SO THIS MAKES THEM HOSTAGE-TAKERS AND TERRORISTS, RIGHT? Dick Durbin: Senate Democrats will block House DHS bill. If the Dems block it, McConnell can always go nuclear on them. Because the filibuster is evil, and so are other techniques that thwart the Senate majority. We learned that last year . . .
January 31, 2015
COULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED TO A NICER GUY: CIA and Mossad killed senior Hezbollah figure in car bombing. But this was in 2008. Not much chance we’d do anything like it today.
But the big question is why this is — pretty obviously deliberately, and with high level approval — being leaked today, by a different administration. I wonder who the “lawmakers” the CIA briefed were.
January 30, 2015
IF SO, IT’S BECAUSE THEY FEARED INVESTIGATIONS BY A GOP CONGRESS: FDIC retreats on Operation Choke Point? I’ll be interested, though, to hear what people in the affected industries have to say over the coming months.
ROLL CALL: Democrats Lose Candidate and Hope in New York Special Election. “The date hasn’t even been set, but Republicans have all but won the special election in New York’s 11th District. The Staten Island-based district has swung from being a top Democratic target in the midterms all the way across the competitive spectrum to Democrats punting the opportunity to win the seat in a special election.” Fallout from the Garner case?
A MUST-READ FOR CONSERVATIVE COLLEGE STUDENTS: Jonah Goldberg explains how American progressivism was born of the same intellectual and political climate that gave rise to various European collectivist, statist and nationalistic movements – and how those mindsets are currently in control of higher education discourse today.
PERHAPS SOME DONORS GOT UPSET OVER THE LOONINESS: Frederick Lawrence to step down as president of Brandeis.
UPDATE: Roger Simon comments: “Nowhere in the email is there mention of the fierce defender of women’s rights and critic of Islam Hirsi Ali, nor was there reference to another controversy surrounding Brandeis student Daniel Mael and his response to tweets by still another student calling the recent murder of two NYPD officers ‘hilarious.’ Brandeis, a secular Jewish university founded in 1948 in the wake of the Holocaust, has been under fire of late for anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic statements from students and faculty.”
SO, SORT OF LIKE THE IRAN/IRAQ WAR THEN: “The obvious thing to say about Jonathan Chait’s battle against the left is that we’re rooting for casualties.”
21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Technology Makes It Easier To Find Sexual Partners, But This May Have Public Health Consequences.
Before the days of the internet, finding a casual partner meant putting in some effort: chatting up someone in a bar, say, or hanging about in a shady spot known to be frequented by like-minded people. Nowadays, a naughty encounter is but a click away, thanks to smartphone apps such as Tinder and Grindr and listings websites such as Craigslist. But with convenience comes less happy consequences, as a paper just published in MIS Quarterly suggests.
Jason Chan of the University of Minnesota and Anindya Ghose of New York University have looked specifically at what effects a local Craigslist site has on its state’s rates of reported HIV cases. Craigslist started life as a round-robin e-mail in the San Francisco area in 1995, but has ballooned to a 700-site network in 70 countries. The sites make their money mainly from listings for jobs or housing, but their free personal ads, which often solicit casual sexual partners, account for a big chunk of the sites’ content. These sites were rolled out piecemeal across America over several years, providing a natural laboratory to examine how their arrival affected sexual health.
Drs Chan and Ghose looked at HIV rates in 33 states between 1999 and 2008, mostly in America’s central regions (Craigslist’s spread to populous cities along coastal regions was much faster, muddying the data there). The arrival of Craigslist, they found, was correlated with an average increase of 15.9% a year in the number of HIV infections compared with what would have been expected had it not been launched; the pair estimate that the listing website was associated with between 6,130 and 6,455 extra infections a year throughout the country. That held true even after controlling for national and local HIV trends (which were often in decline), the level of urbanisation, and changing rates of people getting tested for the virus.
Although the sites also feature a section dedicated to escort services, these did not appear to be correlated with the increased infection rate. Instead, it seems, the majority of new infections result from men seeking other men.
I find all of this unsurprising.
WELL, PERSONALLY I HAVE THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD PENCILED IN FOR 2042: Bill Gates on dangers of artificial intelligence: ‘I don’t understand why some people are not concerned.’
THE SCIENCE OF Itching. “Why is it that watching someone else’s finger being hit with a hammer will usually not make us withdraw our own fingers, but watching someone scratch will make us feel itchy and cause us to scratch as well? The best guess is as follows: Through most of our human history, we have been routinely exposed to disease- and toxin-bearing parasites. In situations where these occur, if you notice that the person next to you is scratching, there is a good reason to believe you are also being exposed to the same dangerous insect, worm, etc., and it’s therefore adaptive for you to feel itchy and scratch in order to reduce your own chance of harm. Pain, in contrast, is weakly social contagious, because the cause of most pain is not generally spread from person to person.”
A LIFESTYLE SO GOOD, IT’S MANDATORY: “California has effectively decriminalized marijuana (possession of less than an ounce is a civil matter roughly equivalent to a speeding ticket — a rarely written speeding ticket), and the state has a medical (ahem) marijuana program that is, for the moment, largely unregulated. At the same time, the state is launching a progressive jihad against ‘vaping,’ the use of so-called e-cigarettes that deliver nicotine in the form of vapor. . . . If that seems inconsistent to you, you are thinking about it the wrong way: For all of its scientific pretensions and empirical posturing, progressivism is not about evidence, and at its heart it is not even about public policy at all: It is about aesthetics. The goal of progressivism is not to make the world rational; it’s to make the world Portland.”
LONGTIME GAMING SITE JOYSTIQ POISED TO BITE THE DUST. “Joystiq‘s position on major ethical issues in recent years mean it will not be missed by many readers.”
HEY, WHEN HE’S RIGHT, HE’S RIGHT: Joe Biden: ‘The Past Six Years Have Been Really, Really Hard For This Country.’
IN THE MAIL: From Rory Miller & Larwence A. Kane, Scaling Force DVD: Dynamic decision-making under threat of violence.
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BILL WHITTLE: Afterburner: What Liberty Looks Like: Stories of Freedom. “If America is not evil, then the Left is out of business.”
JONI ERNST AND ECONOMIC PROGRESS: When Bread Bags Weren’t Funny.
Last week, in her State of the Union response, Joni Ernst mentioned going to school with bread bags on her feet to protect her shoes. These sorts of remembrances of poor but honest childhoods used to be a staple among politicians — that’s why you’ve heard so much about Abe Lincoln’s beginnings in a log cabin. But the bread bags triggered a lot of hilarity on Twitter, which in turn triggered this powerful meditation from Peggy Noonan on how rich we have become. So rich that we have forgotten things that are well within living memory. . . .
I am a few years younger than Noonan, but I grew up in a very different world — one where a number of my grammar school classmates were living in public housing or on food stamps, but everyone had more than one pair of shoes. In rural areas, like the one where Joni Ernst grew up, this lingered longer. But all along, Americans got richer and things got cheaper — especially when global markets opened up. Payless will sell you a pair of child’s shoes for $15, which is two hours of work even at minimum wage.
Perhaps that sounds like a lot to you — two whole hours! But I’ve been researching historical American living standards for a project I’m working on, and if you’re familiar with what Americans used to spend on things, this sounds like a very good deal. . . . Your average middle-class person was, by the standards of today, dead broke and living in abject misery. And don’t tell me that things used to be cheaper back then, because I’m not talking about their cash income or how much money they had stuffed under the mattress. I’m talking about how much they could consume. And the answer is “a lot less of everything”: food, clothes, entertainment. That’s even before we talk about the things that hadn’t yet been invented, such as antibiotics and central heating.
Now some people — mostly billionaires, or at least Hollywood millionaires — say we should get by with less.
In every generation, we forget how much poorer we used to be, and then we forget that we have forgotten. We focus on the things that seem funny or monstrous or quaint and darling. Somehow the simplest and most important fact — the immense differences between their living standards and ours — slides right past our eye. And when Ernst tried to remind us, people didn’t say “Wow, we’ve really come a long way”; they pointed and laughed.
Well, that’s just because she’s a Republican woman.
KNOW YOUR PLACE, PEASANTS! Bedford reprimands students for tweets critical of superintendent for not cancelling school Wednesday. “On Wednesday, the Union Leader received an anonymous tip that four Bedford High students had been suspended for inappropriate responses to McGee’s tweet. On Thursday, neither McGee nor Principal Bill Hagen would confirm that students had been suspended, citing privacy issues.”
TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): 23-year-old NEISD teacher arrested, charged with sexual relationship with student.
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POLITICO: Exclusive: Hillary Clinton may delay campaign: Top Democrats give a new date for the campaign’s likely start. Love the photo. A cynic would say that Hillary isn’t running — perhaps her health isn’t up to even a fake campaign — but that they want to keep the possibility alive as long as possible to maximize speaking revenues and political leverage. Or they may have just found out that she polls best when she’s out of the public eye. . . .
UPDATE: Related thoughts on Romney: “As for bulling through the GOP field and still having what it takes to fight the well-rested and untested wife of the ex-President who only ever won an election in New York state and served a rather lackluster term as Secretary of State, I think he’s up for that fight.”
Related: Hillary’s Poll Numbers Are Collapsing. They’re already warming Elizabeth Warren up in the bullpen.
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Hillary Clinton Faces Scrutiny for Use of Private Jets. “Hillary Clinton took more than 200 privately chartered flights at taxpayer expense during her eight years in the U.S. Senate, sometimes using the jets of corporations and major campaign donors as she racked up $225,756 in flight costs.”
Gallup recently asked adults around the country a very simple question about immigration: Are you satisfied, or dissatisfied, with the level of immigration into the United States today? Are too many immigrants coming? Too few? Or is the number just about right?
Before giving the results, it’s important to note what that number is. The U.S. awards legal permanent resident status — a green card, which means lifetime residency plus the option of citizenship — to about one million people per year, a rate Sen. Marco Rubio calls “the most generous” on earth. In addition, the government hands out more than a half-million student and exchange visas each year, tens of thousands of refugee admissions, and about 700,000 visas to temporary workers and their families. The percentage of foreign born in the U.S. population is heading toward levels not seen since the period of 1890 to 1910.
So is that too much, or too little? Gallup found that 47 percent of Americans believe the level of immigration should stay where it is. Thirty-nine percent want to see it decreased. And just seven percent want it increased. (The remaining seven percent said they don’t know.)
Put another way, 86 percent of Americans would like immigration into this country to remain at today’s level or to decrease, versus seven percent who want to see it increase.
Obama doesn’t care about public opinion, since he’s constructing an all-new public more in line with his own views.
A group of Republican senators hopes to return attention to accountability issues at the Veterans’ Affairs Department that have disappeared from the headlines.
“The television cameras may have turned their focus elsewhere, but we will not,” Kansas GOP Sen. Jerry Moran said in a statement Thursday announcing he’s spearheading the Senate companion to a bill designed to give more power to the VA secretary to discipline senior executives engaged in improper practices.
“Despite the passage of the Choice Act last year, the VA is still not doing enough to hold those responsible accountable for their corrupt behavior when treating our nation’s veterans,” Moran said, calling for dismantling of a “system that rewards mediocrity and failure.”
He’s joined on the effort by Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Marco Rubio of Florida, according to an advance release obtained by CQ Roll Call. McCain has consistently said that more needs to be done in the aftermath of the scandal that originated out of the VA hospital in Phoenix.
Among the changes, the bill would allow for senior employees to face reductions in their pensions after relevant criminal convictions, and an overhaul of the way the VA handles performance evaluations.
Reductions in their pensions after criminal convictions?
UNIVERSITIES REALLY NEED TO GET OUT OF THE SEXUAL-ASSAULT BUSINESS: All charges dismissed against 5 William Paterson students in sex assault case.
Ron Ricci, an attorney for Latimer, said the case was presented to a grand jury on Monday, and the panel declined to indict after a one-day presentation.
“The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office conducted a thorough investigation, and they presented the case honestly to a grand jury on Monday. The grand jury declined to indict all the defendants,” Ricci said.
“I am not going to get into the specifics, just that the facts demonstrated that this was not a sexual assault, and the actions of those young men were not in violation of the law. It clearly wasn’t a crime,” he said.
Ricci said all the defense attorneys had provided evidence to prosecutors “that this was not a sexual assault.”
The outcome “just proves that schools and deans should be careful before they make comments that boys are guilty of sexual assault,” Ricci said. “These boys were not suspended; they were expelled. They never got a hearing in front of the school, and there were damaging statements made by school officials.
“It was outrageous that these young men had to go through the publicity they had to go through. My client’s family is extremely disappointed by how the investigation was handled by William Paterson University and its police department.”
In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Kathleen Waldron, the president of William Paterson University, said, “We respect the decision reached through this legal process. The University has its own student conduct process that is independent of the state’s legal proceedings and the University process will continue.
You know, this kind of thing could easily create a hostile educational environment where male students are discouraged from learning.
I’D MAKE HIM WEAR OUT THAT VETO PEN: Senate votes to build Keystone, defying veto threat from Obama.
The Senate on Thursday voted 62-36 to build the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, delivering Republicans the first legislative victory of their new majority.
Nine Democrats joined with Republicans in voting to approve the $8 billion project, five votes short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a promised veto from President Obama.
As somebody said on Twitter, I’m sure that Mary Landrieu is happy this thing finally passed.
January 29, 2015
TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Vancouver teacher accused of raping student released from jail. “An Evergreen High School teacher accused of raping a 15-year-old student appeared in court Wednesday and then posted bail hours later. According to state prosecutors, Stephanie McCrea manipulated the boy during their nearly two-month relationship, threatened to kill herself and then attempted suicide two weeks ago. In court, McCrea stood stoic and said very little, often looking down at the ground as the judge spoke. She faces several charges, including four counts of child rape, sexual misconduct with a minor and tampering with a witness. . . . A judge on Wednesday set McCrea”s bail at $40,000 and ordered her not to have any contact with minors, except for her 9-year-old son. She was also prohibited from using any type of electronic communication device. She posted bail and was released from the Clark County jail just before 4:30 p.m., refusing to talk to reporters as she walked out.”
I wonder if a male teacher would have gotten such light bail.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Can Israel Survive? Traditional pillars of the tiny democracy’s security have begun to erode. If I were the Israelis, I’d build a doomsday device, to give everyone a stake in my survival. Maybe several devices. But that’s just me. . . .
HAVEN’T YOU, AT SOME POINT, RAISED ENOUGH MONEY? Charitable Donations to Colleges Reached All-Time High in 2014 ($38 Billion). Perhaps Congress should cap endowments, and enact some other schemes to spread the charitable wealth around. I think everyone’s better off when you spread the wealth around.
RON CAPSHAW: Flipping The Hollywood Blacklist Narrative.
Once on a British talk show in the early 1970s, anticommunist actor John Wayne startled the host by acknowledging that there was indeed a Hollywood blacklist. Wayne’s follow-up, however, made the host’s jaw drop even farther; the blacklist, he stated, wasn’t wielded by industry anticommunists against Communist Party members, but by the reverse. It was for this reason, Wayne stated, that he enlisted in the anticommunist fight in order to defend conservative screenwriters and get them back on the payroll.
Wayne, regarded by the Old and New Left, as a fascist, was in actuality more of a rebel against the establishment than they ever would be. The “establishment” in this case was Left Coast Hollywood, already entrenched by the early 70s, who, taking a leaf from the Hollywood communist narrative, asserted that the blacklisted were liberals battling fascism in the form of industry anticommunists. Upholders of free speech rather than the Stalinists they were, they paid the consequences for their New Deal liberalism by going to jail and being denied employment in the industry for two decades. Their eventual triumph wasn’t just in overturning the blacklist, but in getting modern day Hollywood, academia and liberals to accept their narrative. Hence, anticommunist movie stars like Robert Taylor have had their names removed from buildings, while blacklisted screenwriters such as Dalton Trumbo have free speech fountains at colleges dedicated to them.
This spin is nourished by the memoirs of the children of the blacklisted, who give the narrative more poignancy by showing how the blacklist warped their childhoods. These recollections all follow the same theme: assertions by the children that their parents were not knee jerk Stalinists; followed by a strong, loving family unit (no affairs or alcoholism are allowed into this narrative); then the unit is warped while at the same time being brought closer together as the blacklist hits; then a decade of near-poverty, school yard bullying, and a redemptive move toward leftist politics.
More than honoring the memory of their parents is involved here. As with Left Coast Hollywood, they have followed the narrative by continuing how they were used by their parents in protests against their jail terms—displayed with placards bearing how their parents were going to jail while their parents stood piously by.
By contrast, the children of their anticommunist foes have stayed silent. But Allen Ryskind, the son of the blacklisted’s bete noir, Academy-awarding screenwriter Morrie Ryskind, does not engage in self-pity or strumming the violin in Hollywood Traitors. While he notes that his father was the victim of the blacklist Wayne spoke of, he doesn’t play on it. Nor does he use the example of his father—a Jew and member of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League and the Screenwriters’ Guild as well as a two-time voter for FDR—to refute the Left’s charge that their opponents were anti-Semites, anti-labor and anti-New Deal.
Only one of those three things is dishonorable. Here’s a related piece from Tim Cavanaugh, and here’s more on the subject of Hollywood’s “missing movies.”
Meanwhile, the book is Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters — Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler.
PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH says goodbye to Andrew Sullivan. Actually, I suspect Sullivan will be back. In my observation, it’s easier to quit blogging than it is to stay quit.
IN D.C., THEIR GREED IS SURPASSED ONLY BY THEIR INCOMPETENCE: DC’s traffic cameras catching fewer offences—because they’re broken: Officials insisted drivers were just being safer, but that’s not the whole story.
But Connecticut is also experiencing swarms of small earthquakes, and it doesn’t have an oil industry. Could it just be better detection technology, noticing swarms that were always there, but previously unnoted?
WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Why the Time Seems Right for a Space-Based Internet Service.
OFF THE 3-D PRINTER, Practice Parts For The Surgeon. “That first model helped him to decide what might need to be done and to discuss his treatment plan with her family. Three more 3-D printouts closer to the operation allowed Dr. Meara to rotate the model skull in directions he could not manage with a picture and would not attempt with a patient on the operating table. Then he was able to cut and manipulate the plastic model to determine the best way to push her eye sockets more than an inch closer together.”
CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS LECTURES AT YALE: Trigger Warnings, Male-Shaming & Moral Panic: It’s Time to Reboot Feminism.
MEGAN MCARDLE: Moral Panics Won’t End Campus Rape.
The sexual abuse of children is not an imaginary problem. It is one of the worst crimes known to our society, and it happens all too tragically often. But somehow, in the 1980s, we became convinced that it was an omnipresent threat, and that we must go to any lengths to eradicate it — up to, and including, believing in the impossible. Many people seem to have swallowed their doubts about these stories for fear of being denounced — just as folks such as Richard Bradley, who first raised questions about the Rolling Stone story, were accused of “rape denial” and being “truthers.”
When people are in the grip of a moral panic, going up against them to question the extent of a threat, even by doubting so much as a single case, can become dangerous. Questioning any expression of the panic is not seen as a logical debate over statistics or the details of a particular instance, but as somehow defending the threatening behavior. Note how careful many people who wrote skeptically about the UVA case were to say that they believe campus rape happens, and it is terrible. People who write that they think an accused murderer may be innocent rarely feel compelled to affirm that yes, they sure do believe that murder happens, and boy, are they against that. This ought to go without saying, and unless we are in the middle of a moral panic, it usually does.
Yet once moral panic sets in, an accusation can also become sufficient evidence unto itself to trigger a severe response: no need to see what the brothers might have to say, or to wait for a police investigation, before you write that op-ed article about rape culture — or start throwing bricks.
Unfortunately, our panicked determination to believe does not ultimately help the cause; in fact, such determination hurts the cause, as well as the innocent people whose names are tarnished along the way. As Judith Levine wrote in the aftermath of the UVA revelations, “feminism can handle the truth.”
Two points: (1) No, they really can’t, it seems; and (2) Solving the problem of campus rape isn’t the agenda here. Remember, “moral panics” don’t just happen. They are created.
ED MORRISSEY: Obama’s Enemies List Targets Red State Voters. “While solidly red states like Mississippi and Texas saw average cuts of 40 percent in federal grants, reliably blue states – and even more importantly, swing states – did much better in disbursements from the federal government.”
THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR MITT ROMNEY, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WOULD PRESSURE COLLEGES INTO BECOMING ISLANDS OF JOYLESS PURITANISM. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Dartmouth To Establish New Sex Rules, Ban Liquor On Campus Even For Those Of Legal Drinking Age.
IT DOES SEEM THAT WAY: White House Unhinged Over Netanyahu Speech.
UPDATE: From the comments:
Let’s hope the speech kills the talks.
The outline of a potential deal has long been clear:
Iran pretends they don’t have a nuclear weapon program.
And we pretend to believe them.
Yeah, pretty much.
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HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Scott Walker urges professors to work harder. “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, defending proposed budget cuts for higher education, took a swipe at university professors who he said could be ‘teaching more classes and doing more work.’”
I’m disappointed that he’s not focusing more on cutting administration, which represents the largest part of academic bloat in recent years.
ROGER SIMON: Big, Bad Bibi. “Meanwhile, lost in Goldberg’s posturing, and the funfkeying by such great State Department intellects as Jen Psaki, is the subject of Netanyahu’s putative speech. What was it? Oh, yes… Iran. Now I remember. That country that has its hand in nearly every piece of Islamic mayhem from Buenos Aires to Sanaa.”
WHY ARE LEFTY INSTITUTIONS SUCH HOTBEDS OF RACISM AND SEXISM? Female, Minority Professors Are Paid Less Than White Male Professors at UC-Berkeley.
Two former Vanderbilt University football players were found guilty on Tuesday of gang-raping an unconscious woman back in 2013. The case provides a clear example of why the criminal justice system is better suited to handle such cases. A jury was able to convict the perpetrators quickly, whereas the university’s parallel investigation had been unable to make a strong enough case. . . .
Further, universities wouldn’t have been able to force the accused students to hand over their pictures and video they had taken of the incident. The victim reportedly didn’t even know she had been raped until she started hearing about the pictures and video. She had continued to date Vandenburg after the alleged incident because she didn’t believe she had been assaulted.
While the police were investigating the matter, the university did conclude its own investigation, which found insufficient evidence against Vandenburg to prove he had “non-consensual sexual intercourse” with the victim. This report was concluded after police had already charged four men (the other two still await trial) with rape.
Though activists continue to demand colleges and universities create an alternate court system to adjudicate sexual assault, the fact remains that, imperfect as it is, the American justice system is still best-equipped to handle this crime. In this case, men who committed a felony are going to jail, not being let loose on the streets with other potential victims.
But turning investigations over to the police wouldn’t create more campus jobs for angry feminists who are unemployable elsewhere. Related: New W.H. campus sexual assault guidelines: Still pretty terrible, but a step in the right direction.
Sen. Ted Cruz called attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch’s immigration views “dangerous” Wednesday and questioned whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., should even have the chamber consider her nomination.
“That is the decision the majority leader is going to have to make. I believe we should use every constitutional tool available to stop the president’s unconstitutional executive action. That’s what Republicans, Republican candidates all over the country said over and over again last year,” the Texas Republican said in a brief interview with CQ Roll Call as the daylong Judiciary Committee hearing on Lynch’s nomination neared conclusion.
Given that Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said that committee members will have a week to submit questions in writing once the hearing portion with outside witnesses concludes, it’s unlikely Lynch would be lined up for time on the floor before the Presidents Day recess next month. The timing could coincide with the expiration in funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which is also caught up in Republican opposition to President Barack Obama’s action on immigration.
“For several months now, I’ve called for us to use every constitutional check and balance we have to rein in the president’s illegal action. That includes using the confirmation power given by the Constitution as a direct check on the executive,” Cruz said. “In my view the majority leader should announce the Senate will not confirm any executive or judicial nominees in this Congress, other than vital national security positions, unless and until the president rescinds” the executive actions granting deferred action to almost 5 million of undocumented individuals.
While the attorney general position is exempt from that proposed blockade, Cruz nonetheless sounded skeptical that Lynch in particular should be allowed to advance.
Trouble is, pretty much anybody Obama would nominate would be just about as bad.
To understand just how bad the politics of Obama’s now-withdrawn plan to tax 529 college savings were, think about it this way: Obama, under heavy pressure from both Democrats and Republicans, made a public show of pulling a proposal that already had no chance of passing.
Even as an inert fantasy proposal, it was so widely disliked that the White House had to back down.
It’s a minor but revealing political fiasco—one that shows how distant the White House is even from the interests of its own party while offering a preview of economic policy debates and welfare-state fiscal challenges for decades to come.
The political optics of the plan were flat-out terrible for Obama, who put forth the proposal in the context of a State of the Union address built around the theme of Middle Class Economics. The gist was that Obama proposed taxing the wealthy in order to pay for new middle class benefits, like free community college tuition.
But, somewhat awkwardly, given the president’s chosen theme, 529 plans are tax-advantaged savings vehicles that currently benefit an awful lot of middle class people. In particular, they benefit middle and upper-middle class families in high-tax blue states.
Maybe the GOP should pass it, and put him in the uncomfortable position of having to veto his own proposal. . . .
But here’s the real point: “In the bigger picture, the existing welfare state is unaffordable. Either it will have to be cut, or reformed, or paid for—by someone, somehow. The administration and its allies would like to reassure you that the someones who will pay for all of this will be limited to the richest of the rich, but in practice there’s only so much money that can be squeezed out of the extremely wealthy.” Sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money.
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, THAT’S NOT A BUG, BUT A FEATURE: Pelosi warns Netanyahu: Speech to Congress will hurt Iran talks.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) this week warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his coming speech before Congress threatens to sink the nuclear talks between Iran and the United States, the Democratic leader said Wednesday.
“I think that such a presentation could send the wrong message,” Pelosi told reporters during the Democrats’ annual issues retreat in Philadelphia. “That’s my view, and I shared that with the prime minister today.”
The nuclear talks are a fraud. Pelosi knows that, but she doesn’t mind. She just objects to it being made apparent.
January 28, 2015
I AM STRONG, I AM — AUGGHH! TRIGGER WARNING! Women Are Helpless Victims, Say National Sororities. “It’s not enough to punish men for things they haven’t done. Women must be kept away from men, for their own good, because of the crimes those men haven’t committed. This isn’t happening in Saudi Arabia or some other third-world hellhole. This is happening right here. . . . All because of a fraudulent story in a pathetic, outdated music magazine.”
ACE: “It is becoming impossible to avoid the conclusion that Obama has a visceral hatred of America and its middle class which has largely (and positively) shaped its civic culture for 200+ years.”
THIS IS SMART: So I’m watching Rand Paul, DVR’ed from last night on Kennedy’s new show on Fox Business, talking about the debacle of “Hillary’s war in Libya,” which he calls “a huge disaster.” We talked Qaddafi into giving up his nuclear program, he notes, and then we invaded his country and killed him, which doesn’t help negotiations with Iran.
I think we’ll be hearing more about Hillary’s failed war in Libya. It was a war of choice, we were promised a quick and easy victory, and it left a country in shambles that’s now full of Islamists and a growing terrorist threat.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Prynt Wants To Be A Polaroid For The Smartphone Age. “Prynt is a case that incorporates a little inkless photo printer and connects to your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy smartphone, thanks to a modular system that lets you swap out connectors. Pick a shot from your camera roll, or shoot it with the Prynt app, and you can instantly print out a two-by-three inch photo. Up to 10 pieces of paper fit in the case, which has a battery designed to let you print out 20 prints, each in about 30 seconds. . . . There’s also a nifty, if somewhat gimmicky, augmented reality feature. Take a video while you’re taking your photo, and Prynt can link the clip to your photo. Later on, when you point the app at the printed out version of the photo, it can play back the video on your phone, letting you relive the moment; and since the video is stored in the cloud, anybody you give the photo to can use the Prynt app to view it.”
HEH: Reaction to Jonathan Chait’s Essay on Political Correctness Instantly Proves Chait’s Thesis Correct. It’s interesting how all these critics respond by invoking their minority- or female-privilege rather than engaging his claims.
HOPEY-CHANGEY: CBO Projects Tepid Economic Growth, Rising Deficits Despite Rising Revenues. Yeah, too much spending and regulation will get you that.
COMMUNIST COUNTRIES TRADITIONALLY HAVE BIGGER ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS: Dystopian Reality of China’s Smog Captured in ‘Airpocalypse’ App.
IN JOHN CARTER’S WORDS, I STILL LIVE: Andrew Sullivan is going to stop blogging. No, blogging isn’t dead. And InstaPundit gets more pageviews than pretty much everyone who’s calling blogging dead. But I can understand Andrew quitting. For me, the real strain isn’t the blogging, but having to pay close attention to the news all the time. The news is usually depressing, when it’s not angering, and that’s doubly true for the Obama years. But I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.
UPDATE: A commenter points out that I’m the last of the Four Horsemen Of The Ablogalypse still riding. My, how time flies. Oh, well. Giddyup!
AN INTERESTING NOTE BY ALEXANDER KASNER IN THE STANFORD LAW REVIEW: National Security Leaks and Constitutional Duty. The argument that the Oath Clause protects leakers who expose illegal or unconstitutional conduct is interesting. I wish I’d thought of that for my Don’t Fear The Leaker piece. (Bumped).
VIDEO: Watch Dodge prove the Charger Hellcat’s 204 mph top speed. “Yes, an American family sedan, recognizably similar to the ones populating rental fleets across the country, and priced within reach of folks who don’t decorate their houses with exotic animal furs, will willingly cannonball you and four other humans well and truly past the 200 mph mark. These are terrifyingly good times to be alive.”
UPDATE: Some people in the comments say the video’s not working for them, but it’s working for me. Try again.
JERRY POURNELLE: Abolish The Air Force. “The purpose of military forces is to win wars. The purpose of the Air Force is—well, they no longer know. When we had SAC we knew – ‘Our profession is peace’ was not just a slogan – but that too is neglected in the Modern Air Force. . . . As to the rest of the Air Force, it is more interested in the Air Force than winning wars, and considers supporting the field army as beneath contempt. A slow old Warthog does a much better job, but there is no glory in that.”
WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Swarms of DNA nanorobots execute complex tasks in living animal.
I WANTED FLYING CARS, but what do I get? Flying selfie-bot drones. “Plenty of people—sports enthusiasts in particular—are ravenous for selfies taken by aerial robots. And start-ups everywhere are now scrambling to develop this technology for them.”
NATIONAL JOURNAL: Democrats Not Giving Up On “War On Women” Tactic Yet:
Democrats are far from finished with their “war on women” campaign strategy, midterm losses be damned.
Critics said Democrats’ focus on topics such as abortion rights and access to contraception proved to be a losing strategy in 2014. But leading Senate Democratic strategists aren’t backing away from the message just yet. They don’t necessarily defend the way the strategy was executed, but they do think a focus on female voters and the subjects they care about will resonate in next year’s races—especially as Republicans on Capitol Hill debate new abortion legislation. . . .
Democrats once considered Sen. Mark Udall’s Colorado race against Republican Cory Gardner an ideal place to emphasize abortion rights and contraception, hoping it would carry Colorado’s cosmopolitan, socially liberal electorate. It had worked there in 2010, when Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet won reelection after successfully characterizing his opponent (now-Rep. Ken Buck) as too extreme.
But by the late summer, with polls showing a close race, Democrats began to worry that Udall—who was saddled with the moniker “Senator Uterus”—had too narrowly focused on abortion rights, at the expense of a more well-rounded message. The criticism crystalized by October when The Denver Post, in an endorsement for Gardner, castigated Udall for running an “obnoxious single-issue campaign.” Udall lost the race, the first Democratic gubernatorial or Senate candidate to do so in Colorado since 2002.
Despite the criticism, Democrats insisted that although the campaign made mistakes, focusing heavily on something like access to contraception was the right thing to do. Their polling backed it up: According to sources close to the Udall campaign, every time the senator wavered from that message, Gardner’s lead would increase. (Lopach, for his part, said that because he just joined the DSCC he wasn’t equipped to assess whether the Udall campaign had focused too heavily on abortion rights.)
To some of them, the message was right—it just wasn’t enough to overcome an unpopular president and strong Republican candidate like Gardner.
My sense is that men are going from indifferent, to seriously turned-off by all this gynocentric rhetoric. So what will the Dems do when their war on women schtick costs them more male votes than it gains them female votes?