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Friday, June 24, 2016

Cruising the Web

Wow, another major European vote that came out differently from the polls. I have long been suspicious of turning an economic union into a political union that worked to erase sovereignty. People like having sovereignty and if it's going to be removed from them, they want to have a say in it, yet decisions have been taken out of people's hands and put in the hands of unelected elites and bureaucrats. That's got to irritate a lot of people and that is what we saw last night in the Brexit vote. I think that the headline to this Carrie Lukas piece sums it up. "German Leadership Aghast at a Brexit It Helped Cause".
One of the more thoughtful commentaries today is from Torsten Krauel in the right-of-center Die Welt. Krauel asks whether German Chancellor Merkel is partially to blame for the Brexit and concludes her asylum policy almost certainly played a major role. And indeed, the spectacle of Germany unilaterally deciding to change the face and future of the European Union by announcing Berlin had opened the doors to all comers – regardless of the wishes of or the impact this would have on other EU states – has been a powerful symbol of elite disconnect with the concerns of average Europeans and an uncomfortable reminder that Germany has come to dominate the union. Krauel also points out Dover, the British end of the Channel Tunnel to the continent, voted 60 percent to leave. Maybe this has something to do with the thousands of North African migrants seeking to storm the tunnel and cross to England?

While loathe to admit it, Germans at some level suspect their country’s role in the discontent in Britain. Speaking to German friends over the past several years, it’s been difficult not to come away with the sense many view the EU as an extension of Germany policy and as a respectable outlet for German nationalism that has been suppressed since the end of World War II. A new path to German greatness, if you will, camouflaged by warm and fuzzy words about “Europeaness” and immune to complaints of skeptics, all of whom immediately are labeled as right-wing extremists – the kiss of death in German politics.

For me, one of the takeaways from the referendum is the reminder that people care deeply about things other than pure economic interest. On the train this morning, I listened to a left-wing British woman complaining bitterly about the stupidity of her fellow citizens. Her points were all about lost EU subsidies for construction projects and the indignity of having to use the “non-EU” line at passport control when traveling to the continent (I’ll save a spot for you!). It seemed not to have occurred to her that more abstract concepts such as democratic legitimacy, self rule, and national identity matter to people as goods in themselves....

The EU as an economic project was a good idea. But only European elites signed off on ever closer political union and de facto rule by unelected Eurocrats in Brussels. These elites weren’t interested in making their case democratically, preferring to ignore popular concerns while demonizing any opposition to their supranational project. The British electorate has now pushed back. Will the EU learn the right lessons or will it double down on political integration? I suspect the latter, but time will tell.
Look for the rise of other exit parties in other countries.

The other thing I expect to see is the refutation of all the doom-and-gloom predictions for Britain's economy. They can make an economic deal with the EU as Norway did. They can negotiate access to the single market without having to follow the rules of the EU.
Norway’s consumers and businesses enjoy access to the single market, but are not obliged to comply with many EU rules, including those on justice, agriculture and fishing.

Mitch Hall, a student at William and Mary, writes about something that has also irritated me. He is fed up with the virtue signaling that goes on over social media whenever there is some shocking event such as the massacre in the Orlando nightclub.
Much of the reaction I witnessed online and in the news wasn’t surprising. The filibuster by Senate Democrats to push gun-control legislation was to be expected and, although it was outrageous, I wasn’t shocked to see so many reporters in the media, such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper, find creative ways to blame the tragedy—committed by a possibly gay, self-confessed ISIS-following, registered Democrat—on Christian Republicans.

I did find remarkable the number of my peers who posted about the tragedy on social media. “Posted” is a generous word; rather, they hijacked the tragedy as a means to highlight their social consciousness and demonstrate their moral superiority. I couldn’t escape obnoxious, sanctimonious Facebook posts by my online friends, most of them college students like myself, all of which had an air of “What happened was awful, but hey, don’t forget about me. Look at how passionately I’m condemning it!”

These types of responses aren’t just limited to devastating national events. “Hashtag activism“ and “slacktivism”—wherein people give token support for a cause in the form of crafting a hashtag, publishing a social media post, or giving out a “like”—have become a hallmark of political engagement in recent years, particularly among college students. The prevalence of these self-indulgent sentiments prompted me to ask: when did political activism become so selfish?
I notice this all the time. Most of my friends on Facebook are either present or former students. And, bless their hearts, so many of them do rush to post their feelings after a tragedy because, apparently the best way to express outrage after a mass murder is to change their picture on Facebook or retweet a hashtag. They don't have to do anything, just post something.
Contrast today’s activism with that of the civil rights era in the 1960s. These movements were characterized by hundreds of thousands of students participating in sit-ins, boycotts, walkouts, and confrontations with police. To be recognized as an activist for these causes, you couldn’t just talk about how much you liked MLK, you had to get out there on the front lines.

While student crusades today have also featured sit-ins, boycotts, walkouts, and even squabbles with police, one’s physical presence is no longer required to cement a place in the movement. Tweeting out a popular article or publishing a Facebook essay about how much you care, all from the comfort of your bedroom, conveys a person’s commitment without him actually having to do anything meaningful. Because of social media, you can now reap the social benefits associated with being an activist without, well, actually being an activist....

It’s high time the media stopped confusing a loose collection of angry tweets with a march on Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s also time that we individually stop legitimizing lazy online activism. Don’t incessantly praise your Facebook friends for “raising awareness” with their new picture filter, and don’t hail them as heroes after every impassioned status update. If we continue accepting anything less than real action, then we could find ourselves at the mercy of an online minority exercising their will over a silent, largely offline majority.
This sort of preference for symbolic action by young people mirrors the politicians in Washington. Just look at the silly sit-in that the Democrats just staged in a huffy play for attention on gun control.
While Democrats were sitting on the floor of the House to demand movement on these bills, all of the legislation had already died in the Senate, and it died in part because Democrats voted down more moderate, incremental bills proposed by Republicans. And because—and nobody wants to talk about this—Democrats from more moderate states reflected the will of their constituents and voted against gun control....

The nominal goal of the sit-in was to “demand a vote.” Except that there already was a vote and their side lost. Voting is how we got the current (relative) absence of gun control, because pro-gun policies are actually popular with the American people, and the long-term history is one of declining public support for gun control.
So instead of working together on a compromise, they decided to sit-in to occupy the House floor. Robert Tracinski links to these tweets that sum up how meaningless the sit-in really was.
But they got public attention from the media which agree with the Democrats and hate the gun rights agenda. Tracinski explains how skewed it is to compare this sit-in to Selma.
But this is actually the complete opposite of Selma. The point of Selma was to restore civil rights that had been arbitrarily taken away from an oppressed minority. The purpose of this movement is to arbitrarily deprive people of their civil rights. That’s the upshot of the bill to block people on a terrorist watch list from being able to buy guns. The problem is that anyone can be put on the watch list without “due process,” that is, without any objective legal process. But Democrats now view due process as their chief obstacle.

So they are stealing the symbolism of the civil rights movement to use it for the cause of depriving people of civil rights. Which kind of sums the whole thing up, doesn’t it?

I have long made the argument that the Left is interested in symbols over reality. (As this year demonstrates, that’s not just true of the Left.) But what happens when you put symbols over reality is that eventually you so completely lose sight of the connection between the two that you begin to use the symbols for the exact opposite of what they originally meant.

The Left wants to maintain their symbolic position as outsiders bravely battling the establishment to stand up for the people and guarantee our civil rights. They have actually become the voice of an entrenched establishment that wants to override the will of the people and take away our civil rights.

But they use all of the old symbols to cover up for the self-liquidation of their ideals.
And I bet they can also virtue-signal on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and that will make everything all better.

Paula Bolyard writes at PJ Media that we shouldn't be all that impressed with the bold sacrifices of the House Democrats.
If you're envisioning Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. when you picture this House sit-in in your mind, you'd be way off. Think a slumber party with a bunch of 7th grade girls. Our well-paid members of Congress are enjoying Starbuck's, Chinese food, and taking many, many selfies with their friends (I wouldn't be surprised if there are manis and pedis too!). They've also sent out for pillows and blankies, because you definitely need pillows if you're going to sit on that luxurious carpet all night.
Just remember when you see the Democrats, led by John Lewis, protesting in order to ban those on the No-Fly List from buying guns that John Lewis was once put on the No-Fly List himself.

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Oh, great. Corey Lewandowski, the recently-fired Trump campaign manager, just got hired by CNN as an analyst.
CNN acknowledges that Lewandowski’s hiring “is bound to be controversial” — you know, given his tendency to beat up reporters (including one of CNN’s) — but suggests that he “brings the same thing some of CNN’s other paid commentators bring: first-hand experience running a presidential campaign.” And, indeed, why shouldn’t Lewandowski get a cushy gig on cable news? It’s not like there are any reasons to think he might have a problem telling the truth.

The problem here isn’t hiring ex-political operatives to do commentary. That’s standard practice (though most are not hired within 72 hours of leaving campaign HQ). The problem is CNN’s prima facie ridiculous proposition that Corey Lewandowski is, in the wake of his termination, a good-faith independent operator. That was obvious nonsense even on Monday, when in his first post-firing interview he basically argued that things were going so gosh-darn well on the Trump campaign, they didn’t really even need him anymore. CNN has Trump surrogates on regularly (e.g., Jeffrey Lord). Did it really need a salaried one?

CNN tried
to argue that Peter Schweizer's book, Clinton Cash, has been debunked and so they could ridicule Trump's relying on the book in the speech he gave attacking Hillary Clinton. However, they missed the evidence from such vast right-wing conspiracy sources as the New York Times and the New Yorker that upheld some of the most scandalous allegations.
Why Alesci and Frankel couldn’t confirm the $145 million in Clinton Foundation donations for themselves is curious. Indeed, in a 4,000-word front page story written over a year ago, the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Jo Becker and Mike McIntire verified the Clinton Cash uranium revelation in stunning detail, including charts and graphs laying out the flow of millions of dollars from the nine investors in the uranium deal who flowed $145 million to Hillary’s family foundation.

Michael Barone uses Arthur Kling's book, Specialization and Trade: A Re-Introduction to Economics, why we shouldn't be expecting any real job recovery in the next few years. Kling rejects the idea that there is something that politicians in Washington can do to create economic growth and jobs.
Reasons are not hard to see. Higher federal tax rates have hurt, and high-tax states have seen businesses flee to low-tax places such as Texas. Taking money away from existing enterprises and potential entrepreneurs to pay for skyrocketing pensions for retired public-employee union members is not a recipe for job growth.

The Obama administration’s record-setting pile-on of regulation after regulation surely hurts as well. Obamacare regulations deter many a business from creating job No. 50. Higher minimum wages destroy jobs in which entry workers can develop skills and good work habits. Mandates for increased benefits and leave time crowd out job creation.

The aging of the population plays some role, but doesn’t explain slow job creation, which apparently motivates many baby boomers to cling to jobs they have after age 65.

Another factor, less often stressed, is reduced mobility: Fewer Americans are up and moving. American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks points out that 50 years ago about 20 percent of Americans moved every year and 25 years ago about 15 percent did. Now it’s down to about 10 percent.

In an economy in which patterns of specialization and trade are always changing, Kling argues, it’s impossible to maintain stable local-employment patterns. Some places shed jobs; in others jobs are created. Many people need to move to maximize opportunity. These days fewer do.

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Theodore Kupfer follows up on the Orwellian nature of the University of Northern Colorado's Bias Response Team that answered a complaint that a professor asked students to list pro and con arguments on various controversial issues such as transgenderism, abortion, and global warming.
Understand this: A Bias Response Team is an authoritarian tool with a stupid name. The process begins when a student reports an incident to the school administration. Administrators then investigate and share their concerns with the party responsible for the incident. The involvement of school administrators, who retain power over students and faculty alike, crosses the line. When an authority figure says to a professor, “Maybe you shouldn’t teach that anymore,” it is not a mere suggestion. It is not “dialogue” between two equal parties. It is an implicit threat.

Worse, someone can be investigated and threatened by the Bias Response Team without actually doing anything wrong. The school says that even “when incidents don’t rise to the level of discriminatory or criminal behavior requiring formal action, the actions may still run counter to UNC’s commitment to foster civility and inclusivity.” Staying within the bounds of university policy is apparently not enough; one must become a veritable champion of vague platitudes. Here again, free expression is threatened. It is easy to demonstrate compliance when the rules have determinate boundaries. Not so when they completely elide definition.
As a high school teacher, it is very common for me to make an assignment and ask the students to chart out the pro and con arguments on a question or issue as they read opposing articles. Silly me. I thought I was setting students up to have a better understanding of each side and to weigh arguments to make up their own mind. Little did I know that I could be demonstrating bias merely by asking them to consider the other side of an argument.

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While Washington Democrats spend their time staging a sit-in for a bill that wouldn't have done anything to stop the Orlando massacre, here is the sort of problem they and the Republicans should be working on.
Medicare and Social Security will begin to spend more than they earn by the end of this decade, new projections showed Wednesday, putting a spotlight on an issue that has seen scant discussion in an election year—the programs’ solvency challenges facing the next president.

The annual report card from the programs’ trustees said Medicare’s hospital-insurance trust fund, which provides coverage to more than 55 million Americans, will exhaust its reserves by 2028, two years sooner than estimated last year.
John Sexton adds,
What the summary does not say is what happens to Medicare when doctors and hospitals are told (circa 2028) that reimbursements are getting cut 13 percent and will continue to decline over the next 15 years. At that point we’re likely to see doctors begin to opt-out and others deciding to become non-participating doctors, meaning they accept Medicare patients but also bill them an extra amount above the standard reimbursement rates.
We keep getting closer and closer to Medicarmaggedon and keep seeing nothing get done in Washington. Voters don't seem to know what is going to happen. It is the job of politicians to make them care and only a few politicians such as Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio talk about this. It's all so discouraging.

Dan McLaughlin points to a Miami CBS report on Patrick Murphy, the likely opponent for Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate race if Rubio wins his primary. He hadn't accomplished much until he put together a deal to start a company, Coastal Environmental Services, after the Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf. He ran for Congress touting his experience as a small business owner working to clean up the Gulf as well as his work as a CPA.
A CBS4 News investigation into Murphy’s history as both a CPA and a self-described small business owner, however, shows Murphy has in some cases exaggerated his experience and in other instances made claims that were misleading or outright false.

For instance, he has never worked a day in his life as a Certified Public Accountant.

And he was never a small business owner.
He never even held a CPA license in Florida, but Colorado which had lower requirements for getting the license although he never worked or lived there. He seems to have been misleading voters for years about his background as a CPA.

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Burger King goes all in with evil temptation.
Burger King, the restaurant chain backed by 3G Capital and Warren Buffett, will begin selling deep-fried sticks of macaroni and cheese encrusted in Cheetos-flavored breading, part of a trend toward blending fast food with well-known snack brands.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Cruising the Web

I'm glad that Marco Rubio has changed his mind and decided to run for reelection. It helps the Republicans' chances of keeping the Senate and he's too attractive a politician to be off the national stage. Whether Hillary or Trump wins this year, Congress is going to need to be a check on their power. We're going to need strong senators who can speak up in opposition to either of the presidential candidates.

Josh Krashaar makes the argument that this will help Rubio's chances for the 2020 nomination. He has to hope that the GOP electorate's flirtation with voting for a political novice will have worn itself out this year and experience will be more prized. If, as seems likely, Hillary wins the nomination, Republicans in Congress will be taking the lead in opposition to her agenda. There might be room for compromise on some issues, particularly Rubio's favorite - foreign policy. We'll see if the climate in 2020 will be as poisonous for politicians who have negotiated compromises in their past. Having spent time discussing The Great Compromiser, Henry Clay, I have a lot more respect for those in politics who find a way to compromise than those who think that resisting cooperation with their partisan opponents is a more noble path. Here is Henry Clay on the value of compromise in politics.
Mr. President, what is a compromise? It is a work of mutual concession - an agreement in which there are reciprocal stipulations - a work in which, for the sake of peace and concord, one party abates his extreme demands in consideration of an abatement of extreme demands by the other party: it is a measure of mutual concession - a measure of mutual sacrifice. Undoubtedly, Mr. President, in all such measures of compromise, one party would be very glad to get what he wants, and reject what he does not desire but which the other party wants. But when he comes to reflect that, from the nature of the government and its operations, and from those with whom he is dealing, it is necessary upon his part, in order to secure what he wants, to grant something to the other side, he should be reconciled to the concession which he has made in consequence of the concession which he is to receive, if there is no great principle involved, such as a violation of the Constitution of the United States. I admit that such a compromise as that ought never to be sanctioned or adopted.

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According to leaked documents posted on the web, this is what UNLV, a public university, had to shell out for the honor to have Hillary come give a speech there.
On top of the $225,000 fee for her 20 minute speech, the agency gave the UNLV Foundation “standard travel expenses” for Clinton.

This “include[s] a chartered roundtrip private air transportation (e.g., a Gulfstream 450 or larger jet), which must be paid in advance of the event. The host will also need to pay for roundtrip business class airfare to and from the event city for two (2) advance staffers who will arrive in the city of the engagement up to three (3) business days prior to the event,” the document reads.

“The host is responsible for hotel accommodations at a hotel identified by Speaker’s staff. Accommodations should include a presidential suite for the Speaker and up to three (3) adjoining or contiguous single rooms for her travel aides and up to two (2) additional single rooms for the advance staff. The host is responsible for all ground transportation for the Speaker, her travel aides and the advance staff while they are in the city of the engagement, as well as all phone charges/cell phones and meals during their stay.”
I am sure that it was all worth it for that 20-minute speech, right?

Slate is worried that Trump's speech against Clinton was "terrifyingly effective."
Trump spoke for 40 minutes without saying anything overtly sexist. Instead, he aimed straight at Clinton’s most-serious weaknesses, describing her as a venal tool of the establishment. “Hillary Clinton gave China millions of our best jobs and effectively let China completely rebuild itself,” he said. “In return, Hillary Clinton got rich!” He added, “She gets rich making you poor,” and called her possibly “the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.”

....Like all skillful demagoguery, Trump’s speech on Wednesday interwove truth and falsehood into a plausible-seeming picture meant to reinforce listeners’ underlying beliefs. In May, Morning Consult polled people with an unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton about why they didn’t like her. Fifty-eight percent said she was too liberal, while 22 percent said she was too conservative. But 82 percent of Hillary-averse voters said she was corrupt, and 88 percent said she was untrustworthy. These are the beliefs that unite her foes across the political spectrum. It’s why Trump, with his devious talent for derisive nicknames, was smart to dub her “Crooked Hillary.”
As Mara Liasson writes, this is the speech that Republicans have been begging Trump to make.
The speech will be fact-checked, and before it was even delivered, the Clinton campaign and its allies were pushing back with a detailed rebuttal. Nevertheless, the political significance of the speech is undeniable. After wasting the first six weeks of his time as the presumptive nominee of the GOP — getting sidetracked almost daily by petty personal feuds and provocative statements — Trump finally laid out a case against Clinton on foreign and domestic policy.

This speech should quiet some of the angst inside Republican circles about the quality of the campaign Trump is running (or not running). Opposition to the Clintons is one of the strongest strands in the GOP's DNA — and now that decades-long animus seems to have found a focused champion in Donald Trump.

Democratic members of Congress, including Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn.(seated left), Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. (center) as they participate in a sit-down protest seeking a vote on gun control measures on Wednesday.

It's the speech Republicans have been itching to hear, in a crystallized way, since the 1990s. Trump gave them exactly what they wanted and likely quelled some fears about his candidacy. They might not be totally behind him, but Republicans are virulently opposed to her.

And the best way to galvanize people who should be on your team is to find a common enemy.

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Daniel Henninger advises Donald Trump and Paul Ryan to work together since they can't succeed separately. What he is really recommending is that Donald Trump start borrowing heavily from Ryan's agenda.
The Ryan House agenda, “A Better Way,” is complete, published in short and long versions, and is the explicit consensus of the Republican Party, the party Mr. Trump promised to unify.

The House agenda is the Trump Rosetta Stone. It is an off-the-shelf template for getting through the next five months. It is a way for the party’s nominee and its stressed-out candidates to sing from the same hymnal rather than threaten to stab each other in the back....

We’ll elaborate on just one element, which could cause anxiety among Democrats—poverty.

It’s long been thought that any Republican who could pull more than 15% of the black vote would put his Democratic opponent on thin ice. Black Americans, especially younger black Democrats, are disaffected. The Obama economy has been harder on them than on anyone.

The Ryan-House poverty proposal is about one idea: upward mobility, about not getting stuck for generations in the same welfare dead end. Donald Trump should deliver the Trumpian version of the House’s ideas on getting ahead to black voters in tough states. That’s what Chris Christie did in New Jersey and Bruce Rauner did in Illinois—and what Mitt Romney did not do in 2012.
Somehow, I don't see Trump learning policy proposals and being an effective advocate of someone else's agenda.

Ben Shapiro explains why the left must demonize conservatives.
Why the demonization?

The mainstream Right has never claimed that the murder of military members at Fort Hood by a jihadist required Democrats to support more military spending. We never claimed that the jihadist had been motivated by an anti-military culture generated by the Left. When Donald Trump idiotically suggested that Barack Obama might be a secret Muslim in league with ISIS, Republicans nearly universally condemned him.

The same isn’t true of the Left.

To the Left, failure to support their agenda is tantamount to support for murder. There are no conservative Americans who oppose same-sex marriage yet believe that gays and lesbians should not be murdered at nightclubs; there are no Christian Americans who don’t think men should enter women’s bathrooms, but also think that people who suffer from gender-identity disorder ought not be shot to death by a rampaging Muslim terrorist. There are no shades of gray in the Left’s view of the Right — we disagree, and thus we are evil.

That’s because the Left doesn’t believe in the basic concept of rights. The Left believes that you have a right to behave as they say you should behave — no more, no less. This is why the Left supports regulations on hate speech; they don’t agree that you have a right to say things that make people feel bad. That’s being a bad person, and the government shouldn’t let you be a bad person. This is why the Left thinks that private businesses have no right to discriminate in choosing their clientele — unless, of course, the Left is choosing which states to boycott for political purposes. The shibboleth so often parroted by the Left — “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” — no longer applies.

The Left projects its own view of rights onto the Right, imagining that if the Right disagrees with any particular views or behavior, it must want to stamp out the people who propagate them.

And this funhouse mirror-image rightly scares them. It scares them so much that they have to routinely demand government coercion.

So the FBI thinks that Omar Mateen's wife might have been aware of his intended attack on the Orlando nightclub and is even considering charging her. But they've lost track of where she is.
Atorney General Loretta Lynch admitted today that the FBI is unaware of the whereabouts of Omar Mateen's wife, Noor Salman.

Salman has indicated she suspected Mateen was about to commit a terrorist attack, and even accompanied him to buy the weaponry he used to carry out the massacre. She insists, however, that as he left she tried to hold onto his arm so he wouldn't leave.
If the FBI believes she was aware of the impending attack, she could be prosecuted.

"Has the shooter’s wife left the state of Florida?" a reporter asked Lynch during her press conference Tuesday.

"Right now, I don’t know exactly the answer to that," Lynch candidly replied. "I believe she was going to travel but I do not know exactly her location now."
Gives you a lot of faith in the FBI, doesn't it?

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So this is what happens when a city decides they're too pure for commerce and banned Uber and Lyft.
Austin, Texas has become a ridesharing wasteland. One month ago, Uber and Lyft left the city, abandoning their 10,000 drivers—and leaving the city’s residents in a state of transportation chaos.

“Nobody really thought this was actually going to happen,” said driver Sarah Cooper, who spoke to Vocativ on a stormy afternoon in Texas. “There’s too much to lose in Austin, everybody said.” Cooper had been providing about 150 rides a week between Lyft and Uber before they left.

It’s been a month since Austinites narrowly voted down Proposition 1, which means rideshare drivers must now be subjected to a fingerprint-based background check in order to work for a ridesharing company. The defeat prompted the two Silicon Valley-based companies to leave Austin on May 9.

In their place, they left a patchwork of rogue Facebook groups, drivers struggling to find rides, bartenders terrified to over serve, and stranded drunks trying to get home.
So people are starting to organize their own ride-shares over social media, but of course people don't know who they're getting to drive them since they won't have been checked out as Uber and Lyft do. Drivers aren't as protected and the riders aren't protected and don't have the guarantee of a quick pick-up. And then, as many had predicted, there is the increase in drunk drivers. Apparently, Austin is a seriously heavy-drinking city. Before those who were too drunk to drive could easily summon an Uber; now they might be driving themselves home.
Austin drinks—a lot. The city’s downtown area has more bars per capita than anywhere else in America. Its residents drink harder than all other Texans. That’s not even accounting for the thousands of tourists who travel to Austin for huge events like South by Southwest, the X Games, and Texas Longhorn football games each year.

Combine the city’s affinity for drinking with a largely despised transportation system, cabs that refuse to take people on short trips, and severely limited ridesharing options and you’re asking for midnight mayhem.

“The first Friday and Saturday after Uber was gone, we were joking that it was like the zombie apocalypse of drunk people,” Cooper said....

Even more troubling than the late-night pedestrian concern is Austin’s rampant drunk driving problem—last year the city had more than 5,800 DWI arrests, according to police data. Back in December the city’s Police Chief Art Acevedo expressed concern for how an Uberless Austin would affect the road safety. “If we take away the (ride-hailing firms) here and in other cities, it definitely will impact DWI,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

Recent data obtained from the Austin Police Department would seem to support Acevedo’s narrative. In the first three week after Uber and Lyft left Austin, DWI arrests were up 7.5 percent over the same time last year. City police made 359 DWI arrests from May 9, 2016 (the day Uber and Lyft shut down) to May 31, 2016. During that same period in 2015, Austin police made 334 DWI arrests.
But what does it matter when there were taxi drivers to be protected? Glenn Reynolds comments,
The thing is, these arrests generate revenue for the city. And, of course, traditional taxi services generate graft. So for politicians, it’s a no-brainer. If the public is worse off, tough.

The University of Northern Colorado chastises a professor for allowing debate in his class.
One such investigation was prompted by a classroom discussion of an article published in The Atlantic entitled, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” which is about college students’ diminishing capacity to entertain more than one side of a debate due to the rise of “microaggressions” and “trigger warnings” on campuses.

The professor then selected several controversial topics of discussion, including transgender issues and abortion, among others, and instructed his students to debate both sides of each topic. The assignment was apparently too much for one student to handle, as “they” filed an incident report to the Bias Response Team, which then launched an investigation into the professor.
How ironic that it was in response to an article about how young people today can't bear to hear opinions with which they disagree that the Bias Response Team had to be called in to investigate. Heat Street reports,
The Bias Response Team’s notes summarized: “Specifically there were two topics of debate that triggered them and personally felt like an attack on their identity ( is this harmful? Is this acceptable? Is this Christianity? And Gay Marriage: should it be legal? Is homosexuality immoral as Christians suggest?)”

The student, whose name is redacted and who is referred to as “they” in the report, complained that “other students are required to watch the in-class debate and hear both arguments presented.”

“I do not believe that students should be required to listen to their own rights and personhood debated,” the student wrote. “[This professor] should remove these topics from the list of debate topics. Debating the personhood of an entire minority demographic should not be a classroom exercise, as the classroom should not be an actively hostile space for people with underprivileged identities.”

The Bias Response Team wrote that while this incident “did not reach a level of discrimination,” members still contacted the professor to “have a conversation… [and] listen to his perspective, share the impact created for the student and dialogue about options to strengthen his teaching.”

The Bias Response Team wrote that once the conversation was completed, they wanted a full report of “the outcome of your time together. . . so I can document and share with the student that outreach was completed.”

The University of Northern Colorado did not respond to Heat Street’s request for comment about whether the Bias Response Team is a threat to free speech and academic freedom. We also asked to be put in touch with the professors who had received complaints, but we did not hear back before publication.

Ari Cohn, a free-speech lawyer with the nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said it was “deeply troubling” that UNC professors had been forced to respond to bias reports and to defend exposing their students to a variety of ideas.

“If even challenging a student’s views with a hypothetical opposing opinion is now off-limits, then truly nothing is sacred,” Cohn wrote in an email. “If professors are forced to modify their teaching styles to avoid such exercises, not only does it infringe on their academic freedom rights, but it does a tremendous disservice to students’ intellectual development.”

Mollie Hemingway writes of the ironies in the Democratic sit-in on the House floor.
You might say that this is the first sit-in you recall when members of Congress staged such a stunt in opposition to civil rights. You might note that Democrats twice voted down bills that would have expanded terror list background checks while also protecting the constitutionally protected right of due process.
The media response is quite different from when the Republicans tried a similar tactic in 2008.
This is also an opportunity to watch hypocrisy in action. After Republicans declared the recess and accordingly turned off the C-SPAN cameras, Democrats were furious and cried out about the unfairness of having cameras taken away from them. But in 2008, Republicans opposed a motion to adjourn before scheduling a vote to allow off-shore drilling. They refused to leave and continued to bash then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for leaving town before a vote. Democrats turned off the lights and microphones and shut off C-SPAN.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cruising the Web

Ben Shapiro goes off on what he has learned from Trump's FEC filing.
Lots and lots of things which should make it clear Trump isn’t serious about winning the presidency; the historic inability of the candidate to raise money leaves the GOP in a precarious position hovering over a chasm of electoral disaster unless the party awakens and jettisons the con man who is their prospective nominee. Here are 11 facts you need to know from the FEC filing and comparing it to other filings:
Not only has he raised an insignificant amount of money in comparison to what a candidate running for a local county commissioner might need, much less the presidential nominee of a major party, but a substantial percentage of the money he's spent has gone to...himself.
2. The Trump campaign paid 20% of its campaign spending in May, $1.1 million, to firms he owns and for travel reimbursements for his children.

3. The Trump campaign spent $432,000 renting out Trump’s own resort, Mar A Lago....

7. Trump paid Tag Air $349,000. Trump owns Tag Air....

The Trump campaign spent $737,059.96 at Trump-owned businesses in May; $1.37 million of the recipients from the Trump campaign have "Trump" in their name.
Campaign money is also going to pay a salary to ... Donald J. Trump. Nice work if you can get it.

Then there are the misguided choices on what he's spending money on such as overpaying his very few campaign aides. And there are the skewed decisions he's making on where to put his money.
Trump’s priorities? Check this out: in May, the campaign spent $208,000 on HATS, as opposed to $115,000 on online advertising, $48,000 on data management, and $38,000 on communications consulting.
This is the guy who argues that his successful business experience is the reason why he is qualified for the presidency.
he Trump campaign has $1.3 million on hand and is $45.7 million in debt.
No wonder he is having trouble raising money. Who wants to give up hard-earned money to donate to the guy who is channeling money to himself or wasting it on hats? Shapiro points out that Trump, who has been the presumptive nominee for a month and a half has substantially less money on hand than Ted Cruz or Bernie Sanders.

As Ian Tuttle writes, his campaign is a scam.
In the wake of Donald Trump’s apocalyptically bad fundraising report, a new word seems in order to describe the exercise in grift being played out on the national stage. Call it a scampaign.

The presumptive Republican nominee’s FEC filing, released yesterday, is quantitative confirmation that Trump is not running a presidential campaign so much as another of his success-immune business schemes.
So, if his ability as a businessman is exposed once again as lacking; he is exposed as totally ignorant on almost every major policy question, he is ticking off and repelling way more people than he's attracting, tell me again what the argument is for his candidacy.
With Trump, it’s always a question whether you’re getting played, and as the question pertains to his presidential run, the FEC filing effectively proves that the answer is yes. Would someone worth “TEN BILLION DOLLARS” be pinching the edges of the toothpaste tube? Would he be trying to bilk donors out of their money — not to build campaign infrastructure and start advertising, but simply to cover his own out-of-pocket costs?

Of course not. And potential donors know it. Any money-man who was thinking about getting behind this effort is going to reconsider. Every right-leaning super PAC is going to look around for alternatives. No one wants $1 out of every $5 that he donates going to fill the coffers at Mar-a-Lago.

But that is what is happening. Just like his opponent on the Democratic side, Trump has no qualms about turning the advantages of public life to private gain, about erasing the line between public service and private enrichment — and even for pennies. Trump has always been concerned, first and foremost and solely, about his own bottom line. Now, he’s simply taken the grift national.

It’s Scampaign 2016, and we’re proving a nation of suckers.

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Ah, the real reason why Corey Lewandowski is out of the Trump campaign:
The perception inside Trump’s inner circle was that “Corey was trying to isolate Trump and cut him off from even Ivanka and Jared,” said a longtime Trump business associate who speaks to the family and its representatives regularly. “That was overstepping his bounds.”

Ivanka Trump, who for months had expressed misgivings about Lewandowski’s temperament and qualifications for the job, last week grew increasingly resolute in her calls for his termination, according to several people in and around the campaign and the family. One person close to the campaign said it got “to the point where she was going to distance herself from the campaign if Corey didn’t go.”
It must be rule number one for campaign operatives not to tick off the family members. Apparently, in addition to not knowing how to run a modern presidential campaign, Lewandowski also didn't know that you should never get between a man and his daughter.

Dennis Prager explains the moral emptiness of supporting Hillary simply because she is a woman.
Offering Hillary Clinton to one’s daughter as a model to aspire to — given the former secretary of state’s long history of lying; her mockery of all the women who accused her husband of sexual harassment, assault, and even rape; and her recent history of selling the power of her office to enrich herself and her husband — is telling one’s daughter that gender trumps decency. As such, it speaks volumes about how insignificant character is to Clinton supporters.

In addition, putting aside the amorality and immaturity of gender solidarity, having a female president will be as useless to women as having a black president was to blacks....

It is only the Left that claims that it’s important to have members of one’s own gender or of one’s ethnic or racial group in political power. This claim is fraudulent. One of the most successful ethnic groups in American history, Asian Americans, has virtually no political power. Has that deleteriously effected Asian Americans?

So how will having a woman in the Oval Office actually help women? It will only make more and more women depend on the government rather than on a husband or on themselves. It will do as much for women as black leaders have done for blacks. In other words, unless you think that dependency is good thing, it will do more harm than good.

Gabriel Malor explains what is really going on with the Democrats' demagoguery on gun control. If they really were interested in compromise, they would have voted for Senator Cornyn's amendment that would accept the provision on banning those on the terror watch list from buying guns temporarily, but added a provision that someone could challenge and the authorities would have to go to court to prove why that person is a threat even if he or she hasn't been indicted or convicted.
Rather than agree to the incremental gun control measures Republicans proposed, the Democrats chose to pass no gun control legislation at all. At some point after loudly demanding legislation for more than a week, Senate Democrats decided it would be better for their reelection prospects that no gun control bills pass the Senate during the election season. Their decision was hypocritical, unprincipled, and pure politics.

Republicans were willing to link the terrorism watch list to a gun sales ban, as Democrats have demanded. The price of agreement was due-process protections for Americans placed on the list. But apparently due process is too much for the Democrats. They would rather have no sales ban than a sales ban that comports with the Fifth Amendment. The Democrats similarly rejected an incremental expansion of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Apparently, some gun control is not worth sharing credit with the Republicans.
This reminds me of George W. Bush's efforts to pass immigration reform. The Democrats could have gone along with his proposal and they would have gotten much of what they wanted then and want now. But they wanted to deny Bush any sort of victory and keep immigration as an issue. So here we are a decade later without any reform having passed and just questionable executive actions by Obama that are before the Supreme Court now.

Then, as Malor writes, the Democrats, after having voted down the compromise, resorted to some of the ugliest, partisan demagoguery we've heard yet.
Not content to merely vote against incremental gun control, Senate Democrats then decided to throw a tantrum about it. Murphy sleazed that Senate Republicans “have decided to sell weapons to ISIS.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted her agreement. Sen. Harry Reid nonsensically accused Republicans of blocking the very gun control measures Republicans had proposed.

Make no mistake: Senate Democrats rejected two incremental gun control bills for no other reason than that Republicans were voting for them. Democrats’ hatred for Republicans was more important to them than the moral standards they claim to possess.
Think of the reaction if Trump said the same thing about Obama and Clinton. At the mere suggestion that he's saying something along those lines, people are up in arms. And yet here we have Democratic senators coming right out and saying such ugly things just because Republicans wanted to protect due process rights. When you consider that a lot of people who are placed on the terror watch list will disproportionately be Muslims, ask yourself which party is perfectly fine with denying rights to minorities? David Harsanyi writes,
We’ve come a long way since Hillary’s, “I’m sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic.” The idea that the other side might be debating in good faith is no longer entertained. Appeals to emotion make no room for such subtleties.

With this, Warren is no better than Donald Trump. You will remember the media distress when Trump insinuated (and later denied) that Barack Obama was sympathetic to terrorists. You also might remember last week, when John McCain blamed the president for the rise of ISIS, and we discussed how terrible this was for an entire news cycle.

Surely indicting a major political party — in Congress, this party represents the majority of the American people — of aiding Islamists should be an equally big deal? Surely someone will ask Clinton to denounce this incendiary rhetoric. Surely some melodramatic New York Times op-ed columnist will call out Warren for tossing “the truth around with the callous disdain of a spoiled child.” I can’t wait for the house editorials condemning attacks on decorum and cable news network break-out sessions lamenting the putrid state of civility in Washington.

Can anyone remember a Republican, even in the height of the Patriot Act debate, questioning a Democrats’ loyalty in this explicit a manner? In contrast, Ari Fleischer’s “watch what you say” comment is a mild rebuke. These days, Republicans who disagree with the president can be accused of “betting against America,” “making common cause” with hardliners who chant “Death to America,” and being guilty of conventional treason.

More consequentially, though, we’re also a long away from liberals opposing extra-judicial watchlists that adjudicate guilt without due process. On Monday, Democrats passionately argued that “potential” terrorists — a term used by more than one senator yesterday — should be denied constitutional rights. These days, Democrats refer to adherence of the Fifth Amendment as a way not to protect the innocent but as a “terror gap.”

All of which can get a little confusing. Because while Democrats in the Senate were accusing the GOP of conspiring with Salafi jihadists, the administration was still acting as if the Orlando massacre had nothing to do with ISIS — at all.
Media moral hand-wringing is only in response to something a Republican might say. The Democrats have carte blanche to be as vile as they wanna be.

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If the terrible murder of MP Jo Cox last week may or may not have helped move polls in Great Britain toward Remain, this story might move them back toward Exit.
THE Channel Tunnel and Calais ferries were shut down after an army of stone-throwing migrants tried to force their way into the UK.

Roads approaching the Eurotunnel Shuttle and ferry terminals were turned into a warzone as French riot police fired tear gas in a desperate attempt to keep the mob at bay.

England football fans were caught in the chaos as gangs of migrants blocked traffic in a bid to break into lorries bound for the UK.

Eyewitnesses report the horde were throwing rocks at cars and chanting: “F*** the UK.”

....Thousands of England and Wales fans almost missed their Euro 2016 match amid border crossing chaos at Dover.
If violence by migrants trying to get to the UK didn't give Brits qualms, almost missing the Euro 2016 match must really be upsetting.

Jonah Goldberg sees parallels between the problems and inherent weaknesses of the entire EU project with what our country faces. The EU was built on the theory that there are these all-knowing experts out there whom we can put in charge of government and they will make all the right decisions that can't be made in a messy democracy. Elites particularly like this approach since it reinforces their sense of self importance. These self-proclaimed elites also see mass immigration as nothing but a benefit to the economy of Europe and those who oppose such a policy must be benighted racists and nationalists. Nationalism is, of course, an evil which begets world wars.
There are parallels aplenty here in the United States. For generations, American elites, particularly on the left side of the aisle, have insisted that democracy gets in the way of optimal decision-making. Stuart Chase, an economic adviser to Franklin D. Roosevelt, wanted an "industrial general staff with dictatorial powers" to run the economy. In 1962, John F. Kennedy declared: "Most of the problems ... that we now face, are technical problems, are administrative problems." These problems "deal with questions which are now beyond the comprehension of most men." Columnist Thomas Friedman openly yearns for the American government to be "China for a day" so it could overrule democracy and the rule of law in pursuit of "what works."

This attitude virtually defines the Obama administration's approach to everything from climate change (the Environmental Protection Agency, not Congress, destroyed the coal industry) to immigration (even President Obama admitted his executive orders would be unconstitutional, then went through with them anyway). Hillary Clinton's disdain for the rules regarding her server and email, whether criminal or not, have the distinct stench of aloof aristocratic arrogance (as does her family's foundation).
As Goldberg points out, such dissatisfaction leads to a throw-the-bums-out mentality that helped fuel the Trump and Sanders candidacies. Even if they both go down in defeat this year, those who turned to them will still be unhappy with the society that the elites have created. And if Brexit fails in the vote this week, that doesn't mean that almost half the country will be unhappy with the decision.

Yeah, this will defeat terrorism.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that love and compassion are the best responses to terrorism during remarks to the media in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday.

Lynch said the Department of Justice stood in solidarity with the LGBT community “in the light” following a Muslim terrorist’s massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub last week.

“We stand with you to say that the good in this world far outweighs the evil, that our common humanity transcends our differences, and that our most effective response to terror and to hatred is compassion, it’s unity, and it’s love,” Lynch said. “We stand with you today as we grieve together, and long after the cameras are gone, we will continue to stand with you as we grow together in commitment, in solidarity, and in equality.”
If only we had more compassion for ISIS sympathizers, we'd have less terrorism.

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Janet Yellen doesn't seem to have gotten the memo from President Obama and Hillary Clinton about how his policies have helped the economy recover.
In Ohio on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton touted President Barack Obama's economic policies, remarking how his plans have helped create millions of private sector jobs in the past six and a half years. She indicated she would build on his supposed success.

Meanwhile, at a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen offered an assessment that contradicted Clinton’s sunny report.

"For the last few months, as I mentioned, job gains averaged 100,000 on a strike-adjusted basis, which is a substantial slowdown from the first quarter and last year," Yellen noted.

That’s not where her unfortunate analysis ended. The Fed chair also said economic growth had been “uneven” and business investment outside of the energy sector was “surprisingly weak.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Cruising the Web

So Trump is meeting with advisers to reassess his campaign strategy. So making idiotic statements, going off on a racist rant attacking the judge in his fraud case, ignoring lines of attack on Hillary after the IG report was removed, neglecting to focus on the economy when there's a bad jobs number, not hiring campaign staffers, not raising money, not running ads, allowing his opponents to define him using his own appalling words, acting as his own as an ineffective fast-response team in response to attacks were not a good campaign strategy? Good to know. Future candidates, pay attention.

This is what happens when incompetents are in charge of a campaign run by a conceited ignoramus.
onald Trump faces an extraordinary money deficit unheard of in modern presidential politics, entering the month with tens of millions of dollars less than Hillary Clinton.

Clinton's campaign had $42 million in the bank as of May 31, according to its report filed with the Federal Election Commission Monday. Her super PAC Priorities USA has $52 million.

Trump's campaign has $1.3 million.
$52 million versus $1.3 million. I guess people don't feel like donating money to the guy who keeps bragging how rich he is. But it takes money to run for president. He can't do it just by using Twitter and interviews on Sean Hannity. Remember this was the guy who bragged about how he could fix the nation's problems by hiring the best people. He can't even hire campaign operatives.

William McGurn reminds us of how liberals reacted when New York City tried to take away guns from criminals. They weren't so happy about those attempts even though that is the goal they profess to want.
Start with guns. Under Mr. Kelly, police expanded a tactic known as stop-and-frisk. Here’s a better way to think about it: gun control for bad guys.

Cops would be proactive. When they spotted someone behaving suspiciously, he would be stopped, questioned and sometimes frisked. Often police found an illegal weapon.

The gun control was not limited to the thousands of guns taken off the streets this way. Because the bad guys knew they might be frisked, they started leaving their guns at home. New York became America’s safest big city.

How was this success greeted? The cops found themselves denounced as racists, because the stops of black men were disproportionate to their percentage of the general population (but not disproportionate to suspect descriptions). The activists sued; an anti-cop federal judge egged them on; and Bill de Blasio made “racial profiling” by police a key campaign point in his successful run for mayor in 2013.

Never mind that as a result of the NYPD’s approach, thousands of young black and Hispanic lives were saved.

Alas, it’s the same sad story for the cause of better intelligence. Under Mr. Kelly, police set up a demographics unit. The Associated Press would win a Pulitzer for a sensationalist series of stories falsely implying it was about blanket spying on Muslims. In fact, the unit was about getting smart—learning where, for example, terrorists such as the Tsarnaev brothers might look for shelter had they made it to New York (as they’d planned) after bombing the Boston marathon.

Or what about the 2007 NYPD report called “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat”? Here’s a sentence from the first paragraph of the executive summary: “Rather than being directed from al-Qaeda abroad, these plots have been conceptualized and planned by ‘unremarkable’ local residents/citizens who sought to attack their country of residence, utilizing al-Qaeda as their inspiration and ideological reference point.”

Substitute “ISIS” for “al-Qaeda” and these words today look prophetic.

So how did the liberal world react to this effort to smarten up? In January, the de Blasio administration agreed to pull the report from the NYPD website as part of a settlement with Muslim groups who had sued. Two years earlier the NYPD had disbanded the demographics unit, also after much litigation and pressure.

Remember: All this came in a New York that, under Mr. Kelly, had suffered no terror attack after 9/11 and had seen its shootings and murders driven down to historic lows.

The larger point of New York’s record here is that it’s not enough to have smart and effective policies if the goal is to bring down gun violence and stop terrorists. The other critical factor is a leader like Mr. Bloomberg, willing to buck political correctness and back his law enforcement team.

Worth thinking about in light of a Democratic attorney general who tried to censor pledges of fealty by an Islamist mass murderer and a Democratic presidential nominee who claims she would be tough on guns and terror.

Now that we had the farce of Loretta Lynnch seeking to expunge the name of ISIS from the transcripts of the phone conversations of Omar Mateen during his terrorist rampage and the White House denying any responsibility, it's time to wonder what she thought she was going to accomplish by her choice. She claimed that she didn't want to "propagate their rhetoric."
Apparently, in her mind, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi & Co. have been judiciously waiting for more ironclad evidence before making Orlando a staple in their recruitment efforts, and the DOJ thought a redacted transcript would cut them off at the knees. “He only pledges allegiance to ‘[omitted]’! We can’t put this on the fliers!” And likewise with all of those potentially “self-radicalizing” “lone wolves.” (Never mind all of the beheading videos they can still watch on Reddit.)
Then the Justice Department said they were releasing only a partial transcript so as to provide transparency while being sensitive to the family members and survivors.
Transparency, indeed! The one thing that has been transparent, over the course of this entire mindless episode, is that we are governed by contemptuous morons. The calculated judgment of this administration was to censor information, to concoct fantastical explanations about why it was censoring the information — then, when it was forced to backtrack, to provide further ludicrous rationales for why it was backtracking. The administration was so determined to forward its preferred narrative about Orlando — and so confident that it would succeed — that it perpetrated, and announced in advance that it would be perpetrating, an obvious fraud on the country.

Coming just weeks after Ben Rhodes’s self-congratulatory interview with the New York Times Magazine about working to hoodwink voters into supporting the Iran deal, one might sense a pattern. If they act like they think we’re idiots, it’s because they do.

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All federal employees are above average.
In Lake Wobegon, it is said, "all the children are above average." So, apparently, are all the workers in the federal government.

Of course, Lake Wobegon was a fictional town in the radio show "A Prairie Home Companion," and so that impossible claim was whimsical. But when it comes to the federal government, this absurd rating of worker performance is all too real.

A review of federal worker performance ratings by the Government Accountability Office found that 99.5% of them got a "fully successful" rating or above. More than a third were given the highest rating of "outstanding."

At the other end of the spectrum, just 0.4% of federal workers were rated as "minimally successful" and 0.1% as "unacceptable."

Marco Rubio seems to be getting closer to deciding to enter back into running for the Senate. It wouldn't be a gimme. He'd still face a tough primary and would have to run with Trump at the top of the ticket. That wouldn't be fun.
Assuming he clears the primary, he’ll then be forced into a general-election campaign against Murphy, whose ability to raise huge sums of money from the get-go caught some Republicans by surprise. And in the state that could well determine the winner of the presidential race, the Senate candidates will, to a large degree, be at the mercy of the advertising and ground games employed by those at the top of the ticket.

If Rubio loses — a real possibility in a toss-up state, particularly with Trump at the top of the ticket — it could end his political career. If he wins, he’ll spend the next four to six years voting on bills in a Trump or Clinton administration, and then being called to account for those votes whether he runs for president again or for a third term in the Senate. Many of his likely competitors in a future presidential election, including Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Ben Sasse, will be in the Senate with him, staring him down from the right.

Rubio allies say that if he does run, it will be because he wants to serve, not because he is weighing the costs and benefits to his political future. But the questions are one and the same: A failed Senate bid would severely limit his ability to serve in the future. A successful run could cast him as a hero. Whatever his choice in the coming days, his political future remains an open question.

Here's a reminder of another time that the Obama administration scrubbed "Allah" from a transcript when it wasn't politically desired.

This is how corrupting Obamacare is.
Shortly following last week’s revelation that Obamacare premiums will spike yet again in 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it would offer $22 million in grants to state insurance officials to enforce “compliance with Affordable Care Act key consumer protections.” The Obama administration will, in other words, bribe state regulators to impose price controls on insurers selling coverage through Obamacare exchanges. Where did CMS get the $22 million? From a multi-million dollar slush fund the federal government has quietly used to control state insurance departments over which it has no legal authority.

This money, as CMS puts it, “is part of $250 million in state rate review grants the Affordable Care Act provided to improve the process for how states review proposed health insurance rate increases and hold insurance companies accountable for unjustified hikes.” The press release also claims that the $22 million will be distributed from “unobligated rate review grant funding from prior years.” This is odd considering that $246.9 million of the $250 million has already been awarded. It would be interesting to hear Andrew Slavitt, the Acting Administrator of CMS, explain how he got $22 million from a grant fund in which only $3.1 million remains.
Since I teach the ratification of the Constitution, I often wonder what Anti-Federalists would say if they came back today. It is as every prediction they made about what the new central government would do to absorb the powers of the individual states and how this new office of the presidency would allow someone to act without check had come to pass. And the implementation of Obamacare would be a prime example.

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Jeff Jacoby is not impressed with the moaning and groaning by feminists about the number of women serving as directors of S&P 500 companies.
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER report bewailing the number of women on corporate boards of directors. According to a tally released on Tuesday by Catalyst, a nonprofit group that focuses on women in the workplace, 27 percent of new appointments to the boards of companies listed on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index in 2015 went to women. That boosted to 20 percent the total share of women serving as directors at S&P 500 companies.

Catalyst gloomily describes these findings as “dismal.” The group’s president, Deborah Gillis, laments that “men continue to be overrepresented, holding more than their fair share of board seats and, in some cases, all the board seats.”

Professional pessimists can always be counted on to find the clouds in a clearing sky, especially when it draws media attention. Catalyst’s annual census of women on corporate boards routinely generates a bumper crop of headlines about how little headway has been made in diversifying boardrooms by sex. But is “dismal” really the right word for the advance of women onto boards of directors?

In 2015, according to Catalyst, only 2.8 percent of S&P 500 companies, just 14, had no women on their boards. One decade earlier, those numbers were more than four times as large: Twelve percent of the S&P 500 — 60 companies — had all-male corporate boards in 2005. And the shift is accelerating. As of this week, the number of corporations on the S&P Index with no female directors is down to eight.
Jacoby points out that corporations usually don't have much turnover among their directors' seats so the accelerating number of women getting those seats demonstrates distinct progress.
To some gender warriors, of course, the situation will remain “dismal” until the share of women on corporate boards matches the share of women in the population. Gillis’s complaint that men have more than their “fair share” of board seats reflects the fallacy that the sexes would be equally represented in institutions and occupations if only discrimination, whether overt or institutional, weren’t in the way.

But it’s no more logical to expect parity between men and women in boardrooms than to expect it in professional athletics (where men tend to earn far more than women), or in the awarding of college degrees (where women outperform men). Notable gender disparities exist in everything from imprisoned criminals (overwhelmingly men) to single home buyers (overwhelmingly women). Obviously there was a time when blatant sexism and outrageous double standards made it all but impossible for women to climb the corporate ladder. In 2016, however, women run some of the nation’s largest and most influential companies — General Motors, IBM, PepsiCo, Xerox. It is hard to make a convincing case that an entrenched and toxic patriarchy is blackballing women from the ranks of the business world’s elite.
But activists benefit from being glass-half-empty. They don't get contributions from donors or attention paid from the media if things are going well for their cause.

Ah, if only logic could be used. Thomas Sowell writes,
Surely murder is a serious subject, which ought to be examined seriously. Instead, it is almost always examined politically in the context of gun control controversies, with stock arguments on both sides that have remained the same for decades. And most of those arguments are irrelevant to the central question: Do tighter gun control laws reduce the murder rate?

That is not an esoteric question, nor one for which no empirical evidence is available. Think about it. We have 50 states, each with its own gun control laws, and many of those laws have gotten either tighter or looser over the years. There must be tons of data that could indicate whether murder rates went up or down when either of these things happened.

But have you ever heard any gun control advocate cite any such data? Tragically, gun control has become one of those fact-free issues that spawn outbursts of emotional rhetoric and mutual recriminations about the National Rifle Association or the Second Amendment.

If restrictions on gun ownership do reduce murders, we can repeal the Second Amendment, as other Constitutional Amendments have been repealed. Laws exist to protect people. People do not exist to perpetuate laws.

But if tighter restrictions on gun ownership do not reduce murders, what is the point of tighter gun control laws -- and what is the point of demonizing the National Rifle Association?
He goes on to demonstrate that empirical studies comparing the United States with England or among the states here do not demonstrate any that any restrictions on buying guns reduces murder rates.
Virtually all empirical studies in the United States show that tightening gun control laws has not reduced crime rates in general or murder rates in particular. Is this because only people opposed to gun control do empirical studies? Or is it because the facts uncovered in empirical studies make the arguments of gun control zealots untenable?

In both England and the United States, those people most zealous for tighter gun control laws tend also to be most lenient toward criminals and most restrictive on police. The net result is that law-abiding citizens become more vulnerable when they are disarmed and criminals disobey gun control laws, as they disobey other laws.

The facts are too plain to be ignored. Moreover, the consequences are too dangerous to law-abiding citizens, whose lives are put in jeopardy on the basis of fact-free assumptions and unexamined dogmas. Such arguments are a farce, but not the least bit funny.

Here's an interesting maneuver in the climate change debates.
Eric Schneiderman and Sheldon Whitehouse, call your office. The New York Attorney General and Rhode Island Senator who helped to launch the prosecution of dissent on climate change may not like where their project is headed. Thirteen state Attorneys General have sent a letter pointing out that if minimizing the risks of climate change can be prosecuted as “fraud,” then so can statements overstating the dangers of climate change....

“We think this effort by our colleagues to police the global warming debate through the power of the subpoena is a grave mistake,” says the letter. “Using law enforcement authority to resolve a public policy debate undermines the trust invested in our offices and threatens free speech.”

It sure does, not least by politicizing fraud prosecutions even more than they already are. Mr. Schneiderman and some 15 other Democratic AGs are targeting only one side of the climate debate—i.e., fossil-fuel companies or think tanks that question climate orthodoxy. Mr. Schneiderman claims that Exxon’s disclosure about the risks of climate change has been inadequate, though the oil company has discussed such risks in its 10-K disclosures filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, among other places.

But the AGs’ letter points out that, “If Exxon’s disclosure is deficient, what of the failure of renewable energy companies to list climate change as a risk?” If climate change turns out to be less serious than advertised, then “‘clean energy’ companies may become less valuable and some may be altogether worthless,” the letter adds.
What would be preferable is for no authority to try to use fraud investigations to criminalize statements on policy and political debate.

Unions have succeeded in getting the New York legislature to pass a law to put an end to Airbnb in the state. Jazz Shaw traces down the contributions from the Hotel interest group to New York Democrats.
Meanwhile, the impact will be felt by residents in the Big Apple and around the state. One of the hardest hit groups are retirees who count on rentals of empty nest rooms for income in their later years, as reported recently by the New York Times. But it’s not just retirees. Those in the middle class who struggle to live in a tax wasteland with an outrageous cost of living rate like New York and somehow managed to obtain a home gain some budget relief by renting out an extra room. In fact, the only people not affected are the ones who are rich enough not to need the extra income.

That’s some real service that the Democrats are delivering to their middle class and poor constituents, eh? But at least they’re keeping the unions happy.
Democrats are working along with unions to block innovative aspects of the gig economy. They don't like Uber either since that hurts taxi drivers.

The facts that give the lie to Obama's claims about the economy.
President Barack Obama needs a reality check. Earlier this month in Indiana, he accused his critics of ignoring the “facts” and purporting “myths” about his economic record. But if Republicans are truly ignoring the facts, Obama should consider it a blessing.

A quick look at the facts will show that Obama’s economic performance has been weak—even by his own standards.

In its budget for the fiscal year 2010, the Obama administration estimated that real gross domestic product would decline in 2009 by 2.8 percent that year and then increase by 2 percent in 2010.

Furthermore, the White House forecast that by 2011 its massive stimulus program would start paying off, with growth accelerating to 3.8 percent that year and then soaring above 4 percent from 2012 to 2014.
Errrr. Not quite. Obama's policies actually depress economic growth. And we'll be facing more of the same from the Hillary presidency.

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Just what college students need - less math and more diversity training.
At Wayne State University in Detroit, students will be making some new course selections in the coming semesters if a new faculty proposal is put into place. For those who find mathematics to be a bit on the difficult side or not important to their goals, good news! You won’t have to be bothered with studying calculus or statistics. Instead, you’ll be filling your time and required credit hours with courses in “diversity training.”

The Air Force, apparently, doesn't approve of mentioning God at a private flag-folding ceremony even when the retiree requested it.

One sniper-shot. Two dead ISIS car bombers. Priceless.

ESPN looks at what college teams we would have witnessed if college basketball players could not be one-and-dones, but had to stay at least three years as football players do. There would have been some truly great teams in the past decade.