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IN JOHN CARTER’S WORDS, I STILL LIVE: Andrew Sullivan is going to stop blogging. No, blogging isn’t dead. And InstaPundit gets more pageviews than pretty much everyone who’s calling blogging dead. But I can understand Andrew quitting. For me, the real strain isn’t the blogging, but having to pay close attention to the news all the time. The news is usually depressing, when it’s not angering, and that’s doubly true for the Obama years. But I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

AUSTIN BAY: Time for Obama and Ambassador Power to Account for Their Darfur Failure.

WELL, LOOK AT HOW THEY TREAT THE TEA PARTY, WHICH IS A VERY MIDDLE-CLASS MOVEMENT: Why are Republicans so weirdly hesitant to talk about America’s middle class?

The paucity of “middle” mentions is bizarre. The story of this anemic economic recovery — and really of the entire 2000s — is how poorly America’s broad middle has done. Countless news stories and research reports have highlighted the middle class’ financial struggles. Clearly, Democrats have gone long on “middle class” for 2016. In his recent State of the Union speech, President Obama coined a new term for his policy agenda: “middle-class economics.” And the Center for American Progress, the “ready for Hillary” think tank, recently produced a lengthy report devoted to solutions for middle-class woes.

But weirdly, much of the GOP is reluctant to explicitly target the middle, either with rhetoric or ideas. It’s not necessarily that Republicans don’t care about the 99 percent. They just think their way is better than the Democrats’ way, even if it’s less obviously and directly helpful to the middle class. This is the party that believes “a rising tide lifts all boats,” that faster economic growth is the best path to shared prosperity. To concede otherwise is to challenge one of the modern party’s first principles. Moreover, many think mentioning the “middle class” by name — much less pushing policies to directly help it — smacks of “class warfare” and uses the language of Karl Marx. As Rick Santorum, one GOPer who has actually focused on the middle, has put it, “since when in America do we have classes? Since when in America are people stuck in areas or defined places called a class? That’s Marxism talk.”

Neither party in this country really wants the middle class to wake up and seize control. Dems can talk about it because they know they won’t rouse it. Republicans can’t talk about it for fear that they will.

DO TELL: Obama drops proposal to cut tax benefits of 529 college savings plans.

And just one day after my USA Today column blasting that policy came out. Coincidence? I think not.

UPDATE: First link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry!

BYRON YORK: Will Jeb Bush deport four million illegal immigrants?

That’s hardly unthinkable. Obama deported 2 million in slightly more than one term.

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Obama’s 529 Tax Plan Is Just The Beginning.

PROFILES IN HYPOCRISY: Obama Films Anti-Oil-Drilling Video . . . From A Jet With A 53,000 Gallon Fuel Tank. “On Saturday, Obama flew Air Force One over 8,000+ miles to India to discuss global warming and other issues.”

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Obama Goes Where The Money Is: Middle Class Savings Like Blood In The Water.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Obama Goes Where The Money Is: Middle Class Savings Like Blood In The Water.

POLITICO: Where Was Obama When The Middle Class Needed Him?

The past six years have seen a series of hits to middle-class economic security in the form of radical changes in healthcare; decreased pension guarantees from companies; less job security; and volatility in financial markets that has made retirement planning challenging. Cap that off with the massive hit to financial net worth because of the bursting of the housing bubble and you have a recipe for roiling discontent. Washington, meanwhile, anchored by the Obama administration, is widely seen as having done precious little other than shore up the financial system and the banks in 2009.

When it comes to the economy, in fact, Obama arguably has spent most of his presidency focused either on the needs of the very poor (the uninsured) or the very rich (Wall Street’s banks, which were nursed back to health).

Hey, they don’t call him President Goldman Sachs for nothing.

OBAMAVILLES: More homeless camps are appearing beyond downtown L.A.’s skid row. They told me if I voted for Mitt Romney, oligarchs would grow fabulously wealthy even as poverty worsened. And they were right!

SO OVER ON TWITTER, INEZ FELTSCHER IS ARGUING THAT Congress’s abortion bill is unconstitutional because it’s outside Congress’s enumerated powers. I think that’s probably right, and in fact argued just that in a law review article written with Dave Kopel over a decade ago. That said, however, under Sebelius Congress could presumably place a stiff federal tax on abortion. And given that the ObamaCare penalty/tax wasn’t excessive, a similar tax on abortion presumably wouldn’t be either. . . .

SO THERE’S HOPE FOR AMERICA, POST-OBAMA, AFTER ALL: Scientists Figure Out How to Unboil an Egg.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN FOR TOMORROW: Obama Goes Where The Money Is: Middle Class Savings Like Blood In The Water.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN FOR TOMORROW: Obama Goes Where The Money Is: Middle Class Savings Like Blood In The Water.

SORRY, OBAMACARE DOESN’T COVER YOUR CANCER THERAPY. Have some LSD.

SO MAYBE REPUBLICANS SHOULD ACTUALLY PASS THESE OBAMA TAX PROPOSALS:

Americans like to hear that rich people are going to be forced to pay their “fair share.” They would probably be considerably less excited to hear that Obama wants to tax the earnings on educational savings accounts, or that any assets they inherit from their parents would be subject to a capital gains tax. To be fair, there are generous exemptions. But there are a lot of affluent-but-hardly-wealthy folks in blue states who would be very unhappy to hear that that nice Westchester home Mom and Dad bought for $15,000 in 1952 is going to be subject to a capital gains tax — at the same time as they’re suddenly paying income taxes on the capital gains and dividends in little Sally’s college account. . . .

Taxing the earnings on college savings accounts is even stranger, both because this hits the middle class, and because if you tax the earnings, there’s not all that much point to having the account; essentially, Obama is taxing college savings accounts in order to fund universal community college. This is scraping the bottom of the barrel, and what it tells you is that Obama has already run through most of the practical and politically palatable ways to tax the affluent.

Add to this, since Obama wants more taxes on “the rich,” a cap on the mortgage interest deduction at, say, $200,000, and an end to the deductibility of state income and property taxes. Yeah, this will hurt Blue State types harder, but hey, they voted for Obama. This is a win-win: He gets the blame, or he vetoes it.

Also, repeal the Hollywood tax cuts!

SMART DIPLOMACY: Fox’s Bolling Blasts Obama: You Showed the Terrorists ‘Where Your Priorities Lie.’

ROGER SIMON: Obama, the Shiite, Goes to Riyadh. “Much of this Iran-coddling began back when the Green Movement was in the streets of Tehran seeking the overthrow of the ayatollahs and chanting ‘Obama, Obama… Are you with us or are you with them?’ Our president did not respond. He was already in private communication with the bizarre Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Obama wanted to be the one who got credit for reining in the excesses of the Islamic Republic, not those unruly student demonstrators who were the ones suffering from the regime in the first place, being murdered, tortured and raped in Evin Prison, often in reverse order. . . . Now I realize Obama is not really a Shiite. He was raised in Sunni Indonesia. And, yes, Sunnis — notably ISIS, Boko Haram and AQAP — are leading the way in the public butchery department for the moment and need to be opposed with all our might. But that doesn’t mean Shiites are not active. Just the other day we had the mysterious Buenos Aires death of Alberto Nisman, who was about to reveal truths about the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in that city in which 85 were killed — a kind of simultaneous beheading in which Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah are said to be the culprits. Almost anyone honest and awake knows the Islamic Republic is and has been the primary state sponsor of terrorism worldwide for decades. . . . The president now has an Iran deal so tied up in his mind with his legacy that the appearance of Netanyahu in front of Congress opens a psychological wound so large Obama is likely to do almost anything. The world — not just Saudi Arabia and Israel — had better beware.”

WHATEVER COULD OBAMA HAVE IN MIND? Charles Krauthammer On How Israel Tension Raises Questions On Iran.

ER, WHY? Great news. Republicans look at eliminating filibuster for SCOTUS nominees. “If the GOP scraps the filibuster for SCOTUS nominees now, it benefits nobody except Barack Obama and his allies, making if much easier for him to rail through a far more liberal choice than would otherwise be possible. Then, if the GOP manages to lose the White House again and the margin in the Senate remains small, the Democrats will get at least four more years of benefit out of it. If the Republicans do take the White House but somehow lose ground (and control) in the Senate, the Democrats can simply put the filibuster back in place in January of 2017, and what possible evidence of good will exists to suggest that they wouldn’t make such a hypocritical move? I suppose I’ll wait to hear a more full explanation from Alexander and friends if this proposal actually picks up steam. But for the moment, it just doesn’t make any sense.”

MEGAN MCARDLE: Uncle Sam Is Coming After Your Savings.

Earlier in the week, I discussed the Obama administration’s proposal to tax earnings on so-called 529 college savings plans, part of a package of tax hikes that will pay for new programs such as his proposal to make the first two years of community college free. This has been touted as a plan to hike taxes on the rich to help the middle class, but in fact it’s more of a plan to redistribute money from the upper middle class to the lower middle class.

As I noted then, this proposal is not going anywhere, not just because Republican congressmen will block it, but because it would be very unpopular with affluent blue-state voters who currently vote for Democrats. About the only people I saw defending this particular idea were blue-state singles who haven’t yet confronted the monstrous expense of shepherding their progeny into the new mandarin class to which they belong.

Everyone else seems to be somewhere between confused and aghast. One comment in particular struck me, as I saw it several times on social media and in writings: “How would you feel if they did this to Roth IRAs?”

Why did I find that particular question a compelling topic for a column? Because it’s a question we may have to ask ourselves. As I observed when I first wrote about the plan, the very fact that we are discussing taxation of educational savings — redistributing educational subsidies downward — indicates that the administration has started scraping the bottom of the barrel when seeking out money to fund new programs. Why target a tax benefit that goes to a lot of your supporters (and donors), that tickles one of the sweetest spots in American politics (subsidizing higher education), and that will hit a lot of people who make less than the $250,000 a year that has become the administration’s de facto definition of “rich”?

Presumably, because you’re running out of other places to get the money.

And spending less is unthinkable. Is this why Dems also want mandatory IRAs? First force the savings, then confiscate!

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Law Firm at Center of Silver Scandal Donated Huge Sums to Dems, Including President Obama. “And although no wrongdoing has thus far been attributed to the law firm, it’s at least worth noting that two of the biggest recipients were both involved with the Moreland Commission, which was mysteriously and abruptly disbanded by the governor in March 2014 after less than a year on task of probing public corruption.”

COME ON, CHUCK, YOU KNOW THEY DON’T COVER THINGS THAT MAKE OBAMA LOOK BAD: Chuck Todd Blasts the media for ignoring Yemen in their coverage. “They’re all on Tom Brady. Yemen is actually on fire.”

ROBERT VERBRUGGEN ON Obama’s Plan To Tax Parents Of College Students.

YEMEN: Sure sign of an Obama foreign-policy success: the evac. Helicopters on the Embassy roof: To some, they’re a fond memory.

FLYING COVER: Major media mostly ignoring four potential Democratic Hillary 2016 rivals.

A search of U.S. publications in Lexis Nexis for “Jim Webb” since Nov. 20, 2014 — the day the former Democratic senator and Reagan administration official announced he was considering a run for president — produces only 93 results.

Results for potential Republican 2016 candidate Mike Huckabee (“Huckabee”) since just three weeks ago, when he gave up his Fox News program and signaled a probable run: 227.

Though there are presently at least five Democrats who say they’re seriously considering bids for the White House — a sizable number — major media news coverage has disproportionately focused on the GOP side, which has at least nine potential candidates, and on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Many of the potential 2016 candidates are barely known to the public, but lack of visibility two years out isn’t the handicap it once was. Clinton has a commanding lead in the 2016 contest, but a Jan. 6, 2007, poll found that 61 percent of the respondents said they didn’t know enough about then-Sen. Barack Obama to have an opinion of him. He went on to defeat Clinton in the Democratic primary and win the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

Hillary’s inevitable, just like she was last time.

YOUR TAX DOLLARS NOT WORKING: HHS Inspector General Details How Feds Botched the Obamacare Exchange Planning Process.

OBAMACARE UPDATE: Colorado Chaos Shows ACA Troubles.

Under the ACA, the Colorado insurance market is in chaotic flux. The NYT reports that the premium for one standard midlevel silver ACA plan rose this year by 36 percent in one part of Colorado, while in another part a premium for the same plan dropped by almost 40 percent. Apparently many insurers set their prices low to attract customers, but it’s no longer clear if the low rates will be sustainable in the long-run. . . .

One takeaway from this article is that’s far too early to tell how well the ACA is doing at keeping premiums down. It will take a while before the markets settle out and we see what the actual average premiums are, and it’s not really possible to assess how well that part of the ACA is working until then. In the meantime, workers are increasingly feeling the bite of rising costs. Uncertainty for many, rising costs for some: not a pretty picture for U.S. health over all.

It’s like the whole thing was just a cobbled-together scheme whose main purpose was political.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST: As Obama vows Iran sanctions veto, Boehner invites Netanyahu to address Congress.

MICHAEL BARONE: Obama’s attempt to turn the page undermined by policy failures. “The bigger problem for Obama and the Democrats is that the perceived failures of the stimulus package and Obamacare have undermined the case for big government as much as the perceived success of the Reagan economic policies strengthened the case for cutting it back. ‘Because I won’ is a look back to the past, not a formula for the future.”

UPDATE: Noah Rothman: Obama’s shtick is getting tired, even with some Democrats.

REMEMBER WHEN MONEY IN POLITICS WAS BAD? ME NEITHER: The Hill: Hillary Clinton plans to astound, intimidate with fundraising ‘like nothing you’ve seen.’

Major donors are ready to announce huge financial commitments to Hillary Clinton as soon as she announces a second run for the White House, according to Clinton allies and Democratic fundraisers.

The Clinton team wants to build excitement about her campaign launch, which is expected in March or April. The money blitz would be a show of Clinton’s strength meant to scare away potential primary rivals.

“The floodgates are going to open immediately, and there’s going to be a rush to get on the team,” said Don Peebles, the real estate mogul who served on President Obama’s national finance committee. “There’s nobody in the Democratic Party who can match her. Not even close.”

“It’s going to be like nothing you’ve seen,” added one top Democratic donor, who supported both of Obama’s presidential campaigns and plans to throw big support behind Clinton. “The numbers will be astounding.”

Clinton is also busy considering who to have run the finances of her would-be campaign.

Well, I guess Terry Bean is out of the question.

Related: The Hill: Hillary Does Best Putin Imitation. “We have a process, yes.”

STOP THE DEMOCRATIC POLITICIANS’ WAR ON MEN: Man found not responsible for rape blasts Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for ‘harassment campaign.’

Paul Nungesser was found “not responsible” for sexually assaulting another student at Columbia University. The student who accused him, Emma Sulkowicz, has since began carrying a mattress around the university as part of an art project to protest a finding she claims was unfair.

Sulkowicz’s activism earned her an invitation to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. When Nungesser heard of the invitation, he blasted the senator for rewarding Sulkowicz’s attacks against him.

“I am shocked to learn that Sen. Gillibrand is actively supporting Ms. Sulkowicz’s defamation campaign against me by providing her with a public forum in which to broadcast her grave allegation,” Nungesser told New York Magazine on Tuesday. “By doing so, Sen. Gillibrand is participating in a harassment campaign against someone, who, for good reason, has been found innocent by all investigating bodies.”

Nungesser reminded people that the university, after a seven-month long investigation, found him not responsible in 2013 — even in the current atmosphere where colleges are encouraged to find students guilty to appease political interests. Nungesser also pointed out that he cooperated with police after Sulkowicz filed a report (after the university found him not responsible) and that prosecutors declined to pursue the case.

Kirsten Gillibrand should be ashamed, but she’s not capable of shame, and probably doesn’t really think that men are people, or have feelings that matter, anyway.

WELL, HAVEN’T WE ALL, REALLY? Cable news viewers tune out Obama.

Related: AP Fact Checks Obama’s SOTU, Finds It Wanting.

JUDITH CURRY: The raw politics of climate change in the U.S. “The apparent ‘contract’ between Obama and his administrators to play politics with climate science seems to be a recipe for anti science and premature policies with negative economic consequences that have little to no impact on the climate.”

JUST A FEW MONTHS AGO, OBAMA WAS HOLDING UP YEMEN AS A MODEL FOR COUNTERTERRORISM: Shiite insurgents control Yemen’s presidential palace and residence.

Everything he touches. . . .

ASHE SCHOW: Strangely missing from Obama’s State of the Union address: Campus sexual assault.

Don’t get me wrong, the Obama administration is terrible on the issue of sexual assault, as it’s behind the disintegration of due process rights for accused students. But after all the fuss President Obama made last year about the issue — the “It’s on us” campaign and numerous attempts to convince the world that 20 percent of America’s college women will be raped — you would think he would say something about the issue.

But nothing. Not one word in his nearly 6,500 word speech was about campus sexual assault.

How odd, considering victim extraordinaire Emma Sulkowicz was in the audience as a guest of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and considering just how big an issue this was last year.

Maybe it’s because of the pushback the “1 in 5 college women will be raped” statistic has received. Maybe it’s because the policies being created by the hysteria surrounding that statistic are being challenged by lawmakers, students, colleges — even Harvard Law professors.

Maybe it’s because the UVA story imploded, and they don’t want to call attention to the White House connection there.

UPDATE: “Applications to the University of Virginia dropped for the first time in 12 years as students made their decisions amid an uproar about a now-discredited story over a gang rape on campus.”

ENEMIES OF THE STATE: Democrats put target on ‘corporate deserters.’

Congressional Democrats said Tuesday they would seek any and all avenues to curb offshore tax deals, kicking off a new effort to punish what they call “corporate deserters.”

Senior Democrats on both sides of the Capitol brought back legislation to make it more difficult for corporations to merge with a foreign competitor and shift their legal address abroad.

“We believe we need fairness in the tax code,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said at a news conference announcing the legislation.

Democrats introduced the legislation last year as well, at the same time President Obama and other senior officials in the party questioned the patriotism of companies like Pfizer Inc. and Walgreen Co. that looked into so-called corporate inversions.

After Congress deadlocked over the tax deals in 2014, the Treasury Department put in place new rules targeting the economic benefits for companies that reincorporate offshore. But both lawmakers and the Obama administration said tougher measures would require action from Congress.

See, you’re a “deserter” because starting a company is just like enlisting in the military! And that attitude is sure to promote economic growth!

FACTS ARE STUBBORN THINGS: President Obama gives up on 77 cent wage gap statistic.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama tried to continue the myth that women are paid drastically less than men, but there’s a catch — he didn’t repeat the debunked claim that women earn 77 cents to the dollar that men earn. . . .

But Obama’s speech is missing any mention of just how differently men and women are paid. Perhaps this is because the Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed out that it’s not Congress but women’s own choices that result in the supposed wage gap.

And maybe it’s because the White House knows this to be true, as Betsey Stevenson, member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, admitted last April.

Even with the false statistic removed, Obama does a disservice to women by continuing to tell them they’re all victims.

Yeah, but narrative uber alles.

WHY OBAMA SAID SO MANY NICE THINGS ABOUT COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES: They’re huge sources of campaign donations for him.

RICHARD EPSTEIN: ObamaCare’s Slow Death? “The results are now clear. The Affordable Care Act has done nothing to unravel the past mistakes that in large measure were (and still are) attributable to excessive regulation and transfer payments. To give but one example, the voluntary coverage supplied by employer plans has dipped sharply from about 60 percent in 1980 to 50 percent in 2010, which on an employment base of 150 million workers translates into a 15 million increase in the number of uninsured persons in the United States. It would be very difficult indeed to attribute this decline in health care coverage to some hidden form of market failure.”

MIDDLE CLASS TAX HIKE: You know that “tax-free” 529 college plan? Obama wants to tax it. “By definition, these accounts are really only used by middle class families. Poorer households don’t have the extra income to save (and even if they have a little, there are much higher priorities like retirement or saving for a home). Very wealthy families might use 529 plans, but it’s far more likely that they have complex trust arrangements set up for their children. . . . Note that this is right before they also announce the repeal of Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (Coverdell ESAs), another similar move against the same middle class savings targets.”

AND HE’S DOING THE SAME AGAIN. CHANGE! Obama has proposed tax hikes in every State of the Union.

ELI LAKE: Why Obama Can’t Say ‘Radical Islam.’

TRANSPARENCY! Loretta Lynch’s Secret Docket: There are allegations her U.S. Attorney’s Office is keeping cases quiet. “Lynch appears to have let self-professed criminals walk free in exchange for their cooperation with her office, watched impassively as they committed further crimes, and intentionally kept the victims of those crimes in the dark — denying them their chance to seek tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in restitution in direct contravention of federal law.”

She’d fit right in as Obama’s AG.

THE HILL: Senator: Have to assume sleeper cells in US.

A key U.S. senator said Sunday that Americans have to assume there are some “sleeper cells” within the U.S. that would like to carry out a terror attack.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he was not aware of any specific cells, but noted that the recent attacks elsewhere in the Western world make it a safe assumption. Johnson is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

“What you’re seeing happen in Europe, you’re seeing how widespread that is,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think you have to assume that that is a risk that we have to consider.”

Johnson criticized President Obama’s policy to combat terror groups, arguing the administration is insufficiently committed to the cause to battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“As long as ISIS is not losing, they are perceived as winning,” he said. “We have to defeat ISIS. We can’t let them continue threatening the rest of the world for years.”

He also criticized administration efforts to shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, warning that remaining captives pose a major threat to the U.S.

“The people left in Guantanamo Bay are evil people,” he said. “The people there are the worst of the worst, and they should not be released.”

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said U.S. intelligence needs to focus on the greatest threats to home.

“In some cases these are Americans that we know have been associated with these extreme groups,” he said. “It’s really important that our intelligence community focus on those that are the highest risks to the United States.”

Related: Leon Panetta: We face ‘more aggressive’ terrorism.

HILLARY CLINTON’S Charlie Hebdo Problem.

Hillary was one of numerous Obama operatives who blamed Benghazi on a hapless YouTube video maker, whom the administration promptly had jailed. Concurrently, Hillary pushed the “video did it” theme at Dover Air Force Base, as the remains of the Americans killed by al-Qeada were returned to US soil on September 14th of 2012. . . .

But in addition to her role in the Benghazi cover-up, Hillary Clinton’s highlight reel is filled with anti-free speech moments, not the least of which was her show-stopping “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy” soundbite in 1998.

In the free-speech war, she’s on the other side.

SHOCKER: SPENDING MORE MONEY WON’T FIX OUR SCHOOLS:

I was accused of just wanting to stick it to President Barack Obama, and also of wishing to deny the dream of college education that should be the birthright of every single American. I was also accused of being unfamiliar with the known fact that America woefully underinvests in education compared to other advanced nations.

It is true that I am unfamiliar with America’s woeful underinvestment in education, in the same way that I am unfamiliar with the tooth fairy, because both are legends with no basis in fact. American spending on education is in line with that of our peers in the developed world — a little higher than some, a little lower than others, but not really remarkable either way. . . .

You can argue that there’s an inequality problem in our schools. In fact, I think there is obviously an inequality problem in our schools, but that the big problem is not at the college level, but rather in the primary and secondary schools that are overwhelmingly government-funded. And those disparities are also not primarily about the dollar amounts going into schools — Detroit spends well above the U.S. average per pupil, and yet one study found that half the population of the city was “functionally illiterate.”

Maybe the problem is with who is running them. Anyway, as K-12 education implodes, we’ll have to make changes, and spending more money won’t be the change we’ll need to make.

HOW OBAMA LOST THE MIDDLE CLASS: “One of the emerging ironies of the Obama presidency, in fact, is the sagging fortunes of the American middle class while those on either end — rich and poor alike — have arguably fared better under Obama. The poor have been direct beneficiaries of many Obama programs — most notably, Obamacare—while the rich have benefited from a roaring stock market that has helped restore all the wealth lost during the 2008 financial meltdown, and then some. Middle earners, however, still face soaring costs for healthcare and education, while incomes have stagnated and many are sliding sideways or drifting backward.”

The press will do its best to hand the middle class back to whoever the Dems’ nominee is in 2016 by portraying whoever the GOP runs as an out-of-touch, scary plutocrat. This is obvious, and yet the GOP seems to be doing nothing to counter it.

SULTAN KNISH: The Importance of Blasphemy.

As a deeply religious person, I have no fondness for blasphemy. My religion and its holy books are sacred to me. And I understand perfectly well why a Muslim would not relish a cartoon of a naked Mohammed.

But the debates over freedom of speech and the sensitivity of religious feelings also miss the point.

Blasphemy is the price we pay for not having a theocracy. Muslims are not only outraged but baffled by the Mohammed cartoons because they come from a world in which Islamic law dominates their countries and through its special place proclaims the superiority of Islam to all other religions.

Almost all Muslim countries are theocracies of one sort or another as a legacy of the Islamic conquests which Islamized them.

Egyptian President Sisi’s gesture of attending a Coptic mass was so revolutionary because it challenged the idea that Egyptian identity must be exclusively Islamic.

And Egypt is far from the most hard line of Islamic countries in the Middle East, despite a brief takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood in the aftermath of Obama’s Arab Spring.

Read the whole thing.

THE WASHINGTON FREE BEACON exposes more sleazy behavior regarding Indiana University’s federally funded speech-monitoring project.

Internal emails reveal the university’s initial reaction to the Free Beacon’s report on the project in August, which detailed Truthy’s goals to identify “false and misleading ideas” on Twitter and “detect hate speech and subversive propaganda.” The article also revealed head researcher Fil Menczer’s support for numerous progressive groups, including President Barack Obama’s Organizing for Action, Greenpeace, and MoveOn.org.

This whole thing is a disgrace. Much, much more at the link.

HE’S LIKE A ONE-MAN NARRATIVE BUSTER: That time Jonathan Gruber made the case against paid leave.

In a 1994 article for the American Economic Review on maternity benefits, Gruber wrote, “I study several state and federal mandates which stipulated that childbirth be covered comprehensively in health insurance plans, raising the relative cost of insuring women of childbearing age. I find substantial shifting of the costs of these mandates to the wages of the targeted group.”

Sherk also argued that a paid leave proposal from the Obama administration would lead to lower wages for workers, because employers would seek to keep overall compensation costs the same.

“The popularity of Obama’s paid sick leave proposal depends on workers not realizing it ultimately comes out of their paychecks,” Sherk wrote. “If the president’s proposal becomes law, many workers will lose the equivalent of seven days of pay a year.”

But why let facts get in the way of a good narrative, right?

At this point, I’m wondering if Gruber is a mole.

VALERIE JARRETT CONCURS: Obama threatens to veto new Iran sanctions from Congress.

KRAUTHAMMER ON OBAMA: “Charlie Who?”

PROGRESS: Holder limits seized-asset sharing process that split billions with local, state police. “Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without evidence that a crime occurred. Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs.”

This is absolutely the right thing to do, and long overdue. However, I kind of wonder if the reason why it’s happening now has more to do with the Obama Administration’s current war with state and local police, something that the Post article touches on obliquely. Kind of like the flipside to the NYPD’s starving the city of revenue by refusing to issue tickets. . . .

Much background here.

NOW ON YOUTUBE: InstaVision: I talk with Joel Kotkin about Obama’s incestuous relationship with Wall Street.

ELIANA JOHNSON: Rick Perry Rides Again: And it looks like he’s ready.

Perry likes to say that America loves second chances, and he is doing everything to ensure that his encore on the national stage bears little resemblance to his debut, which was marked by missteps and a lack of careful planning from beginning to end. He wasn’t prepared to talk about national issues; his team missed a deadline to qualify for the Virginia primary; and he was hopped up on medication from recent back surgery.

Where there was once chaos, now there is order. In Austin on Wednesday, in the nondescript offices serving as his nascent campaign headquarters, Perry was all focus, sequestered in a conference room, headphones in place, to practice his farewell speech. . . .

Thursday’s speech will offer a preview of the Perry presidential platform. The gun-slinging wild guy who once raised the specter of secession now sounds more like a sober and experienced old hand, though the tea-party sensibilities that excite the party’s base are still there. He is the longest-serving governor in Texas history and has one of the strongest records in the country. Greg Abbott, the state’s newly elected Republican governor, will be handed “as dynamic an economy as any state in the nation,” Perry tells me.

Not lost on the audience, on Thursday or in the future, will be the fact that Texas’s economic success has occurred as the American economy remained sluggish for much of the Obama era.

Indeed it has. Plus:

Over a thousand people a day have been moving to Texas, where the unemployment rate is under 5 percent. His economic reforms were “controversial among those who wrote opinion columns and hired swarms of lobbyists,” Perry will say. “But it wasn’t controversial for the trucker or the waitress, the farmer or the nurse, the quiet majority that feels over-billed and taxed to death.”

Stay tuned.

THE HILL: Democrat condemns ‘shocking’ comments about Muslim lawmaker.

A top House Democrat on Thursday condemned suggestions from conservative websites that Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), a Muslim, should not have been appointed to the House Intelligence Committee.

It has “come to my attention that there have been a shocking amount of comments made in conservative publications and on social media to the effect that Rep. Carson’s integrity is somehow in question as a result of his religion,” Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), vice chairman of the Democratic caucus, said in a letter to members.

“These comments deeply offend me, as I’m sure they offend all of you, which is why I hope all of us will take every opportunity to renounce these kinds of comments and discourage this kind of harmful talk,” he added.

On Wednesday House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi named Carson, along with a handful of other Democrats, to serve on the Intelligence panel, which is privy to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets. . . .

Carson is the first-ever Muslim lawmaker to sit on the panel.

Conservative publications online have suggested that Carson, who sat on the House Armed Services Committee in the 113th Congress, should not have been chosen for the committee because he has ties to Islamist groups that have been investigated for supporting terrorism.

Some commentators also noted a speech in 2012 where Carson said American schools should emulate Madrasses and make the Koran the “foundation” of education. After the speech, Carson issued a statement saying he does not believe public schools should be based on any particular faith.

Crowley compared the criticism to questions about President Obama’s citizenship and said “far too many” of such comments “go without response.”

Wasn’t it Hillary who first brought up the birther stuff?

INSTAVISION: Why Won’t President Obama Prosecute Wall Street?

wallstreet

OPERATION CHOKE POINT UPDATE: Firearms Sellers Say They’re Being Choked Off From Payment Processors.

Go to a gun show, and you won’t find many merchants using PayPal.

You’ll also find few vendors using popular payment processors such as Square, Stripe and Spark Pay.

That’s because some payment processors explicitly prohibit the use of their systems for online — and some in-store — sales of firearms, ammunition and certain accessories.

Retailers in the gun industry say they’re being discriminated against.

“Being shut out from mainstream payment processors makes us feel like we are part of some type of shady business when, in fact, there is more regulation and documentation required for federally licensed firearms dealers than most businesses,” said Trevor Blandford of Terminal Performance Associates in Caroline, Va. . . .

The Daily Signal previously published a series of articles exploring the relationship between banks and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is the governmental body responsible for regulating and auditing more than 4,500 U.S. banks.

Republican members of Congress have accused the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, among other government agencies, of having undue influence when it comes to banks’ decision not to do business with firearms merchants.

The program, initiated inside the Justice Department, is known as “Operation Choke Point.”

I think we should have hearings where bank executives testify about this under oath.

Related: Operation Choke Point closes another gun store’s bank account, except this time the owner recorded the credit union telling him why.

More: “Recordings of Shuetz’s conversations with the manager and a bank teller, which were published online by the U.S. Consumer Coalition, make it clear that the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) examined the credit union’s books and forced it to close Shuetz’s account — a move he blames on a Department of Justice initiative called Operation Choke Point.”

Sounds like a conspiracy to deny civil rights.

Plus: Obama DOJ Caught Targeting Legal Gun Dealers – Threaten Banks to Close Their Accounts (Video).

OF COURSE HE DOES: Obama Backs Government-Run Internet.

REMEMBER WHEN WE THOUGHT THAT ELECTING OBAMA WOULD MAKE EVERYONE LOVE US? FBI Arrests Ohio Man for Plot to Attack U.S. Capitol. ISIS-inspired.

LIFE IN OBAMA’S AMERICA: Jewish-owned D.C. business targeted by self-described ISIS militants.

JIM TREACHER: People Keep Bugging Obama About This Paris Thing.

HISTORIC IRONY: Looking back at Obama’s 2004 nominating speech. “Reading it now I could almost weep, because it is so deceptive, so unlike the Barack Obama we’ve come to know so well. If the guy portrayed in that speech had won an election, the result probably wouldn’t have been half bad. But that guy never existed; he was an actor reading his lines. 2004 was his first performance on the national stage, and he ought to have won an Oscar for it.” To be fair, he did get a Nobel Peace Prize.

WELL, THEY PROMISED “CHANGE.” Dems change tune after mocking GOP for ‘drill, baby, drill.’

Back when gas topped $4 a gallon, Republicans chanted “drill, baby, drill” at rallies across the country — arguing more domestic drilling would increase supplies, reduce dependence on foreign oil and boost the U.S. economy.

Democrats, almost universally, mocked the GOP plan. In 2012, President Obama called it “a slogan, a gimmick, and a bumper sticker … not a strategy.”

“They were waving their three-point plans for $2-a-gallon gas,” Obama told a laughing audience during an energy speech in Washington. “You remember that? Drill, baby, drill. We were going through all that. And none of it was really going to do anything to solve the problem.”

“‘Drill, baby, drill’ won’t lower gas prices today or tomorrow,” Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., echoed on the floor of Congress in 2012. “But it will fuel our addiction to fossil fuel.”

Today, Democrats are singing a different tune, as increased domestic drilling has led to a record supply of domestic crude, put some $100 billion into the pockets of U.S. consumers and sent world oil prices tumbling.

They fought the law (of supply and demand) and the law won.

OUT: YOU ARE EITHER WITH US OR YOU ARE WITH THE TERRORISTS. In: White House: Obama Will Fight Media To Stop Anti-Jihad Articles.

LEE SMITH: Why Obama Wasn’t In Paris.

Hey, he was watching the NFL playoffs.

BUT OF COURSE: Obama’s College Plan Bows to Elites.

The major barriers to completing college do not include community-college tuition, which is low for everyone, and basically free for low-income families (you automatically qualify for a Pell Grant if your family income is less than $24,000 a year, and many others qualify above that line). Libby Nelson offers the wan defense that universal programs may enjoy greater support than those targeted at the poor, which would be more compelling if community college weren’t already basically free for low-income families. . . .

I suspect that this plan will mostly help subsidize people who could have afforded tuition on their own, while encouraging marginally attached students to stay enrolled. It’s not the worst way to spend government money, but in a world of limited resources, it’s probably not the way I’d choose to spend that money. Especially since community college completion rates, while hard to calculate, seem to be pretty unimpressive; five years after enrolling, only 25 percent of people had an associate or four-year degree. Another 11 percent had certificates, some of which may be economically valuable, but even if you add in those numbers, that’s still a pretty dismal record.

Of course, community colleges are often dealing with the most challenging students. More than 50 percent of community-college enrollees require remedial work, and of those, more than 40 percent never even complete their remedial courses.

Taking people who shouldn’t have graduated high school, and sending them to colleges they aren’t ready to attend.

Plus: “What if people in the policy elite stopped assuming that the ideal was to make everyone more like them, and started thinking about making society more hospitable to those who aren’t? . . . I would argue instead that what’s elitist is our current fixation on college. It starts from the supposition that being good at school is some sort of great personal virtue, so that any suggestion that many people aren’t good at school must mean that those people are not equal and valuable members of society. And that supposition is triple-distilled balderdash.”

Indeed.

WELL, YES: White House: ‘It’s fair to say’ we were wrong on Paris unity rally.

The White House erred in not sending a higher-profile representative to this weekend’s solidarity march in France following a terrorist attack on a satirical newspaper, press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

“It’s fair to say we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there,” Earnest told reporters at the White House.

“Had the circumstances been a little bit different, I think the president himself would have liked to be there,” Earnest added. . . .

The White House would not discuss whether it considered sending the president at any point.

Earnest said he did not know why Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris earlier Sunday for a series of high-level counterterrorism meetings, was unable to stay to attend the march. He also said he did not know what the president, who remained at the White House throughout the day, did with his time.

Earnest did say that the decision not to send a higher-profile administration official was made on the staff level, and Obama did not personally decide not to send someone of a higher profile.

So, Valerie Jarrett, then.

BYRON YORK: Obama’s Paris snub wasn’t an oversight.

Then came the unity march. No, it was not essential that Obama himself attend. But there’s no doubt he should have sent Vice President Joe Biden — why is there a VP, if not to go to big foreign events? — or at least Secretary of State John Kerry.

Even as the march wound its way through Paris, the White House sent out yet another sign of its unseriousness. On Sunday morning, the press office announced the president will host a “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism” on Feb. 18. The plan is to bring together “social service providers, including education administrators, mental health professionals, and religious leaders, with law enforcement agencies to address violent extremism as part of the broader mandate of community safety and crime prevention.”

As the world watched images of black-clad, AK-47-wielding terrorists killing Parisians, Obama proposed to meet the threat with social service providers.

So when the president chose not to attend the Paris march, nor to send the Vice President or Secretary of State, the problem wasn’t a tin-ear sense of public relations. It was Obama’s actual attitude toward the terror threat facing not only Europe but the United States. We’ve dealt with the big stuff, Obama has declared, now let’s move on.

It sounded good — until the bullets started flying.

Well, it sounded good to some.

SHOT: Obama Calls For New Cyber Protections.

CHASER: US Centcom Twitter account ‘hacked by Islamic State.’

Everything he touches. . . .

RICH GALEN ON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S FAILURE IN PARIS: “Obama sent no one. No one.”

UPDATE: Jake Tapper: I’m ashamed by U.S. leaders’ absence in Paris.

I find it hard to believe that collectively President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Attorney General Eric Holder — who was actually in France that day for a conference on counterterrorism — just had no time in their schedules on Sunday. Holder had time to do the Sunday shows via satellite but not to show the world that he stood with the people of France?

There was higher-level Obama administration representation on this season’s episodes of “The Good Wife” on CBS.

Ouch.

But there’s this: Ron Fournier: Obama’s Mistake Is No Disgrace. I take his point, but I disagree. Either the White House missed an easy PR call, or they’re happy with the message they’re sending. Either way, it’s appalling.

MORE: Dem Strategist Doug Schoen: Obama AWOL in Paris: Message to America, allies is we don’t care. “Sunday, President Obama morally abdicated his place as the leader of the free world.”

SHADES OF LBJ: Dempsey jokes about White House ‘micromanagement’ of Pentagon.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked in an interview whether he feels his office is being “micromanaged” by the Obama administration, a volatile question that he answered by first jokingly referring his interviewer to the White House.

His remarks came after a question from Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who cited a recent poll by the Military Times that showed only 15 percent of active-duty service members approved of President Obama’s performance. “Why do, in your opinion, so many service members have doubts about this president?” Wallace asked.

Dempsey at first responded by the book, but caught himself halfway through his answer to address longtime rumors about the White House and its supposed micromanaging of other offices: “What I tell the troops when I travel around is: The commander in chief supports their efforts, and that I can tell them with great confidence that he takes — you know, this is this issue of whether or not I’m being micromanaged, right?”

“It’s not just the troops on the ground,” Wallace said. “You have the two last secretaries of defense, [former Secretary Leon] Panetta and [former Secretary Robert] Gates both wrote searing books in which they criticized the White House for micromanaging, jumping the chain of command, and for sometimes emphasizing politics over policy. Are they right?”

“You mean, am I being micromanaged? Is that the question?” Dempsey asked, a slight smile on his face.

“That’s one of the questions,” Wallace stated.

“If you asked me if I’m being micromanaged, I don’t know, I better go ask the White House before I answer the question,” Dempsey laughed.

Ha ha.

THE NEW YORK POST COVER IS AS HARD ON TEAM OBAMA AS THE DAILY NEWS IS:

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Here’s the story: US officials nowhere to be seen at Paris unity rally.

ROGER SIMON: #BarackNEstPasCharlie: Why Didn’t Obama Go to Paris? “None of his high-level associates went either – no vice-president, no secretary of State (although John Kerry did express condolences in his supposedly fluent French. Je me demande….). AG Eric Holder was in Paris and reported to be attending but at the last moment demurred. He was in a ‘meeting — with whom was never specified because most of the world’s leadership was marching in the streets. So why didn’t POTUS show up? A liberal friend emailed me that it was admittedly a ‘political mistake.’ ‘Political,’ yes, but ‘mistake’? I doubt the decision was made innocently or even faintly by mistake. Obama is a man known for his political expediency more than anything, indeed above anything, and also for being a constant campaigner. It was obvious that going to Paris would have been good public relations and that therefore not attending was a deliberate choice.”

UPDATE: The New York Daily News front page.

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ANOTHER UPDATE: Politico: Barack Obama’s French kiss-off: The president’s decision to skip the Paris march raises eyebrows.

NEXT TIME, THEY SHOULD CARRY PITCHFORKS: ‘Unprecedented’ rally is largest in France’s history, officials say. “French media estimate up to 3 million are taking part, more than the numbers who took to Paris streets when the Allies liberated the city from the Nazis in World War II.”

UPDATE: Obama’s ‘embarrassing’ absence at unity march gets lampooned [photoshop].

But Clint Eastwood found him. Honestly, everyone who made fun of that empty-chair routine should apologize. It perfectly foreshadowed Obama’s second term.

SO, PRETTY MUCH LIKE ALL HIS OTHER BUDGETARY MATH, THEN: Obama’s math doesn’t add up on free tuition, critics say.

resident Obama’s plan to provide free tuition to community college students has landed with a thud among number crunchers, who argue that overburdened states cannot afford to fund the White House idea.

As a political strategy, “free tuition” is as appealing a message as Obama could devise heading into his final two years in office. But when pressed on funding the measure, it gets messier for the White House.

Even if Obama had the backing of Republicans to spend $60 billion in federal funds on the education program — he doesn’t — the White House still would have a money problem.

States would be on the hook for $20 billion over the next decade to send students to community college, even at a time when statehouses are funding a shrinking share of their higher education programs.

“I don’t know how states would pay for this,” said Neal McCluskey, associate director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom. “The assumption is states are willing to shell out more money if they can get additional federal dollars. But they’ll either have to raise taxes or slash spending somewhere else.”

As usual, it’s just another lie to buy votes.

NONSENSE: WHAT COULD GO WRONG WITH OPEN IMMIGRATION? The Hill: Paris terrorist attacks raise stakes for looming immigration fight.

Oh, wait, that’s not what this is about. This is about Obama holding America hostage over his executive orders on immigration.

Maybe the GOP Congress should just allow the immigrants amnesty so long as they settle in blue states. . . .

MICKEY KAUS: To Beat Amnesty, Beat Jeb. Early.

It’s a bit of a mystery. Sure, Republican business interests want a supply of inexpensive labor, Republican strategists want a bigger share of the Latino vote. But that doesn’t quite explain it. After all, the lopsided 2014 election suggests that, with a few tweaks, Republicans don’t really need a sweeping immigration deal to win in the electoral college. Business lobbyists could be placated with some more “guest workers.” Put that extra dollop of cheap labor together with Obama’s “prosecutorial discretion” (for existing illegal immigrants) and you’ve in effect cobbled together a half-assed “comprehensive” bill, minus the enforcement part (even better for business!). Why don’t Boehner and McCarthy discreetly shoot for that?

A thought: Maybe it’s all about Jeb. Jeb Bush is the one presidential candidate who’s based his strategy on what can only be described as a lovefest between him and the Latino electorate.** The Jeb Effect would explain the relentlessness: I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of the Bush family to produce semi-vicious robotic loyalty among the GOP elite. Why wouldn’t that include the congressional elite?

Indeed.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Latest Tax Season Headache? Obamacare.

The new year has brought a new sort of commercial to our televisions: ads urging people to check with tax preparers about the potential consequences of Obamacare. H&R Block is offering free Obamacare consultations tomorrow. I’ve written before that the big Obamacare event of this year will not be the exchange enrollments, but tax season, when people who got too much in subsidies find out how much money they owe the government (and been told by a tax preparer that it was even worse than I thought). Tax preparers, to judge from my Twitter feed, have been panicking for months. But now they face the Herculean job of communicating that panic to the public.

There’s been a lot of talk about the “hidden taxes” in the Affordable Care Act, but here’s one I hadn’t thought of before or seen mentioned anywhere: the sudden need for folks with simple tax returns to avail themselves of the services of a paid professional. If you have no income outside a modest salary, and not much in the way of potential deductions such as huge mortgage interest or state tax bills, then there was really no reason to use a tax preparer. Even the mathematically challenged should, with the aid of a calculator, be able to fill out their 1040EZ forms just fine. But Obamacare has introduced a significant level of complexity into the taxes of lower-middle-class wage earners. More of them are going to need an accountant to negotiate the process — or risk owing the government hundreds of dollars because they didn’t fill out the forms correctly.

The money doesn’t go to the government, of course, but in many ways this looks like a tax: Suddenly, people with simple incomes are going to need to pay a significant sum to keep themselves out of trouble with the IRS. This tax will be extremely regressive, because the people most likely to be hit by it are people whose incomes are (or have been) low enough to qualify for subsidies.

Yeah, a flat tax or fair tax would fix this.

YA THINK? Obama Promised Unity, Delivered Spectacular Factionalism.

CLOSING THE SCHOOLS so that Obama can talk about education.

ROGER SIMON: After Paris, Will Obama Continue to Close Gitmo?

I HAVE TO SAY, I think my year-end column in 2013 pretty much called it: “Obama’s 2013 is likely to be similarly ‘average:’ Worse than 2012, but better than 2014.” Related item here.

THEY FEAR BEING MOCKED: Gunmen storm Paris satirical newspaper, killing at least 12. “Masked gunmen opened fire Wednesday in the offices of a French satirical newspaper known for provocative content on Islam, killing at least 12 people and then escaping after carrying out the country’s bloodiest terrorist attack in decades.”

You know, if we aren’t careful this will cause people to think of Islam as violent.

UPDATE: Live-Blogging.

Plus, Amir Taheri: Terror in Paris — the limits of appeasement.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More from Claire Berlinski.

Plus this on Twitter:

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And this:

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MORE: Do Not Submit: Republish The Mohammed Cartoons Everywhere.

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STILL MORE: Roger Simon: Paris: Islam Strikes Again. “Egypt’s el-Sisi is right. Islam is in desperate need of a reformation, because right now it is not even a religion. It is a virus.” There are, of course, plenty of good Muslims. But they’re not driving the bus.

MORE STILL: The Washington Free Beacon republishes the cartoons.

PLUS: “Immediately recognizing that this domestic incident as an act of terrorism was a turnaround for the White House. The administration initially hesitated to use that label after the 2009 Ft. Hood massacre and the 2013 Boston Marathon, waiting until an international connection could be proved.” Well, good for them, finally.

Plus: The Financial Times embarrasses itself.

ROGER SIMON: Does Egypt’s el-Sisi Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize? “Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize virtually for no more than being elected president — and then made a hash of everything. El-Sisi came into power by something of a coup over the Islamofascist Morsi — and then has worked hard to make peace, rein in and seal off Hamas, turn Qatar from the Islamist camp, etc., etc. — far more Nobel-worthy than anything Obama ever even dreamed of.”

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Jim Webb And The Democrats’ White-Man Problem.

Rather than run as a liberal (which he is not, in a whole host of ways), Webb could run as a kind of anti-Hillary. He would be an explicit counter to the sort of progressive, feminist narrative that would inherently undergird a Clinton run. He would also be the anti-Obama, a break from the sort of identity politics around race, gender and ethnicity that have, in Webb’s telling, excluded working-class white men. . . .

This group has been something of the topic du jour lately, with a decades-long decrease in manufacturing jobs and an identification with the Republican Party so apparent in the midterms that it has left Democrats looking for answers (again).

President Obama weighed in on the plight of the working-class whites in an NPR interview, saying: “There’s a legitimate sense of loss, particularly among men, who have seen manufacturing diminish; construction has been in the tank.”

Well, when you run your campaigns on sexual and racial hatred, don’t be surprised if the targets of that hatred vote for the other party.

LIFE IN OBAMA’S AMERICA: ‘Race War’ Senator’s Tweet Foreshadows Stormy Session for Missouri Legislature.

SCHADENFREUDE: Whining Harvard Professors Discover Obamacare.

“Deplorable, deeply regressive, a sign of the corporatization of the university.” That’s what Harvard Classics professor Richard F. Thomas calls the changes in Harvard’s health plan, which have a large number of the faculty up in arms.

Are Harvard professors being forced onto Medicaid? Has their employer denied coverage for cancer treatment? Do they need to sign a corporate loyalty oath in order to access health insurance? Not exactly. But copayments are being raised and deductibles altered, making their plan … well, actually, their plan is still extraordinarily generous by any standard.

Certainly more generous than mine, which was “Cadillac” 20 years ago, but now more like Kia. Plus:

The deepest irony is, of course, that Harvard professors helped to design Obamacare. And Obamacare is the reason that these changes are probably necessary.

Indeed.

SEEMS LIKELY: Psychology Today: Will More Men Be Falsely Accused Of Sexual Assault In 2015?

2014 was a landmark year with two high profile sexual assault hoaxes exposed. HBO’s “Girls” star Lena Dunham’s publisher has recently admitted that in her memoir “Not That Kind Of a Girl” the actress falsely claimed that a Republican named Barry raped her when she was a student at Oberlin College. In fact Barry had never met Lena. Meanwhile the University of Virginia Phi Kappa Psi gang rape yarn by a freshman student named Jackie has also unraveled. After these high profile sexual assault charges proved to be fictional, the difficult,unpleasant question must be asked is: how often do women make phony claims of sexual assault? . . .

Unfortunately sexual assault has been politicized since the 1980s, when feminists established that a subordinate at work was inherently being sexually harrassed if approached by a romantically interested or sexually suggestive superior. In this super-charged era, Republican President George H. W. Bush’s Department of Defense nominee John Tower and Republican Senator Bob Packwood of Oregon were both sacked for inappropriate sexual advances to women and Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas was accused in his contentious confirmation hearing of inappropriate behavior towards his assistant Anita Hill. In the heat of debate about allegations of improper conduct by men in high office, feminists famously railed that women don’t lie about such things. Then feminists grew silent when women’s rights supporting Democratic President Bill Clinton was accused of that very type of sexual harrassment.

Now, after a two decade truce, a new campaign by the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights has targeted college campuses, hysterically attempting to demonize men as potential sexual predators by bandying about propaganda that 20% of college women are victims of sexual assault. The state of California has reacted to this alleged epidemic of rape by passing the “Yes Means Yes” legislation that puts the government on every student’s date and in every student’s bedroom. The result of basing policy on bad statistics is a further poisoning of the relationships between men and women. More innocent men now face the very real prospect in 2015 of having their lives destroyed by false accusations of sexual assault.

This dangerous crisis of male-female relations is an opportunity for the Obama Administration to reverse course, tamp down the vigilante atmosphere and actually contribute positively to the discussion. Politically neutral social scientists should be commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services to study the incident of bogus claims versus true claims of sexual assault in a variety of urban, rural and college locations across the country to get impeccably reliable data. The Obama Administration “It’s On Us” campaign should be mothballed. The Office of Civil Rights should cease strong-arming universities into complying to ridiculous new standards to prosecute men for sexual assault claims. President Obama should announce that the 20% sexual assault claim that the campaign was based on was erroneous in lieu of the latest Justice Department study that showed a 0.61 percent incidence of female college students actually being assaulted.

By making a clean break from the misguided Office of Civil Rights offensive against men, President Obama can create a lasting legacy of de-politicizing this tempestuous subject by accurately identifying and targeting those who do assault women without falsely tarring and feathering innocent men.

Yeah, I don’t think that he’s interested in doing that.

LIFE IN OBAMA’S POST-RACIAL AMERICA: “Peaceful protesters” disrupt ceremony for 100 yr old war veteran.

While the disrespect shown for Mr. Raschio is beyond the pale, this is fairly characteristic of the latest rounds of anti-cop, “peaceful protests” going on around the country. One of the defining characteristics of these schemes is that they are so completely outside the realm of the issue they are purportedly out there to correct. If you are angered about perceived injustice by police against minorities, what could that possibly have to do with Mr. Raschio? This theme is repeated in the so called Black Brunch protests in Oakland and New York City this weekend. Protesters invaded various businesses to disrupt service and dining in what they referred to as “white spaces.”

This is simply a continuation of the theme we saw when more allegedly peaceful protesters blocked traffic and tried to shut down the highways. What on earth do people eating french toast in a diner have to do with police practices? How does stranding thousands of motorists in rush hour traffic convey any sort of relevant message? The disconnect is obvious, but these protesters may be doing the rest of us a favor. By demanding an end to “business as usual” and screwing up the daily lives of regular working people with an off tune message which is inappropriate for the situation, the nation will tire of them even faster than they did with the filthy homeless camps of the Occupy movement.

The vast majority of the nation is not anti-cop. The further these agitators push the rest of the rank and file citizens, the quicker they will find that out.

This is bullying for the sake of bullying, by racists. It is designed to intimidate, but it is likely to have the opposite effect. It has also completely undermined what looked like a substantial bipartisan consensus on police reforms.

BRIAN HUGHES: Obama’s Other Immigration Problem:

President Obama is facing another immigration dilemma exacerbated by his efforts to spare up to 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation: how to address the roughly 6 million who were not covered by his executive action.

Soon after he announced his unilateral move, the most sweeping overhaul to the immigration system in decades, Obama heard complaints from immigration rights advocates that he hadn’t gone far enough. They urged him to grant protections to millions of additional illegal immigrants.

That isn’t so simple for the White House, which already is being accused by conservatives of extending benefits to those who don’t even qualify for a deportation deferral. And if deportations plummet among those not covered by his executive action, Republicans will have even more ammunition to argue Obama is ignoring laws.

While trying to find the middle ground on the contentious issue, Obama is in danger of simultaneously angering the far Left and far Right.

Actually, judging by the polling on immigration, I don’t think that characterization is quite right.

BY INTERFERING WITH THE LEFTY AGENDA, OF COURSE. DUH. How Do Decisions Upholding Freedom of Speech and Religion Violate Civil Liberties?

Slate’s list of last year’s “10 Worst Civil Liberties Violations” includes two Supreme Court decisions that do not constitute civil liberties violations by any stretch of the imagination: McCutcheon v. FEC, in which the Court overturned aggregate limits on contributions to federal candidates, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, in which the Court ruled that the Obama administration violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) when it required employers to provide health insurance that covers forms of birth control to which they objected on religious grounds. I gather that the authors of the Slate piece, Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern, think these cases were wrongly decided. But even if that were true, it would not necessarily mean the decisions endorsed the violation of anyone’s civil liberties. To the contrary, people who welcomed these rulings (including me) believe they vindicated civil liberties.

Well, those are bourgeois civil liberties, which have to do with individual freedom of action. Real civil liberties are those freedoms — and obligations, especially — that advance the revolution, comrade.

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY IN A NUTSHELL: Joel Kotkin: Seven Years Ago, Wall Street was the Villain. Now it Gets to Call the Shots.