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Will’s Take: If Ground Troops Are Necessary to Defeat ISIS, They Won’t Be American

On Monday’s Special Report, George Will reacted to a montage of clips showing President Obama taking credit for ending the war in Iraq and later moving to rhetorically distance himself from the decision to end the war. In regards to the president’s intial claim that he ended the war in Iraq, Will said, Obama ended American participation in it. Will noted that the quickest way to end a war is to lose it. “It all is going to come back to whether or not ISIS can be driven off the land, the quarter of Iraq that they currently occupy, and the chances are not good,” Will said. He continued to explain that the Islamic State may be defeated by troops willing to kill in close, but added that those troops will not be American and questioned whether any other nation would step up.  

Giuliani: Obama’s ‘No Boots on the Ground’ Another ‘Red Line’ Moment

Rudy Giuliani said Monday that President Obama will eventually violate his “no boots on the ground” pledge as the United States battles the Islamic State in Iraq, calling it “another red line” that the president will again ignore once circumstances change.

The former New York City mayor and once-aspiring candidate for president spoke with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about the White House’s strategy to combat the jihadist threat in Iraq and Syria. While largely agreeing with the president’s plan, Giuliani expressed skepticism over his insistence that no American ground troops will be put into harm’s way.

“I would never have said, ‘We’re not gonna put boots on the ground,’” he said. “I never would announce that in advance.”

“You don’t think he should send U.S. combat forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria, do you?” Blitzer asked.

“He has,” Guiliani replied, laughing. “But who knows what they’re doing. I think the fact is, before this is over, we’re going to have some troops there. . . . When you listen to General Dempsey, and you listen to his people, they seem to be pushing him in that direction.”

“This is like the mistake he made with the red line,” he added, referencing Obama’s broken promise to strike Syrian dictator Bashar Assad should he use chemical weapons. Though Assad gassed hundreds of his own people in the summer of 2013,  at the last minute the White House decided to forgo a military response.

Canada Opens ‘Olympics of Genocide’

Always keen to warn us Yanks what identity politics looks like at its most zealous, last week our neighbors to the north opened the doors of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

Jonathan Kay, in the National Post, notes that the museum has been met with something less than enthusiasm from a number of human-rights groups:

These include an aboriginal band that was scheduled to play at Saturday’s public gala, but backed out at the last minute — apparently because its members didn’t like the museum’s portrayal of Canadian indigenous issues. The Manitoba Métis Federation decided to boycott the museum because the gala organizers rejected their suggested Métis musical act. Arab Canadian protestors told National Post reporter Joseph Brean that the museum didn’t have enough information about the Palestinians. (On Sunday, a Quebec man named Pete Kirby was campaigning to have Israel’s war against Hamas included in the museum — because of the suffering endured by Gazan civilians.) James Kafieh, an Ontario lawyer and chair of an anti-museum group called Canadians for Genocide Education is protesting the museum on the basis that it was built on “stolen” (i.e. aboriginal) land, and elevates one atrocity (the Holocaust) over all others, in pursuit of what he calls an “emotionally manipulative indoctrination.” . . .

The response of Canadian identity groups to the museum overall is perhaps best epitomized by a statement put out by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress last year, complaining that the museum’s treatment of Stalin’s forced starvation of millions of Ukrainians was fatally undercut by the fact that a panel on the subject was located too close to the public toilets.

For branding panache, one cannot top the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, a representative of which has called the museum “an Olympics of genocide.”

How to iron out all these complaints in accordance with Canada’s principles of diversity and tolerance? Fear not, Kay has a solution:

The Canadian Human Rights Commission must establish a special human-rights tribunal to address human-rights complaints pertaining to the presentation of human-rights issues at the Canadian Museum For Human Rights.

But why not go further?

If the true goal of the Canadians Museum For Human Rights is to create a “national hub for human rights learning and discovery,” as its web site boasts, shouldn’t visitors to the museum be able to file a human rights complaint at the museum itself?

With any luck, says Kay, the inevitable scores of complaints filed in the museum will provide Canucks shovel-ready jobs in the near future building “the Canadian Human Rights Museum-Related Human Rights Museum.”

With some subjects, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, they say. Canada’s backbreaking acquiescence to the pettiest identity politics is surely among those subjects. At least someone is keen to the absurdity of the situation — and still able to find some humor in it.

September 22, 2014

Millennials Aren’t Getting Jobs and Aren’t Buying Houses

Young people have never done well during recessions. But this particularly severe recession, with a recovery that’s been slower than usual (and than necessary, I might add) is taking an even bigger toll on the lives of younger Americans. A look at the data shows that the labor market has been a pretty harsh place for Millennials. According to BLS, the unemployment rate for Americans under 25 is 12.2 percent, more than twice the rate for 25-to-54-year-olds. They are also over represented in among the long-term unemployed, the ranks of which include 400,000 young people who have never worked in their lives, but have wanted to work for more than 26 weeks in a row.

Joblessness is costly, especially for young adults who have invested time and resources in career-specific knowledge and skills. Studies consistently show that the longer people are unemployed, the less likely they are to find new work. They may lose their job skills over time, have less connections with informal professional networks, or face suspicions from employers about why they were unemployed for so long.

In addition, business formation has slowed down, which tends to hurt the promotion of younger workersBut there’s another way a weak recovery for young people harms the rest of the economy: They aren’t starting households.

The Wall Street Journal has some new data:

Last week, an annual Census Bureau survey showed that the U.S. added just 476,000 households in the year ended in March, compared with an average of 1.3 million in each of the prior two years . . .

The Census releases a separate quarterly survey that also provides household formation figures, though economists say the annual survey is a better gauge of household formation. The quarterly survey has also shown weak household formation—around 650,000 new households—for the same period measured by the annual survey that runs from March to March….

Additional calculations of the same annual survey from Jed Kolko, chief economist atTrulia, show that the U.S. population grew by 2.3 million last year. If household formation continued at the rate of the past few years, the U.S. would have added 1.2 million households last year. Instead, Mr. Kolko’s calculations show it added just 425,000—and nearly all of them were renter households.

Mr. Kolko found that the share of young adults living with their parents ticked down last year, which is good news. The bad news: They didn’t form their own households, perhaps moving in with other relatives or friends.

Millennials are delaying getting married and having children — and who can blame them — which has a visible impact on homeownership rates among their cohort. After a one-year reprieve, homeownership rate for 18-to-34-year-olds resumed its fall last year. It’s down to 13.2 percent, from a high of 17.2 percent in 2005.


I assume that since these young people are delaying marriage and homeownership, they are also delaying starting businesses and postponing getting a better education. All of these factors will have negative effects on the economy’s future growth rates.

Unfortunately for Millennials, one thing isn’t going to be delayed: the bill for their parents’ entitlements.


Daily Show Ambushes Participants, Drives Woman to Tears in Redskins Segment

The Daily Show is coming under fire from some Washington Redskins fans after the show allegedly misled the participants about a segment relating to the team’s controversial name. At one point, the show surprised the participants with a large number of American Indians opposing the name, who reportedly threatened the panel to the point where one woman called the police.

The Washington Post reports that four fans agreed to take part in the not-yet-aired segment, aware that they would likely be the butt of some jokes. Nonetheless, the participants reached an understanding with The Daily Show’s producers about the nature of the sketch.

“They told us they were going to have a fan panel, and, at some other time, they were going to do a panel with Native Americans,” fan Brian Dortch, a Virginia home-repairman, told the Post. “So I said back, ‘Just to clarify, specifically, we’re not doing a cross-panel discussion right?’ The producer said, ‘Yeah, right. That would be too serious for Comedy Central.’”

In an e-mail to another fan, a producer indicated that there would be one interview with fans, and another with American Indians opposed to the name.

After three hours of interviews, Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones was about to wrap up the interview when a group of American Indians — including a comedy troupe called the 1491s and Amanda Blackhorse, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit to end the strip the team’s trademark — surprised the fans. One of the troupe’s members, who was flown in to Washington, D.C,. from Phoenix, said producers told them this was the plan all along.

Blackhorse and the 1491s allegedly aggressively confronted the four fans about their support for keeping the name, which the fans said they believed “honored Native Americans.” Blackhorse said she personally compared the fans to alcoholics for being in denial about the name; the fans also recalled being told they were “psychologically damaging Native American children.” The fans said they were also cut off when they attempted to respond

The situation escalated to the point where Kelli O’Dell, a former teacher from Virginia, said she was driven to tears by the show’s deception and the ambushers’ behavior.

“It was disingenuous,” she said. “The Native Americans accused me of things that were so wrong. I felt in danger. I didn’t consent to that. I am going to be defamed.”

O’Dell went on to call the police, but was told The Daily Show had committed no crime.

The segment is yet to air on the Comedy Central show, and the 1491s apparently also visited a Redskins tailgate as part of the sketch.

A Bridge to the Health-Care Future

James Capretta and Yuval Levin on what conservatives should do about Obamacare:

The reality of Obamacare implementation in 2014 does not mean the law is no longer replaceable with something better. It still can be displaced by an appealing conservative alternative if a newly elected president chooses to make repeal and replace a top priority in 2017. But plans to replace Obamacare must now take into account the changes that the law has brought about this year, and stands to deliver over the next few years. 

U.K. Labour Candidate: ‘Evil’ Israel Has Embraced Hitler as ‘Zionist God’

The United Kingdom’s Labour party has suspended one of its candidates after she used her Twitter account to attack Israel and compare it to the Islamic State.

According to the Mirror, Vicky Kirby, Labour’s candidate for parliament from a district in Surrey, tweeted, “Apparently you can ask IS/ISIS/ISIL questions on Anyone thought of asking them why they’re not attacking the real oppressors #Israel?”

“We invented Israel when saving them from Hitler, who now seems to be their teacher,” she also said, adding that Hitler seems to be the “Zionist God.”

“I will never forget,” wrote Kirby, “and I will make sure my kids teach their children how evil Israel is!”

Kirby had been the party’s candidate for only ten days before her suspension.

She is not Labour’s only controversial candidate. The Daily Mail reported today a tweet written by Benjamin Whittingham, Labour’s candidate for parliament in in the county constituency of Wyre and Preston North, in Lancashire:

The tweet, written earlier this year, was in response to news that Winston Churchill — “the greatest Briton of all time,” according to a 2002 BBC poll — will appear on Great Britain’s new £5 note.

Whittingham, 23, is running against Conservative incumbent Ben Wallace. Whittingham is a self-described socialist who, according to the Daily Mail, lists himself as a member of Edinburgh’s Socialist Workers Party.

The Liberal Gulag, Again

When Gawker’s Adam Weinstein wrote of his desire to imprison people who disagree with him politically, publishing an essay under the very straightforward headline “Arrest Climate-Change Deniers,” I noted that this was part of the Left’s ongoing, worrisome drift toward authoritarianism. The response was nearly unanimous: that it was unfair to tar the entire Left with the views of one knucklehead writing for Gawker, a man who should not be taken seriously writing for an outlet that should not be taken seriously. While I am sympathetic to that line of argument, the fact is that as a practical matter we do have to take all sorts of foolish and backward people and institutions seriously.

Now that the would-be gulag warden is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., speaking to what everybody loudly assures me was a cheering throng of historic proportions, what will they say? That the world’s largest climate-change march, and those who participated in it, are insignificant? Mr. Kennedy, who has been kept out of one of New York’s Senate seats only by happy circumstance, says that he believes his opponents to be guilty of “treason” — his word — and wants them convicted of crimes — “They ought to be serving time,” he says.

As in the case of Mr. Weinstein, I am open to the argument that in a sane world Mr. Kennedy would not be taken seriously, inasmuch as he is a witless pile of ground chuck molded into the shape of a politician, but we do not live in a sane world. We live in this world, one in which Senate Democrats are working feverishly to repeal the First Amendment while Robert F. Kennedy Jr. gleefully contemplates the prospect of building prison camps for political dissidents.

That is what you are voting for when you vote Democratic. If you are uncomfortable with that, then you should reconsider your affiliations. If you are not uncomfortable with that, then you have failed as a human being, but you should at least have the courage of your convictions and be as forthright as possible that you want to imprison people for thought crimes and political disagreement.  

ISIS Taunts ‘Islamic Jurists’ Obama, Kerry for Claim the Group Isn’t Islamic

An audio statement released by the Islamic State on Monday ruthlessly mocked President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for their claim that the terror group is not Islamic, asking when the two became such experts in Islamic law.

The recording by Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, released online in Arabic, comes to eleven pages of bluster, threats and exhortations to violence once translated into English. It urges attacks on Western civilians – especially those from countries involved in a growing military coalition against the Islamic State — and promises the Western intervention in Iraq will be “the last crusader campaign” in the region. “Thereafter, we will raid them by Allah’s permission and they will not raid us,” it promises.

The Islamic State spokesman singled out American leadership for savage criticism, repeatedly calling President Obama ”the mule of the Jews.”

“Have you not realized, O mule of the Jews, that the battle cannot be decided from the air at all?” he asks. “Or do you think that you are smarter than Bush, you obeyed fool, when he brought the armies of the cross and placed them under the fire of the mujahideen on the ground? No, you are more foolish than him.”

Nor is Kerry spared from the Islamic State’s tongue-lashing, with al-Adnani twice referring to the secretary of state as an “uncircumcized old geezer.”

The spokesman also mocked Obama and Kerry’s claims about the group’s relationship to the Islamic faith.

“To the extent that Kerry, that uncircumsized old geezer, suddenly became an Islamic jurist, issuing a verdict to the people that the Islamic State was distorting Islam, that what it was doing was against Islamic teachings, and that the Islamic State was an enemy of Islam,” al-Adnani sneered, ”and to the extent that Obama, the mule of the Jews, suddenly became a sheikh, mufti, and an Islamic preacher, warning the people and preaching in defense of Islam, claiming that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam.”

Civil-Rights Leaders Want Django Actress to Apologize for Playing Race Card with LAPD

Some of Danièle Watts’s initial defenders are now calling on the actress to apologize for claiming she was recently detained due to racial profiling. New evidence of the incident, and the events preceding it, has some civil-rights leaders saying Watts was “crying wolf” on the matter.

Watts, who most famously appeared in Django Unchained, made headlines last week after posting on Facebook that she was detained by the Los Angeles Police Department because she was mistaken as a prostitute while with her boyfriend. She spoke with and appeared on a number of media outlets, saying police made the assumption since she is black and her boyfriend is white.

But TMZ later uncovered audio of Watts refusing to cooperate with the officer who arrived on the scene, who was responding to a 911 phone call that the couple was allegedly having sex in public. TMZ also published photographs showing her straddling her boyfriend in a car with the door open.

The apparent lewd behavior and Watts’s conduct now has some of her one-time allies backtracking.

“I was one that was very outspoken about it,” Earl Ofari Hutchinson, the president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable and who initially came to Watts’s defense, said at a press conference on Friday. “We take racial profiling very seriously. It’s not a play thing. It’s not trivial.”

“It’s like crying wolf,” he continued. “After awhile, it has no meaning.”

Project Islamic Hope president Najee Ali, who was also at the press conference, said Watts misled the group and should apologize.

“She came and stated she’s a victim of racial profiling,” she said. “We found out later on based on new information that she wasn’t.”

But Watts is sticking by her story, at least somewhat. In a statement refusing to apologize, she maintains the officer made “overtly racist and sexist remarks,” but focuses more on the fact that she was asked to present identification without being charged with a crime, violating the Fourth Amendment.

Hispanic Caucus Lets Obama Delay Executive Amnesty Again, This Time to Protect Mary Landreiu in Dec. Runoff

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) is giving President Obama some wiggle room on his executive action on immigration, saying it can wait even until after a potential December runoff that could decide control of the Senate.

After President Obama announced he would wait until after the November midterms to move forward with executive action to grant legal status to millions of illegal immigrants​, the CHC initially said it still the White House to act by Thanksgiving. But a new resolution passed by the Democratic caucus is now giving him until late December to act.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough reportedly told told the caucus in recent meetings that it was unlikely the president would choose to act by the end of November and wants to wait until after Louisiana’s competitive Senate race, which will probably go to an early December runoff. McDonough reportedly asked the Latino caucus to postpone its demand.

In Louisiana, if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in November, the leading two candidates will move to a runoff, and it seems unlikely that either incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu or leading Republican Bill Cassidy will get a majority. Hispanic Democrats are keen on getting executive action on the books to legalize some undocumented immigrants, but Landrieu and other vulnerable red-state Democrats would likely be hurt by the president’s unilateral action. (The Louisiana senator voted in favor of allowing an amendment to a recent Senate spending bill that would have blocked President Obama’s ability to act unilaterally; the motion failed.)

In a resolution passed last Thursday, the CHC said it was “deeply disappointed” with the president’s decision to delay his executive action but still wants him to act “before the end of the holiday season.” The resolution also references President Obama’s original May 27 promise to act before the end of the summer, as well as his announcement earlier this month to delay the action until later after the midterms.

Wis. Dem Governor Candidate Plagiarized Sections of Plans

Conservatives regularly observe that today’s liberals peddle old tropes. But they usually at least take the time to reword them.

Not so Wisconsin’s Democratic candidate for governor. Last week Buzzfeed reported that Mary Burke’s jobs plan bears marked similarities to a variety of other sources, including previous Democratic gubernatorial candidates in other states:

Burke’s economic plan “Invest for Success” copies nearly-verbatim sections from the jobs plans of Ward Cammack, who ran for Tennessee governor in 2009 before withdrawing from the race, a 2008 plan from Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, now-Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s plan from his failed-2009 bid, and John Gregg who ran for governor of Indiana in 2012 and lost to Mike Pence.

Another section takes the same language as a White House press release.

Furthermore, a small section of language is copied from a Harvard report.

For a sampling of Burke’s generous borrowing, here’s Buzzfeed comparing her plan with Cammack’s:

Here’s Cammack:

Requiring our land-grant institutions to make supporting small farms a priority. These institutions can provide a wide range of support to small farmers to help them to improve farm profitability. Research and new technologies have played a significant role to increase yields and reduce costs throughout the agricultural system. Many of these advances can be targeted to help small farmers who could and benefit greatly from having site-specific information to increase yields, and therefore, improve economic performance. We can make new advances in technology – GPS systems to guide farm machinery and reduce overlap, early pest detection, identification of soil nutrient deficiencies, detection of plant stress, use of yield monitoring equipment – all advances that can significantly help the small farmer.

And here’s Burke:

These institutions can provide a wide range of support to a new generation of small farmers to help them to improve productivity and profitability. Research and new technologies have played a significant role to increase yields and reduce costs throughout the agricultural system. New technologies – like GPS systems to guide farm machinery and reduce overlap, early pest detection, identification of soil nutrient deficiencies, detection of plant stress, use of yield monitoring equipmentcan significantly help farmers be more productive.

Here’s Cammack:

Expanding intern programs to provide help to small farmers and also give students direct agricultural education and experience.

And here’s Burke:

Expanding intern programs to provide help to small farmers and also give students direct agricultural education and experience.

Here’s Cammack:

Helping farmers with succession planning by developing new programs that match new farmers with those retiring who have no successors interested in continuing the family farm.

And here’s Burke:

Developing new programs that match new farmers with those retiring who have no successors interested in continuing the family farm.

Here’s Cammack:

Supporting the development of public-private partnerships by working to match small farmers with business professionals to help farmers improve management, develop new markets plans and improve use of risk management tools and risk reduction strategies.

And here’s Burke:

Supporting the development of public-private partnerships by working to match small farmers with business professionals to help farmers improve management, develop new markets plans and improve use of risk management tools and risk-reduction strategies.

Now Buzzfeed reports that “sections of Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s veterans and rural communities plans appear to copy text directly from a variety of sources. The sources include, but are not limited to, academic journals and reports, and a local newspaper column.” While Burke occasionally links to sources in footnotes, phrases and lines are still used verbatim.

For instance, here’s Buzzfeed’s analysis of Burke’s “Invest in Our Rural Communities”:

Here’s a Council Of State Governments report from 2003:

At a time when U.S. manufacturing employment is generally on the decline, the production of wind equipment is one of the few potentially large sources of new manufacturing jobs on the horizon.

And here’s Burke:

While manufacturing employment in general has been declining for years, the production of wind equipment is one of the few potentially large sources of new manufacturing jobs.

And here’s​ an excerpt from Burke’s “Plan for Wisconsin Veterans”:

Here’s a 2013 Dunn County News column:

The opposition argued that the bill would impose additional burdens on those that were injured — and in some cases plaintiffs could die before their cases made it through the lengthened court process.

And here’s Burke:

This places additional burdens on those who were injured and in some cases plaintiffs could die before their cases make it through the lengthened court process.

In Burke’s defense, she does say she is a staunch defender of recycling . . .

Three Afghan Soldiers Vanish Inside the United States

Three Afghanistan National Army soldiers vanished inside the United States during a “Regional Cooperation training exercise,” in Massachusetts, according to U.S. Central Command is reportedly investigating the disappearance of the three men identified as “senior military officers” from Afghanistan. Major Jan Mohammad Arash, Captain Mohammad Nasir Askarzada, and Captain Noorullah Aminyar all speak English, according to, and were last seen at the Cape Cod Mall. 

The soldiers arrived at Joint Base Cape Cod on September 11, 2014, to participate in the two-week training that included 200 people from six nations, according to Federal officials told the men are not considered a threat to the U.S., and state and local officials have not received photos of the men, a U.S. Central Command spokesperson said. 

Leon Panetta: We Should Have Maintained U.S. Troops in Iraq

Leon Panetta, President Obama’s secretary of defense from 2011 to 2013, broke publicly with his former boss over Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq in late 2011, saying he never had confidence in the country’s ability to hold together without a U.S. military presence.

“Back when you watched the Stars and Stripes being lowered for the last time in Baghdad, were you confident, in that moment, that pulling out was the right thing to do?” CBS’s Scott Pelley asked Panetta on 60 Minutes Sunday.

“No I wasn’t,” the former defense secretary replied. “I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq. The decision was that we ought to at least try to maintain eight to ten thousand troops there — plus keeping some of our intelligence personnel in place — to be able to continue the momentum in the right direction.”

“And frankly, having those troops there I think would’ve given us greater leverage on [Iraqi prime minister Nouri] al-Maliki, to try to force him to do the right thing as well,” Panetta continued. 

The last U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq in December 2011, after talks between the American and Iraqi governments failed to produce an agreement protecting U.S. troops in the country from local prosecution. 

President Obama now claims the decision to remove American forces came entirely from the Iraqi prime minister. But in the past he repeatedly took credit for the withdrawal, both during the 2012 election and for some time afterwards.

The Spoiler in Louisiana

The Senate Conservatives Fund, Sarah Palin, and others have endorsed a guy named Rob Maness for U.S. Senate in Louisiana, but they appear to be doing more harm than good. I explain the politics of it, and the juvenile nature of Maness’s campaign, at the Advocate in Baton Rouge.

The peculiar nature of Louisiana’s open primary makes it more likely Landrieu eventually will be re-elected if Maness keeps running.

First, let’s be clear: Maness is not running the sort of campaign that recommends him for high office. His résumé of honorable military service as a full colonel, combined with several advanced degrees and a couple of years in business, is admirable, but his campaign has been less so. Instead, it repeatedly has resorted to juvenile stunts and mischaracterizations of other candidates’ statements and positions.

The usual target of these mischaracterizations has been Landrieu’s leading challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy. 

But there’s more. Who is this guy? What qualifies him to start his political career in the U.S. Senate? He doesn’t have a long record of civic service in Louisiana, or even roots in Louisiana that are real deep. (This isn’t a necessity, but it’s a factor.) He certainly doesn’t have any record as a conservative thinker or activist. He doesn’t have a record as a conservative donor. Maness just sort of showed up on the scene, claimed to be a conservative, and started making noise. His is the kind of background that might lend itself to stepping right into a race for the House. But for the U.S. Senate, in his first race ever?

The leading conservative blogger in Louisiana, Scott McKay at The Hayride, is a guy who is usually quite disdainful of the Republican “establishment.” But he has served as a one-man wrecking crew in pointing out the flaws of the Maness campaign.

Maness speaks pretty well, and he has the impressively erect bearing of the military colonel he was. Long military service to the country is admirable. It certainly entitles him to a hearing if he wants to run for public office. But one wonders if this is the wrong race, run the wrong way, at the wrong time.

Report: IRS Locks 1.93M Spouses and Kids Out of Obamacare

IRS regulators have created, or been unable to avoid, another one of those Obamacare “glitches” that President Obama predicted, this time effectively locking about 2 million people who may lack health insurance out of eligibility for the health-care law’s subsidies.

“The ‘Family Glitch,’ as it has become known, is an odd and particularly problematic side-effect of the Affordable Care Act,” a new study from the American Action Forum says. According to the group, the IRS interpreted an ambiguous part of Obamacare, about what kind of affordable coverage employers must offer, so that employers are only required to offer affordable individual coverage, and not an affordable family plan, too. If someone gets an affordable insurance offer, it renders them ineligible for subsidies on the exchanges — but because of the glitch, an employee’s spouse or children may not have access to affordable coverage or the subsidies.

“Spouses and children of an employee offered ESI could be unable to afford the employer plan, but because it is offered to one family member, the rest are made ineligible for subsidies in the Exchanges,” the study says.

This issue, which might affect up to 1.93 million people, could also have perverse and harmful economic consequences. ”Another effect of the glitch will be the creation of a disincentive for unemployed or underemployed people to accept better jobs with benefits packages,” according to the study. “For example, someone who works only 29 hours a week could completely lose insurance for their entire family by accepting a full time job that offers benefits only to the employee because they would lose subsidy eligibility—if the job offers insurance they could be ineligible for subsidies and may even be worse off financially than they were without the job.”

Mary Landrieu Takes Part in a Keg Stand

Technically speaking, Mary Landrieu didn’t break the unwritten rule for politicians to not be photographed with a drink in their hands, but manning the nozzle for a keg stand is pretty close.

While taking part in the tailgating festivities before Louisiana State’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday, the Democratic senator succumbed to peer pressure and got in on a keg stand. According to Mother Jones’s account of the events, Landrieu was initially hesitant as the crowd chanted “Mary! Mary! Mary!”; she eventually lent a hand as a fan’s legs were held up while he guzzled down some beer.

The campaign later confirmed the man was of legal age to imbibe.

Despite the pre-game hoopla, it wasn’t all good for Tigers fans. Let it be known to Louisiana voters: The LSU Tigers are 0–1 in games where Landrieu has taken part in a keg stand (or at least was photographed doing so). Mississippi State went on to upset the then-No. 8 ranked team from Baton Rogue 34–29.

But rather than credit Landrieu with just wanting to have a grand old time with her keg-stand foray, some cynics see the photo op as the latest calculated effort by the vulnerable incumbent to appeal to youngsters, following recent news that her Louisiana residence is her parents’ home in New Orleans:

Space Apples and Space Oranges

Having a piece of mine called “useful” by my old friend Rand Simberg is high praise indeed, but I think he misunderstands one of my main points. 

Boeing’s CST 100 is not “better” than the Space X Dragon 2; it is a typical product of a large, publicly held, bureaucratic, government contractor. As such the CST 100 matches precisely the requirements (formal and informal) laid down by NASA and its political masters. The most important of these requirements is that the space taxi should send astronauts to the International Space Station sometime in 2017. 

The Dragon 2 has emerged from a relatively small, visionary, tightly held private firm. Space X has so far succeeded, not by following the rules laid out for government suppliers, but by chasing the dream of its founder Elon Musk. If all goes well, the Dragon 2  will lead to a series of spacecraft that will within 20 years or so be zooming their way through the inner solar system. If it still exists, the CST 100 and its successors will be stuck shuttling people between Earth’s surface and Low Earth Orbit. 

Boeing is giving the customer what he (or she) wants; Space X is building what Elon wants. I happen to think that Elon’s project is “better” — in the broadest sense — than Boeing’s, but I’m not surprised that the customer, i.e. the politicians and bureaucrats, thought otherwise. So the fact that Space X got any money at all is a small reason for optimism. 

I don’t see why Boeing getting its paperwork in on time is a sign of anything other than Boeing being a big company with battalions of lawyers and bureaucrats whose main purpose in life is to make the lawyers and bureaucrats in the U.S. government happy. Augustine’s Law No. 36, adjusted for inflation, still applies: “The thickness of the proposal required to win a multimillion dollar contract is about one millimeter per million dollars. If all the proposals conforming to this standard were piled on top of each other at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, it would probably be a good thing.” 

Boeing has a fiduciary duty to its stockholders. Space X is firmly in the hands of Elon Musk. It’s nice to see that the small new company is shaking up the space industry, but the people who write the checks still respond to the same political and institutional incentives that existed before Space X ever tried to launch its first rocket. I suspect that by the time the politicians fully adjust, New Space and Old Space will have merged. As Orwell put it, “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”    

O Could Teach W. about Arrogance

I lead Impromptus today with some remarks on recent speeches by President Obama, concerning the Islamic State. My remarks are not complimentary, unsurprisingly. Neither is the below e-mail from a reader. It makes a very good point in an effective way.


One of the ways Democrats in general, and Obama in particular, have criticized George W. Bush is to say that he was “arrogant” about the Middle East. He thought he knew best, and he was just a Bible-thumping Texan.

But in his speeches, Obama has told terrorists what is in their best interests — as he has done with Russia and other countries — and has even excommunicated people from a religion that is not even his.

Who’s the arrogant one?


What the Peanut Salmonella Case Teaches Us About Overcriminalization

Brothers Stewart and Michael Parnell — the company owner and buyer at the center of the salmonella-tainted peanut scandal that killed nine people in 2008 and 2009 — will both face long prison sentences following their convictions on federal charges last week. But the specific way that the brothers will face justice ought to raise some questions for anyone concerned about laws that have granted too much arbitrary power to courts and prosecutors. Quite simply, the Parnells are being prosecuted and sentenced for technical wrongs when their actual crime was much worse.

Food Safety News, a trade publication that provided the most knowledgeable and in-depth coverage of the trail, puts it simply: “At no point did the government charge the defendants with being responsible for the deaths or injuries that resulted from the outbreak.” The only issues heard in the Georgia courtroom involved lying on paperwork and shipping unsafe products.

Such things should obviously be illegal. That said, civil sanctions, administrative penalties, and fines can do far more to discourage firms from doing them than criminal charges. It’s easier to levy such penalties than it is to get a criminal conviction, and the tools available to civil authorities, such as the ability to close plants and seize goods, do more to protect the public than a criminal trial could. The existence of laws allowing for stiff jail sentences for what are essentially paperwork violations likely give prosecutors the power to lock up almost anyone in the food business. That’s more power than the government should have.

In particularly egregious cases of food-safety breaches — and the Parnells’ behavior was egregious — criminal charges are appropriate. But, in these cases, it’s much better and fairer to try malefactors for the harm they do rather than technical wrongs: In this case, with nine people dead and hundreds more made ill, state prosecutors could have easily charged both brothers with manslaughter and assault. The charges might have been a little harder to prove and the trial would have take place in a state court rather than a federal one. But such a process would do far more to serve the interests of justice. 

— Eli Lehrer is president of the R Street Institute.


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