Give Josh Earnest Another Job

Posted by Keeley on May 20, 2015 at 4:30 PM

As Ramadi falls to Islamic State militants - or ISIS or ISIL or whatever the next name they think up is - one hears cautious detachment and outright concern from the Pentagon. The worry is that Iranian-backed Shiite militants might pre-empt other groups in re-taking Ramadi and have Iraq finally fall under control of it's long time rival Iran. Or that fighting between anti- Islamic State groups will be as bad as the fighting against Islamic State itself. So, according to the Pentagon, the latest fall of Ramadi is merely a case of a small percentage of the city not already under IS control finally falling to the Sunni fighters. The Sunni fighters under IS, not the Sunni groups opposing them, which the Iraqi forces - in the majority Shiite - are desperate to recruit to gain support in Sunni regions of the country in their ongoing battle against IS. So the worry is what happens next and how to help Iraq hold together alliances that can push back and even defeat IS.

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GOP Debates - March Madness??

Posted by Keeley on May 15, 2015 at 7:30 PM

The GOP is starting to worry about how to have a series of televised debates with an estimated 16 contenders having announced or expected to in the next few weeks or so. How can you squeeze all these people in during, say, a 90 minute televised debate? Some are frankly hoping that more than a few drop out before the debates even begin. But perhaps there is another solution that Republicans haven't considered: March Madness. Think about it. If the NCAA can handle 68 teams in a little over a month and keep a substantial portion of America fixated on the celebrated annual tourney, maybe they can hand a workable solution to the GOP.

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The Glorious Core of Academic Freedom

Posted by Keeley on May 12, 2015 at 7:26 PM

While it's hard to argue against the overall success of charter schools at the elementary and high school levels, one wonders about tenure at the post-secondary level. Is academic tenure at a junior college, or university, a vital defense against those who would erode academic freedom? Or is it a nice cozy union benefit for very well paid workers? Furchtgott-Roth and Meyer's book Disinherited: How Washington is Betraying America's Young certainly takes aim at teacher unions at the first two levels of schooling and how they protect mediocre, incompetent, or outright abusive teachers who may do considerable damage to their students. But the issue of academic tenure at the post-secondary level is also a matter well worth shining a light on.

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Federal Officials Assault Times Square!

Posted by Keeley on May 7, 2015 at 7:08 PM

When you have a federal transportation bill called MAP-21, you can imagine more than a little ambition on the part of it's creators. The 2012 bill seems to be saying they're going to upgrade everything until it's as 21st century as feasibly possible. And you will comply with whatever that means. The full name is the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act - which has a nice Maoist or Stalinist tone to it. It just needs a 5-Year-Plan attached as a final amendment to make it perfect for a central planner. It's a funding and authorization bill that takes care of federal surface transportation. And that includes not just highways between cities but apparently any juncture inside a city that is now deemed a vital link to the federal highway system. And that means that Broadway and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan now fall under the purview of that Act. Yes, Times Square is now officially under the purview of a federal highway act.

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No One Wants to Own Spending Cuts

Posted by Keeley on May 1, 2015 at 6:28 PM

No one really seems to want to cut spending. A bipartisan deal to lift sequestration, spending caps in other words, is soon coming to the halls of Congress. The 2011 Budget Control Act which is an attempt at reasonably significant cuts to government spending spread out over a decade, will soon be eroded and/or evaded as Republicans and Democrats in the House work out an agreement on spending bills. No one wants to own spending cuts it seems. And in part, voters share some of the blame. Because it's way easier for the GOP to own tax cuts as an issue, and they do, than to own spending cuts. The inevitable result of this is further deficits and further increases to the national debt, which is merely the accumulation of past deficits plus interest.

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Baltimore: the Worst Moral Hazard of All

Posted by Keeley on April 28, 2015 at 5:07 PM

Graham Nash wrote the protest song Chicago and released it on his first solo album 3 years after the Democratic convention in 1968 and it's conflict-ridden days. It was inevitable that the song be sampled and it was indeed over a decade ago by Westside Connection, among others, in their song Gangsta Nation. The lyrics of the original Graham Nash song include the lines from the chorus, "rules and regulations who needs them, open up the door". Now I suppose the British hippie with the choir boy vocal harmonies did not mean using a crow bar necessarily to open up doors. Although given the behavior of some of the rioters in Chicago in 1968, that would not have been ruled out either. And nearly 50 years after the riots in Chicago, we now have a sampling of the violent political rhetoric of that time, but at the service of the cliched, nihilistic, strutting pose of gangsta rap. Already a known and faded entertainment commodity, but still a powerful rhetorical tool for those with criminal intent who wish to burn the thing down. Be it a store, a police station, or somebody's home.

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Why Hillary's Not Predestined for President

Posted by bigtex on April 23, 2015 at 7:33 PM

While it seems I'm opposing the thought of many others, it's not that I don't think Hillary Clinton can win, I just don't think she'll come up with more than 50% and win. And I wonder how others are believing she's a guarantee. There's a reason why Hillary's name is at the top of the board and it's because of the left of center journalists, media, fuel the bias in crowds which is obviously deceiving.

So while others explain why Hillary is a shoo-in and will win presidency, I'll tell you why I think she won't.

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Scott Walker Flips to the Protectionist Right

Posted by Keeley on April 22, 2015 at 3:54 PM

Scott Walker has opened up a whole new issue that's been sitting just to the right of illegal immigration and may become as big an issue as illegal immigration itself. That would be legal immigration and voters' anger over American companies supposed abuse of worker visa programs, like a few notorious cases in the tech world. In a recent interview Walker positioned himself clearly to the right of what seems to be the rest of the GOP field of candidates on the issue of legal immigration. He's changed his stance from the guy who stood up to organized labor in Wisconsin. He now feels that legal immigration is far too high and is being used by corporations to hire cheap labor and replace skilled and experienced American workers. While it is clear that he is casting his pandering net far and wide in order to haul in as many conservative delegates as he can, the question remains: is he right?

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Tom Coburn and Project FDA

Posted by Keeley on April 20, 2015 at 8:05 PM

As the newly former Senator Coburn takes a look back at his former colleagues in Congress, and a look ahead to the work he will be doing at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, the former physician is lamenting the FDA's processes. "There are drugs all over the world that can't be used here because we have a bureaucracy that doesn't bend with the times", he told the Washington Examiner in a recent interview. But the FDA takes flack from those who want more regulation and, on the other side, from those who want a streamlined approval process rather than the mulit-year billion dollar slow moving conveyor belt that exists today for any new drug to be FDA approved. It's a tough place to be in, and they seem to do a poor job of it.

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Sex and Perhaps Drugs at the DEA

Posted by Keeley on April 16, 2015 at 9:07 PM

A DEA agent has to face the danger of violent death and perhaps torture before that violent death. All in a day's work when they go to work in places like Mexico and Colombia, and other drug-riddled partially failed narco-states. They better have a very clear outlook on what they are supposed to do, and more importantly, why they are risking life and limb to try and contain - eradicate is not used much anymore - the enormous drug trade from places like Latin America and Asia into the USA, Canada, and Europe. So it comes as a bit of a surprise, to put it mildly, that DEA agents are protected by a host of bureaucratic regulations and procedures that prevents them being fired. When they attend sex parties with prostitutes in Bogota, apparently paid for by the drug cartels, for example.

That's because they're federal employees, and are afforded the same rights and privileges as a statistician at the Department of Labor for example. And that means the sex-party attendees got a 2 week suspension instead. Undoubtedly they will need sex counseling and other group therapy that does not involve possible underage prostitutes paid for by organized crime. Any additional training or guidance, as DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart put it, will be tax payer funded of course. And as for the issue of exposing DEA agents to possible extortion by drug barons and compromising the integrity, in every sense of the word, of their agency's operations in a key country like Colombia, well that's just a shame.

The DEA remains one of the few places where drug use is still seen as an unqualified evil. There are many, including state legislatures who have decriminalized cannabis, other governments, and other organizations who either lean towards decriminalization or outright legalization. That's a debate that is happening and will continue to happen. But that the DEA would be so corrupted, and have precious little recourse to solve that corruption, makes a travesty of their stated purpose. Because the other question that was not really answered at the hearings in Congress where Leonhart had to face angry legislators, is this: at a sex party with prostitutes in Bogota, were drugs also consumed? Knowingly or otherwise? And where else in the DEA's operations is this happening? How is the DEA in fact being run? Despite the fact that some information must by necessity remain sealed to the public in order for them to do their job, Congress deserves better answers when it comes to the DEA.

How Sweet It Will Be

Posted by Keeley on April 14, 2015 at 8:00 PM

Clearly, protecting Florida sugar barons and their reclaimed swamp land from the evils of competition is a must for any Florida politician serious about fundraising, and therefore getting elected. But fundraising's sweet tooth goes way beyond sugar-producing lands in FLA; from beet sugar co-op's in Minnesota to Colorado's beet lobby having had a key say in America's foreign policy decisions regarding Cuba in the years following the Spanish-American War, sugar has been spooned in the by railcar-full to ensure subsidy-sweetened protectionist policies stay in place and raise the cost of food products for consumers across the country. No surprise then that Marco Rubio has a sweet tooth and that key fundraisers from the sugar industry have helped his campaign get a jolt of energy.

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Read This Letter

Posted by bigtex on April 8, 2015 at 10:33 PM

U Michigan Cancels American Sniper.jpg

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The Virgin Rapist

Posted by Keeley on April 6, 2015 at 10:39 PM

Some students still arrive at College as virgins. Perhaps they feel the need to hide the shameful fact. Perhaps because of faith, especially at some schools, they proclaim it loud and proud. But at most secular campuses it risks making you a bit of an outsider, to say the least. Maybe not as much as a decade or two ago, but the possibility of ridicule is there. The drunken ritual of the nerd losing his virginity - this figure of comedy is usually a him - has long been a staple scene in various silly movies. And the alcohol fueled clumsy ritual lends to that comedy unfortunately. But it can turn tragic very easily. Or worse. We now live in a world where College Campuses teeter between false accusations of rape and the real thing. Rape is clearly the worse crime, and a horrific crime, but false accusations muddy the waters and destroy people's lives.

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Jumping the Gun on the IPAB

Posted by Keeley on March 31, 2015 at 6:57 PM

The tactic of going after the Independent Payment Advisory Board, dubbed the 'Death Panel', was not the best way of going after Obamacare. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, filed by the Goldwater Institute in Arizona, who characterized the bureaucratic DC committee as leading to seniors' deaths. It was an unnecessary bit of theatre. While the Independent Panel Advisory Board, or IPAB, requires a supermajority vote in Congress to override it's decisions and that means less checks and balances, its decisions are really about fine-tuning a government program - Medicare - with all it's rules and regulations, and the death panel moniker seemed an unnecessary bit of drama. Medicare is indeed a huge part of healthcare spending; in 2011 it accounted for around 47% of inpatient hospital costs while representing around 15% of the population. And that's the way it was designed to be; providing state support of the aged. Who receives it, how they receive it and how they pay for it has been a long-standing debate. Should Medicare be reformed? The answer is obvious but finding a balance between providing healthcare for seniors, and allowing choice and competition to ration healthcare spending is proving almost impossible.

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Patents, Trolls From France, and Vermont Senators

Posted by Keeley on March 27, 2015 at 5:50 PM

Patent trolls and their lawsuits cost almost $30 billion according to a study by Boston University back in 2012. Both Democrats and Republicans agree it is a problem, but finding a solution to a scourge that affects small businesses as well as large corporations is proving difficult, if not almost impossible. Why? Because any bill that has attempted to deal with patents comes with a whole host of other issues, especially those relating to intellectual property rights and piracy. PIPA and SOPA were legislative attempts at providing Hollywood and the recording industry with greater protection against piracy and naturally pitted the entertainment industry against many in the internet industry who had concerns about censorship and a lack of freedom.

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