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Fighting Dirty to Save Affirmative Action

August 7, 2013 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

The higher education community breathed a deep sigh of relief in June when the Supreme Court declined to strike down affirmative action in college admissions in Fisher v. University of Texas. The near-unanimous Court (7-1, with Justice Kagan recused) recalibrated and restricted the manner by which schools can consider race without disturbing the precedent that allows the narrow use of racial preferences in order to ensure campus “diversity.”

But that relief should be temporary because the University of Texas will be hard-pressed to meet the new, more demanding standards. The Supreme Court underlined that public institutions must overcome a high constitutional bar, “strict scrutiny” in legal terms, when they use race, which requires “a careful judicial inquiry into whether a university could achieve sufficient diversity without using racial classifications.”

The educational establishment may rue the day it again decided to pursue massive resistance to a Supreme Court ruling on civil rights.”

“The university must prove,” Justice Kennedy wrote for the Court, “that the means chosen by the university to attain diversity are narrowly tailored.”

The Supreme Court thus voided the pro-UT ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for being too deferential to the university. Regardless of administrators’ experience in crafting admissions policies, courts, in this case, the Fifth Circuit, must determine whether the use of race really is necessary to achieve the educational benefits of diversity.

The University of Texas itself has proven that it’s not, given that its Top-Ten Percent Plan — by which the top 10% (since changed to eight) of graduates in every high school in the state are guaranteed admission — had already created a campus with some of the highest “diversity” in nation. And UT’s addition of racial preferences to that race-neutral policy, far from being narrowly tailored, is arbitrary. For example, UT justifies preferences to Hispanics by pointing to the need for a “critical mass” of such students, even as it denies preferences to Asians, who comprise a smaller part of the student body.

Apparently recognizing the weakness of its position, the university has different ideas on how to fulfill the Supreme Court’s order sending the case back to the Fifth Circuit. Instead of briefing the court of appeals on how its racial preferences can survive strict scrutiny, UT’s lawyers have asked that the case be sent back to the original district court in Austin. They want to relitigate pointless …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Rand Paul Is No Isolationist

August 7, 2013 in Economics

By Justin Logan

Justin Logan

Remember when your older brothers and sisters used to prank you by warning about the monster under your bed? In a similar way, Washington’s war hawks are gearing up to scare you with another phantom devil: isolationism.

If you feel like you’ve already been hearing increasing warnings about isolationism, you’re right. Pundits, journalists, and now a whole new think-tank initiative are warning about this dangerous ideology.

When did minding our own business become a dangerous idea?”

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer asserts that the “natural tension” within the GOP is between “isolationist and internationalist tendencies.” His colleague Dana Milbank, in a fawning profile of Sen. John McCain, alleges inexplicably that there are “roughly 15 isolationists in the Senate GOP caucus.” (McCain represents the internationalists.) Rounding out the Washington Post’s fear-mongers, Jennifer Rubin regularly inveighs against isolationists — lately, she’s been targeting Sen. Rand Paul.

And now there is a whole department at the American Enterprise Institute, the “American Internationalism Project,” dedicated to warning about the evils of isolationism. Its co-chairs, hawkish former senators John Kyl and Joseph Lieberman, worry that the country will repeat “the cycle of American isolationism.” According to Kyl and Lieberman, the last treacherous iteration of this cycle was when Dick Cheney cut defense spending after the United States won the Cold War, which they loosely insinuate had something to do with the 9/11 attacks.

You should know three things about these claims. The first is that they are nonsense. Rand Paul, Rep. Justin Amash, and other skeptics of reckless foreign wars and secret government spying on Americans aren’t isolationists. They’re prudent conservatives who take the Constitution seriously and rose to power amid the wreckage of the George W. Bush administration, which destroyed the GOP advantage on national security and provided a good example of how not to conduct foreign policy.

The second thing you should know is that “isolationist” was designed as a slur and remains one. No one calls himself an isolationist. It’s always intended to link the target with the ignominious record of Americans in the 1930s who were slow to recognize the threat from Nazi Germany. But the term itself was coined around the turn of the 20th century by the imperialist A. T. Mahan to disparage opponents of American overseas expansion. As the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Walter McDougall showed, America’s “vaunted tradition of ‘isolationism’ is no tradition at all, but a dirty word …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How Much Do You Know about New Head of FBI?

August 7, 2013 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

It takes a lot to shock me during the Obama presidency, but I was stunned when the Senate on July 29, by a vote of 93 to 1, confirmed James Comey as the chief of the FBI.

This is the same former U.S. deputy attorney general who, at the FBI confirmation hearing, “forcefully argued to the Senate that the oversight mechanisms on the government’s widespread surveillance of phone records and online habits sufficiently protects Americans’ privacy.” (Spencer Ackerman, “James Comey defends U.S. surveillance practices at FBI confirmation hearing,” The Guardian, Aug. 1, 2013).

Added Ackerman: “Comey’s hearing, nearly three hours long, occasionally seemed like a coronation hearing.”

For the media, from digital to print, that was largely the end of this story. There was a time, however, when James Comey, as President George W. Bush’s deputy attorney general, “became a hero to Democratic opponents of Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program … and unsuccessfully tried to limit tough interrogation tactics against suspected terrorists.”

So how can this be the same person who now salutes and implements Barack Obama’s ceaselessly massive tracking of We The People?

The one journalist who has, characteristically, dug deeply and continuously into James Comey’s eventual rise to FBI director — far in excess of J. Edgar Hoover’s contempt of the Bill of Rights — is Glenn Greenwald.

I never miss the byline of this former constitutional lawyer who, in these Obama years, should get an annual Pulitzer for giving the Constitution meaningful life.

And now Greenwald demonstrates that under George W. Bush, the once-rebellious James Comey, as deputy attorney General, “authorized the illegal NSA (National Security Administration) eavesdropping program … It was Comey who gave his legal approval to enable that NSA eavesdropping program to spy on Americans without warrants; the same program that produced so much outrage and scandal when revealed by the New York Times.”

“How can any progressive who spent the Bush years vehemently denouncing the domestic spying program as the symbol of Bush radicalism and lawlessness now cheer when the lawyer who approved it is about to be put in charge of the FBI?” (Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s New FBI Chief Approved Bush’s NSA Warrantless Wiretapping Scheme,” The Guardian, May 30).

This is the same FBI that, under Bush and especially Obama, has engaged in even more warrantless spying on us.

Greenwald goes on. This Comey, somewhere along his rise to power, lost his spine. He was among the Bush lawyers “who …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Repealing Obamacare: Not a Waste of Time

August 7, 2013 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Speaking at a campaign-style rally last month at an Amazon plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., President Obama ridiculed Republicans’ economic agenda, claiming that “wasting the country’s time by taking something like 40 meaningless votes to repeal Obamacare is not a jobs plan.”

The president has a bit of a point about the futility of those 40 votes. Given the unwillingness of the Senate to even consider changes to the health-care law, continued repeal votes are more an exercise in political theater than in policy. However, by that measure, the president’s giving countless speeches calling for higher taxes and more government spending would seem to be equally lacking in substance.

But plenty of those anti-Obamacare efforts — such as the proposal by Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee to defund Obamacare — actually would help create jobs, and the president has hardly rushed to embrace them.

On average, it costs an American employer $4,644 to provide health insurance to a worker. For a worker earning the U.S. median annual wage of $40,300, that amounts to an 11.5 percent hike in the cost of employing him. Alternatively, the employer could pay a penalty of $2,000 per worker. That would hike the cost of employing a median-wage worker by only roughly 5 percent, but that money has to come from somewhere, too. (The president recently delayed enforcement of this mandate for a year, but this probably won’t change the decisions of most employers, since they’ll have to come into compliance soon enough anyway.)

While most businesses with 50 or more workers currently provide their workers with insurance, that doesn’t mean that they won’t see their costs pushed up by the mandate. That’s because in order to avoid the penalty, the business must provide insurance that meets the “minimum essential benefits” requirements, which may be more comprehensive and more expensive than what the business provides today. A business’s current insurance plan is “grandfathered” under the Affordable Care Act, but the business must come into full compliance if it makes any adjustment to the plan, such as changing deductibles or benefits. Moreover, noncompliant plans themselves are closed from adding new members (other than new employees at businesses with grandfathered plans). That means over time, most noncompliant plans will become unsustainable, because their insurance pools will shrink. Eventually almost all businesses will be forced to change their insurance to the more expensive Obamacare-compliant plans.

At the same time, outside a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Arms and Influence in Syria: The Pitfalls of Greater U.S. Involvement

August 7, 2013 in Economics

In the midst of growing public wariness about large-scale foreign interventions, the Obama administration has decided to arm the Syrian rebels. A new paper from Erica D. Borghard argues that the Obama administration might be setting the stage for over-commitment in Syria. “There is a high risk that the decision to arm the Syrian rebels will drag the United States into a more extensive involvement later, the very scenario that the advocates for intervention claim they are trying to avoid,” says Borghard.

…read more