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Federal Government Announces It Will Suspend Shelters for Unaccompanied Alien Children at Three Military Bases



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The federal government has reportedly moved forward with plans to suspend the shelters for unaccompanied alien children located at Ft. Sill Army Base, Okla., Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, and Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., according to a statement obtained by KENS5 in San Antonio.

“To prudently manage its resources, HHS’s Administration for Children and Families will be suspending these temporary facilities,” the statement said. “We are able to take this step because we have proactively expanded capacity to care for children in standard shelters, which are significantly less costly facilities. At the same time, we have seen a decrease in the number of children crossing the southwest border.”

The shelter at Ft. Sill will close by Friday, August 8, while the other shelters will shutter in the next two to eight weeks, according to News9 in Oklahoma City. In a statement obtained by News9, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin said she was pleased by the announcement, and attributed the decline in illegal immigration to the rising temperatures of the summer months, but said there is nothing to prevent the Obama administration from reopening the shelter in the future. “I am disturbed the administration chose to renew its lease on the facility, thereby preserving the option of reopening it in the future,” she said. “I am calling on President Obama to set the record straight once and for all: will this facility be reopened, or can we trust that is has closed for good?”

The best answer to Fallin’s question may be found in the HHS statement to KENS5: “Looking forward, there remains substantial uncertainty about the future flows of unaccompanied children. In order to balance managing costs with limited available resources and remaining prepared for sudden increases in the number of children needing care, HHS’s Administration for Children and Families plans to continue caring for unaccompanied children through a combination of standard shelters and surge capacity shelters. In the near-term, the three temporary shelters on military bases could be re-opened for a limited time if the number of children increases significantly.”  

Where CNN Lets Loose



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A reader of ours who is on vacation in Italy writes,

Watching CNN International, I have learned that Palestinians all want peace and to go to American colleges to be M.D.s. The rotten Israelis are bombing them for no reason and have destroyed the tunnels that the Arabs use to bring in essential medicines for sick babies and pregnant women. Now some Palestinian teenager won’t be able to further his education and someday cure breast cancer. Who knew?

Yes, who knew? What would we do without CNN?

I remember when I first encountered CNN International, many years ago. It made the regular CNN look like Fox at its feistiest.

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Colorado Dems Reach Last-Minute Fracking Deal



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Colorado governor John Hickenlooper reached a last-minute deal on fracking yesterday with Boulder representative Jared Polis, who agreed to end his support for two state ballot measures that would have tightened up the rules for oil and gas drilling.

In exchange, Hickenlooper will create an 18-member legislative advisory commission to study fracking and make policy recommendations, and the governor will also drop a legal challenge against the city of Longmont’s fracking ban.

Polis, a green Democrat who had spent millions bankrolling the anti-fracking ballot initiatives, and Hickenlooper, an establishment Democrat who once drank fracking fluid to demonstrate its safety, are both calling this last-minute deal a victory.

Then again, they both politically profit. The governor faces a close race for re-election, and the issue of fracking proved divisive in Colorado, splitting both high-level Democrat politicians and their voting base. Meanwhile Polis, a rising Democratic star, can say he’s forced concrete actions to address the concerns of his environmentally minded constituents– all without disrupting party politics.

The deal is also rippling across the Senate race in Colorado. Senator Mark Udall, the Democrat contender, proved reluctant to wade into the fracking debate, opposing the ballot measures only after his opponent made them into a campaign issue. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Rep. Cory Gardner, Mr. Udall’s Republican opponent, said Monday that Colorado already had stringent energy regulations and that Mr. Polis “should have dropped these destructive initiatives long ago. I have opposed the anti-energy initiatives from the beginning and will continue to promote our state’s robust and diverse energy portfolio.”

Monday’s deal also drew criticism from the state Republican Party, which said in a statement that it showed that Democrats “want even more control over Colorado’s already heavily regulated energy industry.”

Mr. Udall praised Monday’s deal and said it “averts a divisive and counterproductive ballot fight.”

The fight for fracking in Colorado isn’t finished. Both green groups and the energy sector have introduced ballot measures of their own to address energy extraction, and it’s unclear whether they will also withdraw them. And it remains to be seen how influential the advisory commission will be. Meanwhile, municipalities may continue to consider fracking bans or moratoriums on a local level.

Whatever the outcome, expect the Colorado fracking fight to remain closely watched. A similar establishment-versus-environmentalist Democratic split may play out nationwide as green liberals like Tom Steyer spend big to promote policies that further regulate the traditional energy sector. And, as I have written before, Colorado is a purple state where it’s fairly easy to get ballot initiatives before voters; as such, it’s often used to pilot controversial policies (think weed). The environmental left will learn from its victories and failures in Colorado, employing successful tactics elsewhere.

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

Web Briefing: August 21, 2014

Biden: ‘The Nation of Africa’



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Joe Biden’s latest gaffe (or is it a “speak-o” now, per Jonthan Gruber?) came during his remarks at the United States–Africa Leaders Summit on Tuesday when he referred to the continent as a country.

​”There’s no reason the nation of Africa cannot and should not join the ranks of the world’s most prosperous nations in the near term, in the decades ahead,” the vice president said on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. “There is simply no reason.”

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ISIS Is on the Verge of Expelling Northern Iraq’s Religious Minorities



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The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, is continuing its two-month-old rampage across northern Iraq’s large, multi-cultural Nineveh province, intensifying religious cleansing and further consolidating its power. Nineveh’s Assyrian Christians report that Sunnis from throughout Iraq – including some from Kurdistan — have joined the some 10,000 jihadists to fight under the black banner of the Islamic State.

While much attention is being given to the destruction of Nineveh’s ancient monuments, the suffering of the province’s religious minorities at the hands of the jihadists is being given short shrift by both the media and our political leaders. Individual lives and entire civilizations are being destroyed, not in conflict – there hasn’t been much — but through the deliberate convert-or-die policies of the Islamist extremists.

To date, neither President Obama nor Secretary Kerry has mentioned the epic humanitarian and human-rights catastrophe underway in this large agricultural province that for over a millennium has been home to Christians, Yazidis, and various ethnic Sunnis and Shiites. The U.S. has provided humanitarian aid in the wake of each attack, but the Islamic State’s siege of Nineveh requires immediate additional measures to protect Iraq’s uniquely vulnerable minorities.

In a rout of Kurdish peshmerga forces this past weekend, the Islamic State captured Shinjar, home to the Yazidi minority, two other smaller towns, and an oil field.

The United Nations’ envoy to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, has warned that a “humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in Sinjar,” as some 200,000 people, including many Yazidis, have fled to the mountains, where the humanitarian situation is “dire.”

The New York Times reported that one Yazidi worker said he escaped through the hospital window while being shot at when Islamic militants burst in, demanding to know his religion. Hundreds of civilian Yazidi families were reported rounded up and the men were executed and their widows made “jihad wives.” According to the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization (HHRO), working in north Iraq, more than 50 Yazidi children have died.​

Yazidi Prince Tahseen Said has issued a desperate appeal for help to President Obama, among other world leaders, but no response has been received.

The Yazidi religion is an ancient, pre-Christian monotheistic faith that reveres angels, is linked to Zoroastrianism, and is viewed by the Islamic State as an intolerable affront to Islam. Like the Christians, Yazidis have been subjected to horrific persecution by extremists in recent years, including a recent incident related to me by the Yazidi Human Rights Organization, in which Isis plucked out the eyes of 13 Yazidi men who refused to convert to Islam and then, when they still refused, doused them with gasoline and burned them alive.

Keep reading this post . . .

Profile in Courage, Immigration Edition



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Two young illegal-alien beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty approached Steve King and Rand Paul at a campaign event in Iowa this week:

As you can see from the video, three of the four conducted themselves creditably — the DREAMers were basically respectful and stated their points calmly, without the usual leftist screeching, and Representative King engaged them, also respectfully, stating his opposing views.

Rand Paul, on the other hard, practically spat out his hamburger upon hearing they were DREAMers, and quickly ran away.

Run, Rand, run!

MSNBC Thinks Todd Tiahrt, Bush-Era Earmarker, Is a Tea Partier



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Former Representative Todd Tiahrt’s bid to upset Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) is, on paper, one of the more interesting races of the cycle: a former congressman from the spending wing of the party is trying to win a Republican primary — voters go to the polls today — against the Tea Party-backed congressman he previously endorsed.

Tiahrt, a former member of the House Appropriations Committee who supports earmarks, picked an odd year to make a comeback bid: he’s running in the same campaign season that saw Senator Thad Cochran (R., Miss.) almost lose his seat (Cochran also loves earmarks) to a Tea Party challenger; and in which House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.,) fell in a historic defeat to a Tea Party candidate who denounced Cantor’s positions on immigration and his close ties to big businesses.

MSNBC ironed out these complexities by making the novel declaration that Tiahrt and Pompeo are both Tea Partiers. “By all accounts, the former congressman from Kansas is a doctrinaire tea partier,” MSNBC’s Ned Reskinoff wrote. “Yet there’s one political issue on which the challenger makes common cause with liberals. Todd Tiahrt wants food to be clearly labeled if includes GMOs (genetically modified organisms).” Reskinoff regards this as more evidence of the Tea Party’s break with big business.

“By all accounts” — Tiahrt, by his account, is a former Boeing employee who used his post on “the powerful House Appropriations Committee” to steer government money to his district. “During the down swing in aviation, I fought for numerous initiatives that helped keep jobs here or create new jobs in the aviation industry,” Tiahrt wrote on his campaign website. Those initiatives he fought for in Congress are government initiatives, of course; this is the kind of economic thinking that leads President Obama to brag about jobs “saved or created” by the 2009 stimulus.

Tiahrt has used that same rhetoric, not incidentally. “I helped create and save and keep jobs here in Kansas through their efforts to contract with the federal government,” the former appropriator said while defending his support for the earmarks that House Republicans banned after the Tea Party wave election of 2010.

In short, Tiahrt has aligned himself with the Thad Cochran wing of the Republican Party — which makes sense, given that the Mississippi senator is also a veteran of the Appropriations Committee — when it comes to the role of the government in the economy; it need hardly be stated that antipathy to the role of the government in the economy inspired the Tea Party backlash against the 2008 bailouts and Obamacare.

There’s actually one point of disagreement between Pompeo and Tiahrt that can be fairly portrayed as the Tea Party making common cause with liberals: the National Security Agency’s phone records program. Bewilderingly, this issue goes unmentioned — even though it would have done far more to bolster Tiahrt’s Tea Party credibility than GMOs and Pompeo disagrees with another Tea Party lawmaker about the validity of allowing the NSA to store such records.

Nevertheless, there is one quotation in the piece that gets to the logic of Tiahrt’s campaign.

“Folks who want nothing to do with the federal government are just fine with federal agricultural programs,” the Food and Water Watch’s Patty Lovera says.

So, Tiahrt sees farmers and Boeing employees who don’t like the NSA, for instance, and decides to oppose the NSA and support farms and Boeing. It’s not ideologically coherent, but it makes sense as an attempt to be all things to all voters in the district. What it doesn’t make Tiahrt is a Tea Partier, even if he did join the Tea Party caucus for a few months.

The Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway, the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel, and the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney have all noted that Tiahrt is a Bush-era Republican trying to take down a Tea Party congressman for, well, being a Tea Party congressman. Somehow MSNBC overlooked that dynamic.

It just goes to show that ThinkProgress’s Zack Beauchamp was on to something when he suggested that liberals should stop searching for “conservatives telling progressives how right they are, but rather [try] to pick out writing that helps liberals understand where their ideological foes are coming from.”

‘Genocide,’ They Say



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Earlier today, I was reading about a letter signed by a bevy of celebrities. They accused Israel of committing “genocide” in Gaza. Bear with me for a few thoughts.

It is very important to the world, or much of it, that Israel be thought of as Nazi. Therefore, Nazi-related language is constantly thrown at it. Years ago, Anthony Lewis said that Israel sought to “exterminate Palestinian nationalism.” (Lewis was a columnist for the New York Times and one of the most influential journalists in the world.) Now, why do you suppose he picked the word “exterminate” when so many others would have done?

Back to “genocide.” When I was in college, the kids marched through campus chanting, “Reagan-Bush, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide.” And how were Reagan and Bush carrying out this genocide? They were moderately slowing the growth of spending on social-welfare programs. Not reducing it; simply slowing its growth, a bit. “Genocide.”

Can you forgive me for thinking that the Left was maybe not very reasonable, temperate, or fair?

Australia’s Immigration Policy: If You Come ‘the Wrong Way, You Will Never Get to Stay’



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Australian-born political commentator Nick Adams joined Bill O’Reilly to share his country’s approach towards illegal immigration. Part of the policy includes the national Navy physically intercepting boats of immigrants trying to enter the country illegally and denying them the ability to land on Australian shores.

“It is controversial, but it is working,” he said, noting that not implementing such preventative measures was encouraging people to take the life-risking journey across the ocean. Additionally, “these people that were coming were seen as queue-jumpers, and it’s not fair to the genuine refugees,” Adams said.

For more information, Adams’s book can be found here (and includes a blurb from our own Jack Fowler).

Finally, Equal Time for Hamas



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Rula Jebreal has famously complained that the U.S. media, even MSNBC, is too pro-Israel and hasn’t given equal time to Hamas and the Palestinian side. Chris Hayes tried to explain to her that it is actually hard to book Hamas terrorists. Well, finally, Hamas is getting the bookings it deserves, so, as Molly noted, its spokesman can try to duck his recent assertion that Jews killed Christians for blood for their matzos. 

Ex-Im Basically Benefits Just a Few States, While Taxpayers Everywhere Bear the Risks



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The map displayed below shows why the Ex-Im Bank’s nickname is “Boeing Bank” — and why it’s a grossly unfair redistribution of resources from all 50 states to just a few.

The map is based on data from the Export-Import Bank’s congressional map tool, which breaks down all transactions by state. The data displayed here is from FY 2007 to FY 2014 and includes all Ex-Im Bank disbursements for each state along with the proportion of small business transactions reported by the bank. Basically, it shows where Ex-Im money is flowing:

As you can see on the map, Washington State receives a massive 43.6 percent of all Ex-Im Bank disbursements from 2007 to 2014. Washington is the home of Boeing, one of Ex-Im Bank’s biggest beneficiaries, but the sheer concentration of benefits is nonetheless startling. Much larger states Texas and California only pulled in 10.5 percent and 8.8 percent of total Ex-Im Bank disbursements, respectively.

While businesses in most states barely benefit from the Ex-Im Bank at all, their taxpayers are just as exposed to Ex-Im Bank liabilities as taxpayers in states that receive the most Ex-Im backing.

On the Mercatus website you will find another map that displays the impact of Ex-Im Bank financing had on each state as a percentage of that state’s total exports over the same period of time.

Keep reading this post . . .

‘Hitler Was Right!’



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Here’s my column today:

The Bergische Synagogue in the German town of Wuppertal has a history with arson. The nearly 120-year-old synagogue was burned down during Kristallnacht in 1938. Rebuilt after World War II, it was targeted again about a week ago by arsonists who threw Molotov cocktails at the house of worship (although, thankfully, they failed to set it aflame).

Welcome to the New Europe, where the street thugs have learned a lot from the Old Europe. Their protests of the Gaza War during the past few weeks haven’t been anti-Israel so much as anti-Jew. Some of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world — Paris, Berlin, London — have witnessed demonstrations airing hatreds associated with Europe’s darkest crimes.

Reagan Biographer Craig Shirley Yells ‘Plagiarism!’



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Many news outlets in the past few days have featured reporting on the charges by Reagan biographer and conservative movement stalwart Craig Shirley that lefty writer Rick Perlstein lifted Shirley’s work without attribution at least 45 times in Perlstein’s new book. Perlstein’s book covers the rise of Ronald Reagan, from the ashes of Richard Nixon’s presidency, into the status as shining-star-in-close-defeat at the 1976 Republican National Convention. I have a very lengthy, and very personal, essay of sorts on the whole subject of this alleged plagiarism over at my personal site, QuinHillyer.com. Because of its length and personal references, I do not ask NRO to publish it for me. Please, though, go read it here.

A tiny taste of my larger essay, here:

First, Perlstein is doing something quite unconventional  in his new book. The actual hard copy of his book not only contains no footnotes, but also no bibliography at all. This is something quite unheard of. Indeed, I would argue that it’s wholly unacceptable. A work of history or journalism that draws heavily on other work should acknowledge that other work right then and there, where the reader can see it without doing a major search of his own. Instead, Perlstein’s book calls such conventions “mostly superfluous” and refers readers to his web site, where all the attribution is supposed to be made.
 

But, as I said, this whole discussion involves a significant but highly relevant personal backstory of my own, involving my direct relationship, in different ways, with both of Craig Shirley’s first two books on Ronald Reagan. More at QuinHillyer.com.

Mostly on the Road



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I went to an evening of Mostly Mozart last night, to hear the Emerson Quartet (joined by Martin Frost for Mozart’s A major clarinet quintet). The Emerson is my favorite quartet since the Guarneri hung up their bows. The Guarneri had a lighter (critics would say thinner) sound; the Emerson is rock solid, and almost equally nimble.

But I was struck by what the program said about their summer schedule. They have been to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, and Japan, plus various gigs in the U.S. and Canada, from Portland to Cape Cod. I know we have airplanes, and I know Liszt was a trouper in his day. But to a veteran of (far smaller) presidential campaigns and book tours, this seems hellish. Hats off to the hearts and fingers that can make such sweet sounds even so.

Lowry: ‘No One Takes the Word of the United States Seriously Anymore’



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You Mean It Could Have Been Worse?



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I was just reading NBC’s First Read email blast and came across this snippet from the primary day coverage:

As for Michigan’s congressional primaries, Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) is getting a serious challenge and is likely to lose. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), a Tea Party favorite, also is receiving a primary challenge. And think about this: With the retirements by Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers (R-MI), and Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI), who’s running for the Senate), Michigan is losing is three committee chairs (Levin, Camp, Rogers) and nearly 140 years of combined seniority on Capitol Hill. That isn’t good news for Detroit as it tries to solve its financial woes with the help of the federal government.

I take the point, but think about that. Detroit’s congressional clout has been enormous for decades. Now look at Detroit. Maybe government help doesn’t help that much?

Well, America Should Have, for 689 Reasons



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And by 2014 there are hundreds more. Alas, the defeat didn’t happen in 2012, and America and the world now pay the dear price that comes with hope and change. Last week, we came across a dozen of these make-your-blood-boil posters, which we thought some of you would like to have for reasons that may range from mirth to nostalgic masochism. One to a customer, while they last, your cost a humble $9.99 a piece, which includes postage and handling. We’ve reinvigorated the order page — the language is two years old, but it can still do the trick, so order here.

Britian Remembers Its WWI Dead with Dignity and Devotion



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The 100th anniversary of World War I was marked by very few events and little reflection this week in the U.S. — despite the fact that 116,000 Americans lost their lives fighting in it and so many other events (World War II, the Cold War, today’s Middle East instability) grew out of the conflict.

But in Britain it was different. The war cost that country much of an entire generation as 720,000 people lost their lives out of a total population of only 40 million. Britain marked the solemn occasion this week with a highly appropriate memorial: It switched off the lights for “an hour of reflection” at key landmarks all over the country, from the Houses of Parliament to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Homes and businesses joined in by leaving on a single light or candle to illuminate the darkness. The effect was both dramatic and somber. It was also quite fitting because it was just as his country declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914 that British Foreign Minister Edward Grey observed: “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

One can quibble about some of the historical revisionism that accompanied Britain’s observance of the 100th anniversary, but the decision to turn down the lights of London and the nation for an hour was exactly the right touch. 

The Number of Executive Orders Is the Least Interesting Part



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Barack Obama is constantly mocking the House lawsuit by referencing the fact he’s issued the fewest executive orders of any president over the last century. His spin squad, paid and unpaid, parrots the argument at every turn. My yell-at-the-TV gripe about this has mostly revolved around the fact that the number of executive orders has nothing to do with anything. The president could issue a hundred executive orders a day — about casual-Friday dress codes, the need to label food in the West Wing fridge, about how August 15 will hence forth be known as “Wacky Sock Day” — and no one would care. Or he could issue one executive order during his entire presidency. If that one order was about “Wacky Sock Day,” again no one would care. But if he ordered the nationalization of an industry or the rounding up of an ethnic group without trial or the shuttering of media outlets he didn’t like, that one executive order would matter more than all the others combined. He hasn’t done any of those things (though other Democratic presidents have), but the point remains: Quantity isn’t the issue, quality is. 

Moreover as Andrew Rudalevige at the Washington Post makes clear, the entire issue of executive orders amounts to misdirection. The serious complaint is that Obama is abusing executive powers (which he is) not that he’s abusing executive orders (which he may or may not be). Obama is surely capable of defending himself intelligently. But he and his choir always revert to the mode that his opponents aren’t merely wrong, but that they are laughable idiots who don’t know what they’re talking about.

Anyway, the whole post is worth reading. Here’s the beginning:

There are plenty of reasons for the House not to sue the President (see hereherehere, and here). Not on the list, though: that President Obama has barely used his executive powers.

This claim was made most recently by the White House itself, when senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer spoke to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday’s “This Week.” The threat of impeachment is credible, Pfeiffer said, since the GOP is so crazed that “the House [took] an unprecedented step to sue the President of the United States … even though he is issuing executive orders at the lowest rate in 100 years.”  Or as Sally Kohn put it in a CNN op-ed, after listing executive order totals for Obama, TR, Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bush, “House Republicans are using taxpayer dollars to fund a lawsuit against a President who has literally done not only what every president before him has done but has done it less often . . .”

To be pedantic (I think I’m supposed to say first that I hate to be pedantic, but I’m a professor, and that would be a lie), this is both true and hugely misleading.  It is true that President Obama has issued fewer executive orders both in absolute terms, and on an order-per-year basis, than most of his recent or even recent-ish predecessors. It’s also true that executive orders can matter greatly, as with Obama’s expansion of protections for the employees of federal contractors.

And yet to equate executive orders (a formal type of presidential directive) with executive powers, as the White House and its allies seek to do, is to misdirect — to hope that the hand will be quicker than the eye. As Philip Bump has put it, the fuss is about executive actions more broadly. While Obama issued only 20 executive orders in 2013 (the lowest single-year total in more than a century), that same year he issued 41 presidential memoranda to the heads of departments and agencies, along with nine additional presidential “determinations” designed to serve as the basis for bureaucratic behavior.

When Maine Is Not an Idyll



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Yesterday in the Corner, I published some mail about Maine. Here is some more mail, which relates to Part II of my “Maine Journal,” published today (here). There are many facets of Maine. As I’ve said, it ain’t all lobster rolls and refreshing swims.

I grew up in Lewiston: a mill town built on a river with a giant canal to run the machinery. In my years, the mills were closing and the town was basically failing. Lots of unemployment and poverty everywhere. I’d guess about a third of my giant regional high school was on some form of relief.

When I was dating my wife, I met her folks and her mother exclaimed something like, “Oh, you’re from Maine. I love Maine! I went to camp in Maine — it’s so beautiful!” I explained that I wasn’t from that Maine. I was from the uglier, polluted-canal, failing-mill-town part of Maine.

She now refers to the pretty woods and lakes as “My Maine” and to the poverty and social problems as “Your Maine.”

By the way, I like the use of that old-fashioned word “relief,” for welfare or government aid. Discussing the problem of welfare-as-lifestyle, Reagan often said, “They used to call it ‘relief.’” (And boy is it necessary, when it’s necessary.)

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