President Obama’s Tuesday night lecture on the need for a little civility and kumbaya in our national politics was hard to take seriously coming on the heels of legislative proposals with zero prospect of enactment, threatened vetoes, child-like flaunting of his two election victories and repeated insults directed at the majority of those present in the House chamber. Gratuitous invectives, ranging from an alleged war on women to accusations that republicans actually wish to damage the environment and take food from the mouths of the poor, have become standard Democratic fare over the last few years. They arrive daily in my inbox, signed by the likes of Vice President Joe Biden, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the president himself.
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The Daily Caller reports that Columbia University Law School has agreed to postpone final exams for students traumatized by the recent grand jury non-indictments in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. TheDC also reports that students at Harvard and Georgetown law schools would like the same consideration from their institutions of higher learning.
Do Democrats truly believe that Article II of the Constitution grants the president all of the powers President Obama proclaims to have and has in fact exercised? Or are they just going along because they agree with the president’s policy agenda? We can rest assured that with an equally assertive Republican president, Democrats would be objecting on constitutional grounds.
Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, Harvey Silvergate describes a recent panel discussion hosted by Smith College President Kathleen McCartney for Smith College alumni. The panel was titled: “Challenging the Ideological Echo Chamber: Free Speech, Civil Discourse and the Liberal Arts.” It was, reported Silvergate, “an apparent effort to address the intolerance of diverse opinions that prevails on many campuses.”
After casting his ballot in Chicago a full 16 days before the election, President Obama said “I’m so glad I can vote early here.” He then held up a flyer and admonished “early vote, everybody.” The president thus declared himself an enthusiastic supporter of the early voting craze that is sweeping the nation.
As we left our daughters’ school near Boston and headed for the Keene pumpkin festival in south western New Hampshire, one of my daughter’s received a text message cautioning about rioting at and around Keene State College. My wife went on the web, where news reports described extensive injuries and a massive police response.
Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that President Obama is seriously contemplating taking executive action to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, effectively overriding a Congressional ban on bringing detainees to the United States. According to the Journal, the president is determined to deliver on a campaign promise to close the prison and “wants to have all potential options available on an issue he sees as part of his legacy.”
The Los Angeles Ethics Commission has recommended to the city that it consider offering cash prizes to encourage voting. The idea is that anyone who turns up to vote would be entered in a lottery for cash prizes of between $1000 and $50,000. A similar idea was put to Arizona voters in a 2006 citizen’s initiative labeled the Arizona Voter Reward Act. The initiative was rejected by 67 percent of the voters.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to propose a tightening of the standard for permissible ground-level ozone. The current standard is 75 parts per billion (ppb). EPA would reduce that to as low as 60 ppb. Jay Timmons, writing in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, reports that 60 ppb ozone standard “could cost Americans $270 billion annually, put millions of jobs at risk, and drastically increase energy prices for consumers and manufacturers.” Timmons also notes that “the second-highest court in the land [recently] held that the current standard protects public health.”
Most good college teachers know they need to repeat themselves – not necessarily with the same words but with the same facts, or concepts, or theories. Repetition raises the odds of penetrating distracted adolescent brains.
A divided federal appellate court has ruled (Halbig v. Burwell) that the Affordable Care Act does not provide subsidies to individuals who purchase insurance through federal exchanges set up in the 36 states that did not create exchanges of their own. The ruling, if upheld on appeal, invalidates an IRS rule allowing for such subsidies, notwithstanding statutory language limiting subsidies to individuals obtaining health insurance through an exchange “established by the state.”
Outrage is ubiquitous in Washington this month. Why? Because five men on the U.S. Supreme Court have declared that a few women might have to pay for their own birth control. It is “a horrible decision,” declared Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, “certainly the worst in 25 years.” Reid plans to fast track legislation to reverse this latest foray in the war on women.
New York Mets third baseman David Wright will earn $19.3 million this season. The Mets clubhouse manager earns about $80,000 per year. Wright makes 240 times as much as the guy who is there to provide for his every want and need.
Like many parents of aspiring college students, I spent part of spring break on a college tour with my son. Our travels took us to Ohio where we visited Oberlin College. While taking the customary campus tour led by an enthusiastic student, we passed by Bosworth Hall on which these words are inscribed: “But of all things truth beareth away the victory.”
Oregon’s senior senator Ron Wyden has a well-earned reputation for collaborating on bipartisan proposals dealing with a variety of subjects from health care (with republican Congressman Paul Ryan) to tax reform. Although Wyden has had few successes in actually seeing those proposals through to legislation, that could change now that he has become the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. (Full disclosure, I was Wyden’s Republican opponent in the 2010 election.)
Washingtonians (the Pacific Northwest variety) have been receiving an unsolicited email message informing them that they can “snag free VIP tickets to the Sasquatch! Music Festival.” To have a chance at two grand prizes or to be among 100 first place winners, Washington residents need only visit the Facebook page of Washington Healthplanfinder and click on the “enter sweepstakes” button. No purchase is required.
“Health Law to Cut Into Labor Force” read the headline in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. “Health Care Law Projected to Cut the Labor Force” read the headline in yesterday’s New York Times. Sounds like both newspapers had a similar take on the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) estimate that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the total number of hours Americans work by the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time jobs over the next decade. But not so on their editorial pages.
Today is the day. President Obama will deliver his fifth state of the union address to Congress, assembled dignitaries, a few carefully chosen guests, and the American people. It should be, and could be, an occasion of civic pride for all Americans – an opportunity to remind ourselves and the world that the democratic republic we have sustained for two and a quarter centuries remains a model for freedom lovers everywhere.
Last week I received a message (forwarded by the dean) from my school’s Queer Resource Center (QRC) explaining that many individuals in the LGBTQQAOPA community have been made to “feel uncomfortable and disrespected in their learning environments” as a result of being “misgendered by professors.” The QRC (a student organization) message advised that, to prevent such discomfort and wounded feelings, professors should make it known that they care “about respecting students’ gender pronouns.”