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MARK TAPSCOTT: Is The Obama Administration Losing Touch With Reality? “There is an air of unreality about the Obama crew these days that became starkly evident last week with a letter to Congress from National Security Advisor Susan Rice seeking repeal of the 2002 authorization for the invasion of Iraq and White House press secretary Josh Earnest claiming Republicans are seriously seeking to impeach his boss.”

IT’S ALMOST LIKE HE DIDN’T WANT TO: WaPo: Obama failed to stop the Islamic State when he had the chance. “Obama was not taken by surprise by the Islamic State offensive, as administration officials have repeatedly claimed. He had been warned by Iraqi officials, and even by officials in his administration. U.S. intelligence had identified the camps. Obama had not only been given a green light from the Iraqis to strike, but they also were pleading with him to do so. Obama simply refused to act.”

ON THIS POST BY ROGER SIMON, AN INTERESTING COMMENT:

A person I trust posted the following on a local Jewish e-board in NJ. She advised that it is from an IDF solider presently serving in Gaza:

“What’s happening here in the staging area [area where soldiers prepare to enter Gaza] is beyond comprehension, not rationally, not emotionally and begs the imagination.

Almost every hour a car shows up overflowing with food, snacks, cold drinks, socks, underwear, undershirts, hygiene supplies, wipes, cigarettes, backgammon and more. They’re coming from the North and the Center, from manufacturers, from companies and private businesses, from prisons, Chareidim and Settlers, from Tel Aviv and even Saviyon.

Every intersection on they way down here we get stopped, not by the police, but be residents giving out food. What is amazing is that the entire situation wasn’t organized and everyone is coming on their own without coordination between the folks coming.

They’re writing letters and blessings, how they’re thinking of us all the time. There are those who spent hours making sandwiches, so they’re as perfect and comforting as possible.

Of course representatives of Chabad are here to help soldiers put on Tefillin and distributing Cha’Ta’Ts (Chumash, Tehillim, Tanya) for every troop transport and Breslov are showing up to the border and dancing with the soldiers with great joy.

The Chareidim are coming from their yeshivot to ask the names of the soldiers with their mothers’ names so that the whole yeshiva can pray for them. It should be mentioned that all of this is done under the threat of the terrorist tunnels and rockets in the area.
Soroka Hospital (in Be’er Sheva) today looks like a 5 star hotel. A wounded friend who was recently discharged told us how the MasterChef truck is parked outside and is preparing food for the wounded.

It goes without saying the amount of prayer services that are going on. On the religious front as well, there are lectures and Torah classes, all the food is obviously Kosher. Shachrit, Mincha, and Maariv with Sifrei Torah. They’re giving out tzitzit and Tehilim by the hundreds. It’s become the new fashion! The Rabbi of Maglan [Special Forces unit] told me that almost the entire unit has started wearing them, because the Army Rabbinate has been giving out tzitzit that wick away sweat. They’re gaining both a Mitzva and a high quality undershirt. We’ve started calling them “Shachpatzitzti” (a portmanteau of the Hebrew term for body armor and tzitzit). We’re having deep conversations late into the night without arguments, without fights and we find ourselves agreeing on most stuff.

We’re making lots of jokes at Hamas’s expensive and without politics. There’s lots more to add but my battery is running low and the staff has been requesting someone give a class on Likutei MoharaN (Breslov).

How happy is the nation that is like this.”

Well, to be fair, they have a leader who believes in the country he leads.

UPDATE: Question: Come a real confrontation with Obama — which seems possible — could the Israelis flip and ally with Putin? The Soviets backed the Israelis pre-1967, and right now Putin’s siding with Assad against the Islamists. Israel would be a game-changing ally for Russia in the Middle East, especially with all the traditional Arab powers looking shaky — not only in terms of military assets, but more significantly in terms of intelligence assets.

I’m sure the crack Smart DiplomacyTM team at the State Department has considered this.

HOW’S THAT RUSSIAN RESET GOING FOR YA, HILLARY? Russians’ Test Called Breach Of Missile Pact. “The United States has concluded that Russia violated a landmark arms control treaty by testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile, according to senior American officials, a finding that was conveyed by President Obama to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in a letter on Monday.”

The Russian fear is that we’d scrap the treaty and push new weapons systems. Putin knows that Obama won’t do that, so why stick to the treaty?

“SMART DIPLOMACY” GETS EVEN SMARTER! The Obama administration threatens Israel over criticism of John Kerry.

MICKEY KAUS: Boehner’s Bad Coach. “A good football coach thinks several plays ahead. Rep. Salmon seems incapable of thinking one play ahead. By passing any immigration change now — even a desirable one — Republicans open themselves up to a protracted negotiation, perhaps into a lame duck session, with the massed forces of Obama, Haley Barbour, the Chamber of Commerce, (and Rupert Murdoch), all angling for one part of ‘comprehensive’ reform or another. That might be good for GOP fundraising — lobbyists can be generous when they really want something — but this isn’t a fundraising game (or a PR game, let alone a football game). What is at stake is the fundamental policy of the nation.”

I say revisit it in 2017. Until then, in Bob Dole’s memorable phrase, remember that sometimes a little gridlock can be a good thing.

And remember this from (immigrant!) Eugene Volokh:

I think, though, that the “Pilgrims = Illegal Aliens” equation illustrates the exact opposite. The whites immigrated to America — and took over the place. (I’m glad they did, but I can surely understand why the Indians might have disagreed.) Likewise, Jews immigrated to Palestine (adding vastly to the numbers already present), sometimes illegally — and eventually there were more Jews in some parts than Arabs, so Jews started running the place. Now Israelis are sensibly objecting to Palestinians’ asserted “right of return” to their and their parents’ homes, because if enough Palestinians are allowed to immigrate into Israel, they’ll start running the place.

The bottom line is that for all the good that immigration can do (and I’m an immigrant to the U.S., who is very glad that America let me in, and who generally supports immigration), unregulated immigration can dramatically change the nature of the target society. It makes a lot of sense for those who live there to think hard about how those changes can be managed, and in some situations to restrict the flow of immigrants — who, after all, will soon be entitled to affect their new countrymen’s rights and lives, through the vote if not through force.

I sometimes pose for my liberal friends a stylized thought experiment. Say that they live in a country of 3 million people (the size of New Zealand) where 55% of the citizens are pro-choice and 45% are pro-life (1.65 million vs. 1.35 million). Now the country is facing an influx of 1 million devoutly Catholic immigrants, who are 90% pro-life. If these immigrants are let in and become citizens, the balance will flip to 2.25 million pro-life to 1.75 million pro-choice (56% to 44% pro-choice); and what my friends might see as their fundamental human right to abortion may well vanish, perfectly peacefully and democratically.

It’s unlikely that any constitutional protection will stand in the way: Even constitutions can be amended, and new judges can be appointed. Nor can one rely on “education” or “assimilation” — what if the immigrants simply conclude that their views on abortion are just better than the domestic majority’s? I think many of the current residents may rightly say “We have nothing against Catholics; but we don’t want our rights changed by the arrival of people who have a different perspective on the world than we do.”

Letting in immigrants means letting in your future rulers.

If today’s immigrant wave were likely to vote Republican, all right-thinking people would be demanding deportations and a mile-wide belt of barbed wire and minefields along the border.

WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP: Why Is the World Becoming Such a Nasty Place? Poor Obama. So much bad luck.

CNN POLL: Americans really wish they had elected Mitt Romney instead of Obama.

Americans are so down on President Obama at the moment that, if they could do the 2012 election all over again, they’d overwhelmingly back the former Massachusetts governor’s bid. That’s just one finding in a brutal CNN poll, released Sunday, which shows Romney topping Obama in a re-election rematch by a whopping nine-point margin, 53 percent to 44 percent. That’s an even larger spread than CNN found in November, when a survey had Romney winning a redo 49 percent to 45 percent.

Two years ago, Obama won re-election with about 51 percent of the vote.

Well, I mean, look around.

BYRON YORK: The Democrats’ Impeachment-Themed Fundraising Extravaganza. The GOP won’t impeach Obama. Nobody wants a President Biden. And even if you could Agnew Biden out of the way, you’d just get . . . President Boehner. Nobody wants that, either. . . .

Related: Rep. Scalise Calls Out Obama: ‘First White House In History Trying To Start Narrative Of Own Impeachment.’ ““Look, the White House will do anything they can to change the topic away from the president’s failed agenda. . . . People are paying higher costs for food, for healthcare, for gas at the pump. And the president isn’t solving those problems. So he wants to try to change the subject.”

BILL QUICK WONDERS IF THIS IMMIGRATION CRISIS is backfiring on Obama.

BECOMING? Walter Russell Mead: As Libya Implodes, “Smart Diplomacy” Becoming a Punch Line.

Throw in the resulting civil war in Mali and the scattering of insurgents and weapons to the four winds, and you have a classic exhibition of reckless incompetence—of American arrogance, ignorance, carelessness and moralism combining in a toxic stew to sink a fragile country we never understood.

Luckily for America’s self-esteem, it was liberal Democrats that produced this particular shambles. If Republicans had done this, the media would be on the administration non-stop, perhaps comparing Samantha Power to Paul Wolfowitz—a well-meaning humanitarian way over her head who wrecked a country out of misguided ideology. There might also be some pointed questions for future presidential candidates who supported this fiasco. But since both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have their fingerprints all over Libya, there isn’t a lot of press hunger for a detailed, unsparing autopsy into this stinking corpse of policy flub.

If Obama were a Republican, the press and the weekly news shows would be ringing with hyperbolic, apocalyptic denunciations of the clueless incumbent who had failed to learn the most basic lessons of Iraq. Indeed, the MSM right now would be howling that Obama was stupider than Bush. Bush, our Journolist friends would now be saying ad nauseam, at least had the excuse that he didn’t know what happens when you overthrow a paranoid, genocidal, economically incompetent Arab tyrant in an artificial post-colonial state. But Obama did—or, the press would nastily say, he would have done if he’d been doing his job instead of hitting the golf course or yakking it up with his glitzy pals at late night bull sessions. The ad hominem attacks would never stop, and all the tangled threads of incompetence and failure would be endlessly and expertly picked at in long New Yorker articles, NYT thumbsuckers, and chin-strokings on all the Sabbath gasbag shows.

Why, the ever-admirable tribunes of a free and unbiased press would be asking non-stop, didn’t this poor excuse for a President learn from what happened in Iraq? When you upend an insane and murderous dictator who has crushed his people for decades under an incompetent and quirky regime, you’d better realize that there is no effective state or civil society under the hard shell of dictatorial rule. Remove the dictator and you get chaos and anarchy. Wasn’t this President paying attention during the last ten years?

Some of the criticism would be exaggerated and unfair; the Monday morning quarterbacks never really understand just how complicated and tragic this poor world really is, not to mention how hard it is to make life and death decisions in real time in the center of the non-stop political firestorm that is Washington today. And the MSM attracts more than its share of deeply inexperienced but entitled, self-regarding blowhards who love to pontificate about how stupid all those poor fools who have actual jobs and responsibilities actually are.

But luckily for Team Obama, the mainstream press would rather die than subject liberal Democrats to the critiques it reserves for the GOP.

This is why, if you want accountable government, you should always vote Republican.

DO TELL: Lawmakers complain Obama too aloof with Congress.

President Barack Obama’s request for billions of dollars to deal with migrant children streaming across the border set off Democrats and Republicans. Lawmakers in both parties complained that the White House – six years in – still doesn’t get it when it comes to working with Congress.

Top GOP leaders got no notice of the $3.7 billion emergency request. The administration sent contradictory messages about what it wanted to deal with the border crisis. And as the proposal drew fierce criticism, the White House made few overtures to lawmakers in either party to rally support.

House and Senate lawmakers in both parties plus several senior congressional aides said this past week that the handling of the proposal by Obama and the White House is emblematic of the administration’s rocky relationship with Congress: an ad hoc approach that shuns appeals to opponents and doesn’t reward allies. . . . Congressional frustration with the administration is not limited to the White House.

Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly implored the State Department last month to weigh in on a bipartisan resolution calling on Turkey to return confiscated Christian property before a House panel voted on the measure. The Virginia lawmaker complained the resolution included “gratuitous Turkey-bashing” and wanted State Department officials to help persuade lawmakers to support a toned-down version.

None of his House colleagues heard from department’s legislative liaisons.

“The State Department was missing in action,” Connolly said in an interview. “They have to professionalize their operation.”

He’s a cold fish who doesn’t care about much of anything outside his own narrow priorities.

“SMART DIPLOMACY” BEARS ITS USUAL FRUIT: U.S. evacuates Libya embassy after ‘free-wheeling militia violence.’

Meanwhile, Obama went golfing today.

EVERYTHING OBAMA TOUCHES: Taliban Making Military Gains in Afghanistan.

ELIZABETH PRICE FOLEY IN THE WASHINGTON POST: Federal courts need to stop Obama from flouting the Constitution. “The Constitution states that it’s Congress’s job to make the laws and the president’s to faithfully execute them. It does not permit a president to suspend a law or grant special dispensations from its requirements. But President Obama has done just these things on numerous occasions, and only the federal courts can preserve the constitutionally mandated separation of powers by definitively rebuffing his illegal actions.”

MICKEY KAUS: Has Obama Trapped Himself?

THIS IS HOW DESPERATE THEY ARE FOR A BASE-FIRMING DISTRACTION: The Hill: White House Doubles Down On Impeachment.

The White House on Friday doubled down on its talk that Republicans could try and impeach President Obama, hours after a top White House aide said they were taking these calls more seriously.

“I think there are some Republicans, including some Republicans running for office, hoping to get into office to impeach the president,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, which he described as “political sideshows.”

Earnest was asked to identify who those Republicans are, and he only mentioned Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, but added there’s “no doubt” there are other voices also calling for impeachment.

Earnest also acknowledged that impeachment calls are being tied to fundraising.

Do tell.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: The ObamaCare/IRS Nexus: The supposedly independent agency harassed the administration’s political opponents and saved its health-care law.

One of the big questions out of the IRS targeting scandal is this: How can an agency that engaged in such political misconduct be trusted to implement ObamaCare? This week’s Halbig v. Burwell ruling reminded us of the answer. It can’t.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Halbig that the administration had illegally provided ObamaCare subsidies in 36 insurance exchanges run by the federal government. Yet it wasn’t the “administration” as a whole that issued the lawless subsidy gift. It was the administration acting through its new, favorite enforcer: the IRS.

And it was entirely political. Democrats needed those subsidies. The party had assumed that dangling subsidies before the states would induce them to set up exchanges. When dozens instead refused, the White House was faced with the prospect that citizens in 36 states—two-thirds of the country—would be exposed to the full cost of ObamaCare’s overpriced insurance. The backlash would have been horrific, potentially forcing Democrats to reopen the law, or even costing President Obama re-election.

The White House viewed it as imperative, therefore, that IRS bureaucrats ignore the law’s text and come up with a politically helpful rule. The evidence shows that career officials at the IRS did indeed do as Treasury Department and Health and Human Services Department officials told them. This, despite the fact that the IRS is supposed to be insulated from political meddling.

We know this thanks to a largely overlooked joint investigation and February report by the House Oversight and Ways and Means committees into the history of the IRS subsidy rule. We know that in the late summer of 2010, after ObamaCare was signed into law, the IRS assembled a working group—made up of career IRS and Treasury employees—to develop regulations around ObamaCare subsidies. And we know that this working group initially decided to follow the text of the law. An early draft of its rule about subsidies explained that they were for “Exchanges established by the State.”

Yet in March 2011, Emily McMahon, the acting assistant secretary for tax policy at the Treasury Department (a political hire), saw a news article that noted a growing legal focus on the meaning of that text. She forwarded it to the working group, which in turn decided to elevate the issue—according to Congress’s report—to “senior IRS and Treasury officials.” The office of the IRS chief counsel—one of two positions appointed by the president—drafted a memo telling the group that it should read the text to mean that everyone, in every exchange, got subsidies. At some point between March 10 and March 15, 2011, the reference to “Exchanges established by the State” disappeared from the draft rule.

Emails viewed by congressional investigators nonetheless showed that Treasury and the IRS remained worried they were breaking the law. An email exchange between Treasury employees in the spring of 2011 expressed concern that they had no statutory authority to deem a federally run exchange the equivalent of a state-run exchange.

Yet rather than engage in a basic legal analysis—a core duty of an agency charged with tax laws—the IRS instead set about obtaining cover for its predetermined political goal.

Tyrannizing you with your money.

WILL HE SIGN? Bill allowing Americans to unlock smartphones passes, heads to Obama.

THERE’S A U.S. ENERGY BOOM, NO THANKS TO OBAMA: U.S. crude production has soared 70% since 2008 even as output on federal lands falls sharply.

USA TODAY: ObamaCare Court Defense Crumbles: Key Affordable Care Act architect tangled in his conveniently changing story..

In other words, Congress did mean to use the subsidies to overcome state resistance and pressure them to set up their own exchanges. That is precisely what the plaintiffs in Halbig asserted. Of course, Obamacare’s supporters didn’t anticipate that the backlash against the law would be so intense that 34 states would actually decline the subsidies, almost as an act of civil disobedience.

On Friday morning, an embarrassed Gruber insisted to The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn, “I honestly don’t remember why I said that… I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake.”

But a second speech, this time in the form of audio, surfaced this morning in which he makes the same claims before the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco at around the same time. In it, Gruber actively acknowledges that should if states revolt en masse, they’d bring down the law. But, he said, that he had enough faith in democracy to believe that even the states that didn’t like Obamacare would eventually succumb to the “ultimate threat” that “if your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you are losing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits to be delivered to your citizens.”

Gruber would like everyone to ignore, not just the plain text of a law that he had a major hand in crafting, but also the plain meaning of his own words explaining why the law was written the way it was – not once, but at least twice.

Who is being “screwy” and “really criminal” here?

They took a crappy bill that they hadn’t read, they rammed it through on a party-line vote using a budget-reconciliation technicality, then they did an “I won” victory dance. Now it turns out the bill sucks and they’re blaming Republicans for not stopping them.

POINTS & FIGURES: Corporate Tax Inversions and Politics.

You want to talk “economic patriotism?” Economic patriotism means not turning the US economy and government into an unAmerican slough of cronyism, graft, and redistribution. President Obama is an economically unpatriotic President.

GOOGLE: Lacking in “Economic Patriotism?” Hey, they helped re-elect Obama.

WHO ARE YOU GOING TO BELIEVE — ME, OR YOUR LYING EARS? Gruber: My 2012 remarks were “a speak-o — you know, like a typo.”

This answer is not a “speak-o” any more than the statutory language on subsidies and exchanges was a “typo.” Gruber explained the coercive policy correctly and in detail, along with the stakes involved in seeing the coercion succeed. It’s not a case of just using the wrong terminology, like “market” instead of “exchange.” Gruber clearly understood the statute at this time — in January 2012 — to provide the arm-twisting needed to get states to launch their own exchanges by stiffing consumers in states without them, which would then create more pressure on those states to get them the federal subsidies that they were funding but not receiving.

That is exactly what the plaintiffs argued in Halbig, and what the court ruled to be the intent of Congress as well as the statutory reality of the ACA. Just because that arm-twisting policy failed in its goals doesn’t mean it wasn’t deliberate, rational, and very much a part of the ObamaCare strategy then, and it doesn’t make it a “typo” now — or a “speak-o” either.

You can watch the video and see if it seems like a “speak-o” to you. More background here.

UPDATE: And here’s Gruber saying the same thing on another occasion. Meanwhile, Vox has been spinning the “mistake” angle. Oops.

See, the problem with Ezra, Gruber, and these other lefty “wonks” is that a real wonk is supposed to (1) understand the policy better than anyone else; and (2) care about getting the policy right more than about partisan political posturing. Double fail, here. But then, Ezra’s having a bad year.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Still more on Gruber. “I’ll just add that for all the left-wing pundits who called the plaintiff’s arguments in Halbig vs. Burwell ‘ridiculous’ and such, I’ll gladly barbecue some crow for you.”

MORE: Making the rubble bounce.

FRAUD ALL THE WAY DOWN: Ed Morrissey: Obamacare OK’s Fake Accounts and Fake Promises.

ADD? Megan McArdle: Add Fraud to the List of Obamacare Disasters.

It sounds like the systems that are supposed to check identity, immigration status and income simply aren’t working at all; the system just assumes that you are who you say you are.

This isn’t the only major part of the system that’s still missing; as the Official Blog Spouse reported last week, the system that pays insurers still seems to be MIA. Presumably, the emergency team called in to fix the exchanges prioritized the bits that the public could see, leaving everything else for later. Compared to what was described by the Barack Obama administration (and the law), the system still seems to be half-built.

How much does this matter? Obviously, all the GAO can say is that this is possible; we don’t know whether, or how often, such fraud has actually occurred. Even if you get an insurance card fraudulently, how easy would it be to use without ever being asked for picture ID? How many people would go to the trouble of faking or altering documents? And might the subsidies be taken away after review? We simply don’t know.

Still, it’s obviously troubling that people could so easily fraudulently obtain government subsidies, because the incentive to do so is obvious: free money from the government. It’s also troubling because it makes one wonder what other major parts of the system simply aren’t working.

Here’s a hint: All of them, except for those with political angles.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: The Gaza War: When Strategies Collide. It’s telling that Hamas is “elated” by . . . getting Obama to shut down flights.

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S FECKLESSNESS WITH IRAQ: We Saw The Islamic State Coming, Did Nothing. “The testimony raises an obvious question: If the Obama administration had such early warning of the Islamic State’s ambitions, why, nearly two months after the fall of Mosul, is it still assessing what steps, if any, to take to halt the advance of Islamist extremists who threaten U.S. allies in the region and have vowed to attack Americans?” It’s like they wanted Iraq and Syria to go this way.

NOT SO MUCH “LOSING” AS “DELIBERATELY THROWING AWAY.” Top Marine Speaks Out About Obama Losing the Iraq War: ‘It Breaks Our Hearts.’

YEAH, I DON’T THINK THE ADMINISTRATION REGARDS THE GRIFTERS AS A PROBLEM: Agents obtained subsidized ‘Obamacare’ using fake IDs. “Undercover investigators using fake identities were able to secure taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law, congressional investigators said Wednesday. The weak link seemed to be call centers that handled applications for frazzled consumers unable to get through online. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office told a House committee that its investigators were able to get subsidized health care under fake names in 11 out of 18 attempts – even after HealthCare.gov’s much maligned online system flagged some applications as problematic.”

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR MITT ROMNEY, WE’D HAVE A PRESIDENT WHO BLOCKED WOMEN’S ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Obama’s Motorcade Blocks Pregnant Woman’s Path To Hospital.

SO, PRETTY MUCH LIKE AMERICA THEN: Asia Tells Obama to Take a Hike on His Energy Schemes.

TED CRUZ: Obama Administration Playing Politics With Air Safety. “Was this politics from the White House? Or was this an airline safety decision? And I think the facts strongly suggest it was politics and an effort to strong arm the nation of Israel.”

2012: OBAMA MOCKS ROMNEY FOR REGARDING RUSSIA AS ADVERSARY.

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CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Derivatives regulator CFTC’s ‘revolving door’ move to industry group criticized.

An outgoing commissioner of the regulatory agency that oversees derivatives contracts will become the CEO of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, a trade group for firms that engage in derivatives transactions, according to a statement from the ISDA Wednesday.

The commissioner, Scott O’Malia, had announced his departure from the Commodity Futures Trade Commission two days earlier. O’Malia, who had previously worked as a Senate staffer for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, was a Republican nominee to the five-member CFTC.

O’Malia’s move to a trade group involved in CFTC matters drew immediate criticism from financial reform advocates. The group Better Markets wrote in a statement that “O’Malia’s spin through the revolving door is a record setter for influence peddling.”

The Obama era has just been one big advertisement for my revolving door surtax.

CNN POLL: Twice As Many Americans Say They Were Hurt By ObamaCare As Say They Were Helped.

RICHARD EPSTEIN: Obama’s LGBT Blunder. “The President’s executive order creates a two-tier system whereby any firm that wants to do business with the United States government—and only those firms—must abide by the mandate; the Obama administration cannot impose the mandate by regulation on all businesses generally. But this raises a key normative question: should the government be able to impose by contract mandates on businesses that it could not impose on them by legislative action?”

President Ted Cruz will get a lot of use out of this precedent.

MEGAN MCARDLE: ObamaCare Takes A Body Blow.

The case, Halbig v. Burwell, involved the availability of subsidies on federally operated insurance marketplaces. The language of the Affordable Care Act plainly says that subsidies are only available on exchanges established by states. The plaintiff argued this meant that, well, subsidies could only be available on exchanges established by states. Since he lives in a state with a federally operated exchange, his exchange was illegally handing out subsidies.

The government argued that this was ridiculous; when you consider the law in its totality, it said, the federal government obviously never meant to exclude federally operated exchanges from the subsidy pool, because that would gut the whole law. The appeals court disagreed with the government, 2-1. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 million people may lose their subsidies as a result.

This result isn’t entirely shocking. As Jonathan Adler, one of the architects of the legal strategy behind Halbig, noted today on a conference call, the government was unable to come up with any contemporaneous congressional statements that supported its view of congressional intent, and the statutory language is pretty clear. Members of Congress have subsequently stated that this wasn’t their intent, but my understanding is that courts are specifically barred from considering post-facto statements about intent.

When you read through the ruling, it’s easy to see the many ways in which the law’s architects brought this on themselves. The law was highly complex, badly drafted and highly controversial. When a Republican won a special election for the Senate in Massachusetts (!), the Democrats had to push it through on a straight party-line vote with some adroit parliamentary maneuvering — which gave them a health-care law, but one that was badly put together and couldn’t be substantially amended. The gaping holes were patched with administrative fixes, like an Internal Revenue Service ruling that held federally established exchanges to be equivalent to an exchange established by the state. But the vast scale of the law meant that the administrative gymnastics that held it together might not be sustainable.

To cobble together a win, the Obama/Reid/Pelosi folks broke a lot of rules. That has risks.

Here’s more from Jonathan Adler.

Also, related: Fourth Circuit upholds IRS tax credit rule.

PHILIP KLEIN: Seven potential effects of the D.C. Circuit Court’s Obamacare ruling.

KEVIN DRUM EXPRESSES DISAPPOINTMENT that he couldn’t turn out ravening mobs to enforce leftism. Silly Kevin. Obama only threatened the investment bankers with pitchforks to get them to give him money. That’s why you failed, Kevin. Because you chose a corrupt leader. But had you chosen an incorruptible one, it would have been worse. Especially for you.

DIPPING INTO THE TAXPAYER’S POCKET: How Obama cuts down on the campaign costs of his fundraising trips.

MAYBE IF YOU’D READ THE BILL BEFORE YOU PASSED IT, HARRY, YOU COULD HAVE FIXED THAT “DRAFTING ERROR.” Reid: ‘Absurd’ Obamacare Decision Vindicates ‘Nuclear Option’ (Video).

DAVID CATRON: ObamaCare Slowly Succumbs To Its Birth Defects.

FLASHBACK: Mitt Romney Now Makes Obama Look Dangerously Foolish in 46 Second Exchange Over Russia. Obama was dangerously foolish then, he’s dangerously foolish now, and the American people were dangerously foolish to elect, and re-elect him.

OBAMA IS SPYING ON YOU: White House Website Includes Unique Non-Cookie Tracker, Conflicts With Privacy Policy.

JOEL KOTKIN: America Down, But Not Out:

America, seen either from here or from abroad, doesn’t look so good these days. The country that maintained world peace for decades now “leads by behind,” or not at all. You don’t have to have nostalgia for George W. Bush’s foreign policy to wish for someone in the White House who at least belongs in the same room with the likes of Vladimir Putin. Some wags now suggest that President Barack Obama has exceeded Jimmy Carter in foreign policy incompetence – Carter certainly was more effective in the Middle East.

What about space? Remember, we won the space race but now have to depend on Russian launch vehicles to do much of anything in orbit. President Obama thought we could rely on the Russians to provide us with cheap rides into orbit, but Putin squashed that notion after we objected to his actions in Ukraine. John Kennedy must be turning over in his grave.

And as for our domestic economy, the best you can say is “It could be worse,” particularly if you look at what’s happening in torpid Europe. It’s a sign of our utter lack of confidence that the current administration, and much of the punditry, still thinks we should follow the Continent’s economic and social policies.

Yet, despite all these challenges – and two presidencies the public ranks among the worst in history – it’s far too early to write off the United States. After all, no one else is doing very well.

We’ve had a worldwide epidemic of bad luck.

THIS TIME, it’s Biblical.

UPDATE: Heh. Netanyahu calls for immediate U.S.-Al Qaeda ceasefire.

Here’s a transcript of Netanyahu’s remarks yesterday: “As I’ve said many times, the United States has a right to defend itself against terrorist attacks from Al Qaeda. And as a result of its war in Afghanistan, and drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, the United States has already done significant damage to Al Qaeda’s infrastructure. I’ve also said, however, that we have serious concerns about the rising number civilian deaths from drone strikes and the potential loss of American lives from terrorism. And that is why it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians.”

Perhaps he’ll ban flights here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: From the comments: “I hear that seven Hamas terrorists were killed yesterday by an IDF soldier armed only with a replica of Obama’s jawbone.”

BAD NEWS FOR OBAMACARE: Halbig: D.C. Circuit strikes down tax credits in federal exchanges. Apparently, the regulation exceeded the authority granted in the statute. I didn’t know we still cared about stuff like that . . . .

RON FOURNIER: Is the White House Lying, or Just Bad at Crisis Communications? Ordering a cheeseburger with fries while a downed airline smolders may not have been a great decision.

The thing is, they’ve been both lying and bad at crisis communications since day one. The press has just covered for them. Now that Obama’s been re-elected, it’s safe to express a bit of the built-up resentment. But not in any way that would help the Republicans. Because the press knows its role with respect to this administration, having chosen it quite deliberately.

AMERICA IN THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: New Surveillance Whistleblower: The NSA Violates the Constitution. “John Napier Tye is speaking out to warn Americans about illegal spying. The former State Department official, who served in the Obama administration from 2011 to 2014, declared Friday that ongoing NSA surveillance abuses are taking place under the auspices of Executive Order 12333, which came into being in 1981, before the era of digital communications, but is being used to collect them promiscuously. Nye alleges that the Obama administration has been violating the Constitution with scant oversight from Congress or the judiciary.” Well, that’s who they are, that’s what they do.

EQUALITY IS FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: Obama Donor Fights to Keep Riff-Raff Away From Private Beach.

A wealthy venture capitalist and major Obama donor is fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent others from accessing his private Northern California beach, according to Bloomberg News.

Vinod Khosla’s support for Obama has paid off in the form of millions in taxpayer subsidies for green energy companies in which he has invested.

A prominent environmentalist, Khosla nevertheless cherishes his control over a private beach alongside his 56-acre property near San Francisco—which he bought for $32.5 million—Bloomberg reported on Monday.

Hey, he’s not protecting the environment for you to enjoy.

OOPS: Michael Barone: Hillary Clinton’s job approval rating as low as Obama’s.

ANOTHER COLUMN ABOUT HOW IT’S NOT OBAMA’S FAULT, AMERICA IS JUST TOO GOSH-DARNED HARD TO GOVERN.

I predicted this line of punditry years ago, based on early evidence of Obama’s incompetence.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Obama’s Tranquility.

THE CASE FOR CONCIERGE MEDICINE: In the trade-off between more patients and more personalized care, growing numbers of physicians are choosing the latter. “The concierge model of practice is growing, and it is estimated that more than 4,000 U.S. physicians have adopted some variation of it. Most are general internists, with family practitioners second. It is attractive to physicians because they are relieved of much of the pressure to move patients through quickly, and they can devote more time to prevention and wellness. . . . Of course, there are drawbacks to concierge practice. For one thing, some patients cannot afford it, and others will choose not to pay the fee. Critics also see such models as promoting a two-tiered system of healthcare, in which those with more money get better care.” An ironic — but entirely predictable — result of ObamaCare.

WOMEN’S MEDIA BECOMING LESS SUPPORTIVE OF THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: 5 Ways The NSA Is Like A Psycho Ex-Boyfriend.

A TOP FIGHTER PILOT ON WHAT’S FRUSTRATING ABOUT THE AIR FORCE: “That flying is not the focus of the USAF. It sounds axiomatic but it’s true. Political correctness, appearances, humanitarian missions, and not offending anyone are the focus.”

I’m sure the new leadership will fix that.

YOU SPELLED “OBAMA” WRONG: Feinstein Calls On Putin To “Man Up.”

Related: Obama Golfing With Staffers in Virginia.

STEPHEN L. CARTER: Liberals Make ‘Profit’ a Dirty Word.

It’s been weeks since the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the contraception-mandate case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, but the pace of urgent fundraising appeals has barely slackened. Several times a day, another pops up in my e-mail inbox. Some are from politicians; some are from advocacy groups; some are from various organs of the Democratic Party.

So far, the number of e-mails accurately describing the decision is, as my physics professors used to say, arbitrarily close to zero. But there’s one underlying fact they all get right: the justices ruled in favor of a “for-profit” employer. This little hyphenated term appears in e-mail after e-mail, suggesting that it’s the for-profitness that creates the perniciousness.

Now, don’t worry. I’m not going to use this column to add to the flood of arguments about whether Hobby Lobby was rightly or wrongly decided. What interests me is why exactly fundraisers believe that including the term “for-profit” will raise the ire of their contributors.

The only reasonable interpretation is that the fundraisers believe — or believe that their targets believe — that there is something wrong with profit, that the proprietors of a for-profit firm are less admirable than those who run companies pursuing other goals. True, the various religious universities whose lawsuit challenging Obamacare’s contraception mandate will be before the Supreme Court next year certainly have their critics, but they somehow don’t manage to excite the same degree of disdain as a profit-making firm. And although the National Organization for Women gamely included the Little Sisters of the Poor in its list of the “Dirty 100” seeking exemptions from the mandate, all it garnered was for well-earned ridicule.

That’s why the fundraisers have been so careful to remind their targets that Hobby Lobby is a for-profit company. They are hinting that profit is different from other motivations. Less noble. Maybe even wicked.

Well, sure. A company that turns a profit is self-sufficient.

JOHN FUND: Democrats in 2014: The Obama Albatross.

WELL, WHY WOULD IT? ObamaCare Isn’t What’s Slowing Costs.

I think we can be pretty sure that public policy is not making the system more efficient, for two reasons. First, the decline started in the middle of the last decade, and there’s no plausible policy mechanism that would have caused cost growth to moderate just then. And second, the same broad trend shows up in pretty much every high-income country. No matter how smashing you think Obamacare was, it didn’t stabilize health-care spending in Switzerland.

It could be a matter of better practices in the industry. One piece of evidence for this: The cost growth seems to decline most steeply in English-speaking countries, which could reflect some sort of information dissemination.

And yet, I’m skeptical. Health care is not a competitive industry the way automobiles are. The British, Canadian and American systems do not much compete for patients; moreover, each is organized so differently that it’s hard to imagine all of them implementing the same productivity-enhancing measures at the same time.

Industrial diffusion is simply inherently slower than the trends we seem to be seeing — it’s not as if Toyota invents just-in-time production, and two weeks later, it’s in every factory at General Motors. This has to be especially true in health care, where competitive pressures are limited and heavy government involvement makes major change into a ponderous process.

Technological decline seems more plausible; see this Brookings Institution paper for the extended argument. Basically, health-care innovation is expensive, and for roughly the last decade, we’ve been doing less of it. As old innovations come off patent or are refined into cheaper and better versions, costs fall.

If you think health-care innovation is all useless me-too drugs, you should be pleased that we’re getting less of it. As it happens, I don’t think that’s the case, so while I’m pleased about the budget impact, I’m less pleased at the prospect of fewer new medical technologies.

Yes, and ObamaCare is likely to exacerbate that problem.

OOPS: Tom Steyer is having fundraising trouble for his global warming, anti-Keystone XL agenda. Lots of hype, not much actual support: He’s like the Wendy Davis of “climate change.”

Related: Obama Administration Hands Oil Industry A Big Win.

HMM: Hilda Solis, Obama’s former labor secretary, might be in deep trouble.

I DOUBT THIS WAS INTENDED AS AN ANTI-PUTIN MOVE, BUT IT’S ONE OF THE BEST THINGS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION COULD DO TO HURT HIM: Hunt for oil and gas to begin off East Coast. “The Obama administration opened up the Atlantic to oil and gas exploration for the first time in nearly four decades on Friday. . . . It is a major step toward allowing future drilling in the Atlantic, which has remained off-limits for over 30 years.”

OUR SEMI-RETIRED PRESIDENT: Obama plays hooky during a perilous time.

YEAH, WELL, WHAT’S YOUR POINT? Angelina Jolie ‘hates’ President Barack Obama: ‘She thinks he is really a socialist in disguise.’ I guess it’s that an actress could see things in 2009 that other people are only now noticing.

“SMART DIPLOMACY:” Hillary: This Plane Thing Is Really Europe’s Problem.

Related: More Mush From The Wimp.

“LAW OF THE LAND:” The administration just took Obamacare away from the territories.

INDEED: Content, not quantity, is what makes Obama’s unilateral initiatives unsettling.

ANOTHER PRESS RELEASE FROM PROF. JOHN BANZHAF:

Illegals Crossing Border Have More Rights Than College Students Accused of Rape

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, both children and adults, now streaming across the border, have more procedural protections – like the right to an impartial hearing, to require the production of documents, to present evidence, to cross examine those testifying against them, and to have their own lawyer present – even though it appears that most will never be deported, and those who are deported will simply be returned to their homes, whereas the much smaller number of college students who face expulsion and all of its life-altering consequences for alleged date rape have no such rights.

The disparity in procedural protections is likely to shortly become even worse, with a just-filled law suit seeking to require that each of the 60,000-plus unaccompanied children who have come across the border since November get taxpayer-funded representation at deportation hearings.

President Obama has just requested $15 million for attorneys to represent unaccompanied minors in deportation removal proceedings, and an additional $1.1 million for “immigration litigation attorneys” who, presumably, would assist adult illegal immigrants in their proceedings.

“The president is asking U.S. taxpayers to spend millions to help illegal immigrants who knowingly broke our laws to avoid deportation,” says Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies; a decision which may have dire consequences for our entire immigration policy.

Indeed, if these and other budget requests are not approved, other border functions will have to be cut, said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. “At the current burn rate, ICE is going to run out of money at mid-August and we project CBP will run out of money in mid-September,” Johnson said.

In sharp and dramatic contrast – even though the issues in typical “he said, she said” date rape proceedings tend to be far more complicated to resolve, and often require skilled cross examination to get to the truth – students accused of date rape and other sexual assaults are often not permitted to even have their own attorneys present, much less to conduct cross examination, something which would cost colleges nothing.

Indeed, even cross examination to test the veracity of what is often the only direct evidence of wrongdoing – the testimony of the complainants, some 60% of whom are so intoxicated that they have no clear memory of the event, and some 33% who had mental health issues prior to the alleged assault – often is not permitted in college adjudicatory proceedings.

This is especially upsetting when the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution requires Due Process procedural protections – including cross examination and the right to counsel – before other arguably less serious consequences such as the loss of disability benefits, cuts in welfare benefits, wrongful terminations, etc.

So far, more than a dozen students have successfully sued their universities for improperly finding them guilty of date rape, and more than a dozen more cases are pending, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who first spotted the trend.

Because so many of these law suits involve allegations of violations of Due Process, judges may soon begin determining exactly what procedures are required by the Constitution, taking these controversial issues out of the hands of both legislators and college administrators, he predicts.

“The Supreme Court has determined that judges – not legislators or regulators – have the final say in determining under the Constitution which procedural protections a person is entitled to, and has set forth a formula which requires that judges consider both the seriousness of the loss to the accused and the importance of the procedural protection for preventing that loss,” says Banzhaf.

Like I keep saying, there’s a lot of low-hanging legal fruit in the higher-education sector.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: The Summer America Fell Apart.

MEANWHILE, OBAMA IS DOING FUNDRAISERS: Israel launches ground operation in Gaza Strip.

ED MORRISSEY: How Obama’s Lame-Duck Years Will Pan Out.

MEGAN MCARDLE: We Don’t Need A Corporate Income Tax.

You can think of corporate taxation as a sort of long chess match: The government makes a move. Corporations move in response — sometimes literally, to another country where the tax burden is less onerous. This upsets the government greatly, and the Barack Obama administration in particular. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has written a letter to Congress, urging it to make it stop by passing rules that make it harder to execute these “inversions.”

I’ve got a better idea: What if we made our tax system so attractive to corporations that they would have no interest in moving themselves abroad?

That would never fly. Insufficient opportunities for graft.

NEVER LET THE TRUTH INTERFERE WITH MESSAGING: Nope: Elizabeth Warren says the government shutdown was about birth control. “I have a question for Sen. Warren. If this law is essential to escaping the crushing force of the patriarchy and preserving modernity, why didn’t Democrats put it in ObamaCare? It’d be just as disingenuous and, frankly, more substantiated to argue that the absence of the birth control mandate from the text of ObamaCare—it was added after the fact in one of the thousands of blanks left for unelected regulators—means Democrats who crafted the law from start to finish were bent on limiting women’s access to birth control. After all, they very explicitly did not make it a law that every employer provide free birth control when the power to do so was in their hands. That action is equivalent to turning back the clock on women to a time when birth control was prohibited. Or, so I’ve heard.”

CHANGE: House Republicans take aim at EPA climate rules.

House appropriators on Tuesday approved a $30 billion spending bill designed to block a host of looming Environmental Protection Agency regulations viewed by the GOP as exceeding the agency’s authority.

Republicans on the Appropriations Committee pushed through the Interior and environment funding bill, sending it to the House floor over the objections of Democrats who described it as full of “veto bait” and handouts to big business.

The panel advanced the measure — the seventh, and potentially last for the year, of the 12 annual appropriations bills Congress is supposed to pass — by a 29–19 vote. Even if approved by the House, the bill is unlikely to become law. The Senate has yet to act on a single appropriations bill, and President Obama would likely refuse to sign it.

But they’ll attack the House as “do-nothing.”

SOME KANSAS REPUBLICANS ARE OPPOSING BROWNBACK.

Meanwhile, in my own area, perennially controversial Republican State Senator Stacey Campfield — you know, the kind of State Senator CNN pays attention to — has a primary challenger. I don’t know anything about the guy, but all the excitement I’m seeing for him on Facebook comes from Democrats (“for the first time in my life I’m voting in a Republican primary!”) and the first car I saw his bumper sticker on was festooned with Obama and “Coexist” stickers.

NO COVERUP HERE, I’M SURE: White House Clams Up. “The White House said Tuesday night that it would refuse to allow its director of political strategy to testify Wednesday before a Republican-led House committee investigating whether the administration had illegally conducted political activity in the West Wing.”

AN EXPLANATION FOR THE ELIZABETH WARREN MEDIA BOOMLET: It’s time to look to the new generation, and Warren’s fresh-faced and 65.

MORE CONVENIENTLY DISAPPEARING DATA: “Recycled” hard drive at the FEC too? “A probe into Hatch Act violations at the Federal Election Commission ran aground when the electronic communications of the suspect — a former colleague of Lois Lerner — had her computer hard drive ‘recycled.’ Sound familiar?”

It’s a coverup. And what they’re covering up is a conspiracy to destroy political opposition, one that goes all the way to the White House. That’s the only reasonable inference from this chain of events.

UPDATE: Michael Lotus emails:

A conspiracy to destroy the political opposition.

Yes. Of course. These guys are Chicago and Cook County Democrats. That is how it is done there. 50 out of 50 Democrat aldermen, forever. No GOP at all, or merely a front opposition, forever. Government power used to exterminate political opposition and keep it from ever reviving. To Obama and the people around him this is all normal, and is the obvious goal. There is no reason to expect anything else from them.

A fair point. So how to arrange suitable payback/deterrence?

VIDEO: Jon Karl lists all the things going wrong with Obama’s foreign policy. It’s not a short list. “Good news, though. The White House’s action item on the above list is to … consider a principle.”

WELL, WHAT’S THERE TO APPROVE OF, REALLY? WaPo Poll: Obama, Republicans face broad disapproval over handling of migrant crisis. Though in the Republicans’ case it’s fair to ask, Handling? What handling?

UPDATE: Leaked Intel Report: Violence in Central America Not Primary Factor in Border Crisis. Nope. Just a compassion-exploiting talking point.

A SHOCKING TURN OF EVENTS, AND THE NEW YORK TIMES IS ON IT! NY Times: Obama ‘weary of the obligations of the White House and less concerned about the appearance of partying.’

MICKEY KAUS: The Lie at Heart of “Immigration Reform” Exposed.

“Trust” is for Con Men: The reaction to the border chaos in Texas has accomplished one thing: It has exploded the lie at the heart of current “comprehensive” immigration reform plans. The basic structure of those plans is a swap of a) near-immediate legalization for b) increased border security in the future. The appealing idea is to let current illegals stay while taking the steps necessary to prevent further waves. The lie is the assumption that, once current illegals get their legalization, pro-immigrant activists in both parties will continue to support the second half of the bargain, the increased security.

The chaos in Texas shows they won’t. Faced with a clear hole in the border — with a wave of tens of thousands of undocumented Central Americans crossing into the U.S. in order to get in line for hearings years from now, which they likely won’t attend while they continue to live here – pro-reform activists have scrambled, not to show their border security bona fides, but to generate arguments and outbursts designed to let the new wave stay. As National Journal‘s Major Garrett reported, when President Obama, met with activists at the White House, he proposed that he make it clear that new migrants who don’t qualify for humanitarian relief won’t get in. The activists would have none of it.

Of course not.

ROGER KIMBALL: The “obvious and commonsense conclusion” about the IRS scandal. “On the whole, we have to draw the obvious and commonsense conclusion that documents destroyed or hidden probably were embarrassing or incriminating, and that the effort to blot out or falsify the record was undertaken in order to deny responsibility for the IRS’s criminal activity in persecuting opponents of the Obama administration.”

MICHAEL BARONE: Political fallout from underage illegals may spread far from the Rio Grande Valley.

The national media may get tired of stories about young illegals crossing the border in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. But as these youngsters are sent to places as distant as Chicago and Lynn, Mass., other troublesome stories are likely to emerge, on local newscasts (which are often starved for news) if not on Obama-protective mainstream media.

Nor are Hispanics necessarily sympathetic with the border-crossers. A Washington Post news story quotes Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke as favoring “greater emphasis on the interests of these children who are refugees from extreme violence” instead of “an acceleration of the deportation process at the expense of these children.” But the Post reporters note that “O’Rourke added that he has been surprised by the anger he has heard toward the immigrants of many of his El Paso constituents, who ‘feel like we can’t take care of everyone, and these children and their families are gaming the system.’ ” O’Rourke’s district, which includes most of El Paso County, is 79 percent Hispanic.

Related: Governor Vexed With Secrecy in Sending Illegal Immigrants to Nebraska. “Governors and mayors have the right to know when the federal government is transporting a large group of individuals, in this case illegal immigrants, into your state. . . . We need to know who they are, and so far, they are saying they’re not going to give us that information.”

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: All Clintoned Out. “Hillary Clinton seems to be interested in running on the elite progressive themes of equality and fairness. The problem here is obvious. Few Americans have more enriched themselves by trading on their public service than have she and her husband. A George Marshall in retirement Hillary is not. . . . The second problem with Hillary’s candidacy is Obama. In 2009, the betting was close on whether her secretary of State (she had no particular foreign affairs experience prior to her appointment) billet was a deft Obama move (keep your enemies closer than your friends) or a Clintonian wise political gambit (keep in the limelight for 2016). The problem is that her four years as secretary of State coincided with a collapse of U.S. foreign policy unseen since 1979-80.”

Plus: “We can be certain of one fact: If the Republican candidate campaigns according to the Marquess of Queensberry rules in the fashion of John McCain or Mitt Romney and politely deflects each hour the insinuation that as a rich, old white guy de facto he is culpable for some –ism or -ology, Hillary will be elected. But if such charges are either inapplicable to the Republican candidate or are answered in slash-and-burn Lee Atwater style — who was so despised by establishment Republican political operatives — then nothing is certain.”

TRUE. YOU CAN SEE RIGHT THROUGH THE LYING S.O.B. Spokesman: Obama ‘absolutely’ the most transparent president.

THE ONE THAT CRITICIZES OBAMA AS CREEPY AND “ORWELLIAN,” AND THE ONE THAT RAISES MONEY FOR HIM! Ed Driscoll: Two Time Warners In One!

MAYBE WHEN OBAMA READS THIS IN THE PAPER — OH, HELL, WHO AM I KIDDING? No golf, long days are the new norm for India’s bureaucrats.

On the other hand, given Obama’s accomplishments, I think golf time may be his best time.

RACISTS: The Hill: Teachers’ Unions Turn On Obama.

PRIORITIES: DOJ investigates Nebraska parade float critical of Obama.

The U.S. Department of Justice has sent a member of its Community Relations Service team to investigate a Nebraska parade float that criticized President Obama.

A Fourth of July parade float featured at the annual Independence Day parade in Norfolk sparked criticism when it depicted a zombie-like figure resembling Mr. Obama standing outside an outhouse, which was labeled the “Obama Presidential Library.”

To even investigate something like that is itself a civil rights violation.

ERIC HOLDER: If You Oppose Obama, It’s Probably Because You’re A Racist.

IT’S ALL JUST ONE SEAMLESS POLITICAL MACHINE: First Lady To Fundraise With HBO Exec. “First lady Michelle Obama will headline a fundraiser next week at the Los Angeles home of HBO’s president of programming, Michael Lombardo, according to a report Wednesday in the Hollywood Reporter. Lombardo, a longtime Obama fundraiser, was named by the president to the board of trustees at the Kennedy Center. In 2012, Lombardo hosted a similar event for President Obama’s reelection campaign at his home.”

YEAH, I’M NOT SO SURE THAT I DO: Roll Call: Congress Trusts DOJ Report on Shooting of Unarmed Woman Outside Capitol. “Carey had been diagnosed with postpartum depression and psychosis, and told police President Barack Obama was monitoring her with cameras in her Stamford, Conn., apartment. In Moran’s view, there is obvious evidence that she was mentally disturbed.” I dunno, that whole “monitoring me with cameras” thing doesn’t sound as paranoid as it used to. . . .