Tonight's Crazy Story:
New Year In Far East Puts Twitter Offline for Over an Hour
Twitter is apparently very popular in Eastern nations such as Japan. As midnight dawned in Japan, the New Year brought about tweets at a rate of 16,197 per second, which was possibly the reason people had problems connecting to the site during the holiday.
Topic One: Iowa & New Hampshire
Can't decide if you should take the time to vote in your primary? Look at last night's caucuses: eight votes. I'm sure there are Santorum supporters who wish they'd gone to the caucuses and Romney supporters who are glad they did go. Politico has 7 takeaways from Iowa. WaPo has 8 lessons. As I wrote on the blog (link available on the side), it appears that a Romney nomination is fast becoming inevitable. The other candidates still have a chance, but it will take quite a turnaround for someone in order for anyone else to win.
On the campaign trail: Bachmann is out. No surprise there. Romney is headed to New Hampshire, the state he was actually focused on winning, anyway. John McCain is expected to endorse Romney today. Huntsman is still in New Hampshire, and he hopes he can do in New Hampshire what Santorum did in Iowa. Perry said he was going to reassess his campaign, but today, he tweeted "And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State...Here we come South Carolina!!!" along with a link to a picture of him jogging. Santorum is heading to New Hampshire, but he's not expected to perform nearly as well there. Newsmax says he has several big needs going forward if he is to compete nationally.
There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"The U.S. government is selling $30 billion worth of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia. Yeah, it’s part of a new initiative called, 'Operation Regret This In Five Years.'"
Topic Two: Education
NY Times has had two "Room for Debate" sections on education. The first discussion was on teacher pay. The first article argues that teachers receive pay similar to others with similar SAT scores, but they receive much better benefits. I would not dispute this claim, but I would contend that the focus should not be on the SAT scores of teachers, but on the SAT scores we would like our teachers to have. One of the problems in education is that some people choose that field because their lack of skills prohibit employment in other sectors. In my home state (Kentucky), a degree in education is virtually a guaranteed job due to shortages of teachers. Increasing teacher pay would make the job more attractive to others and would create competition for these jobs, ultimately improving the quality of teachers.
The second topic discusses classroom technology. There are certainly technologies that can improve the quality of education, but is it worth the cost? HuffPo has a great article on opting out of state testing. I am not a supporter of these tests, but I also understand that the poor quality of some of our teachers (see above) means that we must have some way to evaluate teachers. I will write more about teacher evaluation on the blog soon, but test scores should be one of a variety of factors used in teacher evaluation. Finally, Larry Ferlazzo describes his ten education-related predictions for 2012.
Due to the New Year holiday weekend, up-to-date figures from the Treasury are unavailable. As of last Thursday, the national debt stood at:
Topic Three: Iran
Iran told a US aircraft carrier yesterday that it should not attempt to return to the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz. However, the US dismissed the threat, claiming Iran acted outside of its boundaries. Meanwhile, oil went above $100 per barrel yesterday on word of the threat.
In economic news from Iran, Iranian money took a slide yesterday on the currency markets due to the new economic sanctions imposed by the US on Iran's central bank. Elliot Abrams says that this could have happened during the Bush administration if we had not believed Iran's propaganda. "There are some lessons here. One is that whenever the Iranian regime defiantly says it isn’t afraid of something and that thing will backfire–whether it be moving more U.S. aircraft carriers to the Gulf or sanctions against the central bank–we ought to see quickly through their propaganda and go ahead with it. Indeed the more defiantly the ayatollahs say they are not afraid, the more afraid they most likely are."
Tweets of the Day:
Toby Harnden (@tobyharnden): Ron Paul admits to CNN he doesn't do own tweets, re 1 last night: "I didn't send it...I don't understand what's going on there."
Topic Four: The Economy
December's unemployment report comes out Friday. People are feeling more confident about the economy, but John Crudele says this could mean a bad report. A large part of this rests on the definition of "unemployed". In order to be considered unemployed, you have to have actively looked for work during the month. If you did not look for work, you are no longer a part of the labor force and not considered as part of the unemployment calculation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also publishes a rate that includes those underemployed (part-time workers desiring full-time work) and those who have dropped out of the labor force. Real Clear Markets has a good piece analyzing the trend in this rate.
There were several other interesting economic pieces published recently on various topics. First, Investors Business Daily discusses California's economic failure while solving the wrong "problems." "California's in trouble. Businesses are leaving along with intellectual and investment capital and skilled workers. But rather than face up to serious problems, legislators pass silly laws." Richard Epstein has a great piece on the problems of the "living wage." Jared Bernstein offers us some "then and now" stats on Obama's economy. Finally, Clive Cook disputes the claim that capitalism has failed, and instead argues that our President has failed us.
Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"My anxious recollections, my sympathetic feeling, and my best wishes are irresistibly excited whensoever, in any country, I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of freedom."
Topic Five: Obama 2012
Even though we are likely at least two months away from knowing who will be the Republican nominee, there is already a lot of discussion about the general election. A large part of his strategy will involve opposing the unpopular Congress. If you thought 2011 was a bad year for getting things done in Washington, just wait until July or August of this year. Fred Barnes says that Obama will spend the year focused on his reelection campaign, without taking the time to lead or govern. (Isn't that what he has already been doing?) Meanwhile, the Republican Party is also developing its strategy. As Daniel Halper argues, they do have something they did not have in 2008: a paper trail. A Boston Herald Op-Ed describes why a moderate cannot beat President Obama. (Didn't we already try that with McCain?)
Tomorrow in History
January 5, 1759 - Happy 253rd Anniversary to George Washington, who married Martha Dandridge Custis on this date.
Grab Bag - Interesting Stories to Conclude Your Evening
TSA lists its top catches of the year
Obama makes non-recess recess appointment
3 Swiss bankers helped hide $1.2 Billion from IRS
Buddy Roemer's tweets during Iowa caucus
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