This is the Open Thread for Saturday. This is where all comments should go if they would be off-topic on other threads. This is also a good place for new polls or articles you think might be of interest.
The usual collection of odds and ends, to which you are welcome to add any odd ends you come across.
The Latest from Our Friends in Greece
The latest polling indicates that Alexi Tsipras may have misjudged his popularity.
Greek leftist Syriza party on Wednesday fell behind its main conservative rivals for the first time since former premier Alexis Tsipras resigned, offering further evidence that his decision to call a snap election could backfire.
Syriza is on course to win 25 percent of votes at the Sept. 20 election while the conservative New Democracy party will win 25.3 percent, a poll by GPO showed. Nearly 13 percent of respondents were still undecided.
Not that 0.3% makes much difference of course.
The question is whether the Greeks have decided at last to end their long national temper-tantrum, which perhaps might give hope that Americans might eventually do the same.
Looks Like It’s Time to Dumb Down the Test Again
Scores on the SAT have sunk to the lowest level since the college admission test was overhauled in 2005, adding to worries about student performance in the nation’s high schools.
The average score for the Class of 2015 was 1490 out of a maximum 2400, the College Board reported Thursday.
That was down 7 points from the previous class’s mark and was the lowest composite score of the past decade. There were declines of at least 2 points on all three sections of the test — critical reading, math and writing.
And Best of All, Sam Doesn’t Belong to the Union
Sam, the brick-laying robot.
Construction workers on some sites are getting new, non-union help. SAM – short for semi-automated mason – is a robotic bricklayer being used to increase productivity as it works with human masons.
In this human-robot team, the robot is responsible for the more rote tasks: picking up bricks, applying mortar, and placing them in their designated location. A human handles the more nuanced activities, like setting up the worksite, laying bricks in tricky areas, such as corners, and handling aesthetic details, like cleaning up excess mortar.
So How Are Things at ol’ Wazzu?
At Washington State University (fondly known as Wazzu in the Pac-12), the inmates appear to be running the asylum. A few examples:
According to the syllabus for Selena Lester Breikss’ “Women & Popular Culture” class, students risk a failing grade if they use any common descriptors that Breikss considers “oppressive and hateful language.”
The punishment for repeatedly using the banned words, Breikss warns, includes “but [is] not limited to removal from the class without attendance or participation points, failure of the assignment, and— in extreme cases— failure for the semester.”
Much like in Selena Breikss’s classroom, students taking Professor Rebecca Fowler’s “Introduction to Comparative Ethnic Studies” course will see their grades suffer if they use the term “illegal alien” in their assigned writing.
According to her syllabus, students will lose one point every time they use the words “illegal alien” or “illegals” rather than the preferred terms of “‘undocumented’ migrants/immigrants/persons.” Throughout the course, Fowler says, students will “come to recognize how white privilege functions in everyday social structures and institutions.”
White students in Professor John Streamas’s “ Introduction to Multicultural Literature” class, are expected to “defer” to non-white students, among other community guidelines, if they want “to do well in this class.”
Oh, Man – Just When I Could Feel That Big Win Coming On: Illinois has no money to pay off lottery winners. This may be more serious than the beer shortage in Venezuela.
Birth Year: A chart that follows how year of birth affects voting preferences.
There is a consensus on the Right that our current tax code, which is expressed concisely in a little more than 73 thousand pages, needs to be simplified. It takes us literally billions of man hours a year to fill out the paperwork, keep detailed records, and deal with IRS agents when audited. And it takes hundreds of billions of dollars in total costs as well. Much of this goes to specialists such as tax attorneys and tax accountants, and employs lots of experts at every major company in America. Maybe all of this could be avoided and all those man hours and billions of dollars could be reallocated toward more productive pursuits? Or just to leisure or family life?
The three types of plans that have been talked about or proposed are The Fair Tax, a flat tax, or a simpler and fairer version of our current system that combine lower rates per tier and fewer tiers with fewer loopholes. I’ve already written two FPPs on The Fair Tax, espoused by Mike Huckabee, and which is pending before both the Senate and the House.
Jeb Bush is going to come out with his specifics on tax code revision next week, which will flesh out part of his plan to increase economic growth to 4% and above. He’s said he’s really excited about it, and people will see a lot of ads for it later in the campaign.
Sometime this month, Donald Trump has promised to reveal a specific tax code reform. Marco Rubio has already proposed a 3-tier plan, designed by Senator Mike Lee of Utah, that deserves its own FPP.
Other candidates on our side have hinted or weighed in on the subject. Ted Cruz has suggested we need a flat tax that allows a citizen to file his return on a post card. In a similar vein, Ben Carson has suggested a Biblical tithe of 10%, but hasn’t addressed the obvious questions pertaining to one, such as how to reach a balanced budget, ever, with a 10% flat tax.
The most appealing flat tax proposal comes from Rand Paul. He calls for a 14.5% flat tax that would eliminate the payroll tax, and most deductions. More than one Economist who has analyzed it asserts that it would be the most pro-growth tax cut in history.
Rand says “I want to see an America where our business taxes are the lowest in the world, not the highest. I want to see an America where regulations wither away and we can compete again worldwide.” He stressed that his plan is not revenue neutral because government is so big already that it’s strangling the economy . What he wants to do is make government smaller while moving toward a balanced budget within 5 years. He is the one candidate who has actually drawn up a series of successive federal budgets that will balance while less revenue comes in. “If we want the economy to grow again…if we want America to be great again, our government must become significantly smaller,” he says.
“I believe that the only way to rein in big government is to starve the beast.”
Statistics have long shown that every time the government takes in a dollar, it spends more than a dollar. Thus, his proposed reform of the tax code would usher in the largest tax cut in history and it proves that Rand is unafraid to take on the leviathan state.
Our apologies for the site going down this morning – there was an issue with our server, but it is fixed now and we’re back up and running at full strength. Commence discussion and debate!
Last night, Donald Trump suffered what may be the worst political interview since Sarah Palin’s debacle with Katie Couric in 2008. Social media was exploding with incredulity – not only at how badly Trump had done and his utter lack of knowledge, but also (and perhaps more importantly) how Trump handled the fallout. When the interview started going public and Trump realized just how bad it made him look, he complained about “gotcha” questions, said Hugh was unfair, and floated the idea that maybe he would boycott Hugh’s show from now on.
Because Hugh had the gall to ask a wannabe Commander-in-Chief basic questions about one of the most important foreign policy locations on the globe.
This morning, Trump is doubling down on his ridiculousness, calling Hugh Hewitt “a third rate radio announcer.”
(By the way, I love the response of Dave Weigel, from the Washington Post, to that statement: “At least he didn’t think Hugh Hewitt was the leader of Hezbollah.”)
Look – I’m not sure how many times Donald Trump can get away with being completely absurd and denigrating those who make him look foolish, but I do know this: picking a fight with Hugh Hewitt is a bad idea. (Like throwing rocks at a gunfighter, as one commenter put it.) Hugh is one of the best, if not the best, in the business today. He has as reputation as a solid conservative who is incredibly fair and also not afraid to ask the tough questions of fellow conservatives (or of liberal Democrats, in Donald Trump’s case). He is beloved by everyone around the blogosphere. Donald Trump likes to throw around the adjective “classy” far too much; the irony here is Hugh is truly the definition of the word. Hugh is a friend to Race, going back many years, and we here at Race are proud to support his blog, his radio show, and him as a person. So in a fight between Donald Trump and Hugh Hewitt, we will side with Hugh 100 times out of 100. I suspect Donald Trump will find something similar brewing this morning around the rest of the conservative blogosphere, and for a campaign that is built entirely on manufactured perception and hype, that could be a problem.
Of course, Donald Trump will still have hypocritical hype machines like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and others to carry his poisoned water for him. (As conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin said, “I can hardly wait for know nothing radio hosts to side with know nothing Trump over Hugh.”) There used to be a sort of solidarity among conservative commentators; now, as Trump’s followers blindly buy into his divisive rhetoric and turgid bomb-throwing, cracks are appearing all over the place. One wonders just how many bridges Donald Trump will burn before causing a critical mass to abandon him to his own destructively selfish ends.
An interesting side angle to this dust up: Hugh Hewitt will be one of the moderators at the CNN/Reagan Library debate in a couple weeks. Mr. Trump, I recommend you study up before hitting that stage.
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) September 3, 2015
This is the Open Thread for Friday. This is where all comments should go if they would be off-topic on other threads. This is also a good place for new polls or articles you think might be of interest.
My Twitter feed is exploding right now with negative reactions to Donald Trump’s horrible interview with Hugh Hewitt. It was a failure of epic proportions, along the lines of Sarah Palin’s CBS interview or Herman Cain‘s multiple interview stumbles on foreign policy.
For those who want to listen to the train wreck, there’s a link here:
This is embarrassing. Trump demonstrates that he has absolutely no idea what he's talking about. https://t.co/d0cBqTWJMi
— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) September 3, 2015
And the rest of the reactions are just as bad:
Trump just had his Sarah Palin foreign policy moment: http://t.co/rY3jJ8OUxN
— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) September 3, 2015
Donald Trump just had an awkward foreign-policy interview where he admitted he didn't know many of the answers http://t.co/B6s9STf0ke
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) September 4, 2015
— Wayne Slater (@WayneSlater) September 3, 2015
Trump doesn't know Hamas from Hezbollah. But promises he'll know more than Hugh Hewitt within 24 hours of winning the presidency. Ok.
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) September 3, 2015
Almost as bad as Trump’s fumbling around and not knowing anything about foreign policy was his response to even being asked about it: he defaulted to his M.O. and whined about how unfair Hugh’s “gotcha questions” were (again, going completely against the image of thick-skinned fighter he’s attempting to cultivate). He’s even threatening to never go on Hugh’s show again. Whining and complaining make him look bad enough already, but there was another wrinkle that adds insult to injury — Carly Fiorina aced the same questions when she went on Hugh’s show:
— The Hill (@thehill) September 4, 2015
At this point, it’s nearly impossible to offer any hypothesis about what might cause Trump to lose support in this race. But Hugh is one of the most brilliant, best loved, and toughest interviewers in the business today, and it’s difficult to see how Trump comes out on the other side of this any stronger. Trump’s only saving grace here might be that normal voters aren’t paying attention on a Thursday night before Labor Day weekend.
And look at those numbers for Walker… ouch…
- Trump – 30% (26)
- Carson – 18% (5)
- Bush – 8% (12)
- Cruz – 8% (8)
- Rubio – 5% (4)
- Fiorina – 4% (2)
- Huckabee – 4% (6)
- Walker – 3% (11)
- Christie – 2% (4)
- Kasich – 2% (3)
- Paul – 2% (4)
- Perry – 1% (2)
- Jindal – * (1)
- Pataki – * (*)
- Gilmore – 0% (0)
- Graham – 0% (1)
- Santorum – 0% (1)
- Undecided – 9% (10)
Survey of 366 Republican or Republican-leaning independents was conducted Aug 31-Sep 2 and has a margin of error of ±5.1%. Numbers in parentheses are from Monmouth’s August (pre-Cleveland debate) poll.
This morning, Politico is reporting that Trump has privately told his team he will be signing the GOP loyalty pledge and promise not to go third party. Here’s more from Politico:
A close associate tells POLITICO that Donald Trump plans to sign a loyalty pledge Thursday that would bind him to endorse the Republican nominee, and would preclude a third-party run. Trump made the stunning decision, which he has long resisted, to avoid complications in getting listed on primary ballots, and to take away an attack line in the next debate, the associate said.
Trump, who has led the GOP field in poll after poll, has long viewed the threat of a third-party candidacy as priceless leverage – and even used that word when he refused to take such a pledge in the first debate, on Aug. 6.
So his decision to give it up is a sign that he increasingly wants to show his campaign is real and not a stunt. The colorful magnate is also trying to make that point by adding staff in key states, issuing position papers, and pursuing access to primary ballots throughout the country.
EDIT: And here we go, he’s signed it: