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NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: ‘This will not be quick,’ Obama says of campaign against the Islamic State. “Coalition operations against the Islamic State have scored successes in Iraq and Syria, but the battle against the extremist group promises to be a ‘generational’ one, President Obama said after military leaders briefed him on the campaign.”

Well, if you wage it at a glacial pace, yes.

THE COMING DARK AGES: Obama’s Renewable Energy Fantasy.

On June 30, one day after the Supreme Court struck down the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of mercury emissions from power plants, President Obama committed the United States to the goal of generating 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. This would nearly triple the amount of wind- and solar-generated electricity on the national grid.

The EPA ran afoul of the law by failing to conduct a cost-benefit analysis before it acted to reduce mercury emissions from coal-power plants. There is no objective cost-benefit analysis that could justify the president’s target for renewable energy.

Recently Bill Gates explained in an interview with the Financial Times why current renewables are dead-end technologies. They are unreliable. Battery storage is inadequate. Wind and solar output depends on the weather. The cost of decarbonization using today’s technology is “beyond astronomical,” Mr. Gates concluded.

Google engineers came to a similar conclusion last year. After seven years of investigation, they found no way to get the cost of renewables competitive with coal. “Unfortunately,” the engineers reported, “most of today’s clean generation sources can’t provide power that is both distributed and dispatchable”—that is, electricity that can be ramped up and down quickly. “Solar panels, for example, can be put on every rooftop, but can’t provide power if the sun isn’t shining.”

If Mr. Obama gets his way, the U.S. will go down the rocky road traveled by the European Union. . . .

It’s not just the costs–which are substantial by any measure–of President Obama’s war on coal and other fossil fuels. It’s the negative impact on daily lives. When I lived in Ireland as a Fulbright scholar in the winter/spring of 2011, one of the most shocking things was the inability to buy a real and bright lightbulb. I looked literally everywhere–hardware stores, home improvement stores, grocery stores. But there were no bright bulbs to be bought, at any price. They were all these “energy efficient” bulbs– no brighter than 60 watts, and even those did not strike me as providing as much light as the incandescent 60w bulbs I had known back home.  It was so dark in our house–even with all the lights on–that I had to buy a little desk lamp with a halogen bulb, so that I could have sufficient light for reading.

So if President Obama’s agenda is to force the U.S. to go the way of the EU, energy-wise–with or without our legislative branch’s approval–be prepared for (literal) darkness.

SO ALL THE TALK ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR, coupled with the recent Scottish vote and now Greece and the EU has me thinking: If a state or states wanted to secede from the United States now, would there be another civil war? It was basically unthinkable — at least, as far as I know, nobody thought it — that Britain might use troops to keep the Scots in by force. The EU isn’t talking about sending gunboats to Greece. So if, say, Texas — or maybe a group of states — really wanted to leave the Union today, would the United States really be willing to, once again, slaughter vast numbers to prevent that?

Of course, there’s a better solution.

People also talk about secession for more serious reasons. They feel that the central government doesn’t respect them, forces them to live under laws they find repugnant and takes their money away to pay off its own supporters. You see secession movements based on these principles in places like Scotland, Catalonia, Northern Italy, and elsewhere around the world. Some might succeed; others are less likely to. But in every case they represent unhappiness with the status quo.

America has an unfortunate history with secession, which led to the bloodiest war in our history and divisions that persist to this day. But, in general, the causes of secession are pretty standard around the world: Too much power in the central government, too much resentment in the unhappy provinces. (Think Hunger Games).

So what’s a solution? Let the central government do the things that only central governments can do — national defense, regulation of trade to keep the provinces from engaging in economic warfare with one another, protection of basic civil rights — and then let the provinces go their own way in most other issues. Don’t like the way things are run where you are? Move to a province that’s more to your taste. Meanwhile, approaches that work in individual provinces can, after some experimentation, be adopted by the central government, thus lowering the risk of adopting untested policies at the national level. You get the benefits of secession without seceding.

Sound good? It should. It’s called federalism, and it’s the approach chosen by the United States when it adopted the Constitution in 1789. As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

It’s a nice plan. Beats secession. Maybe we should give it another try.

Maybe we should. But the problem with federalism is, it offers insufficient opportunities for graft.



“LAHOOD: I think in terms of opening markets for our farmers, particularly in Cuba, I’m supportive of that. You know, this is the 17th largest agriculture district in the country … when you think about the commodities that are grown and produced in central Illinois, we have to open up more markets. That’s jobs and economic opportunity for our farmers in our ag community in Central Illinois. So I’m supportive of opening up new markets, such as Cuba, for our corn and our soybeans and other products. That’s a good thing.

“In the past, obviously Cuba has had some issues with human rights and other things. But I think this is a way to, you know, transition them to democracy and economic freedom and I’m supportive of it.”


Why Restoring Diplomatic Relations with Cuba Is another Bad Deal: It’s mythical thinking to believe opening up to Cuba will improve the prospects for democracy.

As Ron Radosh concludes “to his shame, President Obama himself has let it be known that he too will soon be traveling to Cuba. Does anyone really think this will be a victory for the United States? I’m sure Fidel and Raul Castro are laughing together, raising their glasses and making a toast to their new Yanqui friend in Washington.” Illinois voters have a choice tomorrow as to whether or not they will send another Yanqui friend to Washington for Fidel and Raul to chuckle over. Vote Mike Flynn.


One of the women present, a lecturer called Connie St Louis, complained on Twitter about his “sexism”, triggering the usual lynch mob. By the time the professor had returned to London, his career lay about him in broken shards.

The scary thing here is not the Twitter reaction — we are familiar enough with the ugly psychology of mobs. What is truly depressing is the behavior of those directly involved. For it soon emerged that Mrs. St Louis had given only a partial account of events. You would not have gathered from her version that the professor was being ironic, making a little joke before the “now seriously” that led to his main point about female scientists playing an important role in Korea. Plenty of the women present were journalists but, as is the way when a lynch mob forms, they were reluctant to step into its path.

UCL behaved abominably, first ordering the professor to resign quietly to avoid being sacked, and then allowing its ultimatum to become known. It has since emerged that Sir Tim’s accuser had made some seriously false claims about her own qualifications, but no one has suggested that she lose her post. As another Nobel prize-winner, Sir Andre Geim, remarked: “No Vice Chancellor would take on an ethnic-minority militant feminist. Those are not humble Nobel laureates who can be forced to resign quietly.” . . .

It’s always easier to keep your head down. Write about these subjects, as I’m doing now, and you run the risk of being called a sexist or a racist or whatever. But surely we have to take a stand. The next time you see a mob gibbering and shrieking and demanding someone’s dismissal, don’t hunker down. Speak up. Someone has to, for Heaven’s sake.

As President Obama advises, punch back twice as hard. Make this sort of thing as personally unpleasant as possible for the administrators, the false-accusers, and everyone else in the lynch mob and this sort of thing will fade away.

WASHINGTON POST: The OPM Cyberattack Was A Breach Too Far. But do they really expect Obama to stand up to China?

Related: White House sprints to patch security flaws. Horse, meet barn door.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: TWO PEOPLE Have Filed OVER 1,700 Sex Discrimination Complaints With Dept. Of Education. “Exactly two people are responsible for filing over 1,700 sex discrimination complaints with the federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in the last few years. Catherine E. Lhamon, the Education Department’s secretary for civil rights, won’t identify these two highly litigious individuals. . . . Under the Obama administration, the growth in the Department of Education’s sex discrimination complaints has been astounding. In 2010, Lhamon’s office saw just 391 such complaints. In 2014, the number was 2,354.”

Sounds sketchy. This story’s from March, but I just ran across it. I don’t think anything has improved.

IS THE WORLD BECOMING FED UP? “A great pushback is awakening here and abroad, but its timing, nature, and future remain mysterious,” Victor Davis Hanson writes, adding that Trump’s polling success is a potential harbinger of things to come:

Presidential candidate Trump is supposedly enjoying a bump in the polls. How could that be, given his plutocratic hubris, his flamboyance and his often sloppy rhetoric? Again the answer is predictable. He is blunt — and uncouth; while the Left is sly and uncouth. The public sometimes prefers their exaggerations as bold and not packaged in nasal whines. We are supposed to shudder at the reaction when writer Ann Coulter, promoting a supposedly nativist book about immigration, is rushed by illegal immigration activists at a book signing. Then she confirms our stereotypes by declaring that Latin Americans typically express criticism in such a riotous fashion. The media forgets that she is matched and trumped by the activists themselves. They disrupted a peaceful book signing; they tore up books that they disagreed with (an act which has a good 20th-century fascist pedigree); some brought out Mexican flags to show solidarity with the country that they most certainly do not wish to return to. And there was a shout or two, in racist fashion, that Coulter should return to Europe — as if a guest here illegally from a foreign country has a greater claim on residence than does a U.S. citizen.

As in the case of Paula Deen, Duck Dynasty, and the addled Donald Sterling, the nation unleashed its thought police to destroy Trump in the fashion that has worked so well with other intemperate or biased speakers (at least those who are not of the liberal bent of politically incorrect gaffers like a Sen. Harry Reid, Vice President Joe Biden, Al Sharpton, David Letterman — or Barack Obama who believes “typical” white people (all 220 million?) stereotype blacks while there are apparently “gangbangers” crossing illegally into the U.S. on his watch).  But so far, the politically-selective yanked sponsorships and corporate ostracism seem to have little effect on the self-promoting and boisterous multibillionaire Trump. Why so?

Read the whole thing.

RICK PERRY: I Can Help African-Americans More Than Past 3 Dem Presidents.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said the time has come for the Republican Party to “reclaim” its heritage as the only political party in America founded on the “principle of freedom” for African-Americans.

Perry argued that his policies could help African-Americans more than the last three Democratic administrations combined.

The former Texas governor said Republicans have emphasized their message on the 10th Amendment but not on the 14th Amendment, which Perry called “one of the great contributions of the Republican Party to American life, second only to the abolition of slavery.”

“For too long we Republicans have been content to lose the black vote because we found we didn’t need it to win, but when we gave up trying to win the support of African-Americans we lost our moral legitimacy as the party of Lincoln, as the party of equal opportunity for all,” he said in a speech at the National Press Club.

“It is time for us to once again reclaim our heritage as the only party in our country founded on the principle of freedom for African-Americans. We know what Democrats will propose in 2016 – the same things the Democrats have proposed for decades – more government spending on more government programs,” he added.

Perry said there is a “proper and an important role” for government assistance in keeping people on their feet.

“But few presidents have done more to expand government assistance than President Obama. Today, we spend nearly $1 trillion on means-tested-type poverty programs and yet black poverty remains stagnant,” he said.

Perry told the audience the best welfare program in America is a job.

Related: Kevin Williamson: Rick Perry is running a smart, thoughtful campaign — will anyone notice?

DANA MILBANK: Clinton And Obama Are On The Wrong Side Of History. Well…

TALK TO YOUR FAMILY THIS HOLIDAY: Happy Fourth – ObamaCare Premiums Set To Soar.

FOR GOD’S SAKE, BARACK, SIT DOWN: How To Talk To Your Family About Obamacare On July 4.

HOW TO TALK TO A NON-LEFTIST THE OTHER 364 DAYS A YEAR: Taking Mr. Obama’s advice and planning to pitch your relatives on the many wonderful benefits of Obamacare tomorrow? What happens the other 364 days? Robert Tracinski of the Federalist offers some advice for his friends on the other side of the aisle to try breaking the ice, including — and I know this will be very difficult for many leftists — “Talk to people beneath your station:”

At a university or in an urban hipsterville neighborhood, you may think that everyone around you is on the same page ideologically. But you are almost certainly wrong. Part of the problem is that a lot of the people who differ from you on politics are the people you don’t notice. They’re not the professors or administrators or graduate students, or the performance artists, and baristas, and artisanal vegan sriracha curators. They are receptionists and groundskeepers and especially small business owners who run some of the stores and shops and restaurants you go to.

Some university employees might be on the right, but I’m afraid they probably won’t talk to you about it. Why? Because they are afraid of losing their jobs. They are afraid that if word gets around about their retrograde views, people will show up with mattresses demanding that they be fired. At the very least, their bosses will quietly disapprove and their potential for advancement and new opportunities will shrink. Maybe they would open up if you talked to them nicely, but chances are that they just don’t trust you.

The same goes for people who work at your graphic design firm in Park Slope. People respond to incentives—you’ll discover this is one of the things those of us on the right believe—and your right-leaning coworkers have little incentive to advertise their heresies.

And look at it this way — if they seem a little crazy at first, remember that your side of the aisle made them that way.

LEAKED DETAILS OF OBAMATRADE: Politico has a story, “Leaked: What’s in Obama’s Trade Deal” that suggests it contains goodies for U.S. pharmaceutical companies:

A recent draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal would give U.S. pharmaceutical firms unprecedented protections against competition from cheaper generic drugs, possibly transcending the patent protections in U.S. law.

POLITICO has obtained a draft copy of TPP’s intellectual property chapter as it stood on May 11, at the start of the latest negotiating round in Guam. While U.S. trade officials would not confirm the authenticity of the document, they downplayed its importance, emphasizing that the terms of the deal are likely to change significantly as the talks enter their final stages. Those terms are still secret, but the public will get to see them once the twelve TPP nations reach a final agreement and President Obama seeks congressional approval. . . .

Some of the most contentious provisions involve “patent linkage,” which would prevent regulators in TPP nations from approving generic drugs whenever there are any unresolved patent issues. The TPP draft would make this linkage mandatory, which could help drug companies fend off generics just by claiming an infringement. . . .

The opponents are also worried about the treaty’s effect on the U.S. market, because its draft language would extend mandatory patent linkage to biologics, the next big thing in the pharmaceutical world. Biologics can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for patients with illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis B and cancer, and the first knockoffs have not yet reached pharmacies. The critics say that extending linkage to biologics—which can have hundreds of patents—would help insulate them from competition forever.

“It would be a dramatic departure from U.S. law, and it would put a real crimp in the ability of less expensive drugs to get to market,” said K.J. Hertz, a lobbyist for AARP. “People are going to look at this very closely in Congress.”

Well, it’s good to know President Obama is making good on his goal of prioritizing the concerns of the middle class. No wonder establishment GOP types supported Obamatrade.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR SPIES: Hudson Institute senior fellow Gabriel Schoenfeld on “The Central Inclusiveness Agency.”

The Central Intelligence Agency is once again mired in crisis. CIA Director John Brennan finds himself “deeply concerned.” The spy agency he runs suffers from an affliction that he says has “persisted despite repeated efforts by Agency leaders to address it.”

What is ailing this vital guardian of national security? The CIA’s upper echelon, Mr. Brennan said on Tuesday, does “not reflect the diversity of the Agency workforce or of the nation.”

Mr. Brennan was commenting on the “Director’s Diversity in Leadership Study,” an unclassified report released that day. The study comes to the “unequivocal conclusion,” he said in a statement, that there has been a major failure at the agency in the “crucial” area of diversity and inclusiveness. . . .

The report is unsparing. Senior positions at the “highest levels of the CIA” are “consistently occupied by white male career officers.” While minority officers make up 23.9% of the CIA workforce, the higher echelons of the CIA don’t come close to that number. For example, the Senior Intelligence Service, the crème de la crème of the spy agency’s personnel, manages only a 10.8% minority composition. Spies with disabilities and LGBT spies, according to the report, are no better represented in the CIA’s upper leadership, though women are generally faring well.

Yeah, I was just thinking to myself the other day, “Why, oh why, aren’t there more disabled and LGBT spies?” And of course there’s only one logical answer (at least to the Obama Administration): discrimination.

The solution? For one thing, “all leaders, managers, and supervisors” in the CIA should be subject to “mandatory stand-alone diversity and inclusion training.” This must include such “well-established tools” as “unconscious bias training” so that all CIA officers can “learn how societal forces and their own experiences mold their daily decisions and perceptions.” 

I’m glad my tax dollars are now going to go toward remedying this atrocity. Because, you know, how on earth can we gather reliable intelligence if we don’t have enough transgendered or gay spies? They will be particularly useful in our efforts to infiltrate ISIS, I’m sure.

UPDATE: Fixed broken link.

DID OBAMA REOPEN MIDDLE EASTERN SLAVE MARKETS BY EXECUTIVE ORDER? “Wednesday, President Obama publicly announced that he is issuing an executive order that the U.S. government will no longer criminally prosecute families of American hostages for paying ransom. In so doing, he created a public market for the selling of American citizens—and raised the price on their heads considerably.”

Read the whole thing.

DON’T TURN AROUND. DER KOMMISSAR’S IN TOWN. Feds: Celebrate the Fourth By Reciting Obamacare Talking Points to Your Family.

RACISM IN OBAMA’S AMERICA: Hillary Clinton Donor Calls Prominent African-American Legal Scholar a ‘Clown in Blackface’ — Will she condemn? I think that all Democratic candidates should be asked about this. And President Obama, too!


His message touts his military experience as a company commander in Vietnam and as an assistant secretary of defense and secretary of the Navy.

He also directly takes on Clinton’s record by arguing he would not have voted for the Iraq War if he had been a senator at the time and would not have used military force in Libya during the Arab Spring.

Clinton voted to authorize that war, a decision she’s since said was a mistake, and she played in integral role in the Obama administration’s support of Libyan rebels to oust Muammar Gaddafi.

Yeah, that hasn’t gone very well.

OBAMA VISITS WISCONSIN, SMEARS WALKER: President Obama is visiting the Badger State today, greeted at the airport by Gov. Scott Walker. Despite Walker’s hospitality, it didn’t take long for the Campaigner-in-Chief to take the lame duck presidential gloves off and attack Walker and the GOP policies he’s implemented:

He said neighboring Minnesota had raised the minimum wage, implemented all-day kindergarten and made it easier to go to college while raising taxes on the top two percent. Obama said the results are that Minnesota has a lower unemployment rate and $9,000 higher median income than its neighbor.

Obama said all of the Republicans running — he joked that he’s lost track of how many and suggested they could start their own Hunger Games (video) — all have the same governing agenda of giving breaks to the rich while everyone else is on their own. That’s the same policies, Obama said, that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

He even joked that the Republicans were like having a crazy Uncle Harry — somebody you love but “you don’t want to put in charge.”

And he said that the fight is also about values.

“Being an American is not about taking as much as you can from your neighbor before they take as much as they can from you,” he said. “We are not a bunch of individuals out here on our own. We are a community, we are family. We are all in this together.”

Ah yes, it’s always heartwarming to hear the Dear Leader President speak of communist communitarian values that are so deeply antithetical to the individualist values upon which this country is based. And of course it’s much better, for a republic such as ours, to have only one candidate for President rather than a choice. Who wants a choice anyway–that’s so Hunger Games and individualistic, to have a bunch of competitors vying for the nomination.  As for a “crazy Uncle Harry,” let’s just say that “crazy Uncle Joe,” even crazier “Uncle Bernie,” and the pathological liar-cat lady “Aunt Hillary” aren’t individuals I would want to have the metaphorical keys to the nuclear arsenal, either.

RELATED: Scott Walker’s retort: Welcome to Wisconsin, Mr. President.


She even once claimed that she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary after he became the first man to climb Mount Everest. But that didn’t happen until five years after she was born.

More recently she claimed she’d turned over all her job-related e-mails from her days as Secretary of State. But more work-related e-mails have since turned up that the State Department didn’t have. And she claimed the notorious Sidney Blumenthal was just an old friend with whom she kept in touch and who sent her unsolicited e-mails. Turns out as we’ve heard she was reaching out to him in the dark of night during the first year of the Obama administration and her e-mails make clear she welcomed and encouraged his advice. With such a record of mendacity, and there are numerous other examples, one thing is clear, it’s a good thing for Hillary Clinton that she’s not a Republican.


She even on…’ »

A FIELD GUIDE TO ACELA REPUBLICANS, from Rick Wilson at the Federalist, who among other things correctly notes that “The Media Loves Acela Republicans Until It Hates Them:”

Acela Republicans are creatures of the media, from beginning to end. Acela Republicans are always the smartest, tallest, most articulate, most handsome fellows in the room. Just ask the people at The New York Times or MSNBC or The Washington Post, who have adopted them like exotic pets. “Oh, look,” they coo, “This one doesn’t bite or have any of those ugly, primitive conservative policies. We shall feed it, caress it and keep it for our own.”

Acela Republicans are shocked by the media’s betrayal. After years of media love and attention, John McCain found himself beset at every turn in 2008, unable to comprehend why his good friends in the press were suddenly busy destroying him at Barack Obama’s behest. “But I’m always on the Sunday shows, and this Obama fellow doesn’t even know Tammy Haddad.” Jon Huntsman, famously feted as the smart, green, modern Republican, was suddenly an also-ran practically the minute he touched down from China. Reasonable Mitt Romney? He killed a woman, remember?

Acela Republicans never get invited to the prom in the general election. No matter how perfectly reasonable Acela Republicans think they’ve been, the Democratic candidate could eat a live baby on national television, proclaim fealty to Cthulhu, and threaten to incinerate Topeka with cleansing nuclear flame and the media will still be in his camp at the end. No matter how corrupt (Clinton), crazy (Sanders), commie (Warren) the Democrat is, they’re getting all the media love in the end

Do I even need to add, read the whole thing? Read the whole thing.™

YOUR OBAMACARE!!! FAIL OF THE DAY: Is it possible to spend $137,000,000 to air a Richard Simmons video to promote Obamacare?

Yes. We. Can.

“Sacramento spent $137,000,000 — that’s right: nine figures — to produce and market this… thing,” Steve Green writes. “By way of comparison, last year’s Johnny Depp flop, Transcendence, had a production and marketing budget of ‘only’ $100,000,000.”

UPDATE: OK, Cal is reporting that Sacramento only fleeced the taxpayers for a $1.37 million Richard Simmons video. But still, that’s $1.37 million more than the state should have spent hiring him as a socialized medicine shill.


Harry Alford, the president and chief executive officer of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, believes the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, designed to stop coal-fired power plants from spewing carbon into the atmosphere, will do nothing but hurt blacks and Hispanics.

And for the life of him, Alford can’t figure out why the Obama administration doesn’t realize this. Or maybe, Alford said, they have.

“EPA’s apparent indifference to the plight of low-income and minority households is inexcusable,” said Alford. “We should pursue policies that expand opportunity for the less fortunate, not ones that further disadvantage them. The only solution is for EPA to withdraw its rule.”

Why would either the EPA or low-income and minority households who keep monolithically voting against their own best interests start to change now?

As for as the latter group, where else would they go?

OKLAHOMA SUES TO BLOCK OBAMA’S CLEAN POWER PLAN: Oklahoma filed a lawsuit yesterday afternoon in the Northern District of Oklahoma, challenging the EPA’s overreaching “Clean Power Plan,” a unilateral, executive branch global warming climate change transformation, ostensibly grounded in the Clean Air Act, that will require an unachievable 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from coal-fired plants and threaten the reliability and affordability of electricity:

But in the complaint filed Wednesday, [Oklahoma Attorney General Scott] Pruitt argues that the court has authority because Oklahoma is already experiencing the effects of the EPA’s rule, and there is nothing that could happen, short of judicial intervention, that could stop it.

“Unless this Court intervenes, Oklahoma will have no meaningful or adequate remedy to enforce the limitations that the Clean Air Act and the Constitution place on the authority of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and its Administrator and to avoid injury to its sovereign, quasi-sovereign, fiscal, and economic interests,” Pruitt wrote in his complaint.

The state also asks the court for a preliminary injunction to immediately stop the EPA from moving forward on the rule while the court proceedings go on.

Pruitt, a Republican, has been one of the most vocal opponents of President Obama’s EPA in general and the climate rule specifically.

He told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in May that “the EPA, under this administration, treats states like a vessel of federal will. The EPA believes the states exist to implement the policies the administration sees fit, regardless of whether laws like the Clean Air Act permit such action.”

The EPA has repeatedly defended the regulation has a legal and necessary exercise of its authority under the Clean Air Act.

The lawsuit presents some intriguing constitutional claims, asserting that the EPA’s proposal coerces and commandeers the States, and thus violates the principle of federalism. Liberal constitutional Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe has made similar constitutional assertions, a position for which Tribe has been criticized by fellow leftists for “selling out” because he has agreed to represent an energy company, Peabody Energy, in other legal challenges against the EPA’s plan. That lawsuit was dismissed recently by the D.C. Circuit because it did not have jurisdiction to issue a writ of prohibition because the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is not yet a “final” rule. The Oklahoma lawsuit, by contrast, does not request a writ of prohibition, instead relying on a series of cases allowing challenges to ultra vires, pre-final agency action. In the name of full disclosure, I am one of the lawyers working on behalf of Oklahoma.

THAT’S NICE. TURNING TO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM WOULD BE BETTER. Ashe Schow: Colleges turning to retired judges to adjudicate campus sexual assault.

Colleges and universities are increasingly looking to outside judges to help adjudicate accusations of campus sexual assault.

Under pressure from the Obama administration, schools in recent years have been adjudicating accusations of sexual assault. The results have been a disaster.

First, accusers insisted that the process was rigged against them, and that facing the accused was too traumatic. So the Department of Education mandated the “preponderance of evidence” standard and “strongly discouraged” schools from allowing cross-examination. It also provided no due process rights to accused students.

This, along with threats of lost funding, encouraged schools to expel more accused students based on nothing more than accusations. Accused and expelled students began fighting back. But they didn’t get the support and media attention accusers enjoyed.

Still, schools have begun to realize that severely altering a student’s future — by labeling him a “rapist” for life and hampering his future potential earnings — might need more than a “better safe than sorry” conclusion reached without due process.

“But that’s beginning to change at some colleges, where outside judges — typically retired state judges — are being hired to oversee hearings,” wrote Inside Higher Ed’s Jake New. “The hearings are still held under college rules, not state rules for courts.”

I welcome any attempt to make the hearings and investigations more fair. Outside adjudicators are a good start, as they are less likely to think of only the college’s interest. Given the current culture surrounding sexual assault, it’s in a college’s best interest to expel regardless of the evidence. Although, if the outside adjudicators are being paid by the university, that could compromise their integrity.

Of course, those who prefer to expel students based solely on the unsworn word of an accuser oppose outside adjudicators. Their main concern seems to be that a process that is too much like the criminal justice system (i.e., too fair and thorough) won’t result in more expulsions.

My advice to male students: Instead of being expelled, just don’t enroll.

THAT’S NO STRATEGY. THAT’S A LIST. ”Much of what passes for ‘big picture’ thinking in the White House is purely reactionary.”

I’M BEGINNING TO THINK THAT OBAMA DOESN’T REALLY MIND ISIS AT ALL: US blocks attempts by Arab allies to fly heavy weapons directly to Kurds to fight Islamic State. “The US has also infuriated its allies, particularly Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states, by what they perceive to be a lack of clear purpose and vacillation in how they conduct the bombing campaign. Other members of the coalition say they have identified clear Isil targets but then been blocked by US veto from firing at them.”


With regard to the abusive Chisholm investigation, the GOP isn’t exactly powerless. It controls all three branches of Wisconsin government.

Where is the investigation by the legislature? Subpoenas to all of the people on Chisolm’s team? Televised hearings!

The GOP could hit back really really hard if it wanted to.

At the end of the day, power belongs to those with the guts to use it. Obama completely gets this.

The GOP needs to wise up.

I agree. Punch back twice as hard.

SHE SPEAKS THE TRUTH:  Katie Pavlich: America is not racist.

It’s interesting how those on the left, in this case Obama and Heschel, make broad, general statements about how far we have to go on race issues but don’t give specifics about what’s left to fix. What do white churches have to do with the Charleston killer? They’ve offered support and unity. Is that something they should hang their heads over? The answer is no. And despite what Obama says, racism is not passed along in DNA through the generations. If that were the case, America wouldn’t be the tolerant, multi-racial country it is today.

Yes, America, like the vast majority of the rest of the world, at one time participated in slavery. While the sin of slavery is not justified, it is important to acknowledge that the sin of slavery isn’t a uniquely American sin, but rather one of mankind throughout the course of history. Further, owning slaves is not a sin unique to white people; in fact, black Africans sold other blacks into slavery (and still do today). Slavery is uniquely human, but societies and countries that respect human dignity, like America, have stopped the horrifying practice.

We need more direct refutations of the “racism” accusation like this. Liberals/progressives talk incessantly about racism, yet there are spectacularly few examples of the phenomenon, so they pounce on every conceivable black-white interaction–think Ferguson and Baltimore–even if the facts don’t support their immoral, divisive accusations.

The Charleston shootings have given race-baiters an excuse to ramp up their rhetoric and double down on their strategy of divisiveness. Too bad the good folks in Charleston keep disappointing the progressive/liberal racism promoters with their acts of good faith, unity and charity. One can almost feel the race-baiters’ frustration that a random evil act didn’t spark race riots. But hey, they are at least getting traction on their longstanding agenda to erase all memory of Confederate soldiers and, of course, the Confederate flag.



Which is just the way the DNC-MSM wants it — just ask this woman, or Tom Brokaw and Charlie Rose.

FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED: Survey says: 35 percent of Americans would expatriate. A country that has generous social benefits, with high taxes and many political/regulatory barriers to success, will attract the unproductive and chase away the productive. End result: “Bad luck.”

UPDATE: Poll: Obama Millennials Want to Leave the America They Created.

REASON TV ON THE SECRET SCAM OF STREETCARS: How to Sell a 100-Year-Old Technology as the Future of Transportation:

“Meet the Thighmaster of urban public policy: streetcars,” proffers Reason TV’s Rob Montz, who, other than borrowing one of Frank Gorshin’s Riddler suits from the old Batman TV series, delivers a spot-on indictment of the graft and Barack to the Future mentality that, as he notes, causes “municipal politicians across the country” to convince themselves “that this costly, clunky hardware can revitalize their flabby downtown economies.”

Or as a CATO report described such thinking a few years ago, “The Desire Named Streetcar.”

On Twitter today, Iowahawk, who spotted the video, quips:

But that’s really an insult to ’93 Hondas, which as Montz notes, have far more maneuverability than a giant streetcar — as do taxis and municipal buses — but there’s not as much room for graft, given that the infrastructure for these vehicles doesn’t need to be built from scratch. And note who makes several prominent appearances pimping for more streetcars: Obama’s former transportation secretary, RINO Ray LaHood, the father of Darin LaHood who is running for Congress in the Illinois seat vacated by disgraced former Rep. Aaron Schock. Darin isn’t responsible for his father’s disasters, but still, why take a chance? Vote Mike Flynn for Congress.

MICKEY KAUS SAYS OBAMA’S OVERTIME MOVE IS A SCAM: “Isn’t that kind of pathetic? Obama’s increase (in the upper salary threshold covered by the overtime rule) may boost the pay of “nearly” 5 million workers. There are about 122 million workers in the U.S. economy — so according to my calculator the change will affect 4% of them. If that’s the biggest action Obama can take to help the middle class, it shows the severe limitations of his vaunted “pen and phone” strategy, no?” It’s not about actually helping. It’s about looking as if he’s helping to low information voters.

OBAMA: “IT’S BEEN A GOOD FEW DAYS FOR AMERICA“: President Obama takes to the Huffington Post to praise the Supreme Court for rewriting the laws and our Constitution, and to push his new agenda for higher wages:

This week, I’ll head to Wisconsin to discuss my plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year. That’s good for workers who want fair pay, and it’s good for business owners who are already paying their employees what they deserve — since those who are doing right by their employees are undercut by competitors who aren’t.

That’s how America should do business. In this country, a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. That’s at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America.

Notice that the President does not articulate any arguments for growing the economy or ensuring that anyone has a job to begin with. It’s all so very European of him– high wages, high unemployment, high government unemployment benefits.  How depressing.

JIMMY CARTER WORKS ON HIS LEGACY OF “NO LONGER WORST PRESIDENT”: Jimmy Carter: Obama’s Foreign Policy Accomplishments ‘Minimal’.

OBAMA’S ‘BEST WEEK EVER’ AND THE COMING BACKLASH, from Noah Rothman at Commentary:

If history is any guide, change is coming. Dispirited conservatives will balk at the notion that Republicans can serve as change agents, but the out-party is the most frequent beneficiary of this voter sentiment. For progressives, the irrefutable moral justification of their cause renders any setback to its agenda a deviation from the norm, but this is self-flattery. American political history and the inherent dynamics of republican politics suggests that voters will soon correct for the excesses of the progressive left that it once empowered. When it happens, it will probably come as a shock to all those progressives who are forever citing the long march of history to justify their peculiar policy preferences.

It’s entirely possible that the GOP could win the White House in 2016, but as far as the long march of history, while elements of the New Deal and the Great Society have been updated over the years (such as welfare reform), how much of Big Government has actually ever been rolled back?  Yesterday’s Fox Butterfield-esque original New York Times headline on the Greek fiscal debacle, “Trillions Spent, but Crises Like Greece’s Persist,” could apply equally well to own bloated socialist leviathan.

THOMAS SOWELL: Supreme Court disasters.

Many people are looking at the recent Supreme Court decisions about ObamaCare and same-sex marriage in terms of whether they think these are good or bad policies. That is certainly a legitimate concern, for both those who favor those policies and those who oppose them.

But there is a deeper and more long-lasting impact of these decisions that raise the question whether we are still living in America, where “we the people” are supposed to decide what kind of society we want, not have our betters impose their notions on us. . . .

When any branch of government can exercise powers not authorized by either statutes or the Constitution, “we the people” are no longer free citizens but subjects, and our “public servants” are really our public masters. And America is no longer America. The freedom for which whole generations of Americans have fought and died is gradually but increasingly being taken away from us with smooth and slippery words.

This decision makes next year’s choice of the next President of the United States more crucial than ever, because with that office goes the power to nominate justices of the Supreme Court. Democrats have consistently nominated people who shared their social vision and imposed their policy preferences, too often in disregard of the Constitution.

Republicans have complained about it but, when the power of judicial appointment was in the hands of Republican presidents, they have too often appointed justices who participated in the dismantling of the Constitution — and usually for the kinds of social policies preferred by Democrats. . . .

Can the Republicans — or the country — afford to put another mushy moderate in the White House, who can appoint more mushy moderates to the Supreme Court?

Most emphatically, no.

WINNER TAKE WHAT? “Ever wonder why no interesting center-left Democrats aren’t challenging an increasingly vulnerable Hillary Clinton? There aren’t any. Nobody. No one,” Noemie Emery writes in the Washington Examiner:

For several cycles, the GOP starting gates will be filled with fresh horses, while the Democrats have, at least for the moment, a collection of aging and battle-worn nags.

Ever wonder why no interesting center-left Democrats aren’t challenging an increasingly vulnerable Hillary Clinton? There aren’t any. Nobody. No one.

As Britain and France were bled white by their World War I battles, the Democrats were drained by a series of midterm debacles in which those in swing states were punished by voters, and all but the bluest of blue were cut down. On the altar of healthcare, Democrats sacrificed the fruit of two cycles of party-expansion, the picking of people who could win in red states and red districts, to bolster the party’s breadth and appeal.

Now, these Democrats were told by liberal bloggers that it was their duty to lay down their political lives for this unpopular measure that most of their voters despised. As a result, Clinton’s most viable challengers are a 75-year-old socialist from deep-blue Vermont, and the colorless former governor of very blue Maryland, who was so weak he could not help to elect his lieutenant governor, who lost to only the second Republican governor in a very long time. The Democrats’ bench is not merely weak, it is non-existent. And that is Obamacare’s work.

As Moe Lane adds in his post linking to Emery’s column, “I suspect that we have at least one last hurrah lurking down there in the crevices of the Grand Old Party, and that the folks over on the Other Side are telling themselves the exact same damned stories to boost their morale that I was telling myself in 2007. And we all know how that ended, huh?”

Still though, to borrow from one of the Insta-Professor’s recurring leitmotifs, this is not the time for the younger members of the right to embrace an overly arrogant or smugly self-assured pose.

CRUZ REMINDS YAHOO VIDEO BLOGGER KATIE COURIC THAT HILLARY CREATED ANTI-OBAMA BIRTHER MOVEMENT:The look on Couric’s smug face when he correctly reminded her that it was the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2008 that birthed the anti-Obama Birther movement, is priceless.”

THE ATLANTIC’S JEFFREY GOLDBERG interviews former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. They argue. A lot. Mostly about Barack Obama. Goldberg says the transcript reads like two Jews yelling at each other on a park bench in Brooklyn, and it does.

BULLETIN TO GOP: WAKE UP, LITTLE SUZY!, shouts Roger Simon, who adds, “If you’re a social conservative and dedicated to traditional marriage, time to go back to the place it’s really decided.  And that’s not the Supreme Court of the Congress or the state house, but in our homes, churches, synagogues and, if you can dare to go near them, mosques:”

Meanwhile, in the real world, we have  GIGANTIC problems.  Obama is about to hand nuclear weapons to the Iranians who are well on their way to building ICBMs that can reach Chicago, if they haven’t already.  A nuclear-armed Iran is ultimately more dangerous than the Soviet Union because some of its leaders, at least, believe in a fanatical religious system that has no fear of armageddon.  Good-bye mutually assured destructions.

Read the whole thing.

HOW TO GET RICH QUICK VIA TAXPAYERS! A bunch of politicos got in on the ground floor of Obamacare’s $2 billion co-ops in 2011. Today, they are filthy rich cauz nobody’s been watching. Except Richard Pollock of the Daily Caller News Foundation. Tomorrow’s second part will make you even madder. I know, I’m his editor!

YEP, GOVERNMENT CENTRALIZATION LEADS TO DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT: John Fund on how the latest Greek banking crisis exemplifies the EU’s persistent democratic deficit:

But for all the perfidy of the Greek government, it is, at least in its moment of crisis, returning to the roots of the democratic ideal: that it is the people, not experts or elites or aristocrats, who should have the ultimate say on those matters that must ultimately be settled politically. Here’s hoping the Greeks wake up their fellow Europeans to the fact that if they want to ensure a prosperous and free Europe for their children, politics is too important to be left to non-transparent Eurocrats.

Yep–the EU is a progressive’s dream: lots of elitist bureaucracy by “experts,” with little opportunity for republican or democratic participation by the unwashed masses. It’s a phenomenon that sounds increasingly familiar to American ears in the Obama era.

GENTLEMEN, YOU CAN’T REPORT HERE, THIS IS A PRESS BRIEFING! State Dept threatens to arrest Washington Free Beacon reporter for covering Iran talks:

VIENNA—Officials with the Department of State threatened to call security Monday on a Washington Free Beacon reporter who was attempting to report on a briefing held by senior Obama administration figures in Vienna on the eve of an expected nuclear agreement with Iran.

Two State Department officials booted the Free Beacon from a room where Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, was talking to reporters, despite the Free Beacon’s being credentialed by the Austrian government for the ongoing Iranian nuclear talks.

Western observers present in Vienna for the talks linked the State Department’s behavior to jitters over media coverage revealing a still growing list of concessions being made to Iran by the Obama administration.

Melissa Turley, a State Department official, approached a Free Beacon reporter and demanded that he leave the room.

“You’re not registered with the U.S. press,” Turley said after being informed that the Free Beacon was attending the event.

“You have a press pass from the [European Union], not from me,” Turley said, after being informed that the Free Beacon was officially credentialed to cover the event.

Turley and her colleagues then threatened the reporter, instructing him to leave the room or be dealt with by “security.”

As even the New York Times (via Democrat true believer Albert Hunt) noted last year, “Under Obama, a Chill on Press Freedom.”  The Times’ James Risen has dubbed Mr. Obama the “greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation.”

“LEADING ON RACE: COMMUNITIES, NOT ELITES,” Salena Zito writes at the Pittsburgh Tribune:

In a week that began with a white woman masquerading as black, the ensuing silliness of talk about being “transracial,” and the president unnecessarily invoking the mother of all racial epithets, it was the American people who showed how to lead on race.

In a show of profound unity and forgiveness, Charleston residents responded not with the lowest common denominator of social-media commentary or violent anger, but with promise.

More than 15,000 of them, of every size and color, put Southern solidarity into perspective by gathering on both sides of the city’s Ravenel Bridge. They met in the middle; they wept, smiled, laughed, hugged, turned strangers into friends. Homemade signs with messages of outreach, love and solidarity flapped in the wind, as prayers and hymns filled the air.

There wasn’t a major network or cable news channel, only local TV crews, rolling cameras to record America doing what it does best — opening its heart; the networks always seem to be on hand for looting or rioting. Yet, for the most part, Charleston’s participants didn’t care about being largely ignored, because that moment on the bridge was about them, about their community and, above all, about how to lead.

Their response, their unity, showed leadership. The president, dropping the “N-word” to an entertainment podcast, reeked of showmanship and his signature divisiveness.

What will linger in most minds, long after the history books are closed, is how a community impacted by the deaths of nine innocent people reacted — not a politician.

That sounds awfully selfish to me — if communities act calmly and humane, and refuse to self-detonate, what will CNN and MSNBC do for their nightly riot porn? How will Obama and Hillary gin up the voters?

THE OPM HACK AND OBAMA’S POLITICIZATION OF THE FEDERAL BUREAUCRACY: Jim Geraghty writes at National Review Online that “it’s clear that hackers — believed to be tied to the Chinese government – stole files from the Office of Personnel Management that amount to a giant ‘how to blackmail anyone in the federal government’ manual. This was America’s ‘cyber 9/11,’ exposing an administration full of true believers in the expansion of government who can’t handle the most basic tasks of secret-keeping.”

Including Katherine Archuleta, who prior to becoming OPM’s head, “had no background in the kind of work the agency does,”  Geraghty adds. But she certainly was a loyal Democrat foot soldier, which is far more important than actual competence in the Clinton and Obama administrations:

Before becoming the head of OPM, Katherine Archuleta had no background in the kind of work the agency does. Archuleta, a lawyer and former Clinton administration official, was national political director for President Obama’s reelection campaign. She served as the chief of staff to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solís, and was the City of Denver’s lead planner for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Like the president, she has roots in “community organizing”: She co-founded the Latina Initiative, a Colorado organization aimed at getting more Hispanic voters involved in politics. (In 2011, the Latina Initiative suspended its operations, citing insufficient funding.) Nothing in this record suggests any expertise in the vitally important human resources and record-keeping functions OPM is supposed to serve.

Before the hack, Archuleta’s primary goals at OPM appeared to be increasing the diversity of the federal workforce and implementing Obamacare’s changes to federal workers’ health-insurance options.

Her July 2013 confirmation hearing was brief and relatively controversy-free. Senator Mark Udall, (D., Colo.), introduced her and declared, “she has an impressive range of accomplishments that make her completely, totally well-qualified to be director of OPM.”

Archuleta mentioned her determination to “build on OPM’s health care experience” including “implementing its provisions of the Affordable Care Act.” She did say she would “prioritize the improvement of the agency’s Information Technology systems” and pledge to create the position of Chief Technology Officer, but that came in the context of a discussion on OPM’s difficulty in moving to a digital system for handling retirement services for federal workers. The topic of cyber security only came up during a brief discussion of whether OPM had sufficiently skilled personnel in that area.

“When news broke of the first of those breaches, in early 2014, Archuleta went so far as to insist in public that there was nothing that needed fixing,” Geraghty writes, noting that “Archuleta was quick to downplay the breach, declaring in a July 21, 2014 interview with Washington’s ABC affiliate that, ‘We did not have a breach in security. There was no information that was lost. We were confident as we worked through this that we would be able to protect the data.’”

There is no iceberg; the ship is perfectly fine; you can resume your dining and dancing without fear. Happy sailing and enjoy the rest of your evening!

THE LEFT-RIGHT GAP IN LANGUAGE: Liberals and conservatives use much different sets of words, according to an extensive textual analysis of chat rooms, news websites and State of the Union speeches. The analysis, published in the current Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, draws on a psychological distinction between the basic needs for “affiliation” and “power.” Liberals manifest their yearning for social connectedness by using words like carehelpkindneighbor and volunteer more often than conservatives do.  Conservatives more frequently use power words like boss, coerce, hero, strong and victory. 

The team of German and American researchers say this is the first study to reveal this difference. And, as usual in social science, the difference is presented in a way that looks bad for conservatives. Citing previous research, the authors write:

These results, although novel, seem intuitive in capturing a fundamental difference by political ideology.
For example, the policies more greatly favored by liberals include social welfare programs and affirmative action, both of which appear affiliation-oriented from a broader perspective. By contrast, the policies more greatly favored by conservatives include increased defense spending and the death penalty, both of which are consistent with a desire to be powerful. Indeed, conservatives are often more invested in the trappings of power such as wealth and status.

Ah, those good-hearted liberals, uninterested in status and money. (The Obamas and their fellow liberals vacation on Martha’s Vineyard only because the beaches are so pretty.) And those deadly power-crazed conservatives, reluctant to even utter nice words like volunteer. (Never mind the studies showing that conservatives actually do more volunteer work than liberals do.)

But here’s another way to look at the results. Liberals talk about politics in language that appeals to our primal socialist instincts, developed on the savanna when we belonged to small clans of hunter-gatherers who really did look out for their kin. Conservatives discuss politics in language that reflects modern reality: socialism doesn’t work in groups larger than a clan, because people do not behave selflessly when they belong to a large group of unrelated strangers. Liberals believe in what the economist Daniel Klein calls “The People’s Romance,” but that fallacy has been exposed by Adam Smith, de Toqueville and Darth Vader, among others.

When liberals say that “government is the word we give to the things we choose to do together,” they score high on affiliation, and some of them may even believe government is one big happy collaboration among equals. But conservatives know that philosophy just means giving one small group of people in the capital more power to boss and coerce the rest of us.


Obama himself targeted the American flag in October 2007, bizarrely, as his presidential campaign gained steam. He ostentatiously stopped wearing a U.S. flag pin in his lapel, dissenting from his fellow legislators, many of whom had begun wearing the pin in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

The flag pin, he explained to ABC News, had become “a substitute for true patriotism,” which he defined as “speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security.”

That stance–which implied that Obama’s colleagues were less patriotic than he–became a major flashpoint over the next few months.

A voter at a Democratic primary debate in April 2008 asked Obama why he did not wear a flag pin. Obama flat-out lied in response: “I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins.” He argued that it was more important to speak out against the Iraq War, and about “economic fairness,” than it was to wear the flag on his suit jacket.

Voters were not convinced. Some even handed him flag pins to wear.

Finally, he gave in. By May 2008, he quietly pulled off what Time called a “flag pin flip-flop”:

On Tuesday, he was sans pin on the Senate floor, but then later donned it while speaking to working-class voters in Missouri during the evening. “I haven’t been making such a big deal about it. Others have. Sometimes I wear it, sometimes I don’t,” Obama said.

Obama fought the American flag, and the American flag won.

But there should be no doubt that Obama, and his ideological kin, would avoid the U.S. flag if they could, no matter how much they protest otherwise. Their hostility to American exceptionalism is deep.

Read the whole thing.

JEB BUSH DIGS A DEEPER HOLE ON JUDGES. In responding to criticism of his brother’s selection of John Roberts to be Chief Justice, Jeb Bush revealed what he looked for in choosing judges as governor. Turns out it is exactly the sort of judicial conservatism that gave us our current problem with the Supreme Court:

“When I was governor, we tried to find people with a proven record of judicial restraint, and people that were committed to enforcing the constitutional limits on government authority. In essence, what I’m saying is I think we need to have people that have not just theoretically, but have had a proven record of not legislating from the bench.”

He then doubled down:

“All justices disappoint their presidents some of the time but Souter was like a 90 percent swing and miss,” Hewitt said. “How do you avoid Souters?”
“You focus on people to be Supreme Court justices who have a proven record of judicial restraint,” Bush answered.

This is exactly the problem with the judicial philosophy promoted by many conservatives for the past 30 years: “judicial restraint” in “enforcing constitutional limits on government authority” leads to NFIB v. Sebelius.  In fairness, that is not what Bush actually said but, as George Will recently observed, that is what this judicial philosophy produces in practice.

Thoughtful conservatives today will insist that, properly defined, “judicial restraint” includes enforcing constitutional limits, and the term could be defined that way.  But that is not the mentality of “restraint” as it was originally formulated by the Progressives and has been perpetuated by some conservatives. For years, “judicial restraint” has been primarily about not thwarting the will of “democratic majorities.” There are myriad doctrines to accomplish this. For example, you adopt a “presumption of constitutionality” that cannot be rebutted. Or find a “saving construction” of a statute to avoid finding it unconstitutional. Or you “defer” to administrative agencies’ interpretation of statutes. Or you make a statute “work” as the “legislature intended” (even if that means ignoring the plain or natural reading of its words).

Many good conservatives truly wanted Obamacare invalidated in NFIB because it was unconstitutional. And they then sincerely wanted it to be enforced according to its terms in King. But selecting judges with the judicial mindset of “judicial restraint” and “deference” to the majoritarian branches leads to the results we witnessed in NFIB and King. If conservatives persist in supporting presidents who select judges on this basis, they will persist in being disappointed.

I know, I know. What about Obergefell and gay marriage? Didn’t that result from a lack of “restraint”? No, if you don’t approve of Obergefell, it is because you do not agree with the constitutional rationale Justice Kennedy articulated for invalidating the state laws at issue, not because he was “unrestrained.” Winning Obergefell on the grounds urged by Chief Justice Roberts in his dissenting opinion also gives you NFIB and King. If you want to avoid the latter, then you should criticize the majority on the ground that Justice Thomas did in his dissent: that the majority misinterpreted the Due Process Clause, not that they were “unrestrained.” You will notice that Chief Justice Roberts did not join Justice Thomas’s dissent (though regrettably, Justices Thomas and Scalia joined his). The Chief Justice’s dissent was all about restraint and only secondarily about correctness. He cited Lochner v. New York 16 times because Lochner was supposedly about activism, rather than appropriate restraint. In contrast, Justice Thomas appealed to the original meaning of “the due process of law.” There is a big big difference between these two judicial mindsets.

So, if conservative Republicans want a different performance from the judiciary in the future, they must vet their presidential candidates to see whether they understand this point. Jeb Bush clearly does not. And I have personally heard Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina say much the same sort of thing about judges, showing that they do not understand this either–at least not yet. Only Rand Paul has been very clear about the duty of judges to invalidate unconstitutional law without restraint or deference.

I haven’t heard yet what other candidates think about this, but everyone should be listening closely. If you hear catch phrases like “judicial restraint,” “deferring” to “the democratic branches,” or “not legislating from the bench,” then you know this candidate intends to repeat the mistakes of past Republican presidents.

Conservatives must learn from the recent past what not to look for in a justice.

Cross posted on The Volokh Conspiracy.

IS THIS WEEK THE RIGHT’S VALLEY FORGE? From Rick Moran at the PJ Tatler:

Even the low point of the Revolutionary War turned into a reason for optimism. We all know the story of Valley Forge, the worst winter of the war, where thousands perished of the cold, disease and hunger. But in the midst of the suffering, there arrived a somewhat comical Prussian officer named Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, who presented himself as a general but really held the rank equal to captain in the Prussian army.

Von Steuben set about training the American army in the European tradition — a deficiency that had prevented the Continental army from engaging in a stand up fight with the redcoats. In this, he was successful beyond anyone’s dreams — including Washington’s. The regulation drill instilled a sense of pride and professionalism in the notoriously individualistic American soldier and was evident at the next big engagement of the war, the Battle of Monmouth. After initial setbacks, the Americans rallied and nearly won the day.

Conservatives certainly don’t need a pep talk from anyone. But recognizing the situation  and dealing with the consequences rationally is far better than giving into despair.  To believe that constitutional government is lost or the rule of law overthrown isn’t logical. Our Constitution has withstood a lot more than anything that John Roberts and Barack Obama can throw at it. It may be a little tattered and frayed around the edges. It may be disrespected and ignored in some cases. But the structures that the Founders built and that have stood the test of 227 years are still sound and ready to be redeemed.

We wouldn’t be an exceptional country if we weren’t capable of reinventing ourselves as often as we have in the past. The present will become past soon enough and a reordering of history is not out of the question. It may not mean that Obamacare will go away or gay marriage declared illegal again. That is highly unlikely. But it may be more realistic to believe that we can return to the path laid out by our Founders in the Constitution that the Supreme Court has so cavalierly wandered away from.

Read the whole thing.

YEAH, SURE, WHAT COULD GO WRONG?: Obama administration to release former bin Laden bodyguard from Gitmo.

Abdul Rahman Shalabi, 39, has been cleared by the Periodic Review Board to return to Saudi Arabia after a nine-year hunger strike protesting his confinement, The Associated Press reported.

The board, which was set up by the Obama administration in 2011, “acknowledges the detainee’s past terrorist-related activities,” but will send him to a Saudi rehabilitation program for Islamic radicals anyway, AP reported.

The al Qaeda associate’s lawyer said in April that his client, who was never officially charged, has been force-fed through a nasogastric tube for nine years.

Being fed through a nasogastric tube for nine years? Good thing he’s not some radical or anything. And sending a former OBL bodyguard who is so nutty that he’s refused food for nine years to a “Saudi rehabilitation program for Islamic radicals” sounds like a reasonable move by the President. I mean, it’s not like the Saudis are radical or anything–I’m sure they’ll have a terrific twelve-step rehab program — a Terrorists Anonymous or something.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

EHUD BARAK: ‘WE COULD DEFEAT ISIS IN TWO DAYS:’ “So could Barack Obama, if he wanted to,” Michael Walsh writes.

Nahh, he’d much rather fight Congress that ISIS.

RELATED: Dozens Dead in Hotel Terror Attack in Tunisia.

GEORGE WILL: “Thursday’s decision demonstrates how easily, indeed inevitably, judicial deference becomes judicial dereliction, with anticonstitutional consequences:

Conservatives are dismayed about the Supreme Court’s complicity in rewriting the Affordable Care Act — its ratification of the IRS’s disregard of the statute’s plain and purposeful language. But they have contributed to this outcome. Their decades of populist praise of judicial deference to the political branches has borne this sour fruit….

Read the whole thing

YUVAL LEVIN: King v. Burwell and the Law:

Replacing this law with a market-based reform remains as crucial as ever, and should be (and very likely will be) a very high priority for the next Republican presidential nominee. This case accelerated some of the relevant work and internal debates on that front on the Right, but, given how it has been decided, it doesn’t seem likely to change the basic dynamics of the health-care debate looking toward 2016.

But this decision will be more significant than I would have expected a decision for the government to be because of the argument offered up by the Chief Justice. Roberts could have tried to limit the effects of this decision by sticking to a set of fundamentally textual arguments about the meaning of the term “established by the state” in the context of the statute as a whole. The decision does offer such arguments, and Justice Roberts does what he can to minimize their incoherence, to contend with the fact that the words in question seem to have a fairly straightforward meaning, and to offer some responses to Justice Scalia’s devastating critique of the majority’s textual reasoning in his dissent.

But the Chief Justice didn’t leave it at that. He makes a much broader argument about the relationship between the vague, broadly stated aims and purposes of legislators and the role of judges interpreting the meaning of the particular laws those legislators then write. Roberts presses this point most firmly at the end of his decision, writing: “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

In effect, this is a version of the president’s argument: Obamacare is not so much a particular law as an overarching desire “to improve health insurance markets” and so if at all possible it should be taken to mean whatever one believes would be involved in doing so. From the beginning of its implementation of this statute, that Obama administration has treated the words of the statute as far less relevant than the general aim of doing what it thinks would improve health insurance markets, and today the Supreme Court essentially endorsed this way of understanding the law and suggested it is how judges should think about laws more generally too.

This understanding of the role of the judge threatens to undermine the rule of law in the American system of government, because it undermines the central place assigned to written law, and to the legislator, in that system. Ironically, I think the Chief Justice intends his decision to be deferential to the Congress—to keep the Court’s footprint small in this arena by not reading laws in ways that require large transformations in the forms of their administration. But in effect, this is more contempt than deference. While it would seem to suggest that the will of the legislator should guide the system, in fact it means that the word of the legislator does not govern the other branches. It implies that Congress should have just passed a law that said “health insurance markets shall be improved,” and then left it to the executive agencies to decide how they wish to do that while judges nod in approval.

Thus does a commitment to “judicial restraint” and “deference” in practice morph into “activism” and “legislating from the bench.” Instead, justices should be selected because of their demonstrated commitment to enforcing both the Constitution and statutes as they are written, whether this leads to upholding or invalidating a law or regulation.

JOSH BLACKMAN IN USA TODAY: Roberts rewrites Obamacare, again

PREFERENCE CASCADE: Republican Nikki Haley’s decision to call on the the South Carolina legislature “to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol grounds in Columbia,” James Taranto writes, “appears to have set off a ‘preference cascade,’ a concept the Tennessee legal scholar Glenn Reynolds discussed in a 2002 essay about the post-9/11 outpouring of patriotism, including displays of the American flag.”

In his latest “Best of the Web Today” column in the Wall Street Journal, Taranto quotes the following passage from our Insta-Host. (Registration at the Journal may be required, if my Google pass-through link doesn’t work):

This illustrates, in a mild way, the reason why totalitarian regimes collapse so suddenly. . . . Such regimes have little legitimacy, but they spend a lot of effort making sure that citizens don’t realize the extent to which their fellow-citizens dislike the regime. If the secret police and the censors are doing their job, 99% of the populace can hate the regime and be ready to revolt against it—but no revolt will occur because no one realizes that everyone else feels the same way.

This works until something breaks the spell, and the discontented realize that their feelings are widely shared, at which point the collapse of the regime may seem very sudden to outside observers—or even to the citizens themselves. Claims after the fact that many people who seemed like loyal apparatchiks really loathed the regime are often self-serving, of course. But they’re also often true: Even if one loathes the regime, few people have the force of will to stage one-man revolutions, and when preferences are sufficiently falsified, each dissident may feel that he or she is the only one, or at least part of a minority too small to make any difference.

Taranto adds:

After Tucson, the left tried to incite a moral panic over incendiary conservative speech. Even President Obama didn’t go along with that. After Newtown, they made a push for gun control. They won some victories in states where Democrats held legislative power—Colorado, Connecticut, New York—but lost elsewhere, including in Washington. The anti-Confederate preference cascade results not from the power of the left but from the newly revealed powerlessness of those in the South with an attachment to Confederate symbolism.

And it’s not clear that the politics here redound to the advantage of the left, or the Democratic Party. Southern states’ abandonment of Confederate symbolism seems likely to ease racial polarization, and a less polarized political climate may pose a challenge to Democratic efforts to encourage black voter turnout and keep Republicans on the moral defensive.

Read the whole thing.

WAIT UNTIL 2017? OBAMACARE LIKELY TO LIVE FOREVER NOW, Jonathan Tobin writes at Commentary. “Any attempt to overturn a law that would have already been in operation for years will be a perilous undertaking fraught with political danger for Republicans. Their presidential candidates will all pledge to throw it out in the coming campaign, but that will be easier said than done. The odds are that John Roberts has ensured that this legal monstrosity will live forever:”

By twisting itself into a pretzel in order to let the law stand, the court has allowed the Democrats to massively expand the power and the reach of government in ways that we are only just beginning to understand. The ObamaCare mandates create a dynamic that does more than offer cheap insurance to more people than would have otherwise been covered. It also allows the federal government to embark on a path in which it will be making far-reaching decisions about the future of American health care. It has already created rules that infringe on religious liberty and create distortions in the marketplace that will lead to massive increases in premiums while also losing jobs. While many, especially among the poor, are net winners, it has also created a large number of net losers who will never be compensated for the president’s broken promises about keeping their insurance and doctors if they liked them.

President Obama’s legacy as the man who pushed a health care law through Congress that few understood is now secure. Some Americans will benefit from this, but many others will be paying dearly for this unwieldy law. Most of all, future generations will recognize the court’s decisions as a crucial moment when our liberties were diminished. That is something for which all those involved in passing and preserving this disaster should be held accountable by history, if not the ballot box.

See also, postwar England. You remember England, right?

RELATED: “All of this was perfectly predictable, so much so that Ted Cruz made this very point in trying to justify the 2013 shutdown. Stop it before it starts, Cruz warned, or else you’ll never have the political will to stop it again. And he was right,” Allahpundit writes at Hot Air. “The only real chance we had to stop it was SCOTUS’s 2012 decision. Once Roberts voted with the liberals on that, the die was cast. Today’s ruling by comparison is a fart in the wind.”

JONATHAN ADLER: In King v. Burwell, Chief Justice Roberts rewrites the PPACA in order to save it (again)

Today’s decision in King v. Burwell is notable in many respects.  It is a significant legal victory for the Obama Administration, a victory for purposivist statutory interpretation, a loss for textualism, and a loss for an expansive Chevron doctrine.  In these latter respects, the decision is something of a double-loss for Justice Scalia (which may explain the last line of his opinion).  King also means that, in many respects, the PPACA is now the law that Chief Justice Roberts wrote as here, as in NFIB v. Sebelius, the Chief Justice has decided it is the Court’s job to determine what the statute means — even if this requires ignoring or rewriting text — if such is necessary in order to save it.  The umpire has decided it’s okay to pinch hit to ensure the right team wins. . . .

Just as the Chief Justice rewrote the individual mandate into a tax, and rewrote the Medicaid expansion to sever it from traditional Medicaid, the Chief Justice has rewritten Section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code to excise the repeated reference to exchanges “established by the State.”  Justice Scalia, in dissent, said Obamacare should now be known SCOTUSCare. Whatever we call it, the PPACA is now, in many respects, the law that Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

I know what Jonathan is going through today having to write about this case he did so much to design and advocate for the past couple years. I well remember what a kick-in-the-gut this feels like.

THE PRESSURE NOW SHIFTS FROM REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS TO THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TO SAVE US FROM OBAMACARE:  My take on King v. Burwell: However King was decided, the future of American health care was going to come down to 2016:

One consolation is that, were President Obama to have vetoed whatever the Republicans would have proposed, nothing good would happen until after the next election, which is where things now stand. Now Congressional Republicans cannot be bull-rushed into simply extending the subsidies to federal exchanges, while implicitly accepting the rest of the ACA, which is how things were shaping up. Now the voters will truly get at least one more crack at saving American health care from Obamacare. (And, with the health care cases in mind, candidates can debate the sort of justices they will nominate to the Court.)

Supporters of the law have already telegraphed that their next move is to end the political debate by urging a Pax Obamacare to which all Americans must acquiesce. Last week the president said, after “five years in, what we are talking about it is no longer just a law. It’s no longer just a theory. This isn’t even just about the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare . . . This is now part of the fabric of how we care for one another.”

While the ACA is certainly the “law of the land,” as it has been since its enactment, nothing in the Court’s decision today imparts any additional legitimacy on this law as a public policy meriting political acquiescence. To borrow from the president’s words, it is still “just a law.” So nothing in this decision should deter Republican presidential and congressional candidates in the 2016 election from continuing to press their campaign to “repeal and replace” Obamacare.

RELATED: 2016 GOP Presidential Hopefuls: Now It’s Up To Us To Repeal Obamacare. The candidates are impressively united on this issue.

Cross posted on The Volokh Conspiracy.

THE DNC-MSM’S DESPICABLE, RACIST ATTACK ON BOBBY JINDAL: “As a fun test, let’s take these quotes from the Post and TNR about Jindal, D’Souza, and Haley [and] replace their names with Obama’s (along with “left-wing” instead of “right-wing,” etc.). I’ll invite my liberal friends to tell me if any of these sentiments are remotely okay to voice.”

UPDATE: Question asked and answered:


WE’LL JUST HAVE TO PASS THIS NEW BILL TO FIND OUT HOW IT WORKS. A 1947 “Grin and Bear It” cartoon that seems eerily like Nancy Pelosi’s “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

The cartoon was described and misquoted a bit in today’s Obamacare case, but The Chief Justice can blame Felix Frankfurter for the misquote, and Felix can blame the Columbia Law Review editors. Didn’t they check the quotes meticulously back in 1947? Anyway, big thanks to Ben Zimmer at Language Log for putting that up today and to Tobias A. Dorsey at The Periwig Squiggle for digging that all up 5 years ago, when Pelosi uttered her most famous quote.

ADDED: “Grin and Bear It” — it brings on a flood of memories of reading the funny pages when I was a kid. I read everything on the page — “Nancy,” “Blondie,” “Gasoline Alley,” “Li’l Abner,” all of it, including “Grin and Bear It.” I didn’t want “Grin and Bear It” to be there, because it had no panels. It was just one picture, like a political cartoon, so why was it there in the company of Nancy and the rest, demanding that a little kid read it to complete the page? Complicated drawings of adults standing around, someone with a mouth open, indicating talking, but emitting no word bubble. There was just a caption, a caption full of words that meant something, but nothing that was funny from the perspective of kid eyes.

THE SUPREME COURT SAVES THE OBAMACARE SUBSIDIES. Here’s the PDF. The Chief Justice writes the opinion.

ADDED: I haven’t read the opinion yet (of course), but I’d just like to console Republicans with the observation that they are better off. If it had gone the other way, they’d have to scramble and do something legislatively — probably save the subsidies themselves. This way, they can stand on whatever principle they like. Also, in the run up to the 2016 presidential election, they’ll fare much better on the old question of who do you want appointing the next Supreme Court justice.

AND:  The Chief alludes to Nancy Pelosi’s “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” He quotes an old Frankfurter article — “Some Reflections on the Reading of Statutes, “47 Colum. L. Rev. 527, 545 (1947) — that described a cartoon “in which a senator tells his colleagues ‘I admit this new bill is too complicated to understand. We’ll just have to pass it to find out what it means.’”

That’s at the end of a paragraph where he blames Congress for “inartful drafting,” for writing “key parts of the Act behind closed doors, rather than through ‘the traditional legislative process,’” and for using the “reconcilation” process instead of leaving the bill open to debate and amendment.

HOUSE GOP REVOLT GROWS: House rebels warn of blowback for Boehner. Matt Fuller over at Roll Call reports on the intensifying revolt by House Freedom Caucus members against Speaker John Boehner:

The House Freedom Caucus has a secret it wants to share with Democrats.

“If the Democrats were to file a motion to vacate the chair and were to vote for that motion unanimously, there probably are 218 votes for it to succeed,” one member of the House Freedom Caucus told CQ Roll Call Tuesday night, as he exited an meeting in the basement of Tortilla Coast.

If that’s true, Democrats could certainly use a vote to remove SpeakerJohn A. Boehner as leverage in any number of upcoming battles: the Export-Import Bank, a highway bill, all sorts of spending measures. But absent any real talk from Democrats, the official response from Boehner’s communications director, Kevin Smith, was simply to dismiss CQ Roll Call’s reporter. . . .

The HFC looks ready for war, as does GOP leadership and more moderate Republicans who are sick and tired of conservatives voting against the team — and that could signal more retaliation to come from both sides.

Rep. Jim Jordan, the HFC chairman, and Raúl R. Labrador, one of the founding members of the secretive conservative group, had plenty to say to CQ Roll Call Wednesday about leadership’s recent moves against members who voted against the rule for Trade Promotion Authority.

“The reason this is happening is pretty clear,” Labrador said of Meadows’ demotion and the dismissal of other HFC members from the whip team. “The leadership is afraid.”

Labrador said GOP leaders sense their influence slipping, as 34 Republicans defied Boehner and others on the TPA rule. “And they know that that 34 is really not 34,” Labrador said. “They know that that number is really much larger.”

I admire these Freedom Caucus members for standing on their principles. It would be in the best interests of Speaker Boehner to find a way to welcome and work with these GOP members rather than treating them like the enemy. His inability to do this evinces a failure of leadership. Boehner seems more interested in working with President Obama these days than his own party.

RELATED: Boehner doles out new GOP punishment. According to The Hill, The latest victim of Boehner retribution is Ken Buck (R-CO), who “could be stripped of his title as GOP freshman class president on Thursday morning.”

Buck told reporters a freshman colleague approached him on Tuesday night and gave him a choice: Resign or get ousted by his peers. When Buck refused to step down, his colleague issued a threat: “Well, then we’re going to call a meeting.”

Later that evening, the chief of staff to Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.), the freshman liaison to leadership, sent out an email asking for freshman members to gather at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

In a brief interview, Walters declined to disclose exactly what the meeting would be about. But in a statement, she said, “a majority of the freshman class has expressed concerns I share regarding the leadership of our class president.”

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) joked that he’s “still got the record for being kicked off two committees.” House GOP leaders removed him from the Budget and Agriculture panels in 2012 as payback for repeatedly bucking the party line.

He accused the GOP leadership of having misplaced priorities.

“Leaders unite, they don’t divide. That’s been the Republican concern about President Barack Obama, that he’s a divider. And we have our leadership doing the same thing,” he said.


ROGER SIMON: 90% of the Racism in America Comes from the Democratic Party and the Left:

I am uniquely positioned to say this because I spent most of my life on the Left and was a civil rights worker in the South in my early twenties. I was also, to my everlasting regret, a donor to the Black Panther Party in the seventies.

So I have seen this personally from both sides and my conclusion is inescapable.  The Left is far, far worse. They are obsessed with race in a manner that does not allow them to see straight.  Further, they project racism onto others continually, exacerbating situations, which in most instances weren’t even there in the first place.  From Al Sharpton to Hillary Clinton, they all do it.

Barack Obama is one of the worst offenders in this regard.  Recently, in reaction to the horrid actions of the deranged, but solitary racist Dylann Root, the president claimed racism is in our DNA.

How could he possibly utter such nonsense and who was he talking about?  The majority of Americans are from families that came to this country after slavery existed.  Many of those were escaping oppression of their own.  In my case my family was fleeing  the pogroms of Eastern Europe.  Many of the members of my family who stayed behind ended up gassed in Auschwitz or starved to death in Treblinka.

Read the whole thing.

AMERICA’S SHAMEFULLY TRANSPHOBIC POTUS: Obama Annoyed By Undocumented Transgender Heckler, Snaps ‘You’re in My House!’ (With video.)

And as John Podhoretz notes:

WE HAVE OFFICIALLY REACHED PEAK LEFTISM: “If it seems to you that the Left has, collectively, lost its damned mind as the curtain rises on the last act of the Obama administration, you are not imagining things.”

ARE CARRIER GROUPS, FIGHTER WINGS, AND INFANTRY DIVISIONS ANACHRONISTIC IN FUTURE WARFARE? Of course not, says former Marine, Reagan assistant secretary of defense and best-selling author Bing West at the Hoover Institute. “Having thrown a few bouquets, let me now raise two looming challenges: our force structure such as carriers and fighter wings is decreasing at a perilous rate, while our operational command procedures are becoming too centralized.”

Read the whole thing. As Moe Lane joked last year, “Attention, whoever in the White House monitors this site. Google ‘Lyndon Johnson micromanagement Vietnam.’” Obviously, they never did — unless the now famously ahistoric Obama administration considers LBJ’s military mismanagement to be a how-to guide, and not a warning.

WHAT THE FUSS IS ALL ABOUT. You may have heard that Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, is stirring up megacontroversies with his new book, Ally, about the relationship between the Jewish state and America, and for his comments on President Barack Obama.

I know him personally and have read his first two books, Six Days of War, and Power, Faith and Fantasy. He appears in my own book, The Road to Fatima Gate. I can vouch for him as a brilliant historian and an eminently reasonable person. He’s precisely the kind of individual you’d want as a diplomat.

But don’t take my word for it. Read what he has to say for yourself, starting with his essay in Foreign Policy magazine.

Understanding Obama’s worldview was crucial to my job as Israel’s ambassador to the United States. Right after entering office in June 2009, I devoted months to studying the new president, poring over his speeches, interviews, press releases, and memoirs, and meeting with many of his friends and supporters. The purpose of this self-taught course — Obama 101, I called it — was to get to the point where the president could no longer surprise me. And over the next four years I rarely was, especially on Muslim and Middle Eastern issues.

One need not wallow in silly conspiracy theories like Obama being a secret Muslim (Oren certainly doesn’t) to write something that’s critical, reasonable, and accurate. We all have our flaws and our blind spots. That includes every president we’ve ever had, even the current one.


Perhaps we could narrow things down by listing which regions of the world haven’t disappointed the president.


“CONGRATULATIONS! YOU OPPOSE THE CONFEDERATE FLAG. NOW WHAT? “I can’t help but notice that no one is calling to rename the Woodrow Wilson bridge right by my house, even though Wilson’s racism was personal, political, focused on eugenics and far more recent than any Civil War-era leader,” Mollie Hemingway writes at the Federalist.

Plus this: “I wouldn’t put Confederate kitsch up in my house, but mainstream media figure Claire Shipman and former Obama press secretary Jay Carney put up Communist kitsch in their house. There is something intriguing about how the elite left tolerates art celebrating those who killed 100 million people in the last century, but seeks the erasure of anything associated with the Confederacy.”


VERONIQUE DE RUGY: Yes, Jonathan Gruber Is an Obamacare Architect. Gruber is the Todd Akins of Obamacare, except unlike Akins, Gruber really did matter…a lot.


As Andrew Klavan pointed out way back in 2009, for the left, it really all boils down to demanding the other side simply shut up, doesn’t it?

“BUT… TO FEEL THE INCREDIBLE CHARISMA and ease at which this guy handles himself. … I was a bit of a nervous wreck and he immediately put me at ease. I don’t know how, I’m not easy to put at ease. I’m a nutbag.” Marc Maron comes in for a landing after the uncanny experience of recording a podcast in his garage with the President of the United States.

THAT WAS FAST — THE ERA OF BIG PROGRESSIVISM IS OVER: In July of 2007 during a CNN/YouTube-sponsored Democrat presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was asked, “how would you define the word ‘liberal’? And would you use this word to describe yourself?” She responded, “I prefer the word ‘progressive,’ which has a real American meaning, going back to the progressive era at the beginning of the 20th century.”

Flash-forward eight years, and Dana Milbank of the Washington Post now claims, “Liberal is no longer a dirty word:”

Since the 1988 presidential campaign, when George H.W. Bush and Lee Atwater turned “Massachusetts liberal” into an epithet, the label has been tainted — so much so that many liberals abandoned it for “progressive.”

But new polling shows a significant increase in the number of Americans who describe themselves as liberal and the number of Americans taking liberal positions on issues. Gallup has found the percentage of Americans calling themselves social liberals has equaled the percentage of social conservatives for the first time since pollsters began asking the question in 1999 (when 39 percent identified as conservative and 21 percent as liberal). Democrats are more likely to call themselves liberal and Republicans are less likely to embrace the “conservative” description, opting instead for moderate.

As Jazz Shaw writes in response at Hot Air:

To see what a mixed bag this is in terms of definitions you need to wind the calendar back quite a ways. The emergence of a widely accepted definition of classical liberalism is found back in the 19th century and it was highlighted in the works of authors such as John Locke and Adam Smith and Thomas Hobbes. There was certainly a flavor of hey, do your own thing, baby to the movement, but it was grounded in the idea that your thing should be taking place in a well defined and suitably defended country. Beyond that, the classical liberal actually wanted government to stay out of your way as long as you weren’t hurting anyone else. (Sound familiar?) Hobbes wrote at length about the idea that one of the key functions of government was to protect us from each other. His fellow classical liberal authors believed strongly in the free market and the idea that the individual should be free to work for the highest paying employer and that competition was good. Most of these ideas are foreign concepts to modern liberals and would quickly send them to the fainting couch.

Of course “Progressivism” prior to World War II did have “a real American meaning” as Hillary said, though it’s probably one she’d much prefer forgotten: it stood for big government statism, racialism, and eugenics. As Fred Siegel of the Manhattan Institute wrote in The Revolt Against the Masses, his history of 20th century leftism, it became such a reviled word during World War I as a result of the Wilson administration’s crackdown on free speech (and to a lesser extent due to his rampant racism), self-described progressives resorted in the early 1920s to stealing the L-word away from classical liberals and appropriating for themselves. It seems a similar reaction to “Progressivism” as a result of the two terms of the Obama administration is forcing Milbank and other “Progressives” to revert back yet again to calling themselves liberals.

Rinse and repeat, apparently endlessly.

TURKEY’S CREEPJOB OF A PRIME MINISTER is furious about Kurdish gains against ISIS in Syria.

He’s not on board with ISIS ideologically, but he’s more freaked out by Kurdish indepenence right now than anything else since roughly 25 percent of Turkey’s population is Kurdish. From his point of view, ISIS is the lesser of evils. President Obama says he expects “deeper cooperation” from Turkey, but even he must know at this late date that we are not going to get it.

“IT WAS ALL DARK AND EMPTY IN THERE. AND THERE WERE LITTLE MICE IN THE CORNERS AND SPIDERS HAD SPUN THIS WEB…” That’s what Chevy Chase as Mr. Spock reported back after he attempted a Vulcan mindmeld with an NBC executive in Michael O’Donoghue’s classic “Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise” parody from the first season of Saturday Night Live. Similarly, Michael Oren goes “Inside Obama’s Head,” which does not make the left happy, Jonathan S. Tobin writes at Commentary:

What did Oren say? He had the chutzpah to speculate as to what had driven the clear animus against Israel that Oren observed in an up close and personal fashion during his four years as his government’s envoy in Washington. As he did in his book, Oren said he devoted a great deal of thought to trying to figure out what was at the roots of the president’s insatiable and generally unrequited (with the exception of Iran’s regime in the nuclear talks) desire for outreach to the Muslim world that was exemplified in his 2009 Cairo address and his clear belief that America should distance itself from Israel. His primary answer was that Obama was the product of the elite academic institutions where he studied, such as Columbia University where radical Palestinian intellectual Edward Said shaped attitudes toward Islam and Israel. He also noted that the president’s personal experiences had made him more predisposed to view Islam as fundamentally unthreatening and to be uncomfortable with confronting the religious roots of Islamist terrorism even to the point of refusing to label the attacks in Paris this past January as being anti-Semitic.

In addition to its academic and international affairs origins, Obama’s attitudes toward Islam clearly stem from his personal interactions with Muslims. These were described in depth in his candid memoir, Dreams from My Father, published 13 years before his election as president. Obama wrote passionately of the Kenyan villages where, after many years of dislocation, he felt most at home and of his childhood experiences in Indonesia. I could imagine how a child raised by a Christian mother might see himself as a natural bridge between her two Muslim husbands. I could also speculate how that child’s abandonment by those men could lead him, many years later, to seek acceptance by their co-religionists.

Merely referencing Obama’s family and his connections to Muslims (or even his middle name Hussein) is considered evidence of prejudice by many of the president’s supporters. But it was particularly egregious of Foxman to claim these words showed Oren was engaging in “conspiracy theories.” But Oren wasn’t claiming the president was a Muslim rather than a Christian or an agent of Islam, as some rabid Obama-haters claim. As a historian, he was merely exploring the president’s own autobiography to see what in his background helped formed a mindset that led him to see an Islamist regime like Iran as a worthy focus of American engagement.

As Tobin writes, “for the sin of pointing out the president’s clear decision to distance the U.S. from Israel and to unsuccessfully embrace the Muslim world and trying to find a reason for this decision, Oren’s must be not merely be criticized by the left, the historian-turned-diplomat-turned-Knesset member must be destroyed.”


All three network morning shows on Monday ignored the revelation that Jonathan Gruber, an ObamaCare architect who called Americans “stupid,” had closer ties than the administration previously let on. According to the Wall Street Journal, there were 20,000 pages of e-mails. Writer Stephanie Armour explained, “The emails show frequent consultations between Mr. Gruber and top Obama administration staffers and advisers in the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services on the Affordable Care Act.”

Too bad – ignoring the issue causes some of us to remember how loudly virtually all of old media were cheerleaders for Obamacare in 2009.

RELATED: And of course, “WH continues to deny Jonathan Gruber was very involved in O-care.”

“THIS WAS THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TARGETING SPEECH BECAUSE IT COULD”:  DoJ’s Gag Order On Reason Has Been Lifted — But The Real Story Is More Outrageous Than We Thought. Virginia posted on this earlier but it deserves a second link. Plus this reaction by Reason’s editor Nick Gillespie.

This episode invites pessimism. But Nick Gillespie suggests that it should encourage us, because it showed how difficult it has become for the government to get away with silencing us. “We’re in a better place in terms of free speech than we’ve ever been as a country,” he says, citing both culture and technology. “It’s harder and harder for the government to shut down the conversation.” Certainly things didn’t go the way the government hoped here.

The challenge is to use Reason’s fifteen days of enforced silence as a catalyst, not a deterrent. Technology is only as effective as the people who wield it. We need to be committed to watch for, examine, and report on abuses of power like these. More people need to tell their stories of encounters with it. “No one knows how often this happens, or who is the target,” said Gillespie, who emphasized that we ought to be worried about anyone getting a gag order, not just a professional journalist.

“Unless people speak up, and unless people repeat the story, we won’t have a good sense of how this power is abused.” We also need to resist the temptation to filter our vigilance through partisanship. Many people have responded to this story with comments about the Obama Administration, a purely fatuous reaction, as though Obama has time between his golf outings and Steve Wonder concerts to censor a small magazine — but the danger will remain no matter what flavor of politician is in charge. “Power is nonpartisan,” says Gillespie.

Yes, but the difference is that if a Republican administration did this, Reason would not be standing alone among its media brothers and sisters.

TWO APs IN ONE: Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

A year since that fateful Saturday morning when Giffords was severely wounded during a shooting rampage in her home district, the Arizona congresswoman resigned on Wednesday with a plea for civility — and a hint that she’ll be back on the national stage. For now, the 41-year-old said, her movements and speech still halting, she needs to focus on her recovery.

For all the kind words showered on her, Giffords reflected in her resignation letter about a level of respect that seems like an aberration these days in a bitterly divided Washington.

In her five years in Congress, she said, “Always I fought for what I thought was right. But never did I question the character of those with whom I disagreed. Never did I let pass an opportunity to join hands with someone just because he or she held different ideals.”

Associated Press wire report, January 25, 2012.

Evidently, AP has forgotten the calls for civility from Giffords and Obama, as well as the pledges from their fellow left-leaning media mavens in early 2011 to avoid unnecessary gun metaphors — to the point of treating them like the N-word, as an MSNBC guest suggested to Chris Matthews’ approval, when they’re reduced to accepting the following photo for their wire service, composed by AP photographer Charlie Neibergall:

In response to the well-deserved firestorm last night, “the AP’s director of media relations Paul Colford released a statement explaining the photograph, but not apologizing,” as Mediaite notes today

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz was shown in a series of 14 photos taken by an Associated Press photographer at a ‘Celebrate the 2nd Amendment’ event Saturday afternoon, held at a shooting range in Johnston, Iowa. Five of the photos published by AP included images of guns seen on a wall in the background so that it appeared a pistol was pointed at Sen. Cruz’s head. The images were not intended to portray Sen. Cruz in a negative light.

Uh-huh. Of course in reality, all of that posturing from the left in 2011 really was just a modified limited hangout to browbeat the first GOP House since 2006. As Jonah Goldberg wrote in August of 2011 after the media ignored Joe Biden, Tom Friedman and others were referring to that Republican Congress as “terrorists” without a hint of media scolding, “To Hell with You People.”

UPDATE “Imagine Hillary Clinton were confronted by pro-life protesters, some of them carrying gory images of aborted babies, and one press photographer decided to frame a shot composed of nothing more than her face side by side with one of those gory posters in the near background. How do you suppose that image would go down with the left’s abortion warriors? Safe bet: We’ll never find out.”

WHY THE “PLAN B” ADMINISTRATIVE FIXES TO OBAMACARE EXCHANGES ARE ILLEGAL:  A new Federalist Society white paper by Josh Blackman: The Legality of Executive Action after King v. Burwell:

This article will assess the legality of executive actions that the Administration may take after King v. Burwell to continue paying subsidies in these thirty-four states. I will not discuss the merits of the case, predict how the Court should construe the statute or IRS rule, or propose congressional modifications to the ACA.  Rather, this analysis is premised on potential administrative fixes HHS could employ following an adverse ruling in King v. Burwell.

There are two possible approaches HHS could take that would continue the payment of subsidies in some or all of the thirty-four states using the federally-facilitated exchange. First, HHS could unilaterally deem several of these states as having tacitly established an exchange, without the state’s subsequent cooperation. Specifically, HHS could construe the fact that fourteen states perform certain functions that overlap with the ACA—what is known as “plan management”—as evidence that they in fact intended to establish an exchange. This post-hoc recognition of an establishment would drastically alter the terms on which states accepted certain responsibilities. Each of the fourteen states at issue notified HHS that it was only performing certain limited functions, and expressly declined to establish a state-based exchange. Retroactively and unilaterally declaring that these states in fact established a state exchange would distort political accountability, and disregard the considered judgments of the sovereign states, in violation of the principles of federalism. If HHS issued this interim rule without notice and comment, litigation would likely immediately follow by the King plaintiffs and the states. These suits, however, would face an uphill battle to stop the unlawful payment of subsidies. The administration could also attempt to limit the judgment in King v. Burwell to the four named plaintiffs, but that effort to evade the Court’s judgment would be met with further litigation.

Second, HHS can streamline the process to fast-track the process for states seeking to establish an exchange. The threshold inquiry is whether a state has the appropriate authority to establish an exchange. The ACA requires that before a state can elect to establish an exchange, the state shall “adopt and have in effect . . . a state law or regulation that the Secretary determines implements the standards within the State.” Eighteen of the thirty-four states enacted the “Healthcare Freedom Act,” which would require an act of the legislature, or even a constitutional amendment, in order to allow the creation of an exchange. In the remaining exchanges, it is feasible that a governor’s executive order would satisfy the Secretary of HHS that the state has established an exchange. Even with this speculative authority, it is unlikely that the state would be able to complete all of the necessary steps to establish an exchange in 2015. However, a state could possibly deem the federally-facilitated exchange as state-established. This approach would be inconsistent with the text and history of the ACA, and would likely be challenged by further litigation.

A ruling against the federal government in King v. Burwell, even if stayed until the end of the tax year, would leave the Administration and the states with very limited options of how to respond quickly. Resorting to dubious administrative fixes to continue the payment of subsidies would invite an immediate court challenge. The path to amend the ACA must go through Congress.

This is not a blog post and does not argue the merits of King. It is a detailed and technical examination of what the statute says about the establishment of exchanges, made accessible to serious readers. Anyone covering this case in the press or blogosphere should read it before the spin begins.

Assuming, of course, that the Court in King holds that what the statute says actually matters.

OF COURSE HE DID: Emails reveal Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber worked closely with the White House. According to the Washington Examiner:

[I]n 2013 Gruber referred to the “stupidity of the American voter” and the “huge political advantage” the healthcare legislation’s lack of transparency would provide in getting the bill passed.

The ensuing public furor against Gruber for his comments caused the Obama administration to distance themselves from the former adviser.

But the 20,000 pages of emails provided by the House Oversight Committee to The Wall Street Journal paint a different picture.

The emails show Gruber kept HHS abreast of his conversations with health reporters and lawmakers: He let them know when a conversation went well and a story would post; when he got pushback about his undisclosed contract he revealed only their description of his activities; and that he worked to convince Sen. Mary Landrieu to support the bill.

“There’s no doubt [Gruber] was a much more integral part of this than they’ve said,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah), chairman of the committee that released the emails, reported the Wall Street Journal. “He put up this facade he was an arm’s length away. It was a farce.”

He was undoubtedly the White House’s academic frontman. And his attitude about the “stupidity” of Americans wasn’t aberrational, but shared by his compatriots in the Obama Administration. And you know what? He was right, because the Democrats in Congress fell for numerous Obamacare lies hook, line and sinker.  

REMINDER: In 2009, Barack Obama “Joked” About Having The IRS Target His Enemies.

WAIT, I THOUGHT OBAMA GAVE A SPEECH AND FIXED THIS: Wait Lists Grow as Many More Veterans Seek Care and Funding Falls Far Short.

MICHAEL OREN: How Obama Opened His Heart to the ‘Muslim World.’ And got it stomped on. Is Obama’s big problem really naivete?

CRUZ PUNCHES BACK ON IMMIGRATION: Ted Cruz introduces bill to drain amnesty slush fund subsidized by legal immigrants.

The Immigration Slush Fund Elimination Act would stop the executive branch from using fees collected from legal immigrants who obeyed U.S. immigration law to pay for the ongoing illegal alien naturalization surge. Thanks to the million or so legal aliens flocking to America every year, that’s a lot of cash. Cruz notes that USCIS Chief Financial Officer Joseph Moore can lay claim to nearly $1 billion in application fees. Cruz’s bill would return the pursestrings back into Congress’s hands — and perhaps most importantly, stop the White House from ramping up legal immigration and issuing more and more fees in order to grant more illegal aliens amnesty.

Legal immigrants can wait up to ten years to become legalized and pay thousands of dollars in fees. Once Obama enacted his DACA executive amnesty order in 2012, wait times for legal immigrants tripled.

It’s a travesty that the Obama Administration has gotten away with taking money from legal immigrants and using it to subsidize the President’s unconstitutional, unilateral lawmaking executive action on immigration. In typical Obama upside-down fashion, this fund-shifting rewards the lawbreakers and punishes the law abiders.  Obama will of course veto Cruz’s bill if it ever clears Congress, but the important question to me is the preliminary one: Does the GOP-controlled Congress have the guts to defend its power of the purse and pass the bill in the first place?

GOP LEADERSHIP EXACTS RETRIBUTION: House Speaker John Boehner and his “leadership” team are exacting retribution against numerous conservative GOP members who have bucked leadership on a variety of issues, most notably voting against Boehner as Speaker, and against Obamatrade.  The most recent victim is Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who has been removed from his chairmanship of the House Government Operations Subcommittee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Meadows was also one of the 25 Republicans who did not vote for Boehner to be speaker at the start of the 114th Congress, and he has often shown a willingness to vote with the conservative wing of the party. It appears as if the rule vote, in which 34 Republicans went against GOP leadership, was the final straw.

The punishment is yet another indication of the intensifying clash between conservatives and more moderate Republicans in the House GOP conference.

Trent Franks, who was one of the three House Freedom Caucus members kicked off the whip team earlier in the week, told CQ Roll Call on Wednesday that “there’s a polarization taking place” between conservatives and leadership, as right-wing voices are now being locked out of strategy sessions with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

It’s basically a purge being conducted against those who don’t toe Boehner’s line. There’s a reason why conservative Americans don’t trust Congress–even under the control of the GOP.  The Establishment GOP treats the party’s conservative/tea party wing as a political enemy to be defeated, rather than respected colleagues with whom they have occasional disagreements.

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), who was among the 34 Republicans to vote against the rule last week, said Boehner hasn’t spoken to him about his vote. He accused GOP leaders of catering too much to Democrats at the expense of losing support from conservatives.

“This is the second or third time that they negotiated with Democrats and then Democrats go back on their word. And they still don’t come to the conservatives,” Labrador said at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation Tuesday morning. “We can help them with this process.”

“Voting against the rule is almost like committing a capital crime here,” Labrador said of the leadership’s attitude.

Yep. To have a winning Republican “team,” there needs to be leadership that is open to all points of view, and doesn’t banish its brightest based on principled disagreement.

RELATED: Conservative Rep: It Takes ‘Moral Courage’ To Stand Up To GOP Leadership.

Scott Perry, 53, is a sophomore congressman from Dillsburg, Penn. Exuding a humble intensity and a mindfulness of his oath to the U.S. Constitution, his daily orientation in public office means he takes no vote for granted. 

“It’s a fight every day,” Perry says in this 22-minute exclusive video interview with The Daily Caller. . . .This interview was filmed June 10, prior to a series of divisive trade votes in the House. Perry, believing his leadership was mistaken on what was best for America on these votes, felt the wrath of opposing the Republican leadership. He was one of the 3454158 and 50 Republicans who challenged the prevailing pressure by GOP leaders to grant President Obama new trade powers at the risk of eroding national sovereignty. . . .

Yet, Republican leaders, increasingly governing by fear, risk continuing dissension and disarray. Evidence is building that Republicans, who are failing to persuade those members with differing opinions, and catering to monied interests in Washington, are alienating Americans who voted for them.

These are good members of Congress (there are some), and their idealism is being crushed by Mafia-like, inside-the-Beltway interests.

SO HE’S ALREADY DONE MORE THAN OBAMA: Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio to send armed volunteers to protect churches.

BUT I THOUGHT HE WAS A RACIST?: Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to send armed volunteers to protect black churches.

Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio will send armed volunteers into 60 predominantly black churches Sunday in response to the shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church.

Arpaio said he was responding to a request from Rev. Jarrett Maupin, who USA Today reported is a progressive Baptist preacher and civil-rights advocate, to provide the volunteers.

Arpaio said Maupin told him he was worried about racist white supremacists in the area, according to USA Today. ”I am the elected sheriff of this county. He asked me to help, and I’m going to help,” Arpaio said.
Arpaio is of course the well-known sheriff who has been an outspoken proponent of cracking down on illegal immigration. His efforts in this regard have earned him a DOJ lawsuit for “racial profiling,” and charges of racism against Hispanics. He also launched an investigation into President Obama’s birth certificate, so he was labeled as a racist for that, too. This latest move–to protect black churches–just goes to show that Republican haters gonna hate.

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Will Obama Intimidate Roberts, Supreme Court On ObamaCare? He’s certainly trying.

We’ve seen this movie before — reruns of President Obama’s rhetorical efforts to vilify the court whenever it threatens to disagree with him, as it did in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the decision in 2010 that precluded the government from regulating political expenditures by nonprofit corporations.

Less than a week after the Citizens decision came down, with the justices sitting directly in front of him in the House of Representatives chamber, Obama addressed the nation in a State of the Union address and scolded the court for its decision.

He charged, inaccurately, that the decision would allow American elections to be “bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities.”

This transparent effort to intimidate the court, and especially Chief Justice John Roberts, was repeated in the days leading up to the court’s 2012 decision on the constitutionality of ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

On April 2, 2012, before the court issued its ruling, Obama seemed to warn the court, saying he hoped that it would not take an “unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

Unprecedented? In 1935, the same court threw out as unconstitutional both the Agricultural Adjustment Act and the National Industrial Recovery Act, two main pillars of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1933 anti-depression recovery program, saying that they impermissibly expanded presidential power.

Obama added that if the court were to overturn the mandate, and thus ObamaCare, it would be an unambiguous act of judicial activism: “An unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”

When the court upheld ObamaCare by a 5-4 vote with Roberts siding with the four liberal justices, some thought that he, seeing himself as responsible for the court’s legacy, had been affected by the administration’s threatening rhetoric and wanted to keep the court out of the political cross-hairs during the fall election.

And some — see pretty much any Internet comment section — thought it meant the NSA had dirt on Roberts. So much for boosting the Court’s position.

BUT MR. PRESIDENT, A 21 YEAR-OLD ISN’T A “KID”: Obama expresses desire to block ’21 year-old kid’ from buying handguns.

Referring to the church shooting in Charleston, Obama insisted that mass shootings were “unique” to America because of its gun laws, adding such events don’t happen as often in other “advanced countries.”

“It’s not because there aren’t violent people or racist people or crazy people in other countries; it’s that a 21-year-old kid can’t just walk in and buy a firearm and, oftentimes, through gun shows, avoid background checks, and then act on this hatred,” he said. “And we’ve got to change that, and it’s not enough for us to express sympathy — we have to take action.”

In every State in the country, a 21 year-old is considered an adult. So basically, Obama wants to ban adults from buying handguns.

To be fair, our former adjunct professor of constitutional law taught before the Supreme Court decided DC v. Heller (2008) and  McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010). But surely he’s aware of them now. Oh wait–I’m assuming the current President of the United States actually cares about the Constitution. My bad.

TOO BIG TO FAIL, OBAMACARE EDITION: Obamacare’s Oligopoly Wave.

The five largest commercial health insurers in the U.S. have contracted merger fever, or maybe typhoid. UnitedHealth is chasing Cigna and even Aetna; Humana has put itself on the block; and Anthem is trying to pair off with Cigna, which is thinking about buying Humana. If the logic of ObamaCare prevails, this exercise will conclude with all five fusing into one monster conglomerate. . . .

[T]he economics of ObamaCare reward scale over competition. Benefits are standardized and premiums are de facto price-controlled. With margins compressed to commodity levels, buying more consumers via mergers is simpler than appealing to them with better products, to the extent the latter is still legal. Synergies across insurer combinations to reduce administrative overhead and other expenses also look better for shareholders.

The mergers reflect the reality that government—Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the ObamaCare exchanges—is now the artery of insurance profits, not the private economy. The feds “happen to be, for most of us now, our largest customer,” Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said this month at a Goldman Sachs conference. . . .

A healthier market would have many new competitive entrants given the transformative pace of technological and biomedical discovery. Health-care finance and delivery ought to be evolving along with these innovations, but the only disruptive force under ObamaCare is government. So five years into the glories of “health-care reform,” the same antiquated incumbents dominate as they did before, only with less accountability to patients. Cartels don’t care about quality, safety or costs to consumers.

It’s not a flaw; it’s by design. Next stop: single-payer, unless Obamacare is repealed, and soon. 

POOR PRESIDENT OBAMA. AMERICA HAS DISAPPOINTED HIM AGAIN. In L.A., Obama addresses Washington’s dysfunction: ‘I did not say I would fix it.’ Actually, you kinda did. Oh, well — off to the next golf trip/fundraiser!

SUDDENLY THEY WANT A BUDGET?: Senate Democrats block defense appropriations bill.

The 50-45 vote to limit debate on proceeding to the bill came as Democratic leaders sent a letter demanding a bipartisan meeting to negotiate an end to sequestration spending caps mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

“We cannot and we should not fix part of our government and not the other part,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said before the vote. “We have until this fiscal year ends in the fall to work this out. And that’s what we should do.”

The defense appropriations bill was the first test of the Democrats’ threat to block all fiscal 2016 spending bills without an overall budget agreement. The threat has been backed up by President Obama, who had pledged to veto the bill if it clears Congress.

So suddenly the Democrats want a budget? Hardly. Earlier this year, the Republicans passed a non-binding blueprint budget resolution without the support of a single Democrat in either chamber. But now Congress needs to translate this blueprint into specific, department-by-department appropriations measures, and the Democrats are making it clear that they will oppose all of them, backed up by the threat of Obama’s veto.

The Democrats’ real strategy is to prevent the GOP-controlled Congress from making progress on “normal” budget appropriations, forcing another fall showdown (the fiscal year ends Sept. 30) that would result in a lame continuing resolution and/or government shutdown.

WELL, YES: John Lott: Gun-free zones an easy target for killers.

The horrible tragedy last night that left nine people dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., probably could have been avoided. Like so many other attacks, the massacre took place in a gun-free zone, a place where the general public was banned from having guns. The gun-free zone obviously didn’t stop the killer from bringing a gun into the church.

Indeed, the circumstantial evidence is strong that these killers don’t attack randomly; they keep picking the few gun-free zones to do virtually all their attacks.

For some reason, people who would never put up a “gun-free zone” sign in front of their own homes, put up such signs for other sensitive areas that we would like to protect.

Time after time, we see that these killers tell us they pick soft targets. With just two exceptions, from at least 1950, all the mass public shootings have occurred in these gun-free zones. From last summer’s mass public killers in Santa Barbara and Canada, to the Aurora movie theater shooter, these killers made it abundantly clear in their diaries or on Facebook how they avoided targets where people with guns could stop them.

It’s an inconvenient truth for gun control votaries. Predictably, President Obama immediately used the SC shooting tragedy as an excuse to trumpet gun control again.

CHANGE: Obama’s Favorite Prime Minister Concedes To Center-Right Bloc: “From handing out red roses, to driving about in tractors. From tiresome Borgen references, to wooing fishermen on islands. From clashing on TV debates, to red and blue blocs. Yet in the end, after what has been a tightly fought contest in the Scandinavian nation, the centre-right has been voted in to govern the Folketing. Danish voters have ousted the centre-left government of Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and have today voted for an opposition in which the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party has emerged as the biggest force.”

EVEN THE BBC NOTES THAT Obama’s Gun-Control Posturing Got Harsh Pushback.

Related: Bobby Jindal: Obama’s Reaction to Charleston Shooting ‘Completely Shameful.’ “‘Within 24 hours of this awful tragedy, nine people killed at a Bible study in a church, now, let’s stop and think about that. Nine people coming into the church who are saying — to praise God, to study’s God’s scripture, gunned down,’ the governor said. ‘This monster then says he is going leave some victims alive so they can go tell the world what he has done. Within 24 hours, we have got the president trying to score cheap political points.’ . . . ‘The president could have asked the country. He could have said, instead of talking about politics today, we’re not Democrats, Republicans, independents, blacks, whites. We’re Americans, and we all need to worship together. We need to — what would have been great sign is to call for people to fill those churches, because don’t let anybody be scared from going to church. We’re not going to deterred from lifting our prayers,’ Jindal said. ‘…Government is not going to eradicate evil. And that’s why it would be also a good time to call America to prayer. That president doesn’t seem to like to do that, but it’s an important, important part of our country’s tradition.’”

Also: Obama Surrenders On Gun Control. He hasn’t surrendered. He’ll still try weasely under-the table regulatory and diplomatic stuff.

UPDATE: Ex-Obama Advisor Blasted for Tying Nikki Haley to Charleston Shooting. Never let an opportunity to slime a minority, female Republican go to waste.

PUNCHING BACK: Sen. Ted Cruz is introducing legislation to fine the State Department for its failure to release a report on Iran.

The Obama administration was legally obligated to release a full report outlining the state of Iranian human rights by Feb. 25 but has so far declined to do so.

Cruz and other senators petitioned the State Department in May to comply with federal law compelling the report’s public release.

“That report was due by law on February 25,” Cruz told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview. “The Obama State Department simply ignored the law. They refused to produce the report. Months have gone by and they continue to refuse to produce the report.”

Angered by this delay, Cruz is gearing up to file legislation this week that would fine the State Department 5 percent of its budget for every 30 days it postpones releasing the report, according to a copy of the bill viewed by the Free Beacon.

Obama would veto the bill if it ever passed both chambers. But it’s at least an attempt to use the power of the purse to punch back and gain some leverage with this recalcitrant Administration.

Sadly, this is just another example of the Obama Administration ignoring federal law, as it did with the Bowe Bergdahl swap for the Taliban 5, and a whole host of other instances. Ignoring Congress–including the laws it has passed–has become the defining characteristic of the Obama presidency.