TROLL LEVEL: GRANDMASTER. No One Wants To Live In A World Of Uncircumcised Penises.
May 29, 2015
NEAL STEPHENSON ON being inspired by Frank J. Fleming. “The moon’s been up there for a long time. I think we’re all a little tired of it, and it was time to make some changes.”
Plus: “You learn that gravity is your friend when you have a baby.”
TX LEGISLATURE APPROVES OPEN CARRY: The bill was passed by overwhelming Republican majorities in the state house and senate. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman) will allow licensed owners to carry openly in a hip or shoulder holster. It now heads to Governor Greg Abbott.
SALON: BERNIE SANDERS’ RAPE APOLOGIA JUST A CRITIQUE OF “HETERONORMATIVITY”: Of course it is. Katie McDonough at Salon offers this weak defense of Sanders’ odd 1972 fictional piece called “Man and Woman,” in which Sanders says, ”A woman enjoys intercourse with her man — as she fantasizes being raped by 3 men simultaneously.”
These ex post ”you just don’t get it” excuses for liberal/progressive actions are so tiring–reminds me of that Goldsmiths, University of London “diversity officer,” Mustafa Bahar, whose racist, sexist anti-white male comments were excused by a Slate writer as “ironic misandry.”
State Department officials said they conducted a thorough review to back their recommendation to remove Cuba from the list and received assurances from the Cuban government they wouldn’t support terrorist activity in the future. Officials cited Cuban President Raúl Castro’s condemnation of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris earlier this year as an example of the government’s stance against terror operations.
Cuba also harbors fugitives wanted in the U.S., including Joanne Chesimard, who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973. Cuba granted her asylum after she escaped from prison in 1979. State Department officials said last month that Cuba had agreed to talk about fugitives as part of a broader dialogue on law enforcement issues.
So Castro condemns the Charlie Hebdo attacks and that’s evidence they aren’t sponsors of terrorism anymore? But of course, Cuba has promised the Obama Administration it won’t support terrorism. I feel better now. House Speaker John Boehner was right when he said today, ”The Obama administration has handed the Castro regime a significant political win in return for nothing,”
RECHARGING “EMISSIONS FREE” ELECTRIC CARS with a big diesel generator. You know, this just makes clear what’s always going on when you charge an electric car.
#AGEISM BY CNBC AGAINST RUBIO: The CNBC Squawk Box crew enjoyed a round of “he’s too young” criticism of GOP contender Marco Rubio today, with one reporter, John Harwood, saying Rubio “looked like a schoolboy.” Another panelist, co-host Joe Kernen, sarcastically suggested that “Hillary needs to sue…Rubio for age discrimination” since “[h]e keeps bringing up this 23-year difference in age.” Rubio is 44 years old; Hillary Clinton is 67.
Yeah, well, the “youthfulness” of Obama–inaugurated at age 47–never seemed to be a problem for CNBC or anyone else in the liberal/progressive mainstream media. And the mainstream media had fun suggesting that Mitt Romney (in his mid-60s) was “too old” to be President. But of course one shouldn’t expect any principled consistency from the likes of CNBC or the mainstream media.
SECULARISTS VS. SUICIDE BOMBERS: Patrick Buchanan has an interesting piece in CSN News today, offering a commonsense explanation why, as Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recently lamented, the Iraqi forces have “no will to fight” ISIS. Buchanan observes:
Tribe and faith. Those are the causes for which Middle Eastern men will fight. Sunni and Shiite fundamentalists will die for the faith. Persians and Arabs will fight to defend their lands, as will Kurds and Turks.
But who among the tribes of the Middle East will fight and die for the secular American values of democracy, diversity, pluralism, sexual freedom and marriage equality?
“Expel the Crusaders from our lands!” — there is a cause to die for.
Yep. If ISIS is going to be defeated, it isn’t going to be by home-grown Iraqi forces.
AT THE CORNER OF EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE & FREE SPEECH: The Supreme Court will decide soon whether to grant review in Central Radio Co. v. City of Norfolk, a case in which a small business owner in Norfolk, Virginia displayed a large banner to protest the city’s eminent domain attempt to seize the business’s property. The banner read: ”50 YEARS ON THIS STREET / 78 YEARS IN NORFOLK / 100 WORKERS / THREATENED BY / EMINENT DOMAIN.” The banner also depicted an American flag, Central Radio’s logo, and a red circle with a slash across “Eminent Domain Abuse.”
A local zoning ordinance limited the size of signs, except governmental or religious “flags or emblems” or noncommercial “works of art. The city issued citations to Central Radio for displaying an over-sized sign and for failing to obtain a sign certificate prior to installation. Lower federal courts have upheld the actions against Central Radio as content-neutral restrictions on speech.
The Institute for Justice, representing the business owners against the city, raises First Amendment claims it hopes the Supreme Court will take up:
We argued that the sign code violated the Constitution because it exempted other types of messages of the same magnitude, such as certain flags, emblems or works of art. In addition, we asserted that requiring someone to receive municipal approval before displaying a sign amounted to an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech.
As the banner issue worked its way through the judiciary, Wilson received welcome news in September 2013, when the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority did not have the right to seize the properties it was targeting. The decision effectively killed the city’s efforts to take out Central Radio. . . .
[T]he notion that the city’s move to banish the sign had nothing to do with its content doesn’t pass the smell test.
As Post blogger Radley Balko noted in April, “Imagine if another building a few miles down the road put up a banner celebrating the city’s wise and prudent development policies. Does anyone honestly think the owner of that property would need to go to court to keep his banner?”
Balko’s question answers itself. These sign ordinances are out of control around the country, not just Norfolk. I once litigated a case in Michigan against a township that wouldn’t let a bakery owner fly an American flag in front of his business because of an ordinance that banned all flags, putatively because they “distracted” drivers. Presumably the ordinance at issue in Central Radio is grounded in a similar unsupported assertion that large signs are “distracting.” But once government starts allowing some signs and forbidding others, that rationale becomes patently arbitrary and irrational, and inherently suggests favortism for the content of some speech over others.
BRIBERY EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON HILLARY & CLINTON FOUNDATION: Two legal experts have told Breitbart that they believe the activities of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, undertaken while Clinton was Secretary of State, violate the federal statute prohibiting bribery of public officials, 18 USC 201.
When asked if the donations to the Clinton Foundation by defense contractors including Boeing (which subsequently received State Department approval of sales of their products to foreign governments) constituted a violation of domestic bribery statues, Law School Professor and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) expert Michael Koehler tells Breitbart News, “I’ll answer that question by quoting a former law professor who was fond of saying ‘if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck chances are it is a duck’”
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Andy McCarthy thinks there’s enough evidence for the FBI and DOJ to launch an investigation into whether Hillary Clinton broke federal statutes that prohibit the bribery of public officials.
“There is certainly a reasonable basis for federal agents and prosecutors to investigate whether there was an understanding that Secretary Clinton would be influenced in the performance of her official duties by lavish donations to her family foundation, and, indeed, that the Clinton Foundation was operated as a racketeering enterprise,” McCarthy tells Breitbart News.
“This is the theory on which the Justice Department has proceeded in the prosecution of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) — in fact, the main difference between the two cases may be that the staggering sums of money that were poured into the Clinton Foundation by supplicants who benefited from Hillary Clinton’s stewardship of the State Department dwarf the amounts involved in the Menendez indictment,” McCarthy continues.
The statute is broad and, like all criminal statutes, requires proof of a quid pro quo, but this could be (and indeed, generally must be, absent direct video or audio evidence from the horse’s mouth, so to speak) proven by circumstantial evidence. The U.S. Attorney in either D.C. or New York (where the Clinton Foundation is located) would need to initiate an investigation. But I won’t hold my breath that these Obama nominees will do so.
ERIK WEMPLE: CNN’s Jake Tapper won’t moderate panel discussion at Clinton Global Initiative confab. “The switcheroo on the workforce panel caps a frenzy of negotiations between CNN and the Clinton Foundation. About a week ago, USA Today reported that the CGI site had listed Tapper as a ‘speaker’ at the event, a characterization that CNN contested. Testiness over just how Tapper was being presented likely wouldn’t have arisen if not for context: The Clinton Foundation these days is the target of feisty journalistic investigations stemming from Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, and ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos sustained a media beating over revelations that he gave $75,000 to the foundation from 2012 through 2014.”
He’s being replaced by CNN’s Poppy Harlow, though, so while Jake may not be running a panel for the Clintons, someone from CNN will be. Wemple reports that while the Clinton website no longer calls CNN a “broadcast partner,” the Clinton people still do.
EHRs: ANOTHER OBAMACARE FAILURE: Another provision of Obamacare is proving to be utter nonsense, beyond the Democrat’s lies about keeping your doctor and your health plan if you like them. This shouldn’t be all that surprising, given that the entire 1,200+ page law was rushed into law without any serious thought as to its consequences. Charles Krauthammer on “Why Doctors Quit“:
I hear this everywhere. Virtually every doctor and doctors’ group I speak to cites the same litany, with particular bitterness about the EHR mandate. As another classmate wrote, “The introduction of the electronic medical record into our office has created so much more need for documentation that I can only see about three-quarters of the patients I could before, and has prompted me to seriously consider leaving for the first time.”
You may have zero sympathy for doctors, but think about the extraordinary loss to society — and maybe to you, one day — of driving away 40 years of irreplaceable clinical experience.
And for what? The newly elected Barack Obama told the nation in 2009 that “it just won’t save billions of dollars” — $77 billion a year, promised the administration — “and thousands of jobs, it will save lives.” He then threw a cool $27 billion at going paperless by 2015.
It’s 2015 and what have we achieved? The $27 billion is gone, of course. The $77 billion in savings became a joke. Indeed, reported the Health and Human Services inspector general in 2014, “EHR technology can make it easier to commit fraud,” as in Medicare fraud, the copy-and-paste function allowing the instant filling of vast data fields, facilitating billing inflation.
That’s just the beginning of the losses. Consider the myriad small practices that, facing ruinous transition costs in equipment, software, training and time, have closed shop, gone bankrupt or been swallowed by some larger entity.
This hardly stays the long arm of the health-care police, however. As of Jan. 1, 2015, if you haven’t gone electronic, your Medicare payments will be cut, by 1 percent this year, rising to 3 percent (potentially 5 percent) in subsequent years.
Sounds good: Let’s force doctors to spend a lot of money to become technology dependent and adopt electronic health records when the old way of doing things was working just fine. And hey–as a bonus, our health information is now more vulnerable to hacking and we can lose some privacy along the way! Electronic health records haven’t saved a single life or a single dollar, but they have created a lot of expense, confusion, and tremendous demoralization for our health care providers. It wasn’t broken, and it shouldn’t have been “fixed.” If the Republican Congress was smart, it would repeal this onerous, useless provision of Obamacare.
BECAUSE THEY LIKE HIM!: FIFA members reelect president Sepp Blatter amid league corruption charges.
Afghanistan kicked off the voting as delegates handed over secret paper ballots in alphabetical order at the meeting Friday. The winner needed a two-thirds majority but Blatter was one vote shy of that, receiving only 133 votes, to Prince Ali’s 73 of the 206 valid votes.
In a second round of voting, Blatter won another four-year term by receiving a simple majority of the votes. Forcing the ballot to a second round represented a victory of sorts for Blatter’s critics, denying the incumbent president an emphatic mandate in his next term.
Yeah, I’m sure that was a fair election.
OBVIOUSLY, THIS CALLS FOR A HIGHER MINIMUM WAGE: Robots Start to Grasp Food Processing: Advances in robotics make it possible to automate tasks such as processing poultry and vegetables.
CAN BEDBUGS CARRY “TRENCH FEVER?” “The present work demonstrated for the first time that bed bugs can acquire, maintain for more than 2 weeks and release viable B. quintana organisms following a stercorarial shedding. We also observed the vertical transmission of the bacterium to their progeny. Although the biological role of bed bugs in the transmission of B. quintana under natural conditions has yet to be confirmed, the present work highlights the need to reconsider monitoring of these arthropods for the transmission of human pathogens.” (Thanks to Chuck Simmins for the link.)
IN THE MAIL: From Robert Conroy, 1882: Custer in Chains..
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GOOD QUESTION & THE ANSWER IS “NO ONE”: Byron York asks, If Hillary becomes president, who will make her obey the law?
Last year, before Hillary Clinton’s secret email system became publicly known, Congress passed a law to keep presidents from trying the same trick. If Clinton wins the White House, the law could well be put to the test.
The statute is the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014. It recognizes that government officials sometimes (or in Clinton’s case, all the time) want to use private email accounts — in the words of the law, “non-official electronic messaging accounts” — to conduct government business. Such communications are still federal records, Congress declared, and must be preserved in accordance with existing laws requiring not just the president but all federal officials to preserve their documents. . . .
Ultimately, the Presidential Records Act depends on the honesty of the president. That’s not Clinton’s strong suit. Recent polls have shown substantial numbers of Americans do not believe she is honest and trustworthy. After the State Department experience, they would have good reason to be suspicious of her in the White House.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Four U.S. lab workers treated for anthrax exposure. “More than two dozen lab workers, including four in the U.S., are now being treated for anthrax exposure.”
HEY, HE BRIBED ‘EM FAIR AND SQUARE: Putin Fumes over FIFA Arrests.
Vladimir Putin is loudly railing against the dramatic U.S. arrest of FIFA’s top officials in Zurich for massive corruption, using his favorite rhetorical tricks of reversing the narrative and demonizing America. . . .
One of the reasons Putin may be so exercised is that the whole affair could call the location of the 2018 tournament into question. Putin is a man who loves sports, and and it was a huge point of pride for him when he secured the rights to host last year’s Winter Olympics in, of all places, Sochi, the seaside southern resort town where he likes to summer. The games cost a record-smashing $51 billion dollars (with some critics estimating that embezzlement accounts for more than half of that figure). That victory was multiplied when Russia’s bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup in 13 cities, including Sochi, won out. The Russian Sports Minister told state media that Russia’s right to host the Cup was not in danger, but given the investigation into how the decisions to award the tournament to South Africa, Russia, and Qatar were made, there are good reasons to doubt that. . . .
There’s a second reason Putin might care about the FIFA arrests. His claim that the U.S. doesn’t have rightful jurisdiction because none of the alleged criminal activity is related to America is complete bunk and almost certainly an intentional misreading of how international criminal jurisdiction works (and that’s not to mention that the Russian president hasn’t exactly been leading by example on the issue of maintaining great respect for other countries’ inviolable territorial sovereignty). Recently, he trotted out the same invalid objection about the U.S. securing an extradition order for a Russian citizen accused of industrial espionage in Sweden. A world with more prosecution of corruption is a world that’s harder for Putin to operate in.
Yeah, you’d think he and Obama — and Hillary — would be on the same page there.
TOM MAGUIRE: So What Did Hastert Do? “So, my current guess – Hastert is guilty of trying to do the right thing by supporting an illicit child and then was a damn idiot who lied to the FBI about it. The rest is politicized, Chicagoland, Obamaland BS.” Well, stay tuned.
Plus, from the comments: “Hastert should have started a charity and hired this person on at a Blumenthalian pay level.”
CULTURE OF ENTITLEMENT: Bill Clinton: Sure, you can give me an award — but first give $500,000 to my
slush fund foundation. “The Clinton Foundation had rejected the Happy Hearts Fund invitation more than once, until there was a thinly veiled solicitation and then the offer of an honorarium.”
Plus: “It is extremely rare for honorees, or their foundations, to be paid from a gala’s proceeds, charity experts said — as it is for the proceeds to be diverted to a different cause.”
Outside Cipriani, about 100 protesters, mostly Haitian-Americans expressing frustration with the earthquake reconstruction effort, stood behind barricades holding protest signs.
“Clinton, where is the money?” they chanted. “In whose pockets?”
This should happen everywhere Bill or Hillary appear.
DOJ OFFICIAL LINKS BAD POLICING TO JIM CROW LAWS: The Washington Times reports that Ronald Davis, the Community Oriented Policing Services director at DOJ, asserts that Jim Crow laws are at least partially to blame for excessive policing and force:
“We’re still operating on some system that was used to enforce Jim Crow laws, that were used to oppress people,” Ronald Davis, Community Oriented Policing Services director for the Department of Justice, said at an event at the Center for American Progress. “These are operational systems and policies and practices that exist today.”
. . .
Mr. Davis told The Washington Times that he is concerned that the tensions tied to the Jim Crow era still have an impact on “anything from how we incarcerate to how we sentence to why we police and how we police.”
As a result, good officers are sometimes put in positions where they produce bad outcomes simply because the system ” is disparate to incarceration of young men of color,” Mr. Davis said. Mass incarceration and statistical drops in crime “cannot be the priority of public safety or law enforcement,” he said.
There are definitely over-criminalization issues, and yes, the criminal justice system does prosecute a large number of minorities arrested for crimes. But the inflammatory “Jim Crow” label is just a dog-whistle for the same old tired racism charge that permeates everything DOJ does under the Obama Administration. Can we please just address the real issues without resorting to the overplayed racism accusation? Liberals/progressives hurl “racism” so often now, it just sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher, and I tune it out.
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SET YOUR DVRs: I’ll be on John Stossel’s show tonight in the 9 pm hour talking about higher education. Don’t miss it!
UNEXPECTEDLY! U.S. economy shrinks .7 percent in first quarter. “The numbers released Friday were a revision of earlier figures that had showed GDP growing in the first quarter at 0.2 percent. The contraction was the U.S.’s third in the aftermath of the Great Recession.” Maybe we’re not really in an “aftermath.”
HOUSE WAYS & MEANS ASKS DOJ TO INVESTIGATE IRS TARGETING: All Republicans on the House Ways & Means Committee, chaired by Paul Ryan, sent a letter Thursday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking her to answer the committee’s 2014 request for criminal prosecution of IRS officials involved in the targeting of conservative groups. Writes Kimberley Strassel:
It’s now been two full years since a little-known IRS bureaucrat named Lois Lerner admitted that her agency systematically collected the names of conservative groups, harassed them, and denied their right to participate in elections. It’s been two full years since the Justice Department opened an investigation. And it’s been two full years of crickets. . . .
Specifically, the committee provided documents that show three acts by Ms. Lerner that may have violated criminal statutes. One, she helped to target only conservative organizations, thereby robbing them of equal protection and due process. Two, she may have impeded the Treasury inspector general’s investigation of the matter by giving misleading statements. Three, she risked exposing (and may have exposed) confidential taxpayer information by using her personal email address to conduct official business.
And that’s only what we know so far. Congress’s problem is that the IRS has stonewalled it at every turn. The Treasury inspector general, J. Russell George, has become tentative after all the Democratic criticism of his probe. It seems the Justice Department is the only body with the powers to shake loose some answers about what happened.
The Ryan letter asks Ms. Lynch to tell him the status of that referral, and Speaker Boehner chimed in with a statement calling for the new attorney general to prove to Americans that “justice will be served.”
I won’t hold my breath for “justice” coming out of Obama’s DOJ, even now that Eric Holder has departed. But at least the Republicans in the House are following up.
MICHAEL BARONE: Colleges and universities have grown bloated and dysfunctional.
American colleges and universities, long thought to be the glory of the nation, are in more than a little trouble. I’ve written before of their shameful practices — the racial quotas and preferences at selective schools (Harvard is being sued by Asian-American organizations), the kangaroo courts that try students accused of rape and sexual assault without legal representation or presumption of innocence, and speech codes that make campuses the least rather than the most free venues in American society.
In following these policies, the burgeoning phalanxes of university and college administrators must systematically lie, insisting against all the evidence that they are racially nondiscriminatory, devoted to due process and upholders of free speech. The resulting intellectual corruption would have been understood by George Orwell.
Some people appear to be using Orwell’s work as a handbook.
SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF HYPOCRISY: The Ironic Tie Between Elizabeth Warren’s Hypocritical Home Flipping and Mitt Romney.
Warren’s public face is contradicted by her private actions – actions that we will soon see are similar in nature to those that made Romney a millionaire.
Warren, like Romney, profited by buying assets at low prices and through either improving said assets or waiting for the market to strengthen, selling them at higher prices.
As Jillian Kay Melchior and Eliana Johnson lay out in a recent National Review exposé, Warren “bought and sold at least five [residential] properties for profit,” generating at least $240,500 before accounting for remodeling costs.
Several of the homes Warren purchased and then flipped had been foreclosed upon.
The focus of the piece is the rank hypocrisy that Warren would execute such profit-seeking transactions, given that she has called the idea of buying and selling properties quickly for profit a “myth” that contributed to our economic woes, and decried the banks that foreclosed on the homes of working class Americans. . . .
What Romney did at the macro level in investing in businesses worth hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, Warren did at the micro level in investing in homes worth thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The difference however is that Romney’s investing in many cases led to the creation of ever-better goods and services at ever-lower prices, with the benefits accruing to not only Romney, Bain’s investors, and the employees of the strengthened companies, but all consumers – that is, you and me.
Certainly Warren’s investments in home remodeling may have created work for construction companies and home suppliers, but those benefits pale in size and scope to the benefits to the public of successful private equity investments.
But, but, Mitt’s garage had an elevator!
REVIEW: I Got My Friends to Try Female Condoms. Here’s What They Thought. “Overall, both testers said that the female condom performed its job perfectly well: insertion was far easier than they’d expected, and they had no problems using it or removing it. But neither of them could see any obvious advantage over a male condom.”
ACE HAS SOME THOUGHTS ON Bernie Sanders’ Rape Fantasies.
Charles C.W. Cooke says that we should not unduly persecute Bernie Sanders for his sexual heresies. . . .
Cooke is arguing for what he conceives of as free speech absolutism — one does not demagogue speech to whip up feeding frenzies of angry lynch mobbers about something merely said.
I agree with this, naturally, except that I don’t. As a tactical matter, there is no way to get the left to stop with its incessant Censorship Crusades except to visit equal pain upon them.
The greatest ethical precept in the world is the do-unto-others-test, which I usually think of as the shoe on the other foot test.
One can discover a lot of moral and ethical rules — and separate out actual rules of good behavior from self-serving rationalizations designed to punish one’s enemies — by always asking, “Would I support this rule if I were forced to live under it?”
The trouble is, of course, the left is almost never asked to wear the shoe on their own foot.
They think censorship, Speechcraft Trials, and mob justice for Thought Heretics is just awesome.
And why shouldn’t they?
These things are almost never visited upon they themselves– they have only the upside of a dark, censorious, paranoid regime. Almost all of the downside falls upon their enemies– just where they’d want it. . . . People don’t like the Tit For Tat regime because it sounds simple-minded, punitive, and awful. Well, it is these things.
It is also, as Steven den Beste persuasively argued, very effective for bringing about a more ethical environment. Meaning that while it may be crude in method, it is enlightened in outcome.
Read the whole thing.
STEPHEN L. CARTER: Hillary Clinton and the New Litmus Test.
You might have missed the news that John Paul Stevens, the retired U.S. Supreme Court justice, criticized Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton last week for her announcement that she would nominate to the court only individuals committed to overturning the 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission. Stevens doesn’t like the decision any more than she does — his dissent ran to 90 pages — but he likes litmus tests even less.
At a house party in Mason City, Iowa, a few days after offering her promise, Clinton doubled down: “I will do everything I can do to appoint Supreme Court justices who will protect the right to vote and not the right of billionaires to buy elections,” she said.
Stevens, in remarks last week at George Washington University, was unimpressed: “I’m not really sure that that’s wise either for the court or for a presidential candidate to make a litmus test on one particular decision. … I’m surprised at her statement.” The former justice added: “If I were running for president, I don’t think I would make such a litmus test, even though I think the case ought to be overruled.”
Stevens is right. I won’t trouble here to go into the reasons for my own longstanding opposition to litmus tests, other than to note that there is something decidedly peculiar about promising to place on the Supreme Court individuals who have already decided the cases to come before them.
Read the whole thing.
Prosecutorial and police misconduct are often dismissed as just a few bad apples doing a few bad apple-ish things. But what happens when it’s entrenched and systemic and goes unchecked for years? That looks to be the case in Orange County, California, where the situation got so completely out of hand this spring that Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals issued an order disqualifying the entire Orange County District Attorney’s Office (that’s all 250 prosecutors) from continuing to prosecute a major death penalty case. . . .
Revelations of misconduct in the Dekraai case have raised questions about patterns of obstruction and deception that have unraveled various other murder cases in the county, which has a population larger than that of 20 different states. Other cases involving informants who were eliciting illegal confessions have emerged, entire cases have collapsed, and more may follow. The story goes way back to the 1980s, as R. Scott Moxley explains at length in the OC Weekly, to a prosecutorial scandal that ended in the execution of one defendant and a lengthy sentence for his alleged co-conspirator. Their convictions were based on the testimony of various jailhouse informants even though they told conflicting stories. That scandal rocked the area then, and this new one shows eerie parallels. All this is happening right up the road from Los Angeles, home of one of the most massive jailhouse informant scandals in history.
End official immunity.
May 28, 2015
IT’S NOT JUST SCARY, IT’S GROSS: A female Liverpool University student proudly touts not shaving. Her motto: “Being hairy isn’t scary.” I beg to differ.
WENT TO A BOOK PARTY for Andy McCarthy’s new book, Islam and Free Speech. Saw James Taranto, Roger Kimball, Greg Lukianoff, and a host of others.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The road to a ‘genius grant’ often starts at lesser-known colleges.
You can find genius almost anywhere.
That might seem obvious. But the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, known for bestowing six-figure grants on exceptionally creative people, provided evidence Thursday that standout talent is nurtured at a stunning variety of colleges and universities.
Since 1981, the foundation has chosen 918 people to receive fellowships in recognition of their creative capacity in artistic, intellectual and professional endeavors. They attended 315 colleges and universities for their undergraduate education, the foundation said in its first comprehensive analysis of the educational backgrounds of MacArthur fellows. Some attended no college at all, or dropped out without earning a degree.
Cecilia A. Conrad, a vice president of the foundation who oversees the fellowship program, said the list of schools reflects “a huge variety of educational backgrounds.” Many students and families are obsessed with gaining admission to elite colleges, but Conrad said is it more important what the students do when they get to college: “That’s just a really important point that sometimes gets lost.”
FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER HASTERT INDICTED: Dennis Hastert was a Republican Speaker of the House from 1999-2006.
Hastert was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges related to bank withdrawals of large sums of money that he allegedly paid to keep someone quiet about “prior misconduct.”
Mr. Hastert is charged with intentionally withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in increments of less than $10,000 to avoid federal reporting requirements designed to prevent money laundering. The Republican also is charged with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the withdrawals, telling agents he was taking the money out because he didn’t feel safe using the banking system.
The indictment alleges the money was going to someone identified only as “Individual A,” who had known Mr. Hastert for most of the person’s life. In 2010, Mr. Hastert agreed to pay this person $3.5 million “to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A,” the indictment said.
That’s potentially salacious.
BELIEVE ME, I WOULDN’T: From Gateway Pundit: Detroit Police Chief: I wouldn’t gas up in the city late at night unless I had to. Yeah, Detroit is truly a model of progressive governing.
Update: Link and formatting issues fixed.
HOUSE LAWSUIT VS. OBAMA GETS HEARING: Federal district judge Rosemary Collyer appeared skeptical about the Obama Administration’s arguments urging dismissal of the House lawsuit against the executive branch, challenging its rewriting of Obamacare’s employer mandate and its spending of funds not appropriated by Congress.
Despite initial liberal/progressive dismissal of the lawsuit as “frivolous,” attorney David Rivkin and I have long argued that legal precedent suggests otherwise, and the serious separation of powers arguments deserve consideration on the merits. Judge Collyer appears to understand this. Stay tuned.
America is in the midst of another media-hyped moral panic. Sexual assault on college campuses, we’re told, is rampant, with women being targeted at every turn by the very men they call their friends. To stop this epidemic, we’re further told, colleges and universities must create their own justice systems and hold more accused students accountable. This, naturally, results in witch hunts based not on facts, but on feelings.
This moral panic comes nearly 30 years after the last one, in which men and women were accused of sexually abusing children after those children were coached into “remembering” the abuse by child therapists using now-discredited techniques. Among the more bizarre claims were that children were sexually abused in underground tunnels and that they were forced to watch ritual animal sacrifice and drink blood-laced Kool-Aid.
And the media of the era uncritically bought in to the accusations.
The press is more often leading the lynch mob than defusing it, despite its pretensions.
IS THERE ANYTHING IT CAN’T DO? Coffee Protects Against Erectile Dysfunction. “The researchers theorized that caffeine’s effect on the body includes relaxing the helicine arteries of the penis, which in turn improves blood flow, which is how erections are formed.”
MAYBE I SHOULD SPEND A SEMESTER AS A VISITING PROFESSOR IN AUSTRALIA: At least, reading this blog makes me think so.
I HOPE THEY READ, AND LISTEN: Michael Doran: “A Letter to My Liberal Jewish Friends.”
On Friday, May 22, President Obama, calling himself “an honorary member of the tribe,” addressed you not just as the president of the United States but also as an explicit adherent of the “tikkun olam” tradition: a Jewish viewpoint for “repairing the world” that, in his reading, promotes universal progressive ideals like fighting bigotry and working for social justice everywhere. Thus, for him, the same “shared values” that underlay the civil-rights movement in the United States were what led him to identify himself with the cause of Israel—and also with the cause of Palestinian nationalism. . . .
Here’s my question. As Obama donned his yarmulke and embraced your community, did you also catch the hint of a warning? If you did, it was because the president was raising, very subtly, the specter of dual loyalty: the hoary allegation that Jews pursue their tribal interests to the detriment of the wider community or nation. . . . And so the warning was faint, but unmistakable: if Jews wish to avoid being branded as bigots, then they—you—must line up with him against Netanyahu. . . .
On June 30, Obama will likely conclude a nuclear deal with Iran. This will spark a faceoff with Congress, which has already declared its opposition to the deal. Congress will inevitably pass a vote of disapproval, which Obama will inevitably veto. In order to defend that veto from a congressional override, however, he must line up 34 Senators—all Democrats. This calls in turn for a preemptive ideological campaign to foster liberal solidarity—for which your support is key. If the president can convince the liberal Jewish community, on the basis of “shared values,” to shun any suspicion of alignment with congressional Republicans or Benjamin Netanyahu, he will have an easier time batting down Congress’s opposition to the deal with Iran.
Progressive values have nothing to do with what is truly at stake in this moment of decision. Only one final question really matters: in your considered view, should the Islamic Republic of Iran be the dominant power in the Middle East, and should we be helping it to become that power? If your answer is yes, then, by all means, continue to applaud the president—loudly and enthusiastically—as he purports to repair the world.
Obama’s a master at making liberals feel guilty with insinuations of bigotry. The American Jewish community is being played.
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IN THE WORDS OF HAN SOLO, I CAN IMAGINE AN AWFUL LOT: Imagine A Drug That Improves Many Metabolic Measures. “I would call a drug great if it could take off weight, improve glucose tolerance, and reverse fatty liver disease.” Well, you know, exercise can do that.
ANOTHER BREATHTAKING EPA POWER GRAB: First, it was the Obama Administration’s rewrite of the Clean Air Act. Now, it’s rewriting the Clean Water Act.
The Clean Water Act limits the federal government to regulating the “navigable waters of the United States” like the Colorado River or Lake Michigan. In 1986 the EPA expanded that definition to seize jurisdiction over tributaries and adjacent wetlands. Now it is extending federal control over just about any creek, pond, prairie pothole or muddy farm field that EPA says has a “significant nexus” to a navigable waterway.
The agency defines waters as “significant” if they are “located in whole or in part within 100 feet of the ordinary high water mark,” or, alternatively, within the 100-year floodplain and 1,500 feet of the high water mark of waters already under the government’s jurisdiction. That’s already a lot of water, but there’s more.
The EPA acknowledges that the “science available today does not establish that waters beyond those defined as ‘adjacent’” to these “significant” waters should be regulated. But forget science. The agency says its “experience and expertise” show there are “many” other waters that could have a significant downstream effect. Thus the EPA establishes an additional standard for significance that covers just about anything that’s wet.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
WAIT, I THOUGHT THE SCIENCE WAS SETTLED: It’s Too Soon to Call This the Anthropocene Era: We humans can cause earth a lot of damage, but we don’t hold the whip hand.
BECAUSE #OPPORTUNITY, NOT #HANDOUTS: Joel Kotkin on “The Changing Geography of Racial Opportunity“:
In the aftermath of the Baltimore riots, there is increased concern with issues of race and opportunity. Yet most of the discussion focuses on such things as police brutality, perceptions of racism and other issues that are dear to the hearts of today’s progressive chattering classes. Together they are creating what talk show host Tavis Smiley, writing in Time, has labeled “an American catastrophe.”
Yet what has not been looked at nearly as much are the underlying conditions that either restrict or enhance upward mobility among racial minorities, including African-Americans, Latinos and Asians. In order to determine this, my colleague at Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism Wendell Cox and I developed a ranking system that included four critical factors: migration patterns, home ownership, self-employment and income.
We found, for all three major minority groups, that the best places were neither the most liberal in their attitudes nor had the most generous welfare programs. Instead they were located primarily in regions that have experienced broad-based economic growth, have low housing costs, and limited regulation. In other words, no matter how much people like Bill de Blasio talk about the commitment to racial and class justice, the realities on the ground turn out to be quite different than he might imagine.
Even the Democratic base doesn’t want to live in deep blue territory, since progressive policies lead to higher costs, higher crime and reduced economic opportunity.
THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR MITT ROMNEY, NATIONAL-SECURITY PARANOIA WOULD PREVAIL. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Arms control treaty could land security researchers like me in jail.
21st CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Woman meets man who received her deceased brother’s face via transplant: “Wow, this is the face I grew up with.”
HARVARD CRIMSON: A Call To Arms: Law School professor Janet Halley is pushing back against Harvard and the government’s approach to Title IX. “When I read the University policy last July, I said to one of my colleagues at the Law School who works with me on these things, ‘You know we have to change the weather.’”
YES. NEXT QUESTION?: Peter Wehner at the NYT asks: Have Democrats Pulled Too Far to the Left?
AMONG liberals, it’s almost universally assumed that of the two major parties, it’s the Republicans who have become more extreme over the years. That’s a self-flattering but false narrative.
This is not to say the Republican Party hasn’t become a more conservative party. It has. But in the last two decades the Democratic Party has moved substantially further to the left than the Republican Party has shifted to the right. On most major issues the Republican Party hasn’t moved very much from where it was during the Gingrich era in the mid-1990s.
This is because today’s Democrats aren’t your father’s liberals, they’re progressives, which are more radical beasts. And I’d argue that the Republican Party has shifted to the left, not further right, since the Gingrich era.
IT’S COME TO THIS: Feminists upset over statue of man and woman talking. “Note to future sculptors: When trying to show men and women talking as friends, don’t. There’s just no way you can do so without offending modern feminist sensibilities.”
DON’T LET BILL BACK IN THE WHITE HOUSE: Paula Jones tells the Daily Mail Bill Clinton would cheat again if Hillary is elected President, and that Hillary knew all about his infidelities:
‘He is going to be telling her what to do,’ she said. ’It is a partnership. They have a political relationship, that is all it is.’
While countless books and articles have been written about the dynamics of the Clinton marriage, Jones is insistent that Hillary was fully aware of what her husband was like.
‘I believe she knew all about it. Theirs was a political relationship and not a normal relationship that a man and a wife have. They did not have a normal relationship.’
Yeah, I guess this is pretty obvious–a marriage in name only. #waronwomen
NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE BANS DEATH PENALTY: The legislature overrode Governor Pete Ricketts’ veto, by a 30-19 vote.
The measure replaces lethal injection with a maximum punishment of life in prison. It will take effect in 90 days, which would be late August or early September depending upon when the Legislature adjourns. The law could be blocked temporarily, however, if opponents gather signatures from 10 percent of registered voters in a referendum effort in the next three months. Voters would then decide the fate of capital punishment.
Legal experts say the repeal erases the statutory means to carry out a death sentence in Nebraska, meaning the 10 men currently on death row will serve de facto life sentences.
It also means that the two men who are each charged with four Omaha murders — convicted killer Nikko Jenkins and accused killer Anthony Garcia — will no longer face the death penalty.
Nor will Roberto Martinez-Marinero, the 25-year-old man accused of killing his mother and throwing his 4-year-old brother, Josue, in the Elkhorn River.
Sounds like a proportional punishment: Kill your mother and 4 year-old brother, and get life in prison with free medical and room and board.
JUDGE ORDERS MONTHLY RELEASE OF CLINTON STATE DEP’T EMAILS: A federal trial judge has established a timetable for State Department release of Clinton’s official emails. The order comes as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by a Vice News reporter, Jason Leopold.
After the State Department releases the first batch at the end of June, the department must make public the rest of the emails on a monthly basis ending Jan. 29, 2016, the order shows. The judge’s timetable means voters will have a chance to assess the contents of the emails before the first contest of the 2016 presidential race: the Iowa caucuses in February.
I know a lot of people criticize the effectiveness of litigation, but in many instances, lawsuits work far better at uncovering information about the executive branch than toothless congressional investigations.
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Bill Clinton Formed His Shell Company Two Days After Hillary Was Picked As Top Diplomat.
IN THE INTEREST OF FAIRNESS, THE IVY LEAGUE SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO ADMIT STUDENTS BY LOTTERY: Recruitment, Resumes, Interviews: How the Hiring Process Favors Elites.
In terms of the gatekeepers to these elite jobs, these are just people who are on the ground who are responsible for deciding who is in and who is out, who gains access to professional jobs in management consulting, investment banking, etc. The decisions they make have huge consequences for students, in terms of not only their immediate post-graduate opportunities, the salaries they make, but also opportunities for future and career growth and development.
Commonalities of all of these individuals: They tend to be a very elite group, they tend to come from a fairly prestigious set of institutions, and they tend to come from some of the most highly educated and affluent backgrounds as well. This is pretty standard across the industries. . . .
I think if you were to ask someone at first glance, they would say “oh anyone can work at my firm” and they could probably point to one or two people who didn’t attend elite schools. But if you look at how these firms’ recruiting processes actually work in practice now, the chances of getting into one of these firms from what’s called a non-targeted school is extremely low. And this is because these firms starting around the 1980s shifted from a hiring system in which people were hired in a one-off fashion through informal networks to really really focusing on on-campus recruitment where firms hire directly out of the graduating classes and oftentimes earlier from elite universities.
They talk about equality and diversity, then they hire people who look just like them.
NEWS YOU CAN USE: “Robotic rump” helps med students avoid being pains in patients’ butts.
Called “Patrick,” scientists say the pseudo backside is helping proctology students gain an upper hand in carrying out what have typically been uncomfortable examinations for millions of men, KQED TV & Radio reported.
Fitted with four sensors, the equipment will tell a student whether they are applying the right amount of pressure and whether they are properly covering the prostate.
SORRY, RAND, BUT YOU CROSSED THE LINE ON THIS ONE: Rand Paul says GOP hawks “created” ISIS.
The freshman senator from Kentucky said Wednesday that the GOP’s foreign policy hawks “created these people.” . . . “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately,” Paul said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” He continued: “They created these people. ISIS is all over Libya because these same hawks in my party loved – they loved Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. They just wanted more of it.”
This has triggered understandable backlash, including the Wall Street Journal editorial board today:
Citing Iraq, Syria and Libya, Mr. Paul added that “everything that they’ve talked about in foreign policy, they’ve been wrong about for 20 years, and yet they have somehow the gall to keep saying and pointing fingers otherwise.”
Speaking of gall, and a word of political advice, an aide might want to remind Senator Paul which party’s nomination he is seeking. Republicans who begin their campaigns assailing other Republicans rarely succeed—especially when the accusation is culpability for a would-be caliphate that uses executions, slavery, extortion, rape and general terror to enforce oppression in the Middle East and North Africa, and whose ideology inspires jihadists world-wide.
More to the point, even President Obama now largely refrains from blaming George W. Bush for all the world’s ills, albeit with an exception here and there for old time’s sake. Maybe even he recognizes that the statute of limitations has expired for Republicans who haven’t run the executive branch for seven years and have had no perceptible influence on Administration policy. . . .
Mr. Paul seems to think he can win the GOP nomination on an anti-interventionist platform, though we think he’d be better off focusing on his domestic agenda. But if he wants to run as an Obama Republican on foreign policy, he shouldn’t also adopt the Obama trick of rewriting history. It reflects poorly on his judgment as a potential Commander in Chief.
It’s a critical error for Paul, who has exhibited a vulnerability to foot-in-mouth disease.
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SOMEBODY NEEDS TO ASK HILLARY IF AMERICA HAS TOO MANY KINDS OF DEODORANT. BUT, OF COURSE, FIRST SHE’D HAVE TO BE TAKING QUESTIONS. Reason TV: Introducing The Bernie Sanders Save the Children Fund.
IT’S CALLED JOURNALISM: Politico’s Bill Scher seems truly baffled by Fox News’ hosts/reporters who ask tough questions of GOP presidential candidates: “Fox News Eats Its Own.’ Yes, that’s what actual journalists do: They ask tough questions, and they don’t “play favorites.” Shocking, I know, to a liberal/progressive mainstream media that hires hacks parading as hosts, such as George Stephanopoulos, Dan Rather, Candy Crowley and Keith Olbermann.
It seems that everywhere former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina goes, the crowds go wild.
Two weeks ago, the 2016 presidential candidate was in Iowa to speak at the state GOP’s Lincoln Dinner. She wasn’t the only 2016 candidate who spoke, but she was the only one for whom, when her mic was cut off after her 10 minutes of allotted speaking time were up, the crowd was noticeably upset.
“She was like a fireball,” dinner guest Tanya Manatt, told the Des Moines Register. “She had a lot of energy, and she’s not intimidated.”
“She left us wanting more,” said another.
“She was very confident, probably one of the strongest speakers,” guest Rick Haas told Politico.
Philip Rucker of the Washington Post said on Twitter that Fiorina received the “loudest applause of the night.”
A similar story unfolded at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference last week. Republican Chase Condrey tweeted about Fiorina: “just watched the SRLC and you have definitely sparked my interest in your candidacy. The Young GOP wants leaders like you.”
Another attendee, Richard Morgan, said Fiorina had the “best speech” of the conference. Fiorina ended her speech to a standing ovation, according to numerous other conference-goers.
Fiorina is also gaining fans from her clever media appearances, where she trolls her hosts and takes on tough questions with poise.
But despite wowing crowds and television viewers over the past month, Fiorina’s poll numbers aren’t budging.
I like her. She fights.
UPDATE: Wrong link before. Fixed now. Sorry!