Perhaps in the near future historians will compare Obama’s years to Jimmy Carter’s. Both inherited an economy that had been wracked by a crisis, and while the oil embargo of the 70’s may not have been quite as severe a crisis as the financial meltdown of 2008, the effect of the embargo on unemployment and inflation were even worse than the unemployment numbers in this slow grind out of the great recession. And inflation, for now, is very subdued, unlike in the late 70’s. Perhaps, then, Obama has had it easier than Carter in terms of the economy, but there is at least one big difference between these Obama years and the Carter years. It’s called Senator Ted Kennedy.

How badly the malevolently ambitious Massachusetts senator screwed over Carter’s presidency is a matter of debate, but it is not an inconsequential thing. He undermined the president at every opportunity, especially in foreign policy. His secret kissing up to the Soviets – yes it was Carter that planted a wet one on Brezhnev’s cheek – in cloaked communications with Moscow betrayed a posture even more progressive and pacifist than Carter’s. One shudders to think what the 80’s would have been like had Ted Kennedy won the nomination and, God forbid, the elections in 1980. He didn’t and Reagan changed the world in a few years.

Unlike Carter, Obama has no bogeyman lurking in the senate to blame for his foreign policy. But there is something else that separates him from Jimmy Carter. Obama isn’t a dove, he’s an internationalist who wants to reposition America on the world stage. Over there towards the left-hand-side exit a little more please. And his policies come straight from the White House, and his close circle of advisors like Samantha Power. Obama does not hold a naive view of Islamic radicalism. He grew up with Islam, albeit as a Christian, but one with as many Muslim roots as Christian ones. He knows and understands Islam. So his appeasement of Iran, for example, cannot be blamed on a scheming senator or a naive world view. His is a militant view as well, forged in the politically correct halls of progressive academia. And his attempts at a crisp no-nonsense midwest persona when justifying his foreign policy, betray a deep ambivalence on his part regarding not just America’s role in the world; but America’s identity itself. No, Obama is no Jimmy Carter.

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was the youngest-ever Baltimore City Council member when elected back in the mid-nineties. The now 45-year old lawyer and Baltimore mayor is currently – after rising quickly through the ranks of city politics – also Secretary of the DNC and Vice President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Her ambition has clearly staked out a promising path for her within the Democratic Party. She will now have to earn that path with the breakdown of law and order in her city of Baltimore. And her words this past weekend were not a big help to maintaining that law and order. “We also gave those that wished to destroy space to do that as well” she stated, apparently referring to the unholy trinity of members from 3 gangs who called a truce and who then ran rampage over parts of the downtown. Despite the police’s attempts to limit but not prohibit their acts of violence over the weekend. The gangs have been let out and they rampaged again and far more violently this Monday through parts of Baltimore, burning and looting.

The latest outbreak in urban violence has to do with the detention and death of Freddie Gray who died of multiple injuries, including a possibly severed spine, while detained in a van after running away from officers. Six officers have been suspended with an ongoing probe trying to sort out what happened in the van. So what looks like a case of possible police brutality now has it’s response in burning and looting and injured officers who can barely keep a semblance of order in parts of the city. Governor Larry Hogan (R) has called in the National Guard and Mayor Rawlings-Blake has imposed a 10 to 5 curfew. Baseball was cancelled, parents warned to keep their kids safe and at home and away form parts of the city, and CVS Health, the victim of some of the looting and burning, will be closing some stores in Baltimore. And as the news spread as quickly as a fire burning in a looted store, you can be sure that the world’s press is just as quickly heading to Baltimore (a relatively short drive from Washington DC for any correspondent) to broadcast and with sombre glee comment on the violence.

But something is clearly wrong. Was Eddie Gray an innocent? A criminal known to police? In either case, did police go stark raving mad in that van when confronted with an individual resisting arrest? A probe requires sober reflection on the facts, which themselves must be collected as objectively as possible. In the midst of another battle between black youth – many criminal in this case – and police that is a tall order. But once again, it is the only way out. Perhaps as well, Mayor Rawlings-Blake regrets her “space for violence” comment. For there can be no space for lawless violence – whether done by officers in a van, or by criminal gangs driving businesses out of the city of Baltimore.

No one could really question Bill Clinton’s seductive powers, even while casting a critical eye at his personal demons and the mess they led his presidency and his marriage into. No one can doubt that Hillary stood by her man, although the reasons seemed to be, and still seem to be, more about power than anything else. And what seems to be becoming more apparent with each passing week, is that Hillary Clinton has all the seductive powers of Richard Nixon. But Richard Nixon, sweaty forehead and all, gladly engaged with the press, duking it out to try and convince and to contain the damage that his electoral defeats produced in the early and mid 60’s. It was only later during his presidency that his tactics, fueled by the power of the office, became more cloaked and paranoid. Hillary has shared power with the then world’s most powerful politician. But now, despite the 2-for-1 First Lady, the Senate seat, and the Cabinet level experience, she has to seduce.

And when you barely meet the press, never mind engaging, the press goes looking for you. As in the New York Times, which has run several devastating lead stories in the past couple of months: the personal email address on a home server used for State Department business, and the troubling link between the Clinton’s foundation and donations from foreign “entities” in support of the foundation. Add a fistful of hard-hitting columns by the venerable Maureen Dowd, and you have Hillary practically under seige from a liberal paper in her adopted home town. The paper even has archived stories on Hillary Rodham Clinton – with a photograph of her trying to smile to be fair – for anyone who might want to dig up anything at all on her. So if Hillary is unwilling to engage with the media, the media will come looking for her regardless. One wonders whether it’s also her advisors who gently steer her away from any direct contact, perhaps thinking that a short-tempered crusty veteran who does not suffer anyone she thinks is a fool gladly, is not the best public persona to win the presidential race. Will Hillary be able to pluck the slings and arrows of perceived outrages from her public self, and present to the country her vision for the future? Or will her appearances be full of coded – and not so coded – counter attacks over past battles? The culture wars are still very much with us, but anyone hoping to walk into the oval office in early 2017 will have to offer a vision that transcends those cultural wars, even as they wage them effectively and convincingly. Is Hillary capable of that?

There is no leader in the GOP race. If you define leader as a clear favorite who stands out against the rest of the field. The star is the race itself. Right now, Marco Rubio is just ahead of Scott Walker at 13% to 12%. And Rand Paul is doing surprisingly well in third place with 10%. This is according to the just released Fox poll results. Jeb Bush has slipped to 4th spot which he shares with Mike Huckabee with both getting 9%. And Ted Cruz is sitting not-too-pretty in 5th spot with 8%.

To be fair to the beaming candidate from South Florida, Rubio tracks at 15% in the Quinnipiac University poll, one which polls Republicans nationally and is likely a better indicator of how a GOP candidate is doing among party voters. As Rubio gains traction in the tightest nomination race in recent history – so far at least – maybe his optimistic message is being heard and held to heart by an increasing number of voters. And what the Fox poll does show is that maybe, as Barbara Bush herself said and then retracted later, maybe we’ve had enough Bushes in the White House. At least for now the Bush dynasty is seen as a negative by voters. How Jeb Bush officially launches his campaign will matter more than it did when he began seriously preparing for a run late last year. Jeb now has to show he’s a man for the future and not one burdened by his family’s past, even as his brother and father remain popular figures among Republicans. And he will have to do it with a former protege of his leading the field. Maybe Jeb is patient and steady in a way the media and voters are no longer accustomed to. Or maybe Jeb is still not quite aware of how much the world has changed, even in the 7 years since his brother last held office.

Back in August of 2014, Jeb Bush wrote a piece in Gulfshore Life on the things he loves about Florida. It was a list that could be the planks of his platform, to use an old-fashioned turn of phrase. Diversity, Technology as in NASA, the Environment, Defense and Patriotism, Entrepreneurship and low Taxes, International Trade, Education, Sports, and local attractions of the sunshine state, all made the list of glowing tributes to his adopted state. As an individual, Jeb Bush is more conservative than his views on immigration might suggest, and this list seems to suggest that. But his views on immigration and education will have to be placed front and center on any platform he brings before America. And he will have to defend his choices in front of GOP conservative voters who doubt his credentials. Will waiting to announce make it any easier for Jeb Bush to accomplish this?

If you head just about due east inland from Salinas, California you will come to Kerman. And in Kerman, California you may run into raisin farmer Marvin Horne. Marvin has been battling the Federal Government, with capital letters, over a WW II era regulation that established the Raisin Administrative Committee. The RAC is Fresno-based, just east of Kerman, and is tasked with taking a percentage of farmer’s raisin crops in order to manage supply, as only a government agency can. According to the Washington Post it’s selling of its accumulated raisin hoard generated $65 million recently.So the agency is pleased to continue to do business it seems and raisin farmers have to hand over their tithes, just like the olden days. Marvin had enough of this archaic highway robbery in 2002 and has been battling the Raisin Administrative Committee ever since. He now owes nearly 3/4 of a million dollars in fines and about 1.2 million pounds of raisins to the RAC. His case will soon be heard by 9th Circuit, (thanks to the Supreme Court), which will decide if he is justly protesting a law which is unconstitutional. If he loses, he goes bankrupt.

In the detailed Washington Post story, not a word about Salinas, California, and the obvious pun that hangs from the vine waiting to be plucked. What Salinas native Steinbeck would have thought of Marvin Horne’s battle with the federal government and whether he would have penned a short novel on the matter is, of course, unknowable. We do know that Steinbeck went from being a communist supporter in the 1930’s to offering his services to the CIA in the early 50’s. And he headed to the White House in 1966 with his active-duty, enlisted son to meet his friend LBJ. So his views evolved from those he held back in the dirty thirties, if you will. Like Ronald Reagan’s views did as well, although Reagan’s brush with communism seems to have been far more brief than Steinbeck’s. So Steinbeck changed, and President Reagan changed his views and decades later helped bring communism to its knees. Maybe it’s time that raisin farmers brought supply management to its knees in California. With a little help form the 9th Circuit. And maybe raisins priced by the market will actually sell better. With no literary puns necessary.

Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Ted Poe (R-Texas) are essentially accusing the ATF of racism with their FIREARM Act. The ATF, it turns out, asks information on race in the paperwork a gun buyer has to fill out, and it is a troubling accusation. But one sees more than a few ridiculous questions in the questions asked in Form 4473. “Are you a fugitive from justice?”, “Are you an alien illegally in the United States?” are two examples. Maybe, just maybe, a really dumb buyer who is also a criminal or illegal, answered yes to those questions. Maybe the criminal didn’t fill out a form in a licensed dealer’s store when he bought his weapon in a back alley from a fellow drug dealer, say.

How long has this been going on? Quite a while in fact. Since 1968. The way the game works is the store owners keep the buyer profile – is there any other way to describe this information other than profiling? – on file in case that information needs to be used in an investigation. If the store owner fails to comply, they could be shut down. So the ATF gets the gun dealerships to act as an outsourced bureaucracy charged with maintaining an on-demand data base. And it all started in a year marked by riots and other political violence, some of it race-based. From the other side of the aisle, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) told The Hill that “there is a limited place for race and ethnic data in situations that don’t infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens.” That’s a measured response to profiling on something as important, and yes controversial, as Second Amendment Rights. Does the ATF really need to keep those questions on Form 4473? And will other voices from Senator Booker’s side of the aisle also speak up on this issue?

Is Judicial Watch’s report that ISIS is on the ground south of the US-Mexican border and actively sending terrorists into the USA accurate? It appears to be based on two confidential sources, both Mexican. One is a Mexican Army field grade officer, and the other is a Mexican Federal Police Inspector. The area involved is near El Paso, and in the Juarez cartel’s territory. Given the nature of the sources, it would be difficult at best to able to state definitively that the information that cartel coyotes are helping to move ISIS terrorists across the border and that possible areas of interest run from universities to government facilities, to electrical power stations, to even the White Sands missile facilities, is accurate.

But the question isn’t to what exact degree is the information accurate. The question is how much of a handle do military, border, and other law enforcement agencies, in conjunction with national intelligence agencies, have on this possible threat? Because when you combine this news with the arrest of two Army reservists in Southern California – detained for selling weapons to an agent posing as a drug cartel member – you have a deeply troubling situation. In Mexico, drug cartels don’t fight for control of the trade, they fight for control of whole states, like Guerrero or Chihuahua. In large swaths of territory trying to determine where the cartel ends and where the state government begins is impossible. And the Mexican military and police are square in the middle of this holy mess. But Mexico signed NAFTA and has been a member of the OECD since they joined NAFTA. So you can’t call Mexico a failed state or a narco-state because we don’t have those as members of the OECD do we? And if and when a terrorist attack occurs within America and is traced back to ISIS terrorists who infiltrated the nation through the southern border, it won’t be possible to say that the US has a little Syria in it’s backyard will it? Because those kind of analogies only apply to failed states collapsing under the weight of drugs and terror.

Well, it’s official. Hillary Clinton has officially announces she’s running for President. In a two minute video concluded by “I am running for president.”

While the Democratic race is still unknown with who will run against Hillary, they better hope it’s someone…but not Joe Biden. Hillary’s beating a dead horse with her campaign, and it could definitely hurt the chances of Democrat remaining in the White House. She’s old news. Democrats didn’t want her in 2008, and after all of the shady business she’s been up to in the past 8 years, it’s doubtful she’ll succeed in an election. But that all depends on who she’s running against.

The idea of the first female President is an exciting one because there are smart women who could potentially be a great President of the United States. Using Hillary to fill that role is a horrible idea.

Chuck Norris has said it best, “Not only would her presidency be “Obama, the Sequel,” but she would be an unbridled, more powerful, mega-wealthy, powder-keg Obama personality.”

Progressives don’t even want to see Hillary in the White House. It will be interesting to see how the race for the Democratic Primary turn out, but now is the time for the GOP to get in gear because a fresh face is great leverage in this election.

Here’s the video of Hillary’s announcement:

Let the fun begin, where we not get to hear every little bit of dirt that can possibly be dug up by politicians. Although he hasn’t formally announce his presidential candidacy, he’s not exempt from having his dirty laundry aired. According to Miami-Dade County Elections Department, Bush identified himself as Hispanic on his voter registration. Could it have been a mistake? Yes.

On the other hand, the former Governor of Florida is fluent in Spanish and it’s well known that he is favored by Hispanics because of his position in regards to immigration. In all honestly, this isn’t going to hinder Jeb Bush’s potential campaign, it will likely enhance it because he identifies with Hispanics. A large demographic that Republicans didn’t have in their corner in previous elections.

Bush’s wife is from Mexico and they have three children, who are hispanic, therefore 80% of his family is Hispanic. Is it incorrect for him to identify with his family? He obviously knows that he is not Hispanic, but it’s also not an offensive or a horrible mistake he made on his voter registration.

Rand Paul is Officially a Republican Candidate

Today, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky made his official announcement of his candidacy for the 2016 Presidential election. While Paul hasn’t been a front-runner of GOP candidates for President, he is making a push for the job. Why is he running? “I have a vision for America. I want to be part of a return to prosperity, a true economic boom that lists all Americans, a return to a government restrained by the Constitution,” Sen. Paul explained.

While Gov. Jeb Bush seems to have favoritism with the Latin vote because of his immigration policy position, Sen. Paul will have votes closer to center for his fight to defend the Constitution. There are Democrats who will lean toward a Paul vote, even for GOP, because it’s different than now. The “Washington machine” which Paul says, “That’s not who I am.”

When it comes to spending, “Big government and debt doubled under a Republican administration. And it’s now tripling under Barack Obama’s watch. President Obama is on course to add more debt than all of the previous presidents combined,” he said in his announcement. “America and freedom are so intertwined that people literally are dying to come here. The freedom we have fostered in America have unleashed genius and advancement like never before,” Paul says.

His plan for American employment lowers taxes on businesses that choose to bring their jobs back to Americans affording them to pay Americans’ wages. Sen. Paul is a Republican, but it seems that he and his father choose right because they had to choose something other than center. Will that hinder his campaign or will it be exactly what American voters have been hoping for. What are the chances for Paul vs. Bush?

Believe it or not, some college students are still virgins. Perhaps some feel shameful and hide the fact. Perhaps because of faith, especially at religious schools, they proclaim it loud and proud. However, 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 exists. 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 comedy movies. And the alcohol-fueled, clumsy, ritual lends to that comedy unfortunately. This ritual can turn tragic very easily, or worse. We now live in a world where College Campuses teeter between false accusations of rape and legitimate assualts. Rape is clearly the worst crime, and a horrific crime, but false accusations muddy the waters and destroy people’s lives.

This all comes to mind in considering Peter Yu’s case at Vassar, a college from which the brilliant student, and accomplished athlete, was expelled, accused of sexual assault against the (anonymous) daughter of a Vassar professor. The incident around which all this revolves involved a team party, where of course there was alcohol. It continues with two students ending up back at a dorm room, both at least somewhat intoxicated, and Peter Yu losing his virginity while his roommate walked in on them and quickly retreated to go walk the halls or do anything until he could safely return and crash. A scene that has been repeated countless times over the years in campuses around America. For some grown ups, it is a fond memory, for others it makes them blush with an embarrassed grin. For some, it evokes a “I can’t believe I was that dumb” response. For others, specifically the authorities at Vassar and the accuser, it was rape.

To answer that question, in a legal sense, and yes in a moral sense as well, you need due process. And Peter Yu has clearly been denied that due process, at least until now. The evidence, or at least some available bits of information that might point to the actual evidence, suggest the anonymous daughter may have seduced the geeky virgin rower. A series of what seem to be friendly Facebook conversations after the incident give that impression. And they also suggest the anonymous daughter wants to keep the geek well away from her, perhaps having regretted the drunken sex. A year after the fact, she decided the sex was not consensual – it is implied she was too drunk to give consent – and Yu ended up expelled. Yu’s sought to reverse the decision and his treatment in the courts so far has not given much hope for his case. In fact, a judge involved essentially said that Vassar as a private university does not have to follow due process. American campuses remain balanced between the danger of violent sex on the one hand, and the terror of false accusations of rape on the other. All against a background of a flood of sexual information, from earnestly explicit sex-ed to easily available porn for any kid who wants it. God help the geeky campus virgin who gets seduced by the wrong girl. God help the tragic victims of rape, one of the worse forms of violence. A judiciary that is severely rigorous in applying due process is the only way out of this mess.

According to a study by Boston University back in 2012, patent trolls and their lawsuits cost almost $30 billion. Both Democrats and Republicans agree it’s a dilemma, but finding a solution to a scourge that affects small businesses as well as large corporations is proving to be difficult, and nearly 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.

Every step of the way of the legislative process that has had such perverse consequences one runs up against the presence of Senator Leahy. The veteran Vermont Democrat who helped craft the America Invents Act back in 2011, a bill that changed the patent process from a so-called “first-to-invent” to a “first-inventor-to-file” process, one which critics say favors large corporations with expensive legal help that is unavailable to smaller businesses. And patent trolls have become increasingly active since Leahy’s bill became effective in September of that year. While proponents of the legislation claimed that it simplified the process, the actual cost to small business was not really considered.

In May 2014, Leahy took the latest legislative bill to try and reform the patent system, the Innovation Act, off the agenda of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It had garnered broad support in the House, but Leahy didn’t like several of it’s provisions, including one that would have required that the loser in a patent case pay for the winner’s legal bills. That would have been an effective hurdle for many patent trolls and would have forced them to reconsider launching their predatory lawsuits – whose only objective is to win a quick cash settlement out of court – in the first place. But, no. Leahy prefers to do things his way and he let the legislation die.

Now, patent trolls have gone international. Could you expect it any other way? America innovates, (even when the innovation in fact crushes independent inventors and small business), and the world follows. And who better than France? France Brevets, is a well-funded international troll that targets American companies for the benefit of French ones. And other international trolls are getting involved as well. Patent trolls are now part of neo-mercantilist policies of European and Asian governments. Like the buccaneers sailing the seas in search of treasure-laden vessels, we now have patent trolls complementing the industrial espionage efforts of foreign governments. Thank you Senator Leahy. Your wisdom has prevailed.

The Way We Fathers Binged

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Filed Under Latest News on Apr 1 

Thank you Britain for your cakes and ale. Or breakfast and ale. Or ale with anything, especially more ale or simply more booze. And thank you for the more recent phenomenon of binge drinking that has found fertile soil on college campuses in America. Kids die every year from alcohol related poisoning, and many more are victims of violence and rape fueled in part by alcohol. Prohibition, of course, was a disaster, and should not be on any serious list of recommendations for the problem of binge drinking in American Colleges. Specifically what is called pre-gaming: downing as much alcohol as you can in a couple of hours and seeing how sick you can get on one of many campuses across the land.

This is a nightmare in waiting for any parent sending their kids to college, but how serious a problem is alcohol abuse in America? At least compared to the rest of the world. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and yes the UK, all have higher levels of alcohol consumption according to the World Health Organization’s 2014 survey of alcohol patterns of consumption around the globe. And Eastern Europe is truly a disaster. But that does not excuse any reasonable concern over binge drinking on campuses. A concerned parent wrote in an editorial in the Washington Examiner that US News should include stats on binge drinking in their influential college ranking survey. It’s a provocative idea, but one that US News and other ranking systems seem loath to adopt for the fear of offending students hell-bent on partying. In Europe and the Americas the proportion of males, in general, who engage in episodes of heavy drinking, according to the WHO study, is an astonishing 31% and 29%. That’s nearly a third of all males, and is 2 and 1/2 times higher than the rates for females. A Harvard survey apparently put the percentage at 44% for college students at 120 campuses surveyed. That means that campus binge drinking is a more concentrated version of a general and accepted, if lamented, social trend. Specific restrictions in any given school may help, but the problem is far wider than kids getting wasted at their university. Abstinence, perhaps motivated by faith, can do wonders but so far at least, it has not solved the problem on a wider scale. Education is a slow and frustrating path and works when a clear majority agree that there is a problem. Maybe that should be the first step. For fathers, for example, to admit the way we behaved with booze while getting our degrees was not the smartest thing in the world. And that we fathers, without any martyr-like theatrics, should admit that we are part of a problem that does, in fact, exist.