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At Large

Altruistic Evil in the West Bank

By 2.8.16

Hussein Abu Ghosh, 17, and Ibrahim Yusef Allan, 23, both students at the West Bank’s Bir Zeit University, climbed over the fence at the Jewish village of Beit Horon intent on achieving martyrdom by killing innocent Jews.

In a well-planned attack in a busy village grocery, the assailants first scuffled with a middle-aged man who managed to fend them off with a grocery cart. Then the “heroes” found two defenseless women to stab, one of whom, Shlomit Krigman, 23, later died from her wounds.

Their plan included detonating three pipe bombs, but security guards shot the killers dead before they were set off.

There will be inevitable denunciations from Sweden and the Arab nations that the “students” could have been taken alive. After all, they only had knives and homemade pipe bombs.

Loose Canons

The Wrong Stuff

By 2.8.16

It was almost comforting to hear the Republican candidates try to outdo each other on Saturday night, saying they’d pour money on the problems of our military to solve them. As if that solution ever worked. One of the biggest problems we have is that we’re doing some really dumb things.

Some are so dumb it beggars the imagination. Other things are so costly — and dumb — that they are going to beggar the Pentagon budget for decades. We’re buying the wrong stuff.

Three examples prove this theory. First is President Obama’s recent executive order to the Army directing it on how to buy a rifle to replace the old M-16. Second is the continued machinations of the Air Force and Navy to justify buying the combat-ineffective F-35. And third is the Navy’s insistence on buying more of the Littoral Combat Ships (“LCSs,” aka the “little crappy ship”) which can’t survive in combat.

Constitutional Opinions

Disputed Texas Case Exemplified Judicial Restraint, Not Activism

By 2.8.16

As I have discussed previously (here and here), all judges in Texas are subject to partisan elections, and an incumbent justice on the Texas Supreme Court (all nine members of which are Republicans) named Paul Green is facing a March 1 primary challenge by an evangelical speaker and radio talk show host named Rick Green. The potential for name confusion may be deliberate, since two other seats on the court (neither held by a justice named Green) are also on the ballot. Rick Green, who has no prior judicial experience (and very little relevant legal experience) claims that he was motivated to run against Justice Paul Green, an 11-year veteran of the Texas Supreme Court, because — out of the thousands of cases he has participated in — Paul Green joined the court’s 5-3 decision in Texas v.

The Public Policy

Don’t Fence Us In: Western States Seek Return of Land From D.C.

By 2.8.16

According to the United States Geological Survey, nearly half the land in the Western United States is owned by the federal government. This includes 84.9 percent of land in Nevada (hiding UFOs requires lots of space), 64.9 percent of Utah, 61.6 percent of Idaho, 61.2 percent of Alaska, 52.9 percent of Oregon, 48.1 percent of Wyoming, and 45.8 percent in California. Meanwhile, the federal government owns only about 5 percent of the land in states east of the Mississippi River. Altogether, Uncle Sam owns roughly 640 million acres of land.

Letter From San Francisco

Condom-Nation Hits Middle Schools

By 2.8.16

The San Francisco Unified School District’s board is poised to expand its Condom Availability Program for high school students into middle schools. The school district no longer offers Algebra I as an eighth-grade course — Algebra I has been folded into a two-year, eighth-grade and ninth-grade class that is supposed to be more comprehensive. But the board is ready to bring a high school program to middle school by handing out condoms to sixth-graders.

What could possibly go wrong?

Superintendent Richard Carranza backs the proposal to distribute condoms to middle schoolers “in conjunction with a session with a school nurse or social worker to identify risk factors and provide referrals or resources as necessary.” The idea, supporters say, is not to encourage preteens to have sex, but to make sure that the estimated 5 percent of San Francisco middle schoolers who are sexually active protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies.

Special Report

Rubio’s Debate Disaster

By 2.7.16

I’ve said repeatedly that Marco Rubio is potentially the best Republican communicator since Ronald Reagan. But Saturday night’s GOP debate in New Hampshire left me wondering whether the only candidate I’ve contributed to in this cycle is instead just so well-rehearsed with talking points, brief sound-bites, and longer speeches that I may be hearing great memorization rather than what I thought were true insights into the man’s character, philosophy, and policy priorities.

Early in the debate, Senator Rubio was asked about his accomplishments in politics. He gave a short answer naming a few mostly unmemorable items and then strangely turned to this: “Let’s dispel once and for all this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country.”

Iowa and New Hampshire Skew the Primary Process

By 2.5.16

Republican and Democrat candidates for president have been trekking to Iowa and New Hampshire for over a year in hopes of making a good showing in the first two presidential primaries. Yet why in the world are we so concerned about what the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire think? 

Political pilgrimages to these two idiosyncratic states have been the Holy Grail of presidential politics over the past six decades. Which raises the obvious question, why Iowa and New Hampshire? Why not give some other states a shot at going first in the primary sweepstakes and having a real voice in nominating our presidential candidates.

I’m sick and tired of hearing about what voters in Iowa and New Hampshire think about the candidates for president. Who really cares what they think? After all, Iowa and New Hampshire will have very few delegates at the respective conventions. So, why should those two states have such an unwarranted impact on the presidential primaries?

Unfortunately, Iowa and New Hampshire all but choose our nominees for us. But, neither state is a good bellwether for the other 48 states. They are smaller, older, whiter, and more rural than other states. 

Political Hay

Next Stop, the Political Twilight Zone

By 2.5.16

Not defeat, but rather how one responds to it, determines “winners” and “losers.” Winners say, “Congratulations.” Losers affirm their designation by barking, “You cheated.”

Donald Trump, after uncharacteristic graciousness in defeat Monday night, emerged as himself by accusing Ted Cruz of stealing the Iowa caucuses from him. At least Al Gore could claim he won the popular vote. The Donald lost convincingly to a man down five in the polls entering the contest. But he’s convinced he didn’t lose.

Trump, using his preferred means of discourse, tweeted: “The State of Iowa should disqualify Ted Cruz from the most recent election on the basis that he cheated—a total fraud!” The allegation stems from the Cruz campaign urging Ben Carson supporters to vote for the Texas senator because of a CNN report that indicated the neurosurgeon planned to go home rather than to New Hampshire after Iowa. Reflected Trump, “I think those votes should be taken away.”

Special Report

The Gestalt of Guilt

By 2.5.16

Last fall was an angry time on campus. What now? Will the Ivy League and other top colleges and universities get back to business or resume the St. Vitus dance in the spring?

The dreamed-of academic Shangri-las for ambitious, able youth of every background and color stand accused of crimes and neglect they have spent decades trying to cure.

According to the indictment: Whatever gains peoples of color have made on and off campus, white racism is far from diminishing. It remains formidable, but unlike racism in the past, is subtle and covert. Decades-long policies to widen fields of study, faculties, and enrollments have not yielded satisfactory results. Microaggression is everywhere.