October 21, 2014

THE FEDERALIST SOCIETY responds to Cathy Young. “We appreciate Ms. Young’s contributions to the public debate on these questions. But based on feedback from Federalist Society student chapter members who had invited her because they were eager to hear her point of view, at the present time we are opting to recommend other individuals (who share Young’s basic perspective) to debate and speak about these issues.”

I GUESS OBAMA HAS GONE RACIST: DHS requires West Africa travelers to arrive at five airports.

IN THE MAIL: From Alexander Watson, Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Little Giant Adjustable Step Ladder, $168.00 (44% off).

And, also today only: “Hill Street Blues,” The Complete Series, $79.99 (60% off).

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 530.

SHIKHA DALMIA: The Left’s Creeping Totalitarianism on Affirmative Consent; Depriving men of their due process rights won’t help women. I’d say it’s more galloping than “creeping.”

OBAMA’S HOME TOWN: Chicagoland voting machine casts candidate’s vote for his Dem opponent.

Admitting his confidence in Cook County ballot integrity is shaken, State Representative Candidate Jim Moynihan (R-56), was shocked today when he tried to cast a vote for himself and the voting machine cast it for his opponent instead.

“While early voting at the Schaumburg Public Library today, I tried to cast a vote for myself and instead it cast the vote for my opponent,” said Moynihan. “You could imagine my surprise as the same thing happened with a number of races when I tried to vote for a Republican and the machine registered a vote for a Democrat.”

While using a touch screen voting machine in Schaumburg, Moynihan voted for several races on the ballot, only to find that whenever he voted for a Republican candidate, the machine registered the vote for a Democrat in the same race. He notified the election judge at his polling place and demonstrated that it continued to cast a vote for the opposing candidate’s party. Moynihan was eventually allowed to vote for Republican candidates, including his own race. It is unknown if the machine in question (#008958) has been removed from service or is still in operation.

Hmm. Well, that’s why I’ve been pushing paper ballots since 2002. Not that the Chicago crowd couldn’t cheat with them, too. . . .

UPDATE: Illinois poll workers break law, tell Obama to “vote Democrat.”


[Sorious] Samura, a television journalist originally from Sierra Leone, said the Liberian authorities appeared to be deliberately downplaying the true number of cases, for fear of increasing alarm in the west African country.

“People are dying in greater numbers than we know, according to MSF [Médecins sans Frontières] and WHO officials. Certain departments are refusing to give them the figures – because the lower it is, the more peace of mind they can give people. The truth is that it is still not under control.” [...]

Samura believes sexual promiscuity among westerners could play a role in the virus’s spread abroad. Almost immediately after the outbreak was reported in March, Liberia’s health minister warned people to stop having sex because the virus was spread via bodily fluids as well as kissing.“I saw westerners in nightclubs, on beaches, guys picking up prostitutes,” he said. “Westerners who ought to know better are going to nightclubs and partying and dancing. It beggars belief. It’s scary.”

Plus: “If true, Ebola may not come to the West via Liberian or other West African citizens, but from returning aid workers, tourists, business people and others. . . . It’s much too soon to tell what the course of the Ebola epidemic will be, but so far it has to be said that Ebola has been easier to catch and harder to contain than officials everywhere have anticipated.”

AIRBRUSHING: White House Deletes Obama’s ‘Unpaid Bills’ Admission from Transcript.

GOOD NEWS: Hero Carries Man Out Of Burning Building In Fresno, Calif., Then Vanishes. “The video shows the man walk into the smoke and flames. At one point, a crash or explosion sends other would-be rescuers fleeing, but not the hero, who emerges from the blaze with the 73-year-old man draped over his shoulder.”

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Massachusetts “Ratepayer Advocate” Martha Coakley Took Utility Donations. “Attorney General Martha Coakley, charged with protecting ratepayers against utility company price gouging, held two gubernatorial campaign fundraisers hosted by National Grid’s lobbyist this year and accepted donations from the utility’s top executives right before they socked it to ratepayers with big hikes in electric bills.”

JOEL KOTKIN: Democrats Move Left.

Much has been written about the right-ward shift of the Republican Party, but far less about a mounting left-wing movement among Democrats. While the media tends to dismiss the right-wingers of the GOP as “wingnuts,” it typically refrains from categorizing even the extreme left of the Democratic Party in a similar manner.

President Barack Obama has accelerated this leftward trend in two ways. First, his administration, particularly in contrast to that of former President Bill Clinton, has laid the rhetorical basis for a move to the left by shifting the party agenda on social, environmental and economic policies. Clinton may have declared that “the era of big government is over,” but under Obama an ever-expanding federal government has become the essential raison d’être for the party.

Yet if Obama’s soaring rhetoric set the stage, his weak record of achievement has sparked mounting concern among left-leaning activists. Obama’s success has hinged in part on the far-left portions of the party controlling their more-fevered passions, particularly about ever-increasing income inequality and bans on fossil fuel use.

But now many on the political left are openly critical of the president, notably for his close ties to the moguls of Wall Street and Silicon Valley. These moguls have been the predominant beneficiaries of his economic policies while middle-class incomes have continued to languish – and even fall.

Hey, they don’t call him President Goldman Sachs for nothing.

NO TARGET IS TOO SMALL for Wisconsin’s Deep State. The only reason the election is close is because of abuses of power targeting Walker donors and supporters.

TRANSPARENCY: Obama’s New Ebola Czar Refuses To Testify.

The White House’s new Ebola czar will not testify before lawmakers Friday on the U.S. response to the epidemic.

Ron Klain, a Democratic operative, was named as the Obama administration’s point man on Ebola last Friday and will assume the job Wednesday.

Two days after that, the House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on the government’s Ebola response, with Klain among those invited to testify.

The White House declined the invitation on Monday, according to a source close to the back-and-forth.

To be fair, he’ll have only been on the job 48 hours, though that itself raises questions about the White House’s seriousness.

UPDATE: Hey, we’ve gone five whole days without a new Ebola case! Success already!

A “SMART DIPLOMACY” RETROSPECTIVE: Gaddafi died 3 years ago. Would Libya be better off if he hadn’t?

SURE LOOKS LIKE IT: Michael Barone: Does the end of history result in political decay? “The bottom line is that good things (stable government, lack of defeat in war or major economic collapse) tend to produce bad things (decay of bureaucratic institutions, capture of regulators by the regulated, protracted litigation over needed projects and changes). And conservatives’ lament that a government that tries to do too many things ends up doing none of them well rings true.” More and more, lately.

PROF. MARK PERRY DOES THE MATH: If only 12% of campus sexual assaults get reported, then only 1 in 32 women at Ohio State are sexually assaulted, not 1 in 5.

And bear in mind, “sexual assault” is a far more diluted term than rape.

REPUBLICANS SHOULD PUSH THIS ISSUE: 70% of Americans Favor Making Birth Control Pills and Patches Over-the-Counter.

UPDATE: In the comments, people point out the hazards of hormonal birth control as a reason for regulation. Yeah, but doctors pass these out like candy now, with no oversight that you wouldn’t get with a blister-pack at Walgreen’s.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Public university offers ‘breakup training.’

HISTORY DOESN’T REPEAT BUT IT RHYMES: Biden Cocaine Scandal Mirrors Joe McCarthy Scandal:

Evidently there was an effort, successful for eight months, to conceal this curious episode. But while the attempted cover-up is, perhaps, understandable from Vice President Biden’s perspective, the real scandal here is not Hunter Biden’s cocaine use, or his father’s protection of an errant son, but the fact that Hunter Biden was commissioned in the naval reserve in the first place.

A year-and-a-half ago, Biden was selected for a direct commission in the Navy under a program that allows certain civilians, with no prior military service, to receive a “limited-duty” reserve commission after attending a brief course in military etiquette, drill, and history instead of boot camp. Such commissions are usually offered to non-combatant candidates with special qualifications or particular skills: In 1980, for example, Sen. Gary Hart became a lieutenant commander in the naval reserve at the age of 44. . . .

A more instructive parallel, however, might be to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, of all people. When one of McCarthy’s Senate aides, G. David Schine, was drafted into the Army and sent to basic training at Ft. Monmouth, N.J., Roy Cohn, another McCarthy aide and reputedly Schine’s lover, intervened persistently to obtain an officer’s commission for Schine. When the Army protested about repeated threats and interference from the senator’s office, McCarthy charged that the Army was attempting to retaliate against his investigations into communist subversion in the armed forces. The televised hearings that were held during April-June 1954 to investigate the matter — the famous Army-McCarthy hearings — not only revealed that McCarthy and his staff had repeatedly wielded their influence on behalf of Schine, but had done so despite Schine’s complete lack of qualifications for an officer’s commission.

The differences between Joseph McCarthy and Joseph Biden are self-evident, of course. But just as the effort to make G. David Schine an Army officer taught the country something about Senator McCarthy, so the brief, inglorious naval career of Hunter Biden tells us something about Vice President Biden — and the culture of entitlement in political Washington that has tarnished the Navy.


TRANSPARENCY: Ebola Czar Vanishes from Democracy Alliance Website; Ron Klain no longer listed as a trustee for Third Way.

Third Way, a progressive think tank with ties to the Democracy Alliance, has removed newly appointed Ebola czar Ron Klain from its website, following a Washington Free Beacon report.

The Free Beacon reported Friday on Klain’s status as a trustee for Third Way, and his past experience lobbying on behalf of a drug company that was accused of denying life-saving drugs to dying cancer patients.

Good practice for the Ebola Death Panels, I guess.

October 20, 2014

EBOLA: Why The Guard And Reserve? Why Now?

I THINK TED CRUZ IS SECRETLY RUNNING HER CAMPAIGN: Wendy Davis Wants To Know If Greg Abbott, Whose Wife Is Mexican-American, Supports A Ban On Interracial Marriage. “Her last-ditch ad with the empty wheelchair didn’t turn out very well among sane people, so now she’s falling back to the last-last-ditch: racism.” Democrats used to use racial fearmongering to get white voters to turn out. Now they use racial fearmongering to get black voters to turn out. Not much else has changed. . . .

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Also, the Kindle Daily Deal.

PUNCHING BACK TWICE AS HARD: Former UH students sue school over sex assault investigation.

Two former University of Houston students. expelled in connection with an alleged sexual assault on campus, are suing the school and two administrators, claiming they were denied due process in the investigation and administrative hearings.

The lawsuit calls into question the pressure universities face to crack down on campus sexual assault. The plaintiffs claim they were kept in the dark about the investigation and given little chance to defend themselves.

UH officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the suit.

According to the lawsuit, Ryan McConnell, a former UH student, went drinking at the Den, a campus bar, on Nov. 19, 2011. While there, he met a female student, and the two ended up kissing, then going back to McConnell’s room at the Calhoun Lofts together. There the two, heavily intoxicated, according to the lawsuit, had sex and fell asleep naked on the floor.

McConnell’s girlfriend, Natalie Plummer, came home to find the two on the floor. Plummer made a video recording of the two “because she was mad that McConnell was cheating on her and wanted to be able to confront him about his behavior later,” the lawsuit said.

Plummer led the female student into the hallway and to the elevator, where she recorded her again, according to the lawsuit. The female student was found naked in the elevator by other students and UH police were called.

According to the lawsuit, UH police, along with the prosecutor, determined there was insufficient evidence that any criminal conduct occurred, in part because “the Female UH Student ‘has no memory’ of the incident.”

Plummer posted a photo of the incident on Facebook and later deleted it, and also shared the two videos with a friend. The videos later ended up in the hands of the Harris County Sheriff’s office.

Three months later, the student filed a complaint with the university against McConnell, saying she believed she was a victim of sexual assault.

Three months later.

THE SMELL OF DESPERATION: Pro-Hagan Flier Uses Lynching Image, Warns Of ‘Obama’s Impeachment’ If Democrat Loses.

WOW, YET ANOTHER DEMOCRAT FLIPS, BECOMES RACIST: Cuomo changes course on travel ban. “Goveror Andrew Cuomo now says the federal government ‘should seriously consider’ a ban on flights from West Africa, a call at odds with most public health officials, the White House and his own past statements. On Thursday, during a press conference to discuss the state’s Ebola readiness, Cuomo was dismissive of the suggestion that flights be banned, something his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino, said is necessary.”

That sudden a flip means they polled the old position over the weekend, and the results were dreadful.

IT’S NOT CLEAR TO ME THAT THE WHITE HOUSE IS SUFFERING FROM A VAGINA SHORTAGE AT THE MOMENT: “What is the case for Hillary…? It boils down… She has experience, she’s a woman, and it’s her turn.”

REASON TV: Shake it Off: Obama Version (w/ Remy).

WE DON’T WANT NUMBERS THAT MIGHT HURT THE NARRATIVE: White House Mandated Campus Climate Surveys Likely To Ignore Male Victims. “Note how they define sexual intercourse above. Apparently men can’t have sexual intercourse.”

SHOCKER: Vegetarians Have Much Lower Sperm Counts. “Vegetarians and vegans had significantly lower sperm counts compared with meat eaters, 50 million sperm per ml compared with 70 million per ml. They also had lower average sperm motility – the number of sperm which are active. Only one third of sperm were active for vegetarians and vegans compared with nearly 60 per cent for meat eaters.”

NBC NEWS: U.S. Doctor Catches Ebola And Recovers From It Without Anyone Knowing. “An American doctor infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone last month has gone quietly home after spending six weeks at Emory University’s special biocontainment unit, the hospital said Monday. The doctor, who has asked not to be named for now, was working for the World Health Organization when he was infected.” So, wait, he was infected six weeks ago?

That inspires confidence. Are there any other Ebola patients we haven’t been told about?

A RETURN TO SANITY IN AUSTRALIA? Girls leading way in new gun trend as parents tell anti-gun lobby to back off. The anti-gun people seem to be arguing that since their own kids are idiots, so are other people’s.

HMM: MIT Wristband Could Make AC Obsolete. “Why heat or cool a building when you could heat or cool a person?”

Compare with the Stanford Glove.

UPDATE: Is the Stanford Glove just hype? Thanks to Tom Maguire for the reference.

A POSSIBLE Isis Terror Attack in Canada?

SURVEILLANCE CAMERA RECORDS BALLOT BOX STUFFING IN MARICOPA COUNTY. I believe the traditional remedy for this sort of thing was to beat the offender senseless, then dump him off in front of his party headquarters. Are we going back to those times? ‘Cause I kinda prefer the more civil approach.

FORBES: #GamerGate Is Not A Hate Group, It’s A Consumer Movement.

Related: #GamerGate Makes the Left Uncomfortable Because Gamer Gaters Have Adopted the Left’s Tactics. “At the risk of engaging in some questionable psychoanalysis, allow me to suggest that one of the reasons the left is so disturbed by the rise of #GamerGate is that this is the first time in many years that these self-proclaimed Social Justice Warriors have met any sort of organized pushback. And they find it doubly infuriating to see the tools they have used so successfully—the Twitter mob, the email campaign, the claims of grievance—turned against them. This is why you see Whedon et al resorting to dull ad hominem. “#GamerGate is a hate group” is an easy slogan, one that can be used to intimidate media outlets trying to give the story fair coverage. Time will tell if the tactic works.”

FITBIT UPDATE: Fitbit Says It Will Make Changes to Address Complaints About Allergic Reactions.


Do tell.

SO MANY DEMOCRATS ARE SUDDENLY TURNING RACIST: Jeanne Shaheen Flips, Endorses Ebola Travel Ban.

A FUEL-MILEAGE CHALLENGE: The 2015 Audi A3 TDI. “The goal? Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Coronado, California, on one tank of diesel. That’s a distance of 834 miles.”

Well, I got that kind of range out of the A8L TDI, which is a much bigger car. On the other hand, it also has a bigger tank.

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Plus, deals on Hoover cordless vacs.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO LIE ABOUT RAPE! (CONT’D): Woman claims she was sexually assaulted, admits it didn’t happen. “This brings up a difficult question: What would it take for an accuser to be charged with filing a false report?”

UPDATE: Tom Maguire looks at claims that women don’t lie about rape, is unpersuaded.

LESSONS LEARNED: How Did Nigeria Quash Its Ebola Outbreak So Quickly?


THE EARTH’S MAGNETIC FIELD COULD FLIP FASTER THAN WE THOUGHT. “Regardless of the speed at which it occurs, that next reversal might happen sooner than originally thought. Geophysicists have noticed that the earth’s magnetic field has been weakening faster than expected lately, leading them to conclude that a full flip could happen sooner rather than later. (Don’t panic. ‘Sooner’ in this case, means within the next two millennia.)”

EVEN THE “EBOLA MAGIC DATE” is conveniently post-election.

EBOLA VS. OBESITY: The Politicized NIH.

OBAMA NOT POLLING SO WELL: Poll: Obama Worse Than Bush. Battleground voters say Bush a better manager of government.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How To Survive Being Run Over By A Train.

THIS IS UNSURPRISING: Women Prefer Male Bosses Even More Than Men Do. “The survey, which collected responses from 1,032 adults living in the U.S., found women were more likely than men to want a male boss. . . . In the 60 years that Gallup has conducted this survey, women have never preferred a female boss.”


TINA BROWN: Women Feel “Unsafe” With Obama. “Economically, they’re feeling unsafe. With regard to ISIS, they’re feeling unsafe. They feel unsafe about Ebola. What they’re feeling unsafe about is the government response to different crises. And I think they’re beginning to feel a bit that Obama’s like that guy in the corner office, you know, who’s too cool for school, calls a meeting, says this has to change, doesn’t put anything in place to make sure it does change, then it goes wrong and he’s blaming everybody.”

UPDATE: Contrasting the Tina Brown of 2008.

LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: Welcome to Oculus XXX: In-Your-Face 3D is the Future of Porn.

IN THE MAIL: From Rob Steiner, Muses of Terra (Codex Antonius Book 2).

Plus, today only at Amazon: Sony High-Definition POV Action Video Camera HDR-AS30V, $139.99 (53% off).

TAXPROF: The IRS Scandal, Day 529.


WELL, THAT’S MORE THAN THE U.S. CAN SAY: Nigeria declared Ebola-free after containing virus.


New York is the obvious business case for a service such as Airbnb: a dense city where a lot of people want to visit, and hotel rooms are limited in number. You’ve got a population of educated professionals who travel a lot, leaving their apartments empty. You’ve got insane housing costs in desirable areas, leaving renters open to making a few extra bucks on their abode. Unsurprisingly, almost 30,000 NYC units are available on the site.

It turns out, however, that New York is also one of the most challenging environments for Airbnb. You’ve got a powerful hotel lobby that likes the shortage of affordable rooms for rent. You’ve got an extremely high percentage of renters rather than owners, most of whom probably have leases that forbid subletting without permission. You’ve got a lot of apartments, whose fellow tenants may object to your giving strangers the keys to the front door. And don’t forget the well-organized affordable housing groups who object to landlords converting rental units to short-term stays. All of which has culminated in a law that effectively outlaws the majority of Airnb rentals in the city by making it illegal to sublet a New York apartment for less than 30 days.

Entrenched interests. Plus:

Whenever a new market opens, there’s a sort of wild west period when gaps in the law allow people to make a bunch of money. Over time, however, legislators and regulators wake up, and start laying down the law. Entrenched competitors are protected, numerous interest groups are given concessions, fees are tacked on. The end result is greater certainty, but lower profits and innovation.

I’m afraid that’s going to be the story of the entire Internet soon. Interesting, isn’t it, that most of our growth comes from the parts of the economy that politicians haven’t gotten their sticky fingers on yet.

WAIT, DOES THIS MEAN RON KLAIN IS RACIST? Ebola czar to the rescue? Why the White House may soon retreat on a travel ban.

REMINDER: In 2009, President Obama “Joked” About Auditing His Enemies.

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Well, okay, this isn’t helping: “The White House has argued that the chief management credential that qualifies Klain for the job is his experience in helping to implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the 2009 stimulus package that poured about $800 billion into the troubled U.S. economy by way of tax breaks, investments and entitlements.”

A near-trillion-dollar crony giveaway that entirely failed to achieve its stated goals. If the White House regards that as a shining credential, exactly what are they expecting him to accomplish here?

ROLL CALL: Before Ending Chairmanship, Issa Sets Ebola Hearing for Oversight Next Week. Lots of questions to ask.

DEATH OF THE LIBERAL ARTS: Less A Murder Than A Suicide?

Agresto said that much humanities instruction has been co-opted by hyperspecialization and especially by critical theory. He said overly-critical approaches at once demean the subject matter and limit students’ free inquiry. For example, he said, when professors portray the founding fathers as mere “white racists,” no student or parent “in their right mind” would pay $50,000 a year to study them.

To save the humanities, professors must value opening up students’ minds over “preaching and converting,” he said. That means returning to an older mode of instruction, and instilling critical thinking skills. It means getting students to ask questions and helping them see the “variety” of answers – not leading them to a specific point of view, he added.

In the past and at their best, the liberal arts were a “gift” given to everyone, Agresto said. “It didn’t matter that Dante and Homer were dead white males,” and keeping Shakespeare alive wasn’t an “ethnocentric act.”

Indeed. In fact, it’s trying to kill off Shakespeare that is an act of temporal chauvinism.

UPDATE: At the link, lefty commenters already launching ad hominem attacks. Because that’s what they do.

21 DAYS OF FEAR AND LOATHING: Life In Quarantine For Ebola Exposure.

HEINLEINIAN “BAD LUCK:” Rich Karlgaard: America’s Missing Wealth.

Suppose the U.S. economy, since 1949, were giving up 2% extra growth per year because of bad economic policy. Or, as Ramsey might say, because Presidents, legislators and unelected regulators were born stupid or try their best to act that way.

Now, 2% a year doesn’t sound like much. Most of us could spend 98% of our budget next year without too much pain. The quip about compound interest is noteworthy only because it would take a genius like Einstein to observe something so profoundly simple yet subtly opaque.

But run the numbers yourself–and prepare for a shock. If the U.S. economy had grown an extra 2% per year since 1949, 2014′s GDP would be about $58 trillion, not $17 trillion. So says a study called “Federal Regulation and Aggregate Economic Growth,” published in 2013 by the Journal of Economic Growth. More than taxes, it’s been runaway federal regulation that’s crimped U.S. growth by the year and utterly smashed it over two generations.

Not all regulation is bad. Mandatory seat belts have helped cut traffic fatalities by 51% on a population-adjusted basis since 1949. Far fewer people are now killed or maimed in industrial accidents. The air in downtown Los Angeles is breathable again. Would this have happened without federal regulation? Yes, but likely not as fast.

So let’s, for the sake of argument, posit that some regulation has been good for us, while many other regs have only hurt economic growth. Let’s also argue that sensible regulation, combined with the retirement of outdated regulation, could have brought about the same improvements to health and safety–but at a cost of 1% potential growth per year, not 2%. Where would the U.S. economy be today?

–The 2014 GDP would be $32 trillion, not $17 trillion.

–Per capita income would be $101,000, not $54,000.

–Per capita wealth would be $480,000, not $260,000. It would probably be higher than that, since savings rates might be higher.

–The U.S. would have no federal, state or municipal debts or deficits.

–Pensions would be solid. So would Social Security.

–The trend of new entrants to The Forbes 400 would not favor entrepreneurs in software, the Internet and financial services but would be more broadly distributed across all industries. Electronic bits–money and software–are less prone to regulation than such physical things as factories, transportation, etc.

–Faster, quieter successors to the supersonic Concorde? Cheap, safe nuclear power? Cancer-curing drugs for small populations? Bullet trains financed by private investors? Yes!

–The U.S. would have the resources to fight the multiplicity of threats from abroad, from ISIS to hackers.

Am I guilty of positing ideal outcomes from all that extra wealth? Perhaps. Still, it would be wonderful to have that extra wealth in people’s pockets and in government treasuries. What a missed opportunity!

But all that regulation — while making the country much poorer — has vastly enriched the parasite class. They have a bigger slice of a smaller pie, and they like it that way because it makes them feel important.

This is a good time to reference Joel Kotkin on the New Class Conflict again. (Thanks to commenter Greg Ale for pointing me to the Karlgaard column, which I had missed.)

JOHN FUND: The Trouble With Early Voting.

SO KAY HAGAN AND AND MICHELLE NUNN ARE RACISTS NOW, I GUESS: Why Democrats are sounding like Republicans on Ebola.

SEND MORE ADVIL: Roll Call: Iowa Senate Race Becomes Headache for House Democrats. “Recent polls show state Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican, with a small lead over Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat. But the Republican’s advantage has percolated to three of Iowa’s four House contests, keeping one competitive district in contention for Republicans, plus putting two Democratic seats in play.”

K.C. JOHNSON: Ezra Klein’s Confusion on the California Sex Law.

In an attempt to defend the indefensible, Ezra Klein penned a meandering column responding to the many critics of his “yes-means-yes” defense. Or, I should say, responding to some critics: he ignored perhaps the most troubling response to his piece, Cathy Young’s observation that he had blatantly misrepresented a column by her—which suggested that false rape reports are actually more common than believed—to instead claim (with emphasis) that false rape reports are “very, very rare.”

In the event, Klein (unconvincingly) suggested that Jon Chait had misinterpreted him. (Chait had little difficulty in rebuttal.) Klein stuck by his defense of stats alleging that one in five college women will suffer rape or attempted rape—which means that he must believe, as FIRE’s Robert Shibley noted, that colleges now face “a law enforcement problem of staggering proportions. Yet instead of making sure the police are involved, the state of California has put its faith in a law that by its plain language makes nearly everyone guilty of rape — but only in a campus kangaroo court.” (Klein has urged no greater law enforcement presence on campus.) And Klein was forced to issue corrections about basic elements of legal procedure, which suggested that Vox’s touted explanatory journalism isn’t too good at explaining legal affairs. Shibley’s thorough fisking is a must-read.

Perhaps the most striking—and risible—item in his column was the following assertion about the California law: “There’s a related, and serious, concern here that the process by which colleges manage sexual assault cases is a mess . . . The Yes Means Yes law interacts with these processes a bit, but mostly by telling colleges to clarify them, which will, in many cases, be an improvement.”

This claim is absurd.

Ezra regularly displays breathtaking ignorance and regularly makes absurd claims. This does not appear to have harmed his standing in the lefty journosphere at all.

THAT’S DEEPLY DISAPPOINTING: Cathy Young: The Federalist Society Caves to “Rape Culture” Orthodoxy. “After a fourteen-year relationship, I was blacklisted so thoroughly that you’d think I had showed up for a talk visibly drunk, or had used racial or sexual slurs.”

THE HILL: NIH official remains firm in opposition to travel ban. “A top official at the National Institutes of Health on Sunday said a travel ban on flights to and from West Africa would only make things worse in the fight against Ebola, pushing back against calls from lawmakers to institute one.”

ROGER KIMBALL: Why Sam Harris Is Wrong About Islam.

MORE SECRET SERVICE PROBLEMS: Nashville Police Chief Drops Major Allegation About Secret Service in Letter to House Oversight Committee.

The resident refused to let officers enter his home or follow orders to come outside . He was heard shouting at officers, “show me your warrant.”

In a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Anderson claimed that a Secret Service agent asked a police sergeant to “wave a piece of paper” in order to “dupe” the suspect into thinking officers had a warrant.

Officers with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department did not comply with the request, according to the police chief. Police officers ultimately determined that Secret Service agents had no legal basis to enter the resident’s home and the suspect didn’t actually threaten anyone. Fortunately, the situation was resolved without incident and law enforcement left.

In a past letter to then-Secret Service Director Julia Pierson and Assistant Director A.T. Smith, Anderson explained that the incident could have “escalated into a serious and/or embarrassing situation for both of our agencies” if MNPD officers complied with the Secret Service “directive.”

The police chief says he later received a “condescending and dismissive” call from Smith.

I’ve been writing about Secret Service management problems since 2002, but somehow nothing gets done. I suppose that’s why they’re condescending and dismissive — because they can be.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Government case implodes as its former lawyers allege fraud against Holder DOJ.

More here in the New York Observer.

Related: Justice Department Targets Louisiana. Shaking people down or doing pre-election battlespace preparation, it’s all in a day’s work at the Department of . . . Justice.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Lehigh Acres woman arrested for sex with 15-year-old. “Deputies say Victoria Chaluisant first met the 15-year-old victim back in February. That’s when the two began exchanging text messages and eventually started sending naked pictures to each other. Investigators say Chaluisant would even pick up the victim at his home before school just to have sex.”

Plus: “The Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida says Chaluisant was a Family Resource Advisor at the organization since April, working with parents to assist them in obtaining childcare for their children. The organization says it was unaware of her activities.”

Here’s the link for the entire Teach Women Not To Rape! series.

THE DEEPLY SEGREGATED CITY OF NEW YORK: “The online reaction to the reports on racial segregation in New York state’s public schools reminded me, yet again, that most people think of New York as an integrated city, and are surprised or incredulous when that impression is contradicted. This is somewhat jarring, since virtually every attempt to actually measure racial segregation suggests that New York is one of the most segregated cities in the country.”

POLL: Likely Voters Want GOP-Led Congress. “This favoring of Republicans is a first since the poll began asking about it five weeks ago. Though Democrats carry a 10-point lead among low-interest voters, Republicans carry a 10-point lead among high-interest voters, the poll also found.”

FRANK BRUNI: I’m beginning to think this Obama chap isn’t as competent as we were told.

WE have no clue at this point how far Ebola could spread in the United States — and no reason for panic.

But one dimension of the disease’s toll is clear. It’s ravaging Americans’ already tenuous faith in the competence of our government and its bureaucracies.

Before President Obama’s election, we had Iraq, Katrina and the meltdown of banks supposedly under Washington’s watch. Since he came along to tidy things up, we’ve had the staggeringly messy rollout of Obamacare, the damnable negligence of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the baffling somnambulism of the Secret Service.

Now this. Although months of a raging Ebola epidemic in West Africa gave the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sufficient warning and ample time to get ready for any cases here, it was caught flat-footed, as its director, Tom Frieden, is being forced bit by bit to acknowledge. Weeks ago he assured us: “We are stopping Ebola in its tracks in this country.” Over recent days he updated that assessment, saying that “in retrospect, with 20/20 hindsight,” federal officials could and should have done more at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

President Obama made his own assurances and then corrections. He said back in mid-September that “in the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home.”

Well, we weren’t wholly prepared, and the event was never unlikely: This country is a potent magnet for travelers, with a proudly (and rightly) open posture toward the world.

Yeah, we might wind up rethinking that. Plus:

Rationally or not, this is one of those rare moments when Americans who typically tune out so much of what leaders say are paying rapt attention, and Obama’s style of communication hasn’t risen fully to the occasion. Even as he canceled campaign appearances and created a position — Ebola czar — that we were previously told wasn’t necessary, he spoke with that odd dispassion of his, that maddening distance.

About the ban, he said, “I don’t have a philosophical objection necessarily.” About the czar, he said that it might be good to have a person “to make sure that we’re crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s going forward.” He’s talking theory and calligraphy while Americans are focused on blood, sweat and tears.

Ebola is his presidency in a petri dish. It’s an example already of his tendency to talk too loosely at the outset of things, so that his words come back to haunt him. There was the doctor you could keep under his health plan until, well, you couldn’t. There was the red line for Syria that he didn’t have to draw and later erased.

Yeah, it’s as if he’s totally in over his head or something.

October 19, 2014

PEGGY NOONAN: The Travel Ban And The New Czar.

What normal people can see and imagine is that three Ebola cases have severely stressed the system. Washington is scrambling, the Centers for Disease Control is embarrassed, local hospitals are rushing to learn protocols and get in all necessary equipment. Nurses groups and unions have been enraged, the public alarmed—and all this after only three cases.

What would it look like if there were 300? That is not a big number in a nation of over 300 million. Yet it would leave the system hyperstressed, and hyperstressed things break down.

How many people and professionals have been involved in the treatment, transport, tracking, monitoring, isolation and public-information aspects of the three people who became sick? Again, what if it were 300—could we fully track, treat and handle all those cases? If scores of people begin over the next few weeks going to hospital emergency rooms with Ebola, how many of their doctors, nurses, orderlies, office staffers, communications workers and technicians would continue to report to their jobs? All of them at first, then most of them. But as things became more ragged, pressured and dangerous, would they continue?

This is why people are concerned. They can imagine how all this could turn south so fast, with only a few hundred cases. This is why the White House claims that we will not have a widespread breakout is fatuous: Even a limited breakout would take us into uncharted territory.

The only thing that will calm the public is competence.

Uh oh.

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Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Winter is coming.


OVER HALF A CENTURY LATER, STILL COVERING FOR THE ROSENBERGS: The New York Times Gets Greenglass Wrong. “Julius Rosenberg’s spy ring provided an extraordinary trove of non-nuclear espionage on radar, sonar, and jet propulsion engines to the Soviet Union, but the Rosenbergs’ contributions to the Soviet nuclear weapons program were also important. The information from David Greenglass and from a second nuclear spy recruited by Julius Rosenberg, Russell McNutt, was welcomed by the KGB as valuable and practical confirmation of data it was receiving from Klaus Fuchs and Ted Hall, the two major Soviet nuclear spies in the Manhattan Project. Further, their activities did not cease with the defeat of Nazi Germany. Believing that war between the U.S. and the USSR was inevitable, Rosenberg, Greenglass, and other members of their network continued to provide the Soviet Union with American military secrets until their exposure in 1950.”

Commies get a pass.

WHO NEEDS CONGRESS ANYWAY? Next – Obama To Sidestep Congress On Iran.

WITH TWO YEARS LEFT, A FULLY-DEPRECIATED PRESIDENT: Reuters: Obama makes rare campaign trail appearance, people leave early. “President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.” He was interrupted by a heckler, too.

Plus, hashtag mockery on Twitter.

GOOD: Dozens Declared Free of Ebola Risk In Texas.

A LOOK AT THE CREATOR OF GOOGLE SCHOLAR. “One serious estimate places the index at 160 million documents as of May 2014.”

YEP: The Democrats’ embarrassing attempt to blame Republicans for Ebola collapses. NIH Director Collins is going to regret raising this issue, too, because it’s brought a lot of attention to the stuff that the NIH spends money on.

JOEL ZINBERG: Ebola And Electronic Medical Records. “Hospitals and physicians are being required to buy EMRs that are expensive and difficult to use, and that often interfere with quality care rather than enhance it.”

SO, IT’S BASICALLY THE HUNTER BIDEN STORY, THEN: Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong.

Speaking of which, I’d really like to see some investigative journalism into how Hunter Biden got his military commission.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Sterling woman faces felony charges for sex crimes against children.