College is a disaster!

From the Post today:

A cascade of glitches in a major online college application program has frustrated prospective students across the country and prompted several universities to push back their fall deadlines, exposing vulnerabilities in the nation’s college admissions system.

More than 515 colleges and universities, including the entire Ivy League and public flagships such as the University of Virginia, use the Common Application to help choose their incoming classes. The program, which handles millions of applications annually, was retooled this year in an attempt to make an inherently stressful teenage ritual a little easier. But the fourth online version of the Common App, which went live Aug. 1, has compounded the angst of many college-bound students.

Software troubles and other technical difficulties have left students staring at frozen screens or led them to pay multiple fees for a single application. Others reported being shut out of their accounts entirely.

Alright, the meaning is clear.  Time to give up on this crazy “going to college” thing.  If the website which makes it all happen cannot work right, how can we possibly trust these colleges to educate our students.  Better off to just stick with that high school degree and see how well that work’s in today’s society.

Okay, enough fun with the analogy.   Yes, the flaws with the healthcare.gov really are horrible and inexcusable and heads should really, really roll.  Government can make mistakes.  Big ones.  But to suggest that this somehow means the ACA is a “disaster” or that government should not be in the business of health care is absolutely as absurd as not going to college because of problems with the common application website.

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Nationwide legal marijuana is coming

No, I’m not talking about any imminent policy change or proposals, but the latest public opinion data from Gallup is telling:

Americans' Views on Legalizing Marijuana

That’s a ten point jump in approval in the past year.  Some, but surely not all of that, may be measurement error.  My guess is that the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado with very little news reports of negative consequences as a result (last I heard, they were not on their way to hell in a handbasket) is a good part of the explanation.  Americans have seen that marijuana can basically be legalized without news reports of pot-addled zombies taking over the respective states.  Anyway, that’s just my theory, would love to see some deeper data on that point.

Now, the other reason I’m so sure of future legalization is the age breakdown (similar to gay marriage):

Americans’ Views on Legalizing Marijuana, by Age

Now, I’ve never smoked pot and I’m never going to, but there’s really not much of a rational basis for treating it so much more harshly than alcohol when all the best evidence suggests it is a less harmful drug.  I was driving to work today and passed a sign saying “now hiring drug free workers.”  So not true, I thought.  I’m sure they are plenty willing to hire people who consume lots of alcohol, just not any that consume marijuana.  And that truly makes very little sense.

Photo of the day

Thanks to Mike for telling me about this very cool photo site (actually a site on “art and visual culture”).  Given my interests, I particularly liked this recent set on the 2013 Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 Winners and Honorable Mentions nature
Freeze frame. Etienne Francey, Switzerland.

Do Americans hate Obamacare?

Every now and then I enjoy reading former Bush administration speechwriter and prominent torture apologist Marc Thiessen’s columns in the Post.   I’m not enough of an expert on the Revolutionary War to say whether his analogy on George Washington vs Horatio Gates actually is useful for mainstream versus Tea party Republicans, but its interesting.  But, man, so many Republicans are just so living in their own bubbles that they just know how much Americans all hate Obamacare:

Today, some on the right are rationalizing defeat, claiming they won in a lot of ways. Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) boasted: “Oh my gosh, we’ve lit up Obamacare for the whole nation.” No, you didn’t. You distracted the nation from Obamacare’s disastrous rollout, pushing the Obamacare implosion off the front pages and giving the media an excuse to focus on the disarray in the Republican Party instead of the disarray in the Obama administration. Youruined the chance to delay implementation of at least parts of Obamacare. And youalienated independent voters who agree that Obamacare is a disaster but opposed a government shutdown.  [italics in original; bold is mine]

Really, Independent voters agree that Obamacare is a “disaster”?  I’d like to see that poll.  This reminded me of an important and often-overlooked point made by Drum yesterday.  A lot of the dissatisfaction with Obamacare is from those on the left who doesn’t think it goes far enough.  That’s very different from those on the right who would like to see any attempt at universal coverage eliminated.  Drum:

 Opinions about Obamacare are less hostile than most polls suggest.

In one sense, I don’t want to make too much of this. Only 41 percent of respondents favor Obamacare as it is, and that’s a pretty feeble number. At the same time, when we talk about “opposition” to Obamacare, we’re almost always talking about conservative opposition. And the plain fact is that conservative opposition is mostly limited to….conservatives. Everyone else either likes Obamacare or wants even more. (Or doesn’t care.)…

This explains why repeal of Obamacare generally polls poorly: many of the people who “oppose” Obamacare want to build on it, not repeal it. They’re just disappointed that it’s not a genuine single-payer program.

38% genuinely opposing the law is certainly nothing to sneeze at.  but that’s a very different story from a 50-41 margin.  And, there’s also the fact that Americans overwhelmingly actually favor every single aspect of the law except the (necessary to make it all work) individual mandate.

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