August 28, 2015

EPA’S CREDIBILITY IN THE TOILET: Federal judge blocks EPA rule on jurisdiction over waterways. U.S. District judge Ralph Erickson (a George W. Bush appointee) has issued a preliminary injunction against implementation of the EPA’s new Clean Water Act rule that would extend the agency’s jurisdiction to virtually every waterway in the country.

Judge Erickson concluded that that the 13 States challenging the rule had established a “likelihood of success” on the merits of their claim that EPA has exceeded its authority:

The Rule allows EPA regulation of waters that do not bear any effect on the “chemical, physical, and biological integrity” of any navigable-in-fact water. While the Technical SupportDocument states that pollutants dumped into a tributary will flow downstream to a navigable water,44 the breadth of the definition of a tributary set forth in the Rule allows for regulation of any area that has a trace amount of water so long as “the physical indicators of a bed and banks and an ordinary high water mark” exist. . . While the Agencies assert that the definitions exclusion of drains and ditches remedies the defect, the definition of a tributary here includes vast numbers of waters that are unlikely to have a nexus to navigable waters within any reasonable understanding of the term. . . .

The Rule asserts jurisdiction over waters that are remote and intermittent waters. No evidence actually points to how these intermittent and remote wetlands have any nexus to a navigable-in-fact water. The standard of arbitrary and capricious is met because the Agencies have failed to establish a “rational connection between the facts found” and the Rule as it will be promulgated. . . .

 Itis within the purview ofthe traditional powers ofthe States to maintain their “traditional and primary power over land and water use.” Once the Rule takes effect, the States will lose their sovereignty over intrastate waters that will then be subject to the scope of the Clean Water Act.

Ouch–the EPA has been officially toasted. The Obama Administration is, as usual, playing hardball and taking the position that Judge Erickson’s opinion only blocks implementation of the waterways rule in the 13 States that were joined as parties to the litigation. Technically this is true, but normally an Administration won’t bother implementing a rule in some states while it is enjoined in others due to broad concerns regarding the rule’s legality. States that didn’t join the North Dakota lawsuit will now have to seek an injunction of their own, and may draw judges who are Obama Administration appointees less inclined to restrain federal executive authority.

So the buck certaily won’t stop with Judge Erickson, and the latest Obama Administration executive power grab looks headed to the Supreme Court.

NARRATIVE FAIL: Donna Brazile praises Bush’s Katrina response on flight with Obama.

Donna Brazile, a prominent Democratic political operative, praised President George W. Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina on Thursday, just hours before President Obama’s speech in New Orleans marking the storm’s 10th anniversary.

Brazile, a Louisiana native, has applauded Bush’s Katrina response before. But she made her latest comments on board Air Force One while flying to the Big Easy with Obama, who has previously criticized’s his predecessor’s handling of the storm recovery.

“Under President Bush’s leadership, we got it right,” she told reporters.

Brazile said Bush’s initial response to the storm was “slow,” but chalked that up to chaos plaguing state and local governments along the Gulf Coast.

Anybody talked to Kanye West lately?

TRUMP CAN’T WIN? THINK AGAIN: HERE’S HOW TRUMP WINS THE GOP NOMINATION: Donald Devine was one of the political strategists who helped Ronald Reagan win in 1980, so he knows something about presidential politics. Love Trump or hate him, Devine’s analysis of the Trump surge is absolutely essential reading.

MURPHY’S LAW FOR PARENTS: 10 Things Guaranteed to Happen With Kids at Exactly the Wrong Time: “We’ve all been there. When you have kids, life can be unpredictable and it’s usually at the wrong time! You feel me parents?,” asks Julie Prince at the PJ Parenting section. “Here are my top 10 joys of ‘Murphy’s Law for Parents.’”

What are yours?

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 841.

MEGAN MCARDLE: “Black Lives Matter” Will Have Trouble Micromanaging Cops.

Fundamentally, they’re trying to answer a problem that has perplexed society for a long time: How do we send police out to control crime (which, we should remember, disproportionately affects minorities and the poor), while holding them accountable for not misusing the considerable power we’ve vested in them? It’s a life-and-death version of a broader question economists and business-school types have wrestled with: How do you manage professionals? Unfortunately, so far no one has come up with great answers.

Since police are not usually thought of as members of the professional class, let me define what I mean by a professional: someone who does a lot of work unsupervised, and whose output is important, yet hard to measure. Professionals tend to deal with some of the most sensitive and important issues that our society has, like treating illness and educating our children. It’s no accident that these people generally end up being regulated by their peers — and that the rest of us are frequently unsatisfied with the results. When professional groups decide what’s good for the rest of us, it usually turns out that what they think is good for the rest of us is what’s best for them.

This doesn’t have to be nakedly venal, and it often isn’t. College professors genuinely care about their students, lawyers about their clients, doctors about their patients, journalists about their readers, and yes, police care about the communities they serve. But when a proposal comes up that will hurt them in some way, it’s very easy for the professionals to see all the reasons against it, and to convince themselves that the world will be better off without it. And when it comes time to discipline a member for some offense, unless it is straightforwardly heinous, they will naturally sympathize with the accused, thinking of all the times they made mistakes that could have landed them in the same place.

The alternative seems obvious: Don’t let them regulate themselves. The Black Lives Matter proposal calls for two strong civilian oversight boards that do not include any police representatives, former cops or family members of cops. These boards would no doubt be tough on cops. But there’s a small problem, which is that you would have a board that has, at best, a 50 percent understanding of policing: The members might know what it is to be policed, but they will not know what it is to police. Excluding people with knowledge of the system from your regulatory board is not a formula for good decision making. If you constitute such a body, you are asking for open conflict with your police force, which will justifiably resent being told that they did their jobs wrong, all the more so if the charge is coming from people who have never tried to do the job. Because police officers spend a lot of time operating unsupervised, and do not have measurable outputs other than the time they put in, they will have a lot of ways to rebel against perceived unfairness.

Two thoughts. First, it’s cute to pretend that Black Lives Matter is actually about making policing better when it’s really just another Democratic party constituency agitprop group. Second, if you really want to improve policing (1) abolish official immunity; (2) require insurance for all police; (3) give people a choice of who polices their neighborhoods. That won’t happen, though, because it’s bad for public employee unions and it doesn’t make for appealing slogans designed to drive black voter turnout in November of 2016.

BLUE MODEL JUSTICE IN CALIFORNIA: The public overwhelmingly favors safeguards that law-enforcement unions oppose—and the unions are winning.

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IF THEY’RE NOT RELEASING IT, IT’S BECAUSE IT’S POLITICALLY UNCOMFORTABLE: When Will ABC News Release the Full Vester Flanagan Manifesto? “Two days ago, ABC News reported that Vester Flanagan, the murderer of two WDBJ employees, sent a 23-page faxed manifesto to ABC News. ABC reported bits and pieces of the manifesto. Yet we still haven’t seen the full document. ABC hasn’t made it available. Why?”

IN RESPONSE TO MY POST ON THE COLLEGE BOARD’S AP HISTORY CHANGES, Stanley Kurtz emails that people shouldn’t get cocky:

It’s true that the College Board has been thrown back on its heels by this battle, but it’s way too early to declare victory. The changes to the APUSH framework are largely cosmetic. The textbooks and course syllabi have all been conformed to the controversial 2014 framework. There are no immediate plans to make changes to the guts of the course based on the revised framework. Even if there were, little would change because most of what’s happened is removal of biased phrasing, not the addition of major new directions.

The College Board is trying to deflect criticism and hold off possible business competition, without truly changing its U.S. history course. The only lasting and reliable solution is the creation of a company advised by top traditionalist historians that can compete with the College Board. Only that can restore choice to states and local school districts. Relying on the good faith of the College Board will not work. You can see this in the brand new AP European history framework, which shares all the biases of the original APUSH framework, very much including hostility to capitalism. You can find my take on the 2015 APUSH changes here, and links within that piece to further responses to the APUSH changes.

Eternal vigilance and all that.

THE DEAD HAVE ARISEN — AND THEY’RE STILL NOT VOTING REPUBLICAN! Yes, Really: 141 Counties Have More Registered Voters Than People Alive:

“Corrupted voter rolls provide the perfect environment for voter fraud,” said J. Christian Adams, President and General Counsel of PILF. “Close elections tainted by voter fraud turned control of the United States Senate in 2009. Too much is at stake in 2016 to allow that to happen again.”

As Hugh Hewitt likes to say, if it’s not close, they can’t cheat. And as my friend Stephen Kruiser quipped in 2010, every Republican should assume that his election is well within the margin of ACORN.

(Headline via noted election scholar Bartholomew J. Simpson.)

THEY KNOW THERE’S NO BETTER WAY TO ENSURE A GOP VICTORY IN 2016: Obama Won’t Be Pushing Second Amendment Rollback After Latest Shooting. So they’ll issue some sound bites, and try some under-the-radar gun control, but nothing more.

Meanwhile, Charles C.W. Cooke issues a put up or shut up challenge.

Go on, chaps. Bloody well do it.

Seriously, try it. Start the process. Stop whining about it on Twitter, and on HBO, and at the Daily Kos. Stop playing with some Thomas Jefferson quote you found on Google. Stop jumping on the news cycle and watching the retweets and viral shares rack up. Go out there and begin the movement in earnest. Don’t fall back on excuses. Don’t play cheap motte-and-bailey games. And don’t pretend that you’re okay with the Second Amendment in theory, but you’re just appalled by the Heller decision. You’re not. Heller recognized what was obvious to the amendment’s drafters, to the people who debated it, and to the jurists of their era and beyond: That “right of the people” means “right of the people,” as it does everywhere else in both the Bill of Rights and in the common law that preceded it. A Second Amendment without the supposedly pernicious Heller “interpretation” wouldn’t be any impediment to regulation at all. It would be a dead letter. It would be an effective repeal. It would be the end of the right itself. In other words, it would be exactly what you want! Man up. Put together a plan, and take those words out of the Constitution.

Not likely. Even a flatworm is smart enough to turn away from pain.

THIS IS CNN: “U.S. stocks poised for gains despite new China fall,” a CNN headline that’s the winner of Orrin Judd’s “Fox Butterfield Award of the Week.”

SO IS “SOCIAL SCIENCE” JUST A NICE WAY OF SAYING “MADE-UP SHIT?” Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed, Study Says.

The past several years have been bruising ones for the credibility of the social sciences. A star social psychologist was caught fabricating data, leading to more than 50 retracted papers. A top journal published a study supporting the existence of ESP that was widely criticized. The journal Science pulled a political science paper on the effect of gay canvassers on voters’ behavior because of concerns about faked data.

Now, a painstaking yearslong effort to reproduce 100 studies published in three leading psychology journals has found that more than half of the findings did not hold up when retested. The analysis was done by research psychologists, many of whom volunteered their time to double-check what they considered important work. Their conclusions, reported Thursday in the journal Science, have confirmed the worst fears of scientists who have long worried that the field needed a strong correction.

The vetted studies were considered part of the core knowledge by which scientists understand the dynamics of personality, relationships, learning and memory. Therapists and educators rely on such findings to help guide decisions, and the fact that so many of the studies were called into question could sow doubt in the scientific underpinnings of their work.

Will the authors of these papers suffer any consequences?

ERIC CANTOR ENDORSES BUSH. Yeah, that’ll boost his credibility.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump mocks:

Who wants the endorsement of a guy (@EricCantor) who lost in perhaps the greatest upset in the history of Congress?

Cantor lost because he was too establishment, too pro-amnesty, too contemptuous of the base. Great choice, Jeb! Do you even want to win?

TRUMP: MCCAIN ON STEROIDS? “Incoherency: Trump, like McCain, represents a grab bag of ideas that have little in common besides simply being his personal preferences,” Henry Gomez writes at PJM.

Even more so than McCain redux, Trump is giving me serious flashbacks to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cruise to victory in the California recall election of 2003. Both are the very definition of media savvy — Arnold in film and Trump in television; both pass the media’s stereotypical “fun guys you would like to hang out with and have a beer” test with ease – and both are ultimately pretty squishy RINOs who will say anything to get elected and placate their base.

When Arnold was running for the governorship, his leftwing True Lies costar Jamie Lee Curtis told Good Morning America that “even though he pretends to be a Republican, I think he’s a social Democrat at heart.” Which turned out to be absolutely spot-on in retrospect, leaving the Republican party, and arguably the state of California for dead by the time he left office at the start of 2011.

How would we describe President Trump after a couple of years in office?


In 2008, the Democratic Party in the U.S. nominated one of its youngest candidates ever, and its first African-American. Everyone assumed that the choice of Barack Obama, 47, meant a new day and a new era.

But seven years later, the party’s 2016 contest is shaping up as a battle of aging white Baby Boomers for control of an ancient organization desperately in need of a fresh identity and a new wave of ideas, leaders and voters (though Hillary would be the first woman to win the nomination).

Democrats like to brag that they have been in continuous operation for two centuries, longer than any other major political party in the free world.

It certainly feels like it. . . .

If Biden is to have a chance, he’ll have to somehow reach out to minority voters, who so far seem cool to or even estranged from Sanders and Clinton.

He’d also have to somehow reach out to a new version of the party that is out there waiting to be born. It is a yet-to-be-defined mashup of Black Lives Matter; pro-immigration activism; non-European cultural consciousness; tolerance of all religions, lifestyles and genders; genuine urgency about the fate of the planet; confidence in technology, social media and the sharing economy; and skepticism about America’s right, power and duty to lead the world.

Forging and leading that new coalition is not going to be easy, no matter what your age. It seems unlikely that the Three Musketeers of the Baby Boom can do it.

To paraphrase the Rolling Stones from 1964, time isn’t on their side.

As Richard Fernandez comments:

In the wake of worldwide trends it may be reasonable to ask whether Fineman hasn’t got his compass exactly upside down. Suppose his poles are reversed and his vision of the Democratic Party hoping to be born is actually the one waiting to die. How would that change the calculus?

The actual world of 2015 is the image negative of Fineman’s dream.

Indeed. Read the whole thing.

WAS IT OVER WHEN THE POLISH ARMY DEFENDED PEARL HARBOR?! ‘Cringe-worthy’: DNC’s ‘support the troops’ website featured photo of foreign veterans.

This wouldn’t happen under President Trump — oh wait.

WHAT THIS NYT PIECE IS REALLY ABOUT, is an effort to expand “campus” definitions of rape to apply everywhere else.

This is chilling and retrograde. And it shows the gap between the definition of rape in many states and the “culture of consent” at universities, Tuerkheimer argues. As she puts it, “On campus, this is rape; off campus, it often is not.” The discrepancy, she argues, diminishes the violation of victims outside universities, even though studies show they are actually more vulnerable to sexual assault than college students.

Tuerkheimer and others are pushing to reform state rape laws and the Model Penal Code. As the American Law Institute re-examines the code’s sexual-assault provision for the first time since 1962, a heated debate is taking place over how to replace the old language. Should the code follow states like New Hampshire, or go further and adopt the standard of affirmative consent?

You knew this was coming, right?

August 27, 2015

JOHN HINDERAKER: Dylann Roof and Vester Flanagan: Compare and Contrast.

We now know that Vester Flanagan was a sort of mirror image of Dylann Roof: black instead of white, gay instead of straight, but like Roof a nut with a cause. Like Roof, Flanagan’s cause was race. Flanagan was race-obsessed and, like Roof, wanted to incite a race war.

I agree with Hugh Hewitt that it is a mistake to pay attention to “manifestos” left behind by insane killers. It only encourages them. But if we are going to take seriously the ideology of lunatics, it must be a two-way street. Dylann Roof’s racist ideology was taken very seriously, to the point where Confederate flags came down across the South. In Flanagan’s case, the focus is on gun control rather than his equally racist ideology.

Flanagan was consumed with race hatred, and was disciplined by the television station for which he worked at the time for, among other things, wearing a Barack Obama button while he stood in line to vote. So why do we not retroactively conclude that images of Barack Obama are hateful, like the Confederate flag, and must be banned? Glenn Reynolds asks, “Will Obama apologize for the behavior of one of his followers?” Of course not. But imagine if a racist white killer who worked for a television station had been similarly disciplined for wearing, say, a Ted Cruz button. Do you not think that fact would be deemed highly relevant, and highly embarrassing to Senator Cruz?

Well, sure, but that’s because Cruz is a Republican.

WHY DOES THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HATE GAYS AND SEX? Anger Rising over Federal Bust; Manhattan’s district attorney distances office from raid.

TROLL LEVEL: GRANDMASTER. Report: LGBT Rainbow Hate-Flag Found In WDBJ Killer’s Virginia Apartment.

THE HILL: Survey: Most disapprove of moving forward on Iran without Congress.


CATO: The Work versus Welfare Trade-Off: Europe. “Thirty-five states offer a package more generous than the mean benefit package offered in the European countries analyzed. Many European countries have recognized the problem and have begun to reform their welfare systems to create a better transition from welfare to work. In fact, the United States is falling behind some European countries with regard to welfare reform.”

LOVE THE PHOTO OF OBAMA THAT THE HILL CHOSE: Federal judge blocks Obama’s water rule. “The decision is a major roadblock for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers, who were planning Friday to begin enforcing the Waters of the United States rule, expanding federal jurisdiction over small waterways like streams and wetlands. But the Obama administration says it will largely enforce the regulation as planned, arguing that the Thursday decision only applies to the 13 states that requested the injunction.”

SOMEBODY TELL OBAMA THAT THE NUMBER OF “CRAZIES” IS GROWING: Maloney becomes sixth NY Dem to oppose Iran deal.

DOES HE EVEN WANT TO WIN? Jeb Bush Sides With Jorge Ramos Over Donald Trump: Deserved ‘A Little More Respect.’

CATALYSTS IN THE NEWS: Carbon Fiber Cloth Can Generate Hydrogen. “Hydrogen-generating catalysts often require acidic solutions to release protons. However, this new catalyst can generate hydrogen while in water. It also requires only 200 millivolts to produce the gas, and can even operate in seawater.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Final Fall 2015 Law School Applicant Data: Down 1.8%. At Tennessee we were up 79%, but we were one of just a few schools with that experience.

Related: Average Private Law School Tuition Discount Approaches 50%. If you’re paying sticker price, you’re a sucker.

And yes, well, I told you so.

AT AMAZON: Best Sellers in Home and Kitchen.

A SMALL VICTORY: “Hey, Conservatives, You Won/The College Board’s about-face on U.S. history is a significant political event.”

Last year, the College Board, the nonprofit corporation that controls all the high-school Advanced Placement courses and exams, published new guidelines for the AP U.S. history test. They read like a left-wing dream. Obsession with identity, gender, class, crimes against the American Indian and the sins of capitalism suffused the proposed guidelines for teachers of AP American history….

The earlier guidelines characterized the discovery of America as mostly the story of Europeans bringing pestilence, destructive plants and cultural obliteration to American Indians. The new guidelines put it this way: “Mutual misunderstandings between Europeans and Native Americans often defined the early years of interaction and trade as each group sought to make sense of the other. Over time, Europeans and Native Americans adopted some useful aspects of each other’s culture.”…

The previous, neo-Marxist guidelines said, “Students should be able to explain how various identities, cultures, and values have been preserved or changed in different contexts of U.S. history, with special attention given to the formation of gender, class, racial, and ethnic identities.” That has been removed. The revised guidelines have plenty about “identity” but nothing worth mounting a Super PAC to battle.

Also new: “The effort for American independence was energized by colonial leaders such as Benjamin Franklin, as well as by popular movements that included the political activism of laborers, artisans, and women.” The earlier version never suggested the existence of Franklin—or Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison or anyone resembling a Founding Father. Now they’re back. Even the Federalist Papers were fished out of the memory hole.

Most incredible of all, the private enterprise system is, as they say, reimagined as a force for good: “As the price of many goods decreased, workers’ real wages increased, providing new access to a variety of goods and services.”

A lot of conservatives and libertarians think there’s no point engaging in these fights because you can’t win. But you can.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: A daily dose of aspirin appears to cut the risk of a common type of cancer. “A new study finds that people who took 75 to 150 milligrams of aspirin every day for at least five years were 27% less likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer than people who didn’t. (A tablet of regular Bayer aspirin, for instance, contains 325 mg of aspirin. The low-dose version designed to reduce the risk of a recurrent heart attack of stroke contain 81 mg of aspirin.) Other types of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, appeared to reduce the risk even more. People who took non-aspirin NSAIDs for at least five years were 30% to 45% less likely to have colorectal cancer than those who didn’t take the painkillers. Ibuprofen (the active ingredient in Advil and Motrin, among others) and naproxen (the active ingredient in Aleve) are two examples.”

ACTUALLY, IT’S JUST SINCE 2008: “The long, slow death of the rule of law in America.”

The most disturbing aspect of the scandal around Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server during her tenure as secretary of state is not the former first lady’s penchant for secrecy. . . .What’s truly unsettling is that it has been widely taken as read among both the media and the general public that Mrs. Clinton will likely avoid serious legal consequences for her behavior because the Justice Department is ultimately answerable to President Obama – and Democrats will not use the instruments of government to destroy one of their own. Whether that eventually proves true, the sentiment itself reveals a troubling trend in American politics. . . .

While this trend has been at work for decades – you can thank both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton for hastening the decline – it has reached escape velocity during the Obama years. The Justice Department, for example, already took a pass on prosecuting Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the scandal in which conservative groups were singled out for special scrutiny by the federal government on the basis of their political beliefs. If there’s anything that ought to be a matter of consensus in American politics, it’s that holding the reins of power doesn’t give you carte blanche to turn the power of the state against your partisan rivals. Yet Ms. Lerner, having done that very thing, doesn’t seem to be much worse for the wear.

This hands-off trend isn’t limited by any means to the DOJ. Consider the current debate over the nuclear deal with Iran. By any reasonable reading, the agreement should have been presented to Congress as a treaty, requiring a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate to take effect. The White House, however, has refused to classify it as such, leaving Congress to haggle its way into an arrangement whereby the president can have his way with the support of just one-third of either house of Congress. . . .

That’s the organizing precept of this era in American politics: The rules apply until they put those in power at a disadvantage. Because we’ve arrived at this point incrementally, perhaps we’re not conscious of how sweeping the transformation is. So let’s be clear about what’s at stake: This is a wholesale abandonment of the foundational American principle of the rule of law.

Yep. The rule of law has been D.O.A. since 2008. It has suffered some injuries and insults prior to the Obama Administration, of course, but somehow it survived because both political parties seemed to care about it. That’s just no longer the case for the majority of Democrats today, who repeatedly vote for party interests over the  rule of law.

The only real question is whether, assuming a Republican wins the White House in 2016, can the rule of law be revived through some prolonged CPR? Or are we past the point of no return? Time will tell.

GUITAR LEGEND STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN DIED 25 YEARS AGO TODAY: Read The Dallas Morning News coverage from that day.

I was never a full-fledged SRV worshipper back in my ‘80s band days, but I was well-aware that he had monster chops as a guitarist. I was about type “RIP,” but hopefully he’s busy having monster jam sessions somewhere above with Freddie, B.B., and his idols Albert King and Jimi.

IMAGES: Amazing ‘red lightning’ photographed from space. You know, pilots reported seeing all sorts of high-altitude phenomena for years and weren’t believed. Now there are pictures.

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Bringing back blogging at The Atlantic.

AT AMAZON: Best Sellers in Bath Products.

LIBERTY-HATING FASCISTS ARREST AMERICAN HERO FOR DISABLING RED LIGHT CAMERAS: “‘In order to do this successfully, you only need a pair of balls and a painter’s extension rod,’ [Stephen Ruth] says in a how-to video he published on YouTube.”

Back in 2012, Glenn put a quote from author James Scott on “Irish Democracy” into wide Insta-circulation:

One need not have an actual conspiracy to achieve the practical effects of a conspiracy. More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called “Irish Democracy,” the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs.

Do Ruth’s actions (not the least of which, his how-to video) qualify as yet another example of Irish Democracy?

LIFE IN DE BLASIO’S NEW YORK: Reports of subway assaults soar in the last year.

USA TODAY: Making college more expensive: Democrats’ proposals do little to rein in costs. “A better idea would be to take a magnifying glass to exactly why college costs have skyrocketed at three times the overall inflation rate since 1980. As with health care, the answer involves what happens when bills are paid with other people’s money.”


RACE BAITING + ENTITLEMENT = VERY ANGRY PEOPLE: Vester Flanagan Threatened Coworkers, Played the Race Card for Years.

Vester Lee Flanagan claimed in a suicide note Wednesday that June’s massacre of black parishioners at a South Carolina church was “the tipping point” that sent him on the path to murdering two journalists on live television Wednesday.

But in court papers and interviews with The Daily Beast, former colleagues describe Flanagan as a problematic employee, who was repeatedly reprimanded for his harsh treatment of coworkers, and complained racism was behind harsh evaluations of his work.

“He just had a history of playing the race card,” former WTWC anchor Dave Leval told The Daily Beast. “I know he did that in Tallahassee a couple of times…”

. . . .

But no one could guess that two years after he was fired, Flanagan would shoot two other journalists at his former TV station. . . .

“Vester was an unhappy man,” Marks said, adding, “when he was hired here, he quickly gathered a reputation as someone who was difficult to work with. He was sort of looking out for people to say things that he could take offense to.”

Flanagan also filed an employment discrimination suit against a Tallahassee, Florida, station where he worked from 1999 to 2000. (That case was settled out of court.)

According to one news report, Flanagan said he and another black employee were called “monkeys” and claimed a supervisor once said, “blacks are lazy and do not take advantage of free money” for scholarships and other opportunities. . . .

“The fact that he kept his job was because he was an African-American gay man. That’s pretty hard to say no to,” Sextro told The Daily Beast.

We have all encountered angry, entitled individuals like this. They aren’t just toxic to work with; they’re potentially dangerous. We typically give them wide berth, just to avoid the hurling of hurtful “racism!” accusations and potential violence that simmers just below the surface. Individuals like this may get reprimanded or bounced around (for the sanity of coworkers) but they rarely get fired, for fear of lawsuits.  This television station was frankly brave to fire the guy.

On a broader level, Flanagan is a sad but ineluctable product of the progressive left’s incessant race-baiting and claims of minority entitlement. He is, essentially, the love child of Al Sharpton and President Obama (with Elizabeth Warren as the surrogate).

MEH. I WANT ANTIGRAVITY AND REACTIONLESS THRUSTERS. The Transforming Vertical-Takeoff Plane That’s Better Than a Flying Car.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: In Europe, Immigration Drama That Has Nothing To Do With Donald Trump.

IN THE MAIL: From Harry Turtledove, The Victorious Opposition.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Waste King L-8000 Legend Series Continuous-Feed Garbage Disposal, $87.97 (74% off).

And, also today only: 40% Off Skullcandy Hesh 2 Bluetooth Headphones.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 840. “Nothing quite says truth and transparency like doing Uncle Sam’s work under your dog’s name.”

LIFE IN THE OBAMA ERA: “The fact that he kept his job was because he was an African-American gay man. That’s pretty hard to say no to.”

And this remains evergreen, alas:

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 9.59.38 PM

Worst president ever.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: More Ominous Statistics for Higher Ed Industry.

Barely a week goes by without the release of new statistics pointing to the utter unsustainability of America’s existing higher education model. Last week, we reported that, thanks rising default rates, Moody’s is considering downgrading securitized student debt—a $1.2 trillion (and growing) problem fueled in part by federal subsidies for overpriced graduate programs. This week, the National Association of College and University Business Officers released a report showing that despite ballooning sticker prices, private four-year colleges have stagnant revenue because they have been forced to boost “tuition discounts” (grants, aid, and scholarships) to keep enrollment up. Nonetheless, enrollment is barely growing. . . .

The data point to serious trouble on the horizon for non-elite colleges, which are being squeezed the most. While more students are willing to play the sticker price (or something close to it) for selective institutions, non-elite colleges are forced to compete for students by jacking up aid further and further, and losing revenue as a result. . . . Higher education professionals are clearly concerned about the rising discount rates mean for the future of the industry. If revenue and enrollment stay flat, lower-tier colleges will be squeezed harder and harder, and perhaps some will need to close their doors.

If only someone had warned them.

BICYCLE DESKS: BETTER THAN THE GYM? Well, that depends on what you mean by “better.” But we have a FitDesk and the Insta-Wife likes it.

AT AMAZON, fresh deals on bestselling products, updated every hour.

Also, coupons galore in Grocery & Gourmet Food.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: In Europe, Immigration Drama That Has Nothing To Do With Donald Trump.

ED MORRISSEY: If Clinton Loses Her Security Clearance, Could She Still Be President?

TANNED, RESTED, READY: Biden donors lying in wait.

Major fundraisers for Joe Biden’s past campaigns have not committed to Hillary Clinton, leaving the vice president’s allies convinced he can win the financial support necessary to challenge her.

Biden would face a financial giant in the Clinton campaign, which has won over many of President Obama’s fundraisers and already had a vast financial network.

But a number of big donors with ties to Biden have not thrown their support to the Democratic frontrunner.

And Clinton, who already faces an unexpectedly tough challenge from liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has seen doubts creep into her campaign as she has dealt with the controversy surrounding her use of a private email account as secretary of State.

“If VP Biden decides to run I will support him 100 percent,” New York attorney Richard J. Davis, a campaign bundler for Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign, told The Hill. Davis is a long-term Democratic supporter who served as assistant secretary of the Treasury Department during the Carter Administration.

The organization urging Biden to run for President – Draft Biden 2016 – would not comment specifically on its fundraising challenges.

I’m sure Hillary is thrilled.

HERBERT HOOVER TRUMP COULD EMERGE AS MONIKER OF DONALD THE PROTECTIONIST: “Here’s a historical fact that Donald Trump, and many voters attracted to him, may not know: The last American president who was a trade protectionist was Republican Herbert Hoover. Obviously that economic strategy didn’t turn out so well — either for the nation or the GOP,” Larry Kudlow and Steve Moore write at the New York Sun. “Does Trump aspire to be a 21st century Hoover with a modernized platform of the 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariff that helped send the American and world economy into a decade-long depression and a collapse of the banking system?”

Besides we already have a Hoover in the White House; far left Harper’s magazine compared Obama to the 31st president back in 2009, forgetting that Hoover was a fellow “Progressive” whose government-expanding policies were the prototype for the Roosevelt Administration’s further bloat, which did little but tread water and uselessly dragged out the Depression.

STRAIGHT INTO NIHILISM: Jason L. Riley on “Gangsta Rap’s Grim Legacy for Comptons Everywhere:”

Twenty years ago, sharp social critics like Martha Bayles and Stanley Crouch took others to task for indulging or playing down this celebration of delinquency instead of denouncing it. “Too many irresponsible intellectuals—black and white—have submitted to the youth culture and the adolescent rebellion of pop music, bootlegging liberal arts rhetoric to defend Afro-fascist rap groups like Public Enemy on the one hand, while paternalistically defining the ‘gangster rap’ of doggerel chanters such as Ice Cube as expressive of the ‘real’ black community,” wrote Mr. Crouch.

But that type of criticism was in the minority and ultimately lost the day. Scholars like Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr. would argue that gutter rap verse comes out of a black American tradition that enriches our language and culture. Cornel West, in his familiar mix of Marxism and gobbledygook, once described rap as “primarily the musical expression of the paradoxical cry of desperation and celebration of the black underclass and poor working class.” And Michael Eric Dyson credited rappers with “refining the art of oral communication.”

Today, gangsta rap is no longer edgy or even very controversial. It can only be described as mainstream. On a 2013 track, Jay Z, one of the country’s richest and most popular rappers, name-checked a convicted drug dealer and hit man who terrorized the Washington, D.C., area in the 1980s. Lil Wayne, who specializes in rapping about drug-dealing and gun violence, has more entries on the Billboard charts than Elvis. In 2010, President Obama told Rolling Stone magazine that both rappers were on his iPod.

Read the whole thing. Considering the Last Poets were rapping nearly a half century ago, shouldn’t this exhausted genre simply be tossed into the nostalgia bin anyhow?

SO HE’S BASICALLY A BLACK DYLANN ROOF: Manifesto purportedly sent by Virginia gunman cites ‘race war.’

A fax attributed to Vester Lee Flanagan claims the slayings were a response to the Charleston mass shooting.

An apparent suicide note received by ABC News on Wednesday morning and attributed to Virginia shooting suspect Flanagan, aka Bryce Williams, claims the killing of two reporters during an on-air interview was motivated by the Charleston church shooting and a desire to incite a “race war.”

ABC News says a man identifying himself as both Flanagan and Williams — Flanagan’s on-air name — first contacted it several weeks ago.

The man asked for a fax number, claiming he wanted to pitch the news channel a story.

A fax reportedly transmitted two hours after this morning’s shooting appears to contain “suicide notes” authored by a man named Bryce Williams.

“What sent me over the top was the church shooting,” the author says, referring to June’s mass shooting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. “And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”

“As for [Charleston shooting suspect] Dylann Roof? You [censored]! You want a race war [censored]? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …[censored]!!!”

The author then claims “Jehovah” told him to act on his plans.

“Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there,” the notes continue, referencing the gunman who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. “He got NEARLY double the amount that [Columbine High School shooters] Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin’.”

The fax, entitled “Suicide Note for Friends and Family,” concludes with a list of grievances that include “racial discrimination” and “sexual harassment” in the workplace, and makes reference to the author’s homosexuality.

Will we see culture war unleashed against any organizations he might have supported? Of course not. That sort of thing only goes in one direction.


Flanagan was also once reprimanded by WDBJ editors for wearing an Obama campaign sticker on his jacket while reporting from an election booth in 2012, saying it ‘demonstrated a basic lack of understanding of your role as an on-air journalist’ and was a clear breach of impartiality rules.

Will Obama apologize for the behavior of one of his followers?


JENNIFER KABBANY: In Defense of Offensive Speech: Off-Campus Tomfoolery Should Not Be Regulated By Overzealous Administrators. Nope. None of their business. If administrators want to make it their business, students should make it their business to ensure that they regret it.

MY BROTHER-IN-LAW’S BAR, THE HALF-BARREL, made #22 on this list of best college bars. Well-deserved.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Faith Academy teacher accused of sex with student.

TROLL LEVEL: GRANDMASTER. “Snooty Californian Wine Train Liberals Horrified By Black Book Club,” writes Milo Yiannopoulos.

But considering the amount of racism in the left-dominated TV news industry, in Hollywood (just ask any leftwing movie critic), and in other leftwing enclaves such as Manhattan (just ask Ta-Nehisi Coates), Chicago (as Michelle Obama herself has noted), Washington, and particularly among Hillary Clinton and her supporters, perhaps it’s time for the left to take a good hard look in the mirror about its rampant structural racism.

I’m sure MSNBC, aka “Jim Crow TV,” will get right on this topic.


J. CHRISTIAN ADAMS: Vester Flanagan/Bryce Williams July road rage incident caught on video?

WHAT TRUMP SHOULD DO: It’s time for The Donald to K.O. the reactionary worldview of Al Sharpton and other punitive leftists, Roger Simon writes.


August 26, 2015

THE CRONY LIFE: Obamacare Gives Big Windfall To Insurance Companies As Quality of Healthcare Declines.

SO BASICALLY EVERY CROOKED DEMOCRATIC OFFICIAL IS DOING THIS? Indicted Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane Kane Frequently Used Private Email Account.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane received message from colleagues on her private account, making it difficult for investigators to answer certain questions.

According to Michael Sisak of the Associated Press, the fact that Kane conversed with employees on her private email account will prevent investigators from seeing her responses.

A critical example of this concerns the all-important June 6, 2014 Daily News piece in which grand jury information was used.

Apparently Kane received links to that article the day it was published.

The problem is that last November, the AG told the grand jury she didn’t read the article until August 2014.

It’s lies and coverups all the way down.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The Economic Guide To Picking A College Major:

For all the recent skepticism about the value of a college education, a bachelor’s degree is still “worth it” on average. In fact, according to a recent analysis by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the average value of a college degree is near an all-time high, even factoring in rising tuitions.

But the key word there is “average.” The same Fed researchers also found that the lowest-earning 25 percent of college graduates earn less than about half of high school graduates — and the high school grads also had four years to make money while the college students were taking on debt. And those figures don’t include the shockingly high percentage of college students who don’t graduate, many of whom end up with the worst of both worlds: saddled with debt, but with no degree to help their job prospects.

Do tell.

SIGN OF THE TIMES? Controversial petition to class feminism as terrorism. The actual petition is here.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: In Europe, Immigration Drama That Has Nothing To Do With Donald Trump.

MICHAEL TOTTEN: How To Destroy A City In Five Minutes:

You don’t need a weapon of mass destruction to ruin a city.

Well, maybe sometimes you do. You’re not getting rid of New York City without one. But some of the world’s cities are so vulnerable, so precariously perched above an abyss, that a single bloodthirsty nutjob with a rifle can bring it to its knees in a matter of minutes.

Look at Tunisia’s resort city of Sousse on the Mediterranean. Two months ago, an ISIS-inspired nutcase named Seifeddine Rezgui strolled up the beach with a Kalashnikov in his hand and murdered 38 people, most of them tourists from Britain.

The police shot him, of course. There was never going to be any other ending than that one. And before the police arrived, local Tunisians formed a protective human shield around Rezgui’s would-be foreign victims. “Kill us! Kill us, not these people!” shouted Mohamed Amine. According to survivor John Yeoman, hotel staff members charged the gunman and said, “We won’t let you through. You’ll have to go through us.”

Tunisia’s hospitality and customer service are deservedly legendary, but that was truly above and beyond. It’s how Tunisia rolls, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. Tourists are not going back.

A few still wander around here and there, but the locals are calling them ghosts. Who else lives in a ghost town but ghosts?

Hotels are laying off workers. Shops are empty and many will have to be closed. The city is reeling with feelings of guilt and anxiety. Guilt because one of their own murdered guests, the gravest possible offense against the ancient Arab code of hospitality, and anxiety because—what now? How will the city survive? How will all the laid-off workers earn a living with their industry on its back? Sousse without tourists is like Hollywood without movies and Detroit without automobile manufacturing.

Even Tunisia’s agriculture economy is crashing. Prices are down by 35 percent because the resorts don’t need to feed tourists anymore.

The terrorists won this one.

TESTING THE LIMITS OF CONTRARIANISM FOR ITS OWN SAKE, PART DEUX: Liberal Historian Calls POW-MIA Flag Racist, Then Apologizes While Attacking America.

CONSTRICTOR SNAKES DON’T KILL BY SUFFOCATION, but by interrupting blood flow.

TESTING THE LIMITS OF CONTRARIANISM FOR ITS OWN SAKE: Just a reminder: Don’t submit pieces to Vox that might challenge abortion.

CHANGE: Vegas health clinic gambles on a new brand of primary care. “It doesn’t feel like a funeral home, like most doctor’s offices. It’s a relaxed environment.”

ALL THE COOL STUFF WILL HAPPEN ABOUT 20 YEARS TOO LATE FOR ME: Privately-Owned Space Stations Are Just Over the Horizon.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: In Europe, Immigration Drama That Has Nothing To Do With Donald Trump.

SPOTTING HIGH ENERGY NEUTRINOS deep under the Antarctic ice.

TRYING TO DEFUSE A DEMOGRAPHIC TIME BOMB, China looks at population growth policies. “The focus sets the stage for a host of rule changes regarding health, pensions, social welfare and possibly lifting the caps on children some families can have, the person said. More than three decades into an industrial boom that has created the world’s second-largest economy, China’s struggling to get rich before it grows old. The working-age population shrank for the first time in at least two decades last year as growth slowed, echoing Japan’s downturn in the late 1990s. As part of the shift, the party may lower its hard growth target of 7 percent to a range between 6.5 percent and 7 percent and make that a flexible guideline, the person said.”

IT’S PADDY CHAYEFSKY’S MEDIA WORLD, WE JUST LIVE IN IT: So for the past month, a cartoon-like Manhattan real estate plutocrat has well-positioned himself to be the potential next President of the United States by sucking all the oxygen out of any room he is in, particularly as his churlish dowager opponent flails about while under FBI investigation. Yesterday, a Democrat party activist for amnesty for illegal foreign immigrants attempted to hog the microphone at the cartoon zillionaire’s press conference, and today justifies his boorish actions by claiming, as Allahpundit paraphrases, “My ‘right’ to talk over other reporters and ask Trump grandstanding questions was trampled” when Trump’s security man had him temporarily removed from the press conference.

Also today in a far more sinister media development, “A disgruntled former news reporter who shot dead two of his ex-coworkers during a live TV segment this morning is in very critical condition after attempting to kill himself,” according to the London Daily Mail:

Viewers of WDBJ, a small CBS affiliate in Moneta, Virginia, watched in horror this morning as the Vester Lee Flanigan II shot dead 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, on live TV as the two were filming a light-hearted segment at 6:45am.

After carrying out the shocking on-air execution, Ward rented a car at the airport and then started driving east.

Police finally cornered Flanigan just before noon, about three hours northeast, in Fauquier County, Virginia, but he refused to stop and sped away from troopers.

Flanigan then crashed the car off the road and when police surrounded the vehicle, they found him suffering from a life-threatening gunshot wound.

As I wrote in 2013, Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 film Network, itself inspired by the on-air suicide of a distaff local Florida TV news reporter in 1974, really is Big Media’s How-To Guide for the Obama Era.

LYING IS WHAT THEY DO, AND WHO THEY ARE: The White House Lies About Gun Violence . . . Again. “‘Gun violence’ is not ‘becoming’ anything. Rather, it’s down — and dramatically.”

THE GREAT STAGNATION: Growing Input-Outcome Disparity In Biomedical Research. “Why does this matter? Our lives depend on the rate of advance of biomedical treatments. We all have an expiration date on our bodies absent some really big advances in methods to rejuvenate aging bodies. How many decades do you have left to live? Not as many as you would have if only increased spending on biomedical research had translated into a more rapid rate of progress in the development of gene therapies, cell therapies, and other therapies needed for tissue repair and rejuvenation.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Prof. Alice Dreger resigns over Northwestern University censorship.

NORMAN LEWIS: “The quest for robotic cars is underwritten by a suspicion of humanity.”

AUSTIN BAY: Terror and Surprise on the Paris Express.

Islamist terrorist Ayoub El Khazzani managed to evade security agency surveillance in at least five countries. Despite strict Belgian and French gun- and ammunition-control laws, not only did Khazzani acquire an AK-47 assault rifle, but when the moment came to wage armed jihad, he successfully evaded rail station security and slipped his AK with 200 rounds of ammo on board an elite trans-European express.

Wait, police spokesmen are wont to say, in a free society the cops can’t be everywhere all the time. Too true. And when targeting free societies, terrorists bank on it. Concealed in the open may be an oxymoron. Yet terrorists do conceal themselves in open societies by passing as peaceful members of that society.

Khazzani passed as peaceful. He intended to surprise the train passengers, and he did, sort of. Reliance on surprise makes terror attacks a type of ambush. By definition, in an ambush, attackers strike from concealed positions. In a military ambush, where soldiers ambush soldiers, the attackers must remain concealed until the second they trigger the ambush. If surprise is lost and the ambush is discovered, the ambushers lose their advantage.

Khazzani muffed the transition from concealment to attack. A French banker, identified as Damien A., saw him in a lavatory with his weapon. He grabbed at Khazzani. Khazzani ran into the rail car where passenger Mark Moogalian (an American living in France) accosted him.

Now Khazzani is targeting unarmed civilians. Blown ambush? Shouting? No problem. He has firepower. He shot Moogalian.

But other passengers had more surprises. Instead of cowering, they responded heroically. First one, U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, got to Khazzani, and then a second, and then four were on him. He could not aim the weapon. In the hand-to-hand struggle, he pulled a pair of box cutters and wounded Stone. He drew a pistol. But Stone’s friends, Oregon Army National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos and California college student Anthony Sadler, kept battering him. British businessman Chris Norman joined the fight. They disarmed and pinned Khazzani. To emphasize his disapproval, Skarlatos used the AK’s muzzle to make repetitive metal impressions on Khazzani’s head. Did the message get through? Khazzani was a finger twitch from eternity.

The en masse quick physical assault on Khazzani was somewhat like a tactic the military calls an instantaneous counterattack on a close-in ambush. In the ambush’s kill zone, the defenders have little chance, and so they instantly turn and assault the ambushers. Penetrating the ambush positions brings the battle to the ambushers. In the resulting melee, the ambushers lose the advantage of surprise.

It takes confident, trained and well-led combat units to respond that coolly and cohesively. But the comparison is instructive. . . . Can you train people to respond en masse to a terrorist attack? Sure. Group action by unarmed civilians can stop a lone gunman. A suicide bomber is another matter. Best be in a state that allows people to carry personal firearms. But an effective group response to any threat requires leadership, and in most situations, that means leadership by example. On the Paris express, I count five examples of leadership. One leader jostled in the lavatory. One gave warning. Three struck in a pack. Norman had the guts to follow. Free people in free societies can surprise you.

Read the whole thing.

IN THE MAIL: From Vox Day, with a foreword from Milo Yiannopoulos, SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 839.

GREEN CORRUPTION: Carbon Offsets May Have Dramatically Increased Emissions.

That’s the finding of a new report from the Stockholm Environment Institute, which investigated carbon credits used to offset greenhouse gas emissions under a UN scheme. As one of the co-authors of the report put it, issuing these credits “was like printing money.” . . .

The SEI sampled 60 random projects and found a whopping 80 percent of them to be of questionable green merit. The majority of these bogus Russian and Ukrainian offsets were used by the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (the EU ETS), a program already bogged down with problems pricing carbon. “[T]he poor overall quality of [Joint Implementation] projects may have undermined the EU’s emission reduction target by some 400 million tons of CO2,” said Anja Kollmuss, one of the leaders of the study.
This has huge implications, then, for Europe’s green goals. For years EU members have chosen to outsource emissions cuts with these carbon credits, but the lack of proper oversight at the UN level of the projects abroad supposedly generating these cuts now leaves the supposedly eco-conscious bloc in a bind. “If the EU was taking its climate targets seriously, then at least 400 million ETS certificates would have to be deleted to counter that,” Kollmuss pointed out.

But perhaps worst of all are the perverse incentives the SEI report alleges these credit swaps have created for actually increasing emissions. According to a study released in the journal Nature Climate Change, plants in Russia “increased waste gas generation to unprecedented levels once they could generate credits from producing more waste gas,” resulting in an increase in emissions as large as 600 million tons of carbon dioxide—roughly half the amount the EU’s ETS intends to reduce from 2013 to 2030.

It’s like the whole thing is just one big scam.