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MLB Brings on LGBT ‘Ambassador for Inclusion’



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Major League Baseball has appointed former player Billy Bean, who came out as gay after he retired, to serve as a Ambassador for Inclusion. The league said he will will help “provide guidance on supporting LGBT community within MLB.”

“It’s ironic that I am returning to baseball to help erase the same reason I left,” Bean told Outsports. “Moving forward, I will make it my mission that no other athlete ever has to make that same mistake I made in silence again.”

Bean’s appointment comes ahead of the league’s annual All-Star Game in Minneapolis tonight, where former player Glenn Burke will also be recognized. The former Oakland A and Los Angeles Dodger came out to his teammates during his playing days in the 1970s, and left baseball at the age of 27, citing that “prejudice drove” him to leave “sooner than I should have.”

Everyone vs. Rand Paul



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Chris Christie took on Rand Paul’s foreign-policy views last summer. Ted Cruz and Paul argued about them in the spring. Now Rick Perry and Paul are arguing about Iraq.

The other potential presidential candidates probably figure that most Republican voters are ultimately not on Paul’s side of this argument, and so engaging on it will help them. At some point, though, couldn’t the pile-on reinforce the impression that Paul is the front-runner and everyone else is competing to be the not-Paul in the race?

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CNN Guest Likens Threat of Deporting Vargas to Sending Blacks Back to Africa



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Deporting immigration activist and documentarian Jose Antonio Vargas, who famously revealed he was an illegal immigrant in a New York Times op-ed in 2011 and was arrested trying to leave McAllen, Texas, this morning, would be like sending black Americans back to Africa, according to one CNN guest.

Although she believed that many of the unaccompanied children currently at the border should be returned to their home countries, the Daily Beast’s Keli Goff felt Vargas’s situation merited different treatment and that he shouldn’t be expected to go back to the Philippines, which he left at the age of 12 years old. Meanwhile, her opposing panelist, Crystal Wright of ConservativeBlackChick.com, said that Vargas should not be given preferential treatment simply because he wasn’t caught when he first came to the country illegally.

Goff countered that sending Vargas back to a country where he was unfamiliar with the culture would be similar to both she and Wright being sent to Africa because of their ancestry.

“If you dropped me off in Africa, I couldn’t speak the language, I wouldn’t have any cultural ties to the continent, even though it is the continent of my origin,” she said. Wright immediately called it a false equivalence because enslaved Africans were forcibly brought to the Americas and did not break the law, but that didn’t stop Goff from continuing to make the case for Vargas.

“He has no cultural ties to the country in which he was born,” Goff continued. “What I’m saying is, return me to a country where I have no cultural ties because I wasn’t raised there, I don’t think that’s fair — I wouldn’t know how to survive there.”

Web Briefing: July 22, 2014

The CBO’s Latest Long-Term Budget Outlook: Still Terrible



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No surprise, the projections are still for subdued deficits for the next few years, followed by a huge explosion in federal debt and deficits driven not by economic catastrophe, as has been the case over the past few years, but by unsustainable entitlement spending. Here’s the key chart, showing a few years of stability and then a race to World War II levels of debt:

The outlook for Medicare has improved infinitesimally, mainly thanks to a slowdown in general health-care spending, while the outlook for Social Security has worsened substantially, though this is partly just an accounting issue. NRO intern Andrew Smith explains over at the Agenda.

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Rolling Stone Outdoes Itself



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Rolling Stone has compiled a definitive record of “The 5 Most Dangerous Guns in America.” They are, and I’m not kidding here:

  1. Pistols
  2. Revolvers
  3. Rifles
  4. Shotguns
  5. Derringers

So . . . pretty much every single gun legally available in America then.

There are no words.

Cameron’s Cabinet Reshuffle: ‘Modernization -- the Sequel’



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David Cameron’s government reshuffle is now complete — and a blow-by-blow account (with commentary) of the new appointments is available here on the Daily Telegraph site. Before I attempt an overall judgment, let me analyze a few of the more important ones: 

1. Michael Gove has been moved downwards from education secretary to chief whip. Official sources deny this is a demotion, but unconvincingly. They even insist that he asked for the job. But it’s a demotion, and a surrender by Cameron to two hostile forces: Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, with whom Gove had clashed, and the teachers’ union which has fiercely opposed his introduction of “free schools” because they threaten the union’s monopoly powers. Don’t believe the nonsense that he can be safely moved because his reforms are now in place. They are in place legalistically, but their continuing implementation will need the strong ministerial backing they got from Gove. His successor, Nicky Morgan, seems an able woman, but education isn’t her subject (until today), and she hasn’t yet got Gove’s political status and clout in Whitehall.

2. Philip Hammond is the big winner of the reshuffle, as the Telegraph’s Peter Oborne points out, rising from Defense to foreign secretary which is one of the four major ministries in U.K. government. And this is probably not especially good news as Andrew Stuttaford notes in his earlier and suitably gloomy posting. Hammond was an efficient hatchet man at Defense, reducing the armed forces to the point where the U.S. officials have warned that Britain is a decreasingly useful ally in military terms. He did so without apparent qualms. Some commentators treat his rise as a sign that the Cabinet has moved in a Euroskeptic direction. That’s either wishful thinking on the part of Euroskeptics or scare tactics by the liberal end of the media. It rests, as Oborne notes, on a single remark. Hammond is an efficient manager of public business and an ideologically opaque politician. We will only know what he thinks if he becomes prime minister, and maybe not even then. But while his rise continues and/or until an election defeat, Hammond won’t rock the boat.

3. Michael Fallon replaces Hammond at Defense. This is the single best appointment in the reshuffle. Fallon is the man who is regularly called in to solve the problems that the other ministers have caused. His record in doing so is exemplary. But though strongly defense-minded and highly competent, he has a real problem in Defense: namely, that the problem there is the government’s policy of sacrificing defense to domestic priorities, budget stringency, and foreign aid. And neither the PM nor the chancellor will help him to solve that.

4. Those who nurse the fond hope that a Cameron Cabinet might become genuinely Euroskeptic should read the statement issued by Cameron’s new appointee to the European Commission in Brussels, Lord Hill, a businessman politician who is comparatively obscure compared with all the other names floated for the job. In this statement he informs us that one of his two main duties in Brussels will be to work to win support for the European Union among the ordinary people of Europe. Unfortunately he probably means it, and his appointment has been welcomed by the apparatchiks of business groups.

Keep reading this post . . .

The Border Flow Is Overwhelmingly Economic



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At least according to people knowledgeable about it. This Wall Street Journal report the other day had this from Honduras:

“Violence is a factor that provokes fear. But it doesn’t make a child go to the U.S.,” said Rómulo Emiliani, 66, San Pedro’s Roman Catholic bishop, who is working to pacify gang-plagued neighborhoods. “The No. 1 problem is extreme poverty, people’s desperation.”

The Journal’s report today on the flight going back to Honduras on Monday noted the same thing:

Social workers and migrant advocates in Honduras say endemic poverty, a lack of job opportunities and the desire to reunite with parents who migrated earlier prove greater motivations for young people to leave the country than does violence.

In an op-ed today in the Journal (in case you were wondering, I do occasionally get my news from other sources), David Stoll writes about the flow from the perspective of his research in a Guatemalan town:

Some say they are escaping gang violence – although getting through Mexico is usually more perilous for Central Americans than what they face back home. If they hail from rural areas, they are likely to have more problems with gangs in U.S. cities than where they come from . . .

. . . Child migration has been mushrooming for more than a decade. An intimate portrait of the phenomenon is Sonia Nazario’s “Enrique’s Journey” (Random House, 2006), about a Honduran boy who rides Mexican freight trains to find the mother who abandoned him a decade earlier. Enrique is only 5 feet tall, but he turns out to be 17 years old, has been working for years and fathered a child.

So when you read about unaccompanied children flooding detention facilities, it is important to ask: How old are they? In the U.S., anyone under age 18 is legally a minor, but the average age of unaccompanied minors caught by the U.S. Border Patrol is 14 or 15, which in Central America is old enough to work. Many of these youths are aiming for the U.S. labor market, and often with financial support from their parents.

His piece is fascinating and worth reading in full

Trespassing on Nordlinger Territory



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I’m afraid my writing about opera will bring to mind the Samuel Johnson crack about women preaching, but here’s my column about the Metropolitan Opera’s labor dispute. 

Rearranging Deck Chairs On The Titanic, And Speeding Up Towards The Iceberg Too



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John O’Sullivan had a characteristically smart take on the first stage of David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle earlier. Since then, we’ve heard that (as John suggested could be the case) Philip Hammond has indeed become Foreign Secretary. John seems fairly positive about Mr. Hammond (as is another shrewd and well-informed euroskeptic with whom I have been discussing this), but, to the extent that the new Foreign Secretary is still talking about ‘renegotiation’ of Britain’s position, count me skeptical. I hope I am being too pessimistic, but this Financial Times piece by Gideon Rachman reads a little ominously:

The new foreign secretary also has a reputation as a cautious, mainstream Conservative – so he is unlikely to take British European policy in new and radical directions. The government is already committed to renegotiating Britain’s terms of EU membership, which leaves every opportunity for Mr Hammond to say, at some future date, that his concerns have been met – and then to campaign for continued British membership of the EU. The experience of being Foreign Secretary also tends to mellow eurosceptic views, as ministers discover that some of their European colleagues are actually quite reasonable – and that the EU, as a collective of 28 nations, has quite a lot of clout. It is certainly true that William Hague’s euroscepticism seemed to mellow, during his period in King Charles Street; a development that lost him support amongst the headbangers on the Tory back-benches.

“Headbangers”!  The EU’s Izvestia rarely disappoints.

Meanwhile the firing of the (sensible) Environment Secretary (who is also a prominent euroskeptic) is a clear message that Cameron believes either (a)  that he can win the next election without the support of large numbers of former Tory voters now resident in the UKIP  hotel or b) that enough of these voters will either be so fooled by Cameron’s own ersatz euroskepticism or so terrified by the (genuinely appalling) prospect of a Labour victory next year that they will return to the fold and save the day at the last moment. Neither (a) nor (b) is likely.

Transferring Michael Gove, the innovative and reformist Education Secretary, to another (senior, but…) job will be seen as a surrender to the education establishment for the very good reason that it is.

John also rightly takes Cameron to task for the tokenism running through the reshuffle process, a tokenism that is as condescending as it will (electorally speaking) be unproductive.

And speaking of, if not tokenism, well, something, here’s this report (my emphasis added) from the Daily Telegraph:

Parliament’s art should be subject to a “gender-audit” amid concerns that the paintings and sculptures are too “white and male”, a report endorsed by all three party leaders has found….Mary McLeod, the Tory chairman of the MP, said that improving the artwork and culture of parliament would help to attract more women. She said: “We are not trying to take away the history of Parliament, but we do want to make it look more aspirational and modern. These sort of pictures build the unconscious bias towards men, saying this is a male Parliament, built by men and for men….

Maria Miller, the former Culture Secretary, warned that David Cameron may fail in his attempts to bring more women into the Conservative Party and be forced to introduce all-women shortlists.  Miss Miller warned that Parliament is at risk of “lagging behind” the business community as only a fifth of MPs are women….Miss Miller, who resigned after a scandal over her expenses, said….

Read the whole thing, if you can face it.

Paul Ryan and the Boehner Lawsuit



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In a speech at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center today, Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) made some comments that are relevant to the proposed congressional lawsuit against President Obama. Right before he reached his conclusion, Representative Ryan said this:

Finally, there is the temptation to ask courts to intervene and solve our problems for us. Some conservatives think of judges the way Progressives think of bureaucrats: technical experts with the solutions to our constitutional conflicts. But judges, like bureaucrats, are often the problem. We must be mindful of this temptation. It is true that the Supreme Court can be an ally in conflicts surrounding the Constitution. But it can also be an adversary. Under our Constitution of self-government, the court that really counts is the court of public opinion. We can’t simply rely on the Supreme Court alone to defend our rights. We have to remember that at the end of the day the court of public opinion, where the American people hand down their verdict on Election Day is the final arbiter. In popular government, the people are the final judge and jury.

 

TSA: Buffoonery and Larceny



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Since I managed to sneak some observations about the horrible state of domestic air travel into my piece about net-neutrality rules, maybe a bit more airport horror.

I was amused but not surprised by this reporter’s account of being asked for his passport after showing a TSA agent his D.C. driver’s license — the agent, as it turns out, did not know what the District of Columbia is, and assumed that it was a foreign jurisdiction. (It does feel that way.) The TSA is now helpfully instructing its minions on what (and, presumably, where) the District of Columbia is.

But I can top that: When I was doing my interview for TSA Pre, the agent asked me: “City and state?” And I answered: “New York, New York.” And then it went roughly thus:

TSA: “State?”

Williamson: “New York.”

TSA: “No, state?”

Williamson: “New York. New York, New York.”

TSA: “That’s what you said for city.”

Williamson: “Yes. New York, New York.”

TSA: “Right, that’s what I have.”

Williamson: “Okay, then.”

TSA: “State?”

As it turns out, she’d identified my city as “New York New York,” but apparently thought that the city-state combination of “New York New York, New York” was implausible. It took what amounted to three-fifth of an Abbott and Costello routine to straighten it out.

Front lines on the war against terrorism, with sidelines in buffoonery and larceny

The Accurate Title of Senator Blumenthal’s Radical Pro-Abortion Bill: The Kermit Gosnell Enabling Act of 2014



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Rarely have I seen an abortion bill more monstrous, more extreme, than fake Vietnam veteran Senator Richard Blumenthal’s Orwellian-titled “Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013.” Thomas Messner at the Charlotte Lozier Institute has done an admirable job breaking down the bill’s deficiencies, and I don’t want to repeat his work, but it’s important to focus on a few, key provisions.

Make no mistake, this bill would radically expand federal power over abortion regulations and radically harm women’s health — all for the sake of killing more children. 

The bill would strike down any state laws that contain the following requirements:

A requirement or limitation concerning the physical plant, equipment, staffing, or hospital transfer arrangements of facilities where abortions are performed, or the credentials or hospital privileges or status of personnel at such facilities, that is not imposed on facilities or the personnel of facilities where medically comparable procedures are performed.

And:

A limitation on an abortion provider’s ability to delegate tasks, other than a limitation generally applicable to providers of medically comparable procedures.

And:

A limitation on an abortion provider’s ability to provide abortion services via telemedicine, other than a limitation generally applicable to the provision of medical services via telemedicine.

Adding those provisions together, the fake Vietnam veteran Blumenthal bill would create a federal statutory right to operate an abortion mill without the presence of qualified physicians with appropriate hospital admitting privileges, without the kinds of facilities necessary to render proper emergency aid to women in distress, and would even allow abortions performed by, say, nurse practitioners with nominal supervision via Skype. Kermit Gosnell could make some serious coin under this system.

The bill just gets worse and worse. Let’s take its definition of viability:

The term “viability” means the point in a pregnancy at which, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care professional, based on the particular facts of the case before her or him, there is a reasonable likelihood of sustained fetal survival outside the uterus with or without artificial support.

Translation: Viability is in the eye of the beholder, with the subjective judgment even of a non-doctor (who has a direct financial interest in terminating the pregnancy) trumping all other considerations.

Lest anyone doubt this bill’s absolute pro-abortion priorities, it helpfully explains:

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize any government to interfere with a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy, to diminish or in any way negatively affect a woman’s constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy, or to displace any other remedy for violations of the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

This is a bill designed to increase the number of abortions and enrich the abortion industry. It has no other realistic purpose or object. It would leave hair salons and tattoo parlors subject to more regulation than abortion mills. If it passes, more babies will die and more women will die, and Planned Parenthood and the legislative left will laugh all the way to the bank.

It is a moral indictment of the Left that it would proudly support this bill. May their descendants one day look back in shame at their support for such monstrous injustice. And may our pro-life legislators be as proudly and aggressively for life as fake Vietnam veteran Blumenthal and his allies are proudly and aggressively for death.

A Few Thoughts on Jose Antonio Vargas



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Immigration activist and self-described “undocumented American,” Jose Antonio Vargas, has been arrested on the border. Per CNN:

Early Tuesday, Vargas tweeted that he was about to go through security at McAllen-Miller International Airport. Since outing himself as an undocumented immigrant three years ago, he says he has traveled extensively, visiting 40 states.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he tweeted, directing his followers to the Twitter handles for Define American and the University of Texas-Pan American’s Minority Affairs Council.

Within minutes, the latter retweeted a photo of Vargas in handcuffs with the caption: “Here’s a photo of (Vargas) in handcuffs, because the Border Patrol has nothing more pressing to do apparently.”

This should not come as a great surprise. Whatever principle of prosecutorial discretion could be charitably said to have applied to Vargas up until now, it does not apply to this situation. There is a material difference between 1) ICE and its affiliates refraining from actively going after people who are in America illegally, and 2) a border patrol agent permitting those without the requisite papers to pass through a checkpoint. Whatever the media might like to believe, this was not a case of the Border Patrol “having nothing more pressing to do,” but of a man who presented himself to Border Patrol and asked for them to examine him. What else, pray, could they do?

To conflate these two circumstances is to seriously misunderstand the issue at hand. For years, Vargas’s celebrity has afforded him a latitude of which most in his position could only dream. He has written repeatedly in the press that he was an illegal immigrant and that he had broken a series of major laws. In response, the authorities have done nothing. He has made a movie about his predicament. Authorities have done nothing. He has informed the government in no uncertain terms that he is here without documents and that he has committed serious fraud on federal forms. It has done precisely nothing, and nor, for that matter, have any of the federal agents who recognized him boarding airplanes. (They could have chosen to make an issue of it, but because he needed only an ID and not a visa to pass through they did not have to.) In other words, he has been cut a break at every possible juncture.

This week, he pushed it too far, trying to pass through a checkpoint without the necessary papers. Then, and only then, did authorities take action. 

And what choice did they have? Vargas himself knew that he could get away with a lot, but that this would be his downfall. When he explains that he can’t leave the country, this is why: Because no border agent is able to actively wave through someone who is prohibited. Surely, Vargas can’t honestly believe that the authorities should have said, “well, we know you aren’t allowed in, but because we’ve seen you on CNN, we don’t care?”

As a more general matter, this is a horribly sticky situation. Without question – and through no initial fault of his own – Vargas has found himself in a veritable nightmare. As he tells the story, he was brought here at a young age and told that he had legitimate papers, only later to discover that those papers had been forged. From that point on, his options were severely limited. Conservatives who ask, “but why didn’t he just apply for legal status?” are rather missing the point. Under current law, he is unable to do so without leaving the country in which he has built his life. (Or marrying a U.S. citizen.) Because he did not have a petition filed before 2001, he didn’t qualify for relief under Section 245(i); because he is too old, he doesn’t qualify for the deferred action policy that President Obama illegally put into place in 2012. He’s genuinely stuck. Moreover, there really is no “home” for him to “go” to. This is it. If I had my way, he would be among those to whom some form of amnesty was extended. Those who have known nothing else should not be sent abroad.

Still, this is really not the point. The law that I would like doesn’t yet exist. And, knowing this better than anyone, Vargas willingly placed himself in this position. What were those charged with enforcing the rules supposed to do, exactly? Slip him under the desk?

All told, Vargas has a habit of pushing his luck, his advocacy having focused less on the tricky situation in which he’s found himself and more on the idea that the whole idea of the rule of law in this area is unreasonable. Explaining his predicament in Politico last week, he concluded with a series of lines that seem to have been contrived explicitly to turn off anybody who might feel sorry for him:

As Tania and I sat together in a circle holding unlit candles, a crowd of about 30 people—mostly undocumented youth, a few citizen allies—started chanting something in Spanish, a language I don’t speak. Her head on my shoulder, with tears in our eyes, she translated the chant for me:

“No me digas illegal”/Don’t call me illegal

“Porque eso no lo soy”/Because I am not

“llegal son sus leyes”/Illegal are your laws

“Y por eso no me voy”/And that’s why I’m not leaving

These people, note, are not all in his situation. Some of them are citizens; some of them have been here a while; some, including everyone he went to visit in the first instance, have just arrived. Thus did Vargas play his usual game of turning a genuine and targeted problem into a general and holistic case against borders and national sovereignty. Not smart, Jose. Not smart.

I understand, of course, that this is not entirely black and white. There is room for some retail discretion, yes. At the margins, too, there are instances in which the law is so morally bankrupt that one has little choice but to break it. But not every infraction comes up to the standard of the Fugitive Slave Act, and nor are all those irritated by the rules automatically transmuted into Rosa Parks. Moreover, for all its faults, the rule of law is an extremely valuable tool — one that serves both as a prophylactic against caprice and as the best protector of both equality and of liberty that the world has ever seen. There will always be someone who believes that they are entitled to an exception. Should we indulge them? Not most of the time, no. There are two sides to this ledger.

This is not a partisan observation. The most recent scofflaw to rise to national prominence was not a progressive hero such as Vargas, but a rancher named Cliven Bundy, whose fight against the Bureau of Land Management became a brief cause célèbre on the Right. Bundy’s story was sympathetic and his philosophical case was strong, but I pushed back against him nevertheless. Why? Well, because legally he didn’t have a leg to stand on, and because there is nothing in the social compact that permits individuals to secede from the established order if it is not to their liking:

Setting out to make “the case for a little sedition,” my colleague Kevin Williamson ended up making a whole lot more, relying for his rhetorical firepower on wholesale revolutionaries Mohandas Gandhi and George Washington — men, lest you forget, who succeeded in bringing down the existing order in its entirety. “Mr. Bundy’s stand should not be construed as a general template for civic action,” Williamson writes, thereby demonstrating the problem rather neatly: When you change the government, you do not need to worry about setting a precedent; when you merely disobey it, you are setting yourself above a system that remains in force. Respectfully, I would venture that Williamson is here suggesting that he is to be the arbiter of legitimate rebellion — a peculiar position for a libertarian concerned with the integrity of the political process to adopt.

When can one refuse to obey the law without expecting to bring the whole thing down? Certainly such instances exist: I daresay that I would not stand idly by quoting John Adams if a state reintroduced slavery or herded a religious group into ovens or even indulged in wholesale gun confiscation. But Bundy’s case is not remotely approaching these thresholds. Are we to presume that if the government is destroying one’s livelihood or breaking one’s ties with the past, one can revolt? If so, one suspects that half the country would march on Washington, with scimitars drawn, and that West Virginia would invade the Environmental Protection Agency.

I finished my argument with these words:

But this is a republic, dammit — and those who hope to keep it cannot pick and choose the provisions with which they are willing to deign to comply.

Unsurprisingly, this sentiment was well-received on the Left – especially, it must be said, among those who disliked both Bundy’s politics and the nature of those who had taken to defending him. Watching the reactions to Vargas’s arrest, however, I am beginning to wonder if the progressive support for the rule of law was purely expedient. Alarmingly, many of those who endorsed my approach to the Bundy case seem to have rushed to Vargas’s side. Are we to take from this that America’s laws should be applied only to those we dislike? And if we are not, what precisely is the operating standard? Everyone, after all, can find a reason why their case is different. That’s why we write down the rules.

Once again, let us remember what happened here: This was not a matter of “priorities” or of “discretion.” ICE did not perform a midnight no-knock raid on Vargas’s apartment and actively remove him from America. Instead, a famous man elected to put himself in a position in which he was asked for papers that he does not possess. At one level, I really do feel sorry for him. But I do not feel sorry enough that I am willing to bless the wanton disregard of the rules. Celebrity or no celebrity, sympathy or no sympathy, this is a nation of laws and not of men. That goes for people the cool kids cherish, too.

The World Cup May Be Over, But . . .



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. . . there is no reason you cannot carry the magic into your everyday life: 

Israeli Ambassador’s Phone Alert of Incoming Hamas Rocket Attack Goes Off During TV Interview



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Viewers got a chance to witness the Red Alert app – which informs Israeli citizens that they have minutes to find cover before an incoming rocket attack – work in real-time as the app alerted the Israeli ambassador to the United State of the latest attack by Hamas.

Part way through his conversation with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Ambassador Ron Dermer’s Red Alert app went off about an incoming attack in Ashkelon, a city in the southern part of the country.

Ms. Thor



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Hot off the news that Archie will be shot dead (finally!)  thwarting an assassination attempt on his gun-control crusading gay senator friend (oh, sorry, SPOILER ALERT!), Marvel comics has announced that Thor’s mighty hammer will be going to a lady. I really can’t manage more than a shrug. It saddens me that Marvel seems to be in the re-imagining its comics business rather than the comics business. But that shipped sailed a long time ago and it may be necessary to save the dying industry. Besides, technically, according to the storyline originally created by Marvel, there’s no reason Thor can’t be female. I mean yes, the official inscription on Mjolnir has an evil gendered pronoun (“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”) But that was written back in the day when women could be included in that “he.” I mean if Beta Ray Bill can be Thor, why can’t a human female?

Of course, going by Norse mythology this is all nonsense on stilts. But Marvel has abandoned any pretense of fidelity to that a long time ago as well.  

Rep. Maxine Waters Was Anti–Ex-Im before She Was 150 Percent for It



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Boeing is optimistic that the Export-Import Bank will be reauthorized, the New York Times reported on Sunday. Raymond Conner, the head of Boeing’s commercial-aircraft division, thinks that things are looking up for the “Bank of Boeing,” he says, because he thinks that the top corporate Ex-Im beneficiaries have “put together a pretty good coalition of businesses with solid support.” Rest assured: Boeing has brought the best political pressure that corporate money can buy!

The lobbying push to which he refers lies at the heart of the backlash against corporate welfare. The New Deal–era program that is the Ex-Im Bank is the quintessential example of the toxic marriage between big government and big business that too many have been willing to ignore for too long. The Bank’s most recent corruption scandal — replete with allegations of officials receiving kickbacks and bribes to steer Ex-Im assistance to favored firms — comes on the heels of at least 74 internal cases of fraud and corruption at Ex-Im since 2009, as Diane Katz of the Heritage Foundation revealed. The federal government’s own Government Accountability Office (GAO) has criticized the bank’s methodology for calculating job creation for not considering potential victims of the program (who do not have lobbyists or shiny K Street offices in Washington). Shockingly, the vast majority of Ex-Im’s portfolio directly benefits some of the wealthiest and most politically connected businesses in America and around the world.

There is no need to mince words. The support to which Conner refers comes from members of Congress, several of whom used to be firmly against the bank before they were fervently for it.

The most interesting allies of Mr. Conner and his big-business coalition these days are the Democrats. That’s right, the anti-corporate-welfare defenders of the little people are now the loudest voices in favor of Ex-Im corporatism. Forget about those exporters who have to compete with subsidized companies — often at the cost of their employee’s welfare, as a union leader passionately argued at a hearing on the bank — today’s Democrats are leading the fight in favor of subsidies for big business.

Nowhere were the Democrats for Ex-Im cronyism more vocal than at the hearing at which I testified back in June. Leading the charge was the House Financial Services Committee’s ranking member, Maxine Waters. To Waters, the corporate beneficiaries of Ex-Im privilege are not “crony capitalists” but average Americans. She kept pretending that the Bank was all about helping small businesses in spite of the facts that: (1) the data show that not only most of the money goes to propping up large companies (in fact, less than 20 percent of the bank’s portfolio valuation goes to small businesses, which is in violation of its own charter!); (2) the bank’s definition of small business is really a big business, since it includes companies with up to 1,500 employees; and (3) many of Ex-Im’s small-business success stories actually involve companies that were successfully exporting their products before the bank entered the scene.

So imagine my surprise when I found out yesterday that Mrs. Waters was at one time almost as loud of a voice against the Ex-Im Bank that she is for it today. That’s correct. Maxine Waters was against the Export-Import Bank before she was for it. Back in 2002, Waters had some rough words for the bank:

Keep reading this post . . .

GOP Rep.: Central American Leaders Want Obama to ‘Clearly’ Say Children Can’t Stay in U.S.



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The presidents of Guatemala and Honduras want President Obama to send a clearer message to families in their countries that they should not send their unaccompanied children to the United States, said one member of Congress who recently met with the leaders.

On Fox News on Tuesday, Representative Kay Granger (R., Texas), who also heads a House group tasked with addressing the border crisis, said Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina and Honduras’s Juan Orlando Hernández revealed they hadn’t heard from President Obama since the crisis began. She asked both of them if they thought a strong statement from the president about how their countries’ children could not stay in the U.S. would deter people from from sending their children on the risky journey.

“They said that could be very helpful, and did not indicate that was happening,” she said.

Additionally, Central American leaders are willing to work with the U.S. government to bring the children back and put them in safer circumstances.

“They want their children back, and they’re willing to cooperate with us to send the children back as quickly as possible,” Granger said. “We need to change the law, do everything we can to get them home.”

CNN on the Border Crisis: ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’



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A columnist for CNN says that when it comes to the influx of unaccompanied alien children at America’s southern border, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

“We should stop looking for an endpoint. This story has no end in sight,” writes Ruben Navarrette at CNN.com. “We will be dealing with this crisis not for weeks or months but probably for years.” Navarette explains that it’s foolish for U.S. officials to believe that any one plan of attack will solve the problem and this crisis has no simple solution or finish line.

As for the first group of illegal immigrants deported back to Honduras, he says not to expect them to even bother unpacking. “They will soon return to the United States,” he writes.  

Beckel: Obama Not Acting on Border for Political Reasons



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President Obama should continue to “straddle the fence as far as he can” when it comes to addressing the ongoing border crisis, because of the current political climate, Bob Beckel said on Monday.

He explained to Fox News that the White House is likely aware of the political problems posed by the president taking action to send the children home quickly, especially given Democrats’ dependency on Hispanic voters.

“Let me be brutally frank here: We’re sitting on an election which, by my count, puts the Senate in the hands of the Republicans, and increases the Republicans in the House,” Beckel said. “The dependence that we have on Hispanic voters is significant. . . . I would say part of it is political.”

But Beckel also urged Democrats to be wary of enflaming frustrations expressed by some of their African-American constituents, who have taken issue with the administration’s apparent prioritization of the well-being of unaccompanied immigrant children over those in the inner city.

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