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Proposed EPA Regs Would Affect Climate by Eighteen-Thousandths of a Degree by 2100 — and Cost U.S. Economy $51 Billion Annually



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The Environmental Protection Agency’s new proposed rules, which seek to limit carbon emissions from power plants, would cost the American economy $51 billion, as well as 224,000 jobs, every year through 2030, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates.

With that significant of an economic impact, one would hope the EPA had a pretty good justification, right?

But I write today:

As the Cato Institute recently noted, the agency forgot to include one very important calculation in the information they released about the proposed rules: whether or not they will actually affect climate change.

“There’s really no reason to go after carbon emissions unless you think they cause climate change,” Chip Knappenberger, assistant director for Cato’s Center for the Study of Science, tells me. The impact on climate change is key. But the EPA hasn’t publicized any finding on that supposed link.

Knappenberger and his colleague Patrick J. Michaels crunched the numbers using an EPA-developed climate-model emulator. They found that the regulations would somewhat affect the climate — by eighteen-thousandths of a degree Celsius by 2100.

“We’re not even sure how to put such a small number into practical terms, because, basically, the number is so small as to be undetectable,” Knappenberg and Michaels wrote when they released their findings. “Which, no doubt, is why it’s not included in the EPA Fact Sheets. It is not too small, however, that it shouldn’t play a huge role in every and all discussions of the new regulations.”

That’s not the only time the EPA has used some suspect math. A new report from the Government Accountability Office found that the EPA was calculating how its regulations would affect employment using a study outdated by 20 years that had, even when current, looked at only four industrial sectors. You can read about even more about the agency’s number-fudging here.

— 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.

McConnell Challenger: Fatty Food Eaters Need Obamacare



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Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has been uncomfortable with supporting Obamacare during her bid to unseat Senator Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.,) but she thinks she’s found an argument she can make for the law.

People who eat fatty foods need it, according to Grimes. “[W]e’re here at the State Fair and if there’s three reasons why Kentuckians, especially our seniors need access to affordable health care coverage, you just have to look over to the right where you see the donut burger, the chili cheesesteak and the covered French fries that are here,” the Democratic hopeful told local media.

WHAS reporter Joe Arnold was surprised by the argument. “She actually drew a link between the fatty foods sold here at the Kentucky State Fair and the need for seniors to have health care access,” he told viewers.

McConnell’s campaign used the comment as a sign that she’s a liberal Democrat.

“Alison Lundergan Grimes first proved she was Barack Obama’s Kentucky candidate when she used the existence of the donut burger as justification to ruin the American healthcare system,” spokeswoman Allison Moore said.

Grimes refused to say if she would have voted for the law when it passed in 2010.

“I, when we are in the United States Senate, will work to fix the Affordable Care Act,” she told the Associated Press in May.

Grimes prefaced her donut burger comment by saying that she remains “troubled with certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act.”

 
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No, I’m Not Sorry for Supporting the Invasion of Iraq



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As Syria burns, as casualty rates soar to levels not seen in the Middle East since the Iran–Iraq War, and as a Ba’athist dictator clings to power in part by the use of chemical weapons, it simply boggles the mind that so many Americans seem to believe that the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein — and are so committed to this view that they literally want to shut down any discourse from supporters of the 2003 invasion. Here, for example, is Bill Clinton, dismissing Dick Cheney’s critiques, with this incredible statement: “I believe if they hadn’t gone to war in Iraq, none of this would be happening.” 

Really?

Let’s review a bit of history, beginning with this rather important fact. Syria is a jihad-exporting bloodbath, and we never invaded Syria. Indeed the Ba’athist dictatorship has been left intact — subject mainly to Israeli containment — for decades. It had invaded Israel in 1973, had put down a bloody jihadist rebellion in the city of Homs in 1982, had occupied Lebanon for almost 30 years, and had started working with North Korea to develop nuclear weapons, but Nancy Pelosi still said, in 2007, that “the road to Damascus is a road to peace.” Then-senator Kerry said, “Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States.”

They were wrong.

Syria represents a virtual lab experiment in what happens when oppressive Ba’athists try to rule multi-faith societies indefinitely through fear and oppression. Is the argument that Iraq, unlike Syria, would have been somehow immune to jihad had we not invaded? Let’s not forget that Saddam’s own experience with sectarian violence and jihad was remarkably similar to Assad’s. In other words, he didn’t put a “lid” on sectarian violence, he was the sectarian violence — using the power of a motivated, armed religious minority to commit mass murder. Saddam’s regime was as unstable as Assad’s. Perhaps more so.

In other words, in Syria we have a probable answer to the question: “So, what would have happened to Iraq if we didn’t invade?”

Earlier this week, progressive Christian writer Jonathan Merritt called me out by name as an Evangelical supporter of the war in Iraq, claiming that people like me share the blame for persecution of Iraq’s Christians, noting (correctly) that Iraq’s Christians suffered during the Iraq War (as did all Iraqis), then claiming I should be “pleading for forgiveness.”

No. 

I’m not sorry that I advocated that America destroy a regime that committed mass murder, harbored terrorists, invaded its neighbors, funded jihad against Israel, shot daily at American pilots, tried to kill an American president, and was diligently working to rebuild its once-massive stocks of chemical weapons.

I’m not sorry that we fought long and hard — both against the regime (initially) and the insurgency (later) — to not just defeat our enemy but to replace it with a more humane, more stable government.

I’m not sorry that while we fought we made every effort — even at the cost of American lives — to protect and safeguard the population even as we confronted an enemy who wanted nothing more than to increase the civilian body count in the most gruesome ways possible.

In fact, I’m proud of what we were building, not a perfect state, to be sure, but a place that was — while we were still there — proving to be more peaceful, more prosperous, and more free than Saddam’s broken, murderous, kleptocratic tyranny. 

I’m proud that every single year of the war enough Americans believed in this mission that an all-volunteer force sustained a long fight, and sustains our fight in Afghanistan to this day.

I’m not “pleading for forgiveness,” but I am angry — angry that we were not permitted to preserve our hard-won victories and protect the people we’d sacrificed so much to save. Yes, Christians suffered during the war, but we did everything we could to stop that suffering, and the suffering of all of Iraq’s people. Had an American force stayed behind, we would not see ISIS in control of Mosul. We would not see the Peshmerga retreating for lack of ammunition. We would not see a new Caliphate emerging from the ruin of two countries. It really is that simple.

It is easy to lament dark times and encroaching evil. It is harder, much harder, to take action. I’m reminded of this exchange between Frodo and Gandalf in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

I’m proud of the decision my brothers in arms made, to fight against evil, to try to hold back the darkness. And I’m proud of how they did it, with great honor and courage. Even as Iraq collapses, I can look my children in the eye and tell them that I did everything I could do to try to stop the calamity they see on television. I’ll tell them the stories of friends who gave everything a man could give to resist the same evil that marches today.

No, I’m not going to plead for forgiveness. There is nothing to forgive.

Web Briefing: August 20, 2014

Ferguson Police Chief: Peaceful Protesters Should Not Mingle with Violent Crowds



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Responding to criticism that police in Ferguson, Mo., have arrested individuals engaged in peaceful protests, Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson parried:

If individuals are in a crowd that’s attacking the police, they need to get out of that crowd. We can’t individually go in and say, ‘Excuse me, sir, are you peacefully protesting? Are you throwing rocks? Are you throwing a Molotov cocktail?’

According to Jackson, “tactical commanders on the ground” are responsible for making the decisions to use tear gas, rubber bullets, and other non-lethal measures, and those decisions are “based on the threat of violence.” Unfortunately, because individual peaceful protesters cannot be separated out of violent crowds, those protesters may suffer part of the police pushback.

Jackson advised demonstrators: “If the crowd is getting violent, and you don’t want to be violent, get out of the crowd.”

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Ferguson Police Chief: We’re Discussing Both ‘Tactics,’ ‘Appearance’



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At a midday press conference, Ferguson, Mo., police chief Tom Jackson told reporters that “tactical units” will remain on the streets tonight, but that law enforcement dealing with the ongoing protests are reevaluating tactics.

“If firebombs start getting thrown, property’s getting destroyed, shots are being fired, people are being shot at, we have to respond to deadly force.” He noted, though, responding to criticism of local police officers’ military-style garb and gear, that “we’re going to talk not only about the tactics, but about the appearance.”

Rogan: WH Has Displayed ‘Willful Delusion’ over ISIS Threat



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Ferguson Police Clash with the Press



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The arrests on Wednesday evening of Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly in Ferguson, Mo., amid continued clashes between area law enforcement and demonstrators, have sparked interest in the way police are treating journalists covering the ongoing tensions.

Lowery and Reilly were reporting from inside a McDonald’s on Wednesday around 8 p.m. ET when police evacuated the restaurant (the reason for the order is unclear). Via Politico:

“As I was packing my bag videotaping with one hand, he was angry I wasn’t moving fast enough or what not, I put my backpack on tried to walk out, from the corner I could see Ryan having the same type of interaction,” Lowery said. “As I turned the corner I tried to ask him… ‘Am I going to be able to move my car?’ They didn’t want to answer that question. They directed me toward one door where I encountered another officer who directed me to another door, I said, ‘Officers, where would you like me to go.’ As I turned to follow their instructions, my bag slipped off my shoulder. I said. ‘Officers, I’m going to need to stop to adjust my bag, give me one second,’ at which point they said ‘Let’s take him,’ slammed me into the soda machine, grabbed my bag, grabbed my phone and put me in temporary restraints and took me outside.”

Lowery posted the following video to the Washington Post’s website on Wednesday:

Reilly claims that the police officer forcing him from the restaurant “slammed my head against the glass purposely on the way out of the McDonald’s, then sarcastically apologized for it.” There is no video of the incident to confirm Reilly’s account.

Both reporters were released shortly after their detention. No charges were filed.

Elsewhere in Ferguson, police officers in full riot gear apparently fired tear gas at an Al Jazeera news crew, forcing the crew to flee. Shortly after, police took down their film equipment, aiming the camera at the ground. Another film crew had its camera tripod struck by a beanbag. Both incidents are shown here:

Rand Paul Calls for Demilitarization of Police in Response to Ferguson



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Senator Rand Paul (Ky.) has an op-ed up in Time this afternoon reacting to the protests and police response in Ferguson, Mo. It reads in part:

The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown is an awful tragedy that continues to send shockwaves through the community of Ferguson, Missouri and across the nation.

If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.

The outrage in Ferguson is understandable—though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.

The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action. . . .

When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.

Given these developments, it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them. Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.

Missouri Democratic senator Claire McCaskill also called today for “demilitariz[ing] the police response,” earning a standing ovation from a crowd in a St. Louis County church. 

Congressman Pushing Legislation to Demilitarize Federal Regulatory Agencies



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Congressman Chris Stewart (R., Utah) is pushing legislation to lessen the number of federal agencies who have or are developing SWAT-like teams. The Regulatory Agency De-militarization Act prevents federal agencies that have not traditionally been tasked with enforcing federal law from purchasing machine guns, grenades, and other weaponry, according to a statement from Stewart’s office.

“When there are genuinely dangerous situations involving federal law, that’s the job of the Department of Justice, not regulatory agencies like the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) or the Department of Education,” Stewart said in a statement when he introduced the legislation earlier this summer. “Not only is it overkill, but having these highly-armed units within dozens of agencies is duplicative, costly, heavy handed, dangerous and destroys any sense of trust between citizens and the federal government.”

The statement points to a Department of Agriculture solicitation for submachine guns in May 2014 and recently created special law-enforcement teams at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Department of Education as examples of the problem the legislation would address. According to a 2011 Wall Street Journal report, hundreds of criminal investigators also work directly at agencies such as the Social Security Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. Since he first proposed the bill in June, Stewart has increased the number of co-sponsors of his bill to include 28 fellow House Republicans. 

The Greatness of the City of Fountains, Baseball, and a Little Summertime Magic



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I am not only from Kansas City, but am a serious Kansas City enthusiast. For well over a decade now I have irritated and educated the uninitiated with discussions of Kansas City’s fountains (more than Rome?) and boulevards (more miles than Paris?) and the Plaza lights at Christmas and the steakhouses and Kansas City’s status as a founding city of jazz and blues and its proximity to President Truman’s home and General Eisenhower’s — without Kansas City, would we have won the war? — and Kansas City’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Buck O’Neil and, of course, the barbeque. Did you know that Superman spent a considerable part of his life near Kansas City (after he left Krypton), as did Ernest Hemingway and Walt Disney? I astonish my Acela corridor friends with facts: In Kansas City, you can buy a 5,000 square foot mansion for seventeen dollars; you can’t find a thirty minute drive if you try, even in rush hour; the (non-barbeque) restaurants are actually getting better, to the point that sometimes you feel like you could be eating in New York. And, of course, the city is home to Rockhurst High School, the greatest prep school in galactic history. Many of my friends and colleagues have received gifts from me of the greatest barbeque sauces in all the world. All could if they just asked.

I am also a Kansas City Royals fan. This is much, much harder to sustain. It became a little easier when I read this New York Times article:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — How do I begin this story? How can I convince you that the greatest story for Royals fans in 29 years is unfolding before our eyes, and its protagonist lives a hemisphere away, speaks imperfect (but diligent) English and had never set foot in Kauffman Stadium until last Thursday?

I first became aware of Lee Sung-woo eight or nine years ago. I didn’t know his name; I just knew there was someone with the handle KoreanFan who posted on a site named Royals Corner. He wrote as if English was his second language, and he was eternally optimistic at a time when 70-victory seasons were something the Royals could only aspire to. I thought it was impressive that someone from South Korea followed the Royals, but didn’t think too much more of it.

Years later, KoreanFan joined Twitter as @Koreanfan_KC. And slowly, through osmosis, I picked up his general story: Lee had become a Royals fan in the 1990s after he saw a highlight on satellite television of the former first baseman Jeff King hitting a home run and was impressed by the beauty of Kauffman Stadium. He stuck loyally with the Royals even though he had no connection to the club or the city whatsoever — he had never set foot in America — and even though the team had just one winning season in his first 17 years as a fan.

Mr. Sung-woo finally came to Kansas City this summer, and the city showed its true and deep greatness.

To their credit, the Royals themselves then quickly got involved. The team contacted Lee directly and invited him to throw out a first pitch at a game. Coming from an organization that has made missteps with the way it communicates with its fan base at times, this was a classy move.

The news media, the fans, the entire city took the hook. By the time Lee landed in Kansas City a week ago Tuesday afternoon, there were four local television crews waiting at the gate for his arrival. The city has laid out the red carpet for him ever since, and the story just continues to grow.

Deadspin and The Kansas City Star wrote about him. He was interviewed on a local sports radio station and on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and got a shout-out from Duffy in a pregame interview.

As the week progressed, the team gave him a personal tour of Kauffman Stadium and presented him with a Royals jersey bearing his name and No. 23. Not to be outdone, the Chiefs also gave him a personalized jersey and tickets to a preseason game.

Mr. Sung-woo received a call from Missouri’s secretary of state. He was featured on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” “The Jackson County Commission gave him a commendation, presented by the Royals Hall of Famer Frank White. That night, he received an ovation before throwing out the first pitch, and another when he pinned the W on the scoreboard after the game.”

And his story — and the article — gets better from there: Since Mr. Sung-woo arrived in Kansas City, the Royals “can’t stop winning.”

You can read the entire article here.

— Michael R. Strain is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him on Twitter at twitter.com/MichaelRStrain.

Murdock: Looting ‘Reduces Credibility’ for Those Who Want Justice for Slain Missouri Teen



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Re: To Name and to Name Not



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Naturally, I agree with every word of Kevin’s post. I couldn’t have put it better myself. But, if I may, I’d like to add one thing that I think bolsters his case. Kevin writes:

Here’s a microcosm of the relationship between state and citizen: We know the names of the nine people charged with felonies in the Ferguson looting, but not the name of the police officer at the center of the case. 

The government is all discretion when it comes to one of its own. True, there have been threats against the police officer in question — but if any municipal institution is positioned to defend its members, it is the police. And are there no threats against private individuals who are arrested or investigated? Are there no threats against people in prisons? Police departments and prosecutors regularly release discretionary information that has serious consequences for the lives of private individuals, including those who have not been charged with or convicted of any crime.

This matters for a variety of reasons. But among them is that when the state and its agents appear to be giving their own people special treatment, the institutions that we hold dear come under threat. There have been voices in Ferguson demanding that the cop who kicked the whole thing off be summarily fired and charged with murder. This, obviously, is a disastrous idea. Justice being a process and not an outcome, the officer in question is entitled to due process, to presumption of innocence, and to the care and patience that any other man would be. If he’s guilty, I hope he is punished severely. If he’s not, I hope he goes free. Either way, I hope that the system works as it should. The basic problem with the various “Justice for Michael” exhortations that we have seen from the outset is that they can — can, not always do — quickly cease being a call for a fair evaluation and turn into advocacy for a particular outcome.

This having been said, it’s difficult to sell lofty notions of impartial justice when you’re seen to be withholding information and breaking promises. It was disastrous that the initial police press conference conferred no useful data whatsoever. It was a considerable mistake for the authorities to have promised to release the name of the cop and then to have failed to do so. It was downright bizarre that Chris Hayes managed to interview the key witness before the state did. And, as Kevin suggests, the heavy handed and militaristic response to the subsequent rioting may well have served only to have added to the tensions, rather than to have assuaged them. I have no idea what happened between the officer in question and Michael Brown. I can’t know that. Almost nobody in the world can know that. I do know, however, that there are understandable historical and contemporary reasons why the residents of Ferguson, Missouri would be skeptical of the police. Even if the officer at the heart of the nightmare is innocent, there are good ways and bad ways to deal with that skepticism and anger. Frankly, the police have screwed up the response from the start. Trust in our institutions of justice is vital. But those institutions have to give us reasons to trust them.

To Name and To Name Not



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Here’s a microcosm of the relationship between state and citizen: We know the names of the nine people charged with felonies in the Ferguson looting, but not the name of the police officer at the center of the case. 

The government is all discretion when it comes to one of its own. True, there have been threats against the police officer in question — but if any municipal institution is positioned to defend its members, it is the police. And are there no threats against private individuals who are arrested or investigated? Are there no threats against people in prisons? Police departments and prosecutors regularly release discretionary information that has serious consequences for the lives of private individuals, including those who have not been charged with or convicted of any crime.

If we take seriously the idea that political power ultimately resides in the people, then for the people to do their job and oversee the activities of the representatives they have elected to take care of their affairs, they need information. They are entitled to know the details of the case, including the identity of the officer and the details of his professional history. It is wrong to withhold that information. The investigation of the shooting cannot be evaluated in the absence of that knowledge.

The behavior of the Ferguson and St. Louis County police in this matter is illuminating. They are ridiculously militarized suburban police dressed up like characters from Starship Troopers and pointing rifles at people from atop armored vehicles, i.e. the worst sort of mall ninjas. They are arresting people for making videos of them at work in public places, which people are legally entitled to do, a habit they share with many other police departments. Protecting life, liberty, and property — which is the job of the police — does not require scooping people up for making phone videos; in fact, it requires not scooping people up for making phone videos.

These confrontations are a reminder of the eternal question: Who? Whom? Who is to protect and serve whom here? Is government our servant or our master?

A police department habitually conducting its business in secrecy and arresting people for documenting its public actions is more of a threat to liberty and property than those nine looters are. 

Misc.



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1) People are saying that President Obama is “tone-deaf” for playing golf as the world burns (and Islamists chop the heads off innocents). (Of course, if you waited to play golf until Islamists stopped chopping the heads off innocents, there would be no golf.)

I wrote a piece four years ago called “Hail to the Golfer-in-Chief.” As the title suggests, I defended Obama against his critics: against those who knock him for his golf habit. I think playing golf is usually just about the most innocent thing Obama could be doing.

George W. Bush loved golf. But he stopped playing altogether in August 2003 (for the duration of his presidency — which went until January 2009). He did not announce he was doing so. He just did. Years later, he explained, “I didn’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf.”

In my 2010 piece, I did some arguing with Bush, while of course respecting his position. But I must say, Obama is “tone-deaf.” (This is a cliché that began in Washington some years ago, like “kabuki dance.”) He might want to stay off the links for the time being.

If Bush were president right now, he couldn’t get away with playing golf. Of course, he couldn’t get away with vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard or some other swank spot. He went to boiling Crawford, Texas. Swank spots are for Democrats, period.

2) I see that our hero Lord Snowden has wrapped himself in the flag, literally. (Maybe I should specify, because this is Snowden, that it’s the American flag.)

Look, I realize there are important differences between Snowden and Kim Philby. But dammit, here’s one difference: When Philby fled to Moscow, at least he didn’t wrap himself in the Union Jack. He just drank, checked cricket scores back home, and did what he could for the Kremlin.

3) If you feel like a musical interlude in your reading, I have two links for you: here and here. The first is to a review of an event at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. The second is to a review of an event at the Salzburg Festival.

I’ll be back with political fulminations later (a warning, not a promise, as a friend of mine would say).

Give & Take



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The Giver arrives in movie theaters tomorrow. Listen to my audio interview with Michael Flaherty of Walden Media, one of the companies behind the film. We talk about dystopias, turning books into movies, and the lesson at the heart of this book-and-movie franchise.

Krauthammer’s Take: Martha’s Vineyard Hug Summit a ‘Blatant Display of Clinton Inauthenticity’



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Hillary Clinton’s attack on the Obama administration’s foreign policy, then quick retreat – supposedly to end Wednesday night with a hug while the Clintons and Obamas vacation simultaneously on Martha’s Vineyard – is a “blatant display of Clinton inauthenticity,” says Charles Krauthammer. “It’s breathtaking.”

“With these people — meaning the Clintons — do you ever know if they are saying anything sincere?” Krauthammer asked his fellow panelists. He recounted how Clinton admitted to then-secretary of defense Robert Gates that she had opposed the Iraq Surge for political reasons — because she was, at the time, running for president against Barack Obama, who had taken a firmer anti-war stance. “Now, because she is not going to face a serious challenge on her left, she is maneuvering to the center for her current run and expressing more hawkish opinions than the Obama administration.”

“You never actually have any idea what is the core belief,” says Krauthammer. “And I think if she finally ended up saying what you thought was inauthentic and withdraws it with a hug within a day, she’s in trouble.”

A Cloud Rather Bigger Than A Man’s Hand



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Mark Simmonds is stepping down from his job as a British foreign office minister and will leave the House of Commons at the general election. Simmonds, a Conservative,  has attributed the decision to the pressure on his young family, and the “intolerable” impact of tougher rules on parliamentary expenses.

But The Spectator quotes one of his party colleagues:

‘He’s under massive pressure in his constituency. Party infrastructure evaporated. UKIP all over him.’

All these reasons for Simmonds’s departure sound believable, but the most interesting in the last.  Almost wherever you look, there are reports of how Conservative constituency associations have hollowed out.  Part of this is due to a broader trend, the general decline of interest in traditional participatory democracy that has characterized many Western countries. But in the case of Britain’s Conservative party, it has been made worse by the way that David Cameron’s attempt at forcing through his own vision of Tory modernization has involved trashing the tradition of the autonomy of the party at a local level. That autonomy could be awkward at times but was, for the most part, something that was a source of strength. The decline  in membership (which, I should note, is not a phenomenon solely affecting the Tories)  had begun long before Cameron became party leader, but the fact remains that party membership fell from over 250,000 in 2005 to some 134,000 last September. A mass party it’s not.

Making matters worse for poor Mr. Hammond was the fact that his seat is in UKIP’s eastern heartland. The exodus of party members tends to speed up when there is somewhere for them to go. And in Boston and Skegness UKIP is very much in the game.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party (much further to the left than in Blair’s day, and that was bad enough)  is seeing its poll ratings rise according to a new Guardian / ICM poll. The Guardian speculates that the recent resignation of one wildly over-promoted Tory is responsible for the fall in Tory support. I doubt it. Voters don’t watch the Westminster scene that carefully. To the extent that they do, the poor impression left by Cameron’s recent (and characteristically bungled) ministerial reshuffle is much more likely to blame.

In a boost for Labour, which is embarking on a pre-election summer campaign called The Choice, the party has seen its support increase by five points over the last month to 38%, a share it last recorded in March. The Tories see their support fall by three points to 31% – last recorded in June – giving Labour a seven-point lead. In last month’s Guardian / ICM poll the Tories had a one-point lead over Labour – 34% to 33%. The Liberal Democrats are unchanged on 12%, while Ukip sees a one-point increase in its support to 10%.

Other polls are not so depressing for the Conservatives, nevertheless…

And then there’s this (from the Daily Telegraph):

Ukip has received more donations than the Liberal Democrats for the first time after being given more than £1.4 million in the three months to June.  Nigel Farage’s party saw its donations more than double after a £1 million donation a company owned by Paul Sykes, an entrepreneur and former Tory donor who is now backing Ukip.

Of course, one big donation (such as that from Mr.Sykes) can tip the scales (and the Tories are  easily out-raising the other parties), but even so…

As a reminder, the next British General Election will be in May. Tick, tock.

The Nanny State May Crush the E-Cigarette Industry — Knowingly



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My AEI colleagues Sally Satel and Alan D. Viard have a sobering op-ed discussing the FDA’s proposed regulation of the e-cigarette industry.

On balance, e-cigarettes are so much safer [than traditional cigarettes] that doctors should advise smokers who are unwilling to stop using nicotine to take up “vaping,” as e-cigarette use is called. Smokers who have tried and failed to quite using nicotine gum, patches, medications such as varenicline, or behavioral techniques should also be encouraged to switch to e-cigarettes.

Yet the FDA, which released its much-awaited proposed “deeming regulations” last spring, is advancing a prescription that will surely cripple the future of electronic cigarettes and, with it, the health of millions of smokers.   

How will the FDA “cripple the future of” e-cigarettes, specifically? Administrative burdens.

The FDA estimates that conducting the necessary scientific investigations and preparing a premarket application would, on average, take more than 5,000 hours and cost more than $300,000. Only the large tobacco producers would be willing and able to incur these costs. As the FDA analysis states, the costs of submitting premarket applications for e-cigarettes “would be high enough to expect additional product exit, consolidation, and reduction in variety compared with the baseline.” The agency admits that nearly all e-cigarette products would be driven out of the market, simply by administrative burdens, not by any substantive health issues. The lack of product variety would thwart efforts to persuade smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, particularly because the surviving products are likely to be the “cigalikes” produced by the large tobacco companies, which are the least effective in luring smokers completely away from cigarettes.

The bold above is mine. You can read their entire op-ed here, and their response to the FDA’s call for public comments here.

In addition, they and my colleague Alex Brill have a great policy paper on whether e-cigarettes should be taxed, which you can find here.

— Michael R. Strain is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him on Twitter at twitter.com/MichaelRStrain.

Rick Perry: Blame Obama and Harry Reid for Murders Committed by Border Crossers



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Governor Rick Perry (R., Texas) warned that President Obama’s expected executive orders regarding immigration would “exacerbate” the border crisis and undermine state efforts to secure the border in the midst of an influx of Central American migrants.

Perry called it “the height of irresponsibility” for Obama to use executive orders to provide administrative legalization of immigrants, saying he and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) will be responsible for the deaths of Americans murdered by criminals coming into the country.

“What they will be doing, from my perspective, would be to just exacerbate the problem that we’ve already got [of] these massive amounts of individuals, both the unaccompanied alien children and the 80 percent of other individuals — you’re just going to send the message of ‘more of you come, more of you get on a train, more of you put yourselves or your family in the position of being misused, abused, being recruited into these drug cartels and transnational gangs,’” Perry told National Review Online during a Wednesday phone interview.

“We are a country of laws, and if this president continues to flaunt the laws of America, he’s putting, number one, our people in jeopardy, because there are a substantial number of criminal aliens that are coming across the border, conducting themselves in ways that are very dangerous to our citizens, up to and including homicide,” the governor says.

Perry recalled the murder of an off-duty Border Patrol agent, allegedly shot by illegal immigrants. “That Border Patrol agent . . . was killed by an individual who had been deported multiple times, and for the president to not understand the impact that he’s having on this country is of great concern to me as a governor and as a citizen of this country,” he says.

The governor stopped short of calling for the end of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides temporary legal status to children who would qualify for citizenship if the DREAM Act ever passes Congress.

“I’m more concerned about the security of the border right now and the cost to the citizens of the State of Texas,” Perry said when asked if Congress needs to block the DACA program. “If Harry Reid wants to stand up and say that the border is secure, then he needs to do that, but I will suggest to you, Americans know that is the big lie, and that no longer are they going to accept an individual who is in a leadership position misrepresenting what’s going on in this country, particularly when it is putting the citizens of his state in jeopardy. When an individual who has come into Nevada [commits] a heinous crime against his citizens, the people of Nevada are going to say, ‘wait a minute, Mr. Majority Leader, why are you not addressing this issue of border security?’”

Perry says that the border-security efforts undertaken by Texas law enforcement are already having success.

“Five weeks ago, prior to the announcement of the deployment of the Guard, we had approved a surge operation by our Department of Public Safety, which included our Texas Ranger Recon Teams and the Texas Parks and Wildlife wardens,” he says. “We have seen now over that five-week period of time a decrease in apprehensions by 56 percent.”

Hollywood’s Golden Age Fades Away



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The news of Lauren Bacall’s passing yesterday may have surprised many who assumed that all of the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age had long ago left us. Bacall, who was 89 when she died, was perhaps the last of the true mega-stars from that era, noted not only for her excellent body of work, but for her indelible connection to the giants of the time, foremost among them her husband, Humphrey Bogart. To consider Bacall’s closeness, not only to Bogie, but to Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, and others, is to conjure up images of a bygone era, once so familiar, yet fading away in our collective memory. That Bacall was the Brooklyn-born daughter of Jewish immigrants who always identified as a Jew, only makes her life path more fascinating. Andrew’s post on “the last empress of Byzantium” nicely catches her inimitable character as reflected in her best roles.

With her death, and that of Mickey Rooney earlier this year, the only major stars left from Hollywood’s Golden Age are the wonderful Olivia de Havilland, who made her first movie in 1935 and turned 98 last month, and the fiery Maureen O’Hara, who celebrates her 94th birthday next week. Some may also put Kirk Douglas in that group, but his career did not take off until the 1950s. For real film aficionados, German-born Luise Rainer is 104, but while she became the first back-to-back Oscar winner, she never achieved the stardom of Bacall, et al. Bacall truly was one of the last of a breed who helped define American culture at the height of the country’s power.

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