Monday, September 14, 2015

Cruising the Web

Well this is no surprise, is it?
Muslim radicals in Germany are trying to recruit some of the growing numbers of asylum seekers reaching the country, according to intelligence services quoted by the German news agency DPA.

The Islamic extremists "are trying to approach the young unaccompanied refugees, who arrive in our country without their families and are particularly looking for contacts and support," a spokesman for the intelligence service in the southern state of Bavaria told DPA.

He said many of the youths are approached around reception centres but also at Munich railway station where many of the asylum seekers have arrived from Hungary and Austria in recent days.

The Islamic extremists "want to take advantage of the insecurity and distress of the refugees," he said.

On Tuesday, the intelligence services in North Rhine-Westphalia reported similar contacts in their region, noting that Islamic radicals were approaching asylum seekers through fake charities.
This is the vulnerability of a free society. How do we stop this potential radicalization of new immigrants when the radicals already have a foothold in our nations?

And this news is just a surprise, isn't it?
Iran has discovered an unexpectedly high reserve of uranium and will soon begin extracting the radioactive element at a new mine, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said on Saturday.

The comments cast doubt on previous assessments from some Western analysts who said the country had a low supply and sooner or later would need to import uranium, the raw material needed for its nuclear program.

Any indication Iran could become more self-sufficient will be closely watched by world powers, which reached a landmark deal with Tehran in July over its program. They had feared the nuclear activities were aimed at acquiring the capability to produce atomic weapons - something denied by Tehran.
So who doubts that Iran has known this all along and was just waiting to make the announcement until after the deal was made?

How ironic that the party that spent years telling us that "Bush lied and people died" about the intelligence leading up to the Iraq War are now being accused of cooking intelligence reports to downplay the position of ISIS and al Qaeda in Syria.
It’s being called a ‘revolt’ by intelligence pros who are paid to give their honest assessment of the ISIS war—but are instead seeing their reports turned into happy talk.
More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials, The Daily Beast has learned.

The complaints spurred the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence. The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence.

“The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,” one defense official said.

Two senior analysts at CENTCOM signed a written complaint sent to the Defense Department inspector general in July alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The reports were changed by CENTCOM higher-ups to adhere to the administration’s public line that the U.S. is winning the battle against ISIS and al Nusra, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the analysts claim.

That complaint was supported by 50 other analysts, some of whom have complained about politicizing of intelligence reports for months. That’s according to 11 individuals who are knowledgeable about the details of the report and who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.
At the center of the controversy is James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.
Knowledgeable former officials are doubtful that Clapper directly intends to manipulate intelligence. And they do not say that the director of national intelligence – who apologized to his Senate overseers in 2013 for publicly misleading Congress on the scope of domestic surveillance – ordered Grove or anyone else to change the command’s assessment of the war.

But one former intelligence official said Clapper “has to be careful of the Cheney effect, going over to the CIA and how does that affect people” – a reference to pressure felt by CIA analysts before the 2003 Iraq invasion to portray Saddam Hussein as posing a more dire threat than he actually did, following then Vice-President Dick Cheney’s direct interaction with far more junior analysts and officials.

“He can be manipulative,” a former senior defense official said of Clapper. For Clapper as a senior US intelligence officer with access to assessments across the 16 US intelligence agencies to query Grove, the Central Command intelligence chief, the ex-official said, “something’s wrong”.

Clapper’s calls, knowledgeable sources speaking on condition of anonymity said, placed Grove in a difficult bureaucratic position: between the nominal leader of the entire US intelligence apparatus and his lower-level analysts, several of whom consider the year-long war against Isis to be in dire straits.

Another consequence of Obama's pusillanimous foreign policy is that not only Iran, but also Russia is becoming the big dogs in the region.
For 70 years American Presidents from both parties have sought to thwart Russian influence in the Middle East. Harry Truman forced the Red Army to withdraw from northern Iran in 1946. Richard Nixon raised a nuclear alert to deter Moscow from resupplying its Arab clients during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Even Jimmy Carter threatened military force to protect the Persian Gulf after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

So it says something about the current Administration’s strategic priorities that it is having trouble deciding what to do about Vladimir Putin’s decision to send combat planes to Syria to prop up Bashar Assad’s faltering regime. Should the U.S. oppose the move—or join in?

Last month the Israeli website Ynet reported that the Kremlin planned to deploy combat aircraft to Syria to help the Assad regime. The Russians are also sending an “expeditionary force” of “advisers, instructors, logistics personnel, technical personnel, members of the aerial protection division, and pilots who will operate the aircraft.” That deployment is now underway.

The decision to intervene seems to have been made during a visit to Moscow last month by Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general in charge of the Quds Force. The general, who armed anti-American Shiite militias in Iraq, now oversees Tehran’s efforts to save Mr. Assad. The Iran nuclear deal lifts international sanctions against Mr. Soleimani and the Quds Force.
Obama and Kerry's only response seems to be to give warnings to Russia.
Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week that Russian intervention could “further escalate the conflict” and “lead to greater loss of life,” as if human rights are the lodestar of the Kremlin’s foreign policy. Mr. Obama also weighed in Friday, saying the Russian intervention was “doomed to fail,” and that Moscow was “going to have to start getting a little smarter.”

Mr. Obama made similar tut-tutting remarks about Mr. Putin after the invasion of Ukraine, which hardly dented the Russian’s taste for foreign adventures. But that doesn’t mean the Administration has given up on the Russians.
I'm sure that Putin appreciated Obama's advice to be "a little smarter." They must have been giggling in the Kremlin over that one.

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Margaret Wente writes in Canada's The Globe and Mail about the results in Sweden of their generous immigration policies.
Sweden’s generous immigration policies are essential to the image of a country that (like Canada) prides itself as a moral superpower. For the past 40 years, most of Sweden’s immigration has involved refugees and family reunification, so much so that the words “immigrant” and “refugee” are synonymous there (unlike in Canada).

Sweden takes in more refugees per capita than any other European country, and immigrants – mainly from the Middle East and Africa – now make up about 16 per cent of the population. The main political parties, as well as the mainstream media, support the status quo. Questioning the consensus is regarded as xenophobic and hateful. Now all of Europe is being urged to be as generous as Sweden.

So how are things working out in the most immigration-friendly country on the planet?

Not so well, says Tino Sanandaji. Mr. Sanandaji is himself an immigrant, a Kurdish-Swedish economist who was born in Iran and moved to Sweden when he was 10. He has a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago and specializes in immigration issues. This week I spoke with him by Skype.

“There has been a lack of integration among non-European refugees,” he told me. Forty-eight per cent of immigrants of working age don’t work, he said. Even after 15 years in Sweden, their employment rates reach only about 60 per cent. Sweden has the biggest employment gap in Europe between natives and non-natives.

In Sweden, where equality is revered, inequality is now entrenched. Forty-two per cent of the long-term unemployed are immigrants, Mr. Sanandaji said. Fifty-eight per cent of welfare payments go to immigrants. Forty-five per cent of children with low test scores are immigrants. Immigrants on average earn less than 40 per cent of Swedes. The majority of people charged with murder, rape and robbery are either first- or second-generation immigrants. “Since the 1980s, Sweden has had the largest increase in inequality of any country in the OECD,” Mr. Sanandaji said.

It’s not for lack of trying. Sweden is tops in Europe for its immigration efforts. Nor is it the newcomers’ fault. Sweden’s labour market is highly skills-intensive, and even low-skilled Swedes can’t get work. “So what chance is there for a 40-year-old woman from Africa?” Mr. Sandaji wondered.

Sweden’s fantasy is that if you socialize the children of immigrants and refugees correctly, they’ll grow up to be just like native Swedes. But it hasn’t worked out that way. Much of the second generation lives in nice Swedish welfare ghettos. The social strains – white flight, a general decline in trust – are growing worse. The immigrant-heavy city of Malmo, just across the bridge from Denmark, is an economic and social basket case.

Sweden’s generosity costs a fortune, at a time when economic growth is stagnant. The country now spends about $4-billion a year on settling new refugees – up from $1-billion a few years ago, Mr. Sanandaji said. And they keep coming. Sweden automatically accepts unaccompanied minors. “We used to take in 500 unaccompanied minors a year,” he said. “This year we are expecting 12,000.”

Yet Sweden’s acute immigration problems scarcely feature in the mainstream media. Journalists see their mission as stopping racism, so they don’t report the bad news. Despite – or perhaps because of – this self-censorship, the gap between the opinion elites and the voters on immigration issues is now a chasm. According to a recent opinion poll, 58 per cent of Swedes believe there is too much immigration, Mr. Sanandaji noted. The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party is now polling at between 20 per cent and 25 per cent.

Sweden is a cautionary tale for anyone who believes that Europe is capable of assimilating the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants who are besieging the continent, or the millions more who are desperately poised to follow in their wake. The argument that these people are vital to boost the economy – that they will magically create economic growth and bail the Europeans out of their demographic decline – is a fantasy.

It’s really very simple, Mr. Sanandaji explained. You can’t combine open borders with a welfare state. “If you’re offering generous welfare benefits to every citizen, and anyone can come and use these benefits, then a very large number of people will try to do that. And it’s just mathematically impossible for a small country like Sweden to fund those benefits.”
This is an argument every nation should be having. Can they continue their generous social welfare programs and still have open borders for immigrants? Something has got to give. And it isn't pretty when it does. Peggy Noonan wrote on this subject on Friday and on the disconnect between the opinions of elites and average citizens.
Damning “the elites” is often a mindless, phony and manipulative game. Malice and delusion combine to produce the refrains: “Those fancy people in their Georgetown cocktail parties,” “Those left-wing poseurs in their apartments in Brussels.” This is social resentment parading as insight, envy posing as authenticity.

But in this crisis talk of “the elites” is pertinent. The gap between those who run governments and those who are governed has now grown huge and portends nothing good.

Rules on immigration and refugees are made by safe people. These are the people who help run countries, who have nice homes in nice neighborhoods and are protected by their status. Those who live with the effects of immigration and asylum law are those who are less safe, who see a less beautiful face in it because they are daily confronted with a less beautiful reality—normal human roughness, human tensions. Decision-makers fear things like harsh words from the writers of editorials; normal human beings fear things like street crime. Decision-makers have the luxury of seeing life in the abstract. Normal people feel the implications of their decisions in the particular.

The decision-makers feel disdain for the anxieties of normal people, and ascribe them to small-minded bigotries, often religious and racial, and ignorant antagonisms. But normal people prize order because they can’t buy their way out of disorder.

People in gated communities of the mind, who glide by in Ubers, have bought their way out and are safe. Not to mention those in government-maintained mansions who glide by in SUVs followed by security details. Rulers can afford to see national-security threats as an abstraction—yes, yes, we must better integrate our new populations. But the unprotected, the vulnerable, have a right and a reason to worry.

Here is the challenge for people in politics: The better you do, the higher you go, the more detached you become from real life. You use words like “perception” a lot. But perception is not as important as reality.
This is so true. It reminds me of the arguments about representation leading up to the American Revolution (which I just finished teaching in my APUSH class.) Americans argued not only that Parliament had no right to legislate for them because they had no representatives in Parliament, but that it would be impossible for them to have true representation there since such representatives would have to live far away from those they represented and would lose contact with their daily concerns. That is why they argued so powerfully for putting power as close to the people as possible in their colonial and then state legislatures. The British argued in favor of virtual representation - the idea that any member in Parliament would vote for what was good for the entire country and not just for what was good for the people he represented. Americans wanted actual representation - the ability to choose and have influence over their elected representatives. Well, Europe has now gone full tilt on the idea of virtual representation for the entire continent, and the people being hurt are seeing how weakened their protections are when they have no actual representation.

Maybe this is why Germany has now decided to reinstate limits on immigration because the leaders are realizing that they can't accommodate the influx of migrants.

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Carly Fiorina has shown a real gift for turning a hit into a plus for her as she turns Donald Trump's attack on "her face" into a great riff on the faces of the women in her audience and how every issue is a woman's issue. She showed that sort of agility earlier this year when she was ridiculed for not having secured as her domain name by noting that neither Seth Meyers and Chuck Todd, who both asked her about whether this meant she wasn't ready for prime time, had bought the domain names for or and directed those sites to her Carly for President website. She also showed that sort of agility when Jake Tapper asked her questions about abortion and she flipped to talking about how extreme Hillary Clinton's position was on abortion.

She might not be the person I am supporting for the nomination, but I sure admire her ability to turn hits into advantages for her.

Now contrast Carly's agility as a campaigner with that of Hillary Clinton. It's not a good sign for Hillary when she's already become the target of late-night comics as seen in this bit by Stephen Colbert ridiculing Hillary's planned authenticity and spontaneity.

And CNN has fun with Hillary telling one audience that she's progressive and another that she's moderate. Way to be authentic.

Andy Kessler describes in the WSJ how to get rich like Donald Trump.
Behold Trumponomics in 10 easy steps.

1. Be born rich. Mr. Trump’s father, Fred C. Trump, built a real-estate empire after World War II and in 1999 left an estimated $250 million estate. One of his success secrets was taking advantage of Federal Housing Administration financing to build cheap houses in Brooklyn and Queens. The golden government apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

2. Own politicians. In 1974 at age 28, Mr. Trump officially took over the family business, the Trump Organization. His father was a buddy of a guy named Abe Beame, who ended up mayor of New York in the mid-1970s. That proved good for the Trump bottom line.

In the 1980s Donald Trump bankrolled people campaigning for seats on the New York City Board of Estimate. Surprise: The board decided land-use matters. Mr. Trump is one of the top political donors in New York state, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who received $64,000, is one happy recipient. Mr. Trump said in a July interview that “when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do. As a businessman, I need that.” As the saying goes, an honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.

3. Get tax breaks. Mr. Trump’s first big real-estate win in the 1970s was converting New York’s old Commodore Hotel into a Grand Hyatt. His dad’s friend Mayor Beame kindly extended a 40-year tax abatement worth $60 million in its first decade. In 2011 Mr. Trump told the Los Angeles Times that someone had once asked him how he had finagled a 40-year abatement, and Mr. Trump said he replied: “Because I didn’t ask for 50.”

Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue has enjoyed a $164 million property-tax exemption good through next year. But someone must pay taxes, and oh, that’s right, New York is ranked No. 1 for worst taxes, with an average burden of $9,718—almost 40% more than the national average, according to an analysis by WalletHub....

5. Go in debt up to our eyeballs. Another gem from “The Art of the Deal”: Most people “think small, because most people are afraid of success, afraid of making decisions, afraid of winning. And that gives people like me a great advantage.” Mr. Trump’s third Atlantic City casino, the 17-acre Trump Taj Mahal, opened in 1990. But Mr. Trump loaded up $3 billion in debt from an expensive takeover, construction and cost overruns. Which brings us to . . .

6. Stick banks and bondholders with disasters. When the Trump Taj Mahal opened, the New York Times quoted gaming publisher Al Glasgow as saying, “Will the Taj work? It can’t miss. It’s like spitting and missing the floor.’’ Well, this is awkward. His company filed for bankruptcy in 1991, tagging enormous losses on banks and bondholders. Mr. Trump, for his part, gave up half the company and his 282-foot yacht. (Not to worry, he still has other boats.)

By 2004 Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts filed for bankruptcy. The company had issued more than $1.8 billion in debt, much of it in junk bonds, whose holders now controlled the company’s fate. In exchange for new debt with a lower interest rate and a personal infusion of $72 million, Mr. Trump’s equity stake shrunk to 27% from 47%.

Robert Tracinski has an interesting post looking at the Republican candidates trying to figure out who would have the best hope of emerging as the "not-Trump-not-Bush" candidate. He throws out Christie and Kasich from his consideration since voters who consider Bush too moderate, will think the same for Kasich and Christie. He also leaves out the other non-politician candidates since we just don't have a history in our country of treating the presidency as an entry-level position unless the candidate helped win a war like Zachary Taylor, Ulysses Grant, or Dwight Eisenhower or had an impressive history in other positions such as William Howard Taft who was the governor general of the Philippines or Herbert Hoover who organized a rescue of millions of people after World War One. Given that Perry has already dropped out, Tracinski ponders the other candidates - Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or Marco Rubio. Of those people, I prefer Rubio.
The irony of the Trump campaign, though, is that it will probably end up pushing the Republican Party toward a more liberal immigration policy. Trump’s contemptuous attitude toward Latin American immigrants, combined with the small cadre of outright bigots he has inspired on social media, will put Republicans so far into a hole with Hispanic voters that they will look for a general election candidate who can dig them out. Ideally, they would find one who can converse with these voters in fluent Spanish, of which there are only two: Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

So Rubio could potentially find a sweet spot where he is considered safe and responsible by the establishment, but is not really reviled by the grassroots because his name isn’t “Bush.” He’s definitely a Not-Trump, and he just might pull off being a Not-Quite-Bush. But it would definitely help if he stopped worrying so much about seeming safe in the general election and did more to show primary voters he’s willing to disrupt the state quo.
I don't like Paul and I don't think Cruz would have a hope of winning the general election. Walker has been a disappointment, but I'm still hoping he can break out of his summer funk.

Jonah Goldberg responds to the mass criticism that responded to his essay on how Donald Trump is damaging conservatism. He points out how much of the support for Trump involves criticism of Washington Republicans which isn't the same thing as conservatism.
The argument very often seems to be: “You don’t like Trump? What about X?” Where X can be anything from Jeb Bush to John Boehner to the infield-fly rule.

But as a rejoinder to me or to National Review it is about as on point as a stemwinder on how Trieste shouldn’t belong to the Italians.

National Review — and yours truly — were on the “anti-GOP” side of a great many of the examples on Sundance’s list. National Review was instrumental in helping Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio win their primaries (just ask them). We were relentless critics of Arlen Specter. We opposed Bush on immigration, criticized the formation of the TSA, and we’ve heaped support on Mike Lee etc., etc. I was complaining about Bush’s spending and compassionate conservatism when many of Trump’s most prominent defenders would brook no criticism of W. And I was lamenting that the GOP had betrayed the base at least a decade ago. I defended the Tea Parties from the get go, dubbing them in part a “delayed Bush backlash,” and I’m fairly certain I’ve spoken to more tea-party groups than Trump has.

I am to the right of Trump on nearly every issue I can think of. I came out in favor of a wall on the border in 2006. On specifics — wolfsbane to Donald Trump — I tend to agree with Mark Krikorian that you don’t need a literal wall everywhere, but I am 100 percent in favor of securing the border, and was saying so when Trump was posing with DREAMers and bad-mouthing Romney for being insensitive to Hispanics. I will admit, I think a Trumpian mass deportation of every illegal alien is unworkable and unwise, so if that’s your yardstick, I guess I’m the sell-out (though then again, I think Trump would cave on the promise very quickly). Also, I think his “we’ll take their oil” shtick is really stupid on the merits (but brilliant red meat). On abortion, I’ve become much more pro-life in recent years, but I may not be all the way there for some of my colleagues at NR. Still, unlike Trump, I wouldn’t appoint pro-choice extremists to the Supreme Court, so take that for what you will.

But, I’m falling for the trap. None of this matters! Even if I were a RINO-squish-lickspittle of the D.C. establishment, even if every denunciation of the “Washington cartel” is exactly right and fair, that is not a defense of Donald Trump. If I say littering is bad and Donald Trump litters and then you note that I’ve littered too, that is not a defense of Donald Trump, nor is it a defense of littering. Tu quoque arguments are a logical fallacy, not a slam-dunk debating tactic.

I don’t know how else to say this: The case against the GOP establishment is not the case for Trump, no matter how much it feels like it is in your head or your heart.
Goldberg addresses the ad hominem criticisms he's been receiving that he's just a stooge for the Republican establishment.
Why can’t the real explanation of my motives be the ones I put down in writing? To wit: I don’t think Trump is a conservative. I don’t think he’s a very serious person. I don’t think he’s a man of particularly good character. I don’t think he can be trusted to do the things he promises. Etc. If all that hurts your feelings, I’m sorry. But there’s no need to make up imaginary motives. The reason I’m writing such things is that I believe them — and that’s my job.

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Eugene Volokh has a great post criticizing the University of California's proposal to guarantee that students should have a right to be "free from...expressions of intolerance." On the face of it, we're all against intolerance. The problem arises, in a country with a powerful First Amendment, to legislate against speech perceived as intolerance.
Articulating a view that there are cultural (or even biological) differences between ethnic and racial groups in various fields — condemned by the authority of the University, without regard to the arguments for or against the particular assertion. It’s just an up-front categorical rule; whatever you want to say along these lines, we don’t want to hear it, we don’t care what your arguments are, we’ll condemn it, and faculty and students have a right not to hear it. Even “depicting” such a view, whatever that means, is “intolerant” and “has no place at the University.”

Saying that illegal aliens (or noncitizens who are legally here) ought not be appointed to be, say, the student member of the Board of Regents — likewise condemned. And this isn’t limited to situations where the speaker is a participant in a selection decision, which the participants are obligated to make in a nondiscriminatory way. It equally applies to, say, a student newspaper that condemns the appointment of noncitizens to leadership positions. (For a recent controversy along these lines in a local city, which could equally arise at a university, see this story about two illegal aliens named as volunteers to city commissions in an L.A.-area town.)

And these are just examples. The policy obviously extends to the other categories traditionally joined to race, ethnicity, and disability, such as sex, sexual orientation, or religion....

Now I’m a tenured faculty member, and I’ll keep on expressing my views despite this sort of policy. But what about undergraduates? Graduate students, who might be relying on the university for teaching assistant positions, progress in their departments, and more? Lecturers who don’t have tenure? Tenure-track faculty members who don’t yet have tenure?

When these students and faculty members are told that certain views about disabilities, about race or ethnicity, or (by obvious extension) about sexual orientation, sex, or religion have “no place at the University” — and violate others’ rights to be “free from” such “expressions” — will they feel free to openly discuss these topics? Or will they realize that they had best follow the orthodoxy?
It's a slippery slope we're sliding down and I'm quite saddened to see my alma mater, UCLA, speeding down that road.

Megan McArdle ponders how to deal with so-called microaggressions.
I'm using microaggressions broadly here: to define the small slights by which any majority group subtly establishes its difference from its minority members. That means that I am including groups that may not come to mind for victim status, like conservatives in very liberal institutions. And no doubt many of my readers are preparing to deliver a note or a comment saying I shouldn't dare to compare historically marginalized groups with politically powerful ones.

I dare because it highlights the basic problem with extensively litigating microaggressions, which is that it is a highly unstable way of mediating social disputes. Deciding who is eligible to complain about microaggressions is itself an act by which the majority imposes its will, and it is felt as alienating by the minorities who are effectively told that they don't have the same right to ask for decent treatment as other groups. As a conservative social scientist once told me, "When I think of my own laments about being an ideological minority, most of it is basically microaggression."

The stream of petty slights, laughable misunderstandings and smug assumptions are not just a perpetual irritant. They are also experienced by members of the targeted group as a message: "You don't quite belong here, and therefore, you are under constant, if low-level risk, that the majority will not protect you if something goes wrong, or perhaps, will take steps to expel the outsider." And they're experienced this way whether you are eligible for victim status or not, which is why I get a surprising number of notes from conservative academics, expressing some rather milquetoast opinion and then closing with: "Please don't publish this, because I don't have tenure yet." I have never gotten such a note from a liberal academic, nor do liberal columnists of my acquaintance report getting similar notes from, say, liberal history professors expressing their support for abortion rights.

If you establish a positive right to be free from alienating comments, it's hard to restrict that right only to people who have been victimized in certain ways, or to certain degrees. It's easy to say everyone has a right not to be alienated. It's also easy to say "you should only seek social or administrative sanction for remarks that are widely known and understood to be offensive slurs." It is very, very hard to establish a rule that only some groups are entitled to be free from offense -- because the necessary corollary is that it's fine to worry the other groups with a low-level barrage of sneers, and those groups will not take this lying down. The result will be proliferation of groups claiming victim status, attempting to trump the victim status of others....

There is no logical resting place for these disputes; it's microaggressions all the way down. And in the process, they make impossible demands on members of the ever-shrinking majority: to know everything about every possible victim group, to never inadvertently appropriate any part of any culture in ways a member doesn't like, or misunderstand something, or make an innocent remark that reads very differently to someone with a different experience. Which will, of course, only hasten the scramble for members of the majority to gain themselves some so
How dreary all this is.

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Just add this to the reasons why I have never satisfied Mike Huckabee.
While defending Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis’s refusal to issue marriage licenses out of her religious opposition to same-sex marriage, Mike Huckabee said Wednesday that the Supreme Court’s 1857 ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford — which held that all blacks, free or enslaved, could not be American citizens — is still the law of the land even though no one follows it.

Radio host Michael Medved quickly pointed out to the former governor of Arkansas that the decision was overturned by the 13th Amendment. (Although the 13th Amendment ended slavery, the birthright citizenship clause in the 14th Amendment overturned the Dred Scott decision.)

“I’ve been just drilled by TV hosts over the past week, ‘How dare you say that, uh, it’s not the law of the land?’” Huckabee said. “Because that’s their phrase, ‘it’s the law of the land.’ Michael, the Dred Scott decision of 1857 still remains to this day the law of the land which says that black people aren’t fully human. Does anybody still follow the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision?”
Geesh! He needs an introductory civics class. I'd welcome him to sit in on my AP Government and Politics class. After finishing that class, my 10th graders could explain to Huckabee how confused he is.

David French is a bit fed up with all the paeans of praise towards Joe Biden's honesty that he has supposedly always demonstrated. I don't deny that he's being sincere about his emotions after his son's too-early death, but seriously. Does anyone else remember his sleazy history of lying?
I’ll grant that Biden is spontaneous, but honest? Let’s not forget what derailed Joe Biden from being one of the “front-runners” for the 1988 Democratic nomination — “unusually creepy” plagiarism, essentially appropriating the life story of British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock.
He plagiarized another man's biography including having a family of coal miners when there is no history of miners in his family. Who does that? As French reminds us, Biden's dishonesty goes back to college and his brags about his accomplishments there.
So, no, Joe Biden has not “always” been honest. In fact, the first time he ran for president, he was deeply, repeatedly, and emphatically dishonest.

For many in Washington, Biden is a beloved figure, viewed by some as one of the last “authentic” men in national politics. Moreover, he has suffered immense loss, and he has borne that unimaginable grief with a public dignity that is inspiring to behold. He would be a formidable challenger to Hillary Clinton. But it is certainly possible to appreciate his public virtues and his political skills without rewriting his political history.

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The WSJ looks at how California's green policies have been hurting the average citizens. And the Democratic politicians who represent them in the state legislature are starting to take note.
The most morally destructive product in California these days is green government. Take the 33% renewable electricity mandate. Since 2011 solar energy has increased more than 10-fold while wind has nearly doubled. But during this period electricity rates have jumped 2.18 cents per kilowatt hour—four times the national average. Inland residents and energy-intensive businesses have been walloped the most.

California’s cap-and-trade program has also hurt manufacturers, power plants and oil refiners, which are required to purchase permits to emit carbon. Between 2011 and 2014, California’s manufacturing employment increased by 2% compared to 6% nationwide, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Cap and trade has also raised fuel costs, though its effect is hard to isolate from other environmental mandates. The Western States Petroleum Association last year projected that cap and trade would add 16 to 76 cents per gallon to the retail price of gas based on data from the Air Resources Board.

In 2006 Californians paid about 23 cents more per gallon than the national average due to higher gas taxes and the state’s reformulated fuel regulations. The price premium increased to 41 cents last year and spiked to $1.14 in May after several in-state refineries experienced problems. The average gas price in California is now $3.22 and $3.41 in the Los Angeles metro region (where a couple of refineries are undergoing maintenance) compared to $2.36 nationwide.

California’s low-carbon fuel standard will jack up gas prices even more. This anticarbon policy requires refiners to cut their fuel’s “lifecycle” carbon emissions including transport to market by 10% by 2020. The goal is to boost California biofuels. However, there aren’t enough commercially available “advanced” biofuels to meet the targets, so fuel blenders will have to buy regulatory credits.

The chief beneficiaries of the Golden State’s green government have been the well-to-do, while low- and middle-income Californians have borne most of the regulatory costs. The Bay Area and Los Angeles regions account for 80% of the state’s electric car rebates compared to the San Joaquin Valley’s 2%.

Liberals in Sacramento have promised to spend cap-and-trade revenues on car-sharing programs, low-emissions public transit and electric-car charging stations in low-income communities. But then they sock it to these drivers with regulations that raise gasoline prices.

Meantime, while job growth in the Bay Area is booming, unemployment remains high in the rest of the state. The unemployment rate is 3.8% in San Francisco and 2.9% in Palo Alto. It’s 10.4% in Fresno, 8.8% in San Bernardino and 9.6% in the refining hub of Carson—nearly four percentage points higher than in December 2007.
How typical that the unintended consequences of Democratic policies should fall so heavily on the low and middle income people. The same is true of the left's pet policy these days - raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
But when Bloomberg last month asked Ms. Abraham and Mr. Ehrenberg if they supported a $15 mandate, they said no. Ms. Abraham said she was “concerned about what a $15 minimum nationwide would do to employment.” Mr. Holzer, in a July opinion piece for Fortune magazine, described a $15 minimum wage as “extremely risky.”

Arindrajit Dube, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has published controversial research suggesting that past increases in the minimum wage have had a minimal effect on employment. His work has been cited by the White House and congressional Democrats.

But $15 may be too much for Mr. Dube. In a 2014 paper for the Brookings Institution, he suggested that states could set “thoughtful” minimum-wage levels at half of the states’ full-time median wage. In a majority of states, this methodology produces a recommended wage level under $10 an hour. In no state does Mr. Dube’s recommendation rise to $15.

These prominent economists won’t deter unions from their quest to enact $15 wage floors around the county. But it should give pause to Democrats, presidential candidates in particular, who risk becoming unmoored from economic reality.