May 30, 2015

VA WHISTLEBLOWER CALLS FOR SECRETARY’S RESIGNATION: The VA scandal continues.  A whistleblower at the Phoenix VA, Jared Kinnaman, has written a letters to the interim director of the Phoenix facility and the VA Secretary, Robert McDonald, asking for their resignation:

According to Kinnaman, one of the most egregious examples of dangerous behavior at Phoenix is understaffing in the emergency room. The leadership has long known of the problem, having been informed numerous times that this long-standing scenario is like a ticking time bomb that threatens the safety of veterans and their family members.

The Phoenix VA has maintained from the very start that the ER is staffed 24/7 by a licensed social worker. However, The Washington Times recently obtained an email chain indicating the VA is scrambling to fill all the scheduling gaps, essentially driving their employees to the breaking point. Even officials appeared shocked. According to the emails, the problem was copied to Grippen, the current director, but whether any practices changed as a result is unknown. . . .

The response to whistleblowers raising the issue with leadership, Kinnaman says, has included gag orders, character assassinations and illegal office searches. 

Not much has changed at the VA–except the media has lost interest and moved on. Obama’s solution was to throw more money at the VA, and Congress agreed, passing a “reform” measure about 9 months ago.  But as Michelle Malkin recently observed:

Obama condemned the “inexcusable conduct” at VA hospitals across the country (and under his own watch).

He vowed to “do right by all who served under our proud flag.” He promised America’s veterans new “reform,” “resources,” “timely care” and an end to the disgraceful disability backlog.

The bill he signed, in case you’d forgotten, included $10 billion in emergency funding to pay for veterans to go outside the chronically dysfunctional VA system if they are facing long wait times or live 40 miles or more from a VA facility, plus another $6.3 billion to set up 27 new clinics and hire doctors, nurses and other medical staff.

So, how’s it all working out? About as well as every other “success story” Obama has signed his name to: abysmally, ineffectually and incompetently.

Read the whole thing.

THE FAIRY TALE OF GRANDMA’S COOKING. “As I’ve noted before, in Europe and much of Asia, the idea that everyone was constantly enjoying meat and fresh produce, or any of those lovingly hand-produced foods that Grandma liked to stuff you with, is ahistorical. The reason those are cherished family recipes is that they were special. Daily diets for regular people, especially outside summer and fall, frequently consisted of a lot of dried and processed grains and/or beans, prepared with minimal seasoning. Spices were a luxury good, not something you despair of ever fitting into a single kitchen cabinet. . . . When Grandma got richer, she started feeding you the stuff that rich people ate Back in the Day, the stuff that was a nice treat for her peasant ancestors. And now we think that’s ‘real people food.’ Which it was — if your ‘real people’ happened to be unusually prosperous or living in a place where it was Christmas every day.”

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POPE NANCY: Nancy Pelosi paints Marco Rubio as a bad Catholic.  His “sin”? Supporting traditional marriage.

AS A MAN WITH A CYBORG WIFE, I AGREE: The Importance Of Protecting Bionic Bodies From Hacking.

NOW THAT IS LOVE:  A man rigs up an underwater “wheelchair” (more like a hoist, really) to keep his ailing goldfish upright. He definitely gets points for creativity.

IF HE’D BEEN A CHILD MOLESTER, HE’D HAVE GOTTEN LESS TIME. IF HE’D BEEN AL SHARPTON, HE WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN PROSECUTED. Sunk: How Ross Ulbricht Ended Up In Prison for Life.

DROPOUTS: All 5 women given a second chance to complete Army Ranger School have dropped out.  The remainder of the class–195 men–will move on to the next phase.  Three of the women, plus two male candidates, were given the opportunity to try again with the next class, which begins June 21.

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NEWS YOU CAN USE: The 9 Most Common Misconceptions About Hammers. I hear that, among themselves, hammers describe someone who isn’t very bright as “dumb as a bag of Bidens,” but that could just be a rumor.

LIFE LESSONS FROM JUSTICE THOMAS:  Scott Johnson over at Power Line has provided some balance to the ubiquitous radical progressive commencement speeches– one from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to the 2008 graduating class of the University of Georgia. It makes me wish every precious snowflake could hear this before they enter the real world:

Next, remember that life is not easy for any of us. It will probably not be fair, and it certainly is not all about you. The gray hair and wrinkles you see on older people have been earned the hard way, by living and dealing with the challenges of life. When I was a young adult and labored under the delusion of my own omniscience, I thought I knew more than I actually did. That is a function of youth.

With the wisdom that only comes with the passage of years, the older folks warned me presciently and ominously, “Son, you just live long enough and you’ll see.” They were right; oh, so right. Life is humbling and can be hard, very hard. It is a series of decisions, some harder than others, some good and, unfortunately, too many of them bad. It will be up to each of you to make as many good decisions as possible and to limit the bad ones, then to learn from all of them. But I will urge you to resist when those around you insist on making the bad decisions. Being accepted or popular with those doing wrong is an awful Faustian bargain and, as with all Faustian bargains, not worth it. It is never wrong to do the right thing. It may be hard, but never wrong. . . .

Stay positive. There will be many around you who are cynical and negative. These cause cancers of the spirit and they add nothing worthwhile. Don’t inhale their secondhand cynicism and negativism. Some, even those with the most opportunities in this, the greatest country, will complain and grieve ceaselessly, ad infinitum and ad absurdum. It may be fair to ask them, as they complain about the lack of perfection in others and our imperfect institutions, just what they themselves are perfect at.

Look, many have been angry at me because I refuse to be angry, bitter, or full of grievances, and some will be angry at you for not becoming agents in their most recent cynical causes. Don’t worry about it. No monuments are ever built to cynics. Associate with people who add to your lives, not subtract; people you are comfortable introducing to the best people in your lives—your parents, your family, your friends, your mentors, your ministers.

Always have good manners. This is a time-honored tradition and trait; it is not old-fashioned.

Justice Thomas is a treasure. He has always been one of the most underrated Justices, merely because he is a black who “dares” not to be liberal/progressive, and is an originalist (and a very good one) to boot. The black community treats him shamefully.

FRACKING GOES GLOBAL: U.S. Shale Is Transforming the LNG Market.

CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: Open carry handguns will soon be legal in Texas. “Texas lawmakers on Friday approved carrying handguns openly on the streets of the nation’s second most-populous state, sending the bill to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who immediately promised to sign it and reverse a ban dating to the post-Civil War era.”

The ban on carrying guns was no doubt, as in other states, a Jim Crow law intended to disarm blacks, so it’s nice to see an end to it.

HOW MATURE: A feminist group at Wesleyan University vandalized the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity, trashing the house lawn with feminist flyers and spraying silly string everywhere. It’s the latest chapter in an ongoing dispute between feminist groups and fraternities at the university, which decided in September that fraternities must open their chapters to women.  In response, DKE filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the University in February, pointing out that the university offers single-sex dormitories and allows numerous other organizations on campus to tout themselves as “safe spaces” for women and racial, sexual, or ethnic minority groups.

These radical feminists really need to chill. I highly doubt they would welcome alpha men in their private organizations, or at their parties. If we cannot voluntarily choose with whom we associate, there is no liberty.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 751.

FIGHT OVER WAR AUTHORIZATION INTENSIFIES: The White House rips “idle chatter” from Congress on war powers.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest chastised lawmakers for failing to act on President Obama’s use of force request, even as ISIS militants make gains in Iraq and Syria.

“Their job requires basically only fulfilling the bare minimum,” Earnest told reporters. “When it comes to our national security, something they say is so important to our country, it’s time for them to not just pay lip service but to actually follow through with some action.”

Lip service on national security?  Pot, meet kettle.  I don’t recall any other situation in which Congress wanted the President to be more aggressive in his use of military force to protect American interests, except for the Radical Republicans during Reconstruction, who imposed, through the Reconstruction Acts, military control over former Confederate States, overriding President Andrew Johnson’s veto.

ALAN DOWD: Answer The Baltics’ SOS.

NATO’s Baltic members—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—are formally asking the alliance to deploy a “brigade-level permanent allied military presence” on their territory to deter Russia from repeating its salami-slice invasion of Ukraine. NATO should swiftly approve this request. It’s the best way to prevent war and preserve the alliance. The Baltics are not overreacting. Just consider what’s happening in their neighborhood. After deploying troops to wage asymmetric, anonymous warfare against a sovereign, peaceful neighbor in Ukraine, annexing Crimea, and carving out an armed Russian zone in eastern Ukraine, Vladimir Putin unveiled a new military doctrine focused on confronting NATO.

Related: Why The Kremline Has To Keep Lying.

DEMILITARIZATION OF POLICE: MAKE IT PERMANENT:  So argues this commentary in Roll Call:

It just got more difficult for police to arm themselves like soldiers. Recently, President Barack Obama announced a plan to de-militarize law enforcement with an executive order curtailing the federal programs that provide weapons of war to local police. This was a surprisingly bold announcement, given that national consensus post-Ferguson seems to be that the solution to an increasingly militarized police force is more training, or body-worn cameras. The Obama administration ignored that consensus by issuing this executive order. And it was exactly the right thing to do. . . .

To be clear, the administration’s bold action does not let Congress off the hook. To the contrary, it is now more important than ever that Congress pass legislation to codify these changes or even take them further. The next administration could just as easily reverse this policy as this one put it into place. That would be unacceptable, because we have learned far too much in the last year to move backward. Without real efforts to de-militarize police, there will almost certainly be more Fergusons.

The “more Fergusons” comment aside (the riots had no connection to the militarization of police), I agree with this, as I see no legitimate reason for police to have military weaponry, other than perhaps limited riot gear in larger cities. The section 1033 program should be scaled back by Congress. But the militarization of police and excessive use of miiltary-grade force has gone much farther than this, just ask Giggles the Deer, may she rest in peace, or more disturbingly, 75-year-old Roger Hoeppner of Stettin, Wisconsin, or the parents of toddler Bounkham Phonesavanh.

WEIRDLY, FEMINISTS ARE UNHAPPY: GOP senators call for over-the-counter birth control. “Groups like Planned Parenthood have opposed the idea, which they argue could drive up contraception prices. The group has pointed to ObamaCare’s contraception mandate — requiring insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved forms of birth control — and said that insurers may no longer cover the medication if it’s not prescribed by a doctor. Dr. Mark DeFrancesco, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, released a statement condemning Gardner’s bill shortly after he introduced it.”

Actually they’re unhappy because it threatens their gatekeeper status.

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ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS: This guy from Baltimore is raising a Christian army to fight ISIS. What could go wrong? Mother Jones is predictably appalled.

THE OBAMA BETRAYAL OF IRAQIS: Mario Loyola has a terrific oped in today’s WSJ explaining the human cost of Obama’s “hands off” policy toward Iraq:

In September 2007, I was in Ramadi for a gathering of Iraqi and American military commanders, politicians and local tribal leaders who had joined forces with the U.S. to defeat al Qaeda in Iraq. Then-Sen. Joseph Biden was there. “These are difficult days,” he told our Iraqi allies. “But as you are proving, you can forge a future for Iraq that is much brighter than its past. If you continue, we will continue to send you our sons and our daughters, to shed their blood with you and for you.”

It was a noble promise, and Iraqis believed it. . . .

In Ramadi I met an Iraqi police lieutenant who was earnestly pro-American, and who kept talking about the need for “honest leadership” in the local police stations. The police lieutenant (I’ll call him Ismail, for his protection) was hopeful, if also wary. He mistrusted some of his fellow police and was afraid that al Qaeda might return if U.S. forces left too soon.. . .

Then came President Obama, and the end of the fragile reconciliation process in Iraq. At the end of 2011, he withdrew all U.S. forces, ignoring the advice of commanders on the ground and the private pleas of senior Iraqi leaders. . . .

President Obama’s 2011 abandonment of Iraq was a betrayal of America’s promises to millions of Iraqi men, women and children. The ISIS victories, and the horrors that follow them, are a direct result of that betrayal. As Ismail said to me: “They shouldn’t leave us like that.” 

Obama’s abrupt abandonment has just bred resentment among Iraqis who were pro-American. We’ve turned our few friends in the region into enemies, and left them to the brutality of ISIS.

SCIENCE: Women of all ages more likely to have serious mental health problems than men, report says. “Pratt said she could not explain why women have higher rates of serious psychological distress. ‘As I’m sure you are aware, we see this in major depression as well, but I don’t know that anyone has ever come up with a definitive answer of why that is,’ she said.”

ROGER KIMBALL: The relevance of the House of Usher to the Way We Live Now.

Towards the beginning of Edgar Allan Poe’s macabre romance “The Fall of the House of Usher,” the unnamed narrator describes his first sight of that gloomy old pile. Among other eldritch features, he noticed “a barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn” below the house.

Careful observers will have noted analogous fissures in what, for lack of a better term, I will call the “progressive consensus.” “Progressive” is not quite right, because there is no progress—if by progress you mean movement from a given point to something better. But “progressive” is preferable to that other favored verbal specimen of evasiveness, “liberal.” As the word’s etymology suggests, “liberal” has to do with liberty, with freedom, and there is no mainstream ideology in modern Western democracies that is more inimical to freedom than “liberalism.”

If you doubt that, try starting a business or uttering a “non-progressive” sentiment on college, running a bakery, hobby shop, or jeweler’s. It is a curiosity of our times that many words now signify more or less the opposite of what they originally meant. This is not, of course, an entirely new development. “Sanctimonious” once meant “holy.” Now it means “pretending to be holy, while actually being venal.” Just so, “liberal” once meant “on the side of freedom.” Now it generally means “pretending to be on the side of freedom while actually working to enforce conformity and intolerance.” Again, a quick look at life on almost any college campus today will illustrate the truth of this assertion.

Read the whole thing.

RON RADOSH: The Long and Partisan Journalistic Career of Sid “Vicious” Blumenthal.

LIFE IN TODAY’S ACADEMIC POLICE STATE: Laura Kipnis: My Title IX Inquisition:

When I first heard that students at my university had staged a protest over an essay I’d written in The Chronicle Review about sexual politics on campus — and that they were carrying mattresses and pillows — I was a bit nonplussed. For one thing, mattresses had become a symbol of student-on-student sexual-assault allegations, and I’d been writing about the new consensual-relations codes governing professor-student dating. Also, I’d been writing as a feminist. And I hadn’t sexually assaulted anyone. The whole thing seemed symbolically incoherent.

According to our campus newspaper, the mattress-carriers were marching to the university president’s office with a petition demanding “a swift, official condemnation” of my article. One student said she’d had a “very visceral reaction” to the essay; another called it “terrifying.” I’d argued that the new codes infantilized students while vastly increasing the power of university administrators over all our lives, and here were students demanding to be protected by university higher-ups from the affront of someone’s ideas, which seemed to prove my point.

The president announced that he’d consider the petition.

Still, I assumed that academic freedom would prevail. I also sensed the students weren’t going to come off well in the court of public opinion, which proved to be the case; mocking tweets were soon pouring in. Marching against a published article wasn’t a good optic — it smacked of book burning, something Americans generally oppose. Indeed, I was getting a lot of love on social media from all ends of the political spectrum, though one of the anti-PC brigade did suggest that, as a leftist, I should realize these students were my own evil spawn.

That’s largely true. And the president should have told the students to grow up instead.

Plus:

Things seemed less amusing when I received an email from my university’s Title IX coordinator informing me that two students had filed Title IX complaints against me on the basis of the essay and “subsequent public statements” (which turned out to be a tweet), and that the university would retain an outside investigator to handle the complaints.

I stared at the email, which was under-explanatory in the extreme. I was being charged with retaliation, it said, though it failed to explain how an essay that mentioned no one by name could be construed as retaliatory, or how a publication fell under the province of Title IX, which, as I understood it, dealt with sexual misconduct and gender discrimination.

I think that when people file bogus complaints, there should be retaliation. But read the whole thing. For all the talk about the McCarthy era, what’s going on now is much worse, much more widespread, and much less opposed within the academy.

May 29, 2015

TROLL LEVEL: GRANDMASTER. No One Wants To Live In A World Of Uncircumcised Penises.

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NEAL STEPHENSON ON being inspired by Frank J. Fleming. “The moon’s been up there for a long time. I think we’re all a little tired of it, and it was time to make some changes.”

Plus: “You learn that gravity is your friend when you have a baby.”

TX LEGISLATURE APPROVES OPEN CARRY:  The bill was passed by overwhelming Republican majorities in the state house and senate.  The bill, sponsored by Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman) will allow licensed owners to carry openly in a hip or shoulder holster.  It now heads to Governor Greg Abbott.

SALON: BERNIE SANDERS’ RAPE APOLOGIA JUST A CRITIQUE OF “HETERONORMATIVITY”:  Of course it is.  Katie McDonough at Salon offers this weak defense of Sanders’ odd 1972 fictional piece called “Man and Woman,” in which Sanders says,  ”A woman enjoys intercourse with her man — as she fantasizes being raped by 3 men simultaneously.”

These ex post ”you just don’t get it” excuses for liberal/progressive actions are so tiring–reminds me of that Goldsmiths, University of London “diversity officer,” Mustafa Bahar, whose racist, sexist anti-white male comments were excused by a Slate writer as “ironic misandry.”

QUID PRO NOTHING:  The Obama Administration today officially removed Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

State Department officials said they conducted a thorough review to back their recommendation to remove Cuba from the list and received assurances from the Cuban government they wouldn’t support terrorist activity in the future. Officials cited Cuban President Raúl Castro’s condemnation of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris earlier this year as an example of the government’s stance against terror operations.

Cuba also harbors fugitives wanted in the U.S., including Joanne Chesimard, who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973. Cuba granted her asylum after she escaped from prison in 1979. State Department officials said last month that Cuba had agreed to talk about fugitives as part of a broader dialogue on law enforcement issues.

So Castro condemns the Charlie Hebdo attacks and that’s evidence they aren’t sponsors of terrorism anymore? But of course, Cuba has promised the Obama Administration it won’t support terrorism.  I feel better now.  House Speaker John Boehner was right when he said today, ”The Obama administration has handed the Castro regime a significant political win in return for nothing,” 

RECHARGING “EMISSIONS FREE” ELECTRIC CARS with a big diesel generator. You know, this just makes clear what’s always going on when you charge an electric car.

#AGEISM BY CNBC AGAINST RUBIO: The CNBC Squawk Box crew enjoyed a round of “he’s too young” criticism of GOP contender Marco Rubio today, with one reporter, John Harwood, saying Rubio “looked like a schoolboy.”  Another panelist, co-host Joe Kernen, sarcastically suggested that “Hillary needs to sue…Rubio for age discrimination” since “[h]e keeps bringing up this 23-year difference in age.”  Rubio is 44 years old; Hillary Clinton is 67.

Yeah, well, the “youthfulness” of Obama–inaugurated at age 47–never seemed to be a problem for CNBC or anyone else in the liberal/progressive mainstream media. And the mainstream media had fun suggesting that Mitt Romney (in his mid-60s) was “too old” to be President.  But of course one shouldn’t expect any principled consistency from the likes of CNBC or the mainstream media.

SECULARISTS VS. SUICIDE BOMBERS: Patrick Buchanan has an interesting piece in CSN News today, offering a commonsense explanation why, as Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recently lamented, the Iraqi forces have “no will to fight” ISIS.  Buchanan observes:

Tribe and faith. Those are the causes for which Middle Eastern men will fight. Sunni and Shiite fundamentalists will die for the faith. Persians and Arabs will fight to defend their lands, as will Kurds and Turks.

But who among the tribes of the Middle East will fight and die for the secular American values of democracy, diversity, pluralism, sexual freedom and marriage equality?

“Expel the Crusaders from our lands!” — there is a cause to die for.

Yep.  If ISIS is going to be defeated, it isn’t going to be by home-grown Iraqi forces.

I’LL BE ON JOHN STOSSEL’S SHOW TONIGHT IN THE 9PM ET HOUR, talking about higher education.

AT THE CORNER OF EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE & FREE SPEECH:  The Supreme Court will decide soon whether to grant review in Central Radio Co. v. City of Norfolk, a case in which a small business owner in Norfolk, Virginia displayed a large banner to protest the city’s eminent domain attempt to seize the business’s property.  The banner read: ”50 YEARS ON THIS STREET / 78 YEARS IN NORFOLK / 100 WORKERS / THREATENED BY / EMINENT DOMAIN.” The banner also depicted an American flag, Central Radio’s logo, and a red circle with a slash across “Eminent Domain Abuse.”

A local zoning ordinance limited the size of signs, except governmental or religious “flags or emblems” or noncommercial “works of art.  The city issued citations to Central Radio for displaying an over-sized sign and for failing to obtain a sign certificate prior to installation.  Lower federal courts have upheld the actions against Central Radio as content-neutral restrictions on speech.

The Institute for Justice, representing the business owners against the city, raises First Amendment claims it hopes the Supreme Court will take up:

We argued that the sign code violated the Constitution because it exempted other types of messages of the same magnitude, such as certain flags, emblems or works of art. In addition, we asserted that requiring someone to receive municipal approval before displaying a sign amounted to an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech.

As the banner issue worked its way through the judiciary, Wilson received welcome news in September 2013, when the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority did not have the right to seize the properties it was targeting. The decision effectively killed the city’s efforts to take out Central Radio. . . .

[T]he notion that the city’s move to banish the sign had nothing to do with its content doesn’t pass the smell test.

As Post blogger Radley Balko noted in April, “Imagine if another building a few miles down the road put up a banner celebrating the city’s wise and prudent development policies. Does anyone honestly think the owner of that property would need to go to court to keep his banner?”

Balko’s question answers itself.  These sign ordinances are out of control around the country, not just Norfolk.  I once litigated a case in Michigan against a township that wouldn’t let a bakery owner fly an American flag in front of his business because of an ordinance that banned all flags, putatively because they “distracted” drivers.  Presumably the ordinance at issue in Central Radio is grounded in a similar unsupported assertion that large signs are “distracting.”  But once government starts allowing some signs and forbidding others, that rationale becomes patently arbitrary and irrational, and inherently suggests favortism for the content of some speech over others.

BRIBERY EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON HILLARY & CLINTON FOUNDATION:  Two legal experts have told Breitbart that they believe the activities of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, undertaken while Clinton was Secretary of State, violate the federal statute prohibiting bribery of public officials, 18 USC 201.

When asked if the donations to the Clinton Foundation by defense contractors including Boeing (which subsequently received State Department approval of sales of their products to foreign governments) constituted a violation of domestic bribery statues, Law School Professor and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) expert Michael Koehler tells Breitbart News, “I’ll answer that question by quoting a former law professor who was fond of saying ‘if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck chances are it is a duck’”

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Andy McCarthy thinks there’s enough evidence for the FBI and DOJ to launch an investigation into whether Hillary Clinton broke federal statutes that prohibit the bribery of public officials.

“There is certainly a reasonable basis for federal agents and prosecutors to investigate whether there was an understanding that Secretary Clinton would be influenced in the performance of her official duties by lavish donations to her family foundation, and, indeed, that the Clinton Foundation was operated as a racketeering enterprise,” McCarthy tells Breitbart News.

“This is the theory on which the Justice Department has proceeded in the prosecution of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) — in fact, the main difference between the two cases may be that the staggering sums of money that were poured into the Clinton Foundation by supplicants who benefited from Hillary Clinton’s stewardship of the State Department dwarf the amounts involved in the Menendez indictment,” McCarthy continues.

The statute is broad and, like all criminal statutes, requires proof of a quid pro quo, but this could be (and indeed, generally must be, absent direct video or audio evidence from the horse’s mouth, so to speak) proven by circumstantial evidence. The U.S. Attorney in either D.C. or New York (where the Clinton Foundation is located) would need to initiate an investigation. But I won’t hold my breath that these Obama nominees will do so.

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MILEAGE CHAMP: 2015 Audi A3 TDI: Slick and stingy, far from quick.

ERIK WEMPLE: CNN’s Jake Tapper won’t moderate panel discussion at Clinton Global Initiative confab. “The switcheroo on the workforce panel caps a frenzy of negotiations between CNN and the Clinton Foundation. About a week ago, USA Today reported that the CGI site had listed Tapper as a ‘speaker’ at the event, a characterization that CNN contested. Testiness over just how Tapper was being presented likely wouldn’t have arisen if not for context: The Clinton Foundation these days is the target of feisty journalistic investigations stemming from Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, and ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos sustained a media beating over revelations that he gave $75,000 to the foundation from 2012 through 2014.”

He’s being replaced by CNN’s Poppy Harlow, though, so while Jake may not be running a panel for the Clintons, someone from CNN will be. Wemple reports that while the Clinton website no longer calls CNN a “broadcast partner,” the Clinton people still do.

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EHRs: ANOTHER OBAMACARE FAILURE: Another provision of Obamacare is proving to be utter nonsense, beyond the Democrat’s lies about keeping your doctor and your health plan if you like them.  This shouldn’t be all that surprising, given that the entire 1,200+ page law was rushed into law without any serious thought as to its consequences. Charles Krauthammer on “Why Doctors Quit“:

I hear this everywhere. Virtually every doctor and doctors’ group I speak to cites the same litany, with particular bitterness about the EHR mandate. As another classmate wrote, “The introduction of the electronic medical record into our office has created so much more need for documentation that I can only see about three-quarters of the patients I could before, and has prompted me to seriously consider leaving for the first time.”

You may have zero sympathy for doctors, but think about the extraordinary loss to society — and maybe to you, one day — of driving away 40 years of irreplaceable clinical experience.

And for what? The newly elected Barack Obama told the nation in 2009 that “it just won’t save billions of dollars” — $77 billion a year, promised the administration — “and thousands of jobs, it will save lives.” He then threw a cool $27 billion at going paperless by 2015.

It’s 2015 and what have we achieved? The $27 billion is gone, of course. The $77 billion in savings became a joke. Indeed, reported the Health and Human Services inspector general in 2014, “EHR technology can make it easier to commit fraud,” as in Medicare fraud, the copy-and-paste function allowing the instant filling of vast data fields, facilitating billing inflation.

That’s just the beginning of the losses. Consider the myriad small practices that, facing ruinous transition costs in equipment, software, training and time, have closed shop, gone bankrupt or been swallowed by some larger entity.

This hardly stays the long arm of the health-care police, however. As of Jan. 1, 2015, if you haven’t gone electronic, your Medicare payments will be cut, by 1 percent this year, rising to 3 percent (potentially 5 percent) in subsequent years.

Sounds good: Let’s force doctors to spend a lot of money to become technology dependent and adopt electronic health records when the old way of doing things was working just fine.  And hey–as a bonus, our health information is now more vulnerable to hacking and we can lose some privacy along the way! Electronic health records haven’t saved a single life or a single dollar, but they have created a lot of expense, confusion, and tremendous demoralization for our health care providers.  It wasn’t broken, and it shouldn’t have been “fixed.”  If the Republican Congress was smart, it would repeal this onerous, useless provision of Obamacare.

BECAUSE THEY LIKE HIM!:  FIFA members reelect president Sepp Blatter amid league corruption charges.

Afghanistan kicked off the voting as delegates handed over secret paper ballots in alphabetical order at the meeting Friday. The winner needed a two-thirds majority but Blatter was one vote shy of that, receiving only 133 votes, to Prince Ali’s 73 of the 206 valid votes.

In a second round of voting, Blatter won another four-year term by receiving a simple majority of the votes. Forcing the ballot to a second round represented a victory of sorts for Blatter’s critics, denying the incumbent president an emphatic mandate in his next term.

Yeah, I’m sure that was a fair election.

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ED DRISCOLL: Interview: Jimmy Wallace on the Annual Dallas International Guitar Festival.

CAN BEDBUGS CARRY “TRENCH FEVER?” “The present work demonstrated for the first time that bed bugs can acquire, maintain for more than 2 weeks and release viable B. quintana organisms following a stercorarial shedding. We also observed the vertical transmission of the bacterium to their progeny. Although the biological role of bed bugs in the transmission of B. quintana under natural conditions has yet to be confirmed, the present work highlights the need to reconsider monitoring of these arthropods for the transmission of human pathogens.” (Thanks to Chuck Simmins for the link.)

IN THE MAIL: From Robert Conroy, 1882: Custer in Chains..

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 750.

GOOD QUESTION & THE ANSWER IS “NO ONE”: Byron York asks, If Hillary becomes president, who will make her obey the law?

Last year, before Hillary Clinton’s secret email system became publicly known, Congress passed a law to keep presidents from trying the same trick. If Clinton wins the White House, the law could well be put to the test.

The statute is the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014. It recognizes that government officials sometimes (or in Clinton’s case, all the time) want to use private email accounts — in the words of the law, “non-official electronic messaging accounts” — to conduct government business. Such communications are still federal records, Congress declared, and must be preserved in accordance with existing laws requiring not just the president but all federal officials to preserve their documents. . . .

Ultimately, the Presidential Records Act depends on the honesty of the president. That’s not Clinton’s strong suit. Recent polls have shown substantial numbers of Americans do not believe she is honest and trustworthy. After the State Department experience, they would have good reason to be suspicious of her in the White House.

Indeed.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Four U.S. lab workers treated for anthrax exposure. “More than two dozen lab workers, including four in the U.S., are now being treated for anthrax exposure.”

HEY, HE BRIBED ‘EM FAIR AND SQUARE: Putin Fumes over FIFA Arrests.

Vladimir Putin is loudly railing against the dramatic U.S. arrest of FIFA’s top officials in Zurich for massive corruption, using his favorite rhetorical tricks of reversing the narrative and demonizing America. . . .

One of the reasons Putin may be so exercised is that the whole affair could call the location of the 2018 tournament into question. Putin is a man who loves sports, and and it was a huge point of pride for him when he secured the rights to host last year’s Winter Olympics in, of all places, Sochi, the seaside southern resort town where he likes to summer. The games cost a record-smashing $51 billion dollars (with some critics estimating that embezzlement accounts for more than half of that figure). That victory was multiplied when Russia’s bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup in 13 cities, including Sochi, won out. The Russian Sports Minister told state media that Russia’s right to host the Cup was not in danger, but given the investigation into how the decisions to award the tournament to South Africa, Russia, and Qatar were made, there are good reasons to doubt that. . . .

There’s a second reason Putin might care about the FIFA arrests. His claim that the U.S. doesn’t have rightful jurisdiction because none of the alleged criminal activity is related to America is complete bunk and almost certainly an intentional misreading of how international criminal jurisdiction works (and that’s not to mention that the Russian president hasn’t exactly been leading by example on the issue of maintaining great respect for other countries’ inviolable territorial sovereignty). Recently, he trotted out the same invalid objection about the U.S. securing an extradition order for a Russian citizen accused of industrial espionage in Sweden. A world with more prosecution of corruption is a world that’s harder for Putin to operate in.

Yeah, you’d think he and Obama — and Hillary — would be on the same page there.

TOM MAGUIRE: So What Did Hastert Do? “So, my current guess – Hastert is guilty of trying to do the right thing by supporting an illicit child and then was a damn idiot who lied to the FBI about it. The rest is politicized, Chicagoland, Obamaland BS.” Well, stay tuned.

Plus, from the comments: “Hastert should have started a charity and hired this person on at a Blumenthalian pay level.”

CULTURE OF ENTITLEMENT: Bill Clinton: Sure, you can give me an award — but first give $500,000 to my slush fund foundation. “The Clinton Foundation had rejected the Happy Hearts Fund invitation more than once, until there was a thinly veiled solicitation and then the offer of an honorarium.”

Plus: “It is extremely rare for honorees, or their foundations, to be paid from a gala’s proceeds, charity experts said — as it is for the proceeds to be diverted to a different cause.”

Also:

Outside Cipriani, about 100 protesters, mostly Haitian-Americans expressing frustration with the earthquake reconstruction effort, stood behind barricades holding protest signs.

“Clinton, where is the money?” they chanted. “In whose pockets?”

This should happen everywhere Bill or Hillary appear.

DOJ OFFICIAL LINKS BAD POLICING TO JIM CROW LAWS:  The Washington Times reports that Ronald Davis, the Community Oriented Policing Services director at DOJ, asserts that Jim Crow laws are at least partially to blame for excessive policing and force:

“We’re still operating on some system that was used to enforce Jim Crow laws, that were used to oppress people,” Ronald Davis, Community Oriented Policing Services director for the Department of Justice, said at an event at the Center for American Progress. “These are operational systems and policies and practices that exist today.”

. . .

Mr. Davis told The Washington Times that he is concerned that the tensions tied to the Jim Crow era still have an impact on “anything from how we incarcerate to how we sentence to why we police and how we police.”

As a result, good officers are sometimes put in positions where they produce bad outcomes simply because the system ” is disparate to incarceration of young men of color,” Mr. Davis said. Mass incarceration and statistical drops in crime “cannot be the priority of public safety or law enforcement,” he said.

There are definitely over-criminalization issues, and yes, the criminal justice system does prosecute a large number of minorities arrested for crimes. But the inflammatory “Jim Crow” label is just a dog-whistle for the same old tired racism charge that permeates everything DOJ does under the Obama Administration. Can we please just address the real issues without resorting to the overplayed racism accusation? Liberals/progressives hurl “racism” so often now, it just sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher, and I tune it out.

FREE SPEECH UPDATE: Texas student sues after college bans gun rights sign.

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LIFE IN THESE UNITED PUNDIT STATES. Shot:

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 8.52.15 AM

Chaser:

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 8.52.26 AM

(Hat tip.)

SET YOUR DVRs: I’ll be on John Stossel’s show tonight in the 9 pm hour talking about higher education. Don’t miss it!

ED MORRISSEY: How Hillary And Bill Have Democrats Legally Conned.

UNEXPECTEDLY! U.S. economy shrinks .7 percent in first quarter. “The numbers released Friday were a revision of earlier figures that had showed GDP growing in the first quarter at 0.2 percent. The contraction was the U.S.’s third in the aftermath of the Great Recession.” Maybe we’re not really in an “aftermath.”

HOUSE WAYS & MEANS ASKS DOJ TO INVESTIGATE IRS TARGETING:  All Republicans on the House Ways & Means Committee, chaired by Paul Ryan, sent a letter Thursday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking her to answer the committee’s 2014 request for criminal prosecution of IRS officials involved in the targeting of conservative groups.  Writes Kimberley Strassel:

It’s now been two full years since a little-known IRS bureaucrat named Lois Lerner admitted that her agency systematically collected the names of conservative groups, harassed them, and denied their right to participate in elections. It’s been two full years since the Justice Department opened an investigation. And it’s been two full years of crickets. . . .

Specifically, the committee provided documents that show three acts by Ms. Lerner that may have violated criminal statutes. One, she helped to target only conservative organizations, thereby robbing them of equal protection and due process. Two, she may have impeded the Treasury inspector general’s investigation of the matter by giving misleading statements. Three, she risked exposing (and may have exposed) confidential taxpayer information by using her personal email address to conduct official business.

And that’s only what we know so far. Congress’s problem is that the IRS has stonewalled it at every turn. The Treasury inspector general, J. Russell George, has become tentative after all the Democratic criticism of his probe. It seems the Justice Department is the only body with the powers to shake loose some answers about what happened.

The Ryan letter asks Ms. Lynch to tell him the status of that referral, and Speaker Boehner chimed in with a statement calling for the new attorney general to prove to Americans that “justice will be served.”

I won’t hold my breath for “justice” coming out of Obama’s DOJ, even now that Eric Holder has departed.  But at least the Republicans in the House are following up.

ROGER SIMON: A Mad Voter Looks at the May 28 Presidential Poll.

MICHAEL BARONE: Colleges and universities have grown bloated and dysfunctional.

American colleges and universities, long thought to be the glory of the nation, are in more than a little trouble. I’ve written before of their shameful practices — the racial quotas and preferences at selective schools (Harvard is being sued by Asian-American organizations), the kangaroo courts that try students accused of rape and sexual assault without legal representation or presumption of innocence, and speech codes that make campuses the least rather than the most free venues in American society.

In following these policies, the burgeoning phalanxes of university and college administrators must systematically lie, insisting against all the evidence that they are racially nondiscriminatory, devoted to due process and upholders of free speech. The resulting intellectual corruption would have been understood by George Orwell.

Some people appear to be using Orwell’s work as a handbook.

IT’S ALWAYS NICE to make Twitchy.

SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF HYPOCRISY: The Ironic Tie Between Elizabeth Warren’s Hypocritical Home Flipping and Mitt Romney.

Warren’s public face is contradicted by her private actions – actions that we will soon see are similar in nature to those that made Romney a millionaire.

Warren, like Romney, profited by buying assets at low prices and through either improving said assets or waiting for the market to strengthen, selling them at higher prices.

As Jillian Kay Melchior and Eliana Johnson lay out in a recent National Review exposé, Warren “bought and sold at least five [residential] properties for profit,” generating at least $240,500 before accounting for remodeling costs.

Several of the homes Warren purchased and then flipped had been foreclosed upon.

The focus of the piece is the rank hypocrisy that Warren would execute such profit-seeking transactions, given that she has called the idea of buying and selling properties quickly for profit a “myth” that contributed to our economic woes, and decried the banks that foreclosed on the homes of working class Americans. . . .

What Romney did at the macro level in investing in businesses worth hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, Warren did at the micro level in investing in homes worth thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The difference however is that Romney’s investing in many cases led to the creation of ever-better goods and services at ever-lower prices, with the benefits accruing to not only Romney, Bain’s investors, and the employees of the strengthened companies, but all consumers – that is, you and me.

Certainly Warren’s investments in home remodeling may have created work for construction companies and home suppliers, but those benefits pale in size and scope to the benefits to the public of successful private equity investments.

But, but, Mitt’s garage had an elevator!

REVIEW: I Got My Friends to Try Female Condoms. Here’s What They Thought. “Overall, both testers said that the female condom performed its job perfectly well: insertion was far easier than they’d expected, and they had no problems using it or removing it. But neither of them could see any obvious advantage over a male condom.”

ACE HAS SOME THOUGHTS ON Bernie Sanders’ Rape Fantasies.

Charles C.W. Cooke says that we should not unduly persecute Bernie Sanders for his sexual heresies. . . .

Cooke is arguing for what he conceives of as free speech absolutism — one does not demagogue speech to whip up feeding frenzies of angry lynch mobbers about something merely said.

I agree with this, naturally, except that I don’t. As a tactical matter, there is no way to get the left to stop with its incessant Censorship Crusades except to visit equal pain upon them.

The greatest ethical precept in the world is the do-unto-others-test, which I usually think of as the shoe on the other foot test.

One can discover a lot of moral and ethical rules — and separate out actual rules of good behavior from self-serving rationalizations designed to punish one’s enemies — by always asking, “Would I support this rule if I were forced to live under it?”

The trouble is, of course, the left is almost never asked to wear the shoe on their own foot.

They think censorship, Speechcraft Trials, and mob justice for Thought Heretics is just awesome.

And why shouldn’t they?

These things are almost never visited upon they themselves– they have only the upside of a dark, censorious, paranoid regime. Almost all of the downside falls upon their enemies– just where they’d want it. . . . People don’t like the Tit For Tat regime because it sounds simple-minded, punitive, and awful. Well, it is these things.

It is also, as Steven den Beste persuasively argued, very effective for bringing about a more ethical environment. Meaning that while it may be crude in method, it is enlightened in outcome.

Read the whole thing.

STEPHEN L. CARTER: Hillary Clinton and the New Litmus Test.

You might have missed the news that John Paul Stevens, the retired U.S. Supreme Court justice, criticized Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton last week for her announcement that she would nominate to the court only individuals committed to overturning the 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission. Stevens doesn’t like the decision any more than she does — his dissent ran to 90 pages — but he likes litmus tests even less.

At a house party in Mason City, Iowa, a few days after offering her promise, Clinton doubled down: “I will do everything I can do to appoint Supreme Court justices who will protect the right to vote and not the right of billionaires to buy elections,” she said.

Stevens, in remarks last week at George Washington University, was unimpressed: “I’m not really sure that that’s wise either for the court or for a presidential candidate to make a litmus test on one particular decision. … I’m surprised at her statement.” The former justice added: “If I were running for president, I don’t think I would make such a litmus test, even though I think the case ought to be overruled.”

Stevens is right. I won’t trouble here to go into the reasons for my own longstanding opposition to litmus tests, other than to note that there is something decidedly peculiar about promising to place on the Supreme Court individuals who have already decided the cases to come before them.

Read the whole thing.

JUSTICE: You’re All Out: A defense attorney uncovers a brazen scheme to manipulate evidence, and prosecutors and police finally get caught.

Prosecutorial and police misconduct are often dismissed as just a few bad apples doing a few bad apple-ish things. But what happens when it’s entrenched and systemic and goes unchecked for years? That looks to be the case in Orange County, California, where the situation got so completely out of hand this spring that Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals issued an order disqualifying the entire Orange County District Attorney’s Office (that’s all 250 prosecutors) from continuing to prosecute a major death penalty case. . . .

Revelations of misconduct in the Dekraai case have raised questions about patterns of obstruction and deception that have unraveled various other murder cases in the county, which has a population larger than that of 20 different states. Other cases involving informants who were eliciting illegal confessions have emerged, entire cases have collapsed, and more may follow. The story goes way back to the 1980s, as R. Scott Moxley explains at length in the OC Weekly, to a prosecutorial scandal that ended in the execution of one defendant and a lengthy sentence for his alleged co-conspirator. Their convictions were based on the testimony of various jailhouse informants even though they told conflicting stories. That scandal rocked the area then, and this new one shows eerie parallels. All this is happening right up the road from Los Angeles, home of one of the most massive jailhouse informant scandals in history.

End official immunity.

May 28, 2015

FALLEN ANGELS IS JUST A SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL, RIGHT GUYS? RIGHT? GUYS? Study Predicts Decades Of Global Cooling Ahead.

Or maybe we’re living in a John Ringo scenario. That’s never good. . . .

SOON, MY PRETTY. SOON! When Will Self-Driving Trucks Destroy America? Well, maybe not that soon.

ANNALS OF WISHFUL THINKING: Would Tenure Have Saved Blockbuster? No. Next question?

IT’S NOT JUST SCARY, IT’S GROSS:  A female Liverpool University student proudly touts not shaving. Her motto: “Being hairy isn’t scary.” I beg to differ.

WENT TO A BOOK PARTY for Andy McCarthy’s new book, Islam and Free Speech. Saw James Taranto, Roger Kimball, Greg Lukianoff, and a host of others.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The road to a ‘genius grant’ often starts at lesser-known colleges.

You can find genius almost anywhere.

That might seem obvious. But the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, known for bestowing six-figure grants on exceptionally creative people, provided evidence Thursday that standout talent is nurtured at a stunning variety of colleges and universities.

Since 1981, the foundation has chosen 918 people to receive fellowships in recognition of their creative capacity in artistic, intellectual and professional endeavors. They attended 315 colleges and universities for their undergraduate education, the foundation said in its first comprehensive analysis of the educational backgrounds of MacArthur fellows. Some attended no college at all, or dropped out without earning a degree.

Cecilia A. Conrad, a vice president of the foundation who oversees the fellowship program, said the list of schools reflects “a huge variety of educational backgrounds.” Many students and families are obsessed with gaining admission to elite colleges, but Conrad said is it more important what the students do when they get to college: “That’s just a really important point that sometimes gets lost.”

Indeed.

FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER HASTERT INDICTED:  Dennis Hastert was a Republican Speaker of the House from 1999-2006.

Hastert was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges related to bank withdrawals of large sums of money that he allegedly paid to keep someone quiet about “prior misconduct.”

Mr. Hastert is charged with intentionally withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in increments of less than $10,000 to avoid federal reporting requirements designed to prevent money laundering. The Republican also is charged with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the withdrawals, telling agents he was taking the money out because he didn’t feel safe using the banking system.

The indictment alleges the money was going to someone identified only as “Individual A,” who had known Mr. Hastert for most of the person’s life. In 2010, Mr. Hastert agreed to pay this person $3.5 million “to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A,” the indictment said.

That’s potentially salacious.

BELIEVE ME, I WOULDN’T:  From Gateway Pundit: Detroit Police Chief: I wouldn’t gas up in the city late at night unless I had to.  Yeah, Detroit is truly a model of progressive governing.

GALLERY: Courtesans and samurai: Beautiful photos depicting life in 19th century Japan are some of earliest colour images ever taken.

Update: Link and formatting issues fixed.

HOUSE LAWSUIT VS. OBAMA GETS HEARING:  Federal district judge Rosemary Collyer appeared skeptical about the Obama Administration’s arguments urging dismissal of the House lawsuit against the executive branch, challenging its rewriting of Obamacare’s employer mandate and its spending of funds not appropriated by Congress.

Despite initial liberal/progressive dismissal of the lawsuit as “frivolous,” attorney David Rivkin and I have long argued that legal precedent suggests otherwise, and the serious separation of powers arguments deserve consideration on the merits.  Judge Collyer appears to understand this. Stay tuned.

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ASHE SCHOW: We still haven’t recovered from the last moral panic over sexual assault.

America is in the midst of another media-hyped moral panic. Sexual assault on college campuses, we’re told, is rampant, with women being targeted at every turn by the very men they call their friends. To stop this epidemic, we’re further told, colleges and universities must create their own justice systems and hold more accused students accountable. This, naturally, results in witch hunts based not on facts, but on feelings.

This moral panic comes nearly 30 years after the last one, in which men and women were accused of sexually abusing children after those children were coached into “remembering” the abuse by child therapists using now-discredited techniques. Among the more bizarre claims were that children were sexually abused in underground tunnels and that they were forced to watch ritual animal sacrifice and drink blood-laced Kool-Aid.

And the media of the era uncritically bought in to the accusations.

The press is more often leading the lynch mob than defusing it, despite its pretensions.

IS THERE ANYTHING IT CAN’T DO? Coffee Protects Against Erectile Dysfunction. “The researchers theorized that caffeine’s effect on the body includes relaxing the helicine arteries of the penis, which in turn improves blood flow, which is how erections are formed.”

MAYBE I SHOULD SPEND A SEMESTER AS A VISITING PROFESSOR IN AUSTRALIA: At least, reading this blog makes me think so.

SO MUCH FOR “MY BODY, MY CHOICE:” Report: NYC Cops Arrested Men for ‘Manspreading’ on the Subway.

I HOPE THEY READ, AND LISTEN:  Michael Doran: “A Letter to My Liberal Jewish Friends.”

On Friday, May 22, President Obama, calling himself “an honorary member of the tribe,” addressed you not just as the president of the United States but also as an explicit adherent of the “tikkun olam” tradition: a Jewish viewpoint for “repairing the world” that, in his reading, promotes universal progressive ideals like fighting bigotry and working for social justice everywhere. Thus, for him, the same “shared values” that underlay the civil-rights movement in the United States were what led him to identify himself with the cause of Israel—and also with the cause of Palestinian nationalism. . . .

Here’s my question. As Obama donned his yarmulke and embraced your community, did you also catch the hint of a warning? If you did, it was because the president was raising, very subtly, the specter of dual loyalty: the hoary allegation that Jews pursue their tribal interests to the detriment of the wider community or nation. . . .  And so the warning was faint, but unmistakable: if Jews wish to avoid being branded as bigots, then they—you—must line up with him against Netanyahu. . . .

On June 30, Obama will likely conclude a nuclear deal with Iran. This will spark a faceoff with Congress, which has already declared its opposition to the deal. Congress will inevitably pass a vote of disapproval, which Obama will inevitably veto. In order to defend that veto from a congressional override, however, he must line up 34 Senators—all Democrats. This calls in turn for a preemptive ideological campaign to foster liberal solidarity—for which your support is key. If the president can convince the liberal Jewish community, on the basis of “shared values,” to shun any suspicion of alignment with congressional Republicans or Benjamin Netanyahu, he will have an easier time batting down Congress’s opposition to the deal with Iran.

Progressive values have nothing to do with what is truly at stake in this moment of decision. Only one final question really matters: in your considered view, should the Islamic Republic of Iran be the dominant power in the Middle East, and should we be helping it to become that power? If your answer is yes, then, by all means, continue to applaud the president—loudly and enthusiastically—as he purports to repair the world.

Obama’s a master at making liberals feel guilty with insinuations of bigotry. The American Jewish community is being played.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Single molecule pump concentrates small molecules.

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IN THE WORDS OF HAN SOLO, I CAN IMAGINE AN AWFUL LOT: Imagine A Drug That Improves Many Metabolic Measures. “I would call a drug great if it could take off weight, improve glucose tolerance, and reverse fatty liver disease.” Well, you know, exercise can do that.

ANOTHER BREATHTAKING EPA POWER GRAB:  First, it was the Obama Administration’s rewrite of the Clean Air Act.  Now, it’s rewriting the Clean Water Act.

The Clean Water Act limits the federal government to regulating the “navigable waters of the United States” like the Colorado River or Lake Michigan. In 1986 the EPA expanded that definition to seize jurisdiction over tributaries and adjacent wetlands. Now it is extending federal control over just about any creek, pond, prairie pothole or muddy farm field that EPA says has a “significant nexus” to a navigable waterway.

The agency defines waters as “significant” if they are “located in whole or in part within 100 feet of the ordinary high water mark,” or, alternatively, within the 100-year floodplain and 1,500 feet of the high water mark of waters already under the government’s jurisdiction. That’s already a lot of water, but there’s more.

The EPA acknowledges that the “science available today does not establish that waters beyond those defined as ‘adjacent’” to these “significant” waters should be regulated. But forget science. The agency says its “experience and expertise” show there are “many” other waters that could have a significant downstream effect. Thus the EPA establishes an additional standard for significance that covers just about anything that’s wet.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.