|5:50 PM, Apr 22, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In response to a report that the Obama administration may cut U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan to below 10,000, senators Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte, and John McCain have released a statement. Read it below:
We hope a recent press report that the White House is considering a post-2014 force in Afghanistan well below the recommendations of our military commanders is incorrect.
After 13 years of sacrifice and investment, success in Afghanistan is now within our grasp. The last thing we should do in the coming years is increase the risks to our mission unnecessarily. We believe the recommendations of our military leaders represent sound military advice and would allow for continued U.S. support in the areas still needed by Afghan security forces. Maintaining several thousand additional U.S. troops in Afghanistan could mean the difference between success and failure.
This is the lesson of Iraq. The administration ignored sound military advice and adopted a high risk strategy of withdrawing all U.S. troops. The result, tragically, is a resurgent Al-Qaeda, rising violence, and growing risk of renewed sectarian conflict. That fatal mistake in Iraq must not be repeated in Afghanistan.
We stand ready to support a follow-on force that is consistent with the recommendations of our military commanders and that will end the war in Afghanistan with success.
Meanwhile, Fred Kagan warns that in cutting troops to that level, the U.S. would be snatching failure from the jaws of victory in Afghanistan.
5:11 PM, Apr 22, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Charles Murray says an event he was scheduled to speak at was postponed at the last minute because the university was worried about "hurting our faculty and students of color." The event was supposed to take place tomorrow at Azusa Pacific University.
Murray responds with this open letter, posted at the American Enterprise Institute's website:
I was scheduled to speak to you tomorrow. I was going to talk about my new book, “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead,” and was looking forward to it. But it has been “postponed.” Why? An email from your president, Jon Wallace, to my employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said “Given the lateness of the semester and the full record of Dr. Murray’s scholarship, I realized we needed more time to prepare for a visit and postponed Wednesday’s conversation.” This, about an appearance that has been planned for months. I also understand from another faculty member that he and the provost were afraid of “hurting our faculty and students of color.”
You’re at college, right? Being at college is supposed to mean thinking for yourselves, right? Okay, then do it. Don’t be satisfied with links to websites that specialize in libeling people. Lose the secondary sources. Explore for yourself the “full range” of my scholarship and find out what it is that I’ve written or said that would hurt your faculty or students of color. It’s not hard. In fact, you can do it without moving from your chair if you’re in front of your computer.
You don’t have to buy my books. Instead, go to my web page at AEI. There you will find the full texts of dozens of articles I’ve written for the last quarter-century. Browse through them. Will you find anything that is controversial? That people disagree with? Yes, because (hang on to your hats) scholarship usually means writing about things on which people disagree.
The task of the scholar is to present a case for his or her position based on evidence and logic. Another task of the scholar is to do so in a way that invites everybody into the discussion rather than demonize those who disagree. Try to find anything under my name that is not written in that spirit. Try to find even a paragraph that is written in anger, takes a cheap shot, or attacks women, African Americans, Latinos, Asians, or anyone else.
But there’s another way to decide whether you would have been safe in my hands if I had spoken at Azusa Pacific. Go to YouTube and search “Charles Murray.” You will get links to dozens of lectures, panel discussions, and television interviews. You can watch Q&A sessions in which I field questions from students like you, including extremely hostile ones. Watch even for a few minutes. Ask yourself if I insult them or lash out. If I do anything except take their questions seriously and answer them accordingly. Ask yourself if I’m anything more dangerous than an earnest and nerdy old guy.
4:57 PM, Apr 22, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
This ought to be an easy one for the White House which has been petitioned to take action in a matter of national importance that ought to be a political slam dunk. The people on one side are all too young to vote and those on the other are full of passionate intensity (to borrow a phrase) in support of …
the deportation of Justin Bieber.
But as the Hill reports, Bieber is:
… not going anywhere. The White House is refusing to weigh in on a petition that gained the support of more than 273,000 people to deport the Canadian-born pop star. In an official response titled "Believing in Immigration Reform" and posted on the We the People site, the White House wrote, “Sorry to disappoint, but we won’t be commenting on this one.”
But in its customary schoolmarm tone, the White House did use the opportunity to lecture petitioners on immigration reform, writing with that:
… we'll leave it to others to comment on Mr. Bieber’s case, but we’re glad you care about immigration issues. Because our current system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers, and 11 million people are living in the shadows.
Yeah, yeah. But upon considering this silly affair one think, Well, if they can’t deport that punk, then how can we ever trust them to control the borders?
3:16 PM, Apr 22, 2014 • By ALEX VUCKOVIC
The attempts of defenders of Obamacare to rouse the American people in favor of the doomed monstrosity have become more desperate and bizarre. The most recent example is taking place in Florida, where the sudden death of a young uninsured woman is being cited as an indictment of the Republican-controlled state legislature for refusing to approve the Medicaid expansion so generously being offered by the feds. If the woman in question had access to federally-mandated Medicaid, they argue, she would of course have gone in for preventative screening which would have revealed her cardiac abnormality and somehow saved her life. Once again, heartless Republicans are causing the death of innocents.
But wait, there’s more. A study is out which demonstrates that Republican legislatures across the country will kill more than 17,000 Americans annually with policies similar to Florida’s. It’s on the healthaffairs.org blog, where the article “Opting out of Medicaid Expansion: The Health and Financial Impacts,” explains it all. Real Harvard doctors, led by the estimable David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, crunch the numbers—and they could not possibly have an agenda as they look out for our welfare. Could they?
If the names sound familiar, there is a reason. The authors have made names for themselves over the last three decades as passionate proponents of a socialized, single payer health care system. It is nice of them to come to the aid of Obamacare given that it does not go nearly far enough in that direction for their tastes, but they are no doubt seeing the ACA as merely a steppingstone to a British NHS-system, which they would love to impose on the American body politic. In fact, a look back at their tactics demonstrates the power of cynicism coupled to appeals to authority, which has driven much of their so- called research. Their methods are fairly clear-cut: manipulate large databases in order to reach their preconceived conclusions, dress what comes out of the sausage machine up with dubious statistical tools, and, presto, they have demonstrated the superiority of socialized medicine.
Himmelstein perfected this method in a 2009 paper published in the American Journal of Public Health purporting to show that lack of health insurance killed almost 45,000 Americans annually. The paper was released early—and only to a sympathetic press corps!—and was instrumental in Democrats’ arguments leading to the passage of Obamacare in the Senate just before Scott Brown’s election would have prevented it. The paper is a masterpiece of manipulation and deserves to be analyzed in detail.
2:32 PM, Apr 22, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Americans have become increasingly more afraid of their own government, as Eric Katz writes in, appropriately, Government Executive. Seems that:
More than one in three voting Americans are afraid of the federal government, according to a recent poll.
The percentage of U.S. voters who viewed the government as a protector of rights decreased by more than half since December 2012, when 45 percent viewed the government as a positive force.
And, finally, that:
Two-thirds of voters viewed the government as a special interest group that “looks out primarily for its own interests.”
These numbers take us a long way from that "government is the thing we all belong to,” pitch that the party of government likes to make and put to music.
1:20 PM, Apr 22, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Senior writer John McCormack joined Greta van Susteren's political panel Monday on Fox News to discuss the protest at the Bundy ranch in Nevada. Watch the video below:
Meanwhile, in this week's issue, the Scrapbook writes about the problems with Cliven Bundy's cause:
Twenty years ago, the federal government, which owns the land on which Bundy grazes his 900 cattle, decided to impose a grazing fee. Bundy opposes that fee, has consistently refused to pay it, and the federal Bureau of Land Management now claims that he owes $1 million in unpaid fees. Bundy has challenged the grazing fee in federal court—indeed, has challenged the federal government’s title to land in Nevada—and has consistently lost. Sixteen years ago, a federal judge issued a permanent injunction against Bundy, ordering the removal of his cattle. Bundy appealed that ruling to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and lost again. Last August, a federal court gave Bundy 45 days to remove his cattle, and in October, a federal district judge ordered Bundy not to “physically interfere with any seizure or impoundment operation.”
This does not sound to The Scrapbook like the dread hand of tyranny, in Nevada or Washington, oppressing an innocent farmer, or pushing some law-abiding citizen around. It sounds, instead, like a rancher gaming the system to his own financial advantage, and disguising his scheme in populist rhetoric: refusing to pay a tax which others must pay, and “tying up the courts”—for two decades!—as he continues to ignore the law. Far from acting in an arbitrary or capricious manner, the federal government has shown patience and forbearance in the face of lawlessness that customarily lands people in jail. It is worth noting that Bundy’s rancher-neighbors and the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, who contend with the same federal policies, offer him little support.
Bundy has exercised his First Amendment right to plead his case publicly and inflame his admirers. And inflamed they have been: A few hundred people from around the country converged on Nye County, Nevada—many armed and brandishing weapons—to disrupt the government’s attempt to enforce the law, taunting and attacking agents dutifully carrying out the orders of a federal court. Last week, fearful of violence, the BLM suspended its roundup and withdrew from the area.
This is no victory for anyone other than Bundy and, The Scrapbook hopes, a temporary one at that. There is a term to describe the people who surround him, and it isn’t “militia.” The word is “mob.” And what this mob has practiced is not civil disobedience but armed provocation of a democratic government which has afforded Cliven Bundy every right and privilege as a citizen. One of Bundy’s supporters boasted to the press that “we were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front.” This is the same spirit that animates people who attack firemen during riots, or opposed school integration with violence in Little Rock, Arkansas. In that case, 57 years ago, President Eisenhower was obliged to send the 101st Airborne because, as he said, “mob rule cannot be allowed to override the decisions of our courts.”
Troop levels to fall to below 10,000.12:38 PM, Apr 22, 2014 • By FREDERICK W. KAGAN
Media reports suggest that President Obama is looking to declare victory and withdraw from Afghanistan, as he did from Iraq. The military commander in Afghanistan, General Joe Dunford, has said that he needs 10,000 US troops to accomplish the missions the president has said he wants to accomplish after this year. That number is probably half of what is actually required, by our estimates, but enough to keep options open for the next president.
But who cares what General Dunford says when you have "General" Joe Biden, who has consistently been pressing for numbers in the 3,000 range that are militarily unrealistic. That many troops can hardly defend themselves, let alone do anything to the enemy. The claim that the successful Afghan elections justify this irresponsibility was as inevitable as it is ludicrous—the White House long ago put itself in the happy position of being able to use any event to justify what it wants. If Afghanistan is going well, then we declare victory. If it’s going badly, we declare that it’s hopeless. In either case, General Biden and the man who really seems to be running our foreign policy—Ben Rhodes—get their wish. Within a short time, the U.S. will be out of Afghanistan.
We’ve seen this movie before. In 2011, President Obama announced that our troops were leaving Iraq not only because the Iraqis wouldn’t make a deal to keep them there that we liked, but also because Iraq was doing so well. Obama told the soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division that “we're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.” Asked about the prospects for post-withdrawal stability, Ben Rhodes tweeted, “Iraqis have proven they can provide for security. They will continue to develop Security Forces/govt with our assistance #WHChat.” Asked how we would prevent al Qaeda from returning to Iraq, he added, “Iraqi Security Forces will be in lead. We helped train and equip them to go after al Qaeda. US has degraded AQ globally. #WHChat.”
Well, it turns out—as many of us warned—that the Iraqi Security Forces were not ready to operate on their own and that Iraq was not stable enough for us to leave. And now, al Qaeda in Iraq (renamed the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham) has regained most of its safe havens within Iraq, spread into Syria, and is now even starting to bid for control of the al Qaeda movement globally after a nasty break with al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri.
11:33 AM, Apr 22, 2014 • By ADAM J. WHITE
As I noted a few weeks ago, the introduction of widespread instant replay into major league baseball threatened to do serious damage to how the game is played and enjoyed. That damage arrives in ways that replay's proponents simply failed—or refused—to countenance.
Baseball is a game of rules both written and unwritten. And even written rules have been shaped and influenced (as all written rules are) by the real world that they're intended to govern. For example: most baseball fans probably haven't spent much time pondering, "what is a catch?" At least, they surely did not stop and consider it at the level of detail long set forth in Major League Baseball's official rules:
A CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; providing he does not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession. It is not a catch, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his contact with the ball, he collides with a player, or with a wall, or if he falls down, and as a result of such collision or falling, drops the ball. It is not a catch if a fielder touches a fly ball which then hits a member of the offensive team or an umpire and then is caught by another defensive player. If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught. In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.
Rule 2.00 (Catch) Comment: A catch is legal if the ball is finally held by any fielder, even though juggled, or held by another fielder before it touches the ground. Runners may leave their bases the instant the first fielder touches the ball. A fielder may reach over a fence, railing, rope or other line of demarcation to make a catch. He may jump on top of a railing, or canvas that may be in foul ground. No interference should be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk.
If a fielder, attempting a catch at the edge of the dugout, is “held up” and kept from an apparent fall by a player or players of either team and the catch is made, it shall be allowed.
Perhaps you skipped that long, tedious explanation—and for good reason. By and large, a catch in baseball was like Justice Potter Stewart's famous definition of obscenity: "I know it when I see it."
That is not to say that a "catch" is completely undefined, but rather that in real-life, with players in motion—especially in lightning quick double plays—the umpires, the players, and the fans were comfortable with a basic sense of what a catch looks like.
10:03 AM, Apr 22, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Vice President Biden addressed Ukrainian legislators Tuesday in a committee room of the Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, where he began his remarks by thanking the legislators for "making me feel relevant again." Biden is in Ukraine to show support for the Ukrainian government as that country faces continued pressure and threats from Russia. Biden's "relevant" comments were a reference to his time as a legislator in the United States:
I want to thank my colleagues for bringing me back home. For 36 years I sat in our legislature, and I used to actually have this seat in our -- I was the chairman of our committee. Thank you for making me feel relevant again, back in a legislative body.
He went on to encourage the Ukrainians to continue to strive for energy independence with the goal of being able to tell Russia to "keep your gas":
And as you attempt to pursue energy security, there’s no reason why you cannot be energy secure. I mean there isn’t. It will take time. It takes some difficult decisions, but it’s collectively within your power and the power of Europe and the United States. And we stand ready to assist you in reaching that. Imagine where you’d be today if you were able to tell Russia: Keep your gas. It would be a very different world you’d be facing today. It’s within our power to alter that.
Biden is well known for his colorful comments throughout his career in public service, and his remarks to the Ukrainians are no exception. Some additional excerpts:
I signed the book in the hotel as I was leaving today. The management asked me to sign their book, and I signed, “Ukraine united, Joe Biden.”
I’ve been around, literally met every major leader in the world in the last 40 years...
[A]n expert is anyone from out of town with a briefcase. Well, I don't have a briefcase, and I’m not an expert.
I have an expression I use as I’ve gone around the world through my career is you never tell another man or woman what’s in their interest.
Also to be very blunt about it, and this is a delicate thing to say to a group of leaders in their house of parliament, but you have to fight the cancer of corruption that is endemic in your system right now. It’s not just the United States. You need a court system that not only you and your people, but the rest of the world assumes can actually adjudicate fairly disputes among people. But you have a chance. You have a chance.
And you may have different traditions. It’s not quite the same, but we understand different traditions in our country -- not as deeply as you do, but we are the most heterogeneous democracy in the world. We’re soon going to get the point where over 50 percent of the United States of America is made up of people of non-European stock; the majority of the American people are not of European origin in 2020. We understand. We have millions of Muslims. We have hundreds -- but it’s not quite the same. We’re not up against a border. We’re not sitting against a border of another powerful nation.
9:23 AM, Apr 22, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The boss talked Ukraine last night on CNN:
8:47 AM, Apr 22, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Michigan Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land has a new 30-second ad out taking on the Democratic line that Republicans like her are waging a "war on women." Land is facing Democratic congressman Gary Peters in November, and Peters has criticized Land's opposition to the so-called Paycheck Fairness Act.
"Congressman Gary Peters and his buddies want you to believe I'm waging a war on women," Land says in the ad. "Really? Think about that for a moment." Land gives the viewer some time. Watch the video below:
The Real Clear Politics poll average shows a tight race for Senate in Michigan. Land and Peters are vying for the seat held by retiring Democrat Carl Levin. Land was a two-term secretary of state, while Peters is a three-term congressman who voted for Obamacare.
8:26 AM, Apr 22, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The Keystone pipeline has been under study for five years and will be studied further. It will be built, or scuttled, when the politics are right. For now, the pipeline, as Coral Davenport of the New York Times reports:
… has galvanized environmental activists, who call it a litmus test for President Obama’s commitment to fighting climate change. It is a political weapon against Mr. Obama for Republicans, who call it a symbol of job creation and energy security. It has motivated liberal donors, led by the California billionaire Tom Steyer, who has personally urged Mr. Obama to reject the pipeline.
The argument is mostly style over substance since:
… the carbon emissions produced by oil that would be moved in the Keystone pipeline would amount to less than 1 percent of United States greenhouse gas emissions, and an infinitesimal slice of the global total.
Which one expert quoted by Davenport describes as “a rounding error.”
… when it comes to the pipeline’s true impact on global warming, energy and climate change experts — including former Obama administration officials — say Keystone’s political symbolism vastly outweighs its policy substance.
The facts of which will not be changed by more study. And delay.
Not as deft as Carney’s skillet flipping abilities.
7:18 AM, Apr 22, 2014 • By WHITNEY BLAKE
A few months ago when Obamacare was in free fall, many were left scratching their heads when the Democrats were touting stay-at-home motherhood as one of the perks of Obamacare.
Forget shattering the glass ceiling; instead Obamacare was going to afford women the opportunity to do what they really wanted -- stay home with their kids. There was even the implication that women should be doing this instead of remaining “job-locked” -- a much touted, terrible condition from which women everywhere needed rescuing. Here’s Joe Biden on The View back in February:
How many of you are single women with children in a dead-end job, you're there because of your health insurance. You would rather have the opportunity to spend the next couple of years with your child until they get -- if that was your choice, until they get into primary school. You're now trapped in that job because if you leave, you lose your health insurance. Now you’ll be able to make an independent choice: Do you want to stay in that job and still have health insurance, or do you want to stay in that job even though you can get health insurance absent that job? It gives women a great deal more freedom.
Put aside the fact that liberals never cite the virtues of stay-at-home motherhood and mock those who dare say that women can’t “have it all” or those who actually choose and enjoy homemaking. After all, the White House was desperate at the time to invent any positives about Obamacare in the face of rising premiums and deductibles, smaller networks, and plan cancellations.
Who were all these desperate, destitute moms that would love to stay at home, if only they could buy their own health insurance? We never really found out.
5:33 PM, Apr 21, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Elizabeth Warren, the freshman Democratic senator from Massachusetts, did not say whether or not she thought her fellow Democrat, Hillary Clinton, would make a good president. ABC News's David Muir asked Warren the question in an interview airing Monday night on ABC.
"Do you think Hillary Clinton would make a good president?" Muir asked.
"I think Hillary Clinton is terrific," Warren said. "We've gotta stay focused on these issues right now."
Warren also said she is not running for president, despite some calls for her to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016. Watch the video below:
Warren defeated Republican senator Scott Brown in 2012, and she has been a favorite of the left wing of the party. As Muir points out in the interview, the New Republic published a piece last November calling Warren "Hillary's nightmare."
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