Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Cruising the Web

Oh, this explains a lot about Joe Biden - Politico is reporting that Biden himself was the one who leaked the story of his son's death wish that he run for president.
Joe Biden has been making his 2016 deliberations all about his late son since August.

Aug. 1, to be exact — the day renowned Hillary Clinton-critic Maureen Dowd published a column that marked a turning point in the presidential speculation.

According to multiple sources, it was Biden himself who talked to her, painting a tragic portrait of a dying son, Beau’s face partially paralyzed, sitting his father down and trying to make him promise to run for president because "the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”

It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening.

But in truth, Biden had effectively placed an ad in The New York Times, asking them to call.

Before that moment and since, Biden has told the Beau story to others. Sometimes details change — the setting, the exact words. The version he gave Dowd delivered the strongest punch to the gut, making the clearest swipe at Clinton by enshrining the idea of a campaign against her in the words of a son so beloved nationally that his advice is now beyond politics. This campaign wouldn’t be about her or her email controversy, the story suggests, but connected to righteousness on some higher plane.
I guess he is running then. Of course, we all suspected that the leak came from the top since only family members presumably were at the scene. Would any other member of the family have leaked the story to Maureen Dowd without Joe's approval. He must have decided to get his name out there as a possible savior for the Democrats as Hillary's polls slid. Why else use his dying son as a campaign opener?

Stories like this in the Washington Post, "How Hillary Clinton kept her wealthy friends close while at State Department," will help to entice Biden into the race.
The note to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton from liberal financier George Soros demanded “urgent attention from the highest levels of the U.S. government.” Clinton swiftly alerted a top aide to what she described as a “very forceful message which is good — and needed.”

The e-mail exchange, in which Soros warned of growing unrest in Albania, illustrates how Clinton interacted with major donors to her family’s causes during her tenure at the State Department, staying in touch with her political network before her 2016 run for the Democratic presidential nomination. And they show how these donors, some of them with interests before the U.S. government, gained high-level access to press their policy concerns inside the Clinton-led State Department.

Soros, a top contributor to the Clinton Foundation, was one of several major donors whose messages were disclosed by the State Department last week as part of the ongoing release of the former secretary’s e-mails. Other exchanges included references to entertainment mogul Haim Saban, who has said he would pay “whatever it takes” to propel Clinton to the White House in 2016, as well as other major Clinton Foundation donors such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates, fashion industry executive Susie Tompkins Buell and Ukrainian steel magnate Viktor Pinchuk.

The e-mails that mention donors — numbering a few dozen out of the thousands of pages of messages released so far — do not show that financial supporters were able to alter policy decisions. But the dynamic points to one of the unusual aspects of Clinton’s record at the State Department. Because she and her family have raised so much money over the years from wealthy individuals and major corporations — for political campaigns as well as the sprawling global charity founded by her husband, former president Bill Clinton — her public business as secretary inevitably brought her in contact with private interests that helped boost her family’s philanthropy and income....

The e-mails show that, in some cases, donors were granted face-to-face contact with top officials.

Soros secured a meeting with Clinton in 2010 to discuss U.S. government funding for the American University of Central Asia, an educational institution that Soros helped support in the former Soviet Union.

Pinchuk, who has pledged more than $10 million to the Clinton Foundation in recent years, met with a top Clinton aide to speak on behalf of Ukraine’s strongman president and to try to soothe tensions with Washington over that country’s human rights record and its growing closeness with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin while resisting Europe.
But I'm sure all this coordination with donors to her family's charities is just a coincidence, right?

For what it's worth, Ed Klein's new book on Hillary, Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary, has the story from several anonymous sources about Hillary working on Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative fund raising while at the State Department. I take a lot of Ed Klein and anonymous sources with a dose of salt, but these sorts of stories swirling around Hillary have to increase the temptation Biden is feeling to run.

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Glenn Reynolds argues that Barack Obama's actions to politicize the shooting in Oregon is going to hurt his party.
So after last week’s mass shooting in Oregon, President Obama chose to go on TV right away, even before all the facts were in about what had happened. Then he issued a bold call: It was time, he said, to “politicize” the tragedy, in service of getting rid of guns. He chose Australia — which implemented draconian gun confiscation in the 1990s — as a model of where America should be heading.

This sort of presidential action doesn’t happen by accident. For Obama to have stepped forward on this issue, at this moment, means that he and his advisers think it’s helpful to him. (Even though, in 2008, Obama told voters: “I believe in people’s lawful right to bear arms. I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won’t take your handgun away.”) But how, exactly, is it helpful?

After all, no significant gun legislation — and certainly nothing like Australia-style confiscation — is going to make it through a Republican Congress. And gun control isn’t especially popular anymore anyway: As a Pew poll released last year demonstrated, more Americans support gun rights than gun control, representing a dramatic change over the situation a few decades ago.
Maybe Obama is back to worrying about how those small town boobs are clinging to their guns and religion. But Obama's focus is not going to help Democrats. But it might help Obama.
It's a bad electoral issue for Democrats. Obama knew that in 2008 when he promised not to go after people’s guns. And today, Republicans are hoping that Obama goes there. The Washington Free Beacon's Sonny Bunch wrote last Friday, “If you want to guarantee that Hillary Clinton loses, liberals, press her to call for stricter gun laws and hint that you want to take their Glocks from them.”

So if the issue is a loser for Obama and the Democrats, why make a big deal about it? Well, the answer is, that when we’re talking about guns, a bad issue for Obama, we’re not talking about other things that pose worse issues for Obama. And the list of those is long.

In Syria, Putin is making Obama look weak, ordering U.S. planes out of the sky, bombing CIA-supported rebels, and allying with Iranian troops. Obama has no real response, leading to The Economist headline, "Putin Dares, Obama Dithers.”
The list of problems facing this administration go on and on. No wonder Obama likes the distraction of talking about laws that won't get passed, but allow him to look firm and angry. And Hillary can talk about what she'll do if she gets elected. She seems to be worrying more about getting the nomination than how she would fare in a general election. So now she's talking about how she would take executive action to close the "gun-show loophole." So, as Allahpundit observes, she wants to take the same approach that Obama has taken to everything he wanted to do but couldn't get through Congress.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Obama took the same attitude towards executive amnesty. Either Congress could give him what he wanted by legalizing illegals or he’d give himself what he wanted by legalizing illegals unilaterally. The president no longer loses in our system of (giggle) separation of powers, at least if he has a complacent caucus from his own party in Congress that’s willing to defend him on every power grab at their branch’s expense. Hillary’s building on that precedent now, in the middle of a surprisingly tough primary campaign, to stroke one of the few political erogenous zones that excites the left more than open borders does.
This is what we can look forward to now that Obama established the precedents and got away with them. We no longer have a system of limited government with the executive checked by the Congress.

And, of course, it doesn't matter that anything Hillary is talking about would have done anything to have stopped the Oregon shooting.
When was the last time a degenerate responsible for a mass shooting used the alleged “gun-show loophole” to buy his murder weapon? The nut in Oregon owned 14 guns, every one of which turned out to be traceable to a federal firearms dealer. To the extent that today’s Hillary proposal is designed to capitalize on public horror over yet another massacre on an American campus, it’s an exercise in “gesture liberalism,” a feelgood do-something measure that doesn’t actually address a major problem. In fact, even the way this supposed problem is framed is a lie: As many of you already know, the “gun-show loophole” that supposedly allows anyone to sell an arsenal of weapons to a buyer without a background check is nothing of the sort. Where the sale occurs doesn’t matter, as Sean Davis explains. Whether at a gun show or anywhere else, if you’re selling weapons to the public repetitively and in any kind of volume, you’re a dealer for purposes of the law and are required to perform a check of the buyer. The “loophole” that permits sales without a background check effectively only covers sales between two private individuals who live in the state and only if the seller isn’t selling guns regularly. Think “dad selling his pistol to his son,” not “guy in a booth selling AR-15s to dozens of strangers at a gun show.”

Again, though: As with the “assault weapons” ban, this is less about Democrats trying to solve a glaring problem than about (a) signaling to the left that they’re on the team and (b) moving the Overton window, however marginally, towards greater federal regulation of guns. Which raises a good question from Greg Sargent. If Hillary thinks this is worth doing as president, even if just to polish her liberal cred, how come President Overreach hasn’t done it already himself?

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Bret Stephens rightly characterizes this president's approach to all ideas that are not his own and are not in line with his preferred policies.
David Petraeus testified last month to the Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Regarding Syria, the former general and CIA director urged a credible threat to destroy Bashar Assad’s air force if it continues to bomb its own people. He also recommended “the establishment of enclaves in Syria protected by coalition air power, where a moderate Sunni force could be supported and where additional forces could be trained, internally displaced persons could find refuge, and the Syrian opposition could organize.”

But Barack Obama does not agree. At his Friday press conference, the president described such views as “mumbo-jumbo,” “half-baked ideas,” “as-if” solutions, a willful effort to “downplay the challenges involved in the situation.” He says the critics have no answers to the questions of “what exactly would you do and how would you fund it and how would you sustain it.”

America’s greatest living general might as well have been testifying to his shower drain for all the difference his views are going to make in this administration.

So it is with this president. It’s not enough for him to stake and defend his positions. He wants you to know that he thinks deeper, sees further, knows better, operates from a purer motive. His preferred method for dealing with disagreement is denigration. If Republicans want a tougher line in Syria, they’re warmongers. If Hillary Clinton thinks a no-fly zone is a good idea, she’s playing politics: “There is obviously a difference,” the president tut-tutted about his former secretary of state’s position, “between running for president and being president.”

You can interpret that jab as a sign Mr. Obama is urging Joe Biden to run. It’s also a reminder that Mr. Obama believes his Syria policy—the one that did nothing as 250,000 people were murdered; the one that did nothing as his own red lines were crossed; the one that allowed ISIS to flourish; the one that has created the greatest refugee crisis of the 21st century; the one currently being exploited by Russia and Iran for geopolitical advantage—is a success.

That’s because the president’s fundamental conviction about American foreign policy is that we need less of it—less commitment, less expense, less responsibility. Winston Churchill once said that the U.S. could not be “the leading community in the civilized world without being involved in its problems, without being convulsed by its agonies and inspired by its causes.” Mr. Obama sees it differently. He is the president who would prefer not to. He is the Bartleby of 21st century geopolitics.
Whoo, that's a great line - "the Bartleby of 21st century geopolitics." Stephens reminds us of the success of establishing a no-fly zone for northern Iraq where now there is an Iraqi Kurdistan. Without that zone in the 1990s, we might well have seen Saddam Hussein massacre those Kurds.
There’s a view that staying out of Syria is the best way to get bad guys on all sides to fight their way to mutual extinction. But the lesson of the Syrian war is that chaos does not annihilate the forces of jihad. It turbocharges them.

“It is frequently said that there is no ‘military solution’ to Syria,” Gen. Petraeus said in his testimony. “This may be true, but it is also misleading. For, in every case, if there is to be hope of a political settlement, a certain military and security context is required—and that context will not materialize on its own.” Is this, too, mumbo-jumbo?

In the meantime, note what Vladimir Putin, lectured by Mr. Obama for getting Russia “stuck in a quagmire,” is achieving in Syria.

For a relatively trivial investment of some jet fighters and a brigade-sized support force, Moscow extends its influence in the eastern Mediterranean, deepens a commercially and strategically productive alliance with Iran, humiliates the U.S., boosts Mr. Putin’s popularity at home, and earns a geopolitical card he can play in any number of negotiations—Ukraine, gas contracts, Mr. Assad’s political future, you name it. If things don’t work out, he can pull up stakes within a week without much loss of money, lives or prestige. It’s a perfect play.

I spent some time staring at press pool photos of Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin at their recent encounter at the United Nations. The Russian seems to gaze at the president the way a good chess player approaches an inferior opponent—somewhere between delighted and bored by the intellectual mismatch. We’ve got 16 more months of this to go.

Robert Merry is troubled about how much of our politics is now being determined by polls and the media rather than by people actually voting.
Apolitical revolution is taking place in America. The process of selecting party presidential candidates has been transformed in the last two or three election cycles. Now we have the early debates designed to drive poll numbers and tell us who’s “ahead” and who’s “behind,” who’s “gaining” and who’s “dropping.” Yet not a single vote has been taken, not a single voter has pulled a lever in a voting booth or gone to a single caucus.

And yet candidates are being winnowed out. Take, for example, Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Is he out because he couldn’t get any voters to vote for him? No, few voters have even bothered to focus on the race thus far with any intensity, much less actually vote. It’s because his debate performances proved lackluster, which sent his poll numbers down, which led to a sharp decline in his ability to raise money. He lost in a contest that was extra-electoral.

So who’s running the show? First, the cable networks, which host and hawk the debates. Second, the campaign media, particularly the selfsame cable shows, that then go wild in their coverage and analysis of who won and lost. Third, the pollsters, who rush out to assess opinion in the wake of the debates, thus giving the impression that the race has actually begun when in fact their polls reflect nothing more than a “snapshot” look at political sentiment months before it actually congeals into something meaningful. Fourth, the money guys, who absorb all the drama perpetrated by the cable provocateurs, the political reporters and the pollsters, and then direct or withhold their dollars based on that superficial drama.

Is this not a push toward oligarchy? Here we have crucial matters of state, nothing less than the selection of our elected leaders, more and more residing in the hands of a well-positioned few who manage to influence the outcome, perhaps even effect an outcome, before the voters get into the game.
That's true at this point, but once people start actually voting, those votes will count more than the polls. Think of how countries from Britain to Greece have surprised pollsters this past year. The problem here is that our election just goes on too dang long. Add in that we have an open presidency so that both parties will be struggling to figure out who their nominee will be. That led so many Republicans to jump in the race. They had to be winnowed down. In older days, that number would have been winnowed down by party leaders who would have decided who the most likely candidates would be. Those same party elites are relatively unimportant this time around.

Somehow this doesn't seem like a winning tactic for Trump bring down Marco Rubio.
Donald Trump delivered a new dig in his ongoing feud with Sen. Marco Rubio on Monday: a 24-bottle care package with the label “Trump Ice Natural Spring Water.”

The set of bottled water was sent to the Rubio campaign’s Washington office on Monday. The package also had two towels with the “Make America Great Again” Trump campaign slogan, Trump campaign bumper stickers, and a note that said “Since you’re always sweating, we thought you could use some water. Enjoy!” according to CNN.

It’s a jab at Rubio who awkwardly reached for a bottle of water right in the middle of his 2013 State of the Union rebuttal to President Barack Obama. It’s also the latest attack in the squabbling between Trump and Rubio. Both candidates have been delivering strong poll numbers in the Republican primary field, sparking tensions.
During a recent debate, Trump poked Rubio for being sweaty.

“Rubio, I’ve never seen a young guy sweat that much,” Trump said during a recent appearance in South Carolina. “He’s drinking water, water, water, I never saw anything like this with him with the water.”
Yes, because the one thing that we certainly don't want is a president who regularly hydrates.

Rubio can just point to all the stories of Democrats saying that Marco Rubio is the candidate they fear the most. The most recent was Patti Solis Doyle, Hillary's 2008 campaign manager.

Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry explain why Donald Trump is such a mistaken choice for real conservatives.
That Trump has a long history of liberal positions that extends even into the fairly recent past should not by itself be disqualifying. Conservatism has always welcomed converts. But conservatives have also expected some demonstrated commitment to their principles, some action that advanced their causes, before seeking to elevate a convert to high office. When Mitt Romney ran for the Senate in 1994, for example, he tried to distance himself from Reagan-era conservatism. He later moved right. But even on his least conservative day, Romney was arguing for a smaller government and lower taxes (and for an end to Ted Kennedy’s career). Trump, by contrast, has done essentially nothing for any conservative cause prior to deciding to run for the Republican presidential nomination.

For that matter, the evidence that Trump is actually a convert — that he is today a conservative — is scant. In part this is because he is so cavalier in describing what he would do as president. Usually he simply assures us that he will have the best people working on an issue, that they will come up with terrific plans, and that the results will overjoy us. In itself this patter suggests that he respects neither the presidency nor his supporters. But it’s also telling that he rarely specifies that these great people will be conservatives, or that conservative principles (assuming he can name any) will guide them. Even the suggestion that Americans would be freer, or their government smaller, for his efforts is absent from his shtick. His contempt for the political class is rooted in conceit, not conservatism: They haven’t governed well because they’re supposedly not as smart as he is. Other candidates denounce crony capitalism as a betrayal of the national creed. Trump tells us how good he is at it.

Even on immigration, Trump cannot be trusted to maintain a position over the span of a day. He wants native-born Americans to get high-tech jobs, according to his “white paper”; he wants to import high-skilled immigrants to do them, according to his interviews. He wants to build a wall, he says, unlike other Republicans; he might erect a bunch of barriers instead, he says, just like everyone else. His policy document doesn’t mention mass deportation; he can’t stop talking about it. And he has never even sought to explain how he went from blasting Romney after the 2012 election for being too harsh toward Hispanics to suggesting today that a lot of Mexican immigrants are rapists.

Which brings us to another reason Trump would be a disastrous champion for conservatives: He taints and discredits the important cause of controlling immigration, and would do the same to conservatism generally in the unlikely event that he became the nominee. Deterring illegal immigration and reducing legal immigration would serve the rule of law, promote national cohesion, and help both native-born and immigrant low-wage workers. This agenda is routinely dismissed, however, as an expression of nostalgia for a whiter country — or worse. Every time Trump suggests that people who have come here from Mexico are mostly drug runners and murderers, he makes it easier to think that legitimate conservative concerns about immigration are tantamount to racism.

Trump’s discarded wives and his habit of making gross sexual insults of women also make it easier for liberals to campaign against Republicans’ supposed “war on women.” Perhaps one or two of Trump’s comments were not as disgusting as they have generally been taken to be: Maybe he didn’t mean to suggest that Fox anchor Megyn Kelly asked him tough questions because she was menstruating. But look at the whole pattern — his repeated attacks on her as a “bimbo,” his slam of Carly Fiorina’s face, his description of other women as pigs — and it’s clear that these bits of ugliness are not gaffes so much as a way of life.

Trump responds to this kind of criticism by casting himself as a brave dissenter from political correctness. Here, too, he discredits a worthy cause. Conservatives and some honorable liberals have stood up against the oversensitivity and censorship of legitimate political viewpoints that has spread from college campuses over the last three decades. Trump appears to confuse simple decency with PC. Republicans should not embrace this confusion by cheering him on.

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Reason points to how sad recess has gotten. In Minnesota, schools are hiring "recess consultants" to figure out planned activity because they can't have kids developing their own free play. The schools don't want kids making up games or playing tag which now must be banned. What happened to the desire to encourage children to exercise their own creativity?

FIRE links to an editorial in the Middlebury Campus protesting against federal courts insisting on due process for a student accused of sexual misconduct. The student newspaper insists that the school should be able to prosecute the accused and expel him without his having access to legal representation. They don't care about the facts; all they care about declaring someone guilty just because an accusation has been made. I'm old enough that I can remember when students used to care about due process rights for the accused.

Meanwhile, this is a statistic that should make it clear why due process rights are so crucial to preserve.
It turns out the "one-in-five number" is correct, but it's not the one-in-five the media are reporting. Harvard University released its sexual assault statistics as part of federal regulations, and it turns out 18.1 percent of reported rapes on campus are "unfounded," defined by Harvard police as "any report of a crime that is found to be false or baseless."

If this number is reported anywhere in the media that's so eager to report every faulty survey purporting to show 20 percent of women are sexually assaulted in college, you can bet they will add in all the caveats they leave out in reporting incidences of sexual assault.

For example, this is an extremely limited report — it's just one campus. That might fly when trying to claim there's a national epidemic of campus sexual assault, but it really means nothing. Harvard could be an outlier. It could be the norm. What the report does have going for it is that it is based on evidence (actual reports) and not vague descriptions of sexual acts determined to be assault by biased researchers searching for a crisis.

Carol Tavris, co-author of Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me), writes in the Los Angeles Times about how our definition of sexual assault has changed.
The Justice Department and the FBI have expanded the definition of rape that existed decades ago. Today, it is defined as forced penetration of any orifice with any part of the body or an object. Under that definition, rates of rape are about 3% to 4% of college women and a slightly higher percentage of women not in college. If you add "attempted rape," the number goes up.

But if you add all of the behaviors now considered sexual assault — which include any unwanted acts such as "forced kissing," "fondling" and "rubbing up against you in a sexual way, even if it is over your clothes" — the number rises to that now-famous 20%. That's the figure President Obama used in his news conference launching the Justice Department's crusade against the campus rape "epidemic." It is also close to the number reported in the Assn. of American Universities' latest survey of sexual assault on U.S. colleges.

On one level, numbers shouldn't matter: Rape is ugly, it's serious and can have devastating consequences for its victims. But if numbers are being used to generate a national panic or to institute university policies that may cause more harm than good, then we need to assess them as dispassionately as possible, without being accused of being "rape cultured" or supporting perpetrators.

Should young women be encouraged to believe that a clumsy act of fondling or kissing is the same thing, emotionally or physically, as forced penetration? For people who believe that misogyny and sexual violence are widespread and entrenched, the answer is yes; 20% seems like the right number for the percentage of assault victims. The culture today, they argue, encourages young men to feel sexually entitled to take advantage of women who are inebriated or otherwise unable to consent; look at those frat guys chanting, "No means yes."

For others, 3% or 4% feels like a more accurate number, supporting their argument that claims of rape are exaggerated in a political climate that supports any allegation a woman makes, and that invites women to turn unpleasant or regretted sexual encounters into assault charges. The culture today, they say, encourages women to avoid taking responsibility for their part in sexual encounters. Look at the language we use when we blame men for "getting a woman drunk." "Getting"? What is she, an empty vessel with no ability to say she's had enough?
And should young men be expelled from college and have their lives changed forever for a clumsy kiss? Or should the male carry all the blame for a sexual encounter when both participants are inebriated? Shouldn't women have some responsibility for their own behavior? It seems so wrong to extend these definitions so far that the horror of a forcible rape is counted just the same as a drunken hook up that the woman clearly welcomed at the time but just regretted later. The situation today is conflating too many different situations under the umbrella of sexual assault.
By far, the most well-traveled pathway from uncomfortable sexual negotiations to honest false testimony is alcohol. For some women, alcohol is the solution to the sex decision: If they are inebriated, they haven't said yes, and if they haven't explicitly said yes, no one can call them sluts. But for both parties, alcohol significantly impairs the cognitive interpretation of the other person's behavior. Men who are drunk are less likely to interpret nonconsent messages accurately, and women who are drunk convey less emphatic signs of refusal. And alcohol severely impairs both partners' memory of what actually happened.

When trying to reduce sexual assault, labeling all forms of sexual misconduct, including unwanted touches and sloppy kisses, as rape is alarmist and unhelpful. We need to draw distinctions between behavior that is criminal, behavior that is stupid and behavior that results from the dance of ambiguity.

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This is an unlikely biographical entry for an aspiring politician.
A Florida man running for a U.S. Senate seat as a Libertarian admitted Monday to sacrificing a goat and drinking its blood in a pagan ritual two years ago.

According to a report, Augustus Sol Invictus, a 32-year-old lawyer, performed the ritual after walking from central Florida to the Mojave Desert in California, where he spent a week fasting and praying.

"I did sacrifice a goat," Invictus said in an Associated Press story posted in the Orlando Sentinel. "I know that's probably a quibble in the mind of most Americans. I sacrificed an animal to the god of the wilderness ... Yes, I drank the goat's blood."

The WSJ cheers politicians like Marco Rubio and Democrat Michael Bennet for going after the accreditation racket for universities and colleges.
These quality-assurance teams evaluate colleges periodically by asking questions such as: How many books does the library house? There’s no useful benchmark on what students learn, and by the way, a majority of four-year college graduates don’t learn enough to compare viewpoints in newspaper editorials, according to Education Department research.

Nothing but the accreditor’s up or down verdict is available to the public, but we know it’s harder to flunk than a sex-education course. In 1987 Southeastern University posted a 42% student-loan default rate, but the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools didn’t revoke its accreditation until 2009. The six agencies that approve more than 1,500 four-year colleges have in the past 15 years revoked accreditation for, wait for it, 18.

Then there’s grade inflation. Faculty and administrators from neighboring institutions perform the visits. They know the staff at the school they’re evaluating might soon check up on them, and so there’s a disincentive for intensive review. Add to this self-dealing that colleges pay dues to their accrediting organization—again, the one that decides if an institution qualifies for federal subsidies.

What do students get? Higher tuition, as colleges plow time and money into the process and pass on the costs. Stanford University said it spent $850,000 in 12 months of a multiyear process, and Duke University reported blowing $1.5 million over two years. Accreditors recommend changes—trimming faculty course loads, hiring more Ph.D.s—that drive up expenses without improving educational outcomes.

Most pernicious is that the cartel stifles innovation. Students can’t use federal aid at colleges that aren’t accredited, yet a school usually must serve students for years before winning approval. Accreditation amounts to monopoly enforcement, which is why in 2013 the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools swatted down an online program at Tiffin University.
There are new ways to learn and why should the federal government be facilitating a method of blocking innovation?

Thomas Sowell rightly ridicules the idea that the predominance of one group over another in some profession is a sign of discrimination.
One of the many painful signs of the mindlessness of our times was a recent section of the Wall Street Journal, built around the theme "What's Holding Women Back in the Workplace?"

Whenever some group is not equally represented in some institution or activity, the automatic response in some quarters is to assume that someone has prevented equality of outcomes.

This preconception of equal outcomes requires not one speck of evidence and defies mountains of evidence to the contrary. Even in activities where individual performances are what determine outcomes, and those performances are easily measured objectively, there is seldom anything resembling equal representation.

For 12 consecutive years — from 2001 through 2012 — each home run leader in the American League had a Hispanic surname. When two American boys whose ancestors came from India tied for first place in the U.S. National Spelling Bee in 2014, it was the seventh consecutive year in which the U.S. National Spelling Bee was won by an Asian Indian.

We all know about the large overrepresentation of blacks among professional basketball players and especially among the star players. The best-selling brands of beer in America were created by people of German ancestry, who also created China's famed Tsingtao beer.

Of the 100 top-ranked marathon runners in the world in 2012, 68 were Kenyans. The list could go on and on.
Although blacks are overrepresented among professional football players, even the most avid National Football League fan is unlikely to be able to recall seeing even one black player who kicked a punt or a point after touchdown.

Should there be an article titled: "What's Holding Black Kickers Back in the NFL?" Could it be that blacks are more interested in playing positions where there is more action and — not incidentally — more money?

Should there be an article titled: "What's Holding Back Whites in the National Basketball Association?"

Or an article titled: "What's Holding Back Non-Asian Indian Kids from Winning the Spelling Bee?"

Lawsuits claiming discrimination have been won on the basis of statistical disparities far smaller than these.
Among the many reasons for gross disparities in many fields, and at different income levels, is that human beings differ in what they want to do, quite aside from any differences in what they are capable of doing or what others permit them to do.

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Stephen Moore pays tribute to what the Tea Party movement has helped achieve.

Democratic presidents whitewashing Iran's record on terrorism is, apparently, nothing new.
Bill Clinton’s administration gathered enough evidence to send a top-secret communique accusing Iran of facilitating the deadly 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist bombing, but suppressed that information from the American public and some elements of U.S. intelligence for fear it would lead to an outcry for reprisal, according to documents and interviews.

Before Mr. Clinton left office, the intelligence pointing toward Iran’s involvement in the terror attack in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. servicemen and wounded hundreds was deemed both extensive and “credible,” memos show.

It included FBI interviews with a half-dozen Saudi co-conspirators who revealed they got their passports from the Iranian embassy in Damascus, reported to a top Iranian general and were trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), officials told The Washington Times.

The revelations about what the Clinton administration knew are taking on new significance with the recent capture of the accused mastermind of the 1996 attack, which has occurred in the shadows of the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran.

Ahmed al-Mughassil was arrested in August returning to Lebanon from Iran, and his apprehension has provided fresh evidence of Tehran’s and Hezbollah’s involvement in the attack and their efforts to shield him from justice for two decades, U.S. officials said.

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh told The Times that when he first sought the Clinton White House’s help to gain access to the Saudi suspects, he was repeatedly thwarted. When he succeeded by going around Mr. Clinton and returned with the evidence, it was dismissed as “hearsay,” and he was asked not to spread it around because the administration had made a policy decision to warm relations with Tehran and didn’t want to rock the boat, he said.

“The bottom line was they weren’t interested. They were not at all responsive to it,” Mr. Freeh said about the evidence linking Iran to Khobar.

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