March 5, 2015

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“Bibi’s Grand Slam” says John Podhoretz

On Tuesday, Bibi Netanyahu gave the speech of his life before a joint session of Congress — and he has Barack Obama to thank for it.

Yes, the very same Barack Obama who hates Bibi, the same Obama who was furious the speech was being given at all, walked the bases full for Netanyahu and served up the sucker pitch he hit for a grand slam.

For six weeks, the president and his team have been letting it be known just how angry they are that the leader of the House of Representatives invited the Israeli prime minister to speak about the threat from Iran.

The enraged leaks and overt hostility toward the head of state of an ally have been unprecedented.

The White House even tried to engineer a mass Democratic boycott of the speech, an effort that either (take your pick) met with success because 50 members of his party agreed to it, or was a failure because 75 percent of elected Democrats on Capitol Hill defied him and chose to attend.

What did all of this do? It made the Netanyahu speech the most important political event of 2015 by far.

It elevated Netanyahu’s powerful case against a nuclear deal with Iran to the highest level possible — so that the leader of a country of 8 million people roughly the size of New Jersey now possesses as much authority to discuss the issue as the leader of the free world. …



Andrew Malcolm also had kudos for Netanyahu’s speech.

Well, now we all can understand why unidentified Obama aides sought so hard to cancel, delay, snipe and ultimately undermine Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress Tuesday.

In his idiomatic English and speaking as a friend, Israel’s superior spokesman firmly delivered an eloquent, detailed and damning 3,900-word indictment of both Iran and the sell-out nuclear deal that the Obama administration is in the closing stages of drafting in Geneva. Netanyahu’s delivery was Churchillian. Indeed, the 65-year-old former special forces captain just became only the second foreign leader after Sir Winston to address Congress three times.

Despite dozens of Democrats boycotting the 40-minute address, the House chamber was packed with extra folding chairs squeezed in by pages. Netanyahu spoke with a broad historical stroke. He moved smoothly from Biblical times to the Holocaust to Iran’s provocative military exercises this week. He talked of centrifuges and even quoted Robert Frost.

The prime minister was interrupted by applause some 40 times. He was alternately moving, exhortatory, almost angry, determined and humble and grateful to both Americans and, surprisingly, Barack Obama, whom he praised profusely for his aid to Israel.

Embarrassingly, the American president could not find it in his conniving heart to rise above his innate political pettiness. In a forced photo-op, Obama spent 11 minutes claiming dismissively that he did not even watch the address. …



The increasing lack of economic mobility in our country is the subject of a long form essay by Yuval Levin. It’s close to 5,000 words, but worthwhile. And, at least it is the end of our week. We have taken particular care with the pull quotes which themselves total 2,000 words, so at least they provide a shorter alternative.

We Americans have always prided ourselves on the extraordinary degree of mobility this country has long made possible for its citizens—the idea that, with hard work and a little luck, an immigrant or a child of poor parents can start out with nothing and end up successful and rich. We still believe this about ourselves: International comparisons of public opinion find that Americans express far greater confidence than citizens of other developed nations that hard work is rewarded and that everyone has a real chance to rise out of poverty. But in fact, by many measures, the United States actually does not stand out among advanced economies in terms of economic mobility, and it has not for decades.

Many of us surely sense this even if we do not know all the facts and figures. There is a divergence between what many Americans want to believe about their country and what they know to be true about the way they and their friends and family live now. Americans at the bottom of the income scale do not have enough opportunities to move up, Americans in the middle feel stuck, younger Americans are having trouble getting started, and Americans in general seem less inclined to follow after opportunities. These various challenges are all distinct, but they stem from the same core problem: immobility.

The degradation of this central aspect of the so-called American dream is finally beginning to take shape as a potent political issue. The headline of a front-page story in the Washington Post in January put its finger on an increasingly evident shift in our economic debates: “Both parties agree: Economic mobility will be a defining theme of 2016 campaign.”

That the two parties would agree even on the subject of our economic arguments is quite a change from recent years, when they have mostly been talking past each other. And more remarkable still is that they seem to have turned to the right subject, too. Serious attention to the state of economic mobility could help us overcome the peculiar mix of acrimony and nostalgia that has enveloped our politics since this century began and could help us see far more clearly some of the most pressing challenges our country now confronts. …


… Relative mobility refers to a person’s economic status in relation to the nation as a whole. Economists often describe it in terms of moving up the income quintiles—the five slices of the American pie that measure the economic division in the country from poorest to richest—while the rest of us tend to think of it in the form of rags-to-riches stories. Can someone born in poverty today rise into the middle class and beyond it? Does the child of a middle-class family stand a reasonable chance of ending up wealthy? Or are people destined to end up roughly where they start?

For most of American history, these questions would have been answered in a manner flattering to the country’s own sense of itself as the world’s beacon of opportunity. No longer. By some measures, in fact, in terms of relative mobility, we are now lagging behind Canada and much of northern Europe. …


… Why, then, have our anxieties about mobility intensified only recently? The answer can be found in the state of absolute mobility, which tells a more complicated story. Absolute mobility involves changes in people’s living standards not relative to society as a whole but relative to their own past or to the prior generation. Are you better off than you were four years ago? Are you wealthier than your parents were at your age?

By this measure, America looks rather good over the long run but rather bad over a shorter run—and the difference is why mobility has now become a priority. Data from the Pew Economic Mobility Project show that the vast majority of Americans, about 84 percent, now have a higher income than their parents did at their age, adjusted for both inflation and family size. Such intergenerational absolute mobility is actually highest among the poor: Fully 93 percent of Americans in the lowest fifth of earners have higher incomes and greater purchasing power than their parents did at their age, compared with 70 percent of Americans in the top fifth. Overall American living standards have risen over time, and this has lifted essentially everyone’s living standards some, even if it has not done much to change people’s relative positions in society.

But the significance of this good news is limited in two ways that will help us to clarify the mobility challenge as policymakers must now confront it. First, strong absolute mobility amid weak relative mobility means that while people are more comfortable where they are in life, they are not moving ahead in skills or status. The mother working long days behind a restaurant counter in the expectation that her children should have better opportunities than she did would not be satisfied to hear that her children will be a little better paid for working behind that same counter all their lives.

Second, and perhaps most important, absolute mobility has declined significantly in the last two decades, so that while most Americans are doing better than their parents did at the same age, they are often not doing as well as similarly situated families (and maybe even their own families) were doing ten or even 20 years ago. This is the most pressing way in which many Americans are feeling the sting of immobility these days, with stagnant wages creating the sense that they’re running in place.

The simplest way to illustrate this trend is to consider the median family. Adjusted for inflation and expressed in 2013 dollars, the median American family income was $52,432 in 1989 and $51,939 in 2013, according to Census Bureau data. In other words, the purchasing power of the median family has actually declined a little over the course of the last quarter century. …


… What, then, might a response look like? Having sharpened our sense of the problem a little, it may be helpful to think in terms of five categories of steps that policymakers could take, at least for a start.

The first is the most general and the easiest for Republicans to embrace: growth. Because growth is a necessary if not sufficient condition for improved economic mobility, policymakers need to create and sustain the right environment for economic dynamism.

This means a growth-friendly tax code, …


… The second category of needed reforms would seek to address persistently low mobility among poor and lower-middle-class Americans. It involves clearing up bottlenecks, often created by public policy, which hold people back from pursuing opportunity and prosperity. A bottleneck is a particular kind of obstacle: It is a function of a narrowing of options. The upward path into and through the middle class has clearly gotten narrower in America in recent decades.

One primary culprit is our higher-education system. A college degree has become an increasingly essential ticket into middle-class life even as higher education has grown more expensive and less edifying. Tuition costs have tripled over the past three decades, so that an average year of college now costs about half the annual income of the average American family. …


… The third facet of a mobility agenda would involve lifting burdens imposed on the middle class and the poor by some perverse incentives and distortions in today’s welfare state. For instance, the structure of our entitlement and tax systems means that parents are overtaxed—paying for today’s entitlements while bearing the costs of sustaining tomorrow’s. A significant increase in the child tax credit that could reduce families’ payroll-tax burdens as well as their income-tax burdens would make an enormous difference to millions of middle-class families pressed by stagnating wages. And such tax relief for families would be a natural companion to the corporate tax reform necessary for stronger growth.

The unintentional marriage penalties in the tax code also burden many middle-class families, and similar penalties in most welfare programs (from the Earned Income Tax Credit to Medicaid, food stamps, and others) create disincentives to marriage that hurt the poor and counteract the very aims of these programs. No less perversely, many means-tested aid programs create disincentives to work, since working leads to benefit cuts that in many cases can outweigh the appeal of earned income. Correcting such disincentives would be no simple matter, but a number of conservatives have proposed promising ideas for doing so in recent years. …


… The fourth element of a mobility agenda would go beyond lifting burdens and focus on the most difficult and important part of the mobility puzzle: the curse of entrenched poverty. This would involve the next stage of welfare reform, and it’s the arena where a conservative approach to problem solving can do the most good.

The overwhelming fact about our half century of intense and costly efforts to combat entrenched poverty is that they have not worked. …

… This was the essence of Paul Ryan’s anti-poverty proposal last year. Ryan would let states choose to replace the full amount of money they now receive to administer means-tested federal welfare programs (such as food stamps, housing assistance, utilities subsidies, and others) with a single, consolidated “opportunity grant.” They could then develop their own approaches to spending the money to help their poor residents rise, provided that these approaches involve programs that require work, emphasize reaching self-sufficiency, and prove their effectiveness over time. And states would have to provide each service through at least two competing providers, only one of which can be a state agency.

Liberals tend to see proposals like this as embodiments of some kind of fetish to privatize. But in fact, they are expressions of humility. Experimentation is what you do when you do not know the answer. …


… Finally, the fifth element of a conservative mobility agenda should involve drawing a clear distinction between welfare assistance and disability benefits. In particular, the Social Security Disability Insurance program has come to function as a kind of welfare system of last resort, but it is very badly suited to that purpose. The share of working-age adults on SSDI has more than doubled since 1980, from 2.3 percent to 5 percent of the workforce, or about 9 million Americans. The increase is quickly bankrupting the program (its trust fund will be depleted next year) while contributing to the decline in workforce participation in America.

Part of the increase is driven by the aging of the population, as many baby boomers are now in the age range most prone to disabling injuries and health problems. But the actual prevalence of disability in the working-age population has grown at nowhere near the rate of SSDI claims. …


…These are, of course, only the barest outlines of an agenda. But these five categories of steps—sustaining an environment for growth, clearing up bottlenecks, removing policy burdens, enabling vigorous experimentation in welfare and education, and separating welfare from disability support—offer the beginning of a conservative answer to the riddle of mobility.

Conservatives are far better positioned than liberals to take up the challenge of mobility. The left is wedded to the structure of our welfare state and persuaded that moving money around will address the problems we confront. But when we consider the particulars of the mobility puzzle, we can see that what is missing—as the very term mobility suggests—is not so much money as dynamism and energy. Injecting our economy with such energy requires us to allow more Americans to benefit from our free-market system, rather than shielding people from it, and would therefore require us to move beyond the liberal welfare state rather than expand it. …


… In a message to Congress on the Fourth of July, 1861, amid the painful early setbacks of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln sought to articulate what made the struggle worthwhile. When it came to describing what we valued in our government, Lincoln said this:

On the side of the Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men—to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life. Yielding to partial and temporary departures from necessity, this is the leading object of the government for whose existence we contend.

America has often been gloriously successful in advancing that cause, but it has been notably less so in recent decades. We have ignored that fact for too long and must now work to ensure that the rhetorical turn toward mobility in our national politics is followed up with substance and action.

March 4, 2015

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From National Journal’s Jim Oliphant we have an early look at a left/liberal media reaction to Netanyahu’s speech before congress. 

Congressional Republicans haven’t had many victories in their lasting conflict with President Obama, but Tuesday brought one. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s somber, provocative speech to Congress checked all the boxes. 

It called into question the efficacy of any deal the administration might strike with Iran over its nuclear program; it likely renewed momentum for another round of Iranian sanctions on the Hill; it positioned the GOP politically as the party more worried about Israeli security, and, despite the White House’s best efforts, made the president appear petty and churlish. 

Obama, in an interview with Reuters, had dismissed the speech as a “distraction,” and aides made sure everyone knew he would be too busy to watch it. But if the president didn’t cast an eye at a TV, he might have been the only person in Washington not to. And that’s the problem.

For weeks, the White House has worked steadily to write the speech off as a thinly veiled Republican ploy to undermine the delicate negotiations with Iran. But network coverage treated it for what it was: the head of state of a critical ally delivering a controversial address on American soil. That served the interests of both House Speaker John Boehner, who was the impetus behind the speech, and Netanyahu, elevating both of them while key Democrats such as Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren stayed offstage. 

Netanyahu was hailed in the House chamber like a conquering hero. …



Charles Krauthammer writes on the fatal flaw in the Iran deal.

The news from the nuclear talks with Iran was already troubling. Iran was being granted the “right to enrich.” It would be allowed to retain and spin thousands of centrifuges. It could continue construction of the Arak plutonium reactor. Yet so thoroughly was Iran stonewalling International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors that just last Thursday the IAEA reported its concern “about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed . . . development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”

Bad enough. Then it got worse: News leaked Monday of the elements of a “sunset clause.” President Obama had accepted the Iranian demand that any restrictions on its program be time-limited. After which, the mullahs can crank up their nuclear program at will and produce as much enriched uranium as they want.

Sanctions lifted. Restrictions gone. Nuclear development legitimized. Iran would reenter the international community, as Obama suggested in an interview in December, as “a very successful regional power.” A few years — probably around 10 — of good behavior and Iran would be home free.

The agreement thus would provide a predictable path to an Iranian bomb. Indeed, a flourishing path, with trade resumed, oil pumping and foreign investment pouring into a restored economy.

Meanwhile, Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile program is subject to no restrictions at all. It’s not even part of these negotiations. …



Streetwise Prof posts on Iran negotiations.

John Kerry actually said this:”[Kerry] insisted the Obama administration’s diplomatic record with Iran entitles the U.S. to ‘the benefit of the doubt.’” Seriously? The administration that is synonymous with foreign policy failure-the Reset, Libya (including but not limited to Benghazi), Syria, Iraq/Isis, Yemen, to name just the most egregious examples-deserves the benefit of the doubt? Why exactly? Do we look that stupid? It’s like Hoover asking Dean Woermer to give Delta House one last chance at the end of Animal House, while chaos is rampant on the streets of Faber. Or the Apprentice asking the Sorcerer for just one more try with the brooms. He’ll nail it this time! Promise!

I wrote several posts eviscerating Obama’s risible, not to say mendacious, claim that oil transported via Keystone would be exported. Apparently the odor emanating from Obama’s full-of-it-iveness was so obvious that even reliable lefty “fact checker” Glenn Kessler couldn’t ignore it. So he awarded Obama’s Keystone claim a cherished Four Pinnochios. This was pretty good:

“When Obama first started making the claim that the crude oil in the Keystone pipeline would bypass the United States, we wavered between Three and Four Pinocchios — and strongly suggested he take the time to review the State Department report.

Clearly, the report remains unread.”

Of course it does! It’s not like the truth could trump politics, or anything.



Matthew Continetti posts on the Iran deal.

… What the opponents of a bad deal with Iran have witnessed over the last few months is the transference of Obama’s domestic political strategies to the international stage. A senior administration official is on record likening an Iranian nuclear agreement to Obamacare, and the comparison makes sense not only in the relative importance of the two policies to this president, not only because both policies are terrible and carry within them unforeseen consequences that will not be manifest for years, but also because of the way opponents of both policies are treated by the White House. If they are not ignored or dismissed, their motives are impugned. They are attacked personally, bullied, made examples of.

The alternative to a bad deal is not a better deal or tougher sanctions, Obama says, but war: “Congress should be aware that if this diplomatic solution fails, then the risks and likelihood that this ends up being at some point a military confrontation is heightened, and Congress will have to own that as well, and that will have to be debated by the American people.” The opponents of a nuclear Iran aren’t sincere, Obama explained to Senate Democrats last month, but are merely acting at the behest of their (Jewish) donors. Congress has no role to play in either approving of or enforcing a deal with Iran, John Kerry says, because any attempt to strengthen America’s hand or verify that Iran is in compliance would be like “throwing a grenade” into the meeting room.

As for Netanyahu, he is called “chickenshit” by anonymous sources, the national security adviser says his decision to address Congress is “destructive” of the U.S.-Israel alliance, Kerry tells Congress they shouldn’t listen to Bibi because he voiced wan support for regime change in Iraq (a war that Kerry voted to authorize), the congressional liaison rallies the Congressional Black Caucus to boycott the speech, and the administration leaks to the AP its strategy “to undercut” his speech and “blunt his message that a potential nuclear deal with Iran is bad for Israel and the world.” The strategy includes media appearances and the threat of a “pointed snub” of AIPAC, which has done everything it can over the last several years to ignore or acquiesce to President Obama’s anti-Israel foreign policy. …



Jonathan Tobin has more.

In an interview with Reuters intended as a rebuttal to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress tomorrow, President Obama claims that his critics are not only wrong about his negotiating strategy with Iran, but that they lack one of their own other than to declare war. The attempt to depict his critics as warmongers is a classic Obama straw man. Opponents of his policy do have an alternative: returning to the policy of pressure and sanctions that the president discarded in 2013 which offered the only way, short of the use of force, to force Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. But the real fallacy here is not so much the typical administration smears of critics. It is the fact that the president has an Iran strategy at all. Having made concession after concession to Iran in the last two years, there is little reason to believe that the current negotiations will stop Iran. To the contrary, the president appears set on a path that ensures that, sooner or later, Iran will get its bomb. …

… The president’s critics can’t be sure that their strategy of a return to sanctions and tough pressure on Iran aimed at bringing the regime to its knees will succeed. But, despite the president’s claims, he never tried it before he prematurely abandoned pressure for appeasement. But we can be almost certain that a strategy that aims at entente with Iran is guaranteed to fail miserably. Indeed, it is not so much a recipe for failure as it is one for a completely different approach to Iran that is ready to acquiesce to their demands.

That is a position that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu does well to protest tomorrow in his speech to Congress. So should Democrats and Republicans who take their pledges to stop Iran more seriously than the president.

March 3, 2015

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Kevin Williamson posts on growing student loan defaults and the leftist politicians like Liz Warren who make excuses for deadbeats.

… American households have been getting their act together on debt, at least a little bit, since the financial crisis and the subsequent recession. Credit-card defaults, after spiking around 2009, have been in decline, as have mortgage defaults and car-loan defaults. Home-equity loans took a little longer to get straightened out, but defaults on those are in decline, too, and have been for some time. (Much more on all that from the New York Fed here.) But one kind of debt default remains stubbornly on the rise: student loans, which in total add up to more than all U.S. credit-card debt and are much more likely to be in default than any other major debt category, far outstripping credit cards in the No. 2 default position.

On Monday, The New Yorker offered a sympathetic report (“A student-loan debt revolt begins”) about 15 former students of Corinthian Colleges, a dodgy and now largely defunct operator of for-profit schools, who intend to stop repaying their student loans as a matter of principle. “They believe that they have both ethical and legal grounds for what appears to be an unprecedented collective action against the debt charged to students who attended Corinthian schools,” writes Vauhini Vara, “and they are also making a broader statement about the trillion dollars of student debt owed throughout the country.” Senator Warren has called on the federal government to simply discharge the debts of former Corinthian students. An Occupy-affiliated organization called Debt Collective is pressing a similar agenda.

What does not seem to have occurred to Senator Warren, to Debt Collective, to the Corinthian 15, or to Vauhini Vara and the editors of The New Yorker is this: The students in question do not owe money to Corinthian Colleges. They owe money to third parties, those being private lenders and the federal government. As an instrument of protest, they might as well stop making their car payments, skip their rent, or boost mocacchinos from Starbucks — the people who lent them money are no more responsible for Corinthian’s woes than are their landlords and baristas.

This is classic leftist misdirection. …



Politico says another member of the left media has to apologize for a Scott Walker hit piece.

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.

The post, published Friday, cited a report from Jezebel that wrongly interpreted a section of the state budget to mean that all assault reporting requirements were to get cut altogether.

In fact, the University of Wisconsin system requested the deletion of the requirements to get rid of redundancy, as it already provides similar information to the federal government, UW System spokesman Alex Hummel told The Associated Press on Friday. …



Politico also has the story of behind the scenes chaos at the Clinton Foundation. It is beginning to look like the Clinton’s did not raise a brass knuckled street-fighter like themselves. This is a tad long, but an interesting look at the Clinton Foundation scam.

In December, the board of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation approved a salary of more than $395,000, plus bonus, for its Yale-educated CEO, Eric Braverman, while voting to extend his board term through 2017, according to sources familiar with the arrangement. Braverman, who had worked with Chelsea Clinton at the prestigious McKinsey & Company consultancy, had been brought in with the former first daughter’s support to help impose McKinsey-like management rigor to a foundation that had grown into a $2 billion charitable powerhouse. 

But last month, only weeks after the board’s show of support and just a year-and-a-half after Braverman arrived, he abruptly resigned, and sources tell Politico his exit stemmed partly from a power struggle inside the foundation between and among the coterie of Clinton loyalists who have surrounded the former president for decades and who helped start and run the foundation. Some, including the president’s old Arkansas lawyer Bruce Lindsey, who preceded Braverman as CEO, raised concerns directly to Bill Clinton about the reforms implemented by Braverman, according to sources, and felt themselves marginalized by the growing influence of Chelsea Clinton and the new CEO she had helped recruit. 

The previously untold saga of Braverman’s brief, and occasionally fraught tenure trying to navigate the Clintons’ insular world highlights the challenges the family has faced trying to impose rigorous oversight onto a vast global foundation that relies on some of the same loyal mega-donors Hillary Clinton will need for the presidential run sources have said she is all but certain to launch later this year.

Already, a spate of recent news stories in Politico and elsewhere have highlighted questions about the foundation’s aggressive fundraising both before and during Braverman’s tenure, including the news that the foundation had been accepting contributions from foreign governments with lax oversight from the State Department when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state; the foundation has been Clinton’s main public platform since she left State in February 2013. 

The hiring a few months later of Braverman, who had been a partner in McKinsey’s Washington office, was seen as validation of Chelsea Clinton’s view that the foundation needed to address recommendations from a 2011 audit for tighter governance and budgeting, as well as more comprehensive policies to vet donors and avoid conflicts of interest. …

… Chelsea Clinton’s rise at times has seemed to threaten some veteran Clinton aides who had carved out influential – and lucrative – positions after long service with her parents. She is blamed in some quarters for marginalizing both Lindsey and Doug Band, who rose from the president’s body man to build and help run the foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative. A third Clinton veteran, Ira Magaziner, saw his portfolio at the foundation diminished during Braverman’s tenure, and sources say Magaziner’s role remains under scrutiny. 

Magaziner, who was a Rhodes Scholar with Bill Clinton in the late 1960s and spearheaded Hillary Clinton’s botched healthcare reform push in the 1990s, was paid $415,000 in foundation salary and consulting fees in 2013 to help run two programs, the Clinton Climate Initiative and the Clinton Health Access Initiative. Magaziner left the climate project late last year after Braverman brought in new leadership, but he remains as CEO of the health initiative. The health group’s board – which includes Magaziner – at the end of last year voted unanimously to initiate an internal governance review by the New York law firm Simpson Thacher, according to foundation officials. 

Sources say the review was expected to recommend management improvements. But in a statement sent on behalf of Magaziner, the initiative’s spokeswoman Maura Daley said the review found good fiscal health and “significant programmatic success over the years” and that the initiative’s board, in receiving the report at its last meeting, “expressed strong support for the successful leadership of CHAI.” …



In what has turned into another Hillary day, Jennifer Rubin posts on HRC’s bore-a-thon.

There is only one presidential contender who has nothing to say, at least nothing new or that hasn’t been said for years by others. Speaking to a bunch of privileged, wealthy women in Silicon Valley, Hillary Clinton proclaimed her concern for gender equality and the middle class (generally not defined as people making six figures with stock options). The Post quotes her as saying: “We have to restore economic growth with rising wages for the vast majority of Americans, and we have to restore trust and cooperation within our political system so that we can act like the great country we are.” No — really?! …



And Michael Goodwin says Hillary’s blundering is threatening her chances.

A popular theme on Planet Clinton is that poor Hillary is always in mortal danger of being undone by her charming cad of a hubby. “She can’t control him” is how insiders express their fear that Bubba will have a bimbo eruption and crash the coronation.

On a long list of possibilities, that scenario must be included. But my reading of the Clinton Chronicles points to a much bigger threat to the restoration of the family monarchy.

That would be the stumbling performance of the lady herself.

On top of the tactical blunders, there was an overarching reason why sure victory eluded Hillary Clinton in 2008. She simply was not a very appealing candidate, offering neither charisma nor a compelling message. She ran with a sense of entitlement that the Oval Office was owed to her.

If anything has changed, it’s a well-kept secret. Already, her run this time is marked by mistakes, gaffes and reports of ethical corner-cutting, which adds up to watching the same bad movie twice. …



JenRub also posts on the Dems “bizarre” faith in Hillary.

… If Jeb Bush’s last name was Smith, he might be the hands down leader for the GOP nomination, but if her last name wasn’t Clinton, would she be a lock for the nomination or even the favorite? This is where the Democrats’ attachment to her becomes mystifying. If they want a woman nominee, they have qualified women out there. If they want someone more reliably liberal and more adept on the trail, they could find those candidates also. And yet they cling to Clinton for dear life. Why?

One explanation is that they think she is disingenuous and once in office will show her true liberal stripes. Maybe, but it sure would be safer to find someone who admits to being liberal, has a liberal record and isn’t in league with the left’s economic villains. Alternatively, they might think she is a political behemoth, able to roll over whatever Republican comes her way. Anything to keep the White House, right? But if you look at the items above plus her age and political skills isn’t she a weak candidate?  Frankly, Democrats are acting like Republicans — resigned to give the nomination to the next in line and clueless about her inability to connect with voters. The GOP hopes they don’t figure this out until it’s too late. So if anyone asks, she’s a fabulous candidate, the most qualified person ever!



Ignoring the climate change dreck in this article from BBC News, it is interesting to read about the 5 inch higher sea level north of New York that was caused by a series of storms five years ago. As an example of how wind can push the ocean around remember the “perfect storm” of the fall of 1991. Over a period of four to five days a monster storm sat off the Canadian Maritime provinces. At that time, Pickerhead was spending a lot of time traveling to Aruba for windsurfing off the northwest leeward coast where the trade winds blew across a narrow part of the island creating a windblown flat water paradise. At the time of the perfect storm a friend in Aruba told of incoming surf and three foot above normal tides. This was happening, because the storm off the Canadian coast was blowing the water to Aruba which is just off the coast of Venezuela. That is a distance of almost 2,500 miles. So it is not an earth shattering global warming event to have a series of storms push a lot of water against the New EnglandCoast. 

Sea levels north of New York City rose by 128mm in two years, according to a report in the journal, Nature Communications.

Coastal areas will need to prepare for short term and extreme sea level events, say US scientists.

Climate models suggest extreme sea level rises will become more common this century.

“The extreme sea level rise event during 2009-10 along the northeast coast of North America is unprecedented during the past century,” Prof Jianjun Yin of the University of Arizona told BBC News.

“Statistical analysis indicates that it is a 1-in-850 year event.” …

March 2, 2015

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Roger Simon posts on the new new new anti-Semitism.

Prostitution may be the world’s oldest profession, but anti-Semitism is probably the world’s oldest bigotry. It’s come and gone and come and gone and then come and gone again since the days of the pharaohs.

Well, maybe it was never really gone, but, like cancer, it was in remission.  Born at the end of World War II, I was one of those lucky Jews to be born in a period of remission as never before seen, particularly in the United States.

It’s over.  And how it’s over.  You don’t need a poll to tell you that, but a new one just conducted by TrinityCollege and the LouisD.BrandeisCenter for Human Rights Under Law tells us that 54 percent of self-identified Jewish students in 55 college across the country experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism during the 2013-2014 school year. Whoa! Welcome to the University of Berlin. …



We now have a post by David Harsanyi saying there’s nothing unpatriotic about challenging the president on Iran. Just because it follows Roger Simon’s essay on the new new new anti-Semitism, it does not follow we’re suggesting the same for Barry. He is ignorant, but not necessarily anti-Semitic. He is though, anti-British; which is a perfect example of his ignorance. One of the finest episodes in human history was the success of the anti-slavery movement which started in England with people like William Wilberforce. The eradication of an institution that had been part of history for thousands of years in just a few decades was a major accomplishment. The president’s removal of Churchill’s bust from the oval office upon his first day in office illustrates his ideological shortsightedness, historical stupidity, and the fact his mind was warped by the ”legends” of both his father and his grandfather. That screed aside, we can proceed with Harsanyi.

… And for many on the Left, a nuclear Iran is seen as inevitable or innocuous. James Fallows at The Atlantic has written a string of confused pieces that suggests Iran is not a threat to Israel and argues that anyone attempting to weaken the president’s position in the Iranian negotiations is exhibiting dual loyalties. (You’ll note that supporters of the Jewish State are either cowards who clap for Israeli prime ministers because they are compelled to do so by dark forces, or cowards who are under the spell of wicked special interests.)

Considering Fallows’ views on the Iraq War, he should probably know better. Devotion to Obama is not the same as loyalty to your country. The opposition party, in fact, has a responsibility to disrupt the president’s agenda if they truly believe it’s the wrong path for the nation. This is why we have political parties. And this is why I’m pretty sure many anti-war liberals believe that the Hillary Clintons and John Kerrys of the world failed the country leading up to the Iraq War.

Whereas Obama looks to be comfortable with the expansion of Iranian power with proxies in Syria and Lebanon, our allies in Israel may not feel the same way.

And, since I brought it up, Kerry sure did offer us a draw-dropper yesterday: “The prime minister was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush,” said former presidential candidate. “We all know what happened with that decision.”

Yes, Netanyahu supported the Iraq War, but he did not send Americans to fight–nor will his upcoming speech. Kerry, on the other hand, engaged in a cynical voted for/voted against charade driven by his own political ambitions. But there is a bigger falsehood–let’s call it presumption–here. Critics of Netanyahu act as if opposing Obama’s Iranian deal is tantamount to declaring war on Iran. In the long run, allowing Iran to become nuclear power may well mean war. We don’t know. …



More from Jennifer Rubin.

… Frankly, the administration’s snit over the Netanyahu speech has rightly been seen as abject panic. The world leader most credible on Iran from the country that 70 percent of Americans support is coming to debunk the plan to let Iran keep its nuclear infrastructure — in direct contravention of the administration’s public statements and private assurances to our allies in the region. The administration’s lame effort to discredit the prime minister and start a partisan rumpus — led by two of the least credible foreign policy officials in recent memory (Susan Rice of “it was a video” fame on the Benghazi attack and John Kerry, whose previously threatened that the United States could not protect Israel unless it made a peace deal) — is nearly as pathetic as its negotiation posture with Iran. It is no wonder that the administration refuses to concede a deal must be approved by Congress. With each passing day, the administration’s credibility slips deeper into the abyss and the likelihood of bipartisan rejection of the Obama-Clinton-Kerry Iran diplomatic debacle increases.



And Streetwise Professor spotted more administration foolishness.

John Kerry has criticized Russian actions in and lies about Ukraine. He hinted that further sanctions could be forthcoming, and that the head of the FSB could be targeted.

Wait a minute. Just last week the head of the FSB was considered a worthy participant in the debate on the subject of terrorism: he headed the Russian delegation to the Countering Violent Extremism Summit. How ludicrous, and schizo, is that? The guy goes from interlocutor to persona non grata in a period of mere days. To quote Casey Stengel: can’t anybody here play this game?

Any sanctions forthcoming will likely have the opposite of the intended effect. Putin will interpret them as demonstrating a lack of seriousness, a token response meant to keep up appearances, rather than as a serious challenge. He will view such actions as a green light, not a yellow let alone a flashing red. He will understand that he faces an irresolute, incoherent, and timorous opposition, and will act accordingly.



For a treat, we have an interview with Camille Paglia in America Magazine. This wanders some, but as with anything associated with Paglia there are  gems.

… Identifying yourself as a “dissident feminist,” you often seem more at home with classical Greek and Roman paganism than with postmodern academia. How has this reality affected your public and professional relationships?

I feel lucky to have taught primarily at art schools, where the faculty are active practitioners of the arts and crafts. I have very little contact with American academics, who are pitifully trapped in a sterile career system that has become paralyzed by political correctness. University faculties nationwide have lost power to an ever-expanding bureaucracy of administrators, whose primary concern is the institution’s contractual relationship with tuition-paying parents. You can cut the demoralized faculty atmosphere with a knife when you step foot on any elite campus. With a few stellar exceptions, the only substantive discourse that I ever have these days is with academics, intellectuals, and journalists abroad.

In your view, what’s wrong with American feminism today, and what can it do to improve?

After the great victory won by my insurgent, pro-sex, pro-fashion wing of feminism in the 1990s, American and British feminism has amazingly collapsed backward again into whining, narcissistic victimology. As in the hoary old days of Gloria Steinem and her Stalinist cohorts, we are endlessly subjected to the hackneyed scenario of history as a toxic wasteland of vicious male oppression and gruesome female suffering. College campuses are hysterically portrayed as rape extravaganzas where women are helpless fluffs with no control over their own choices and behavior. …



John Fund makes sense of the Net Neutrality/Internet fight.

Today’s vote by a bitterly divided Federal Communications Commission that the Internet should be regulated as a public utility is the culmination of a decade-long battle by the Left. Using money from George Soros and liberal foundations that totaled at least $196 million, radical activists finally succeeded in ramming through “net neutrality,” or the idea that all data should be transmitted equally over the Internet. The final push involved unprecedented political pressure exerted by the Obama White House on FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, head of an ostensibly independent regulatory body.

“Net neutrality’s goal is to empower the federal government to ration and apportion Internet bandwidth as it sees fit, and to thereby control the Internet’s content,” says Phil Kerpen, an anti-net-neutrality activist from the group American Commitment.

The courts have previously ruled the FCC’s efforts to impose “net neutrality” out of bounds, so the battle isn’t over. But for now, the FCC has granted itself enormous power to micromanage the largely unrestrained Internet. …

March 1, 2015

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The China Money Reports on China’s new Silk Road, the overland trade route between China and Western Europe, and other changes in the country.

… Moscow and Beijing are at work planning a new high-speed rail remix of the fabled Trans-Siberian Railroad. And Beijing is committed to translating its growing strategic partnership with Russia into crucial financial and economic help, if a sanctions-besieged Moscow, facing a disastrous oil price war, asks for it.

To China’s south, Afghanistan, despite the 13-year American war still being fought there, is fast moving into its economic orbit, while a planned China-Myanmar oil pipeline is seen as a game-changing reconfiguration of the flow of Eurasian energy across what I’ve long called Pipelineistan.

And this is just part of the frenetic action shaping what the Beijing leadership defines as the New Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road of the twenty-first century. We’re talking about a vision of creating a potentially mind-boggling infrastructure, much of it from scratch, that will connect China to Central Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe. Such a development will include projects that range from upgrading the ancient silk road via Central Asia to developing a Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor; a China-Pakistan corridor through Kashmir; and a new maritime silk road that will extend from southern China all the way, in reverse Marco Polo fashion, to Venice. …


… If you are following this frenzy of economic planning from Beijing, you end up with a perspective not available in Europe or the U.S. Here, red-and-gold billboards promote President Xi Jinping’s much ballyhooed new tagline for the country and the century, “the Chinese Dream” (which brings to mind “the American Dream” of another era). No subway station is without them. They are a reminder of why 40,000 miles of brand new high-speed rail is considered so essential to the country’s future. After all, no less than 300 million Chinese have, in the last three decades, made a paradigm-breaking migration from the countryside to exploding urban areas in search of that dream.

Another 350 million are expected to be on the way, according to a McKinsey Global Institute study. From 1980 to 2010, China’s urban population grew by 400 million, leaving the country with at least 700 million urban dwellers. This figure is expected to hit one billion by 2030, which means tremendous stress on cities, infrastructure, resources, and the economy as a whole, as well as near-apocalyptic air pollution levels in some major cities.

Already 160 Chinese cities boast populations of more than one million. (Europe has only 35.) No less than 250 Chinese cities have tripled their GDP per capita since 1990, while disposable income per capita is up by 300%.

These days, China should be thought of not in terms of individual cities but urban clusters — groupings of cities with more than 60 million people. The Beijing-Tianjin area, for example, is actually a cluster of 28 cities. Shenzhen, the ultimate migrant megacity in the southern province of Guangdong, is now a key hub in a cluster as well. China, in fact, has more than 20 such clusters, each the size of a European country. Pretty soon, the main clusters will account for 80% of China’s GDP and 60% of its population. So the country’s high-speed rail frenzy and its head-spinning infrastructure projects – part of a $1.1 trillion investment in 300 public works — are all about managing those clusters. …


… In terms of Chinese advantages, keep in mind that the future of the global economy clearly lies in Asia with its record rise in middle-class incomes. In 2009, the Asia-Pacific region had just 18% of the world’s middle class; by 2030, according to the DevelopmentCenter of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, that figure will rise to an astounding 66%. North America and Europe had 54% of the global middle class in 2009; in 2030, it will only be 21%.

Follow the money, and the value you get for that money, too. For instance, no less than 200,000 Chinese workers were involved in the production of the first iPhone, overseen by 8,700 Chinese industrial engineers. They were recruited in only two weeks. In the U.S., that process might have taken more than nine months. The Chinese manufacturing ecosystem is indeed fast, flexible, and smart — and it’s backed by an ever more impressive education system. Since 1998, the percentage of GDP dedicated to education has almost tripled; the number of colleges has doubled; and in only a decade, China has built the largest higher education system in the world. …


… The extent and complexity of China’s myriad transformations barely filter into the American media. Stories in the U.S. tend to emphasize the country’s “shrinking” economy and nervousness about its future global role, the way it has “duped” the U.S. about its designs, and its nature as a military “threat” to Washington and the world.

The U.S. media has a China fever, which results in typically feverish reports that don’t take the pulse of the country or its leader. In the process, so much is missed. One prescription might be for them to read The Governance of China, a compilation of President Xi’s major speeches, talks, interviews, and correspondence. It’s already a three-million-copy bestseller in its Mandarin edition and offers a remarkably digestible vision of what Xi’s highly proclaimed “China Dream” will mean in the new Chinese century.

Xi Dada (“Xi Big Bang” as he’s nicknamed here) is no post-Mao deity. He’s more like a pop phenomenon and that’s hardly surprising. In this “to get rich is glorious” remix, you couldn’t launch the superhuman task of reshaping the Chinese model by being a cold-as-a-cucumber bureaucrat. Xi has instead struck a collective nerve by stressing that the country’s governance must be based on competence, not insider trading and Party corruption, and he’s cleverly packaged the transformation he has in mind as an American-style “dream.”

Behind the pop star clearly lies a man of substance that the Western media should come to grips with. You don’t, after all, manage such an economic success story by accident. It may be particularly important to take his measure since he’s taken the measure of Washington and the West and decided that China’s fate and fortune lie elsewhere. …



From a modern Silk Road to stone age trade. In the Financial Times we learn Britain imported wheat from the Mediterranean 2,000 years before it was cultivated indigenously.

Trade in agricultural commodities has been part of the British economy for at least 8,000 years, archaeologists have discovered.

Investigation of a submerged Stone Age site off Bouldnor Cliff shows that people living there around 6,000BC were consuming a primitive form of wheat.

Yet Britain’s hunter-gatherer population did not grow the crop then. The nearest cultivation was 1,000km (620 miles) away near the Mediterranean — cereal farming is believed to have started in Britain 2,000 years later.

The researchers, working at several UK universities, say the explanation is that “sophisticated social networks” promoted trade between the Mesolithic inhabitants of northern Europe and the more technologically advanced Neolithic peoples farther south, who were already farming. The study appears in the journal Science. …



Scientific American has more.

Early farming began in the Near East about 10,500 years ago. Farming first reached the Balkans in Europe some 8 to 9,000 years ago, and then crept westward. Locals in Britain, separated from the mainland by the relatively newly formed English Channel, did not start farming until about 6,000 years ago.

But an analysis of sediment from a submerged British archaeological site called Bouldner Cliff found something unexpected.

“Amongst our Bouldner Cliff samples we found ancient DNA evidence of wheat at the site, which was not seen in mainland Britain for another 2,000 years.” Robin Allaby of the University of Warwick.

“However, wheat was already being grown in southern Europe. This is incredibly exciting because it means Bouldner’s inhabitants were not as isolated as previously thought. In fact, they were in touch, one way or another, with more advanced Neolithic farming communities in southern Europe.”  …




It wasn’t just wheat that moved through these ancient trade routes. A NY Times article reports on differing theories about the spread of the Proto Indo-European language; from which came all languages from England to India. (One notable exception is Georgian which is totally different. Stalin and Lavrenty Beria, head of the NKVD, both Georgians, used to have sidebar conversations in Georgian during Politburo meetings. Must have terrified the other participants.)

The peoples of India, Iran and Europe speak a Babel of tongues, but most — English included — are descended from an ancient language known as proto-Indo-European. Scholars have argued for two centuries about the identity and homeland of those who spoke this parent language, but a surprisingly sudden resolution of this longstanding issue may be at hand.

Many origins have been proposed for the birthplace of the Indo-European languages, but only two serious candidates are now under discussion, one of which assumes they were spread by the sword, the other by the plow. …

… From the reconstructed vocabulary, the speakers of proto-Indo-European seem to have been pastoralists, familiar with sheep and wheeled vehicles. Archaeologists find that wheeled vehicles emerged around 4000 B.C., suggesting the proto-Indo-European speakers began to flourish some 6,500 years ago on the steppe grasslands above the Black and CaspianSeas. This steppe theory, favored by many linguists, holds that the proto-Indo-European speakers then spread their language to Europe, India and western China, whether by conquest or the appeal of their pastoral economy. …



Using core samples from Cape Cod ponds, researchers have found some periods of mega-storms on the northeast coast of the US. Forgetting the globalony stuff, the cycles are interesting. We get this from

Ancient sediments from a coastal pond in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, show that enormous storms have battered the region for 2,000 years.

The hurricane strikes deposited a distinct layer of sand mobilized from the adjacent beach.

The analysis, published in the journal Earth’s Future, suggests some of the hurricanes would have dwarfed recent storms like Hurricane Sandy in 2012 that caused $65 billion in damages. …

February 26, 2015

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Ben Domenech in the Federalist writes about how the undying enmity of Wisconsin’s left/liberals created the national candidacy of Scott Walker.

Brandon Finnigan outlines how the Wisconsin left chose to pursue the recall fight, with county-by-county analysis which illustrates how Walker united the right in response:

“The attempt to boot Walker by Wisconsin progressives and labor activists accomplished a rare feat: absolute party unity. But instead of unifying Democrats enough to unseat him, it created a brief moment where libertarian, establishment, Tea Party, and traditional conservative members of the Republican Party united to defend him… The Democrats spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours digging, scooping, ad-cutting, and hammering. They threw the kitchen sink at the guy in 2012, threw their neighbor’s sink at him in 2014, and now nobody on the block will let them inside to pee… Had the Democrats not targeted Walker with a recall, that massive fundraiser network, the national profile, the party unity, and his highly developed get-out-the-vote team almost certainly wouldn’t exist. He may have still won re-election, but he would be just another Midwestern Republican governor who enacted reforms and faced push-back, not the conservative folk hero of a party longing for a win.” …



Charles Cooke in National Review has an interesting take on the Media’s “gotcha” questions for Scott Walker. He mentions Chris Hitchens – and we get reminded how much he is missed.

… To grasp just how farcical this game is, one needs only to run an eye across the list of those who are now feigning high dudgeon. Yesterday, on CBS’s Face the Nation, Obama’s former adviser David Axelrod pretended to be surprised at Walker’s remarks: “I don’t know why there is confusion,” Axelrod proclaimed, indignantly. Really? At present, Axelrod is running around the country promoting a book in which he confesses bluntly that Obama’s well-documented objections to gay marriage were nothing more than opportunistic lies. In 2008, Axelrod recalls in one chapter, “opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church.” In consequence, he adds, Obama “accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a ‘sacred union.’” Elsewhere, Obama would tell audiences that, being “a Christian, . . . my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman”; and that, “as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian . . . God’s in the mix.” Axelrod’s admission that this was baloney will sell him a lot of books.

Such suspicions are routinely expressed on the left. At various points during Obama’s tenure, public figures such as Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Bill Maher have openly suggested that President Obama is either an atheist or an agnostic, and that he is merely pretending to be a Christian to placate the rubes in the middle of the country. “You know who’s a liar about [his faith],” Maher suggested last year, “is Obama. He’s a drop-dead atheist, absolutely.” “Our new president,” Christopher Hitchens toldFrance 24 in 2009, “I’m practically sure he is not a believer.” Richard Dawkins, meanwhile, has noted correctly that this theory is popular among progressives. “Like many people,” he averred in 2014, “I’m sure that Obama is an atheist.” These statements lacked the modesty of Scott Walker’s effective “dunno.” In fact, they were far, far harsher. And yet they were met with relative indifference. Are we to conclude that the bien pensant class considers it to be more honorable for a person to suggest that the president of the United States is lying than to say that he does not know and does not care? …



More on the media hoard’s treatment of Walker from Ed Morrissey.

… 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.

Here’s what Walker said in response to the question:

“I don’t know. . . . I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that. I’ve never asked him that. You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian? To me, this is a classic example of why people hate Washington and, increasingly, they dislike the press. The things they care about don’t even remotely come close to what you’re asking about.”



Conservatives have no reason to mourn the Chris Christie collapse. Jennifer Rubin posts on what happened. 

… It is not hard to see how Christie lost the inside track with donors and establishment Republicans. His reputation as a lively, blunt, competent and inclusive Republican seems like a distant memory. He is now seen as erratic, gaffe-prone and lacking substance. This is the antithesis of what his natural audience (businesspeople, moderates, big donors, discerning independents) looks for. He seems to have morphed into a moderate version of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) minus the foreign policy acumen, or perhaps the reincarnation of the 2012 version of then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry. There are lessons here for all the 2016 contenders.

First, you cannot win the presidential nomination on personality. You have to be able to get in front of a room of donors, across from an interviewer or in front of a crowd and sell yourself as a man with a plan — how to win, how to govern, how to appeal to non-Republicans, how to bring the party together. You can dazzle them with wonkery, as Bush is doing, or impress supporters with grit and focus, as Walker does. But you cannot vamp your way through a presidential race. In a long campaign, recycling the same shtick (be it Jersey guy or tea party rabble-rouser) wears thin, especially when there is no interesting agenda being offered.

Second, running for president takes a unique combination of humility and hubris. …



Kevin Williamson starts out the humor section for the end of the week with a post on Marie Harf. Who’s that, you ask? Does “jobs for jihadis” ring a bell? Trouble is, even thought she is a hoot, the juxtaposition of jihadist terror with an airhead like her in our government is terrifying.

Marie Harf, the cretinous propagandist and campaign veteran installed by the Obama administration at the State Department — the misfit who plays Messy Marvin to Jen Psaki’s feckless Pippi Longstocking — has called down upon herself a Malibu mudslide of mockery and derision for suggesting that what’s really needed in the war against the Islamic State et al. is better employment opportunities — “jobs for jihadis,” as her critics put it. She later explained that her observations unfortunately were “too nuanced” for the simple minds of the dunderheads who twice elected her boss president of these United States. That a member of the Obama administration should say something stupid about world affairs is about as newsworthy as Joe Biden’s being creepy and handsy with women in public, but Harf’s particular breed of wrongness is worth considering inasmuch as it illuminates one of the principal reasons that we are not winning — and will not win — what we insist on calling the “war on terror.” …



Continuing our humor section, we have John Podhoretz asking when the media will point out that Joe Biden is a moron. This was the other moron’s first big decision as president and what did he do? He offered up a national joke.

It was just another Tuesday for the vice president of the United States, and another week in which the mainstream media turned their genteel eyes away from the highly questionable conduct of the figure of low comedy whom tragedy might make our president.

On Tuesday morning, Joe Biden was photographed placing his hands in a cringe-inducingly inappropriate manner on the shoulders of a much younger woman — the wife of the about-to-be-sworn-in secretary of defense — and keeping them there . . . and keeping them there . . . and keeping them there . . . for 28 full seconds.

When Biden let her go at last, you could see Stephanie Carter relax her shoulders a little after having had them tensed up while he rested his hands upon them. Go watch it on YouTube. Some enterprising director will surely adapt the scene for one of those found-footage horror movies — “Paranormal Activity VI: The Bidening.”

Biden’s day of creepiness was far from over. In the afternoon, he spoke at the White House summit to combat violent extremism and made reference to the people of Somalia, who have suffered for decades under the yoke of warlords and Islamists.

Of the Somalis living in his home state of Delaware in the capital of Dover, he said this: “If you come to the train station with me, you’ll notice I have great relationships with them because there’s an awful lot driving cabs and are friends of mine. For real. I’m not being solicitous. I’m being serious.”

The thing is, he was being serious.

He was actually claiming to possess special knowledge of the woes of Somalis from having taken rides in their taxis. Aside from the offense provided by the some-of-my-best-friends-are-black trope here, does anyone actually believe that Biden has ever let a cab driver, Somali or otherwise, get a word in edgewise? Or anyone else, for that matter? …



Late night humor from Andy Malcolm.

Meyers: Joe Biden was seen massaging Ashton Carter’s wife as he spoke. How’s the new Defense Secretary gonna protect us from ISIS if he can’t protect his own wife from Joe?

Fallon: Michelle Obama has banned boxed macaroni and cheese from the White House. It’s been tough on Joe Biden. He couldn’t make his wife any jewelry for Valentine’s Day.



The NY Times from 30 years ago was just as dumb as today’s. Here’s a Times article from Dec. 1985 on laptop computers.

… Was the laptop dream an illusion, then? Or was the problem merely that the right combination of features for such lightweight computers had not yet materialized? The answer probably is a combination of both views. For the most part, the portable computer is a dream machine for the few.

The limitations come from what people actually do with computers, as opposed to what the marketers expect them to do. On the whole, people don’t want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so. …

… But the real future of the laptop computer will remain in the specialized niche markets. Because no matter how inexpensive the machines become, and no matter how sophisticated their software, I still can’t imagine the average user taking one along when going fishing.


And the cartoons are very good today.

February 25, 2015

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Peter Wehner posts on the presidential penchant for making things up. 

President Obama is fond of invoking the term “narrative,” so it’s worth considering several instances in which he invokes exactly the wrong narrative–the wrong frame–around events.

The most obvious is the president’s repeated insistence that militant Islam is utterly disconnected from the Islamic faith. As this much-discussed essay in the Atlantic points out: …

… Here, then, are three separate examples of the president imposing a false narrative on events. (I could cite many others.) Which makes Mr. Obama a truly post-modern president, in which there is no objective truth but simply narrative. Mr. Obama doesn’t just distort the facts; he inverts them. He makes things up as he goes along. This kind of thing isn’t unusual to find in the academy. But to see a president and his aides so thoroughly deconstruct truth is quite rare, and evidence of a stunningly rigid and dogmatic mind.

The sheer audacity of Mr. Obama’s multipronged assault on truth is one of the more troubling aspects of his deeply troubling presidency.



Michael Barone writes on the presidential penchant for reckless disregard of the law.

… Reckless disregard of the law is an ingrained habit in President Obama’s administration. After six years its legal interpretations have been rejected by unanimous rulings of the Supreme Court more often than in the eight years of George W. Bush’s administration.

The Court ruled 9-0 that Obama couldn’t make recess appointments when the Senate said it was not in recess. It ruled 9-0 that the government couldn’t decide whom a church could classify as clergy. It ruled 9-0 that the government couldn’t fine landowners $75,000 a day to appeal an administrative order blocking construction in an alleged wetland.

The Constitution authorizes Congress to pass laws and requires the president to faithfully execute them. Obama seems to take that as not so much a requirement as a suggestion, one he sees fit to ignore when he wants to “change the law.”

The Constitution’s framers wrote the faithful execution clause because they remembered that King James II claimed and exercised the power to suspend laws passed by Parliament whenever he liked. James was forced to flee England in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and in 1689 Parliament passed a Bill of Rights declaring “that the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal.” …



What about the presidential penchant for claiming to have ended the war in Iraq? Andrew Malcolm has some thoughts.

.. Ending the war in Iraq was the original cornerstone of Obama’s ambition for higher office first, the Senate, then the presidency. In 2010, Biden told Larry King that pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq the next year would be just one of Obama’s “great achievements.”

Now, of course, Obama is sending U.S. troops back into Iraq to try stemming the bloody onslaught of ISIS, which he called a JV team just a year ago. Obama maintains terrorism is not a serious homeland threat. Climate change is.

But for some inexplicable reason, Obama’s Pentagon spokesmen have publicly announced an April attack to retake Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul. Hopefully, ISIS doesn’t watch the news. …



Telegraph,UK wonders if, after a celebrity presidency, will our country be ready for someone to do some hard work and display some courage? 

He is balding and frankly – even his supporters would concede – a little bit boring. So how has Scott Walker, the governor of the Midwestern state of Wisconsin, suddenly pulled into the front rank of Republican candidates for president?

With neither an instantly recognisable name – like Jeb Bush – nor a balloon-sized ego that craves media attention – like Chris Christie – Mr Walker reached near-parity with Mr Bush in the polls this week in the electorally pacesetting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

In an era where politics has become increasingly intertwined with celebrity, Mr Walker, the 47-year-old son of a bookkeeper and a Baptist minister, has ploughed a very different furrow, earning his stripes in the bare-knuckled world of state-level politics, far away from a detached and deadlocked Washington.

While rivals like Ted Cruz, the Texas senator and Tea Party darling, were grandstanding around the capital shutting down the Federal government, Mr Walker’s pitch is that he was workin’ in Wisconsin, bashing the unions, balancing budgets and slashing nearly $2 billion-worth (£1.3 billion) of taxes. …



Larry Kudlow posted on what Scott Walker has been saying.

… In his opening, Governor Walker stressed growth, reform, and safety. During the question-and-answer period, he emphasized sweeping Reagan-like tax cuts. And he frequently referred to his successful efforts in Wisconsin to curb public-union power as a means of lowering tax burdens, increasing economic growth and reducing unemployment.

Noteworthy, Walker argued that when Reagan fired the PATCO air-traffic controllers over their illegal strike, he was sending a message of toughness to Democrats and unions at home as well as our Soviet enemies abroad. Similarly, Walker believes his stance against unions in Wisconsin would be a signal of toughness to Islamic jihadists and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Walker was also highly critical of President Obama’s conduct in the war against radical Islamism, and said the U.S. must wage a stronger battle in the air and on the ground against ISIS.

He stressed the need for a positive Republican message in 2016, and bluntly criticized Mitt Romney for spending too much time on the pessimistic economic negatives emanating from Obama’s policy failures.

And in an unmistakable rip at both Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, he called for a new generation and fresh faces to turn America back in the right direction. …



Washington Post says drink more coffee and don’t sweat the cholesterol.

February 24, 2015

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Time to have a Hillary day. We’ll let the mainstream left start us out. Here’s Maureen Dowd.

… Once the Clintons had a War Room. Now they have a Slime Room.

Once they had the sly James Carville, fondly known as “serpenthead.” Now they have the slippery David Brock, accurately known as a snake.

Brock fits into the Clinton tradition of opportunistic knife-fighters like Dick Morris and Mark Penn.

The silver-haired 52-year-old, who sports colorful designer suits and once wore a monocle, brawled his way into a Times article about the uneasy marriage between Hillary Clinton’s veteran attack dogs and the group of advisers who are moving over from Obamaland.

Hillary hasn’t announced a 2016 campaign yet. She’s busy polling more than 200 policy experts on how to show that she really cares about the poor while courting the banks. Yet her shadow campaign is already in a déjà-vu-all-over-again shark fight over control of the candidate and her money. It’s the same old story: The killer organization that, even with all its ruthless hired guns, can’t quite shoot straight. …

… Hillary’s inability to dispense with brass-knuckle, fanatical acolytes like Brock shows that she still has an insecure streak that requires Borgia-like blind loyalty, and can’t distinguish between the real vast right-wing conspiracy and the voices of legitimate concern.

Money-grubbing is always the ugly place with the Clintons, who have devoured $2.1 billion in contributions since 1992 to their political campaigns, family foundation and philanthropies, according to The Old (Good) NewRepublic. …

… what Republicans say about government is true of the Clintons: They really do believe that your money belongs to them.

Someday, they should give their tin cup to the Smithsonian. It’s one of the wonders of the world.



Kimberley Strassel wants to call a spade a spade. She says the Clinton Foundation is just a political action committee or PAC. 

Republican presidential aspirants are already launching political-action committees, gearing up for the expensive elections to come. They’ll be hard-pressed to compete with the campaign vehicle Hillary Clinton has been erecting these past 14 years. You know, the Clinton Foundation.

With the news this week that Mrs. Clinton—the would-be occupant of the White House—is landing tens of millions from foreign governments for her shop, it’s long past time to drop the fiction that the Clinton Foundation has ever been a charity. It’s a political shop. Bill and Hillary have simply done with the foundation what they did with cattle futures and Whitewater and the Lincoln Bedroom and Johnny Chung—they’ve exploited the system.

Most family charities exist to allow self-made Americans to disperse their good fortune to philanthropic causes. The Clinton Foundation exists to allow the nation’s most powerful couple to use their not-so-subtle persuasion to exact global tribute for a fund that promotes the Clintons.

Oh sure, the foundation doles out grants for this and that cause. But they don’t rank next to the annual Bill Clinton show—the Clinton Global Initiative event—to which he summons heads of state and basks for a media week as post-presidential statesman. This is an organization that in 2013 spent $8.5 million in travel expenses alone, ferrying the Clintons to headliner events. Those keep Mrs. Clinton in the news, which helps when you want to be president.

It’s a body that exists to keep the Clinton political team intact in between elections, working for the Clintons’ political benefit. …



Matthew Continetti weighs in.

The Wall Street Journal reported this past week that the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation has quietly dropped its ban on foreign contributions and is accepting donations from the governments of “the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Australia, Germany, and a Canadian government agency promoting the Keystone XL pipeline.” The Journal’s conclusion: Since 2001 “the foundation has raised at least $48 million from overseas governments.”

Needless to say, the gargantuan troll-like conflict of interest that arises as soon as the foundation of the leading candidate for the presidency of the United States begins accepting money from overseas is apparent to every sentient being on the planet except members of the Clinton family and the growing number of advisers, consultants, strategists, pollsters, groupies, allies, and hangers-on whose livelihood depends on that family’s political success. “These contributions,” the foundation said in a statement to the Journal, “are helping improve the lives of millions of people across the world, for which we are grateful.”

What I love about this statement is its flip shamelessness, the way in which its airy sentimental public relations gobbledygook is both a denial of what is obviously a corrupt practice and an implicit endorsement of it. …



Jennifer Rubin too.

… Clinton behaves as she does because the press enables her by playing down the significance of her ethical obtuseness. Why stop if she can get away with virtually anything? It’s not a double standard so much as no standards being applied to her. She is sui generis and therefore is not only coddled but also praised for philanthropy and ultimately endorsed as the great defender of the weak and poor. All ethical judgment is suspended by those who whip themselves into outrage over the most trivial offense by other pols. In some parallel universe, some liberal pundit would declare that years of ethical slumming and unbridled greed make Clinton unfit for high office. Period.

This is a test of sorts for the Democratic Party: Is it so afraid of the Clintons and so lacking in any reasonable alternative to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy that it and all potential rivals will remain mum about this? Oh, let’s not kid ourselves. The people who raised a stink about Mitt Romney’s blind trust that had Cayman Islands mutual funds will continue to treat her as political royalty.



And Rubin says it is Hillary that should be disqualified, not Scott Walker.

… I have not heard Hillary Clinton denounce the leaks from the administration badmouthing the prime minister of Israel. She has not criticized the president for misleading Americans that they could keep their health-care insurance and their doctors. She did not decry the president’s assertion that gunning down Jews in a kosher market in France was “random.” She never condemned the remarks of former Middle East negotiator Martin Indyk blaming Israel for the breakdown in peace talks or of her successor in suggesting that America couldn’t protect Israel or stave off boycotts of Israel if it didn’t make peace with the Palestinians. And let’s not get started on all the idiotic utterances Vice President Joe Biden has made. While President George W. Bush was in office, Clinton never denounced a host of comments questioning his motives, honesty, etc. Frankly, she has not been asked about such things because, well, why would she have to answer for everyone in her party who ever said something off-putting? If they can drag her into an interview, the media should ask her all these questions and more. If she refuses to answer, out of the race, they must declare! Yeah. Right.

Forget comments about others’ comments. Clinton won’t tell us — for she is in perpetual hiding — what she thinks about the compelling issues of the day. She can’t give her opinion on the Keystone XL pipeline. Anyone ask her if she thinks we are winning the war against the Islamic State, if we have improved our standing with Arab allies, if we have violated our promise to Ukraine to provide security in exchange for having given up its nukes, if Iran can be allowed to just “unplug” its centrifuges as the U.S. negotiators are apparently suggesting, or her opinion on any of hundreds of other knotty foreign or domestic issues? Isn’t it pure cowardice for her to remain silent about an imminent deal that would leave Iran with thousands of centrifuges? Really, now is the  time for candor and leadership. Knowing how untenable a nuclear-armed Iran would be, her silence is irresponsible. I wonder why the media aren’t pestering her for her position and decrying her silence as disqualifying for the job as commander in chief. …




Eliana Johnson has more on the Brock hissy fit.

There isn’t even a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign yet, and already the sort of vicious infighting that brought down her 2008 campaign is underway. It sprang to the surface on Monday when David Brock, the founder of the liberal group Media Matters as well as the pro-Clinton PACAmericanBridge angrily resigned his board membership at another pro-Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA Action. Like the political-action committees that have been established in recent months by the potential Republican candidates, from Jeb Bush to Chris Christie to Scott Walker, a trio of pro-Clinton groups, Media Matters, American Bridge, and Priorities USA, are together serving as a nascent campaign apparatus, doing fundraising and opposition research and hiring in top Democratic staffers. …



And we close with the liberal media. Ron Fournier gets his licks. 

This is sleazy and stupid. Just as Hillary Clinton is getting ready to run for president again, her family’s charitable foundation secretly lifted a ban on accepting money from foreign governments.

The Wall Street Journal discovered the ethical breach during a search of donations of more than $50,000 posted on the foundation’s online database. “Recent donors include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Australia, Germany, and a Canadian government agency promoting the Keystone XL Pipline,” reported James V. Grimaldi and Rebecca Ballhaus. 

This is sleazy because of the clear conflicts of interest. What do these foreign countries expect in exchange for their donations? What pressure would Clinton face as president to return financial favors? …

February 23, 2015

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“Countering violent extremism?” Mark Steyn is on it.

Even the Obammyboppers of an otherwise adoring media seem to understand his big conference on “countering violent extremism” is a bit of a joke.

Undeterred, President Obama has unveiled the summit’s bumper sticker: “Religions Don’t Kill People. People Killed People.” It got him through to the next round in the middle-school debate-team county quarter-finals, so who knows the impact it will have on the Islamic State. I’m thrilled to discover that my tax dollars are now going to fund something called the International Center for Excellence in Countering Violent Extremism. Seriously. It’s in Dubai. But perhaps we can open a branch office in Mosul, and Derna, and Sana’a and Kandahar and Copenhagen. One is reminded of the Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence. Indeed, given the style and production values that the Islamic State have brought to Islamic snuff videos, perhaps this conference could prevail on the Oscars to introduce an Academy Award for Outstanding Excellence in the Field of Extremism.

Marie Harf, meanwhile, assures CNN that her argument is “too nuanced” for you rubes to appreciate, with its exciting plans for community-college retraining programs in al-Baghdadi and midnight basketball in Raqaa. Sure, they don’t have enough basketballs, so they have to use severed heads. But c’mon, it’s a start… …

… Europe’s Jews are living history rather than reading it. They are living through a strange, freakish coda to the final solution that, quietly and remorselessly, is finishing the job: the total extinction of Jewish life in Europe – and not at the hands of baying nationalist Aryans but a malign alliance of post-national Eutopians and Islamic imperialists. Sure, it’d be nice to read a book – maybe Obama could recommend one on the Crusades. But you’ve got to be careful: in France, in 2015, you can be beaten up for being seen with the wrong kind of book on public transportation. As Max Fisher says, we could all stand to read a little history, and the Jewish Museum in Brussels has a pretty good bookstore, but, if you swing by, try not to pick one of the days when they’re shooting visitors.

This is Europe now, 2015. What will 2016 bring, and 2020, 2025? And yet France or Denmark is all you’ve ever known; you own a house, you’ve got a business, a pension plan, savings accounts… How much of all that are you going to be able to get out with? These are the same questions the Continent’s most integrated Jews – in Germany – faced 80 years ago. Do you sell your home in a hurry and take a loss? Or maybe in a couple of years it’ll all blow over. Or maybe it won’t, and in five years the house price will be irrelevant because you’ll be scramming with a suitcase. Or maybe in ten years you won’t be able to get out at all – like the Yazidi or those Copts.

If you’re living history as opposed to reading it in a sophomoric chatroom with metrosexual eunuch trustiefundies, these are the calculations you make – in Mosul, in Raqaa, in Sirte, in Sana’a, in Donetsk, in Malmö, Rotterdam, Paris…



Even the blind left media can see. The Daily Caller quotes Andrea Mitchell. 

The White House’s Summit on “Countering Violent Extremism” may be on day two, but some left-of-center personalities think the ongoing response from the Obama administration is nothing more than a charade.

On her Wednesday show, MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell called the White House’s summit on terrorism “a dog and pony show” due to the lack of high level officials from foreign nations.

“Here he has the summit, no heads of government coming, the participation has not been at a particularly high level. We’ll have foreign ministers, we’ll be speaking to the Egyptian foreign minister shortly, who will be participating,” Mitchell said. “But there hasn’t been a whole lot of support from Europe or the Middle East at a very high level for what the president is setting out here.”

“It seems to be more of a dog and pony show,” Mitchell added. …



The last eight years of the economy have been the worst run in 62 years. Pajamas Media has the story.

… A couple of publications have noted that 2014 was the ninth consecutive year during which the U.S. economy grew by less than 3 percent.

They’re being too kind. Last year was the eighth year in a row of sub-2.5 percent growth, following four straight years (2003-2006) of higher growth.

It’s hardly a coincidence that the first year of that awful 2007-2014 streak just so happens to have been the same year that the Democratic Party took legislative control in Washington.

The nation’s political and media elites were quite pleased with themselves when the November 2006 elections brought about that result, largely because their daily hostility to all things Republican and/or conservative contributed mightily to it. They were absolutely ecstatic when Barack Obama, Mr. Perfectly Creased Pants, won the November 2008 presidential election and took office in January 2009.

As will be seen shortly, the former event marked the beginning of the U.S. economy’s worst eight-year stretch since 1945-1952. Obama’s presence in the Oval Office until January 2017 virtually ensures that we’ll have at least two more years of the policies which brought on that miserable result. …



Michael Goodwin says the president is on a rampage. 

He can’t bring himself to call Islamic terrorists what they are, but President Obama finally said something with which we can all agree. Speaking of his remaining time in office, he said: “Two years is a long time.”

He can say that again — and did, attaching a scary promise about his plans for the twilight of his ­tenure.

“Two years is also the time in which we’re going to be setting the stage for the next presidential election and the next 10 years of American policy,” he told wealthy ­donors in San Francisco. “So I intend to run through the tape and work really hard, and squeeze every last little bit of change.”

There you have it. Instead of cleaning up the messes he’s created, Obama is hell-bent on making more of them.

The word that comes to mind is “rogue.” As in, the president is going rogue. Like an elephant on a rampage, he’s breaking free of all constraints.

That makes the next two years extremely dangerous. Not just for Americans, but also for people around the world who count on us for their security and well-being. …



After the flap that greeted Rudy Giuliani’s comments about the president’s lack of love for the country, Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit reminds us of 2008 obama comments questioning Bush’s patriotism.

In 2008 then Senator Obama called President Bush “unpatriotic” for adding trillions to the national debt. Bush added about four trillion to the debt in eight years after the 9-11 attacks and mortgage crisis. Barack Obama then added the same amount of debt in less than three years.
Via Flopping Aces:

You certainly didn’t hear any reporters lecturing Obama for his uncivil rhetoric after that outrageous attack.

This week former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani accused President Obama of not loving America. He promptly received death threats. The Obama White House said Giuliani’s comments were “horrible.”



Kevin Williamson says the president does not even like this country.

… 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 Bernardine 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.

To ask the question is not the same as venting the familiar swamp gasses: that he’s a foreigner, at heart if not in fact; that he’s a Manchurian candidate sent to undermine the republic; that he’s a secret Marxist or secret jihadist sympathizer; etc. Put it this way: Why would anybody who sees the world the way Barack Obama does love America?

For the progressive, there is very little to love about the United States. Washington, Jefferson, Madison? A bunch of rotten slaveholders, hypocrites, and cowards even when their hearts were in the right places. The Declaration of Independence? A manifesto for the propertied classes. The Constitution? An artifact of sexism and white supremacy. The sacrifices in the great wars of the 20th century? Feeding the poor and the disenfranchised into the meat-grinder of imperialism. The gifts of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Astor? Blood money from self-aggrandizing robber barons.

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. …

February 22, 2015

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Noted environmentalist Bjørn Lomborg says in a USA Today OpEd that the benefits of electric cars are myths. 

It is time to stop our green worship of the electric car. It costs us a fortune, cuts little CO2 and surprisingly kills almost twice the number of people compared with regular gasoline cars.

Electric cars’ global-warming benefits are small. It is advertised as a zero-emissions car, but in reality it only shifts emissions to electricity production, with most coming from fossil fuels. As green venture capitalist Vinod Khosla likes to point out, “Electric cars are coal-powered cars.”

The most popular electric car, a Nissan Leaf, over a 90,000-mile lifetime will emit 31 metric tons of CO2, based on emissions from its production, its electricity consumption at average U.S. fuel mix and its ultimate scrapping. A comparable diesel Mercedes CDI A160 over a similar lifetime will emit 3 tons more across its production, diesel consumption and ultimate scrapping.

The results are similar for the top-line Tesla car, emitting about 44 tons, about 5 tons less than a similar Audi A7 Quattro.

Yes, in both cases the electric car is better, but only by a tiny bit. Avoiding 3 tons of CO2 would cost less than $27 on Europe’s emissions trading market. The annual benefit is about the cost of a cup of coffee. Yet U.S. taxpayers spend up to $7,500 in tax breaks for less than $27 of climate benefits. That’s a bad deal. …



The New Scientist reports that internal combustion engines may soon use lasers instead of spark plugs.

… For a week last November an internal combustion engine hummed away in a lab near Chicago. Why the excitement? This particular engine sets fire to fuel with lasers instead of spark plugs, burning fuel more efficiently than normal. Laser-fired engines could lead to cleaner, greener cars.

In a normal combustion engine, a mix of fuel and air enters a chamber where it is ignited by a spark plug. Hot, expanding gases from the burning fuel then exert force on a moving part such as a piston – generating mechanical energy that can be used to turn the wheels of a car, for example. But because each combustion cycle happens very quickly, it is hard to get all of the fuel mixture to burn. The problem is that spark plugs can only ignite the fuel at one end of the chamber, says Chuni Ghosh, CEO of New Jersey-based Princeton Optronics, the firm that developed the new ignition system.

In Ghosh’s engine, a laser ignites the fuel in the middle of the chamber instead, burning more of the fuel and improving combustion efficiency by 27 per cent. Laser ignition could boost the fuel efficiency of a car from 40 kilometres per litre up to around 50, for example. The more complete burn also emits fewer polluting by-products such as nitrogen dioxide. …



Harvard Business Review speculates about Apple making cars. The iCar? 

Apple fanboys and Samsung’s “Next Big Thing”ers would hoot with derisive laughter if The Wall Street Journal or Financial Times reported that GM or Ford planned to rewrite the rules of smartphone innovation. But when media coverage suggests Apple may redesign the automobile, even the most cynical car-lovers quiver with righteous curiosity. They should. …

…  Steve Jobs’ successors are at least an order of magnitude more credible as disruptive innovators than the heirs of Ford and Sloan. The computer, software, telecoms, music, broadcast, publishing, photography, retail, and consumer electronics industries certainly believe so. Apple demonstrably understands design, UX, and global supply chain alignment in ways few organizations ever have. According to data from Yahoo finance, company’s market cap exceeds that of Toyota, BMW, Volkswagen, Ford, GM, Honda, Fiat Chrysler, Tesla, and Daimler combined. Apple’s cash hoard currently tops $175 billion.

If Apple truly wants to fundamentally transform the driving experience and global automobile business, it surely has the ingenuity and resources to do so. …  … Unlike commercial aviation, automobile economics brilliantly reward the brilliant. Apple is brilliant. Don’t bet against them.

Who knows what an iCar might look, feel, or drive like? I don’t. But the better and more challenging question is, how would the automotive industry’s incumbents respond to genuinely disruptive competition? …



Juan Williams of Fox with a WSJ OpEd on Clarence Thomas calling him “America’s most influential thinker on race.” 

In his office hangs a copy of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in America. When his critics, and he has many, call him names, he likes to point to it and shout out, “I’m a free man!” This black history month is an opportunity to celebrate the most influential thinker on racial issues in America today—Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas .

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. …



Comic Kelly MacLean survives Whole Foods.

… Unlike Vegas, Whole Foods’ clientele are all about mindfulness and compassion… until they get to the parking lot. Then it’s war. As I pull up this morning, I see a pregnant lady on the crosswalk holding a baby and groceries. This driver swerves around her and honks. As he speeds off I catch his bumper sticker, which says ‘NAMASTE’. Poor lady didn’t even hear him approaching because he was driving a Prius. He crept up on her like a panther.

As the great, sliding glass doors part I am immediately smacked in the face by a wall of cool, moist air that smells of strawberries and orchids. I leave behind the concrete jungle and enter a cornucopia of organic bliss; the land of hemp milk and honey. Seriously, think about Heaven and then think about Whole Foods; they’re basically the same.

The first thing I see is the great wall of kombucha — 42 different kinds of rotten tea. Fun fact: the word kombucha is Japanese for ‘I gizzed in your tea.’ Anyone who’s ever swallowed the glob of mucus at the end of the bottle knows exactly what I’m talking about. I believe this thing is called “The Mother,” which makes it that much creepier. …



San Francisco Chronicle reports on MLB’s efforts to speed up games.

Baseball games will be quicker-paced in 2015.

The game will use a clock, batters will be forced to keep one foot in the batter’s box and managers won’t trot onto the field for every replay challenge.

The news comes in just the second month of the Rob Manfred administration. He replaced commissioner Bud Selig in January.

“These changes represent a step forward in our efforts to streamline the pace of play,” Manfred said. “The most fundamental starting point for improving the pace of the average game involves getting into and out of breaks seamlessly. In addition, the batter’s box rule will help speed up a basic action of the game.”

Here are the specifics; …