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IN CALIFORNIA, foreign workers hired to process Americans’ unemployment applications. A perfect metaphor for Obama’s America.

A TARGET-RICH ENVIRONMENT: Mark Levin Obliterates the Democratic Party, Obama and the GOP.

JOEL KOTKIN: The Three Faces Of Populism. “The real target of Davos populists is not themselves, of course. Instead, the effort is to further burden Obama’s version of Josef Stalin’s harsh treatment of Kulaks, the early Soviet Union’s successful but hardly ultrarich peasant class. Megan McArdle aptly describes Obama’s proposal – abandoned this past week – to tax college savings accounts to pay for subsidized college as ‘a plan to redistribute money from the upper middle class to the lower middle class.’ . . . Not surprisingly, after six years of minimal income gains and numerous tax increases, the middle class – Americans making roughly $60,000 to $90,000 – remains far less sympathetic to Obama’s policies than either the rich or the poor. Yet none of this likely affects the Davos attendees, like billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene, who said, to fight climate change, Americans need to ‘live a smaller existence.’ This, coming from a man with five houses, including a Beverly Hills estate listed at $195 million, does not constitute an ideal populist program.”

HAVE YOU NOTICED HOW ATTACKS ON WALKER SEEM TO REBOUND ON THE ATTACKER? Media tries to smear Walker on campus sex assault reporting, gets it horribly wrong.

Members of the media were quick to report that, included in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget, was a removal of the requirements that colleges report campus sexual assault statistics to the state.

The Daily Beast, Huffington Post and others all jumped on a report in Jezebel that tried to paint Walker as being unsympathetic to sexual assault victims. Daily Beast writer Brian Weidy went so far as to claim that Walker’s proposal was “just short of explicitly violating Title IX regulations” and possible even “crossing a legal line.”

So not only is Walker a terrible person who hates victims, but he’s also maybe breaking the law. Or so they said. But for all their eagerness to pile on a leading GOP candidate for president (note the contrast to reporting on Obama in 2008), they were just plain wrong. The outlets involved had to retract the story, although a simple Google News search could have spared them the humiliation.

Walker had actually included these changes in his budget at the request of the University of Wisconsin. The school had requested that the governor remove the requirements because they were duplicative.

What I really liked was that, yet again, lots of folks on twitter — including plenty of right-leaning journos who used to hold themselves above the fray — got involved in directly challenging these journalists by name, in public. Name and shame. It’s the only way they’ll learn.

And it all started here.

Related: Daily Beast Retracts Scott Walker Story. “Another major media outlet has apologized after getting a story about Scott Walker wrong. Last week, it was the New York Times; now, it’s The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast has retracted an article from one of its college columnists that claimed that the Wisconsin governor’s budget would cut sexual assault reporting from the state’s universities.”

Plus: “The most impressive thing about Walker’s Throne of Skulls: every single skull beheaded itself.”

THE HILL: GOP urges Obama to sign college savings bill.

President Obama should get on board with House Republican legislation passed this week expanding college savings plans, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) said in the weekly Republican address.

“Why would we make saving for college even harder? We talk all the time about rewarding people who work hard and play by the rules — well, that’s what 529 plans are,” said Renacci, who touted his upbringing in a working-class union family.

“They empower families to set up accounts for their children, right from when they’re born, and then down the line, they can use that money tax-free on books, fees, tuition and room-and-board,” he added.

This week, the House passed a bill 401-20 loosening restrictions on tax incentives and expanding the college savings plan program, after Obama scuttled a proposal to eliminate tax breaks for the plan in his annual budget.

If I were in Congress, I’d introduce legislation capping tuition at tax-exempt institutions to the equivalent of the average family income. To prevent profiteering.

JOHN HINDERAKER: The Obama Administration’s AR-15 Ammo Ban: What’s It All About? “Critics of the ban suggest that the Obama administration is trying to achieve a ban on AR-15 rifles through the back door. This ATF standard won’t achieve that result by itself, of course, as most AR-15 ammunition will remain legal. But the fear is not irrational; liberals have openly argued for attacks on ammunition as an indirect means of achieving gun control.”

POLL: Voters: Ignore Obama vetoes, keep passing bills he doesn’t like. I agree. Make him veto stuff. He hates having to take an active role. And if Harry Reid tries to run interference even in the minority, then go nuclear. Harry already crossed the nuclear threshold — make them pay.

BLUE COLLAPSE: Chicago nears fiscal free fall with latest downgrade. “Chicago drew closer to a fiscal free fall on Friday with a rating downgrade from Moody’s Investors Service that could trigger the immediate termination of four interest-rate swap agreements, costing the city about $58 million and raising the prospect of more broken swaps contracts. The downgrade to Baa2, just two steps above junk, and a warning the rating could fall further still, means the third-biggest U.S. city could face even higher costs in the future.”

And remember, it’s run by one of Obama’s more-competent former minions. . . .

THE HILL: NRA chief presses Congress on concealed-carry bill.

The head of the nation’s biggest gun rights group urged Congress Friday to pass legislation to allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines.

During the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference, Executive Vice President and CEO of the National Rifle Association Wayne LaPierre said it’s time for Congress to act and pass the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.

“It’s time for Congress to pass national right-to-carry reciprocity for the entire United States,” LaPierre declared to cheers from the crowd of thousands of conservatives gathered at the Maryland event.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is the chief sponsor of the concealed-carry bill in the upper chamber, while Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) is spearheading the push in the House.

Supporters of the legislation — expected to be a top priority for gun rights activists in the current Congress, — believe they can secure enough Democratic votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster and get the legislation to President Obama’s desk.

Good.

THE HILL: House GOP floats three-week funding bill to stave off shutdown.

The House will try to avert a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security this week by passing a stopgap bill that funds the agency for three weeks.

The measure is meant to buy time for Republicans to figure out how to fight President Obama’s immigration policies, GOP leaders told members on Thursday.

The three-week measure would stave off a shutdown at the agency slated for 12:01 a.m. Saturday, but it’s only a temporary fix. Republicans say it would give them a chance to pursue a longer-term solution and iron out differences between House and Senate funding bills.

The House last month passed a bill funding Homeland Security through September but attached GOP amendments aimed at gutting Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The Senate is poised to pass a so-called “clean” funding bill as soon as Friday that is free of those same GOP immigration provisions.

House Republicans want a House-Senate conference committee to try to find common ground between the two measures. But Senate Democrats are continuing to insist that they’ll only back a clean funding bill, and could vote to block the Senate from going to conference.

“Clean” in this case means a bill that gives them what they want.

FCC COMMISSIONER MIKE O’RIELLY ON THE “NET NEUTRALITY” RULES: “When you see this document, it’s worse than you imagine.”

I dunno, I can imagine an awful lot. But we know it’s awful because they kept it secret before they enacted it. More:

The historic vote was cheered by internet activists, President Barack Obama and many in the tech community. However, few people have seen the actual orders. On Friday the FCC was finalising its documentation for publication – it it is not expected to release the orders until next week at the very earliest.

Pai said the new rules would mean “permission-less innovation is a thing of the past”. The new rules will ban broadband providers from creating fast lanes for some or slowing the traffic of others for commercial reasons. They will also give the FCC the power to police conduct by broadband providers on a case-by-case basis.

Internet service providers will not be allowed to “unreasonably interfere with or unreasonably disadvantage” consumers’ access to content and services.

O’Rielly said this would mean that any company looking to start a new service would have to seek permission ahead of time. He said anybody looking for new business opportunities in the document would be best off becoming a “telecoms lawyer.”

So at least there’s an upside!

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S crackdown on prostitution. They told me if I voted for Mitt Romney. . . oh, hell, you know the rest.

FIRST THE FCC, NOW THIS: Obama to ban bullets by executive action, threatens top-selling AR-15 rifle. No, this isn’t somebody’s paranoid fantasy. At least, it isn’t somebody’s fantasy.

SEE, NOT KNOWING IF OBAMA’S A CHRISTIAN IS OVER-THE-TOP PREJUDICE NOT ACCEPTABLE IN TODAY’S SOCIETY. BUT THIS IS OKAY: Dem Rep: ‘Tea Party People’ Want To Bring Back Segregation, Get Rid Of Women’s Rights.

MEH. I SAY BURN IT TO THE GROUND. Fears of Chaos Mount Over Obamacare Case.

But all this “chaos” talk is just an attempt to frighten the Court into not doing anything. And hey, why not? They successfully bullied Chief Justice Roberts on ObamaCare last time.

THE HILL: Republicans suspect the White House is hiding ObamaCare fallback plan. “Some Republicans say they simply do not believe that the Obama administration isn’t developing a fallback plan in case the Supreme Court dismantles a piece of the healthcare law this summer. Sylvia Burwell, the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), has repeatedly said there is no plan B if the high court rules that subsidies for insurance cannot be distributed through the federal exchange HealthCare.gov.”

Well, everything else they’ve said about ObamaCare has been a lie, so it’s a safe bet.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Foreign governments gave millions to Clinton foundation while Clinton was at State Dept. “The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration, foundation officials disclosed Wednesday. . . . Foreign governments and individuals are prohibited from giving money to U.S. political candidates, to prevent outside influence over national leaders. But the foundation has given donors a way to potentially gain favor with the Clintons outside the traditional political limits.”

So when she brags about all the air miles she logged, bear in mind that most of them were probably racked up while going to ask people for money.

A SMALL MEASURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY: Mass. Gov. Baker forces Obamacare architect Gruber off board.

WHY RUDY GIULIANI’S REMARKS STRUCK A NERVE: Less than Half in New Poll Think Obama Loves America. “Nationally, only 47 percent of people think the nation’s leader loves America while 35 percent do not. . . . As for Americans themselves, love of country still runs deep: 90 percent of conservatives say that they love America, compared to 85 percent of moderates and 82 percent of liberals.”

POLICING IN OBAMA’S AMERICA, AND OBAMA’S HOMETOWN: The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden ‘black site.’ This kind of thing is what happens under unaccountable one-party regimes.

ED MORRISSEY: The audacity of the media’s Obama worship.

By “audacity,” I of course mean “utter shamelessness.” Over the past week, media reporters have tried to hold Republicans accountable for any personal attacks by anyone on Barack Obama, going out of their way to demand that GOP candidates defend Obama’s honor — especially Scott Walker, who has emerged as a top-tier candidate in the early campaign. This trend reached its nadir when two reporters from the Washington Post, Dan Balz and Robert Costa, demanded that Walker answer whether he thought Obama was a Christian — despite the fact that Walker has never brought up that topic. When Walker scolded them for their irrelevancies, the media instead took it as Walker “othering” Obama.

The big losers in this are Balz and — especially — Costa. Voters won’t remember this incident in two weeks, but activists on the right will never forget. It’s especially bad for Costa because his selling point was supposed to be that he had credibility on the right.

IF ONLY THE GOP TREATED THE DEMOCRATS AS BADLY AS IT DOES ITS BASE: Right turns fire on McConnell.

Conservative hardliners laid into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Tuesday night for what they view as capitulating to Democrats on immigration.

McConnell announced earlier in the day that the Senate would vote on a “clean” bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security past Friday, as well as a separate measure freezing President Obama’s November executive actions to shield certain illegal immigrants from deportation.

Members of the GOP right said McConnell’s move essentially amounted to giving in to Democrats’ refusal to consider legislation undoing the president’s immigration actions.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said he “absolutely” won’t vote for a DHS funding bill that allows the November actions to go forward. He suggested freshman GOP senators failed to deliver on campaign promises.

“If I was a donor to some of these senators that just won election and was told things would be different in a new Senate, I’d be pretty pissed. We put Harry Reid back in charge of the Senate again?” Huelskamp said.

Huelskamp said that separating the bill freezing the executive actions from a must-pass DHS funding bill eliminates Republicans’ leverage over Democrats.

Maybe I’m missing something, but that’s how it looks to me, too.

EXPIRATION DATE, REACHED: Senator Obama: ‘Irresponsible’ For FCC To Vote On Rules Unreleased To The Public. That Senator Obama seemed like a sensible fellow. Too bad he’s not President now.

AN OPED BY JOHN BOEHNER AND MITCH MCCONNELL: Obama’s Keystone Pipeline Veto Purely Political.

JOHN NOLTE: Giuliani, Walker, and the Media’s Pro-Obama McCarthyism. “Do you now or have you ever held a negative personal opinion of President Barack Obama?”

ED ROGERS IN THE WASHINGTON POST: Why would anyone think Obama doesn’t love America? Plenty of reasons. “It’s easy to imagine Bill Clinton and either President Bush getting teary-eyed at the proverbial Fourth of July parade, as the veterans wave and flatbeds filled with 4-H kids roll by. It’s hard to imagine Obama in a similar situation. He has a cerebral, cool and aloof style that keeps him a little distant. It also probably makes some people wonder whether he feels much when faced with traditional triggers that warm the heart and produce the classic, patriotic, emotional response one would associate with the romanticized traditional love of country. Fair enough. But beyond generalities about style and persona, Obama’s policies, declarations and overall conduct in office make some think he is dissatisfied with America and its self-image. . . . Many were left flat-footed and with jaws dropped after the president’s remarks at the recent National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, where he let the Islamic terrorists know that he is keeping their actions in context. Obama felt compelled to equate today’s Islamic terrorist butchers to the Christian Crusaders of 900 years ago. It was just another example of how the president appears willing to try to understand — if not justify — the actions of those who hate America. When the president is slow to condemn our enemies, it raises doubts about what he really thinks of their case against America.”

HEY, FOR ONCE THOSE TIRED CHARGES MIGHT HAVE BEEN ON-TARGET: Debbie Wasserman Schultz planned to accuse Obama of being anti-woman and anti-Semitic.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was prepared to go full force against President Obama if he tried to replace her in 2013.

Wasserman Schultz, according to Politico, was going to accuse Obama of being anti-woman and anti-Semitic — apparently to cover all the bases — if he dared consider replacing her as chairwoman.

Schultz was beginning to “line up supporters” to make the suggestion when she “sensed” Obama was considering removing her from the DNC.

Wasserman Schultz’s position as the head of the DNC has long been a source of contention among Democrats, and Politico has previously documented the issue. In September 2014, Wasserman Schultz’s gaffes caught up to her when a string of Democrats voiced their distaste for the way the Florida congresswoman had led the party.

That report found tension between Wasserman Schultz and Obama dating back to 2011 — two years before she considered accusing him of waging a war on a woman or being an anti-Semite. At the time, Wasserman Schultz had allegedly complained to Obama about not being able to hire a donor’s daughter to work for her at the DNC.

“Obama summed up his reaction to staff afterward: ‘Really?’ ” according to a source that was present.

So maybe Obama didn’t like Wasserman Schultz’s brashness or her propensity to spout gaffe after gaffe.

Of course, with her job on the line, perhaps Wasserman Schultz just prepared to go into default mode of accusing any opposition of hating women or Jews.

Default is her middle name.

UPDATE: From the comments: “Well now. DWS didn’t get on her knees and beg The One and instead was prepared to hit him back where it hurt him. And she kept her job because of it. Maybe there’s a lesson for the GOP in there….”

As a great man once said, punch back twice as hard.

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

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Unpatriotic voters elect unpatriotic leaders.

AFTER OBAMA, An American Renaissance? To be fair, the Dark Ages were a period of greater creativity and progress than is generally appreciated.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Unpatriotic voters elect unpatriotic leaders.

With references to Robert Frank’s Passions Within Reason: The Strategic Role Of The Emotions, and also to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

BYRON YORK: Why Are Americans Confused About Obama’s Religion?

But when it comes to confusion, or wrong information, about Obama’s religion, Scott Walker is far from alone. Polls have long shown many Americans know little about the president’s faith.

In June, 2012, Gallup asked, “Do you happen to know the religious faith of Barack Obama?” Forty-four percent said they did not know, while 36 percent said he is a Christian, 11 percent said he is a Muslim, and eight percent said he has no religion. The “don’t know” group included 36 percent of Democrats. (A larger number of Republicans, 47 percent, said they didn’t know Obama’s religion, as did 46 percent of independents.)

In August, 2010, a Pew poll made news when it found that 18 percent of those surveyed believed Obama is a Muslim. But just as notably, 43 percent of respondents in that survey told Pew they didn’t know Obama’s religion. Among those who said they didn’t know were 41 percent of Democrats.

One notable suggestion in the Pew survey was that in Obama’s first couple of years in office, as Americans became more familiar with him as president, they became less sure of his religious faith. In March 2009, shortly after Obama entered the White House, 34 percent said they did not know his religion, while 48 percent identified him as a Christian. By August 2010, the number of Americans who said they did not know Obama’s religion had grown to 43 percent, while the number who identified him as Christian fell to 34 percent. The trend was true not just of the president’s political opponents but of his supporters as well. “Even among Democrats, fewer than half (46 percent) now identify his religion as Christian, down from 55 percent last year,” Pew wrote in 2010.

In June 2012, Pew asked the question again and found that 36 percent — still more than one-third of Americans — did not know Obama’s faith, while 45 percent identified him as a Christian. (The poll, taken during the 2012 presidential campaign, found that more people — 51 percent — correctly identified Mitt Romney as a Mormon than the 45 percent who said Obama is a Christian.)

The polls are anywhere from two to four years old. There hasn’t been much research on the topic recently, so it’s possible views have changed in one direction or the other.

Whenever the issue pops up, Obama’s most ardent supporters are quick to blame conservative media for misperceptions about Obama’s religion. But it’s possible something in Obama’s public presentation of himself has also created confusion among a significant number of Americans about his religion. The fact is, Obama’s religious roots and development have always been a complicated story.

As with everything about him, there’s no there there, just a series of convenient projections on fog, like the monster in a Scooby Doo episode.

THE HILL: President Obama’s cyber pitch misses mark in Silicon Valley. “The Obama administration is stumbling in its cybersecurity message to Silicon Valley, according to tech executives and a former White House official. The White House recently made a big show of going to Stanford University for a major cybersecurity summit. While much of the administration’s message was well-received by the tech community, some wondered why the platform wasn’t used to better explain Obama’s stance on encryption and privacy, the divisive issues causing strain between D.C. and Palo Alto.”

SO MUCH FOR THE MEMORY HOLE: New media won’t let MSM forget: Hillary fed the ‘Obama’s a Muslim’ rumors in 2008.

ANN ALTHOUSE, RESPONDING TO DANA MILBANK: Non-Wisconsinites, I need to explain something about Scott Walker to you that you are missing. “Those of you who think that he’s a neophyte, that he hasn’t yet learned how to step up to answering a question. You don’t get it. You are a neophyte. You haven’t yet learned how to step up to understanding Scott Walker. . . . Implicit in that is: That’s not Wisconsin style. Get used to it, coasties.”

UPDATE: More from Althouse: “Scott Walker feeling the heat” — says Politico, but how does Politico know what Scott Walker feels? “Maybe MSM are feeling the heat as the kind of questions that used to generate heat aren’t heating things up like they used to. They’ve been hoping to have some fun watching Republicans self-incinerate, after all these years dutifully admiring the cool character they call ‘No Drama Obama.’”

Related: “Notice how Democrats have not asserted that Obama actually loves America. Instead, they assert we’re racist for doubting he does.”

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: President Franklin Delano Obama Addresses the Threat of 1930s Violent Extremism.

ED DRISCOLL: Obama is Most Certainly Made of the Wright Stuff. Jeremiah Wright, that is.

RICHARD FERNANDEZ ON BARACK OBAMA: A QUESTION OF PERSONALITY:

When Giuliani told an audience ”I do not believe – and I know this is a horrible thing to say – but I do not believe that the President loves America,” he was inadvertently doing more than criticizing a president; he was in a manner of speaking, committing treason. The unprecedented firestorm of opprobrium that greeted Giuliani suggested that he had somehow hit a switch. It was like pushing an ordinary button in the wall and watching the skyscrapers out the window suddenly crumble in dust down into the ground.

What Giuliani had done was undermine Obama’s legitimacy. Because so much of Obama’s “power” comes from his special-ness that to question his patriotism is to strike at the basis for his governance. It was, as in a monarchy, tantamount to rebellion. The reason that similar remarks by Obama about George Bush’s patriotism evoked simple shrugs was because Bush was just an ordinary president, the latest in a line of politicians to occupy the office since George Washington.

But Obama is different. One cannot understand, for example, the vituperation vented by Dana Milbank at Scott Walker, calling him out for “cowardice”, arguing for his “disqualification” (yes those are the words) for the simple act of refusing to publicly repudiate Giuliani’s words about the president, unless one grasps this essential fact. Obama is different. The Obama phenomenon is founded so completely on his legend that to attack the legend is to undermine the very foundations of the tower on which he stands.

But this is not the first time the Obama myth has been directly impugned. The first major political figure to accidentally touch the Third Rail was Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has become an extraordinary hate object in the press, not because of any views he may hold on policy, but because Netanyahu had the temerity to disrespect Obama. Netanyahu must have been astonished by the charge of electricity that gave back on him.

Disrespect America, even attack it if you want, and you will not receive a tenth such voltage as did Netanyahu.

Obama is the New Class Idol, the embodiment of all the nomenklatura’s hopes and dreams — not so much for America, as for itself. Point out that he has feet — and ankles, and thighs, and torso, and head — of clay, and you threaten the whole feedlot.

JAY CARUSO: The Media: When You Attack Obama, You’re Attacking Them. “In Obama they see themselves. What he wants to carry out is what they want and they are going to do what they can to make sure these last two years he gets to do just that, the consequences be damned. So whether it is going after Rudy Giuliani or going after a Congressional staffer for a slight against the Obama daughters, the media is going to be out to defend Obama at all costs. That’s what the palace guard does.”

MY USA TODAY COLUMN FOR TOMORROW: Unpatriotic voters elect unpatriotic leaders.

With references to Robert Frank’s Passions Within Reason: The Strategic Role Of The Emotions, and also to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

THE MORE DANGEROUS THE WORLD LOOKS BECAUSE OF OBAMA’S FECKLESSNESS, THE MORE LIKELY THE ANSWER IS TO BE “YES.” After Barack Obama’s celebrity presidency is America ready for a hard man in the White House?

JUAN WILLIAMS: America’s Most Influential Thinker on Race: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s insights are reshaping law and policy for the better.

Justice Thomas, who has been on the court nearly a quarter-century, remains a polarizing figure—loved by conservatives and loathed by liberals. But his “free”-thinking legal opinions are opening new roads for the American political debate on racial justice.

His opinions are rooted in the premise that the 14th Amendment—guaranteeing equal rights for all—cannot mean different things for different people. As he wrote in Fisher v. University of Texas (2013), he is opposed to “perpetual racial tinkering” by judges to fix racial imbalance and inequality at schools and the workplace. Yet he never contends racism has gone away. The fact that a 2001 article in Time magazine about him was headlined “Uncle Tom Justice” reminds us that racism stubbornly persists.

His only current rival in the race debate is President Obama. At moments of racial controversy the nation’s first black president has used his national pulpit to give voice to black fear that racial stereotyping led to tragedy. But that is as far as he is willing to go. His attorney general, Eric Holder , has gone further by calling Americans “cowards” when it comes to discussing race. And some critics have chastised him even for that.

Justice Thomas, meanwhile, is reshaping the law and government policy on race by virtue of the power of his opinions from the bench. Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American on the Supreme Court, stood up as a voice insisting on rights for black people. Justice Thomas, the second black man on the court, takes a different tack. He stands up for individual rights as a sure blanket of legal protection for everyone, including minorities.

An idea so crazy it just might work!

REPORTED BY JAKE TAPPER, NO LESS: Hillary Clinton Says Obama Muslim Rumor Not True “As Far As I Know.”

MARK STEYN ON OBAMA: “If he were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?”

Plus: “I opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security on the basic Thatcherite principle that if you create a government bureaucracy in order to deal with a problem you’ll never be rid of the problem. But I underestimated the creativity of our rulers: The DHS was set up because 19 Muslims flew planes into skyscrapers and killed thousands of people. Thirteen years later, the head of the DHS thinks his department’s priority should be to ‘give voice to the plight of Muslims’ who have the misfortune to live in America.”

At the very least, it’s the pure instantiation of Conquest’s Third Law: “The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.”

MOE LANE: How Debbie Wasserman Schultz Taught the Left To Be Utter Cynics. “Apparently DWS was preparing to accuse Obama of being antiSemitic if he replaced her as DNC chair.”

OBAMA IS THE PATRON SAINT OF THE NEW CLASS, SO WHEN YOU ATTACK HIM, YOU’RE ATTACKING THEM: Rudy Giuliani Causes Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin to Spontaneously Combust. “After watching the brain of Dana Milbank of the Washington Post similarly explode like a character in Scanners, Jazz Shaw of Hot Air writes, ‘Milbank should at least be honest enough to wear a ‘Ready for Hillary’ t-shirt when he goes to work every day if this is how the upcoming election analysis is going to be handled.’”

OBAMA’S LEGACY: The Economy’s Worst 8-Year Run in 62 Years.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Practicality vs. Utopia.

Our political culture’s faith in education as a ritual that brings prosperity raining down from the heavens is positively religious in its intensity. Obviously a good education is enormously important to career success, as well as good citizenship and personal fulfillment, but we ended up viewing education as an expensive blended fuel to be poured into the engines of life – the more of it people get, and the more expensive it is, the further they’ll go.

The American people were long ago bludgeoned out of demanding value for their education dollars, to the point where college is now a hugely expensive remedial education for all the subjects high school and grade school didn’t teach well – a point that will be driven home all the more forcefully if President Obama’s fantasy of “free” community college comes true. “Free” community college would amount to a couple more years of high school, protracting adolescence and making those hyper-expensive advanced degrees even more of a class signifier. Instead of turning high school into a six-year affair, we should be asking very tough questions of our highly-compensated educational bureaucracy about why our kids aren’t emerging from the public school system with the well-rounded education they need to make solid practical decisions about the next steps in their lives.

Another aspect of ritualized utopianism is our loss of respect for vocational education and the “dirty jobs” celebrated by TV host Mike Rowe, who campaigns for young people to investigate skilled trade work. There are solid careers out there in trades where employers perpetually complain about a shortage of hard-working, eager apprentices, even in times of chronic high unemployment.

There’s too much magical thinking. “The belief in credentials over competence has profoundly failed America over the past few years, costing us an ocean of money and inflicting terrific damage upon the fabric of our society.” Yes. But, as I keep saying, our political class values credentials over competence because they are better provided with the former than with the latter.

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Rudy Is Right: Barack Obama doesn’t even like America.

Questions about patriotism and love of country are, according to our self-appointed referees, out of bounds, déclassé, boob bait for bubbas, etc. Those are questions that we are not allowed to ask in polite society. Why? Because polite society does not want to hear the answers.

Does Barack Obama like America? The people around him certainly seem to have their reservations. Michelle Obama said — twice, at separate campaign events — that her husband’s ascending to the presidency meant that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” She was in her mid 40s at the time, her “adult lifetime” having spanned decades during which she could not be “really proud” of her country. Barack Obama spent years in the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church as the churchman fulminated: “God Damn America!” The Reverend Wright’s infamous “God Damn America!” sermon charges the country with a litany of abuses: slavery, mistreatment of the Indians, “treating citizens as less than human,” etc.

A less raving version of the same indictment can be found in the president’s own speeches and books. His social circle includes such figures as Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn, who expressed their love of country by participating in a murderous terrorist campaign against it. Does Barack Obama love his country? Call me a rube for saying so, but it’s a fair question.

Though it’s one that our media folks might have done a better job exploring in 2008.

But here’s why Democrats, and their media protectors, are so unhappy with this question with regard to Obama in particular: It turns 2008 on its head. Obama’s appeal in 2008 lay in no small part in xenophilia: We’re so open-minded, we’re not just electing a President with a Muslim-sounding name, we’re electing a President with the same name as our most recent wartime foe! It let people feel enlightened, and progressive.

But all those differences that seemed so appealing can quickly flip into grounds for suspicion, especially when the object is behaving suspiciously. After all, if — like me — you believe in evolution, you might think that xenophobia, as such a well-established human trait, must have had beneficial functions: Maybe the xenos couldn’t be trusted, or even expected, to have the polity’s best interests at heart. Maybe, when people start getting worried about the polity’s future, those novel characteristics that once seemed so appealing now seem threatening. So while there’s a general reason the establishment wants to take the patriotism question off the table — patriotism is unsophisticated, and so limiting — there’s also a specific reason, which is that it’s something Obama’s vulnerable on right now, and it’s something the establishment can’t afford to cast Obama loose on, for reasons internal to its coalition.

But of course, the more they attack Giuliani on this, the more attention they draw to it. And even those who are, at first, repelled by Giuliani’s argument may find doubts lingering, and perhaps even growing, as they look at Obama’s presidency in a new light. . . .

And what are those reasons internal to the coalition? Williamson explains:

There is a personality type common among the Left’s partisans, and it has a name: Holden Caulfield. He is adolescent, perpetually disappointed, and ever on the lookout for phoniness and hypocrisy. His is the sort of personality inclined to believe in his heart the declaration that “behind every great fortune there is a great crime.” (He also believes that this is a quotation from Honoré de Balzac, whose works he has not read, when it fact it comes from Richard O’Connor’s The Oil Barons: Men of Greed and Grandeur.) He believes with Elizabeth Warren that the economy is a rigged game based on exploitation and deceit rather than on innovation, productivity, and competition. He believes with Barack Obama that the only reason (e.g.) Staples does not pay its part-time associates more or schedule them for more hours is so that it can pad its executive pay and protect its “billions” in annual profits.

(He believes that Staples, whose financials he has not read, makes “billions,” when in fact it does no such thing.) Say an admiring word about Steve Jobs and he’ll swear that there are four-year-olds working 169 hours a week in Chinese sweatshops producing iPods at the point of a bayonet. He believes that most people get into Harvard and Yale because they have influential parents (that’s the University of Texas, unfortunately), that rich Americans mostly inherit their money (in reality, about 15 percent of their assets are inherited, less than for middle-class families), that the U.S. goes to war abroad to enrich contractors at home, and that the entire history of Latin America must be understood through the prism of the United Fruit Company’s maneuverings in 1954.

Give Holden Caulfield a television show and you’ve got Chris Hayes.

Barack Obama has a great, big, heaping dose of Holden Caulfield in him. That and chutzpah: When as a candidate he was in trouble because of his association with the racist lunacy of the Reverend Wright, he responded by giving the American public at large a lecture on racism and its culpability therein, while his minions began proclaiming that the only reason to oppose this politician with the racist associates was — presto-change-o! — racism.

Yep. Read the whole thing.

YEAH, WELL, I THINK AMERICANS SHOULD IGNORE OBAMA’S PRONOUNCEMENTS WHEN IT’S IMPORTANT, TOO: Rasmussen: Plurality of Democrats think Obama should be able to ignore court rulings if it’s “important.” Quit paying taxes, obey only the laws you agree with, and punish anyone who tries to tell you otherwise. Goose, meet gander.

FLASHBACK: When Barack Obama Called George W. Bush “Unpatriotic.”

ERIC HOLDER WANTS AN HONEST CONVERSATION ABOUT RACE. PAUL RAHE TAKES UP THE CHALLENGE: What Do the Ten Most Dangerous Cities in America Have in Common?

Early on in his tenure, Eric Holder called for a national conversation about race and he described us as “a nation of cowards.” Although I doubt very much whether he in particular could stomach a genuinely frank conversation on this subject, I do believe that he is right that we as a people are afraid to speak up — and I regard this as a serious defect, for it prevents our even thinking about how we might address a grave problem.

The truth is simple and sad. While violent crime is by no means restricted to inner-city African-American neighborhoods, it is more prevalent there than anywhere else.

We have been treated in the last couple of years to astonishing nonsense concerning the “rape culture” that is supposedly pervasive on America’s campuses — when the statistics based on crimes reported to the police suggest that rape is exceedingly rare at our universities and exceedingly common in inner-city black neighborhoods. If our President and his Attorney General really cared about the mistreatment of women, these neighborhoods would be their focus.

If we were to have an honest national conversation on race or, for that matter, on rape, we would have to attend to the near collapse of the black family, to the fact that only 17% of African-American teenagers aged 15 to 17 live in a family where both parents are present, and to the impact this has on the likelihood that young black men will turn to crime. If Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were victimized, it was not by the likes of George Zimmerman or Darren Wilson. It was by their parents who did not stay together and keep their sons on the straight and narrow.

This really is a serious problem — and it is much more of a problem for ordinary African-Americans than it is for white men such as myself. For by and large black people are the ones who are victimized. They live in the dangerous neighborhoods. They are the ones threatened by violent crime. They are the ones most apt to be raped.

One would think that, with a black President and a black Attorney General, we would be witnessing an attempt to think through this problem and to deal with it. But, in the last six years, neither Barack Obama nor Eric Holder has said a word on the subject.

Sorry, wrong narrative. Also, you’re a racist for mentioning this.

PALACE GUARD: The media rushes to defend Obama’s honor from Rudy Giuliani. Their sensitivity on this topic tells you that it’s effective.

Also, that they’re racists.

WASHINGTON POST: A very good demonstration of how not to elevate the political debate with Rudy Giuliani, courtesy of Rep. Steve Cohen.

Two things: First, you never look to Cohen to elevate any debate. Second, his version of the 3/5 compromise is, as is common with constitutional/historical illiterates, exactly backward. It was the slaveholders who wanted slaves to count the same as a white person (because that would have gotten them more seats in Congress) and the anti-slavery people who didn’t want slaves to be counted for purposes of Congressional representation at all, since they were, you know, slaves.

I always tell my Constitutional Law students that whenever anyone trots out this “the Framers thought a black person was only worth 3/5 as much as a white person” trope, they can safely disregard whatever else that person says about the Constitution, since it’s a classic hallmark of lazy-thinking ignorance.

Meanwhile, judging by the foaming-at-the-mouth response from Democrats, Giuliani’s remarks hit a nerve. They did so because Obama has given people plenty of reason to doubt how he feels about America — at least, America as it actually is — and because Giuliani’s remarks represent the end of people treating Obama with kid gloves. In this, Giuliani’s remarks are comparable to Jonathan Chait’s It’s Okay To Hate George W. Bush piece, a signal that opened up the floodgates of liberal negativity toward Bush.

MICHAEL BARONE: Barack Obama’s ‘reckless disregard’ of the law. “Reckless disregard. It’s a phrase in legal writing that means ‘gross negligence without concern for danger to others.’ And it’s a phrase that characterizes much of the attitude toward law of an administration headed by a man sometimes described as a constitutional scholar.”

THE HILL: Second Dem splits with Obama on ISIS label.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Thursday said he disagreed with President Obama’s position against labeling terrorists the U.S. is fighting as Islamic radicals. . . .

His comments come as Obama struggles to defend his rhetoric and the White House fends off conservatives attacking its terminology when discussing the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The president’s three-day summit on countering violent extremism has been overshadowed by numerous attacks from Republicans who have said the administration should not shy away from the Islamic radical label.

Another Democrat, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), slammed the president’s speech Wednesday where he said that the U.S. is “not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

“If you look at this broad focus on countering violent extremism, which is very hard to define, it’s a diversion away from the actual threat coming from this radical Islamic ideology that exists,” Gabbard, a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, said on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”

“It’s so important that we recognize that these people are being motivated by a spiritual, theological motivation, which is this radical Islamic ideology,” added Gabbard, who is a combat veteran.

Leadership!

WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Media shocked, angry, incredulous over Giuliani comments.

Related: Wartime admiral: Obama is ‘anti-American, pro-Islamic.’

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

OUCH: The Defenders of the Faith Apologize for America. “Barack Obama and his minions have set themselves up as official interpreters and defenders of the Muslim faith. . . . This is simply insane. Does the Obama administration think that pleading guilty–falsely–to discriminating against Muslims is somehow going to pacify ISIS, al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the rest? And what, exactly, is the ‘plight’ of American Muslims? How does it compare with the plight of Muslims who live in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Libya and elsewhere in the Islamic world? Not to mention the plight of Christians and Jews who live in those places, to the extent there are any left.”

The Obama Administration’s communications strategy seems to involve living up to the worst fears of its critics.

Related: State Dept.’s Jen Psaki To Become White House Communications Director. This isn’t even the Peter Principle, as she was beyond her level of competence in her previous job.

RUDY GIULIANI: “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America.”

UPDATE: A response to the inevitable media pearl-clutching:

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To be fair, they say you always hurt the one you love. So maybe Obama loves America a lot.

NATIONAL JOURNAL: Obama Changed His Party, Not the Country: President Obama has gotten Congressional Democrats to do what he wants. No one else is following suit.

As a presidential candidate, President Obama expressed his desire to “change the trajectory of America” along the lines of Ronald Reagan, rebuking the legacy of Bill Clinton’s pragmatic presidency in the process. Now that his own presidency is winding down, Obama is finding that his main legacy is only half-achieved. He has indeed transformed the Democratic party to his liking, but failed to get anyone else to follow suit.

At the same time, there’s no doubt he’s successfully pushed Democrats to adopt his favored policies with minimal dissent—and that will have lasting consequences for many elections to come. Despite uneven personal relations with his own party in Congress, there have been very few instances when his party’s members have split from his governing course, even on issues where the politics would dictate they should.

That’s the consequence of being the most polarizing president in history, according to Gallup’s latest polling analysis. Obama maintains strong support from his core supporters, even as Republicans have entirely abandoned him and independents have followed suit. Gallup found 79 percent of Democrats still backing him, even with a 42.6 percent average approval rating in his sixth year in office. That unusually large disconnect has emboldened the president to push forward on controversial issues that few other Democrats would touch, thanks to unyielding support from his base.

That doesn’t seem to be working for down-ticket Dems.

ROGER KIMBALL: None Dare Call It Islam. “Islam or perversion of Islam? At some point, as Hillary Clinton might put it, what difference does it make? Under Barack Obama, it is painfully clear that ‘We are not at war with Islam.’ The trouble is, it has become increasingly obvious to every one except Barack Hussein Obama that Islam is at war with us.”

UPDATE: Islam As Authoritatively Defined By The Prophet Obama: “Obama purports to opine on the true meaning of Islam, as if he has the authority to judge religious orthodoxy and identify heretics within Islam. . . . When and why do we doubt the sincerity of other people’s declarations of religious belief? Obama says the claims of religious beliefs and motivations are ‘a lie.’ To my ear, the statement that it’s a ‘lie’ is itself a lie, unless we interpret Obama to be saying that Al Qaeda and ISIS subscribe to an untrue version of Islam. Normally, Americans don’t accuse religious believers of lying when what we mean is that their religious beliefs deviate from what we consider to be a more orthodox or more acceptable and benevolent set of beliefs under the same name. Imagine a President saying that Roman Catholics lie about Christianity or that Reform Jews lie about Judaism.”

To be fair, the Obama presidency involves a lot of things that normally Americans don’t do or say. But I can’t imagine that Muslims pay much attention to what Obama says about Islam, or regard him as having much authority there. So who is he trying to convince then, and why?

JEB BUSH: ‘There were mistakes’ in Iraq.

Yep, but the biggest mistake was Obama’s unforced error of a complete pullout in 2011, after his own administration was bragging about how well things were going in 2010.

The war was won, Iraq was on a peaceful path, and Obama threw it away for a campaign line in 2012. If you’re going to talk about Bush’s mistakes pre-2008, you’ve got to talk about Obama’s mistakes, post-2008. And they were huge, both in Iraq and in Afghanistan, where he sent extra troops, but not as many as the military said they needed, then set a pullout timetable that signaled to the Taliban that he wasn’t serious — again, for political reasons.

Related: National Journal: The World Will Blame Obama If Iraq Falls. And someone needs to ask the 2016 Democratic candidates how they’d avoid Obama-like screwups in the future. Because between now and November of 2016, avoiding Obama-like screwups is going to become more salient than avoiding Bush-like screwups.

Related: What Kind Of Iraq Did Obama Inherit?

Plus, I’m just going to keep running this video of what the Democrats, including Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton, were saying on Iraq before the invasion:

Because I expect a lot of revisionist history.

Plus: 2008 Flashback: Obama Says Preventing Genocide Not A Reason To Stay In Iraq. He was warned. He didn’t care.

And who can forget this?

Another Romney foreign policy prediction, derided by all right-thinking people at the time, that turned out to be spot-on.

ED DRISCOLL: Does Obama Want to Play Community Organizer to ISIS? Yesterdays’ White House event was lame even by the standards of the Psaki/Harf era. Even Andrea Mitchell thought it was lame.

Related: The Hill: WH defends its choice of words in push against ‘violent extremism.’

SPYING: President Obama: I’m A Big Believer In Strong Encryption… But…

MEGAN MCARDLE: Why Libertarians Hate ObamaCare:

I think people have a right to determine where their own money goes and what products they spend it on — even if that means they can choose to forgo a very beneficial product that would make everyone better off. Now, I do not think this right is entirely unlimited — parents can be forced to support their children, for example, and I think that’s entirely just. Even free speech can be curtailed in very extreme situations; it does not cover libel, or the proverbial nuthatch who falsely cries “fire” in a crowded theater. But there are very good reasons for requiring extraordinary circumstances to invoke such restrictions, and I do not think that Obamacare meets that bar. I am well aware that Obamacare’s supporters will disagree, and I doubt that either of us will convince the other, so I’ll leave it at that.

This is not a tedious rehash of my reasons for opposing Obamacare, though two years in, perhaps such a rehash is due. If it is, I will provide it in a different post. This is just a post on why I don’t think that the argument for Obamacare can rest very securely on the argument that we are simply cleaning up some ugly negative externalities, in much the same way that we do with noise ordinance and anti-pollution laws. That is not what we are doing, and if it were, we wouldn’t be doing it.

Also, libertarians hate lies, and ObamaCare was a lie through and through.

LIZ PEEK: Obama’s Immigration Setback Is a Gift to GOP.

GOP ESTABLISHMENT LOOKING TO run Jon Huntsman against Mike Lee? “Lee stunned the GOP establishment by wresting the Republican nomination for a Senate seat in Utah from longtime incumbent Sen. Robert Bennett, and from that moment on has been a national tea party star. Now, the establishment is looking to return the favor. So far, no credible 2016 primary challenger has emerged despite frequent complaints about Lee from Utah business and GOP establishment figures. But CNN is told there is now an aggressive push to lure a onetime Utah GOP star back into the game.” Star?

But wait, here’s some late-breaking news: Establishment Strikes Out in Plans to Challenge Mike Lee with Jon Huntsman. “Huntsman was elected twice as Utah’s governor and was by far the GOP establishment’s best chance at beating Lee in state. He resigned from his gubernatorial post in 2009 after President Barack Obama named him his ambassador to China—a position from which he resigned to run for president unsuccessfully in 2012.”

MOE LANE: Tweet of the Day, SOMEBODY Just Got A Reality-Mugging edition.

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Sorry, honey. He lied to you and now you’re stuck holding the bag. Some men are like that, you know.

WELL, WHAT’S THERE TO APPROVE OF, REALLY? Poll: Most disapprove of Obama handling of ISIS.

RICHARD FERNANDEZ: Western Leaders Imprisoned By Their Own Lies. “Both the Obama administration and the Franco-Germans are as trapped as the Ukrainians in Debaltseve. The Ukrainian troops are surrounded by the Russian troops, while the Western leaders are imprisoned by their own lies. The soldiers are invested by encroaching lines. The statesmen are trapped in a high wall of political bricks comprised of their own falsehoods. Having led their nations forward with false assurances of safety, both the EU leaders and the Obama administration are struggling to find an escape without admitting error.”

LIFE IN OBAMA’S AMERICA: Report: Denver Police Ordered to Stand Down While Protesters Vandalize Police Memorial.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Cornell, meet Obamacare’s cousin: Students revolt over new $350 health fee.

COPENHAGEN: Nothing Random Here.

Yesterday evening’s Copenhagen synagogue shooting is yet another attack on Jews as Jews — just as we have witnessed such attacks at the Toulouse Jewish primary school, the Brussels Jewish museum, the Paris kosher supermarket, the firebombing of the synagogue in the German city of Wuppertal, and at many other places in recent years, from the Jewish communal centres in Mumbai and Casablanca, to the ancient synagogues in Istanbul and Jerba.

Yet only last week President Obama and his spokespeople were suggesting that it was just some kind of “random” accident that Jews were being killed.

The Obama team has consistently demonstrated a willful lack of understanding about the nature of Islamism, about anti-Semitism, and about the intentions of the Islamic revolutionary government in Iran. They seem more interested in disparaging the prime minister of America’s ally Israel than in preventing the regime in Tehran going nuclear – a regime which has already de facto taken control of large swathes of Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. Its terrorist actions outside the Middle East spread to, among other places, Thailand, Bulgaria (where Jewish tourists were blown up in 2012) and Argentina, where 85 people were murdered at the AMIA Jewish centre in Buenos Aires. Only last month an Iranian diplomat in Montevideo was expelled from Uruguay for planting a bomb designed to kill Jews. (This foiled attack was barely reported on outside the Uruguayan and Israeli media.)

As Middle East scholar Bassam Tawil wrote last week: “Does Obama really want his legacy to be, ‘The president who was an even bigger fool than Neville Chamberlain’?”

It’s not that the Obama Administration doesn’t understand. It’s that they don’t want you to understand. Because then you’d want them to do something, and they don’t want to do anything.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Obama Hides $22 Billion In Student Debt.

BUT OBAMA SEES THEM AS FRIENDS WE JUST HAVEN’T PROPERLY MET YET: Republicans Want Tougher Action Against Islamic Extremism.

Congressional Republicans are pushing for a broader, more aggressive approach to counter the threat of Islamist extremism against a White House strategy they see as too passive and politically correct. This is a risky political move after more than 13 years of war, but one they think may be necessary to confront a growing danger.

Concern about President Obama’s unwillingness to even describe the terrorist threat as “Islamist” colors nearly every national security debate on Capitol Hill, including consideration of his proposed authorization for the use of force against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and oversight of policies for combating extremist activity at home.

“Today we are at war. We’re at war with violent Islamist extremism, the perversion of a religion into a deeply insidious worldview,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said Thursday in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute.

“For six years, the president has denied it and has put our nation on a path of retreat. This denial has allowed our enemies to surge.”

Ya think?

SMARTEST PRESIDENT EVER: Obama’s old passwords: ‘Password,’ ‘123457.’

MILO YIANNOPOULOS: The Wacky World of Brianna Wu: The Tortured History of GamerGate’s Self-Styled Feminist Martyr — Who Used To Be A Man. “Yet Wu was not until relatively recently a woman at all, and her legitimacy as a speaker even for the transgender community is in doubt since, as we can also today reveal, she was banned from a transgender forum after less than a year for unacceptable behaviour–not an easy thing to accomplish in a community well-known for its aggressive online conversations. . . . Wu has published unhinged op-eds in a number of online outlets that are seemingly not fact-checked or even subjected to basic common sense examinations. The increasingly hysterical tone of her recent writing, in which she makes direct appeals to President Barack Obama, has led some concerned observers to speculate she may be a danger to herself or those around her, especially when viewed alongside a Twitter account that is also spinning off the rails into ludicrous claims and grandiose language about imaginary attackers and her own bizarre self-image.”

HARRY REID OPENED PANDORA’S BOX: House conservatives push McConnell to gut filibuster.

A growing number of House GOP conservatives are pressuring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday to invoke the “nuclear option” and change the chamber’s rules to pass a bill defunding President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Reps. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said McConnell should change Senate rules, so the House-passed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill, which includes language to revoke Obama’s immigration-related actions, can bypass a Democratic filibuster in the upper chamber.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) also endorsed the idea at a Thursday news conference. He said there’s a “way to change the rules to allow us to move forward” and “take away the ability to filibuster.”

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) was the first House Republican to advocate such a rules change Wednesday evening, arguing that now-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had established a precedent during his time in the majority.

Republican senators, however, immediately sought to quash the idea.

“The answer is not to change Senate rules,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said during the same news conference at which Mulvaney spoke. “The answer is for Senate Democrat not to be obstructionists.”

Well, I’m not super-confident of that. But then again, as they say, the value of the sword of Damocles is that it hangs, not that it falls. Perhaps the treat of taking Reid’s “nuclear option” to the next level will encourage cooperation. Though I doubt it.

CONGRESS: Obama’s war request runs into a brick wall. It’s hard to give a President war power when he’s just not a credible war leader.

OF COURSE HE DID: Obama Secretly Partied With Bill Ayers Last Summer. “While the fact that Obama was literally partying with former advocates of violent struggle against the U.S. government will no doubt be taken by his critics as further evidence that he hates America, the most interesting thing about the wedding is the shocking proof it offers that—at long last!—Obama truly no longer gives a fuck about keeping up political appearances.”

Yeah, we’ve kind of noticed.

REMINDER: In 2009, Barack Obama “Joked” About Auditing His Enemies.

REMEMBER BACK IN 2008 WHEN PEOPLE WERE TELLING US THAT OBAMA WAS THE ADULT IN THE ROOM? Well:

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As somebody on Twitter said, where Nero fiddled, Obama selfies.

UPDATE: Study: Men who take selfies may be psychopaths. The science is settled! You don’t want to be a science-denier, do you? And note the selfie-stick reference. . . .

GORDON CROVITZ: The Great Internet Power Grab: We’ve come a long way from Steve Jobs as ‘phone phreak’ to Tom Wheeler as ruler of the Internet.

The era of open innovation can be dated to 1971, when teenager Steve Jobs and his engineer friend Steve Wozniak became “phone phreaks.” They sold kits to create routing tones spoofing government-regulated phones into making free long-distance calls. Evading the absurdly high prices that federal regulators set for AT&T calls felt like civil disobedience. The same spirit of disruptive innovation led them to found Apple.

Last week Washington abandoned open innovation when the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission yielded to President Obama ’s demands and moved to regulate the freewheeling Internet under the same laws that applied to the Ma Bell monopoly. Unless these reactionary regulations are stopped, they spell the end of the permissionless innovation that built today’s Internet.

Until now, anyone could launch new websites, apps and mobile devices without having to lobby a regulator for permission. That was thanks to a Clinton-era bipartisan consensus that the Internet shouldn’t be treated as a public utility. Congress and the White House under both parties kept the FCC from applying the hoary regulations that micromanaged the phone system, which would have frozen innovation online.

Last week’s announcement from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler rejects 20 years of open innovation by submitting the Internet to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Once Mr. Wheeler and the commission’s Democratic majority vote this month to apply Title II, the regulations will give them staggering control. Any Internet “charges” and “practices” that the bureaucrats find “unjust or unreasonable is declared to be unlawful.”

This is an open invitation to entrenched companies challenged by new technologies.

Hey, “permissionless innovation” may make the country rich, but it’s hell on people who buy and sell permissions for a living.

Related: Colorado Regulator Going After Unregulated Yoga Instructors Works For Regulated State Chain.

THE SPLC AS INCITER OF MURDER? Under the SPLC’s Own Logic, It’s Guilty In The Chapel Hill Killings. “Somehow, if he had liked Sean Hannity and the Southern Baptist Convention instead of Rachel Maddow and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, I don’t think we would witness the media restraint we’re seeing when it comes to connecting this killer’s politics to his terrible deeds. And again, I would note the irony of his fondness for the Southern Poverty Law Center. By the SPLC’s own logic, the SPLC shares responsibility for another hate crime. Now that the SPLC has been hoisted by its own petard twice in a few years, I hope it and other liberal groups act more responsibly the next time they want to blame a tragic crime on someone’s personal politics.”

Related: SPLC apologizes, removes Dr. Ben Carson from its “Extremist” list.

Also related: Of Double Standards and Triple Homicides: Media Malpractice and the North Carolina Murders. “It is ironic that in the wake of President Barack Obama’s remarks about a ‘random’ attack by a Muslim terrorist on a Kosher supermarket — note that the White House will not call it a jihadist attack on Jews — in the case of the victims in North Carolina, again from the start they were identified as Muslims. Randomness is clearly in the eye of the beholder.” To be fair, this killer had some pretty suspicious associations, what with Facebook “likes” for the SPLC, HuffPo, Rachel Maddow, etc.

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Don’t Blame Staples: In the matter of perverse economic incentives, the perverts are in Washington.

Demand curves slope downward. Which is to say, if you raise the price of something, people will be inclined to consume less of it. Those with a choice in the matter – say, a large office-supply chain with a mess of low-skilled part-time employees who are basically as interchangeable as toner cartridges in the greater scheme of office-supply things – will in fact consume less. If the thing that is getting more expensive is manpower, it will cut employees’ hours, circulate a lot of those dopey “do more with less” memos, and look for labor substitutes, like the banks did with those ATMs that haunt President Obama’s imagination.

Sometimes, you have to go full robot.

Politicians build their careers on voters’ ignorance about supply and demand curves.

AUSTIN BAY: Je Suis Charles Martel: Obama’s Crusade Talk Benefits Islamic State.

ATTENTION WHITE HOUSE STAFF: Your boss could have stigmatized Christian killers and provided a history lesson relevant to the challenge presented by Islamist terrorists. During The Thirty Years War, Protestants hacked Catholics and Catholics hacked back. In the process, they devastated Europe. The war ended with the Treaties of Westphalia. The “Westphalian system” separated political and ecclesiastical power. Twenty-first-century culturally Islamic nations need this, desperately — the separation of mosque and state.

Though invoking The (singular) Inquisition invites debate, Obama might be able to defend an Inquisition analogy. As Dark Age centuries became Medieval then, the Renaissance re-birthed, inquisitors with various inquiring courts waxed and waned. They were fundamentally intra-European affairs, and harsh theologies justified “terrible deeds.” Islamic terrorists murder Muslim “apostates” by the tens of thousands. That’s intra-Islamic murder. The president may have something here.

But our Provocateur in Chief went guilt trip, equating the Crusades with IS depredations. In so doing, he handed every Middle Eastern Islamo-fascist terrorist organization on the planet a propaganda weapon.

Plus, Ross Douthat on Obama’s historical illiteracy. Well, Obama is a historical illiterate.

ROGER SIMON: #JEWISHLIVESMATTER:

Thought experiment: What if a white racist with a submachine gun broke into a convenience store in South Central Los Angeles, grabbed seven or eight African Americans who were shopping (maybe there was one Korean) as hostages for the release of some other white racists and then, when attacked, started spewing the N-word while shooting up the place, killing three or four of the African Americans and wounding three or four others, one or two critically.

How would President Obama react?

Do you think he would say there was something racial about the obscene incident? Damn right he would — and he should. In fact, he would do it forcefully and immediately. After all, when Trayvon Martin died in far more ambiguous circumstances, he was quick to jump in, identifying with the 17 year old who would resemble, Obama said, his own son if he had one.

Now consider what our president said about the events at the Hyper Cacher market in Paris on January 9 in a new interview with Vox.com: “It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”

“[V]icious zealots… randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli”? That’s the way the way the president of the United States describes a dedicated jihadist murdering four Jews in a kosher market in one of the oldest and largest Jewish neighborhoods in Paris, the day after other jihadists shot up the Charlie Hebdo offices, killing even more people? No Jews, no jihadist, just more “random” violence, as if Ahmedy Coulibaly, the man who murdered the four Jews and had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, just stumbled into a kosher deli by accident with a submachine gun while on the way to Cafe de Flore for a cognac.

Well, this is entirely consistent with Obama’s worldview. As Roger notes: “Barack Obama — despite a claque of Jewish advisers (Axelrod, Lew, Emanuel, etc. I wonder how they felt when they heard this latest round) — appears to have a very complicated, almost bizarre reaction to Jews. Maybe it’s a weird competition between oppressed groups — blacks and Jews — or more of his not-so-masked appreciation of (and defensiveness about) all things Islamic.”

THOSE PRE-LEWINSKY SEX SCANDALS SEEM SO QUAINT NOW: Former Sen. Bob Packwood Returns to Talk Taxes, Not Scandal.

The Finance Committee was in a mood to reminisce Tuesday morning about the good old days, when Sen. Bob Packwood played a key role in negotiating a bipartisan overhaul of the tax code.

The Oregon Republican was back Tuesday at the committee he once chaired to testify about that bipartisan success, where lawmakers in both parties worked with President Ronald Reagan on the 1986 tax deal. Packwood’s successor, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, was on the dais as the ranking member of the Finance panel, having held the gavel last Congress with Democrats in charge.

But no one really wanted to talk about the circumstances that led to Wyden’s arrival in the Senate: Packwood abruptly surrendered his gavel and resigned from the chamber amid a sexual harassment scandal that roiled the chamber. For all his legislative skill — and he had plenty — at the end of the day, Packwood was a disgrace.

Wyden distanced himself from the invitation of Packwood, who left the Senate in 1995 after the chamber spent 33 months investigating his unwanted sexual advances toward women.

I would like to see a 1986-style tax deal, but it’s hard to see Obama going along with anything like that.

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE, HALFHEARTED WAR-AUTHORIZATION EDITION: Obama’s ISIS war powers request to ban ‘enduring’ troops.

The White House will ask Congress to approve military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that bans “enduring offensive ground operations.”

Administration officials briefed lawmakers on Tuesday about the emerging language, which is intended to win over Republicans.

GOP lawmakers had balked at earlier language considered by a Senate panel in December that banned ground troops in combat operations with some exceptions, such as self-defense and rescue missions.

What is unclear is whether Democrats wary of voting for a new war will withhold their support for the updated language, which even some Republicans acknowledge is vague.

“It’d be interesting to know exactly what that ‘enduring’ means, but I have to see it,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has called for language that would allow ground troops in order to give the military maximum flexibility to go after ISIS.

How about “the total destruction of our enemies and all who support them?” If you don’t want a war to drag on, that’s probably the best way to do it.

ORWELL WAS AN AMATEUR: Jim Treacher: If You Don’t Like The Obama Administration’s Position On Terrorism, Just Wait A Few Minutes. “They think the American people are stupid. Can you blame them? After all, we elected them. Twice.”

OUT: DIVIDE AND CONQUER. IN: DIVIDE AND CONDESCEND. Jim Gilmore: Obama’s anti-American crusade comments: President offended Christians and undermined American leadership.

SURPRISE! Obama Administration Still Stonewalling On IRS Scandal. “The Obama administration is refusing to publicly release more than 500 documents on the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups. Twenty months after the IRS scandal broke, there are still many unanswered questions about who was spearheading the agency’s scrutiny of conservative-leaning organizations. The Hill sought access to government documents that might provide a glimpse of the decision-making through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The Hill asked for 2013 emails and other correspondence between the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The request specifically sought emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner and Treasury officials, including Secretary Jack Lew, while the inspector general was working on its explosive May 2013 report that the IRS used ‘inappropriate criteria’ to review the political activities of tax-exempt groups. TIGTA opted not to release any of the 512 documents covered by the request, citing various exemptions in the law.”

WELL, HE’S BEEN SUPER-TRUSTWORTHY ON EVERYTHING ELSE, SO THAT’S FAIR: Obama Asks Germany to Stop ‘Assuming the Worst’ About NSA Spying.

President Obama on Monday admitted that revelations about the National Security Agency’s international spying operations had hurt the U.S.’s reputation in Germany—but he asked for more patience from the close diplomatic ally as he works to bolster privacy safeguards on the handling of foreign data.

“There’s no doubt that the Snowden revelations damaged impressions of Germans with respect to the U.S. government and our intelligence cooperation,” Obama said during a press conference held jointly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But the president quickly defended the importance of the NSA’s intelligence-gathering practices, showing impatience with the international community for its growing skepticism of his administration’s concern for the civil liberties of foreigners.

“Occasionally I would like the German people to give us the benefit of the doubt, given our history, as opposed to assuming the worst, assuming that we have been consistently your strong partners and that we share a common set of values,” he said.

These days, even Americans aren’t sure Obama shares a common set of values.

DAVID AXELROD: Obama Misled On Gay Marriage For Political Reasons. “Axelrod writes that he knew Obama was in favor of same-sex marriages during the first presidential campaign, even Obama publicly said he only supported civil unions, not full marriages. Axelrod also admits to counseling Obama to conceal that position for political reasons.”

It’s liars all the way down in this administration.

“SMART DIPLOMACY:” Obama’s ‘Crusade’ Video Bolsters ISIS Propaganda Campaign.

LIKE MOST THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED UNDER OBAMA: New study finds that Dodd-Frank has promoted industry consolidation and killed community banks.

ROLL CALL: Republicans Want to Send Message to SCOTUS on Obamacare.

Senate Republicans want to send a message to the Supreme Court that it’s OK to undermine Obamacare.

They keep asking the Obama administration what it plans to do if the Supreme Court upends health insurance subsidies in the King v. Burwell case. It’s a hypothetical question the administration has been reluctant to entertain, leading the GOP to undertake an effort to craft a resolution.

Part of the reason is that Republicans want to try to signal to potentially wavering justices that there would be a path to minimal disruption should the court invalidate tax credits for millions of people in states that didn’t create their own health insurance exchanges.

South Dakota Republican John Thune, who is chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said there is a lot of discussion along those lines.

“If the court thought that there was a viable alternative, that doesn’t create disruption out there, it might” make the court more inclined to rule against the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law, he said. “So we are trying to be prepared.”

Well, it’s less heavy-handed than the Democrats’ bullying op-ed campaign before Sebelius. On the other hand, that campaign worked.