Who Pays for Political Campaign Travel?

In the case of some Democrats, like President Barack Obama, it looks like us taxpayers pay a significant fraction of the costs. As Mark Knoller of CBS News noted the other day,

Under Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules, the government must be reimbursed for parts of presidential political travel.

“When a trip is for political or unofficial purposes, those involved must pay for their own food and lodging and other related expenses, and they must also reimburse the government with the equivalent of the airfare that they would have paid had they used a commercial airline,” states the Congressional Research Service in a 2012 analysis of “Presidential Travel: Policy and Costs.”

Crony Capitalism and Big Government

California’s health insurance exchange has awarded $184 million in contracts without the competitive bidding and oversight that is standard practice across state government, including deals that sent millions of dollars to a firm whose employees have long-standing ties to the agency’s executive director.

Several of those contracts worth a total of $4.2 million went to a consulting firm, The Tori Group, whose founder has strong professional ties to agency Executive Director Peter Lee, while others were awarded to a subsidiary of a health care company he once headed.

Russian Aggression

…in eastern Ukraine, but not only there.

Russia plans to increase defense spending over 20 percent in 2015, with a lot of the additional money going to rebuilding Soviet era facilities in the newly acquired Crimea. This includes radar stations and naval facilities.

Naturally, all of this will support Russia’s continued occupation of partitioned Georgia, and it will facilitate Russia’s pending aggression against the Odessa Oblast of western Ukraine on the Sea of Azov, which stands between the Sea and Moldova, another Russian target as it seeks to restore the Soviet empire. It also eases Russian support for Vladimir Putin’s ally and BFF, Bashar al Assad in Syria.

Richard Feynman on Theory

Cross-posted from Ricochet. It’s behind the paywall, but Ricochet is well worth the subscription price; I heartily recommend it.

Richard Feynman was a theoretical physicist who taught at Cornell University, but he also was a just plain scientist.

He had a thought on theory.

You cannot prove a vague theory wrong. If the guess that you make is poorly expressed and the method you have for computing the consequences is a little vague then…you see that the theory is good as it can’t be proved wrong. If the process of computing the consequences is indefinite, then with a little skill any experimental result can be made to look like an expected consequence.

No Travel Ban?

In a recent Fox News op-ed, Dr Tom Frieden, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, argued against a “travel ban” covering the western African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the nations hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic.

I answered most of his objections here.

In his latest piece, though, he raised a new objection, and he sounded like he actually meant it.

When a wildfire breaks out we don’t fence it off. We go in to extinguish it before one of the random sparks sets off another outbreak somewhere else.

The Left and “Free” Speech

On the matter of Common Core,

Employees of at least one school have been directed not to express opinions in public or by texts, email, social media or traditional media, according to notes taken at a faculty meeting last week that were obtained by The Town Talk.

[Rapides Superintendent Nason "Tony"] Authement said there is not a district policy about social media.

“We are not communicating any procedures, policies or expectations about posting on social networks,” he said.

Of course. Instead,

The New ObamaMart

…has been out for a couple of days.

However.

The Obama administration unveiled a new version of HealthCare.gov on Wednesday….

Officials also said that HealthCare.gov won’t display premiums for 2015 until the second week of November.

Of course not.

Blame Game

President Barack Obama has some skin in this one.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, on Wednesday continued to advance on the strategic city, despite intensifying if still limited American airstrikes. And if Kobani falls, the White House is already blaming “our partner and friend” Turkey.

A senior Obama Administration official headlined a leading story in Wednesday’s New York Times about American frustration with Turkish “inaction” in Syria. “There’s growing angst about Turkey dragging its feet to act to prevent a massacre less than a mile from its border,” this anonymous official said. “This isn’t how a NATO ally acts while hell is unfolding a stone’s throw from their border.”

Another…Ally

I wrote earlier about the behavior of one of our purported Middle East allies. This is another example of that one’s un-ally-like behavior.

Kurdish protesters in Turkey demanding a show of force against Islamic State instead felt their government’s heavy boot Tuesday, as rubber bullets and tear gas rained down and heavy trucks rolled in to major cities where people took to the streets to decry the fall of the Syrian border city of Kobani.

As many as 19 people were killed around the nation in clashes with police over the government’s unwillingness to aid Kurds trapped in Kobani, a Syrian city a stone’s throw from the border and under siege by Islamic State.

A Thought on Disparate Impact

Disparate impact is the theory that a policy, or standard, or… is inherently racist if it has an outcome that impacts one group of Americans more than it does other groups of Americans, regardless of any racist intent. If the standard simply affects one group more than another, it must be racist (sexist). Let’s take as an example for this article student discipline in our grade schools. Disparate impact says that discipline standards that result in more black students being disciplined than white students must be racist, even if the discipline is meted out to members of both groups for the same misbehavior, with either no exceptions or identical exceptions allowed.