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Misc.



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1) I think this was the strangest sports headline I’ve ever seen: “No. 1 Kentucky overcomes slow start, tops Columbia.” I had to read it twice, blinkingly.

Colombia, the country? No, Columbia, the Ivy League university in New York City.

I sent the article to NR’s Fred Schwarz, a Columbia grad. He has suffered with the Lions for years. (I have suffered with the Detroit Lions, but that’s another story.) Fred went to Columbia at the same time as Barack Obama, I believe. Fred majored in chemistry (brain that he is). Obama majored in, what? Edward Said?

He learned all too well.

Anyway, our Rich Lowry had this to say, about the Kentucky-Columbia game: “UVA was on the losing end of one of these, in 1982.” Here is a write-up in Wikipedia:

The 1982 Virginia vs. Chaminade men’s basketball game was a college basketball game between the Virginia Cavaliers of the University of Virginia and the Chaminade Silverswords of Chaminade University of Honolulu. The contest was held on December 23, 1982, at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Silverswords, then a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) member, defeated the Cavaliers, who were the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) top-ranked team, 77–72. Chaminade’s victory over a Virginia team that included three-time national player of the year Ralph Sampson has been called college basketball’s “biggest upset” by multiple publications.

Whoa. On any given Sunday — or Saturday or whenever — can anything happen? Sure.

Cécile Chaminade, the composer, I had heard of. Her, I knew. Chaminade University, no.

By the way, the University of Michigan basketball team has suffered some losses lately: to the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Eastern Michigan University. At least the second school I had heard of. (Alma mater of Joe Sobran, by the way.)

2) A couple of days ago, I quoted Eric Owens of The Daily Caller — who called anthropology “the most pathetic college major that doesn’t end in the word ‘studies.’” I said I would mount a defense of anthropology — qualified defense — later.

I was thinking about “studies.” A few years ago, I taped an interview with Jeb Bush, who majored in Latin American studies. I said, “Isn’t that kind of a lefty major?” He said, “Well, isn’t anything ‘studies’ kind of lefty?”

I am paraphrasing. To see that interview, go here.

3) A few nights ago, I had an opportunity to talk with a veteran Democratic political consultant. I said, “What potential GOP presidential candidate do the Democrats most fear?” He said, “Jeb Bush.”

Bush is reviled by the Left, reviled by the Right (much of it). May not run. May not be nominatable. Anyway, plenty of guys to choose from, maybe even a gal or two . . .

4) Yesterday, I had a post on Fidel Castro, and his victory in China: He is the latest recipient of the PRC’s Confucius Peace Prize.

Some time before that, I had a post in which I mentioned an attack at the home of Guillermo Fariñas. An agent of the state broke in and stabbed four people, seriously injuring two of them. These two are members of the Ladies in White, the human-rights group.

Fariñas, a Cuban doctor, journalist, and dissident, won the Sakharov Prize in 2010. I’m talking about the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, given by the European Parliament. The Ladies in White won it in 2005.

Laura Pollán was the leader of the Ladies in White. She died in 2011, under mysterious circumstances. Oswaldo Payá, the democracy leader, won the Sakharov Prize in 2002. He died in 2012, almost certainly murdered by the regime. (He died in one of those car accidents that aren’t really accidents. Stalin used to order these, too.)

I’m getting to my point: The Cuban regime is utterly brazen, in its attacks and persecution. So is the Chinese regime. The PRC, with no repercussions whatsoever, imprisons a Nobel peace laureate: Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 winner. The Castros’ Cuba stabs and knocks off winners of the Sakharov Prize.

Think what these regimes can do to nobodies. To the anonymous.

Cuban and Chinese officials act like people who can get away with anything, including murder. They are absolutely right.

5) On to something better: Yuja Wang. The young Chinese pianist gave a recital in Carnegie Hall last night. My review is here. My original title was “Dresses like a stripper, plays like a goddess.” That is true. Both counts. We now have a different title. Regardless, Yuja is “very unique,” as they say these days. (Can we please have a new word for “unique,” seeing as “unique” doesn’t mean “unique” anymore?)

Call It Islamophobia



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Leftists at the University of Michigan have vandalized the apartment door of a Muslim student who had dared to satirize PC orthodoxies. Jennifer Kabbany of The College Fix has the story and the photos

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Rape and the Navel-Gazers



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As I’ve been saying, we’re having an episode of college-rape hysteria not because college students are more likely to be raped — or even as likely to be raped — as people in the general population, but simply because people who work in the media are mostly people who went to college, not people who grew up on Indian reservations, who served time in prison, or who live in rural Alaska.

Our navel-gazing elites simply are not interested in sexual assaults that happen on Wyoming hay farms as they are in sexual assaults that happen on 310 particular acres in New Haven, Conn.

The Department of Justice offers the most recent confirmation here, noting that non-students suffer rape at substantially higher rates than do college students. 

Web Briefing: December 21, 2014

Chris Rock Stands Up For Scott Rudin



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“Scott Rudin got me to run at a speed I didn’t know I could run,” Chris Rock told Charlie Rose Thursday in effusive comments about the “superproducer” who has become the victim of a witch hunt after North Korean hackers stole and fenced his emails with a Sony executive through The New York Times and other mainstream publications.

“Scott believed in me as a leading man,” said Rock, whose highly praised new movie Top Five was co-produced by Rudin, in a PBS appearance.

The extraordinarily successful Rudin is being pilloried over candid comments made in a stolen email thread. Sony co-chairwoman Amy Pascal, Rudin’s correspondent in the frequently testy exchange, is “under intensifying pressure,” according to Daniel Miller of the Los Angeles Times — who backs up that claim with quotes from a UCLA sociology professor, a crisis PR flack with no Hollywood clients listed on her web site, and actor Mark Ruffalo, whose film Foxcatcher was called by National Review Online critic Armond White “the worst film of 2014 no matter what movie opens between now and year’s end.”

But in some self-effacing comments, Rock, whose movie career to date has been extensive but less spectacular than his work as a comic, writer, producer and social commentator, credits Rudin for pushing him to higher artistic attainment on his new movie. “A leading man has to have a certain level of sex appeal,” Rock said. “I don’t think of myself as having sex appeal. A leading man has to lead. I don’t think of anybody as following me.”

Rock made no mention of the ginned up controversy that is sourced entirely from Sony’s stolen property.

Tags: Hollywood

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Greece, Again



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Greece is going to be holding an early presidential election. The president (a largely ceremonial job) is elected by parliament and this isn’t normally too big a deal, but on this occasion, well, I’ll let Open Europe’s Raoul Ruparel explain:

In the first or second round the candidate must gain 200 out of 300 votes from MPs. If this is not done then he needs 180 in the third round. If no candidate is found after three rounds, snap general elections are called (these would be around the end of January if they did happen). Currently the [governing] New Democracy and Pasok coalition holds 155 seats, while the opposition Syriza party has refused to back a joint candidate (a compromise often used in the past) since it is leading in the polls and wants snap elections.

There is a chance that the government can gain the 180 seats – many of the smaller parties and independent candidates would lose seats to Syriza in a new election and therefore want to avoid having one. Currently, Greek officials put the chance of success at around 50:50 (not exactly inspiring but better than some had expected previously).

In Ruparel’s view, calling for an early presidential vote was risky, but calling it before the current bailout expires (February) means that the current government can argue to voters that its own track record leaves it best placed to negotiate the terms of what comes next with the EU/European Central Bank and IMF.

Ruparel continues:

One key question which remains unanswered is, what would happen if elections take place and Syriza win? While Syriza claim to support euro membership they want a fundamental change in the way Greece approaches European issues. Notably they want a debt restructuring and a complete overhaul of the programme for reforms and consolidation in Greece which accompanies the bailout (or presumably which would tie into a restructuring). This seems very unlikely to materialise, but it is not clear if they would push for a Greek exit from the euro if their demands are not met or if they would temper their position.

Syriza is a party of the far left, its leader, something of an admirer of the unlamented Hugo Chavez, its rise emblematic of the way that the single currency has stirred up political instability across Europe (those with memories that stretch back as far as the distant 1990s will recall that it was meant to do the opposite).

The Financial Times:

Greece was the epicentre of Europe’s debt crisis and now — after four years of punishing austerity — it may soon become the first eurozone country to hand its government to a populist outsider promising radical solutions. The prospect of Greece’s self-styled “radical left” Syriza party coming to power…has sown panic among investors. The mood was neatly captured in a note from an analyst after meeting Syriza officials in London: “Everybody coming out of the meeting wants to sell everything in Greece.”

But, in its role as the house journal of the Brussels establishment, the Financial Times can always be relied upon to do its best to help create a climate in which the project of European integration can proceed uninterrupted, so its writer adds:

Yet the recent market panic belies the fact that [Syriza leader Alexis] Tsipras has softened his rhetoric since Syriza came first in May’s European elections, cementing its lead over the governing New Democracy party in opinion polls.  He professes devotion to the euro while his economic team now holds regular international conference calls in an effort to reassure fund managers that a leftwing government would be able to tackle Greece’s debt problem and would not oppose foreign investment.

And one local business type finds comfort where he can:

“You have to assume a realistic approach to the debt issue . . . then it’s a mixed picture,” said Simos Andreou, a Greek management consultant. “There seem no objections in principle to private sector involvement in the economy…”

“no objections in principle to private sector involvement in the economy”

Syriza will not repeat the mistakes of 1917, comrade!

Meanwhile the current government’s strategy will be to warn that a victory by Syriza will risk  Grexit (Greek exit from the euro), something guaranteed to alarm those Greeks who still have any savings left. Those fears may be overdone: My guess is that, however beneficial Grexit might be for Greece over the longer term (on balance it would be positive), the country’s euro zone partners will do almost anything they can do to keep Greece within the currency union. In the end, Greece is too small to be allowed to sink the European project. If he wins, and if he can avoid pushing the Germans too far, Tsipras will be able to cut a much better deal for Greece than Brussels or Berlin will currently be prepared to admit.

And for Germany’s taxpayers that’s very bad news indeed.

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Credits Same-Day Registration for Democratic Victory



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The State Innovation Exchange (SiX) is a progressive think tank modeled on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has had success crafting and passing conservative legislation at the state level by connecting conservative state legislators across the country. Via the Washington Examiner’s Jason Russell, reporting from SiX’s 2014 conference of left-wing legislators in Washington, D.C.:

As NRO’s John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky have observed, same-day voter registration has the potential to facilitate voter fraud — which is why it has been eliminated in election reform laws passed by several states in recent years, among them North Carolina and Ohio. Thirty-nine states already prohibit same-day registration.

But state legislators (SiX reports about 200 in attendance) have found a variety of promising excuses for Democrats’ 2014 losses:

And, of course:

Ted Cruz’s Florida Friend



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Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) received high praise from a prominent Florida Republican after working to pass a resolution condemning Hamas for using human shields.

“The unwritten truth about Ted Cruz is that ‘yes,’ people see him as someone who is really shaking things up against the  establishment, wanting to get more grassroots, but they don’t know how successful he is as a legislator,” Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told Shark Tank, adding that she’s “proud to call him my friend.”

Ros-Lehtinen noted that Cruz worked with the “very liberal” Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) to get the resolution through the Senate.

“Ted Cruz actually is able to make the Senate work in a more efficient way and that doesn’t get the play in the press,” she said. “Why? Because they want to look on him as a bomb-thrower, a trouble-maker, somebody who doesn’t work within the system.”

Ros-Lehtinen’s comments might have some interesting 2016 implications. In the near term, she’s helping Cruz burnish his foreign policy credentials, especially for voters in the battleground state of Florida. It would be even more helpful to him if their friendship were to grow into an endorsement in the Republican presidential primary, especially if Florida Senator Marco Rubio or former Florida Governor Jeb Bush runs.

In April, Ros-Lehtinen said she would back Jeb Bush if he decides to run for president.

“I’m with him,” she said of Bush.

Democrats and the South



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Michael Tomasky started the conversation by saying that Democrats “shouldn’t bother trying” to appeal to the South any more. Er, except for Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, and maybe soon Georgia too.

Even this qualified thesis began to be picked apart by other commentators. Ed Kilgore pointed out that the Democratic party isn’t actually engaged in much pandering to the voters of Alabama or Arkansas, and that anyway there’s a difference between refusing to make concessions to the South and insulting it. Matthew Yglesias argued that Democrats could advance their policy objectives by nominating candidates in conservative states who are well to the right of the national party but to the left of local Republicans. And Sean Trende noted that today’s southern Democrats have voted very differently from yesterday’s:

The Almanac of American Politics collects 12 key votes for each Congress. If we go back to the edition covering 2001-02, we can see what Southern Democrats’ voting patterns used to look like.  A Northern liberal like Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts aligned with a conservative like Jon Kyl of Arizona on just one of these 12 votes. Mary Landrieu, however, voted with Kyl on five, while John Breaux of Louisiana voted with him on eight.  Perhaps more importantly, the votes that these Democrats cast with Kyl tended to be on the most crucial issues: the Bush tax cuts, ANWR drilling, military-force authorizations, and barring cooperation with the international court, for example.  The differences tended to come on issues where the Democratic position was broadly popular or of low salience: The Patient’s Bill of Rights, funding hate crime prosecutions, and allowing homeland security personnel to unionize.

Fast-forward to 2009-2010.  Mary Landrieu voted with Jon Kyl on only two of the key votes, while Pryor voted with him on four. Hagan voted with Kyl on three. Moreover, these votes weren’t on “big-ticket” items: measures such as a repeal of D.C. gun laws and stopping EPA climate regulations weren’t salient enough to overcome votes for the stimulus, confirming Justices Kagan and Sotomayor, passing the health care bill and financial regulation reform.

 What had kept Southern Democrats in the game for so long was that, on popular, major items, they tended to vote like Republicans.  This changed over the past decade, especially 2009-10, when national Democrats needed their votes to move anything tied to the Democratic president’s agenda.

If liberals had not insisted that Democrats be monolithically liberal, there would be more Democrats in Congress now. But they would also have had to forgo some policy victories, notably Obamacare. Most liberals are probably happy they made the tradeoff they did.

Gohmert: After Omnibus, Boehner ‘Oughta Be Able to Pick Up Dem Votes’ for Speaker



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Expressing broader Republican displeasure over John Boehner’s successful passage of the omnibus appropriations bill on Thursday, Texas representative Louie Gohmert quipped that the House Speaker should look for reelection support on the other side of the aisle.

Gohmert appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program moments after the bill’s passage on Thursday night. Although a majority of Republicans supported the omnibus, 67 members voted against it, characterizing the spending bill as a surrender to President Obama’s executive amnesty, which the law funds.  

“Do you think . . . that this impacts John Boehner’s reelection as Speaker?” Hannity asked Gohmert and Arizona representative Matt Salmon, who also voted against the bill. 

“I think he oughta be able to pick up some Democratic votes for Speaker this time,” Gohmert joked. “He can have [White House chief of staff] Denis McDonough or the president come over and get Democrats to get the votes to carry him across the finish line.”

The White House has signaled an intention to sign the bill if it passes the Senate on Friday, expressing relief that key administration efforts like Obamacare and executive amnesty would be funded. 

But an overwhelming majority of Democrats in the House opposed the omnibus Thursday night, concerned about a rider rolling back certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial bill.

New Gruber Vid: Obamacare? ‘I Helped Write It.’



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Jonathan Gruber “didn’t help write our bill,” Nancy Pelosi insisted last month.

Er, about that:

The latest video of the infamous MIT economist, discovered just days after his amnesia-stricken testimony before the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, shows Gruber declaring to his autumn 2010 “Principles of Microeconomics” students: “You’re hearing a lot of discussion now about the PPACA, which passed last March 23. . . . I helped write it.”

“This was the single most important piece of government legislation perhaps since World War II. Certainly the most significant piece of domestic social policy legislation since Medicare was introduced in 1965,” announces Gruber. “What does this bill do? Well, this bill tries to — and full disclaimer: I’m going to describe it objectively, but I helped write it.”

Then, again: “So I’ll be objective, I’ll try to be objective, but just full disclaimer: I was involved in writing the legislation, so there is some bias involved here.”

Sounds like more than just “some adviser who was never on our staff.”

Pelosi: ‘Heartbroken’ by ‘Taint’ of Dodd-Frank ‘Blackmail’ in Omnibus Bill



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Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi waxed apocalyptic about the omnibus bill in the moments before its passage by the House, declaring herself “heartbroken” over the “taint” of a Dodd-Frank rider, calling the vote “blackmail” by the finance community and slamming the White House for tacitly supporting the bill’s passage.

“I was heartbroken — I don’t think I’ve ever used that word on the floor of the House — heartbroken to see the taint that was placed on this valuable appropriations bill from on high,” she said Thursday, describing a rider rolling back some restrictions on financial derivatives trading.

“So here we are in the House, being blackmailed! Being blackmailed to vote for an appropriations bill,” she later said, declaring she would not put “the name of [her] constituents and [her] district next to a bill that does, as the president says, weaken a critical component of financial system reform . . . This is a moral hazard!”

Pelosi also took a shot at the Obama administration. “I’m enormously disappointed that the White House feels that the only way they can get a bill is to go along with this,” she said.

Fifty-seven Democrats ignored the leader’s protestations and voted for the bill, which passed 219 to 206 and averted a government shutdown.

After Controversial ‘Hands Up’ Gesture, St. Louis Rams Donate $50K to Police Charity



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Relations between St. Louis law enforcement and the St. Louis Rams have been cool of late, but this may help. Via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The St. Louis Rams presented a $50,000 donation before Thursday night’s game to The Backstoppers Inc., a charity that helps fallen police. The move comes after five players displayed a pre-game “hands up” gesture last month that offended many officers.

The team gave an equal amount to Reinvest North County to help small businesses and schools in Ferguson.

The Backstoppers also supports families of firefighters and EMS officers killed in the line of duty.

It is not an apology, but it might, in the long run, be better.

Portraits in Loyalty



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A $50 contributor to National Review Online’s year-end fundraising drive writes:

As a near minimum wage earner, I’ve made the excuse to myself that I’m poor, and I can leave the donating to wealthier folks. But, after thinking how much time I spend on this website, and how much money I spend on other entertainment, (far too much in both cases) a donation was in the budget. Keep up the good work!

Along with $100, another says:

I’ve trusted NRO with my mind for years.  Now it’s time to start trusting NRO with my money.
Merry Christmas to all of the great writers and staff at NRO

And with $50, another reader notes:

I have been reading since I began picking up hard copies at the Yale co-op in the Fall of 1992. 

Donate here.

Gruber Documents Subpoenaed



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Representative Darrell Issa, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, has followed up on his vow to get to the bottom of the Jonathan Gruber Mystery. Why did the MIT economist, an architect of Obamacare, refuse over a half-dozen times to provide details of his contracts with federal and state governments on Obamacare? Issa has subpoenaed all of Gruber’s records, although it is highly unlikely they will be delivered before he steps down as chairman in January.

“As one of the architects of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber is in a unique position to shed light on the ‘lack of transparency’ surrounding the passage of the President’s health care law, however he has so far been unwilling to fully comply with the Oversight Committee’s repeated requests,” Issa said in a statement. “The American people deserve not just an apology, but a full accounting, which Dr. Gruber must provide.”

Gruber is clearly hiding something, as I note in my piece on the homepage. It may be the total amount he collected from the federal government and the states (which some estimate at $6 million). Or it may be the highly derivative and duplicative nature of the work he delivered to some state governments. Or it may be the background of how he got a non-competitive contract from the Obama administration to do economic modeling that would paint Obama in a fiscally sound light. Or it may be the details of how he influenced the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of Obamacare with his models while at the same time serving on their health-care advisory panels — in effect, sitting on both sides of the analysis table.

Whatever the reasons, the Issa subpoena calls for delivery of the following:

1. All documents and communications to or from any federal, state, or local government employee, including, but not limited to, any document or communication referring or relating to the Affordable Care Act or federal and state health care exchanges. 

2. All documents and communications referring or relating to funding, for research or otherwise, from any federal, state, or local government agency, including, but not limited to, any contract(s) with a federal, state, or local government agency.   

3. All documents and communications referring or relating to work product produced to any federal, state, or local government agency, for any purpose, including, but not limited to, the results of any and all economic models or simulations. 

Confirmation Bias?



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The Los Angeles Times has an op-ed today that discusses “police shootings of young men of color” in terms of “confirmation bias.” Now, I’m prepared to believe that people tend to perceive ambiguous situations in ways that confirm their existing views, but that seems quite inapposite to, for example, the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases. While one can criticize the police response in Mr. Garner’s case, no one misperceived what he was doing or about to do (and there were nonwhites among the police involved there as well as whites), and of course there is no doubt that Michael Brown was a criminal and that there is strong evidence that his being perceived as a threat was, to put it mildly, quite reasonable. 

No, the best example of “confirmation bias” in the headlines today is, instead, the willingness of the Left to swallow hook, line, and sinker the Rolling Stone campus-rape story, as Linda Chavez explains in her column this week.

Oh, and as long as I have the floor, let me link here to a piece I did for NRO in March 2008, right after then-presidential candidate Barack Obama gave his widely-praised speech in Philadelphia on race relations (prompted by criticism of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, an unpaid campaign adviser and pastor at Obama’s Chicago church). My piece was entitled, “Want to Hear a REALLY Honest Speech about Race in America?,” and with all due modesty I think what it says on race relations in the United States remains true and is quite relevant in light of the ongoing Ferguson protests.

Surprise: Americans Unlikely to Learn Executive Amnesty Specifics Until After It’s Implemented



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The Department of Homeland Security’s memos outlining the recent executive action on immigration withhold details about new guidelines and regulations the Obama administration will use to implement amnesty, according to a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies. One memo shows how DHS intends to change the definition of a key component of the provisional-waiver program — the element of “extreme hardship” — so as to provide even more protection for illegal immigrants. Another memo directs the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agencies to develop new regulations, revise existing regulations, and seek out other areas where policies can be changed.

In addition, the report suggests, the Obama administration may bypass the public-comment process by which the American people can voice their concerns about new rules. It notes that in 2012, the administration began accepting applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before it had even begun soliciting public comments. “These memos are only the beginning and much more policymaking from the executive branch should be expected,” the report states. “It is very possible that Americans will not know how Obama’s new immigration scheme will operate until it is already up and running.”    

Friday Links



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This video compilation will help you start your day with a smile: dogs that forgot how to fetch.

Ten real stories behind famous food mascots.

Motorcycle doing stunts on a roller coaster.

Funny warning labels.

The origin of the myth of the poisonous poinsettia. Related: why we kiss under the mistletoe and how the plant got that strange name (spoiler — it literally means “dung twig”).

Here are 24 animals that are just trying to stay warm this winter.

ICYMIMonday’s links are here, and include how bourbon and Scotch tape are made, 1964 auditions from The Addams Family (and why their black-and-white living room was really pink), and the cost of 5,000 years of chewing gum.

Not the Highest Form of Patriotism?



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CNN’s Eric Bradner, whose prose makes me suspect that he is some sort of cleverly designed cliché-bot, warns that the CRomnibus fight “offers a grim glimpse at the paralyzing levels of dissent” likely to plague the next Congress.

Grim, is it?

Never mind “the highest form of patriotism,” which is what all the best people insisted dissent was until five minutes ago, there is no way in which what Mr. Bradner calls “dissent” is distinguishable from “democracy.” Mr. Bradner’s assumption that there is a self-evidently sensible strain of “centrism” detectable by CNN reporters and identical to their own sensibilities, and that dissent from the CNN-endorsed weltanschauung constitutes noxious extremism, is one of the oldest forms of political trickery, one to which the Left in its institutional capacity (media, universities, etc.) brings a masterly touch: Set the table and offer a choice of policy entrees ranging from moderately Left to robustly Left. It’s sneaky.

Allowing government spending authorization to expire — it is too much to call these episodes “shutdowns” inasmuch as the government does not shut down — may not be popular, and it may not be politically prudent, but it is not illegitimate. Congress has the power of the purse for good constitutional reasons, and using that power to pursue the policies they think best is the reason we send elected representatives to Washington.

That’s all terribly messy and inconvenient if you think that you have everything already figured out, if you think that governance is a math problem that can be reasoned out in advance by clever kids from Georgetown. Fortunately, our system was designed by men who knew better, and who rather than regarding it as “grim” thought so highly of dissent that they used it as the organizing principle of our national  government. 

GOP Rep: House Leaders Made False Promise to Get My Crucial Vote



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Representative Marlin Stutzman (R., Ind.) accused House Republican leadership of reneging on a deal made with him to get his support on a crucial procedural vote that almost killed the $1.1 trillion cromnibus funding bill.

“I was very surprised and even more disappointed to see the cromnibus back on the floor,” Stutzman said in a Thursday evening statement. “The American people deserve better.”

Stutzman was one of the last Republicans to cast his ballot in favor of a rule allowing the House to vote on the cromnibus. National Review Online reported that Stutzman backed the rule at the last minute after leadership told him that they would pull the bill, once the rule was passed, and replace it with a short-term continuing resolution favored by rank-and-file conservatives. With the last-minute help of Stutzman and outgoing representative Kerry Bentivolio (R., Mich.), leadership won the vote 214–212.

“I supported the rule because I was informed by leadership that the cromnibus was dead and a short term CR would take its place,” Stutzman said. 

After President Obama came out in favor of the funding bill, Republican leaders spent the day whipping their members and hoping that Democrats would deliver the requisite number of votes.

“The cromnibus bill, over 1,600 pages long, does many things but what is most important is what it does not do,” he said. “It fails to directly address President Obama’s dangerous executive action on immigration and fails to include many of the solutions that could have been passed in January with a Republican House and Senate in an open process.”

Tags: Budget Battle

The Point of Ferguson Protests Is Disruption



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I understand why people are so upset by the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. But that message has been well communicated. The protests now ongoing — and I am not discussing the rioting or looting — seem to me to be about causing disruption for disruption’s sake.

That is the subject of my First Things column this week. From the piece:

What is now being accomplished by preventing tired commuters from getting home for dinner? Or by impeding Christmas shoppers at Macy’s? Where is the progressivism in blocking a San Francisco Bay Area freeway for hours last Monday night, requiring the emergency evacuation of a woman in labor from the miles-long traffic jam? No justice, no birth!

It seems to me that these protests are about disruption for disruption’s sake. Blocking roads does not enlighten. Disrespect doesn’t challenge consciences. Using raw mob intimidation to coerce a legal result does not further justice.

I describe how the current howling is reminiscent of the angry — but successful only in the sense of being disruptive — “On strike, shut it down!” protests after the Kent State killings.

Then, as now at Harvard and Columbia law schools, college students demanded freedom not to do their work because of the trauma, and were allowed by spineless administrators to skip exams.

Believe me, we took full advantage of that laxity, whether involved in the protests or not.

I conclude my piece by pointing out that support for these kinds of actions depends on whose ox is being gored: 

It is a telling indictment of our times that Ferguson protesters enjoy media sympathy and the winking encouragement of liberal elected officials up to and including the President of the United States. These same progressive political and media types supported harsh jail sentences for Operation Rescue demonstrators who nonviolently impeded the business of abortion clinics. Disruption mattered then.

And remember the intense media hostility toward the peaceful—and clean—Tea Party protests, whose participants were slandered as somehow racist? It seems social protest is only worthy when it marches on the left side of the road.

That’s life these days in the United States of Double Standards. It’s not a pretty picture.

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