Banner ad

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cruising the Web

Daniel Henninger writes on the President's seeming insouciance about what is going on around the world.
As the world burns, the president spent this week fiddling at fundraisers in the living rooms of five Democratic Party fat cats in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. As White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri famously explained, changing the president's fundraising schedule "can have the unintended consequence of unduly alarming the American people or creating a false sense of crisis."

Alarmed? Who's alarmed? What false sense of crisis? Vladimir Putin's masked men in eastern Ukraine shot Malaysia Airlines Flight 17's 298 people out of the air just about the time Israel and Hamas commenced their death struggle, not long after the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham occupied a third of Iraq within seven days. Now ISIS is cleansing Mosul of its Christians.

If news coverage defined reality, you'd think the civil war in Syria was over. There just isn't space to fit it all in. The homicidal Islamic fanatics of Boko Haram may soon establish statelike control of northern Nigeria, as ISIS has in Iraq. Last week the April kidnappers of the world's now-forgotten "our girls" gunned down another 44 Nigerians, then days later killed 100 more in villages abandoned by the Nigerian army. After Boko Haram grabbed a German citizen in Gombi, Germany's foreign ministry said it was "aware of the case."

On Monday, Barack Obama showed up on the White House lawn to make clear that he, too, is aware of what's going on. Addressing the war in Gaza for about three minutes, Mr. Obama urged "the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting." He said, "I have asked John,"—that would be our squirrel-on-a-wheel secretary of state—to "help facilitate" that. That is a foreign policy whose arc begins and ends with the phrase, "stop the killing."

More revealing, though, was what Mr. Obama said on the airliner shoot-down and Russia's role. "If Russia continues to violate Ukraine's sovereignty," he said, and if it still backs the separatists who are becoming "more and more dangerous" not just to Ukrainians "but the broader international community," then "the costs for Russia" will increase.

What does this mean? Mr. Putin will really be in hot water with the U.S. president if one of his proxies does something worse than shoot a passenger jet out of the sky?

Here's what it means. It means that "the situation," as the White House routinely euphemizes all the world's chaos, is going to get worse. It means in the next two years many more people are going to die, and not necessarily in the places where they are dying now. Why should it stop?
And Hillary Clinton's response isn't much better.
On Sunday, another telling event slipped in. Bosnian Muslims buried 284 bodies recently found in a mass grave from the Balkans war in the 1990s. That war was a genocide taking place on post-World War II European soil, which didn't stop until the U.S. acted to end it. Now with Dutch bodies strewn across Ukraine, president-in-waiting Hillary Clinton ludicrously says, "Europeans have to be the ones to take the lead on this."

As a White House veteran of the Milosevic slaughters in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, Mrs. Clinton knows Europe won't act until the U.S. leads. Europe today mainly wages war on Google, Microsoft, and Intel. Its leaders won't do much more than hope nothing like a Flight 17 happens one morning in the subways or on the streets of their capitals. Hope alone won't protect them or us.

This week the original 9/11 Commission put out an update on global terrorism. The report says the "complacency" that led to 9/11 "is happening again."

How, then, to explain someone who claims he can run the country and a troubled world out of his back pocket while he flies from fundraiser to fundraiser? Barack Obama is the most provincial U.S. president in at least a century. The progressive Democrats who displaced the Clinton machine in 2008 and came to power with Mr. Obama have no interest beyond consolidating political and electoral power inside the U.S. Not even the White House of Lyndon Johnson, the ultimate pol, was so purely politicized.

The fundraising is a frantic effort to protect this new Democratic voter machine. The world doesn't vote, so the world doesn't matter. Unless, of course, the American people in November decide that a world defined by events like Flight 17 does matter.

And this isn't an example of competence in foreign affairs:
Obama refused ‘repeated requests’ since August 2013 for drone strikes against ISIS

But, as Jim Geraghty writes, there is just no rest for President Obama.

David Horovitz writes in the Times of Israel about the terrible cost that Israel is paying as their soldiers fight through Gaza to find and destroy the tunnels through which Hamas has been using and was planning to use for terror attacks against Israeli civilians. They've built tunnels targeting an Israeli Kindergarten.
But Israel is paying a heavy price. Soldiers have been killed in booby-trapped buildings. Six, maybe seven died when their armored personnel carrier was hit by an anti-tank missile in Shejaiya. They are fighting off kidnap attempts. They report being charged by Gaza children as young as 13 wearing suicide-bomber belts laden with explosives. The losses are mounting. “We’re in a war,” said Col. Uri Gordin, commander of the Nahal Brigade, on Tuesday.

Hamas is using every dirty trick in the book. Everybody now knows what Israel has said for years — that Gaza’s terrorist government hides its rockets in schools, fires from next to mosques, buries its ammunition under homes, sets up its command and control centers in hospitals. We all now also know that when its rockets are found in schools run by UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency), UNRWA gives them back to Hamas (and the US keeps on funding UNRWA).

Most despicably, Hamas warned civilians in Shejaiya not to heed Israeli pleas to leave the area — from where over 150 rockets have been fired, and numerous tunnels dug — ahead of the bitter fighting that has raged there since Saturday night; hence the awful scale of civilian casualties. The Hamas fighters, meanwhile, were lying in wait underground, preparing to ambush the Israeli ground forces.

Hamas is still resisting calls for a ceasefire. Why would it stop, when its popularity is high among Gaza residents for its “resistance” to hated Israel, and when it cares not a whit for the fate of those self-same Gazans? A hundred dead Israelis, even at the price of thousands of dead Gazans, would constitute victory in its eyes. Why stop, when it is being urged on by tens of thousands of demonstrators around the world — some suffering a surfeit of passion and a deficit of common sense, some consumed by hatred for Israel?

Most people here, however, feel that Israel cannot countenance a ceasefire either — unless it can be assured that Hamas would be unable to rearm, reorganize, rebuild those tunnels, research and develop rockets that can outwit Iron Dome, and dream up who knows what other strategies for killing us. And who can give us that assurance?

Israel certainly wants to put a stop to the loss of life — but the goal that Netanyahu set at the outset of this war, ensuring sustained quiet, can only be achieved through the long-term weakening of Hamas or its ouster. If there is no viable political solution, that means Israeli military action – bolstered by our fortunately burgeoning security partnership with Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s Egypt, preventing the influx of weaponry and materials into the Strip. (One fervently hopes there’s a great deal of Jerusalem-Cairo coordination going on right now.) Israel needs Gaza demilitarized, and the UN, US, EU et al are no more capable of ensuring that than the international community was capable of disarming Hezbollah in south Lebanon.
Even the EU seems to understand the evil tactics of Hamas. But the U.S. State Department still seems to regard the situation as one in which both sides are culpable. The administration seems to forget that Israel had already agreed to a cease-fire but Hamas turned it down.
It’s a sad day when, while the EU continues to regard Israel as safe for European citizens, the State Department issues a travel warning for US citizens against non-essential trips to Israel.

It’s a sad day, too, when the best that the administration can manage is to tell us we have “the right to self-defense,” rather than leading a global diplomatic offensive that champions Israel’s obligation to protect itself, and that musters any and every means to help its sole dependable Middle Eastern ally in that mission.

And it’s just a farcical day when we watch the US lead the abandonment of Israel by foreign airlines — a capitulation to terrorism that is simply not justified by the asserted security risk. This is the same United States leadership that is angry with us for failing to place our faith in high-tech security guarantees that, Secretary of State John Kerry swore blind, would assure our safety if we were to follow our withdrawal from Gaza with a similar full departure from the West Bank. Rather than simply cutting Israel off from American civilian flights, why have the US authorities not at least redirected flights to neighboring Jordan, where surely American security procedures could ensure the safe transfer of passengers on a short bus journey to Israel?

I hadn't realized this. I thought we'd have to wait for the Halbig case to go through an en banc hearing before it could be appealed to the Supreme Court, but since the side arguing against the federal subsidies lost in the Fourth Circuit in King v. Burwell, the lawyers for King could request an expedited appeal so that the issue could be settled without waiting the probably two years we might have to wait if Halbig goes to a full court hearing. As the WSJ writes everyone would benefit from an expedited appeal so that we could get this cleared up one way or another. And it would be an added plus to thwart Harry Reid's nuclear option shenanigans.
The Supreme Court could wait for another appellate conflict to emerge. Yet the delay could last two years or more and compound the policy harm if the Administration's ObamaCare rewrite is ultimately vacated. The sooner the Administration has to ask Congress to fix its mistake, the better for the country.

A fast Fourth Circuit appeal would also do a public service by spoiling the Administration's strategy of packing the D.C. Circuit to guarantee an en banc ruling against Halbig. Last year the White House and Senate Democrats rushed to junk the filibuster in order to add three judges to the D.C. Circuit precisely to block these big cases from getting to the Supreme Court. The circuit has long been a way station for large cases but now is likely to turn into a somewhat less wacky version of the liberal Ninth Circuit.

Eric Holder is now saying that amnesty for illegal immigrants is a "civil and human right." How absurd is that? John Hinderaker explains why this makes no sense.
If you don’t believe in national sovereignty, if you don’t believe that a country is entitled to have a border, then it makes sense to say that a non-citizen has a civil (i.e., legal) right to enter the country and remain forever, regardless of any laws to the contrary. Otherwise, Holder’s proposition–which I think accurately reflects the thinking of the Obama administration–is nonsensical.
The NYT reports that the Democrat who was appointed to be Senator from Montana to fill Sen. Baucus's seat plagiarized the paper that he wrote to get his Master's Degree from the Army War College.
The breadth of Mr. Walsh’s apparent plagiarism, however, is rivaled by few examples in recent political history. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, was found last year to have presented the work of others as his own in a newspaper opinion article, a book and speeches. And Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. dropped his 1988 presidential bid when it was revealed that in campaign speeches he had used language similar to that of the British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock without attribution.

Mr. Walsh appears to have gone considerably further.

About a third of his paper consists of material either identical to or extremely similar to passages in other sources, such as the Carnegie or Harvard papers, and is presented without attribution. Another third is attributed to sources through footnotes, but uses other authors’ exact — or almost exact — language without quotation marks.

The senator included 96 footnotes in his paper, but many of them only illustrate this troubling pattern. In repeated instances, Mr. Walsh uses the language of others with no quotation marks, but footnotes the source from which the material came. In other cases, the passages appear in his paper with a word or two changed, but are otherwise identical to the authors’ language.

For example, in the first paragraph of his paper, Mr. Walsh writes of George W. Bush: “During the 2000 presidential campaign Bush and his advisors made it clear that they favored great-power realism over idealistic notions such as nation building or democracy promotion.”

At the end of this sentence, which Mr. Walsh included without quotation marks, he footnoted a reference to a 2003 article in Foreign Affairs by Thomas Carothers, a prominent foreign policy expert. The only difference between Mr. Walsh’s paper and Mr. Carothers’ essay is that Mr. Walsh wrote “advisors” rather than “advisers” and did not use “had.” In other instances, Mr. Walsh swaps a synonym for a word in the original document.

He writes on his second page: “There are deep disagreements about the appropriate theoretical framework, about whether democracy is simply an institutional arrangement for choosing rulers or an end in itself, about how to measure and evaluate democracy, and about the importance of prerequisites for democracy.”
Oh, dear. I spend every year trying to teach high schoolers what plagiarism is and why they shouldn't do it. It doesn't help when our nation's leaders are doing it.

Senator Walsh also plagiarized a bill he proposed.

Chris Cillizza had a post the other day positing that "It's virtually impossible to be a successful modern president." James Taranto has a great analysis ripping apart each part of Cillizza's argument. One of Cillizza's main points is that we're more polarized today than ever before. Those claims always amuse me because it seems so ahistorical. Things were even uglier in the 1790s or during the 1850s and the Civil War. Taranto links to a post by Steven Hayward to remind us of how liberals also thought that the U.S. was too difficult to govern in 1980. Hayward has quote after quote of people in the media and elites in academia were claiming about the weaknesses and difficulties of the presidency. Then Reagan became president and they forgot all about those complaints. And I'd remind Mr. Cillizza that President Obama was quite powerful in the first two years of his presidency. He was able to push his agenda through Congress despite not garnering any support from Republicans. Of course, his policies have had deleterious effects on the economy and employment plus the mess he's made of health policy. So he was clearly able to accomplish what he wished. The problems of partisanship blocking policy arose only when they lost the House in 2010. Gosh darn it! It is clearly just too difficult if a Democratic president should have to face divided government. Our Founders couldn't have wanted that to happen, could they? Oh, wait...

Democratic members of the FEC are pondering whether they have the power to regulate books published by politicians in election years. That's truly scary.

Gosh, everything the experts tell us about health seems to change. Eggs were bad for us; now they aren't. Fat was bad; now it isn't. Wine was bad; now it isn't. Carbs were good for us; now they aren't. And now they're saying we should get seven, not eight hours of sleep a night. I guess it will be like having Daylight's Saving Time every day. Of course, most nights during the school year, I'm happy if I get five hours.

For those of you who suspect you might have sleep apnea, you can now test yourself at home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cruising the Web

Michael Cannon, who has been arguing that the Obamacare subsidies violated the actual text of the law, as a two to one panel on the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled today, explains how winners outnumber losers if the subsidies are struck down.

Of course, if the D.C. Circuit should hear the Halbig case in an en banc review, we'll see the impact of Harry Reid's nuclear option as it put a majority of Democratic appointees on the court. That might get today's decision reversed, but this case is going to go to the Supreme Court. And, while the Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of the administration today, there are still two district courts in Indiana and Oklahoma that need to rule on this issue. So we'll have to wait until this goes before the Supreme Court. John Roberts will get another crack at a creative interpretation of the nexus of the IRS and Obamacare.

What is clear, no matter how this ends up, is that this was a terribly written law. This is what happens when Congress ignores legislative process and cobbles together a bill in backrooms without any input from the other party or really from anyone else. Then, due to Scott Brown's election to the Senate thus ending the Democrats' filibuster-proof majority, the Democrats had to push through the bill without any changes possible in a conference committee as would normally have been done. We've seen all sorts of problems with how the law was written thus making Nancy Pelosi's prediction that we had to pass the law to find out what was in it. It is humorous that the Democrats are basing their argument in this case on legislative intent. How can we discern their intent when none of them read the bill before they voted on it?

I deeply wish that this could be the absolute last time that Congress pushes through a bill skipping regular process, but I know it won't be. Both parties are guilty and the results are almost always bad.

Paul Mirengoff explains the difference between a drafting error in a law and poor draftsmanship. Obamacare was clearly the latter. Andrew McCarthy explains why the mistake at the basis of the Halbig decision today was a feature, not a bug. It was no error.
The Left now claims that this was the result of a drafting error. Even if that were true, Obamacare advocates would lose, assuming we are still governed by the rule of law. Only Congress can fix Congress’s drafting errors — judges, much less presidents and executive branch agencies, do not get to do this.

But this was not a drafting error at all. The point was to coerce the states into setting up exchanges, and the Left’s premise in structuring Obamacare as it did was its assessment that Obamacare, and especially its subsidies, would be popular. Obamacare turned out to be unpopular, however, and state governors and legislators did not suffer any political blow-back for refusing to help implement it. There was no ministerial drafting mistake; there was a mistaken assumption that the public would rally behind the policy, creating political pressure on state governments. Because statists think Obamacare is a good idea, they figured everyone would be brought around to that conclusion.
Ramesh Ponnuru also makes this point.
Yet nobody disputes that the law allowed states to refuse to expand Medicaid, which also frustrates that goal. The law as enacted tried to get the states to go along with the expansion by denying all Medicaid funds to holdouts. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not use such a blunt instrument: It could withhold some Medicaid funds but not all of them.

The withholding of tax credits from states without exchanges could similarly have been meant to induce them to establish them. In that case the lawmakers just overestimated how powerful an inducement it would be, and eventually the administration, facing a disaster for its policy and political ambitions, used the IRS to nullify the inducement altogether. The states called the feds’ bluff.

Well there goes one cover-up story.
Top IRS officials told congressional investigators that Lois Lerner's hard drive -- the one containing emails that could shed light on the IRS targeting scandal -- was irreparably damaged before it was destroyed completely in 2011. But now, investigators have had a chance to talk to the technical experts inside the IRS who actually examined Lerner's computer, and the experts say the hard drive in question was actually just "scratched," and that most of the data on it was recoverable.

The IRS computer experts also told the committee that they had recommended seeking outside help in recovering the data from Lerner's computer — something IRS management declined to do.

So why did the State Department issue a travel warning for Israel yesterday? Why is it more dangerous this week when rockets sent into Israel have declined due to Israel's ground invasion than it was in the previous two weeks when there were many more rockets being sent into Israel? Noah Pollak has an idea about this strange timing.
The answer may be that the Obama administration is using the travel warning to exert pressure on Israel to agree to a ceasefire. It could be a shot across the bow – a deniable but very real signal to Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Obama administration’s support for Israel’s operation in Gaza has come to an end, and that there will be consequences for its continuation. And at the same time the State Department was delivering a blow to the Israeli tourism industry, Kerry was showing solidarity with Gaza by announcing a $47 million aid package, much of which is slated to be administered by UNRWA, the corrupt and terror-linked UN agency that has been in the news for storing Hamas rockets in one of its schools.
Typical of this State Department and administration.

Just as a reminder, this is how Hamas acts to endanger its own civilians.
They hid at the El-Wafa hospital.

They hid at the Al-Aqsa hospital.

They hid at the beach, where children played football.

They hid at the yard of 75-year-old Muhammad Hamad.

They hid among the residential quarters of Shujaya.

They hid in the neighbourhoods of Zaytoun and Toffah.

They hid in Rafah and Khan Younis.

They hid in the home of the Qassan family.

They hid in the home of the poet, Othman Hussein.

They hid in 84 schools and 23 medical facilities.

They hid in a cafe, where Gazans were watching the World Cup.

They hid in the ambulances trying to retrieve the injured.

They hid themselves in 24 corpses, buried under rubble.

Noted anti-capitalist Michael Moore owns nine houses. Of course.

The Senate race in North Carolina this year is going to be a tight one. Neither side can be complacent, but don't put all that much faith in the recent PPP poll showing Kay Hagan up seven points against Republican Thom Tillis. And don't buy Nate Cohn's argument that the Republican wave has died down. Jay Cost explains why.

Byron York summarizes the difference between Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren.
Clinton is offering Democrats her resume. Warren is offering them a plan.

Does this surprise anyone? The GAO has found that it's not all that difficult for people with fake identities to get subsidies under Obamacare.

Ted Cruz responds to a plot line on HBO's "True Blood" in which vampires murder Texas Republicans at a Cruz fundraiser while the show uses some some really ugly language about Cruz and his supporters..
Well, I’m sorry to have lost the vampire vote, but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends….

Jeff Jacoby observes the increasing anti-Israel feeling among Democrats. It's a real change from how the Democratic Party used to support Israel.
But on the left, the Israeli-Arab dispute itself has been redefined. Liberals used to see the stakes with no illusions: A small Jewish democracy, an outpost of liberal Western values, was surrounded by brutal Arab dictatorships that denied its very right to exist. That moral clarity has eroded, partly because of facts on the ground over years of conflict — but ultimately through a skillful war of ideas, first launched on the radical left, to reframe the conflict by making Israel the villain and casting Palestinians, who had never been considered a nation, as an oppressed underdog seeking independence.

This intellectual assault began, as Muravchik details, when the Soviet Union, angered by Israel’s defeat of its Arab clients in 1967, engineered a propaganda campaign to delegitimize Zionism. Moscow embraced the PLO, assiduously promoting its significance to the global “anti-imperialist struggle.” The campaign was fought on many fronts, from academia to the United Nations to the media. Over time the anti-Israel narrative gained such traction that the Jewish state, though still a humane and liberal democracy, became one of the world’s most reviled nations.

Needless to say, Israel’s policies are always a legitimate target for honest criticism, as Israelis themselves — often among their government’s harshest critics — would be the first to assert. But critics ought to acknowledge that Israel’s choices are made by a democratic government confronting relentless security threats from an enemy sworn to its destruction. To fail to recognize that moral context is to miss what matters most — to be blind to the conflict’s essence.

Yet wherever the left holds sway, Israel is seen through jaundiced eyes. There has been an unprecedented moral inversion, illustrating the power of a noxious idea to seep from the ideological fringe to the mainstream.

President Obama can't seem to get his rear-covering stories straight. Time and again, we've been told that he didn't know about the problems in the VA or with the IRS or Fast and Furious or that his Justice Department was spying on reporters until he heard the reports on the news. But last night he told a fundraiser something different.
Mr. Obama told supporters that he doesn’t watch the news because, “Whatever they’re reporting about, usually I know.”
I guess that's all part of his "I'm smarter than anyone else around" image, but he needs to remember his own CYA stories.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cruising the Web

Robert Samuelson is exactly right as he bemoans the politicization of the civil service.
Something has gone wrong in our civil service. Consider some recent developments. The IRS was forced to pay the National Organization for Marriage $50,000 for leaking the group’s donor list. Tea-party organizations and donors were much more likely than others to be audited by the IRS. This misbehavior was not the work of a few rogue employees in Cincinnati. In general, the IRS stalled tea-party applications for status as 501(c)(4) groups.

Meanwhile, April Sands, an employee of the FEC, recently pleaded guilty to violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from campaigning at the office. Ms. Sands, who worked in the office charged with enforcing our election laws, recently said, “I just don’t understand how anyone but straight white men can vote Republican.” What business does such a person have in that office in the first place? Somehow the FEC managed to wipe her computer clean, weakening the case against her. Perhaps that answers our question. These cases reflect a larger pattern. Our civil service is putting a thumb on the scale of justice.
We've had a law against this since 1939. But now, as Samuelson points out, we have both a politicized civil service and no way to get rid of these partisans.
Today we have the worst of both worlds: a tenured and partisan civil service. Government employees have civil-service protection and are seldom fired, only for the most egregious of crimes. Yet they lean to one party. From 1989 to 2012, two-thirds of donations from IRS employees, for example, went to Democrats. Even so, our civil servants seem to think that they are politically neutral. Hence the employees at the VA think it is reasonable to spy on (presumptively partisan) congressional investigators, and hard drives mysteriously get destroyed in the IRS scandal. Laws are for the little people, as Glenn Reynolds likes to say.

The rise of the “fourth branch” of government — the administrative bureaucracy — complicates things further. Obamacare was roughly 2,000 pages long when Congress passed it. Bureaucrats have added thousands more. The Hobby Lobby case was about a rule written by bureaucrats, not by Congress. In fact, Congress probably would never have passed such a law. Worse, our tenured partisans sometimes delegate their jobs to activists. Who drafted the EPA’s new greenhouse regulations? The National Resources Defense Council.

Nowadays, in other words, laws are, in effect, written, interpreted, and enforced by the bureaucratic equivalent of made men who are quite well paid. So much for checks and balances. Moreover, our legal code is so complicated that, as Harvey Silverglate notes, most businesses or individuals are probably guilty of breaking some law somewhere. That puts each of us at the mercy of the government.

Obama has found a way to question conservatives' patriotism.
So Barack Obama is again using one of the most contemptible phrases in American politics — "economic patriotism."

There are many credible reasons to despise this rhetorical construct. Patriotism, after all, is the attachment to one's homeland, a nationalistic devotion to one's country and the values that make it great. If a person not only resists things that are "patriotic" but opposes them, then logic dictates that the person is being unpatriotic. So the president is really asking one question: Why do you hate America?

Instead of protecting tax loopholes that let corporations keep their profits overseas, let's put some of that money to work right here in the United States rebuilding America. We can rebuild our airports, create the next generation of good manufacturing jobs, make sure those are made in America.

A politician may rally millions of economic illiterates to his cause with this sort of speechifying, but these are not "loopholes"; they are "business decisions" that companies make when they face high regulatory burdens or high corporate taxes. Seeing as the goal of a business is not to become a more effective tax collector or health care provider, as this administration seems to believe, moving offshore, or tax inversion — which might mean $20 billion less for the Treasury over a decade — is becoming more popular. But either way, a lack of new tariffs and taxes does not "reward companies for moving profits overseas" as much as U.S. tax and regulatory policy is a punishment for their staying. Besides, where we stand on the issue of corporate taxation is no way to measure a person's loyalty to his country.

Actually, logic would also dictate that if you're texting on your Samsung phone while driving your Honda or BMW, you are also complicit in unpatriotic behavior. You are, in most cases, sending your cash to companies that aren't pitching in enough to rebuild our airports. Plenty of companies that normally suck up to the administration — General Electric, IBM, Merck and Microsoft, to name a few — believe that punishing foreign companies for doing business in the United States is a bad idea.

Are all these companies unpatriotic, as well? Someone should ask the president.
But let's not forget that for Obama, the idea of "economic patriotism" is elastic. The contours of its philosophy are now identical to the president's own policy proposals. Which is curious, considering we're supposed to set aside "politics" to achieve our communal goal. Then again, though you may be knee-deep in politics, our president is guided solely by common sense. Here's how Obama explained economic patriotism on July Fourth:

Of course. Hillary is in favor of limiting freedom of speech if she thinks it might help Democrats. After all, the Clintons didn't think anything of trying to get David Shuster fired because they didn't like the way he referred to how Chelsea was being used in the 2008 campaign. Imagine if a Republican had tried to get a reporter fired.

Well, we knew this. If Elzabeth Warren won the nomination in 2016, she'd be the most liberal candidate since George McGovern.

It's cute how the administration just decided unilaterally exempt U.S. territories from Obamacare.
As recently as last year, HHS instructed the territories that they "have enjoyed the benefits of the applicable consumer protections" and HHS "has no legal authority to exclude the territories" from ObamaCare. HHS said the law adopted an explicit definition of "state" that includes the territories for the purpose of the mandates and the public-health programs, and another explicit definition that excludes the territories for the purpose of the subsidies. Thus there is "no statutory authority . . . to selectively exempt the territories from certain provisions, unless specified by law."

Laws are made by Congress, but all of a sudden last week HHS discovered new powers after "a careful review of this situation and the relevant statutory language." For simplicity's sake, the territories will now be governed by the "state" definition that excludes the territories for both the subsidies and now the mandates too. But the old definition will still apply for the public-health spending, so the territories will get their selective exemption after all.

The White House seems to have an elastic definition of states. In the Halbig case in which a decision is expected any day from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Mr. Obama's lawyers say the phrase "the 50 states" includes the federal government. But most elastic is its definition of statutes, which apparently mean whatever Mr. Obama says they mean at any given moment. His new dispensation is great for the territories, but awful for the Constitution and rule of law.

Well, if Obama was set to go on Jimmy Kimmel this week, the White House has, apparently, decided that this was one step too far in the President's insouciance tour.

Not even MSNBC hosts are buying the White House attempts to explain away the President's keeping to a steady schedule of fundraisers while crises break out around the world and on our border.

Gosh, Bruce Braley, the Iowa Democratic candidate for the Senate keeps running into problems. He's on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, but he sure has missed a lot of their meetings. That's not going to play well this year.

That vote that Volkswagen employees in Tennessee had earlier this year to reject unionization is now reaping the benefits as VW is going to expand their operations in Tennessee which will add 2,000 more jobs.

The NYT continues its efforts to present a biased picture of what is going on between Israel and Hamas.

The City Journal details the efforts by liberals to water down requirements to get into New York City's elite high schools so that there will be fewer Asians who get in, even those Asians who come from poor immigrant families.

Don't be so eager to have a "Do Something" Congress.

Michael Barone posits that people vote on more than just their perception of how the economy is doing.

These are what the ISIS fanatics are perpetrating in their march through Iraq.
For the first time in 1,600 years, Mass is not being said in Mosul: an ancient culture has been wiped out in a matter of weeks. It's a war crime that, strangely, no one seems to want to talk about.

Mosul is the second-largest city in Iraq and the place where many Christians believe Jonah was buried. Since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) rode into town, their faith has been forced underground. Bells have been silenced, the hijab enforced with bullets. Tens of thousands fled after being offered an unattractive choice: convert, pay a religious tax, or be put to the sword. The levy was unaffordable. According to one local news agency, Isis troops entered the house of a poor Christian and, when they didn’t get what they wanted, the soldiers raped the mother and daughter in front of their husband and father. He committed suicide out of grief.

Having driven away the worshippers, the Isis fanatics are now trying to extinguish the physical legacy they left behind. A centuries-old church has been burned to the ground; Jonah’s tomb has been desecrated. Isis wants to create the Islamic equivalent of Year Zero, a brave new world with no evidence of Christianity, women’s rights, democracy or even that most subversive of instincts, human pity.

Ross Douthat makes a whole lot of sense about the over-protection of children and the criminalization of parents who left their children alone for a short period of time.

The trend of voter turnout in party primaries in off-year elections continues moving downward. This intensifies the clout of activists within parties and pushes candidates more to the extremes.

It's the 25-year anniversary of When Harry Met Sally and the birth of the rom-com.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cruising the Web

We knew this: "Obama aides were warned of brewing border crisis." They either didn't care or wanted the crisis to come. THe health and safety of the children were secondary.

Ah, true diversity. It means something special at the University of Wisconsin.
That framework includes eight essential “working definitions,” among them the already-discussed diversity, as well as others: “compositional diversity,” “critical mass,” “inclusion,” “equity mindedness,” “deficit-mindedness,” “representational equity,” and “excellence.”

Let us take a closer look at one of these working definitions included, namely “representational equity.”

It calls for “proportional participation of historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups at all levels of an institution, including high status special programs, high-demand majors, and in the distribution of grades.”

We are not told exactly what adherence to this will entail. It appears to mean that directors of programs and departmental chairs will have to somehow ensure that they have a mix of students with just the right percentages of individuals who embody the various “differences” included in the definition of diversity. I cannot see how that is possible and even if it were, how it improves any student’s education.

Suppose there were a surge of interest in a high demand field such as computer science. Under the “equity” policy, it seems that some of those who want to study this field would be told that they’ll have to choose another major because computer science already has “enough” students from their “difference” group.

Especially shocking is the language about “equity” in the distribution of grades. Professors, instead of just awarding the grade that each student earns, would apparently have to adjust them so that academically weaker, “historically underrepresented racial/ethnic” students perform at the same level and receive the same grades as academically stronger students.

At the very least, this means even greater expenditures on special tutoring for weaker targeted minority students. It is also likely to trigger a new outbreak of grade inflation, as professors find out that they can avoid trouble over “inequitable” grade distributions by giving every student a high grade.
And diversity has also moved on to Europe where they're finding that diversity today actually means the opposite of what it literally means.

This makes sense - a custodian is facing charges for starting a fire that burned down an elementary school. But he gets to retire with his full pension.

Jeff Dunetz explains about the Z Street case which will probably be the first of the IRS cases to open up the scandal. What a criminal operation the IRS has been in trying to limit organizations with agendas that annoyed this administration.
The Z Street case has the potential of blowing the IRS scandal wide open. First of all, it is the furthest along, and probably will be decided first. They can put on the stand the IRS employee who said they were being scrutinized because their policy is different than the Obama administration’s, and the lack of terrorism in any of the documents released by Rep. Levin indicates that the TAG manager who said Z Street was being examined because of terrorism in Israel may have been committing perjury

Mitch McConnell's opponent in Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes is just not a very good candidate. Her aides have to work full-time to clean up her gaffes.

Kimberley Strassel reminds us of when Democrats believed in suing a president.
About the only thing Ms. Slaughter didn't do in five hours was offer House Speaker John Boehner her litigation notes. For it seems to have slipped Ms. Slaughter's mind—and the press's attention—that a mere eight years ago she was a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by congressional Democrats against George W. Bush. The year was 2006, just as Democrats were, uh, peaking in their campaign to take back the House.

Democrats were sore that they'd lost a fight over a budget bill that made cuts to Medicaid and student loans. They dredged up a technical mistake—a tiny difference between the House and Senate version of the bill. Michigan Democrat John Conyers, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, decided to (how did Ms. Slaughter put it?) file a lawsuit against the president brought by half of the Congress. He was joined as a plaintiff by nearly every other then-ranking Democratic member and titan in the House— Charles Rangel, John Dingell, George Miller, Collin Peterson, Bennie Thompson, Barney Frank, Pete Stark, James Oberstar and Ms. Slaughter herself.

n an April 2006 Huffington Post piece titled "Taking the President to Court," Mr. Conyers explained that he was "alarmed by the erosion of our constitutional form of government," and by a president who "shrugged" about "the law." After "consulting with some of the foremost constitutional experts in the nation," he had determined that there was "one group of people" who were "injured" by Mr. Bush's lack of respect for "checks and balances": Congress. So he was "going"—or as Ms. Slaughter might put it, "running"—"to court."
I hadn't realized how many times members of Congress have tried to sue a president.
It was left to Florida International University law professor Elizabeth Price Foley, another witness, to remind Democrats that in fact no fewer than 44 lawsuits in which legislators sought standing had been filed in federal court since Coleman v. Miller. Of the 41 filed by plaintiffs with unified political affiliation, nearly 70% were brought by Democrats. At least 20 of those came since 2000. The GOP might thank Ms. Slaughter for the idea.
Ah, but that was when the president was a Republican. Apparently, then it perfectly fine for individual members of Congress to sue a president. Of course, the Supreme Court has continually denied individual members standing to sue. It's just a cheap way to garner a day's headlines. What we don't know is what will happen when one whole body of Congress sues.

This is how crazy the United Nations is. They are returning rockets to Hamas that they found in a Gaza school.

Political stunts like proposing amendments that everyone knows are going nowhere is a sign of desperation for any party. The Republicans have done their share and now it is the turn of the Democrats.

Charles C.W. Cooke puts his finger on why Obama's behavior on the day that the news of the Malaysian airliner shot down over Ukraine is so jarring.
The criticism here is not that Obama did not immediately spring into action, flying as Superman into the air, safety to escort the air traffic to its final destination. Nor is it that Obama was insufficiently bellicose. Instead, the president’s aristarchs were troubled that a major international incident was treated as a mild irritation — as little more than a brief and unwanted overture to the usual fractious stump speech. I am among those who would like to see a dramatically smaller presidency at home.. Were Obama never to grace my television screen again, I would be in no way vexed. But, in foreign relations, I want someone who seems to be on the ball, who looms large in the international imagination, who recognizes that his primary responsibility is to the national defense and not to the nature of domestic policy, and who understands that there is a time for partisan politics and a time for national unity — especially when it is being widely reported that American citizens have been blown out of the sky. The lattermost is a distinction that this president — a man who famously made his national debut pretending to be a uniter — has never matured into observing.

Having given his infrastructure speech for the umpteenth time, Obama then made his way to a couple of fundraisers. One wonders what it would have taken to shake him off this course. Indeed, as Jim Geraghty points out, insouciance is the standard response. “This,” Geraghty writes, “is the president who didn’t address the country for three days after the attempted bombing of an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, who gave a “shout-out” to an audience member moments before his first comments on the Fort Hood shooting, and who attended a campaign rally on September 12, 2012, when most Americans awoke to the news of the murder of four Americans in a terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.”

There is a significant grey area between running around waving your hands in the air and appearing uninterested, and, in the realm of international affairs at least, President Obama has never managed to set foot inside it. It would be nice to believe that a missile that stole the lives of 298 souls could also puncture his bubble. But, in all likelihood, it won’t. For the next two years, this is to be our fate. Indifference, drift, diversion, and fatigue. Hello Cleveland! Hello Brooklyn! Goodbye, yellow brick road.

Myra Adams wonders what would have to happen for President Obama to cancel a fundraiser. She has some suggestions.
1. News that Beyonce and Jay Z are divorcing.

2. His favorite golf course was attacked by al-Qaeda.

3. Lebron James unexpectedly retired.

4. Air Force One was hijacked by the Tea Party.

5. A tsunami destroyed his August vacation compound on Martha’s Vineyard.
It's rather striking how illiberal today's liberals are. Michael Barone writes some more on this same theme.

Here's a clear case of a high school censoring the sources of information that students can access to make sure they don't read conservative sites. Apparently, the Vatican's website and other sites were blocked because it was considered "hate speech." One intrepid high schooler was able to catch his school's censorship and document it.
On May 27, shortly before his graduation, Andrew Lampart, an 18-year-old senior at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, Conn., set out to research gun control on a school computer in order to fulfill an assignment for a basic law course. He found that the website for the National Rifle Association was blocked, while websites supporting gun control remained accessible.

Over the next five days, Lampart spent more time on the web. He discovered that websites supportive of conservative causes and Christianity – including the Vatican web page — were blocked, while sites supportive of liberal causes and Islam remained accessible. The webpage for Republican party of Connecticut, for example, was blocked, but the page for the Democratic party of Connecticut was accessible.