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EDITORIAL

Other Writers: Child support system claims innocent man

Other Writers

Child support system claims innocent man

Matt Welch in Reason: Carnell Alexander is not the father of the now-adult child for whom several courts, including the Wayne County Circuit Court this week, have ordered him to pay $30,000 in back child support for. How do we know he’s not the father? Because he took a DNA test proving the contrary, and even the mother (an ex-girlfriend) now says he’s not.

How is it possible in the Land of the Free that men can face huge fines, revocation of professional licenses, forfeiture of the right to international travel, and sometimes (as in Alexander’s case until this week) even jail time, from owing child support to kids that aren’t theirs? I wrote a feature about that 11 years ago, entitled “Injustice by Default.” Short version:

Governments (and sometimes even hospitals) are financially incentivized to attach paternity to the children of single mothers, particularly those seeking welfare benefits. Departments of Child Support Services will sometimes go on information as flimsy as “Dude with this name living in Southern California”; if a records search turns up only one dude, he will likely be mailed a court summons. That court summons will often be very confusingly written, so that the men don’t realize that they are just 30 days away from being declared the father via default judgment. Once you have been named the father, you owe all back child support (sometimes with interest), said support will be garnished from your wages, and it is devilishly hard to get your paternity undeclared, even with DNA proof and sworn affidavits from the mother.

The criminal justice system, in practice, can look an awful lot like an apparatus for shaking every last dime out of the pockets of the poor.

What ISIS really wants

Graeme Wood in the Atlantic:The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it.

Abolish the filibuster

Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post: I’ve been radicalized. By Harry Reid and President Barack Obama. Goodbye, moderation and sweet reason. No more clinging to constitutional and procedural restraint. It’s time to go nuclear.

In the fourth quarter of his presidency, Obama unbound is abusing presidential authority at will to secure a legacy on everything from environmental regulation to immigration, the laws of which he would unilaterally suspend. epublicans find themselves on the sidelines bleating plaintively about violations of the separation of powers. They thought they found an instrument of resistance in funding for the Department of Homeland Security. The House has funded the whole department except for the immigration service, which was denied the money to implement Obama’s executive amnesty.

But Democrats have filibustered the bill in the Senate, where it will die. And as the night follows day, Republicans, not the filibustering Democrats, will be blamed for shutting down DHS and jeopardizing the nation’s safety at a time of heightened international terrorism.

A nice cul-de-sac. But there is a way out for the GOP. Go bold. Go nuclear. Abolish the filibuster. Pass the bill and send it to the president.

A GOP resort to the nuclear option might make Democrats come to their senses and negotiate a new understanding that any fundamental change in Senate rules — e.g., altering the filibuster — will henceforth require some agreed-to supermajority. No more bare-majority party-line coups.