Based on some of my discussions with people who tend to support U.S. foreign policy in general and the drone policy in particular, there seems to be a lack of empathy for those who have been victims of errant bombs (I’m told these people “hate us for our freedoms”). I think sometimes we Americans have no idea what it must be like to live anywhere in the third world as opposed to a superpower. It’s difficult for me to imagine what it must be like to live any place the U.S. is hunting terrorists with soldiers or drones. Would I be worried that my friends or family might be killed by mistake?
This isn’t to say that the U.S. should not hunt terrorists, drones or otherwise, but I do think it’s time for a serious debate about when and how drones should be used. The drones in of themselves are not the problem, it’s the drone policy. What is the cost/benefit of using drones in targeting these people? Can this be done without harming innocent bystanders? Are drones being used when less destructive means are available? Is this policy counterproductive in “winning the hearts and minds” of people who might otherwise fight against Islamic fundamentalists?
The video clip below is from the testimony of one individual who has experienced the reality of U.S. drone policy first hand. Despite this, Farea al-Muslimi is otherwise grateful for his experiences with America, Americans, and American generosity. His heart and mind seems to be on the side of America. His testimony offers a perspective we would all do well to consider when thinking about these questions.
Yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released jobs number from the month of April, which found that the economy created 165,000 jobs — slightly more than the 150,000 jobs the economy needs to produce to keep up with population growth.
Employment rose by 165,000 jobs in April, according to the monthly economic report released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And unemployment dropped slightly from 7.6 to 7.5 percent—a minimal change, but one marking a steady, .4 percent drop since January. It’s the lowest unemployment rate in four years.
Employment increases were seen in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, retail trade and health care, according to the report.
The Labor Department also announced revised and more positive figures for February and March: Employment for February was revised from 268,000 to 332,000 jobs gained and for March from 88,000 to 138,000 jobs gained.
There’s definitely some good news there after years of lagging economic growth. But there are still some concerns about another economic slowdown. But it should be noted that the U-6 unemployment rate, which many call the true measure of the jobs picture, inched up to 13.9% from 13.8%. Reuters noted that the “details of the report remained consistent with a slowdown in economic activity.”
Earlier this week, Vice President Joe Biden pleaded with law enforcement officials to help the Obama Administration pass the Assault Weapons Ban, a measure that failed along with other gunn control measures last month in the Senate. This is apparantely a part of a new push for gun control measures that will be led by Biden, something that hasn’t discussed with President Obama:
Biden told a group of law enforcement officials Thursday that he is planning even more travel, with trips around the country to stump for a renewed push on expanded background checks and gun-trafficking laws that failed to pass the Senate last month.
But Biden volunteered that he “hasn’t really discussed” his plans with President Barack Obama and plans to lead the gun control charge on his own, according to two law enforcement officials who attended the meeting. The 90-minute meeting in Biden’s office was an attempt to move forward after the failed effort on background checks.
“He was talking like he was going to be leading it,” a person who was at the meeting said. “He didn’t mention any other senators in terms of leading the charge.”
Biden is going to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016. If he succeeds at passing gun control measures, Biden will have boosting himself on an issue that’s important to the Leftist base. But unless dynamics change in the Senate, the push for tighter gun control measures will ultimately fail — and it should fail.
Over the last few weeks, Democrats have become increasingly concerned that ObamaCare is driving up health insuance premiums in their states. One of the several promises (they’ve since become broken promises) that the Obama Administration made about the law was that it would keep insurance premiums down, making coverage more affordable. That just hasn’t happened.
Rochester, New York-based WHEC covered the anticipated 10% rise in premiums for the Empire States insured in 2014. “Some healthcare experts are warning that premiums could go up by more than 10% on January 1st when Obamacare kicks in across the country,” said WHEC’s Ray Levato. “This is on top of the annual increases we’ve seen in insurance premiums. It’s going to mean less money in your paycheck. Less money for groceries. Less for gas. Less for your family.”
Among the people they talked to for the story was Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who talked about the need for state regulators to “protect families.”
“Our Insurance Department is empowered to protect families and we’re going to watch them like a hawk to make sure they do,” he said. “Because if they don’t, these rates could go through the roof. It’s in part because of Obamacare but health care costs have been going up by double digits for years and years and years. The good news is in this bill there’s a way to stop it.”
Anyone who follows education on any level has probably heard the phrase “Common Core” regarding curriculum in their home state. They’ve probably also heard that there is some push back against it, though most don’t really understand what the issue really is.
It would be easy to assume that Common Core requires such controversial topics as anthropogenic global warming and gun control to be taught. Well, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Oh, it’s happening, but it doesn’t seem to be the fault of the cirriculum.
That’s not to say there aren’t problems.
The idea behind Common Core is a national standard for education. Basically, it’s an attempt to create a single, challenging standard that would raise the educational value of public school.
Common Core does create a single standard. It does appear to be genuinely challenging as well. So, what’s the problem?
Well, first, Common Core is really just a continuation of one of the biggest problems with traditional education, and that is the fact that it treats all students as identical. Even the name, Common Core, alludes to this fact.
Republican Tom McMillin, a Michigan lawmaker introduced a bill to repeal that’s state’s use of Common Core, said, “We don’t want our kids to be common. We want our kids in Michigan to be exceptional.” Since my home state of Georgia uses this standard, I can understand the sentiment.
Common Core also places and emphasis on how answers are acheived, rather than just getting it right. The argument appears to be that the process matters more in our technologically advanced world for whatever reason. I get the gist of the concept. I really do. Unfortunately, this continues to make the same assumption that all kids are the same.
Internet Analogies: Twice as Many Americans Lack Access to Public Water-Supply Systems than Fixed Broadband
After abandoning the “information superhighway” analogy for the Internet, net neutrality advocates began analogizing the Internet to waterworks. I’ve previously discussed the fundamental difference between infrastructure that distributes commodities (e.g., water) and the Internet, which distributes speech protected by the First Amendment – a difference that is alone sufficient to reject any notion that governments should own and control the infrastructure of the Internet. For those who remain unconvinced that the means of disseminating mass communications (e.g., Internet infrastructure) is protected by the First Amendment, however, there is another flaw in the waterworks analogy: If broadband Internet infrastructure had been built to the same extent as public water-supply systems, more than twice as many Americans would lack fixed broadband Internet access.
Rep. Paul Ryan’s big government leanings are shining through once again. The House Budget Committee Chairman and former Republican Vice Presidential nominee has endorsed the “concept” of the online sales tax, though he doesn’t specifically like Marketplace Fairness Act, which is the Senate’s version of the scheme:
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) supports the principle that online retailers should have to pay state sales taxes.
In an emailed statement to The Hill, Ryan clarified that he does not support the Senate’s legislation on the issue.
“It’s got to be done the right way. I think the legitimate concern is can it be used to do other forms of taxation or retroactive taxation? You have got to make sure it doesn’t do that. I don’t think the Senate bill is written in a tight enough way to do that,” Ryan said.
He added that it’s unfair for a local brick-and-mortar retailer to have to collect sales taxes when online competitors are exempt.
Throughout her campaign Elizabeth Colbert Busch has fashioned herself as a candidate devoid of any ties to a party or agenda. Despite her opponent, former governor Mark Sanford, insisting she holds an allegiance to the left, Mrs. Colbert Busch has remained steadfast in her approach. In a race replete with negative ads and the typical disdain for corruption, partisanship and business as usual, what has not been discussed is what actually defines an independent.
The appeal to the politically-homeless and disenfranchised is commonplace and to be expected; particularly in the current political climate where even head lice is more popular than Congress. Needless to say, appearing to be a rebuke against the establishment is more crucial now than ever. The primary goal of the Colbert Busch campaign has been to capitalize on this bourgeoning cynicism.
To her credit, Mrs. Colbert Busch drove this point home early in Tuesday’s debate saying, “I will take that tough, independent business woman—independent business career and I’ll go to Washington with the help of all of you.”
Sanford would question this statement early and question it often. Citing on several occasions the amount of funding Mrs. Colbert Busch had received from the Democratic left, he stressed his concern that such financial support would not come without expectations. To this she replied, “No one tells me what to do except the people of South Carolina’s 1st District.”
More than three years after it was signed into law, ObamaCare remains unpoplar with Americans, according to the latest tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Overall, the public remains as divided as ever when it comes to their overall evaluations of the health law,” stated the Kaiser Family Foundation, which does a monthly tracking poll of ObamaCare. “This month, 35 percent report a favorable view, 40 percent an unfavorable view, and a full 24 percent report they have no opinion on the law, continuing a recent trend of particularly high shares not offering an opinion.”
While it’s still vigorously defended by the Obama Administration, the poll notes that only 57% of Democrats have a favorable view of the law, which is low, while 67% of Republicans have an unfavorable view.
The poll also shows that a majority of Americans support efforts to alter or prevent ObamaCare. “In terms of the law’s political future, just over half of Americans (53 percent) continue to say that they approve of efforts by opponents to change or stop the law ‘so it has less impact on taxpayers, employers, and health care providers,’” noted the Kaiser Family Foundation. “One in three (including more than half of Democrats) believe that the law’s opponents should accept that it is the law of the land and stop trying to block its implementation, down somewhat from January (33 percent now compared to 40 percent at the start of the year).”
Interestingly, the poll found that some 40% of Americans don’t even know that ObamaCare is still law and still being implemented by the administration.
President Barack Obama has frequently claimed that he has no lobbyists working in his administration. But that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. In fact, the Obama Administration is filled with lobbyists. And with the appointment of Tom Wheeler to head the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees the communications and technology industries, it’s about to get another one.
Over at Reason, Peter Suderman explains that Wheeler, who will replace outgoing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, was a top bundler for both of Obama’s presidential campaigns and he appears to have interest in seeing the role of the FCC expanded, which isn’t a good sign: