AT AMAZON, Holiday Deals in GPS and Navigation.
Plus, 50% or More off on Holiday Sweaters. For women and men.
AT AMAZON, Holiday Deals in GPS and Navigation.
Plus, 50% or More off on Holiday Sweaters. For women and men.
SATANIC TEENAGE KILLERS! Well, actually, kinda. The Insta-Wife’s documentary on the Lillelid murders, Six: The Movie, is now available for free viewing on the PJ site.
DEATH BY BUREAUCRACY: New Report Blames State Forest Service Mistakes for Yarnell Firefighter Deaths.
21st CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: “Help! How do I tell the woman of my dreams I want to wait before we have sex again?”
THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO PRE-ORDERED my forthcoming book! In answer to many questions, yes there will be a Kindle version; it’s just not up on Amazon yet. Rest assured that I’ll let you know when it appears. . . .
Oh, and here it is on Barnes & Noble, too. And, yes, there will be a Nook version as well.
RICHARD EPSTEIN: The Incorrigible President Obama. “A rehash of failed progressive policies will not return the United States to greatness.” To be fair, I don’t think that’s his goal.
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE: White House Compounds IRS Abuse Of Power.
Last May, IRS officials admitted that beginning in 2010, the agency had improperly targeted and hassled dozens of nonprofit groups for scrutiny based on their involvement in politics. Nearly all the groups opposed President Obama’s re-election in 2012 or his administration’s policies. The Justice Department acknowledged the impropriety of what the IRS had done and promised a thorough FBI investigation.
It never happened. Last month, an attorney working for 41 of the targeted nonprofit groups said no one at any of the groups had ever been interviewed by federal investigators.
Last week, the Justice Department and the FBI refused requests from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to provide information on its investigation. FBI officials also canceled a previously scheduled meeting with committee members. And the president — who in May said people were “properly concerned” with the IRS’ actions — used an MSNBC interview to whitewash the agency.
So the original abuse of power is compounded with another abuse of power: promising to get to the bottom of a scandal and then doing nothing. This is shameless and shameful — and, given this administration’s record, wholly predictable.
Yeah, pretty much.
WELL, HE FELL FOR OBAMACARE SO HE’S OBVIOUSLY GULLIBLE: ‘Die Quickly’ Democrat Alan Grayson Loses $18 Million to Fraudster.
IT’S COME TO THIS: NY Times Poll: 58% Disapprove of Obama’s Horrible Economic Job.
Related: CBS Poll: What Recovery? “While the nation’s unemployment rate is now at a five-year low, most Americans (61 percent) continue to say the economy is in bad shape.”
MAYBE MUSIC TODAY JUST ISN’T THAT GOOD? Spotify Isn’t Why Musicians Can’t Make A Living.
Spotify is not raking it in, and neither are the other music-streaming services. After all, our hypothetical music maven only pays Spotify $9.99 a month, or $120 a year. Someone listening to music even 35 hours a week is probably costing Spotify more in rights payments than they make in fees — and that doesn’t even count the cost of servers, bandwidths and marketing people to send out e-mails asking you to sign up for Spotify.
In theory, Spotify could charge more money, enough to cover their costs. In practice, Spotify is constrained by even cheaper alternatives. In 1995, I can totally imagine someone having created a streaming service that charged $50 a month for unlimited listening … if the technology had been available. Music fans would have hustled to get in on such an unbelievably good deal. But in 2010, such a service is competing with “free.” Which means that they cannot charge more than a negligible amount.
In other words, while the cost side has improved, the revenue side has gotten worse even faster. People simply aren’t willing to pay very much for recorded music anymore. If you’re an artist, and especially if you’re a record label, that’s very bad news. Naturally, some artists want to shoot the messenger, blaming Spotify for their paltry payments. But Spotify is not the problem. The market is the problem. Spotify is just the messenger telling them what the market is now willing to pay for their songs.
Or, alternatively, there are better alternatives competing with music-listening as an activity.
WELL, UNLESS THE IRANIANS RELEASE SOME, OR SOMETHING: Remembering The Last Smallpox Patient On Earth.
And, today only: 50% Off Rosetta Stone Level 1-5 Sets.
Also today only: 62% Off “The Dark Knight Trilogy” on DVD and Blu-Ray.
For the University of Alabama’s football team, the Nov. 30 season finale against intrastate archrival Auburn ended almost as disastrously as ObamaCare began (and as it has continued). After leading 21-14 at the half, the Crimson Tide gave up a touchdown to the Tigers in the third quarter. Each team scored again during the fourth, leaving the score tied, 28-28, with seconds remaining in regulation.
Alabama was driving, but it looked as though the clock had run out. It turned out, however, that Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon had managed to get out of bounds with a single tick left. Rather than take a knee and go to overtime, Alabama decided to try a long field goal–which missed and was returned for 109 yards and a touchdown by Auburn’s Chris Davis. Final score: Auburn 34, Alabama 28.
Auburn went on to play in this past weekend’s Southeastern Conference championship, in which the Tigers defeated the Tigers, 59-42–possibly the most confusing pigskin matchup since the 1976 Grey Cup.
This isn’t a sports column, but there’s a reason we opened with a nine-day-old play-by-play. Back in Tuscaloosa, the Alabama loss led to a kerfuffle last week involving the student newspaper, the perplexingly named Crimson White. Its cartoonist drew a strip, published Thursday, depicting the final play under the title “This Is What Happens in OBAMA’S AMERICA.” The last two words were in massive letters, drawn in horror-movie style, with what was supposed to look like blood dripping from them.
Later that day, editor Mazie Bryant posted “A Statement From the Editor-in-Chief” in which she explained that “the cartoon was meant as satire . . . as a lighthearted look at some of the more absurd explanations given for Alabama’s collapse at the end of the Iron Bowl game against Auburn last Saturday.”
Only in Obama’s America could something so obvious have eluded anyone. “Unfortunately,” Bryant noted, the cartoon “has been perceived by many readers as having racist intentions.”
That’s because — and I want to be clear here — those readers are idiots. Naturally, some of them were also college administrators. But as Taranto goes on to demonstrate, not all college administrators are idiots. Which, these days, seems like news. . . .
DEMS REALLY DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS: Ann Kuster refuses to answer or discuss Benghazi at town hall.
Rep. Ann Kuster, D-N.H., refused to answer questions about the Benghazi terrorist attack that killed four Americans on the grounds that the Libyan city isn’t in the Middle East.
“I’m certainly not here to talk about it, we’re here to talk about the Middle East,” Kuster replied at an event in her district when asked if she would comment on the attack, according to a video of the event. She had just dismissed a written question asking what she thought about a House bill introduced by Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., who wants to House and Senate to establish a special congressional committee investigating the Benghazi attack. . . .
“No one has been held accountable for the intelligence failures leading up to the attack,” Wolf said in a November press release. “No one has said what the CIA was doing in Benghazi. None of the terrorists have been brought to justice. It has been 14 months since the attack and, as a recent bipartisan poll showed, 63 percent of the American people believe the Obama administration is covering up the facts on what happened that night.”
An event staffer intervened while Kuster stood silent. “There are a lot of different ideas and a lot of different opinions here,” he said. “So, we’re going to stick to the format of answering questions [on the postcards] rather than get into a discussion that goes on.”
People should ask about this — and about the IRS scandals — at every opportunity between now and November. I mean, it’s not like the press will. . . .
BUT THE IMPORTANT THING IS, A BUNCH OF DEMOCRAT-VOTING UNION MEMBERS WERE KEPT HAPPY: U.S. Sells Off Last of Its General Motors Stock, at $10.5 Billion Loss. “What might have happened to that money, those resources, those skills, those people, if they had not been diverted by government action? No one knows, or will ever know, and the government would prefer you not think about it.”
Based on Peter Huber’s new book, The Cure in the Code: How 20th Century Law Is Undermining 21st Century Medicine.
WAIT, LET ME GUESS — WAS THE PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS’ UNION A BIG OBAMA SUPPORTER? ‘A public safety disaster’: Obamacare could force THOUSANDS of volunteer fire departments to close.
BY BLAMING REPUBLICANS? Roll Call: How Democrats Plan to Cut Food Stamps Without Enraging Their Base.
For Democrats especially, any talk about cutting billions from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is uncomfortable and certain to create internal strife. But negotiators on the farm bill believe they’ve found a way to make about $8 billion in savings from the program palatable for most Democrats.
The key is eliminating a loophole that enables states to help some low-income residents with nominal subsidies to pay for their heating in the winter in order to trigger much higher food stamp benefits. Some states, such as New York, will make a $1 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program payment to low-income people in order to automatically qualify them for the maximum federal food stamps Standard Utility Allowance for 12 months.
According to a source tracking the farm bill talks, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that raising the minimum energy subsidy states would be required to make to $20 would be enough to disincentivize states from utilizing the loophole, potentially saving the government $8 billion over 10 years.
Though most Democrats would prefer the maximum benefits to be paid out — they often point to a Moody’s study that estimates that each dollar the federal government spends on food stamps generates $1.70 of economic activity — finding savings by eliminating a loophole is more politically palatable for them than the deeper cuts proposed by the House.
How about this idea: No food stamps for anyone with a BMI over 30. That should cut things significantly, and nobody will be starving as a result . . . .
NEWS FROM THE STUPID PARTY: The Hill: GOP bills would ban in-flight calls. “Republicans in the House and Senate are preparing legislation that would ban airlines from allowing cellphone calls during flights. The push from Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) comes as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prepares to move ahead with lifting the prohibition on in-flight cellphone calls.”
Two points: (1) Phones don’t work at altitude unless the airlines add equipment to let them work; and (2) Let the market, that is, those airlines, set the policy. So much for the GOP’s small-government brand, not that either Lamar! or Shuster were ever much good for that.
The oil and natural-gas industry probably won’t ever get a thank-you card from President Obama, but he has a few big reasons to be grateful for the fossil-fuel boom.
America’s vast resources of oil and natural gas have enabled Obama to move forward on aggressive policies, including tougher environmental rules and Iranian oil sanctions, which he would not have been able to do nearly as effectively without them.
The International Energy Agency predicts the U.S. will surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil-producer in 2015; and, by the end of this year, the Energy Information Administration says we’ll surpass Russia as the biggest natural-gas producer.
“I’ve joked before that for the last 30 years, our national energy policy has been implicitly predicated on a low-cost, trustable supply of natural gas,” said Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, who advised Obama in his transition to the presidency in 2008. “It is incredibly fortunate that it showed up in time.”
As I’ve noted elsewhere, this is a case of the America that works rescuing the one that doesn’t.
SURE. JUST MAKE ALL THE MALE ACTION HEROES GIRLS. Need A New Indiana Jones? Let’s Try Jennifer Lawrence.
THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST looks like.
FOOD: Bacon Explosion: The BBQ Sausage Recipe Of All Recipes. “Now that your pork is well seasoned, it’s time to add more pork.”
SO I GOT THE ADVANCE COPIES OF MY NEW BOOK THIS WEEKEND. It officially comes out on January 7. Pre-orders much appreciated, as that’ll encourage Amazon to keep more in stock. I’d account it a personal favor if you’d order a copy! (Bumped).
Here’s a picture of the jacket (click to enlarge):
CAREER DAMAGE: Interns Who Sued Now Can’t Find Jobs. “Former Hearst intern Diana Wang says her lawsuit over an unpaid internship at Bazaar has made it difficult to find a full-time job.” Who could have seen that coming?
You have to admire President Obama for choosing to give a speech declaring that the fight against “growing inequality”–specifically economic inequality–is “the defining challenge of our time” and the “focus” of “all our efforts”–given that:
a. Five years into his presidency he so far hasn’t done anything to stop growing income inequality–the problem has gotten worse on his watch.
b. He doesn’t have any proposals (“It’s time to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act”) that come close to solving the problem as he defines it.
c. His one big previous initiative to reduce inequality–the Affordable Care Act–may now be hopelessly screwed up due to his own inattention and non-competence.
d. His remaining big domestic initiative–”comprehensive” immigration reform–would almost certainly make inequality worse by vastly increasing the number of unskilled workers bidding down wages at the bottom of the income scale, with the profits from the cheap labor going to business owners at the top.
Well, but remember, the main point of all of this was just to give the (friendly) press an excuse to talk about something other than the ObamaCare debacle. And to give the unfriendly press an easy pinata to whack at, so that they, too, will talk less about the ObamaCare debacle.
And on that note, here’s Stephen Green on “Moving At The Speed Of Government.”
DOUBLE STANDARDS: “Juan Williams thinks he’s defending Obamacare by observing that it has no effect on him and the other members of the Sunday talk show pundit panel. This is the sort of thing that a Republican would be pilloried for saying. . . . Williams shouldn’t get away with that callousness. Where’s the empathy?” You demonstrate “empathy” by being a Democrat, especially a minority Democrat. As a Republican, you can only demonstrate “empathy” by agreeing with Democrats’ demands, preferably accompanying that agreement with an apology for your own existence.
GAY RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY: Obama and Congress should boycott the Winter Olympics. I agree. Although, to be fair, I think we should boycott the corrupt and stupid Olympics all the time.
8 HOME UPGRADES YOU’LL WISH YOU’D installed sooner. I have the instant hot-water dispenser, and it rules. Thinking of installing the Nest thermostat.
WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: SpaceX to build spacecraft parts with motion tech and 3D printers.
WALL STREET JOURNAL: How the FTC’s Hertz Antitrust Fix Went Flat. With a nice quote from my UT Law colleague, Maurice Stucke. I doubt, however, that we’ll see much “soul-searching” at either Justice or the FTC.
IN THE MAIL: From Newt Gingrich, Breakout: Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America’s Fate.
MILTON WOLF: The President’s Other ObamaCare Lies: Millions losing their health insurance is just the beginning. “In 2010, the year Obamacare was signed into law, I wrote ‘Obamacare’s Unkeepable Promises’ in The Washington Times. These false promises were easily predictable and are finally now being exposed.”
HERE IN THE U.S. THEY JUST THREATEN NOT TO INVITE REPORTERS TO THE WHITE HOUSE CHRISTMAS PARTY. SAME RESULT, THOUGH. China’s Government Is Scaring Foreign Journalists Into Censoring Themselves.
UPDATE: Link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry!
IT’S NOT JUST THE NSA SPYING ON YOUR CELLPHONE.
The National Security Agency isn’t the only government entity secretly collecting data from people’s cellphones. Local police are increasingly scooping it up, too.
Armed with new technologies, including mobile devices that tap into cellphone data in real time, dozens of local and state police agencies are capturing information about thousands of cellphone users at a time, whether they are targets of an investigation or not, according to public records obtained by USA TODAY and Gannett newspapers and TV stations. . . . At least 25 police departments own a Stingray, a suitcase-size device that costs as much as $400,000 and acts as a fake cell tower. The system, typically installed in a vehicle so it can be moved into any neighborhood, tricks all nearby phones into connecting to it and feeding data to police. In some states, the devices are available to any local police department via state surveillance units. The federal government funds most of the purchases, via anti-terror grants. . . . In most states, police can get many kinds of cellphone data without obtaining a warrant, which they’d need to search someone’s house or car. Privacy advocates, legislators and courts are debating the legal standards with increasing intensity as technology — and the amount of sensitive information people entrust to their devices — evolves.
We really need some sort of national debate on this. The courts have been pretty supine.
CREEPY UNCLE SAM: FBI can turn on your Web cam, and you’d never know it. As I’ve said before, hardware on-off switches for cameras and microphones may come back into style. Plus this: “The FBI can also burrow into a suspect’s computer and download files, photographs and stored e-mails.” If they can do that, of course, they can also plant evidence without a trace. . . .
NEW STUFF TO BROWSE: At Amazon, Top Holiday Deals Galore!
Also, today only: 20% off on Kindle, Kindle Fire, and Kindle Fire HDX. That’s a really good deal, whether you go with the “Mayday” button or not.
And, also today only: Panasonic Lumix ZS20 Digital Camera (Black), $172.00 (51% off). As InstaPundit readers know, I’ve been a big fan of the Lumix line for some time.
WHEN IS INEQUALITY HARMFUL? When It’s Caused By Cronyism.
In other words, is it a bad thing for a country to have some really rich people? Again, it depends on how they got rich.
Sutirtha Bagchi of the University of Michigan’s business school and Jan Svejnar of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs studied how inequality correlates with economic growth. In general, more inequality meant slower growth, and less inequality meant faster growth.
But in many countries, over various time periods, growing inequality had no effect on economic growth. The new study suggests that an increase in inequality hurt the economy when the rich were getting rich through political connections.
That is, inequality hurts the economy when “a large share of the national wealth is held by a small number of politically connected families,” as the authors put it. . . . When a country’s wealthiest people got their wealth as Pangestu and Fridman did, inequality places a drag on the economy. When a country’s wealthiest got wealthy through market means, the resulting inequality has no negative effect on economic growth.
This jibes with what we know about free markets. If people can get rich by providing valuable things at good prices, then society will get more valuable things at good prices—and people across the income spectrum benefit. But if people get rich by pocketing subsidies and using the state to crush competitors, then they gained their wealth at the expense of everyone else.
OUT FROM RICHARD EPSTEIN: The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government.
TIM GEITHNER HAPPIEST! Mickey Kaus: Big Obamacare payoff for tax cheats? “The Obamacare cheating bonus–$5,328, in the above example–dwarfs either of those incentives, and almost doubles the payoff for understating your income. Save on income taxes and FICA and get near-free health insurance too!”
House Republicans say they’re proud of their 2013 campaign to stymie President Obama’s regulatory agenda, even as Congress comes under fire for one of its least productive years.
The bitterly divided Congress will pass fewer laws in 2013 than any year in modern history. As a result of the gridlock, President Obama has turned to his administration’s regulatory authority in pursuit of key policy goals, including efforts to tackle gun violence and climate change.
While House Republicans have pinned the blame for Congress’ anemic legislative output on Senate Democrats, they make no bones about their efforts to blunt Obama’s rulemaking power.
“We’re left with no choice,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). “The president can’t just go it alone, that’s not who we are as a country.”
In interviews with The Hill, several House Republicans claimed momentum in the messaging battle over federal regulations, which they’ve portrayed as too overbearing and expensive under the Obama administration.
The conference has sought to put the president’s rulemaking agenda on trial in dozens of hearings convened in 2013 by Republican committee and subcommittee leaders.
That’s nice, but you also need the kind of blizzard of legal challenges, and accompanying PR, that Democrats would wage against a Republican doing the same thing.
INVASION OF PRIVACY: The government can “imagine some people may be upset” but also that some “will be comforted and relieved at getting the help they need to navigate a confusing process.” “The quotes are from Peter Lee, the executive director of California health exchange, about sending private insurance companies the contact information for individuals who started an application on the website but did not complete the process. They also did not agree to be contacted by insurance agents. This release of information was no accident, but a new program designed to get people signed up.”
When private companies do this sort of thing, it’s a crime. When the government does it, it’s supposed to be a comfort.
JOSEPH CURL: Obama Tells A Whopper On IRS Scandal.
Fact: The IRS targeted conservative and tea party groups requesting tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election. That’s a fact.
Congress held hearings — embarrassing hearings. Three top Internal Revenue Service officials resigned. No heads rolled, but for the Obama administration, and the lawless Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., that amounted to a major scandal. Even White House spokesman Jay “Circus” Carney called the IRS’s actions “inappropriate.” Fact.
But President Obama, in an interview last week with sycophant Chris Matthews, now says the entire scandal was made up by the media.
“When we do things right, they don’t get a lot of attention,” the president said, no doubt sending a thrill up the MSNBC host’s leg. “If we do something that is perceived at least initially as a screwup, it will be on the nightly news for a week.”
Like, say, deploying the nation’s tax watchdog to target political opponents? Just a “screw up.” . . . Although the president is busy trying to change the subject, this time to income inequality, the IRS story just won’t disappear. Last week, Rep. Darrell E. Issa, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, had simply had enough. He called out the IRS’s chief counsel, William Wilkins, for saying “I don’t recall” a staggering 80 times during his congressional testimony last month.
“Your memory consistently failed when you were asked about information you shared with the Treasury Department,” the lawmaker wrote. “Your failure to recollect important aspects of the Committee’s investigation suggests either a deliberate attempt to obfuscate your involvement in this matter or gross incompetence on your part.”
Funny, the Obama administration, in Year 5, is totally fine with “gross incompetence.” Many warned that these guys weren’t ready for prime time. They said they were.
The only “screw up” was getting caught.
RUBES SELF-IDENTIFY: Byron York: Among ‘Obama Coalition,’ Obama approval plunges.
President Obama won re-election with the rock-solid support of what has become known as the “Obama Coalition” — young people, minorities, women, and low-income voters. Without a firm foundation — and high turnout — among those groups, Obama would not be in the White House today.
Now, little more than a year after the president’s re-election, his job approval rating has fallen among all segments of the American electorate. But it has fallen the most among those who did the most to elect him.
For example, according to a new Gallup compilation, Obama’s job approval rating among Hispanic Americans has plunged from 75 percent in December 2012 to 52 percent today — a drop of 23 percentage points, the sharpest decline among any voter group. Among Americans who make less than $24,000 a year, the president’s approval rating has fallen from 64 percent last December to 46 percent today. Among Americans 18 to 29 years of age, it has fallen from 61 percent to 46 percent. Among women, it has fallen from 57 percent to 43 percent.
The only key part of the Obama Coalition that did not experience a double-digit drop in support for the president is black Americans, although his support is down there, too — from 92 percent last December to 83 percent today.
How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya, Obama voters?
POLITICO: Teachers Unions Face Moment Of Truth.
It’s designed to be an impressive show of force: Thousands of unionized teachers plan to rally Monday in cities from New York to San Francisco to “reclaim the promise of public education.” Behind the scenes, however, teachers unions are facing tumultuous times. Long among the wealthiest and most powerful interest groups in American politics, the unions are grappling with financial, legal and public-relations challenges as they fight to retain their clout and build alliances with a public increasingly skeptical of big labor.
And with reason.
NOTHING SHADY ABOUT THIS: NPR: Report Details ATF’s Use Of Mentally Disabled In Gun Stings.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel just : Based on court records, police reports and dozens of interviews, the paper details how the ATF used “rogue” tactics — including providing underage youths with alcohol and allowing them to smoke pot — to run storefront gun and drug stings across the country.
In our estimation the most explosive allegation made in the report is that the agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used mentally disabled people to run their stings.
The country’s in the very best of hands. Here’s the original report.
NOPE. Would A Free Society Be A Crime-Free Society? But there would be less crime, and a notable absence of malum prohibitum.
WAR ON WOMEN: Gender wage gap in Obama’s White House: Female staffers earn less than 87 cents on the dollar compared to men. “So I guess some obvious questions for Obama would include: Did you know that women working in your White House are paid less than men? Specifically, are you aware that female White House staffers earn 87 cents on the dollar compared to your male staffers? And shouldn’t your targeted initiatives to close the gender wage gap start in your own White House?”
Yeah, I’m sure the White House Press Corps will ask these hard-hitting questions real soon now.
I should mention, by the way, that last year the Tennessee Law Review devoted an entire issue to constitutional conventions, I wrote the foreword, Sandy Levinson wrote the afterword, and an all-star cast including Randy Barnett, Brannon Denning, Richard Epstein, Tim Lynch, Rob Natelson, and too many other luminaries to mention contributed the stuff in between. (Plus a staff-written section on the rules and mechanics of such a convention). Alas, the issue isn’t online, but you can read my Foreword, which contains many suggested amendments, here.
You can also see my keynote speech at the Harvard Law School conference on constitutional conventions.
BREEDING OVERREACHING TECHNOCRATS WITH NO REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCE? The Problem With Public Policy Schools.
The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration already lists some 285 such institutions in the United States, and new ones are opening up — but the field as a whole seems to be having an identity crisis. The schools’ curricula and missions have become at once too broad and too academic, too focused on national and global issues at the expense of local and state-level ones. It’s not clear that the schools are preparing their graduates to fix all that needs fixing.
“Policy schools used to be much more about how to translate ideas into solutions to public problems,” says Anne-Marie Slaughter, former dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and now president of the New America Foundation. Scholars at policy schools “do extremely important work,” she asserts, but often, “that’s not work that policymakers read.”
MARGARET WENTE: Obamacare, where the liberal dream crashes and burns.
The Affordable Care Act was going to save the world. But now, the law’s supporters will be happy just to save the furniture. They used to talk about transformation. Today they’re simply hoping for survival.
The botched website was an unforced catastrophe. But that’s not the real problem with Obamacare. The real problem, as dozens of thoughtful commentators have concluded, is the law itself. Obamacare is a massive policy experiment that seeks to remake one-sixth of the U.S. economy – a body that’s so fantastically complex, with so many players and so many moving parts, that nobody can possibly understand how they all interact. Tweak one part, and other parts will behave in unpredictable ways. Pull on a thread and half the sweater may unravel. Even Max Baucus, the Democratic Senate finance chairman, has warned that implementing a law so complicated could be a “train wreck.”
The biggest threat to Obamacare is not Republicans. The biggest threat is Murphy’s Law, along with its corollary, the Law of Unintended Consequences. These are the most powerful laws in the world. They are even more powerful than the Affordable Care Act, and they are the nemesis of all master plans. Evidently, the President and his merry band of wonks had never heard of them.
Mr. Obama is in a tough spot. It’s not just that he looks incompetent – it’s that he looks deceitful.
Well, that’s because he’s both. Plus:
Obamacare is much more than a test of a presidency. It’s a test of whether big government can solve big problems. And so far, the answer is very bad for the entire liberal enterprise. As venerable left-leaning pundit Thomas Edsall wrote in The New York Times, “Cumulatively, recent developments surrounding the rollout of Obamacare strengthen the most damaging conservative portrayals of liberalism and of big government – that on one hand government is too much a part of our lives, too invasive, too big, too scary, too regulatory, too in your face, and on the other hand it is incompetent, bureaucratic and expropriatory.”
The old argument for Big Government’s competence was “we won World War II, we split the atom, we built dams and interstate highways and spaceships.” Now, well. . . .
For example, Organizing For Action, that kind of creepy newfangled 4H political arm of President Obama, is looking for talented, hard-working, ambitious folks to fill 14-week unpaid intern positions.
Among the work you might perform there free of charge? Agitating for an increase in the minimum wage!
Similarly, among those fabled dens of journalistic rabble rousing that do so much to stoke the rage against evil huge employers like Wal-Mart, Subway, McDonald’s and so many others, there are plenty of outlets looking for bright young people to man the barricades.
Again, for little or no pay.
The left-wing heroes at Mother Jones, bothered by the appearance of having unpaid interns, raised the job status to “fellows” and began paying them the royal wage of $1,000 a month. Assuming a normal work-week, alas, that’s well below the minimum wage mandated in its California editorial home.
Across country, in the cheap space of Manhattan, editorial interns at Salon are, alas, unpaid. That hasn’t stopped the magazine from publishing pieces excoriating the allegedly underpaid masses.
Well, at least former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich is one man who won’t stand for that sort of thing. At the left-wing American Prospect magazine he helped found, interns get a healthy $100-per-week stipend. That’s less than a third of what some exploited slob would get working 40 hours at minimum wage, but, hey, are you only in it for the money?
Hey, rules are for the little people.
HOW BAD IS IT? ObamaCare Can’t Even Handle Paper Applications. “Federal health officials have been advising ObamaCare counselors this week to stop using paper applications to enroll people — out of fear that the applications wouldn’t be processed in time.”
YEAH, PRETTY MUCH: NORAD’s Fighter Escort for Santa: Another Example of Wasteful Government Spending. I mean, even though it’s fake.
A MILLION FIRST DATES: How Online Romance Is Threatening Monogamy.
Related: 21st Century Relationships: Notes On The Online Revolution. “I think that because of the internet, straight people are now having the same amount of sex as gay guys were always supposed to be having. There’s a weird look I can see on the face of people who are getting too much sex delivered to them via hooking up online: wait, is this as good as it gets?”
UNITED AIRLINES BLOWS IT: World War II veteran en route to Pearl Harbor ceremony booted from flight.
ZACHARY KARABELL: The True Cost Of A Higher Minimum Wage. “It’s clear that income inequality is a crisis worth addressing. It’s not clear that a higher minimum wage would address it.”
HE FINDS YOU USEFUL, BUT RECOGNIZES NO RECIPROCAL DUTIES: “Morale has taken a hit at the National Security Agency in the wake of controversy over the agency’s surveillance activities, according to former officials who say they are dismayed that President Obama has not visited the agency to show his support.”
ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ: Army Lt. Colonel Pens Piece For Esquire Vowing To “Pry Your Gun From Your Cold, Dead Fingers,” Shut Down Manufacturers Unless They Make Guns For The Government, 400% Tax On Ammo… The Framers thought a standing army was the greatest threat to liberty imaginable. A shame when some people who have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution nonetheless set out to prove them right.