When Colleges Suppress Ideas

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line Blog posted an article yesterday about a recent vote taken at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

The article reports:

Anti-Israel groups on college campuses have come up with a new tactic in their effort to pass BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) resolutions. They are manipulating the voting to exclude Jews from the process.

At Tufts, a group called Students for Justice in Palestine decided to place an anti-Israel divestment resolution on the school senate’s agenda on the evening before the Jewish holiday of Passover, at a time when many Jewish students would be unable to attend the student government meeting. More than 50 students emailed their “senators” urging them to postpone the vote until after the Jewish holiday. The senate ignored their request.

A number of Jewish, Christian, education, and civil rights groups have sent a letter to Anthony Monaco, president of Tufts, protesting the way the vote was held. Their list of remedies is included in the Power Line article.

Fortunately this story does have a happy ending.

The article at Power Line includes an update:

I’m happy to report, via a Tufts alum, that the Trustees have voted not to change Tufts’ investment policy. Further, they identified significant “concerns” in the manner in which the student senate passed the divestment resolution.

Unfortunately anti-Semitism is alive and well on America’s college campuses.

Has Sovereignty Become An Issue?

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article today about the repeal of ObamaCare. That’s not so unusual, but some of the source of the pushback against the repeal is interesting.

The article reports:

Dana Milbank reports, with glee, that the United Nations “has contacted the Trump administration as part of an investigation into whether repealing [Obamacare] without an adequate substitute for the millions who would lose health coverage would be a violation of several international conventions that bind the United States.” The warning comes from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission (now known as the Human Rights Council) purports to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights,“ Its members include China, Cuba, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.

This would be laughable if it were not serious. So what is happening here? President Trump is not a globalist. Unfortunately for a number of decades, the American government has been run by globalists. Our recent Presidents have been in step with the United Nations and have done things that have put our national sovereignty in jeopardy. Evidently the globalist elites at the United Nations now feel that they have a valid voice on the American political landscape. That’s a notion that needs to be put to rest very quickly. It is a little upsetting to think that countries with such dismal human rights records as China, Cuba, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela feel free to criticize America because America does not want socialism. Let’s look at what poverty looks like in those countries versus what poverty looks like in America.

The article goes on to report:

By way of illustration, one of the provisions the U.N. relies on in this case is Article 5(e) of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, ratified by the U.S. in 1994. It calls on states to “guarantee the right of everyone” to, among other things, “public health, medical care, social security and social services” without regard to race or color.

It is not far-fetched to imagine lawsuits in U.S. courts based on claims that the government is violating this kind of “obligation” to which America agreed. How far-fetched is it to imagine left-liberal judges seriously entertaining such lawsuits? Not very, in my view.

In reality, pre-Obamacare America offered health care to everyone without regard to race or color. It provided poor Americans with free health care via Medicaid. Millions of other Americans received health insurance from their employer. The rest (except those with pre-existing conditions, a matter of real concern) were free to purchase health insurance, if they so desired. The market offered plans that were not expensive — my wife had one — at least not compared to the ones Americans are required to purchase under the Obamacare regime.

No one was denied health insurance due to race or color. Nor, to my knowledge, was anyone denied service — e.g. at an emergency room — on that basis.

The article concludes:

The U.N., through its “investigation,” is claiming the right to evaluate Obamacare replacement packages. In effect, it asserts the right to assess whether the replacement incentives measure up to the Obamacare incentives (inadequate though these are).

The U.N.’s infringement on our democracy is obvious.

It’s not surprising that elites in the rest of the world want to dictate to America. It’s not surprising that many of the left want such leftist elites to dictate to us. What’s surprising is that America has gone as far as it has to provide the tools with which claims like those being made by these elite, via bureaucrats in Geneva, can be asserted with a straight face.

When the United Nations begins to attempt to interfere in internal politics of its member countries, it is time for the United Nations to go away. We need to withdraw our membership, make them pay their parking tickets, and kick them out of the country.

Changing the Wrapping Doesn’t Change The Package

Yesterday Paul Mirengoff posted an article at Power Line about the changes made to the ObamaCare replacement bill.

The article quotes Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton:

“Despite the proposed amendments, I still cannot support the House health-care bill, nor would it pass the Senate. The amendments improve the Medicaid reforms in the original bill, but do little to address the core problem of Obamacare: rising premiums and deductibles, which are making insurance unaffordable for too many Arkansans. The House should continue its work on this bill. It’s more important to finally get health-care reform right than to get it fast.”

The article at Power Line states the following:

If, under a Republican plan, premiums/deductibles continue to rise, people will believe that Obamacare’s replacement made things worse. They will blame Republicans and the GOP will pay a heavy price.

No Republican should support replacement legislation unless he or she is confident it will result in better outcomes with regard to premiums/deductibles. If Democrats won’t support legislation that’s likely to produce that result, Republicans should either push such legislation through without Democratic support (overruling the Senate parliamentarian) if necessary or let such legislation be voted down.

Republicans have no obligation to pass replacement legislation they don’t like in order to patch up Obamacare. The Democrats created the current mess. If they won’t cooperate with the GOP in fixing it properly, Republicans shouldn’t take the political hit that would come with pretending to fix it on their own.

I left the Republican Party because I felt that they had forgotten their commitment to smaller government and had become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. The current ObamaCare replacement bill is a perfect example of that. Republicans were told that if we gave them the House, ObamaCare would be gone. When it wasn’t gone, we were told that if we gave them the House and the Senate, ObamaCare would be gone. When it wasn’t gone, we were told that if we gave them the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, ObamaCare would be gone. If this bill passes, it won’t be gone. We will simply have ObamaCare Light, a bad bill that the Republicans would be totally responsible for–just as the Democrats were totally responsible for ObamaCare. That is not a step forward–it is a step backward! Please, Republicans, do not pass this bill. Simply repeal ObamaCare. Then you can fight over its replacement. Don’t break faith with the voters.

 

Gentlemen, This Is A Football

Legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi was known for beginning the first team meeting of the preseason by stating, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” The Green Bay Packers were the team to beat in the 1960’s, winning the first two Super Bowls. Vince Lombardi was their coach during this time. Many of the players at those initial team meetings had already won Super Bowls. So what is the point of the statement, “Gentlemen, this is a football?” Simple, there comes a time (quite often) when you simply have to get back to basics.

The news story of the day is the resignation of General Flynn. The bottom line on the story is that the General was not totally truthful in his statements to Vice-President Pence about his contacts with Russia. The contacts with Russia may not actually be a serious problem, but if you want to be part of an administration, it’s not a good idea to lie to those in charge. However, there is much more to the story.

Those of us who want more honesty in government may not be too upset by this resignation. General Flynn is a good man who made a mistake. Unfortunately that mistake cost him his job.

Yesterday, Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article about the kerfuffle that reminds us of some of the elements surrounding the story.

These are some of the observations in the article:

Thus, I agree with David Goldman that even if reports of the conversation are true, Trump need not remove Flynn over it. (Goldman, by the way, sees the attack on Flynn as part of a CIA vendetta against the retired general).

Misleading Mike Pence, if that’s what Flynn did, is another matter. Obviously, the president and the vice president should be able to count on the national security adviser for honest reports about his conversations with foreign ambassadors (and about all other matters). If Flynn was not honest, that’s a problem.

…ONE MORE THING: It’s clear from the Post’s (Washington Post) report that Sally Yates and the others discovered that the Russians conceivably could blackmail Flynn by listening to a recording of the Russian ambassador’s phone call with Flynn. That’s how they learned Russia could show Flynn might have misled Pence about what was said during the call.

Thus, the Post has reported that the U.S. is tapping the Russian ambassador’s phone. Now, maybe the Russians already know, or assume, this. On the other hand, it may be that the Post has harmed U.S. intelligence gathering capability by running its breathless “blackmail” story.

One final thought. Remember that those of us who want President Trump to drain the swamp are not playing on a level playing field. The political left and their allies in the press are working very hard to undermine President Trump. You could probably also include many career government workers in that category. So what is going on here is not simply the resignation of someone who was less than truthful in his dealings with his boss. The political left will celebrate this as a victory because they caused the removal of General Flynn. We need to be very careful that this does not become a pattern. Also, anyone in the Trump Administration needs to realize that they have to be one hundred percent above board in their actions or the press will destroy them. This is not the Obama Administration where obvious violations of civil rights laws and other laws was overlooked by the press. Under a Republican Administration, the press will suddenly rediscover its role as watchdog.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article yesterday about a recent incident in New York City.

The article reports:

Yasmin Seweid, an 18 year-old college students, was charged with filing a false report based on false statements to authorities that three men called her a terrorist and chanted “Donald Trump” while she was riding a New York City subway. Seweid alleged that when she moved to the other end of the train, one of the men followed her and tried to pull off her hajib.

As John Sexton notes, Seweid’s “traumatic train ride” became a talking point for the anti-Trump media. It fit the narrative that Trump’s election has produced a rash of hate crimes. See Slate’s initial coverage, for example.

The New York City police department reportedly spent significant resources trying to verify Seweid’s story. It was unable to find any witnesses to the incident or any video that corroborated her story.

Finally, Seweid recanted. She said she made up the tale to get attention because she was having issues with her family at home.

In this case the news reported what they thought was a true story, but how many of the reports of this nature have also been made up?

The article concludes:

How much trouble is Seweid in with the police? Possibly, more than a little. A NYPD source explained that given the amount of time detectives spent chasing the phony story, and how politically charged the allegation was, police and prosecutors felt compelled to charge her. To make matters worse, they reportedly gave her numerous opportunities to come clean, but she repeatedly refused to tell the truth for weeks.

The left is determined not to “normalize” Trump. But one benefit of normalization would be a diminution of abnormal behavior like that exhibited by Seweid. Let’s hope the mass freakout over Trump’s victory subsides in the coming months.

I can only assume that the left is so terrified of Donald Trump for two reasons–if his economic ideas work, they will be out of power for a long time, and if he drains the swamp, they might find themselves going down the drain. All Americans need to support what our President-elect is trying to do. It could mean the difference between America living up to her potential or America losing her way.

It Just Keeps Dripping

Paul Mirengoff posted an article at Power Line today reporting major gaps in Hillary Clinton’s appointment calendar during her tenure as Secretary of State.

The article reports:

AP has identified at least 75 meetings that Hillary Clinton had with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors, and corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded (or not properly recorded) on her State Department calendar. AP identified the meetings by comparing her calendar with separate planning schedules supplied to Clinton by aides in advance of each day’s events.

In many cases, Clinton’s State Department calendar simply excluded the meeting altogether. On other occasions, the names of those with whom she met were omitted.

It seems clear that the omissions were made to obscure Clinton’s ties to tycoons and big donors. For example, in one omission, Clinton’s State Department calendar dropped the identities of a dozen major Wall Street and business leaders who met with her during a private breakfast discussion at the New York Stock Exchange in September 2009.

The first thing to notice here is that the search for this information was initiated by the Associated Press. Usually the press is supporting Hillary Clinton. Since the press tends to be aligned with the Democratic Party, this is an interesting development.

The article further reports:

AP had to go to court to pry from the State Department the records it needed to expose this latest example of Clinton’s lack of transparency and her ties to the wealthy.

The AP first sought Clinton’s calendar and schedules from the State Department in August 2013, but the agency would not acknowledge even that it had the material. After nearly two years of delay, the AP sued the State Department in March 2015.

The department agreed in a court filing last August to turn over Clinton’s calendar, and provided the documents in November. After noticing discrepancies between Clinton’s calendar and some schedules, the AP pressed in court for all of Clinton’s planning material.

The U.S. has released about one-third of those planners to the AP so far.

Is this a person we want in the White House?

 

The Problem With Attempting To Rewrite Recent History

The problem with attempting to rewrite recent history is that there are too many people around who remember what actually happened and that some of them write books. Such is the case with the political spin President Obama has used to explain why there were no troops left behind in Iraq.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article yesterday about Leon Panetta‘s new book “Worthy Fights,” excerpted in Time Magazine.

The article reports:

In Panetta’s forthcoming memoir “Worthy Fights,” which Time Magazine has excerpted, Panetta argues that Iraqi leaders privately wanted U.S. forces to stay behind after the formal 2011 withdrawal; that the U.S. had “leverage” to strike a deal; and that the Defense and State departments attempted to do so. However, says Panetta, “the President’s team at the White House pushed back” and thus no deal was reached.

This statement agrees with statements made by Ryan Crocker, ambassador to Iraq during the period in question.

National security should not be governed by politics. Unfortunately, under President Obama, every decision is governed by politics. We need to elect leaders who will put the good of America ahead of their own desire for personal gains.

Where Did The Stimulus Money Go?

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article yesterday about Kay Hagan, who is running for a second term in the United States Senate. Senator Hagan is the junior Senator from North Carolina. At the present time, she leads her opponent, Republican Thom Tillis, by three to five points. However, it appears that Mrs. Hagan’s husband’s company benefited from the stimulus bill she supported.

The article reports:

But Hagan suffered a blow over the weekend when it was revealed that, by virtue of the 2009 Stimulus Bill for which she voted, her husband’s company received nearly $390,000 in federal grants for energy projects and tax credits.

Hagan’s response to this story is that she did not help her husband win the federal funding. She also disputes any suggestion they have profited from the Stimulus.

As to the first claim, it may be true that Hagan did not intervene directly on her husband’s behalf. But soon after voting for the Stimulus, she told a North Carolina newspaper that “there’s a lot of renewable energy-generating capacity in the stimulus package.” Her husband’s company was in the renewable energy business and Hagan knew that it was a potential direct beneficiary of the Stimulus.

As to the second claim, it’s implausible to believe that the husband’s business did not profit from receiving almost $400,000 in federal grants and tax credits. According to Politico, the Hagans’ income from JDC Manufacturing increased from less than $201 in 2008 to nearly $134,000 in 2013.

Crony capitalism anyone?

We need to elect people who will put the welfare of America ahead of their own personal gains. Obviously, Mrs. Hagan had a vested interest in voting for the stimulus.

However You Feel About The Results, The Turnout Was Impressive

Yesterday, Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article about the rejection of separating from the United Kingdom by the voters of Scotland. In his article, Mr. Mirengoff refers to a previous article in which he listed his reasons for supporting Scottish independence. In that previous article, he points out that the majority of the people who represent Scotland in Parliament are Labor Party members. If Scotland were to leave the United Kingdom, the Labor Party would have a difficult time forming future governments in England.

Fox News reported on the referendum today. In an 85 percent voter turnout, Scots voted 55 percent to 45 to say with the United Kingdom.

Fox News reports:

Many saw it as a “heads versus hearts” campaign, with cautious older Scots concluding that independence would be too risky financially, while younger ones were enamored with the idea of building their own country.

The result saves Cameron from a historic defeat and also helps opposition chief Ed Miliband by keeping his many Labour Party lawmakers in Scotland in place. His party would have found it harder to win a national election in 2015 without that support from Scotland.

For his part, Cameron — aware that his Conservative Party is widely loathed in Scotland – had previously begged voters not to use a vote for independence as a way to bash his party.

The vote against independence keeps the U.K. from losing a substantial part of its territory and oil reserves and prevents it from having to find a new base for its nuclear arsenal, now housed in Scotland. It had also faced a possible loss of influence within international institutions including the 28-nation European Union and the United Nations.

The decision also means Britain can avoid a prolonged period of financial insecurity that had been predicted by some if Scotland broke away.

I am sure this issue will come up again in the future, but for now the United Kingdom is intact and has avoided the chaos and political turmoil that would have come with Scottish independence.

And So It Begins…

Those of us who are old enough to remember Vietnam are getting a little nervous about what is happening in the Middle East–for various reasons. The American involvement in the war in Vietnam actually began in 1950 under President Harry Truman, who sent the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) to assist the French. President Kennedy increased our commitment, and it began. South Vietnam fell when a Democrat Congress refused to send them the aid they needed to stand. This is somewhat similar to what happened in Iraq when President Obama did not get a strong status of forces agreement to maintain stability. Now, despite claims to the contrary, we are back in Iraq.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article today stating that we are sending 130 military advisers to northern Iraq to assess the situation there. It seems to me that we already have a pretty good idea what the situation in Iraq is. We have an extremist Islamic terrorist group killing people who will not convert to Islam. They have no problem killing women and children. I have no idea what the proper course of action is at this point. The Obama Administration has made so many bad decisions I am not sure it is capable of making a good decision. Meanwhile, the world seems to be turning away from the genocide that is happening.

The article at Power Line concludes:

President Obama claims that he’s determined not to do “stupid [stuff].” It would be nice if, in addition, he abjured “half-assed [stuff].”

Combating ISIS with a few pinprick airstrikes and a small number of advisers is half-assed. Fox News reported this morning that U.S. military commanders have compared our limited action against ISIS to “whac-a-mole.”

ISIS is powerful and is becoming more so by the week. But it is not unstoppable, as has been seen in Syria.

ISIS found the Iran-backed Syrian regime too tough a nut to crack, so it turned to the U.S.-backed (sort of) Iraqi government, correctly perceiving that it is low hanging fruit

In short ISIS’s approach is to probe for weakness. When it finds weakness, it runs rampant.

Northern Iraq is the first place where ISIS has encountered the U.S. military. It is imperative that ISIS not find weakness there.

At some point the democracies of the world are going to have to unite against ISIS and ISIS-type groups.

We Are Funding A Terrorist State

The battle in the Gaza Strip is not just about Israel. Hamas is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization dedicated to forming a worldwide caliphate. The organization was founded in Egypt, where at various times the Egyptian government, understanding the threat from the Brotherhood, has made it illegal. Iran also desires the formation of a worldwide caliphate, which they believe will usher in the coming of the Mahdi, their messiah. The Iranian mullahs believe that they can hasten the coming of the Mahdi by creating chaos and war in the region. There is no regard for individual lives–all actions are aimed at forming the caliphate. That is the reason Iran sent young boys into minefields to clear the mines for the tanks during the Iran-Iraq war.

Another example of this disregard for human life is found in the digging of the tunnels between Gaza and Israel. Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article yesterday citing a Journal of Palestine Studies (edited by President Obama’s pro-Palestinian friend Rashid Khalidi) article reporting that in 2012 Hamas was using children to dig the tunnels into Israel. Children were used because they are small and agile.

The article reports:

The author of the paper, Nicolas Pelham accompanied a police patrol in Gaza during December 2011. He reported that “nothing was done to impede the use of children in the tunnels, where, much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies.”

He also found that “at least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, according to Hamas officials.” And, as noted, this was as of the end of 2011. How many more Palestinian children have died digging tunnels for Hamas since then?

So what was the purpose of the tunnels?

According to a YNet News article posted on Sunday:

Hamas had been preparing a murderous massive assault on Israeli civilian targets during the upcoming Jewish New Year holiday, Rosh Hashanah – this according to anonymous sources in the Israeli security services cited by the Israeli daily Maariv.

The Hamas attackers were to be wearing IDF uniforms.

In its conclusion, the YNET News article reminds us:

Writing for Gatestone, Lawrence Franklin says that the construction of network of tunnels used hundreds of tons of concrete that might otherwise have been used by the Palestinians for building homes, shopping malls, parks, schools, hospitals and libraries.

Hamas was legally elected by the people of Gaza. Gaza has become a terrorist state that chooses to be a terrorist state. I see no choice but to disarm that state and bring it to a point where it cannot build tunnels or fire rockets at Israel. Enough is enough. If the people of Gaza are willing to live in peace, we should do everything we can to help them achieve that goal, if they are not, we need to make sure they cannot rebuild tunnels or build rockets.

Positive Unintended Consequences In The Middle East

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article today about the Israeli invasion of Gaza. He mentions in the article that Israel did not go into Gaza until the latest attempt to broker a diplomatic settlement broke down.

The article reports:

According to Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, spokesman for the IDF, the ground offensive began at 10 p.m. Israeli time. It involves dozens of infantry, armed core, and artillery units, as well as air and naval support. Israel plans to call up additional reservist troops to bolster the 50,000 called up already.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Lerner’s statement is that the IDF’s activities along the southern part of the Gaza Strip are being coordinated with Egypt. Lerner did not elaborate on the extent of the cooperation.

As I suggested here, Egyptian cooperation is one reason why this Israeli offensive may produce more thorough and lasting results than previous ones.

If Obama had gotten his way, the Muslim Brotherhood would still run Egypt, and Israeli-Egyptian cooperation against Hamas would be out of the question.

Because the Egyptian military stood up to the Muslim Brotherhood, the people in Israel may eventually be safer from Hamas.

 

I Think Someone Moved The Goalposts

Yesterday’s Washington Post reported that as the latest talks with Iran began yesterday Iran pledged to never dismantle any equipment or facilities other countries believe could be used for the manufacture of atomic weapons. I may have missed something, but I thought the sanctions were lifted because Iran said it would discontinue its nuclear program.

On February 14th, the Washington Times reported that Iran was going to receive more than $20 billion in sanctions relief under the agreement reached. What in the world did Iran agree to do in return? Has Iran still agreed to it? It really doesn’t sound as if we got anything in return for lifting the sanctions.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted a story today about the negotiations. He comments:

The latest round of negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program began yesterday. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi stated what has always been clear: “Dismantling [the] nuclear program is not on the agenda.”

What, then, is? As the Washington Post reports, the West seeks only “to prevent Iran from quickly converting its nuclear program to weapons production or from hiding a parallel program.” (emphasis added) This probably means “a demand that advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium be destroyed or mothballed, and that Iran make changes to a nuclear facility under construction so it cannot produce plutonium.”

Will Iran agree to this limited package? Not likely. As the Washington Post puts it, “Iran has signaled that it would oppose any such curbs.” And a senior U.S. official acknowledged that “we have a very long way to go.”

At some point, the Obama Administration is going to have to realize that the only way Iran will ever give up its nuclear ambitions is if the west imposes crippling sanctions. Even if that were to happen, I doubt that Russia and China would honor those sanctions, so we would be right back where we started. However, the sanctions that were just lifted in the first round of negotiations were what brought Iran to the bargaining table. We need to put them back in place until the negotiations are done.

Negotiating with Iran does not make the world safer–it makes the world more dangerous. The Iranians are simply stalling for time as their nuclear program progresses. It will be necessary at some point before Iran goes nuclear for someone to take out its nuclear facilities. America will probably not do that–Israel will probably do it without asking America. That will result in mass destruction in the Middle East. Iran needs to be stopped before it goes nuclear–that will help preserve peace in the Middle East if peace is at all possible.

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Lawyers Are Revolting Against Attorney General Holder

Yesterday Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article about a letter the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys sent Holder three days ago. The letter was in reference to the Attorney General‘s support of the Durbin-Lee bill, which would overturn the current mandatory minimum sentences not only for marijuana violations but for all drug offenses, including major and repeat trafficking in heroin, meth, PCP and other extremely dangerous, and often lethal, drugs.

The article quotes the letter:

We believe the merits of mandatory minimums are abundantly clear. They reach to only the most serious of crimes. They target the most serious criminals. They provide us leverage to secure cooperation from defendants. They help to establish uniform and consistency in sentencing. And foremost, they protect law-abiding citizens and help to hold crime in check.

The Justice Department under Attorney General Holder has a history of ignoring laws and practicing unequal justice. Hopefully, if this law is defeated, the Justice Department will continue to do its job in accordance with the current law.

Putting drug dealers back on the streets more quickly does not help our society in any way.

 

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Sending An Awful Message To Policemen Everywhere

Judicial Watch posted an article today about President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to be Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line reminds us:

Adegbile is best known for heading up the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s race-based assault on the integrity of a dead Philadelphia police office in a quest to get his murderer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, off of death row.

Judicial Watch posted the letter written to President Obama by the Fraternal Order of Police regarding the nomination:

FOPLetterThis nomination is an insult to every policeman who has ever served. Hopefully it will not stand.

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If You Don’t Understand The Problem, Your Solution Won’t Solve It

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article yesterday about the new Dodd-Frank rules regarding mortgages that will go into effect on January 10.

The article points out that because Congress chose to ignore the actual cause of the problem, the new rules will not solve the problem. The article cites comments by Diane Katz of the Heritage Foundation.

The article reports:

As Katz points out, Washington’s response to the financial crisis of 2008 rests on the premise that the housing bubble and subsequent crash were the fault of unscrupulous mortgage lenders who took advantage of naive, uninformed consumers. In reality, she says, “lenders and borrowers were responding rationally to incentives created by an array of deeply flawed government policies.”

What were these policies? Primarily, (1) artificially low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve, (2) the massive subsidy of risky loans by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, (3) and the low-income lending quotas set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Rather than admit that the government was a major part of the problem, Congress simply directed the focus elsewhere, passed laws that will not address the problem, and continued on its way.

The article reports:

At the heart of the new regulation is a requirement that lenders ensure that borrowers have the “ability to repay” a mortgage. Borrowers will now have the right to sue lenders for misjudging their financial fitness. Borrowers may also assert a violation of the ability-to-repay requirement as a defense against foreclosure, even if the original lender has sold the mortgage or assigned it to a servicing firm.

The impact of this new scheme is obvious. As Katz says, it “will raise the costs and risks of mortgage lending” and thereby result in less credit availability.

I wonder if you lie about your income on your mortgage application if you still have the right to sue.

Diane Katz sums up the problem:

The 3,500 pages of new mortgage regulation will not guarantee that a housing bubble and collapse will not happen again. Nor can such inflexible standards possibly keep pace with the constant changes in market conditions. But it will constrain the availability of credit and increase the costs. Such a regime eviscerates the fundamental principles of a mortgage “market,” thereby punishing consumers more than protecting them.

The federal government gets more power to regulate and the American people pay the price.

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The End Of The Judicial Filibuster

On Thursday the Senate voted to end the filibuster for most presidential nominees.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

The vote was a landmark moment for the Senate, a tradition-bound institution that is slow to change and prides itself on giving power to the minority party. Dozens of senators were seated at their desks as the day’s proceedings began, a rarity.

The key midday vote was 52-48, with all but three Democrats—Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Joe Manchin of West Virginia—voting for the change and all 45 Republicans opposed.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted his thoughts on the vote yesterday.

The article at Power Line reminds us:

At a fundraiser earlier this month, he told liberal donors that he is “remaking the courts.”

Recognizing that the filibuster stood in the way of a full radical makeover, Obama personally lobbied three Democratic Senators who were undecided about whether to eliminate it. Obama reportedly told them “how important this was to him and our ability to get anything done for the rest of the term.”

The White House stressed the need to confirm three new judges for the D.C. Circuit, which rules on a wide swath of regulatory issues. Stymied by Congress, Obama plans to push his left-wing agenda through regulatory overreach. He needs liberal judges to prevent the resulting rules from being overturned.

Paul Mirengoff explains in the article that the value of the decision by the Democrats in the Senate to change the rules about filibusters is that is confirms that fact that our courts have become political entities. He celebrates the fact that the passage of this law exposes the fact that our courts have become political. As Americans, we can now go about the business of electing people who will begin to undo the damage that has been done to our government by politicizing our courts. Every Senator who opposed this measure during the Bush Administration and supported it now should be voted out of office just on the basis of being a hypocrite.

Just a side note on this article. I went to my usual site of Thomas.gov to look for more information on the filibuster change. Thomas.gov has been altered considerably and is no longer as user-friendly as it used to be. I am hoping that this is a step in the direction of improvement of the site and not an attempt to make it more difficult for people like me to find out what is going on in Congress.

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Moving The Goalposts When It’s Convenient

One problem with the current negotiations in Washington regarding the government shutdown is that both sides keep moving the goalposts. President Obama says he’s not talking to anyone unless they surrender first, and the Republicans don’t seem to know exactly what they want.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article today about the current state of affairs. He noted that Senator Susan Collins has made a suggestion that meets the needs of what both sides originally said they wanted.

The article reports:

Collins’ proposal would have extended government funding for six months and boosted the debt ceiling through the end of January. By way of a fig leaf for Republicans, it also would have delayed a medical device tax in the health care law for two years and instituted an income verification requirement for qualifying for Obamacare subsidies.

Democrats rejected the plan not because of the Obamacare fig leaf, but because they want more money for the government. Collins’ proposal would have retained the spending levels established by the sequester, though it would have provided the government with much-needed flexibility in spending this money.

Evidently the debate has morphed from differences in ObamaCare to the ever-present debate on government spending.

As long as either side believes that the shutdown is working for them politically, it will not be solved. Right now the Democrats believe it is working for them. As long as they believe that, the government will remain closed.

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About That College Thing

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article yesterday about President Obama’s speech detailing his plan for higher education. The goal of the plan is to make college more affordable, tackle rising costs, and improve the value of college for students and their families. That sounds really good until you realize that federal subsidies are largely responsible for the exponential increases in college tuition in recent years. Included in the President’s plan for colleges is a federal rating system.

Mr. Mirengoff points out:

The federal rating system is unnecessary. Plenty of private outfits — most famously, U.S. News and World Report — rate colleges on a broad array of criteria. Relevant information about colleges is easy to come by, and from sources more trustworthy than ideologically-driven federal bureaucrats.

While the first elements of Obama’s plan is merely unnecessary, the second element — tying federal assistance to the federal rating system — strikes me as pernicious. First, I doubt the federal government’s ability to rate colleges with sufficient accuracy to justify attaching monetary consequences to its ratings.

Second, Obama’s plan will increase the federal government’s ability to coerce colleges into embracing even more fully a left-wing agenda — e.g., discriminating against whites in admissions and hiring, unfairly disciplining male students based on flimsy allegations of sexual harassment, and so forth.

Third, even if the federal government were able to come up with a reasonable and unbiased rating system, it would still have no business discriminating financially against the families of students who decide to attend colleges they (and the families) believe are better suited to their particular purposes.

The federal bureaucracy is already out of control. We really do not need to make it worse. The plan offered by the President does not reduce federal subsidies to colleges–it simply redistributes them. This seems to be another opportunity for the government to pick winners and losers. The government has already meddled unsuccessfully in the auto industry and in the energy industry. We don’t need to let them meddle unsuccessfully into higher education.

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A Hero From The Past

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted a story today about Ted Williams. I didn’t grow up in Massachusetts, and I admit that I really didn’t know much about Ted Williams. The story surprised me.

Ted Williams was called into the Army during the Korean War. At the time he had a wife and a child. He was offered the chance to avoid combat by playing on a service baseball team, but chose to go into combat instead. It had been eight years since he had flown an aircraft.

Mr. Mirengoff at Power Line relates a story about Ted Williams that was shared by John McCain during the “Straight Talk Express.” John McCain admired Ted Williams, who served as a fighter pilot in two wars.

The article reports:

During a mission in North Korea, Williams’ fighter plane was crippled by a strike that knocked out its hydraulics and electrical systems. The plane already was on fire when an explosion rocked its undercarriage as it approached the landing strip.

Williams pulled off a wheels-up “belly” landing, skidding along the tarmac with sparks flying for almost a mile before coming to a stop. The nose burst into flames, threatening the cockpit. Williams blew off the canopy, struggled out of the plane, and, after limping clear of it, hit the ground.

John McCain one asked Ted Williams about the incident–why he didn’t eject instead of attempting such a dangerous landing.

The article reports the answer:

Williams explained that, at six feet three inches tall, he believed he would have blown out both knees had he ejected himself from the cramped cockpit. And that would have meant the end of his baseball-playing career. Therefore, he decided he had to land the plane.

Sometimes we just don’t know what goes into the thought processes of a hero.

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Counting The Real Cost Of The Immigration Bill

I suppose it is necessary to begin this article by saying that I support legal immigration. I think we should make it easy for educated, hard-working people to enter this country without jumping through hoops and spending excessive time and money. However, we have nothing to gain by welcoming people who will be a burden because they do not have the skills to hold down a job and support themselves. At that point immigration becomes another load on an economy that is struggling to move ahead.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article today detailing the cost of the immigration bill currently under consideration.

The article at Power Line reports:

The Heritage Foundation has released its long awaited study of the cost to American taxpayers of legalizing the current population of illegal immigrants. The study, available here, estimates the cost at $6.3 trillion, at a minimum.

…The bottom line is that current illegal immigrants would receive around $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services over the course of their lifetimes, and would pay about $3.1 trillion in taxes. Hence, a net fiscal deficit of $6.3 trillion.

The numbers used in the calculation include such things as Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, public housing, public education, and community services such as police and firemen.

Again, I strongly encourage changing the legal immigration system to make it easier for hard-working people who want to work to come to America. I just don’t want to open the gates wide for people who will only add to the financial burden of the country.

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When The Government Controls Healthcare Bad Things Happen

When the government is allowed to decide what treatment is appropriate for medical problems, bad things happen. Yesterday Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted a story about one particular incident and a possible solution.

TRICARE is the military’s healthcare program. It covers military personnel, retirees, and military families for all branches of the military. Rep. Tom Cotton is co-sponsoring legislation to make sure our military and their families get the care they need.

The article reports:

H.R. 1705, also known as “Kaitlyn’s Law,” would make sure that Tricare covers doctor-prescribed therapeutic exercises or therapeutic activities. When the doctors and therapists treating a patient covered by TRICARE agree that a particular form of therapy is needed, and can justify their decision on medical grounds, the patient would receive reimbursement for that therapy.

Kaitlyn is the child of a military family. She has numerous physical problems that cause her to be incapable of speaking or walking by herself. One of these problems is severe scoliosis. Without effective treatment, the curvature of her spine is so severe that as it increases her bones will pop out of joint and she will eventually be crushed; The challenge for her family was finding effective therapy.  When conventional therapy failed, they eventually found something called “hippotherapy.” This involved riding a horse in circles to stretch her back muscles and force her to sit upright. The Pentagon decided that this was not a ‘proven’ therapy (despite the fact that it worked) and stopped paying for it.

The article continues:

In essence, then, the government takes the position that it will pay for physical therapy that wasn’t working for Kaitlyn, but won’t pay for the type of physical therapy that does work for her. And it took that position even as it admitted that there is reliable evidence supporting the value of “horse therapy.” In addition, Kaitlyn’s doctors presented sworn testimony as to its effectiveness on her.

Kaitlyn’s law would reverse this injustice, not just for her but for the many military families in need of need of hippotherapy, as well as other non-traditional modalities, such as a ball, balance board, barrel or bench. This tweak would not impose a new mandate on private insurance carriers. It would simply precludes military insurers from second-guessing the treatment choices made by doctors and therapists in the context of rehabilitative therapy.

Please follow the link to the article and read the letter submitted to Congress about this bill. We ask a lot of our military families–we need to take care of them.

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The Part Of President Obama’s Trip To Israel That Was Not Widely Reported

When President Obama traveled to Israel, the American press hailed it as a new beginning–a do-over of the way President Obama had treated Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu during the President’s first term. President Obama did say a lot of the right things when he spoke to Israel–he seems to understand to some degree that in order for Israel to survive, they may have to attack Iran. But there is another part of the story.

On Friday, Paul Mirengoff at Power Line reported:

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized today to Turkey for an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla. The apology is, of course, the handiwork of President Obama. Indeed, Netanyahu made the call during an airport meeting with Obama shortly before Obama mercifully left Israel.

The apology is a humiliation for Israel, which had nothing for which to be sorry. Netanyahu’s statement — which he wisely resisted making for three years — will not improve Israeli relations with Turkey. Relations are poor not because of the flotilla incident, but because Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, a good friend of Obama’s, is an Israel-hating Islamist.

Prime Minister Erdogan has been systematically moving his country away from its previously secular government into a Muslim state. He has cancelled military operations with Israel (which used to be routine) and condemned the State of Israel whenever possible.

The article at Power Line cites some of Prime Minister Erdogan’s recent statements:

How much does Erdogan hate Israel? Daniel Pipes reminds us that last month, Erdogan stated: “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity.” And three days ago, Erdogan stood by his claim that Zionism, the principle upon which Israel is founded, constitutes a crime against humanity.

He really does not sound as if he wants to make friends.

Andrew McCarthy posted an article at PJMedia on Saturday which provided more information on the flotilla that was the source of the problem:

The lowlight of President Obama’s Middle East trip is his strong-arming of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into a humiliating apology to Turkey’s Islamic-supremacist government over Israel’s defense in 2010 of its blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. The blockade was subjected to a terrorist offensive camouflaged as a humanitarian flotilla. The spearhead of the siege was the Mavi Marmara, a vessel controlled by a Turkish jihadist organization, the IHH, that is a part of the Union of Good, a formally designated terrorist organization under American law. Due to President Obama’s close relations with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Obama administration has resisted congressional calls to designate the IHH itself as a terrorist organization – sparing itself the embarrassment of noticing the intimate collusion of Erdogan’s ruling Islamist party and the jihadist group.

President Obama is not a friend of Israel. He may pose as a friend, but his actions show that he is not a friend.

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When A Budget Cut Isn’t A Budget Cut

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article about the current discussion on cutting the federal budget in order to deal with the growing deficit. Sequestration, which is seen as something that will seriously damage the American economy by most of Congress, is rapidly approaching; and because somehow the information has gotten out that the concept of sequestration was an idea created by the White House, there is an effort to prevent it from happening. There are a number of reasons to fight sequestration–despite the fact that defense and domestic spending does need to be cut, this is not a good time to compromise national defense. The Democrats are also screaming about the cuts to domestic spending. So the discussion continues, but it is not necessarily an honest discussion.

The article at Power Line lists some of the ‘targeting cuts’ the Democrats in Congress are praising:

But, as the Washington Post demonstrates, in practice “targeted cuts” frequently prove to be no cuts at all. Instead, they are a method through which legislators can claim to be slashing the budget while continuing to spend at the same levels as before.

Consider the $37.8 billion in “cuts” agreed to in 2011, proclaimed by President Obama as “the largest annual spending cut in our history.” The Post finds that package to be “an epic kind of Washington illusion, stuffed with gimmicks that made the cuts seem far bigger — and the politicians far bolder — than they actually were.”

For example, the Transportation Department took credit for “cutting” a $280 million tunnel that had been cancelled six months earlier and a $375,000 road project that had been created due to a typo on a road that didn’t exist.

Meanwhile, the Census Department took a $6 billion “cut” for not conducting the 2010 census in 2011. And Congress agreed, in the spirit of shared sacrifice, to “cut” $14.6 million by not spending money on a visitors center that had already been built.

These aren’t “smart” cuts, they are smart-ass ones.

Until each member of Congress is held responsible for their role in the runaway spending, the spending will continue. Until voters can easily learn how their Congressman or Congresswoman votes on spending issues, the runaway spending will continue and the budget deficits will continue to grow. At the current time, with low interest rates, about 15% of the money spent by the government goes to interest on the debt. This is the equivalent of paying the minimum on your credit card every month and wondering why you are going deeper into debt all the time. When interest rates increase, that number will rise sharply. Is this a burden we want to leave to our children as they grow up and inherit the country?

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Confirmation Hearing For Chuck Hagel

This story is based on two articles–one posted by Paul Mirengoff at Power Line today and one posted at the Los Angeles Times today. Both articles were reporting on the Senate confirmation hearings of former Senator Chuck Hagel.

The headline on the Los Angeles Times article is “Chuck Hagel, an antiwar secretary of Defense.” That is an interesting statement.

The article at Power Line reports:

First, Cruz (Senator Ted Cruz) played excerpts from a tape of Hagel’s 2009 appearance on al Jazeera, in which a caller suggested that Israel had committed war crimes. In responding to the question, Hagel did not dispute the caller’’s statement. Cruz also pointed to statement by Hagel that Israel had engaged in “the sickening slaughter” of Hezbollah, which sounds a bit like war crimes.

The American friendship with Israel goes back to 1948 when Israel became a nation. To accuse Israel of slaughter when Hezbollah routinely lobs rockets into civilian Israeli population centers is simply not factual. Senator Hagel may represent the President’s views on Israel, but those views are not good for either America or Israel.

The Power Line article further reported:

Next, Cruz played an excerpt from the same interview in which the al Jazeera host read a reader e-mail claiming that the United States has served as the world’’s “bully.” This time Hagel not only failed to take exception and stick up for his country, he said on al Jazeera he found some merit in the claim, calling it “a good observation” (the Washington Post report linked to above fails to report this fact).

To me, this is the problem with the nomination. Traditionally America has acted as a policeman in the world–coming to the aid of people when democracy was in danger. We have not played that role under President Obama–we have supported a revolution in Egypt that has led to a government that is anything but democratic and we refused to help the green revolution in Iran.

I suspect Senator Hagel will be confirmed. Unless there is some major scandal associated with a President’s cabinet nominee, I believe the candidate should be confirmed. Elections have consequences. President Obama was legally elected. Unfortunately, I think the cabinet appointments of Senator Kerry as Secretary of State and Senator Hagel as Secretary of Defense will hurt America in the long run.