s good for soldiers to have a stiff upper lip.

NBC's internal probe is also looking into reporting by Brian Williams in the aftermath of Katrina.

It didn't take long for the scandal enveloping Brian Williams to prompt fresh scrutiny of one of the most formative reporting assignments of his career: His time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Did Williams really, as he later claimed, see a corpse float by his hotel in the French Quarter?

Skeptics noted that the French Quarter was largely dry after the devastating 2005 storm, casting doubt on Williams' account.

But that fact-check quickly drew its own fact-check.

Photos turned up Friday showing that there was indeed water surrounding the Ritz-Carlton, where Williams stayed. Individuals who were also in the area at the time have confirmed the flooding.

Dr. Gregory Henderson, a pathologist who stayed at the Ritz during the storm, told CNNMoney that he recalled waking up the morning after the levees were breached to see floodwaters that were "waist-high."

"If the question is was there enough water around the Ritz-Carlton for a dead person to float, the answer is yes," Henderson said. In a 2006 interview with former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Williams described the horrifying scene in post-Katrina New Orleans.

"When you look out of your hotel room window in the French Quarter and watch a man float by face down, when you see bodies that you last saw in Banda Aceh, Indonesia and swore to yourself that you would never see in your country," Williams said.

This could be Brian’s next scandal. Would it be enough to take him down?
This is how the New Orleans media turned this into a local story. Shameless.

I don’t embellish my military career. Its highlight was as an aircraft mechanic during the Cuban missile crisis. I pulled out the chocks on many plans flying reconnaissance over Cuba. It was from Belle Chasse LA.


jbv's Competitive Edge