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The Worst Argument Ever For Not Drafting Women

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 12:41 PM EST

I can't say that I've paid a lot of attention to the question of whether women should be required to register for the draft or allowed to serve on the front lines. There are, I'm sure, some good reasons to oppose allowing women in the infantry, but this sure isn't one of them:

Such a policy inverts natural law and the rules that have grounded our civilization for thousands of years. Men should protect women. They should not shelter behind mothers and daughters.

That's a National Review editorial. Not a personal opinion piece or a blog post. It's the official and carefully considered institutional view of the magazine. Did they invite Vladimir Putin to guest edit this issue, or what?

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Torture Is Having Another Star Turn

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 12:09 PM EST

From the "Fascinating Factlets" file:

The FCC, which regulates "indecent material" on broadcast radio and television, does not generally permit the word pussy to be aired between 6 am and 10 pm. That means that though a broadcaster can publish a story containing the word online, it can't do the same on its main network, which has a far broader reach.

So...it's fair game after 10 pm? This means that only night owls got to hear Donald Trump's latest bit of puerile insultmongering. Everyone else got the bleeped version, or perhaps no version at all because who needs the grief from pissed-off viewers? In any case, the key takeaway here isn't that Donald Trump called Ted Cruz a pussy. What else would you expect from Trump? The key takeaway is that he was mocking Cruz for not being gung-ho enough about waterboarding, and it was a huge crowd pleaser. The audience went completely gaga over Trump's fetishization of torture. If he had called for prisoners to be tortured on national TV—"Celebrity Interrogator" hosted by Dick Cheney, maybe—I think they might have expired on the spot from sheer bliss.

Marco Rubio Is Running for Panicker-in-Chief

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 11:34 AM EST
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio takes a sip of water during his Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in 2013. Rubio was widely mocked for awkwardly reaching for a water bottle in the middle of the high-profile speech.

McKay Coppins explains Marco Rubio to the rest of us:

To those who have known him longest, Rubio's flustered performance Saturday night fit perfectly with an all-too-familiar strain of his personality, one that his handlers and image-makers have labored for years to keep out of public view. Though generally seen as cool-headed and quick on his feet, Rubio is known to friends, allies, and advisers for a kind of incurable anxiousness—and an occasional propensity to panic in moments of crisis, both real and imagined.

…More than age, record, or wardrobe, it is Rubio's natural nervousness that makes him seem to so many who know him like he is swimming in his dad's sport coat…From the moment the 2010 primary turned negative, the candidate needed a fainting couch every time an attack was lobbed his way, his aides recalled to me.…When a state senator who was backing the governor referred to Rubio as a "slick package from Miami," he was aghast and ordered his aides to cry foul. Dog whistle! Anti-Cuban! Racist! When opponents accused Rubio of steering state funds toward Florida International University in exchange for a faculty job after he left office, he was indignant. Outrageous! Slander!

"He just lets these little things get to him, and he worries too much," a Miami Republican complained after spending close to an hour sitting next to Rubio on a flight as he fretted over a mildly critical process story about him in the National Journal. "I'm just like, ‘Marco, calm down.'"

Excellent! Rubio sounds like a great primary opponent to me. It should take the Clinton machine about 10 seconds to figure out how to turn him into a puddle of mush on the campaign trail. I think I might start rooting for him to get the nomination after all.

What It's Like to Wait Tables at Manchester's Most Popular Photo Op

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 10:54 AM EST

I just wanted some poutine. But when I showed up at Manchester's Chez Vachon, I had company. As a waitress explained to a curious diner, "It's Carly Fiorini!"

For the second day in a row, Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, crashed a diner:

She isn't the first candidate to stop by Chez Vachon looking for a few votes and some good photos. So many candidates have stopped by the iconic French-Canadian establishment that it's made life complicated for the people who work there. Donald Trump was there on Sunday. Bill and Hillary Clinton stopped in for breakfast on Monday.

Trump's visit was a "zoo," Jenna Desmarais, the manager, told me.

"They were nice and everything—they just had a really big entourage, really big," she said. "We didn't have any notice and so all of a sudden there’s people coming in the back door of the kitchen, there were people over here, state police shut down the road, they were trying to pat down our customers. It was really uncomfortable—like I had to tell them they couldn't do that, that's not okay."

It made it nearly impossible for everyone else to have breakfast. "I eventually had to find somebody and say, 'Listen I understand you guys are doing your job, but I gotta do mine,' and we couldn't even move. Couldn't even move! So they did. He's like, 'Let them get their pictures and kick everybody out.'"

The Clintons' visit was a lower-key affair, and in Desmarais' view, they were friendlier (although Trump did tip 50 percent). "They were very relaxed because they've been here before," Desmarais sadi. "She’s like, 'I'm definitely eating.'" (They both had veggie omelets; Hillary got a side of sausage. In case you were wondering.) "They seemed more interested in actual people than in just shaking hands."

So far, the only major candidate who hasn't stopped by Chez Vachon this election cycle is her favorite. "I'm actually a fan of Bernie," she said. But she's never met him. "He's the only one who hasn't been there!"

Here Are Your Final New Hampshire Poll Results Until 2020

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 10:34 AM EST

It's our first primary of 2016! To get you in the mood, here are the final Pollster aggregates for the Republican and Democratic races. Trump and Sanders both look like easy winners, so all the action is for second place. If Clinton pulls within 10 points, she'll probably declare victory and skedaddle down to South Carolina as fast as she can. The Republicans have a huge pileup in second place, so it should be quite the spectacle watching them all spin the results tonight.

Here's a Huge and Undercovered Obamacare Success Story

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 1:47 AM EST

I've mentioned this in passing a couple of times, but it really deserves a short post of its own. We've heard a lot about Obamacare not meeting the original enrollment projections published by the CBO in 2010, but those aren't the only projections that CBO published. They also predicted that Obamacare would lead to the loss of 8 million people from private insurance coverage by 2016.

But that didn't happen. Thanks to Obamacare's individual mandate spurring the purchase of individual coverage and its employer mandate spurring an increase in employer coverage, total private coverage increased by more than 16 million through the middle of 2015. The chart on the right tells the story. After four years of private coverage hovering around 61 percent of the population, it jumped up to 66 percent within the space of a single year.

Was this due to the economic recovery? Probably a bit of it. But the economy has been puttering along at about the same pace ever since 2012. The only thing that changed in the fourth quarter of 2013 was the introduction of Obamacare.

Bottom line: Obamacare may have missed CBO's target for exchange enrollment by 7 million or so, but much of this is because it beat CBO's target for private insurance by 24 million. This is great news all around since we'd always prefer having people insured by their employer rather than buying through the exchange. It's better coverage and it costs the taxpayers less. On any measure you can think of, this is a huge and undercovered success story.

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Bill Clinton Gives New Hampshire a Preview of What Comes Next

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 12:22 AM EST

On Sunday, former President Bill Clinton showed Bernie Sanders what happens when the big dog gets off the porch.

With Hillary Clinton in Flint, Michigan, to meet with the mayor about the city’s water crisis, the former president had the state to himself, and he gave the Vermont senator a piece of his mind. He mocked Sanders as unrooted from reality, joking, "When you're making a 'revolution,' you can't be too careful with the facts." Clinton referred to Sanders as "hermetically sealed." He called Bernie's supporters "sexist" and "profane" (a nod to the so-called "Bernie Bro" phenomenon) and reprised the mostly forgotten December scandal over Sanders' campaign accessing Clinton's voter data (for which Sanders apologized). "'I tried to loot information from the other guy's computer and I raised a million dollars out of it,'" Clinton said, offering his guess at what was going through Sanders' mind.

It was the most direct personal attack from either candidate's campaign this election cycle, two days before the primary. And by the next day, Bill Clinton appeared to have shaken the whole thing off. On Monday night in Hudson, joined by his daughter, Chelsea, a smattering of New Hampshire elected officials, Massachusetts Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, and Ted Danson (!), the former president offered a more subdued critique of the Vermont senator. Referring to his wife, he began his remarks by saying, "Sometimes when we're on a stage like this, I wish we weren't married, so I could say what I really want to say—and I don't mean that in a negative way." What he meant was that he had to self-censor his riffs for the good of the campaign. (Not that it has stopped him in the past.)

Instead, he offered an olive branch, or something like it, to the Sanders supporters he'd broadly characterized as "vicious" trolls on Sunday. "A lot of the young millennials think they'll never move out of their parents' house, never get a job that's worth having, never be able to change," Clinton said, before channeling a bit of Sanders' own stump speech. "If they want to start a small business they won't be able to get a loan. I get why a lot of people are mad. I get how frustrating it is, when most of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent, and 90 percent of them since I left office have gone to the top 10 percent. I get why people are upset when they hear the president tell the truth—the absolute truth—[that] we are the best-positioned country for the 21st-century, our economy is up over all the other big economies, but 84 percent of the people have not gotten a raise…I get it."

"The question is, what are you gonna do about it?" he continued. "And the one thing I really appreciate about New Hampshire is that here finally the dam broke in the polarization of the campaign and we actually began to be free to discuss who's got the better ideas."

Clinton, though, couldn't help getting taking another shot at Sanders' frequent invocations of the "establishment," suggesting that such a label unnecessarily tarred politicians who had put their careers on the line to vote for Obamacare, such as former Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor. ("Establishment" is a nebulous term, but Pryor, the son of former Arkansas governor and senator David Pryor, surely fits most definitions of it.)

There's an interesting dynamic between Hillary Clinton and Sanders that, if you go to a few events, you can pick up on. When Clinton takes the stage, she's following a group of well-known Democratic politicians or activists—Al Franken, Jeanne Shaheen, Lena Dunham, Bubba. When Bernie takes the stage, often enough it's just Bernie. And that's fine; he's leading in New Hampshire, something practically no one saw coming last spring. But in a fight like the one the Democratic primary is careening toward if Sanders wins big on Tuesday, it's good to have someone in your corner who can draw some blood. And Bill Clinton sounds like he's relishing a fight.

This Defense Of Marco Rubio Is So Stupid That I Can't Stop Laughing

| Mon Feb. 8, 2016 11:02 PM EST

Hello.

Marco Rubio keeps humorously repeating the same sound bites over and over again. It's hilarious.

It is not nearly as hilarious, however, as this tweet which falls nominally in the leave Marco alone camp.

Have a great night.

Marcobot Has Apparently Exceeded Its Rated Mean Time to Failure

| Mon Feb. 8, 2016 10:00 PM EST

Oh hell, now I'm just starting to feel sorry for Marco Rubio. The whole Marcobot thing has apparently made him so self-conscious that he can barely even recite his stump speech anymore without getting flustered. Here he is delivering a line about values being rammed down our throats right after he's just said it. There's an almost poignant moment at 0:26 when Rubio suddenly realizes what he's just done.

This reminds me of a Star Trek episode where Kirk uses some kind of sophomoric paradox to trick a computer into self destructing. That's about what Chris Christie seems to have done to Rubio.

Marco Rubio Just Experienced Another Malfunction

| Mon Feb. 8, 2016 9:39 PM EST

Marco Rubio is still trying live down the Rubio-bot meme that went viral after he repeated the same talking point four times during Saturday's debate (and was called out on it by Chris Christie). Well, at a town hall in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Tuesday night, Rubio experienced another malfunction. His face says it all.