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Revisiting the Snow Plow Game



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Given the confluence of the weather in Boston and Deflategate, it seems only right and proper to revisit that classic instance of Patriots cheating, or if you prefer, “cheating,” that was the Snow Plow Game:

Obama Can’t Legally Fix Obamacare If the Supreme Court Rules Against Him. But Why Would That Stop Him?



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This spring, the Supreme Court will hear King v. Burwell, a case in which the plaintiffs are challenging the federal government’s authority to disburse Obamacare tax credits and charge tax penalties in states that haven’t established an Obamacare exchange — which is about 35 of them. The plaintiffs contend — and have a credible case — that the Affordable Care Act simply doesn’t authorize these actions in states without exchanges of their own. If the Court agrees, and the federal government and states do nothing else, large parts of Obamacare will collapse in a lot of states — coverage would become completely unaffordable, rates would skyrocket, etc.

So if the decision goes against the feds, what can be done? States with Obamacare-friendly governments that didn’t bother to set up an exchange aren’t really setting up plans now, but can probably go through a formality — they just slap the state’s name on the federal exchange.

But what about states — Texas, say — where the the governor and legislature are implacably opposed to Obamacare? A variety of left-leaning health-policy experts tell National Journal the Obama administration can’t do anything if states won’t cooperate:

“There are no administrative fixes that are realistic,” said Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress. “We don’t believe there’s any administrative fix.” . . .

“If the government loses this case, there will be considerable pain, and theres no easy, clean, quick fix,” said Nichols Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan who has written extensively about the case. . . .

“Given the political composition of most of the states that are not operating their exchanges, that’s going to be a problem,” said Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington & Lee University and an Obamacare supporter. “There’s nothing the administration can do to change that dynamic.”

In some sense, they’re right: Obviously there’s no plausible way for the federal government’s executive branch to establish state exchanges without any involvement from the states. Congress would have to pass something in order to keep the subsidies flowing in non-cooperative states, which throws open the law entirely — for it to collapse or for a Republican Congress to rewrite much of it.

But when has the logic of law stopped the Obama administration — and many liberals — from doing what they think necessary for the desirable, socially optimal outcome? Given this administration’s penchant for ignoring or rewriting laws, it’s not hard to imagine the White House coming up with a nonsensical but workable way to keep the subsidies flowing in the event King goes against them.

The authorities quoted in the piece — the two most prominent liberal law commentators on this case and the head of one of the most important, Obama-friendly liberal think tanks — are undermining the Obama administration’s future ability to do whatever it wants to save the law.

It is notable that liberal immigration scholars and activists long maintained that the Obama administration could implement something like the executive amnesty Obama declared last November — it was the president who repeatedly denied he had that legal authority.

Now we’re in the opposite situation. The administration, so far as I can tell, hasn’t really weighed in on post-King possibilities, while some of its outside supporters are saying there’s little they can do. But that hasn’t always quite stopped them, either. Nicholas Bagley, the Michigan law professor quoted in the National Journal story, has argued that the Obama administration’s 2013/2014 delays of the employer mandate are essentially unprecedented as a legal matter and rest on “shakylegal ground, though he hasn’t called them outright illegal.

So when it comes to protecting the law that bears his name, President Obama is more or less legally shameless. A risky ploy to save the law without state cooperation would probably attract more lawsuits, but it would be years until those are resolved, too — a Democratic Congress could fix the law by then, etc. What’s good or bad news, depending on how you look at it, is that we are still not likely to reach this juncture — I wouldn’t bet on the Supreme Court deciding King v. Burwell in a way that tears Obamacare apart.

But it’s possible they do — and I would bet on the Obama administration’s being ready.

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Cumber-bashed: Actor Uses ‘Offensive’ Language in Call for Racial Diversity in UK Film Industry



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Today’s word-crime blotter, via the Guardian:

Benedict Cumberbatch has apologised after referring to black actors as “coloured” during an interview on US television, saying he is “devastated” to have caused offence. . . .

Talking on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS, Cumberbatch said: “I think as far as coloured actors go, it gets really different in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here [in America] than in the UK, and that’s something that needs to change.” . . .

A spokesperson for the anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card, told the Independent: “Benedict Cumberbatch has highlighted a very important issue within the entertainment industry and within society. In doing so, he has also inadvertently highlighted the issue of appropriate terminology and the evolution of language.”

(Cumberbatch, an actor, stars in the BBC series Sherlock and is nominated for Best Actor for his turn as computer scientist Alan Turing in the recent film The Imitation Game.)

Perhaps this is another of divergence between British and American English — because in New York and California self-described “persons of color,” or “POCs,” have been invading brunch restaurants; at the University of Missouri a Ferguson protest was held exclusively for “people of color”; and in San Francisco “people of color” have their own law school admissions consulting firm.

“Persons of color” is progressive. “Colored persons” is racist. Up is down, &c.

Web Briefing: January 31, 2015

Scott Walker’s Big Speech in Iowa Had One Really Big Mistake



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Toward the conclusion of Scott Walker’s well received speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, the Wisconsin governor went for a feel-good, aspirational flourish about the American dream and American exceptionalism:

I want to end by telling you this: In America, it is one of the few places left in the world where it doesn’t matter what class you were born into. It doesn’t matter what your parents did for a living. In America, the opportunity is equal for each and every one of us. But in America, the ultimate outcome is up to each and every one of us individually. 

Opportunity is equal? The data, unfortunately, do not seem to support Walker’s optimistic claim. First, there are other countries, such as Sweden and Canada, where the chances of escaping the bottom are just as good as in the United States. Second, American mobility rates have been stagnant over the past 40 years. Third, mobility rates vary greatly by race with 74 percent of white sons making it out of the bottom fifth versus 49 percent of African-American sons. Fourth, even the smartest kids have only a 1-in-4 chance of making it from the bottom fifth to the top fifth. At the same time, the worst-scoring wealthier kids have only a 1-in-4 chance of falling from the top fifth to the bottom fifth.

Slice and dice the data any which way and the same conclusion is unavoidable: Opportunity in America is neither optimal nor acceptable. Family structure matters. School quality matters. Where you live matters. Personal smarts and grit matters a lot, too, of course. But it sure helps if you’re from a stable family that lives in neighborhood with other stable families who all send their kids to high-performing schools. And for low-income families, it sure helps if there is a good public transit system so parents can easily get to where the jobs are. Identifying a helpful role for public policy doesn’t mean ignoring the role of personal responsibility. In fact, improving upward mobility should be one of the core goals for today’s Republican party.

Now there is one area of mobility where America really excels: You have a better chance of starting a business and becoming a billionaire than in any other large, advanced economy. And that is a fantastic thing that reflects the deep, entrepreneurial magic of our free-enterprise system. But upward mobility can’t just be about moving to the 0.001 percent. It needs to be creating an ecology of opportunity for all Americans to flourish and reach their human potential. In some ways government should do less, in other ways a bit more and better. Imagine a presidential debate where Hillary Clinton cites the above stats right after her Republican opponent suggests everyone has pretty much the same opportunity to make their American dream a reality if they only try really, really hard. It would be another “47 percent” moment for the GOP.

Tags: Scott Walker

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Home Economics



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President Obama has proposed tripling the tax credit for paid child care. Critics have said that since most parents prefer other forms of child care, it would make more sense to offer them tax relief that let them take care of their children as they wish. Defenders of the plan, some of them on the right, say that a larger child-care credit is necessary to level the playing field.

The problem, they say, is that mothers who stay out of the paid labor force aren’t being taxed. Here’s how John Goodman makes the point:

One of the amusing anecdotes that all students learn in Econ 101 relates to the fact that house work is excluded from the official estimate of GDP. “If a man marries his maid and she continues doing exactly what she did before, GDP goes down,” professors tell their students.

The tax code works exactly the same way. If a man marries his maid and continues giving her the same financial support that he did before, federal income taxes go down. We tax the value of productive labor only if it’s sold in the marketplace. Services performed in the home are entirely tax free.

What a pity President Obama didn’t slip these charming lines into his State of the Union address.

Goodman goes on to argue that “the current tax system overwhelmingly favors work done at home rather than work done in the marketplace. It also overwhelmingly favors spouses who stay home.” Hence we need both a child-care credit and a tax code that goes further toward treating workers as individuals with no regard for whatever family arrangements they happen to make.

I see two flaws in this analysis. First, it ignores that marriage is, among other things, an economic partnership, something a tax system based on individuals rather than families can’t capture. Second, it ignores the large implicit tax on larger families that our old-age entitlement programs entail. Such families disproportionately, as one would expect, include mothers outside the paid labor force married to fathers who draw a paycheck. Account for these facts, and the overall bias of federal policy is already toward dual-earning couples. To put it a different way: Government policy may offer a good deal for couples with no children or one child and a wife who stays home, but those people do not exist in large numbers. 

Twelve Things that Caught My Eye Today (Jan. 27, 2015)



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1. Congress needs to make a move to undo this D.C. attack on religious liberty. (I wrote a bit about the threat here.)

2. 

3.

4. Angelina Jolie visits displaced Iraqis:

Hat tip.

5. The evil of ISIS continues.

6. Northeastern Nigeria on the brink of falling to Boko Haram?

7. A first beheading under new Saudi king.

8. 50,000 were at the West Coast walk for life.

9.

10. My friend Erika Bachiochi runs with a theme Cardinal Sean O’Malley raised at the vigil before the March for Life last week:

We can pretend sex differences do not exist, but it is women who bear the burden when we do so. Both men and women have sex but it is the woman who becomes pregnant, the woman who must either find ways to courageously and sacrificially care and nurture the developing child in her womb, or who must do the unthinkable and end her own child’s life. Men can have sex and walk away, and with the right Roe gave them, they increasingly do.

It is time to admit the truth about sexual difference — this beautiful, wondrous truth — and shape society to prioritize care for those who care for the most vulnerable. And it is time to demand more, far more, of men.

11. Does Fiction Need to Become Less … Fictional?
12.

 

Sarah Palin’s Fading Star



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Kudos to Charles C.W. Cooke for his characteristically superb analysis of Sarah Palin’s place in the conservative world. Here was my take on her political career in 2010. Still valid, I think. 

 

We’re All Washingtonians Now



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Weather forecasting is an inexact science (whereas predicting the climate a hundred years from now is easy), but the government-imposed freak-out over the predicted blizzard in New York City was something to behold. It used to be that Manhattan basically kept moving during any snowfall because the cars are constantly churning up the snow on the roads and store-owners and supers are constantly shoveling the sidewalks in front of their businesses and buildings. Last night, everything ground to a halt, not because of the snow, but because the state and city said so. I got an emergency text saying that all vehicles had to be off the roads last night around 9 p.m. and remember thinking to myself, “But it’s not snowing.” It had snowed about three inches during the day. Yet the subways were closed down by a snowstorm apparently for the first time everand Mayor de Blasio extended the vehicle ban to food-delivery bikes. Some of this is surely driven by the dire media coverage of weather — you could hear the deflation in the forecasters’ voices last night when doubt began to creep in about whether the apocalypse was really going to hit the city — and some of it is the precautionary principle run amok. But one would hope a little civic pride would come into play: We’re supposed to be New Yorkers, not Washingtonians. 

Kasich on Common Core



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On Sunday, Ohio governor John Kasich said that Common Core was an entirely local/state affair, that opponents of it never offer any evidence to the contrary, and that the only reason to oppose it is if “you’re running for something.” None of this is true. The Obama administration gave a powerful boost to Common Core by rewarding states that adopted it, both with money and with regulatory relief; opponents point this out all the time; and obviously many people who aren’t running for something oppose it, or else those who are running for something would have no incentive to join that opposition.

I think that it’s possible for a Republican politician to support the Common Core and get the nomination. Whether you can get it while insulting the opponents is a different story. But that seems to be a pattern with Governor Kasich. When he was sworn in for his second term earlier this month, the governor noted that he could sometimes be “self-righteous” and said we should all work to overcome that quality. Good advice.

Will’s Take: The Quickest Way to Lose a War Is to Say You Can Win It from the Air



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On Monday’s Special Report, George Will suggested the Obama administration’s emphasis on using air power and drones against al-Qaeda was a potentially disastrous decision.

“George Orwell said the quickest way to end a war is to lose it,” Will said. “I would add the quickest way to lose a war is to say you can win it from the air. . . . Wars are won by men on the ground holding rifles.”

Krauthammer’s Take: I’m Not Against Prisoner Swaps, I’m Against the Unilateral Release of Prisoners During War



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On Monday’s Special Report, Charles Krauthammer discussed the proposed swap of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, an al-Qaeda sleeper agent, for two Americans being held abroad. Al-Marri was recently released from a U.S. jail and is now in the custody of Qatar.

“What I worry about is not a prisoner swap,” Krauthammer said, “it’s the unilateral release of prisoners in the middle of what is obviously a raging war against us.”

Krauthammer explained that he was also concerned by the fact that al-Marri, who was sentenced in a civilian court, was expected to be released from a U.S. prison in one year’s time anyway.

FBI: Russian State-Owned Media Conspired with Spies in United States



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In a complaint detailing the arrest of a Russian spy in New York City on Monday, the FBI alleged that a U.S.-based media company owned by the Russian government collaborates with Russian agents to gather intelligence “under the cover of news media.”

Bureau agents arrested banker Evgeny Buryakov in the Bronx on Monday, charging him with economic espionage. Two other Russian government officials — both of whom are believed to have left the United States and who may have possessed diplomatic immunity — were also named in the complaint.

One portion of the FBI document alleges that an unnamed news organization, owned by the Russian state, asked Buryakov for probing questions to ask for an interview on the New York Stock Exchange. A tapped phone call shows one Russian official telling Buryakov the order “came down from the top.”

“From my training and experience, I know that the News Organization has been publicly identified by former SVR [Russian intelligence] agents as an organization that is sometimes used by Russian intelligence to gain access to and gather intelligence under the cover of the news media,” wrote FBI agent Gregory Monaghan.

A number of Russian-run news organizations exist in the United States — the most visible being Russia Today or RT, an English-language television channel owned by the Russian government. An RT spokesperson told BuzzFeed the “News Organization” mentioned is “definitely not RT.”

Other outlets include RIA-Novosti and ITAR-TASS, the latter of which appointed a former top Russian intelligence official to help run the organization in 1999.

The State of State Taxes



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Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, isn’t sweating about tax increases in Republican-controlled states. Over the weekend the New York Times ran a story saying eight states with Republican governors were considering tax increases — something the Times calls “once-forbidden territory.” But the story noted that in several of those states, the tax increases would be balanced, or more than balanced, with tax cuts. In South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley says that the gas tax will go up only if the income tax goes down by more. A gas-tax hike in New Jersey may be coupled with abolition of the state’s estate tax. Kansas may see an increase in the liquor and cigarette tax, and while Norquist would prefer that didn’t happen, he notes that it would be part of a path to a future free of the state income tax. Trading one tax for another without raising taxes overall has never been out of bounds for Republicans.

In states where Republican governors are considering net tax increases, Norquist tells me, he thinks they stand a good chance of being thwarted. Nevada requires two-thirds of the legislature to sign off on a tax increase, and he thinks the newly Republican legislature will be more anti-tax than Governor Brian Sandoval. Alabama’s governor Robert Bentley is facing opposition to his proposed tax increases, too, and Norquist thinks he may back off. Michigan voters have to approve the tax increase favored by Governor Rick Snyder, and they have “a good track record of voting these things down.” In Utah, he thinks there’s a shot at beating a tax on e-cigarettes.

Meanwhile, Norquist thinks tax cuts may take place in Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

The press, he says, is always selling the notion that Republicans are going to break with the party’s anti-tax orthodoxy. “I live through it every two years. It’s as certain as the spring rains.” I can attest to that: Ten years ago I wrote an article for NR about a spate of reports that state-level Republicans had caught tax-hike fever. “Is Grover Over?” was one of the headlines. He wasn’t, and isn’t, and neither is strong Republican opposition to tax increases.

Iran’s Revolutionary Aggression and the Arc of Terrorism



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With a new ferocity, the last few days have once again made clear that Iran’s revolutionary aggression knows no bounds. Whether in familiar Middle Eastern haunts such as Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, or halfway across the globe in Argentina, Tehran pursues its interests with a cold-eyed, singular zeal. And the bill of particulars for January is long.

Argentine special prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead on Sunday, January 18, with a bullet in his head. He was slated to deliver evidence revealing a government cover-up of Iran’s role in the worst terrorist attack in Argentina’s history — the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

Nisman methodically collected evidence proving that a joint Hezbollah/Iran operation murdered 85 people. “Alberto Nisman was the 86th victim of the AMIA bombing,” said Leah Soibel, who was born in Argentina and directs Fuente Latina, an Israeli NGO. Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner said last Thursday that Nisman’s death was not a suicide.

Two days after Nisman’s death, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized Yemen’s presidential palace. That’s the same Yemen that President Barack Obama famously considers to be a paradigm of effective U.S. counter-terrorism strategy in the Middle East.

And Iranian military personnel continue their long-standing presence in Lebanon and Syria. The same day Nisman was found dead, Israel administered a precision strike in rebel-held Quneitra, Syria, knocking out an Iranian general and Hezbollah operatives who they believed to be planning attacks on the Jewish state.

On the nuclear front, Tehran recently announced the construction of two new light-water reactors. The U.S. State Department says that the construction of the reactors does not violate the Joint Plan of Action agreed upon in late 2013, whereby Iran is supposed to accept limits on its illicit nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. But it’s impossible to know whether this is true, because the Obama administration still refuses to release the full text of the agreement.

On Wednesday, the U.S. furnished Iran with $490 million in economic relief, another of the installments which constitute America’s side of the bargain. Iran will have received $11.9 billion in relief by the time the latest round of extended talks expires in June.

Back in January 2014, when Obama gave his fifth State of the Union address, he promised that he’d “be the first to call for more sanctions” if an agreement is not reached with Iran’s regime. Last Tuesday, however, he abandoned his promise, pledging to veto any bipartisan, time-limited sanctions in his sixth State of the Union. The congressional sanctions being drafted would only be triggered if an agreement is not reached by the June deadline, so Obama’s veto threat effectively immunizes the talks from any consequences that might result if they break down.

While the president makes more and more concessions to Iran, the Islamic Republic continues to pursue a violent, aggressive foreign policy with the same goal it’s always had: a destabilized world order.

Obama is wedded to the notion that the Iranian threat can be neutralized, if the regime is only offered enough carrots. The events of this month suggest he should be reaching for a very big stick instead.

Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal

Bill Nye Blames Blizzard on Climate Change, Because of Course



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Bill Nye The Science Guy” was on MSNBC Monday afternoon to discuss the New England Patriots’ assertion that the deflated footballs used against the Indianapolis Colts were caused by cold weather.

But that didn’t stop him from “introducing” the idea that the huge blizzard bearing down on the East Coast may be caused by global warming climate change.

“I just want to introduce the idea that this storm is connected to climate change,” he said. “I want to introduce that idea. I know there’ll be certain viewers who will become unglued, they’re throwing things at their television sets, and show on. But the economic effect of storms like this is huge!”

Nye went on to explain how blizzards like this “cost your society a lot of money,” through canceled flights and other infrastructure snarls.

“So I just want to introduce the idea that the strong winds that we had in southern California, the very strong winds that will be associated with this storm in the next couple days – these could be connected to climate change,” he said defensively, before adding it is very hard to prove any one storm is connected.

Last winter, Canadian climatologist Daniel Scott told the New York Times that by 2100, due to climate change, snow will become so rare that there will be few regions left in which to hold the Winter Olympic Games.

Blizzard Fears Could Help Conservatives Kill House Border Bill



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Conservative Republicans trying to stop a House border security bill received an unexpected boost from the weather, when House leadership delayed votes on the bill due to concerns of a blizzard hitting D.C. tonight.

Some House Republicans have been frustrated by the hasty process that has gone into the drafting of the bill: House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul’s border security bill went through a markup on Wednesday, then lawmakers were told they couldn’t file amendments after 10 am this morning. With Wednesday evening and Thursday devoted to an abortion debate and travel, that left just Friday for lawmakers to try to review the bill and craft amendments. The bill was initially set for a Tuesday vote, creating the sense that it was being ramrodded through the House, GOP representatives tell National Review Online.

“This is the fastest turn around from committee to floor that I’ve seen since I’ve been in the house,” one Republican congressman says.

That schedule was derailed Monday afternoon, when the leadership canceled this evening’s votes, which delays the votes on the border bill until next week.

At a minimum, this gives Republicans more time to file amendments, but the weather delay might lead to “killing it outright,” according to the lawmaker, because it gives “more time for the people and groups to engage.”

Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) and outside groups have attacked the House border bill as flawed for not addressing interior enforcement priorities, such as ending President Obama’s catch-and-release policies. Some House Republican critics of the bill believe this criticism is unfair, because those policies fall under the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction, but they dislike the McCaul bill for other reasons, such as the cost, the fact that it will take years to secure the border, and — most of all — the fear that GOP leadership plans to pass this bill as a consolation prize for conservatives who want a long fight against Obama’s executive amnesty.

“We don’t want to sell out the constitutional issue for a border bill that won’t be enforced until 2017,” the lawmaker says.

Pro-Palestinian Activists Shout Down NYC Resolution Marking Liberation of Auschwitz



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That pro-Palestinian activists disrupted a New York City Council meeting to protest a trip that 15 council members will be taking to Israel next month is a decidedly dog-bites-man story. But it is worth mentioning for this reason:

Council members reacted furiously to the demonstration — especially because the disruption began as they were concluding a vote on a resolution commemorating the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

I’ve written this before, but it is worth reiterating: In principle, it is possible to oppose actions taken by the State of Israel, or perhaps even the existence of the nation as such, without being anti-Semitic. But that distinction is, any longer, basically non-existent in practice — as this episode demonstrates. It’s much more than dislike for the Netanyahu government that occasions this degree of vitriol.

New GOP Caucus Could Set Stage for Leadership Coup



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A group of 30–40 House Republicans — more than enough to prevent House speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) from mustering 218 votes for anything — is organizing into a formal caucus and hiring staff.

The organization is devoted to pushing conservative legislative goals, as I write on the homepage, but it could be an important component of the next leadership elections. That’s because the existence of the caucus provides outsiders with an opportunity to count votes, and court supporters, in public.

“Any leadership election is pretty much about organization and who has votes lined up or who can reach a lot of members quickly,” says one member of the newly formed House Freedom Caucus. “That is going to be a factor in a contested leadership race.”

It’s quite a risk to challenge a sitting speaker on the House floor, which is one reason that some critics of Boehner refused to vote against him in the last two failed coup attempts. By forming as a caucus that works to pressure House leaders, potential challengers can gauge the appetite for new leadership without overtly crossing Boehner, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), or House Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.). 

Representative Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) will chair the new caucus, raising the possibility that he will use it as a springboard into leadership even though he’s ignored that siren call before. Even if Jordan never throws his hat in the ring, though, other candidates could try to build a bloc of support in the GOP conference by working with the caucus. And, the caucus could mobilize quickly during the next leadership election.

“Having a good organization, I think, can only benefit people who aspire to leadership and want to cultivate conservative support,” the lawmaker says.

 

Well, We Can Still Drone Yemen



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The White House denied reports that all of its counterterrorism operations in Yemen were suspended last week after Shiite rebels deposed the U.S.-backed government — and indeed, they’re apparently not stopped completely. The Times:

C.I.A. drone strike on Monday on a car in eastern Yemen, the first since the resignation of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, killed three suspected Qaeda fighters, American officials said, in a signal that the United States will continue its targeted killing operations in the country despite the apparent takeover by Houthi fighters.

The strike took place in the central province of Marib, where a missile hit a vehicle carrying three men near the boundary with the province of Shabwa, which is believed to be a stronghold of Al Qaeda. The Central Intelligence Agency operates a drone base in southern Saudi Arabia, which borders Yemen.

The Saudi government is a strong supporter of American strikes against the group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Twelve Things that Caught My Eye



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I didn’t do one of these for a few days, so some of this takes the “In Case You Missed It” approach: 

1. Kit Carson, Rush Limbaugh’s longtime “chief of staff,” has died, after a battle with brain cancer. My experience of him was ever-gracious — he was kind and encouraging, helpful and funny, to a young kid working behind the scenes at National Review (and then on website before people were all that familiar with the creature). R.I.P. I know I join many in prayer — and for his family and friends and all who mourn his passing.

In a beautiful tribute to him, Rush said, in part, today on his show: 

He did not allow me to be pessimistic or negative.  He didn’t allow me to get down in the dumps about anything.  And if he sensed that I was, he would do anything that he could that enabled me to get the best out of myself, even if it was just a social soiree that we were at or some business trip. I was thinking about it last night. I can’t remember a time when he complained about things.  You know how often people complain?  …  People complain all the time.  People manipulate, try to manipulate you all the time.  That’s nothing unique to me. 

He never did.  Never.  Never did.  Never undermined anybody.  Never wanted me to think ill of anybody that had anything to do with this program.  A special passion of his was the leukemia radiothon that we did every year.  He devoted as much time to putting that together and working with the leukemiathon people throughout the year and things like that. He built and maintained relationships that the program had with any number of people, sponsors, you name it, and maintained them.  He spoke for me when I was unable to.  And I have to say this, too.  He is the one guy — this is not meant to besmirch anybody else, but I never once doubted his instincts. 

I had total trust.  I never once thought, for example, when he’s advocating that I do something, I never once thought that there was something in it for him, for me to do it, that it would help him with somebody that was asking me to do it or a friend of his, I never, ever got the impression.  The only thing he cared about was doing what he could to make sure I looked good and be the best I could be. 

2. Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur: Ruling on the word ‘Allah’ threatens religious freedom.

3. Ross Douthat:

Whatever judgment King Abdullah finds himself facing now, he is at least free of his kingdom, his region and its nightmarish dilemmas.

But not America. A king is dead, but our Saudi nightmare is a long way from being finished.

4. France’s prison population is estimated to be 70 percent Muslim

5. Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie: Abortion is about a child, not a choice

Keep reading this post . . .

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