October 13, 2015

WAIT, WHAT: City thinks your kid needs a ‘recess coach’ to play nice.

IN A DESPERATE BID FOR RELEVANCE: NYCC 2015: Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong Ponder the ‘Star Trek’ Economy.


THE KABUKI THEATER OF THE INDOCTRINATED: Why Do Texas Students Plan To Carry Sex Toys To Protest Against New Campus Carry Law?

NAH, HE’S JUST FIDDLING: Obama Has Given Up.

WHAT DO YOU CALL 500 DEAD UNION BRANCHES AT THE BOTTOM OF AN ABYSS: Major threat to public-sector union membership.

DOOMED TO REPEAT IT: When pensions implode: Silicon Valley’s lesson for New York.

DEATH WISH: Jerry Brown Vetoes Right to Try and Live Bill.  Never any interest in “try and live,” never any rationing on assisted suicide.  So, pro death?

October 12, 2015

SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER, OR SOMETHING: Trump: Merkel ‘Insane’, Predicts German Riots, Says Migrants Look Like Prime Time Soldiers.

AT AMAZON, 70% or more off Emergency Response Equipment.

OBAMA DOESN’T SEEM HUMILIATED. HE SEEMS FINE WITH IT. Russia and Iran running neck-and-neck in Obama-humiliating sweepstakes.

HMM: Study finds that hidden infections may be real reason why people fall.

Around 2.5 million people aged 65 and older are treated in the ER for falls each year, but researchers who took part in a Massachusetts General Hospital study warn not to automatically assume that “older” means they took a tumble because they’re feeble, clumsy, or suffering from poor eyesight or dementia.

Instead, per the Telegraph, there may be a more surprising cause, scientists announced at the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s annual meeting: an infection. Urinary tract, bloodstream, and respiratory infections are the most common culprits when infections are involved—all of which can often lead to dizziness, low blood pressure, and other symptoms that may precipitate a fall, a press release notes.

The release adds that while it’s currently unclear how many falls are actually caused by infection—estimates based on previous research range from 20 to 45 percent —researchers wanted to find out what kinds of infections afflicted those who had fallen because of them.

How the study was conducted, per Forbes: Reviewing the hospital’s medical records from 2000 to 2014, researchers whittled its group of subjects down to 161 patients who had suffered a fall and been determined to have a coexisting systemic infection (CDI).

Of the 161, 44 percent had a UTI, almost 40 percent had a bloodstream infection, and 23 percent had a respiratory infection, the release notes; meanwhile, almost 6 percent had a heart valve infection.

What made the results of the study somewhat surprising: A majority of the subjects (56 percent) had few or no common symptoms of an infection, leading to 41 percent of them being misdiagnosed initially.


BECAUSE LEAVING YOU ALONE OFFERS INSUFFICIENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRAFT: Points And Figures: Why Can’t They Just Leave Us Alone? “We had Obamacare, now we have ObamaSave. It’s the proposed rules on retirement courtesy of President Obama. When you roll over a 401(k) to an IRA, you will have to be advised by someone acting in your best interest. Do you know who acts the best in your best interest? You. This is pure stupidity and just layers on another cost.”

HOMING IN ON THE SOURCE OF RUNNER’S HIGH. I’ve never experienced it, though I have started running again in a very mild way. I’m running a mile a couple of times a week, just for a change. Rippetoe is right that heavy lifting keeps you in good enough cardio shape that you can run a mile without getting winded. On the other hand — and this is one reason why I’m doing it — my form is terrible. I feel like a lumbering moose. I expect that will improve with practice.

AT AMAZON, Trick-or-Treat with Your Furry Friend.

UPLOAD YOUR MIND: Will You Ever Be Able to Upload Your Brain? Interesting piece, but it appears to embody Clarke’s First Law: “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”

AND WITH THAT, BERNIE LOSES THE REASON CROWD: All y’all understand that Bernie Sanders is not enamored of the marijuana, yes?

But Maureen Dowd may be having strange new respect, though.

A MODEST PROPOSAL FROM SCOTT OTT: SNL Just Made the Best Argument for Why We Need This One Gun Law.


Thousands of conservatives and even some moderates have complained during my more than three-year term that The Post is too liberal; many have stopped subscribing, including more than 900 in the past four weeks.

It pains me to see lost subscribers and revenue, especially when newspapers are shrinking. Conservative complaints can be wrong: The mainstream media were not to blame for John McCain’s loss; Barack Obama’s more effective campaign and the financial crisis were.

But some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo.

—The late Deborah Howell, the Washington Post’s then-ombudswoman, admitting on Sunday, November 16, 2008 just how badly her paper was in the tank to elect Mr. Obama.

Flash-forward to today: “Washington Post Reporter ‘Convicted’ of Espionage By Our Best Pals in Iran.”

—Headline, Ace of Spades today.

As Betsy Newmark adds, “This is what happens when a presidential administration doesn’t prioritize the lives of American citizens. With all that negotiating for a year with Iran, we couldn’t have made his release a condition of talking? Nope, because Obama wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of his dream of a deal.” And in their hatred of President Bush, the media were not prepared to properly vet Mr. Obama in 2008. As even CNN admitted by the end of November 2008, Americans “are putting a lot of faith in a man they barely know.”

The eight year experiment with the Obama administration will be a cautionary tale on multiple levels concerning America’s socialist elite and their palace guard stenographers. It will be debated for many years to come — no matter how badly the president and his acolytes leave America — and increasingly the Middle East — “fundamentally transformed.”

FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED: America’s Fading Footprint in the Middle East. “From shepherding Israel toward peace with its Arab neighbors to rolling back Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and halting the contagion of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, the U.S. has long been at the core of the Middle East’s security system. Its military might secured critical trade routes and the bulk of the world’s oil supply. Today, the void created by U.S. withdrawal is being filled by the very powers that American policy has long sought to contain.” Well, you know, now Obama has more flexibility.

WELL, OKAY, BUT I ALREADY HAVE A SHOTGUN: British Companies Build Jamming System To Take Down Drones.


All of which raises a simple question: What is the New York Times doing promoting the film and Rather’s and Mapes’s discredited accounts? While Rathergate lacks the historical importance of Walter Duranty’s journalistic wrongdoing as the Times’s Moscow bureau chief in the 1930s, it nonetheless should serve as an uncomfortable reminder of that shameful episode. As the Times’s man in Moscow, Duranty covered up Stalin’s terror famine in the Ukraine. Reflecting in the first volume of his autobiography on his experience working for the Manchester Guardian alongside Duranty in Moscow, Malcolm Muggeridge wrote: “If the New York Times went on all those years giving great prominence to Duranty’s messages, building him and them up when they were so evidently nonsensically untrue . . . this was not, we may be sure, because the Times was deceived. Rather it wanted to be so deceived, and Duranty provided the requisite deception material.” History repeats itself; in its own way, the Times’s celebration of Truth represents a closing of this particular circle.

Read the whole thing.

Related: Michael Graham interviews Harry MacDougald, the Atlanta lawyer who’s initial questioning of the validity of the Killian documents exposed the flawed CBS report about George W. Bush’s National Guard Service.


Shot: A report in the New York Post claims that Hillary Clinton could have “a serious meltdown,” as the emotional pressure of a failing campaign is causing her to have “childlike tantrums” that “leave staffers in tears.”

—Rick Moran at the PJ Tatler, yesterday.

Chaser: Hillary Clinton: “I’m Really Not Even a Human Being.”

Vanity Fair, today.

Suddenly all of those “Reboot Hillary Clinton” headlines over the past couple of years take on an entirely new perspective…

Related: David Axelrod on Hillary’s robotic nature: “She has to be very careful about not looking like she is not reading from a script…So I just think the biggest thing they have to do is filter everything they do through that authenticity lens. Because if she comes off as inauthentic, it’s going to just compound what seems to be the core problem facing her right now.”

That she’s having great difficulties passing the Turing Test?

Update: “Technically, it was still part of Spain.”


NEWS YOU CAN USE: How to Talk to Your Kids (and Yourself) about Christopher Columbus.

Related: “Columbus Day is the perfect gift for media: a whole day of outrage takes/countertakes that can be scheduled in advance on a holiday weekend.”

PRETTY SURE I DON’T: You Need to Build a Fire Pit out of an Old Tire.

ANCHOR DADDIES?: Why so many of Europe’s middle eastern migrants are men.

Many of the men I interviewed traveling solo told me they had left their families behind and intended to reunite with them once they’d been accepted by a safe European country.

This helps to clarify why so many of Europe’s newcomers are young men. Of 102,753 registered arrivals through Italy and Greece, the International Organization of Migration found that 68,085 were men, with only 13,888 women and 20,780 children. . . .

“They tell us, ‘We do this dangerous trip on our own, we get asylum, and there is a law in the European Union that the family can come,’” says Christof Zellenberg, the chairman of the Europa Institute, who has been heavily involved in volunteer efforts in Vienna. You see few newcomers over 50, he adds, because “this is a grueling trip, and you need to be young and strong.” . . .

But a future influx of families could another problem, as Zellenberg notes. Europe is already struggling to deal with the financial burden caused by today’s newcomers, who are pouring across European borders at levels not seen since World War II. If the majority of these men plan to bring families later, the current numbers are totally off. Multiply it by four or more, he says.

These anchor daddies will strain Europe’s resources and could fundamentally transform its culture.


Maybe Putin will save Assad, maybe he won’t. But people and governments in the Middle East will long remember that Obama’s definition of leadership meant abandoning our allies in Baghdad, showing the back of his hand to our friends in Jerusalem, cozying up to the liars and killers in Tehran, waging an effete air campaign against ISIS, and dithering while Syria descended into an almost unimaginable humanitarian crisis.

In the broader region, Obama’s leadership left Libya in ruins and wide open to ISIS penetration, alienated Egypt, decreased our leverage in Pakistan, and accomplished almost nothing in Afghanistan except to turn it into a safe haven for pederasts.

Obama’s disastrous failure to lead in the Middle East has helped to flood Europe with refugees and potential terrorists, encouraging the rise of Putin-like far-right parties throughout NATO and the EU. Meanwhile, Moscow appears set to flagrantly violate Obama’s New START agreement, building up its arsenal of deployed nuclear warheads above the impending caps. Our own arsenal continues to shrink, already well under the 2018 limits.

However, the president does see an opportunity coming soon to turn all this around, telling Kroft that “my definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris.”

Obama fiddled with the thermostat while the world burned.

Read the whole thing.

AT ALBION’S SEEDLINGS: Columbus, the Exit, and the Forge of Modernity.

A TALE OF TWO DEAD WHITE MALES. Woodrow Wilson vs. John C. Calhoun. “Unlike the Yale petition, the Princeton campaign against Wilson has gained little traction and has received no national media attention. Why? The answer surely has something to do with the fact that Wilson, the founder of the modern Democratic Party, is a progressive icon, while Calhoun is reviled as a proto-conservative.”

THE PERENNIAL QUESTION: “She said, ‘If he’s a drug dealer, why don’t I have better shoes?’”

TO BE FAIR, WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO DO THAT? If we don’t get Joe Biden, there won’t be one candidate who’s running on Barack Obama’s record.

JOE PAPPALARDO: Confessions of a Private Space Rocket Engineer. “It’s a hell of a time to be working as a young space engineer in the United States. Back in the day—and by that we mean less than 10 years ago—engineers had no options but to work inside massive aerospace firms, toiling away on small minutiae of aerospace projects that may never make it past the drawing board. And for most of their careers, they’d remain far away from any hardware that actually flew. But these days there are options—private space companies working on a plethora of spacecraft and launch vehicles.”

OUCH: O’Malley gets 4 percent support from home state.

HILLARY CLINTON, CALL YOUR OFFICE: A New Way to Fight Aging in the Brain.

DAVE KOPEL: Unarmed Jews defeat mass murder: Revolts at the extermination camps. “Sometimes the only way to stop mass killers is to fight. That was the strategy attempted by the Jewish prisoners on October 14, 1943, at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland.”

I’m also reminded of the surprisingly-good miniseries Uprising, based on the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt. Here’s a review that Kopel and I wrote back when it came out. And here are some related thoughts of mine from a while back.

THESE TIMES CALL FOR A REALLY STUPID, FUTILE GESTURE. And he’s just the guy who can do it. “Today I went to my local police station and asked for them to take my guns and have them destroyed. . . . Last week, I sat in a hotel room and watched the President talk about the latest mass shooting and how they had become routine and the concern that nothing would change. I started to shrug it off and pretend in my mind that there was nothing I could do. But the idea that gun culture doesn’t bear some responsibility for these killings didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t want to be a part of gun culture anymore.”

Honestly, I’m happy to see anyone so susceptible to demagoguery disarmed.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Why the Democratic Party is squelching Larry Lessig’s message.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 886.

BRAVE SIR BARACK RAN AWAY: Has the White House Given Up on Confronting Russia?

On Friday, the Obama Administration officially announced the end of its spectacularly unsuccessful $500 million plan to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels. . . .

This latest decision is the most obvious manifestation of what Obama Administration officials have been telling the press for the past few days: the plan for Syria, in light of Russia’s intervention, is to do nothing to escalate the situation. There are no plans to send anti-aircraft weapons to moderate rebels being hit by Russian air strikes, for example. Eli Lake and Josh Rogin write that some White House advisors are even encouraging the President “to give up on toppling the Syrian regime.”

Administration officials, frustrated by years of their own inability to decisively solve the Syrian crisis, appear confident that the Russians will in due time get bogged down as well. It doesn’t help advocates of confronting Russia, of course, that the Europeans prefer “a more practical relationship,” as European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday. Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande handed Putin a not-insignificant win by agreeing to maintain the status quo in Ukraine. There is now some real doubt about whether the U.S.-led sanctions regime will hold next year.

Obama says he’s taking the long view.

I think in this context, “the long view” means “until after January 20, 2017.”


Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace said that big-business groups are ready to target House Freedom Caucus members if they don’t “play ball” with the GOP establishment and support Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’s (R-WI) potential candidacy for House Speaker.

Wallace said that he has been told that “there’s a lot of pressure being put on by the establishment and business groups, saying that some of those Freedom Caucus members, if you’re not going to play ball and you’re not going to get involved, you’re going to get a primary opponent.”

The Chamber of Commerce has reportedly budgeted $100 million to destroy the Tea Party this election cycle and news of the chamber’s plans came not-so-coincidentally days after House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) announced that he would be resigning from Congress.As Roll Call noted, the chamber’s “top targets in 2016 will be right-wing, tea party candidates” and its ultimate goal is to reportedly win back “the soul of the Republican Party” for the GOP establishment establishment by helping elect more moderate candidates “in contested primaries to strengthen their hand during policy debates on the Hill.”

So apparently the Chamber and GOP establishment have come to the conclusion that continued conflict, not cooperation, with constitutional conservatives is the best path forward. And they wonder why the tea party is distrustful and angry?

RELATED: Freedom Caucus signals it could support Ryan for Speaker.

“Paul Ryan is a good man. He’s a great communicator, the kind of messenger I think our party needs,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said on “Fox News Sunday.” ”And certainly, if he gets in the race, I think our group would look favorably on him.” . . .

One Republican close to Ryan said that the only scenario in which Ryan might end up as speaker is if he were to be selected by unanimous acclamation, not subject to bargaining with the Freedom Caucus. This Republican demanded anonymity to discuss private considerations.

Somehow I think an attitude of “I will accept the Speakership, but only if you unanimously support me and accept that I will not bargain with you” isn’t exactly the right attitude to “unite” the House GOP.  

UPDATE: Fixed broken link (at intro).

DONALD TRUMP AND THE DECLINE OF AMERICA’S MORAL ECOLOGY, as explored by Paul Mirengoff of Power Line, who writes:

Peter Wehner writes about the “cultural and moral context that allows someone like [Donald] Trump – narcissistic, crude, obsessed with wealth and fame, and who has never felt the need to ask God for forgiveness* – to emerge.” Pete believes that “it is hardly a coincidence that Donald Trump shot to the top of the polls in a nation that celebrates the Kardashians.”

I agree.

Pete ties his discussion of the cultural and moral context that fuels Trump’s campaign to David Brooks’ recent book, The Road to Character. According to Brooks:

Each society creates its own moral ecology. A moral ecology is a set of norms, assumptions, beliefs and habits of behavior and an institutionalized set of moral demands that emerge organically. Our moral ecology encourages us to be a certain sort of person.

Over the past several decades we have built a moral ecology around the Big Me, around the belief in a golden figure inside. This has led to a rise in narcissism and self-aggrandizement.

And the rise of toadying establishment stenographers who believe that some men are destined for the White House based upon the sharpness of their trouser creases.

In other words, America’s moral ecology didn’t collapse overnight with the arrival of The Donald to the campaign trail earlier this year:


* But to the best of our knowledge, never prayed in a church led by a pastor shouting “God damn America.

STACY MCCAIN: Moving the Goalposts: What Feminist ‘Rape Culture’ Discourse Is About. “American women are now less at risk of rape than at any time in the past 40 years, and the emergence of a frantic hysteria about ‘rape culture’ on college campuses therefore seems contradictory — unless you understand how feminist theory ‘problematizes’ heterosexuality. . . . What Filipovic describes as feminist ‘disenchantment with the “No means no” framework’ amounts to an admission that the recent rhetorical fury about ‘rape culture’ is actually an attempt to move the goalposts, in such a way as to criminalize normal male sexual behavior. The confusion created by so-called ‘affirmative consent’ policies (also known as ‘yes means yes’) is understandable because most people would be shocked senseless if they stopped to consider what it actually means. . . . Filipovic’s suggestion of ‘a different social model’ as the basis for a legal standard where men are deemed guilty of rape if a woman later says did not consent ‘enthusiastically’ raises the question of how such a standard could be enforced. Preventing rape is a laudable goal, but that’s not Filipovic’s goal. Her goal is to make men responsible for women’s post-coital regret.”

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Why the Democratic Party is squelching Larry Lessig’s message.

THOU SHALT NOT! A Liberal’s Ten Commandments, as brought down from Mount Obama by Victor Davis Hanson.



WEBB HAS KEPT AN AWFULLY LOW PROFILE UP TO NOW: The wild card at the Democratic debate could be the guy no one’s talking about. “In an atmosphere where establishment politicians are despised on both sides of the aisle, Webb’s genuine rebelliousness could be an asset. Yet voters also want to be courted, and Webb appears to have done little wooing in the early states.”

As far as I can tell, he hasn’t done much, period. Which is kind of weird.

THE CAMP OF THE SAINTS IS JUST A NOVEL, RIGHT GUYS? RIGHT? GUYS? Europeans struggle as migrant crush shuts down their train system.


If you skim the chapter without knowing what you’re looking for, it may come across as being quite balanced, including references to the need for IP rules to further the “mutual advantage of producers and users” (QQ.A.X), to “facilitate the diffusion of information” (QQ.A.Z), and recognizing the “importance of a rich and accessible public domain” (QQ.B.x). But that’s how it’s meant to look, and taking this at face value would be a big mistake.

If you dig deeper, you’ll notice that all of the provisions that recognize the rights of the public are non-binding, whereas almost everything that benefits rightsholders is binding. That paragraph on the public domain, for example, used to be much stronger in the first leaked draft, with specific obligations to identify, preserve and promote access to public domain material. All of that has now been lost in favor of a feeble, feel-good platitude that imposes no concrete obligations on the TPP parties whatsoever.

Another, and perhaps the most egregious example of this bias against users is the important provision on limitations and exceptions to copyright (QQ.G.17). In a pitifully ineffectual nod towards users, it suggests that parties “endeavor to achieve an appropriate balance in its copyright and related rights system,” but imposes no hard obligations for them to do so, nor even offers U.S.-style fair use as a template that they might follow. The fact that even big tech was ultimately unable to move the USTR on this issue speaks volumes about how utterly captured by Hollywood the agency is.

If Republicans were smart, they’d make an issue of this. Also: Repeal the Hollywood Tax Cuts!

BERNIE SANDERS, GUN HYPOCRITE. His views are evolving along with his campaign.

WANTED: A Tea Party Speaker.

But maybe the lesson of those struggles is that the speakership simply isn’t a job for a professional dealmaker and institutionalist at the moment. Instead, maybe it’s a job for a conviction politician, an ideologue (in the best way!) who’s also interested in governing.

Maybe, in other words, House Republicans need a speaker who’s an ambassador from the Tea Party to the G.O.P.’s K Street/Chamber of Commerce wing, rather than the other way around.

The reality is this: The only way the Republican House majority can become less dysfunctional and chaotic in the short run is if the next speaker wins the trust of enough conservative backbenchers to quell or crush revolts from the rest. And the best way to win that trust is to be seen as fundamentally on the insurgents’ side, which is a feat that Boehner, given his background and priorities, could never hope to manage.


MICHAEL GRAHAM: “Let’s have a statewide ban on zero tolerance policies so schools and police can use their discretion!” Video at link.

As mentioned in Michael’s video: Panicked Parents, Cautious Cops Keep Kids at Home on 9/11: A bogus Facebook posting about a Black Panther invasion caused more than 500 middle Georgia students to miss school.

ANN ALTHOUSE: Elaborate NYT graphic makes me think something quite different from what they want me to think.

That said, what I really want to talk about is that pile of Monopoly houses, far, far outnumbering the hotels. There are 120 million households, and 158 spend half of what is spent, and amount that’s only $176 million. If all of the households gave just $5, that would be $600 million, vastly overwhelming those supposedly fearsome, overspending, rich, white men. That money could be given directly to that candidate (since it comes, obviously, nowhere near the limit).

Instead of complaining about 158 families spending $176 million (which strikes me as a fairly paltry amount, especially since only $2,700 can be given to a candidate), the clamor should be about the need for everyone to give just a little money to someone. Skip one cup of coffee, one cheeseburger, one movie, and give the money to the candidate you like best. It could be so easy.

And yet bitching about those terrible rich people — those terrible male white people — serves other political interests… interests that the rich white males who own The New York Times have a constitutional right to push with all the powerful rhetoric and lovely graphics they can muster.

It’s Potemkin villages all the way down.


As a wise former member of Saturday Night Live would say,  “This is about hating [another] black man in the White House. This is racism straight up,” from SNL’s producer and writers.

But then, as Salon warned last year, “It’s not easy being black on ‘Saturday Night Live’” particularly when the show’s writers and producer forces one of its historically few black cast members to perform such racially denigrating material.

KURT SCHLICHTER: How Marco Rubio Might Win Back Us Conservatives.

LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: The Exploitabilty of the Slackoisie. “But I digress. There is no question but that the happiness of the newest, youngest, least competent, least experienced, person in a law firm dictates how a firm should function. Every firm should reinvent itself for this new lawyer’s happiness, lest others in the office be affected.”


That hostile interviewer is of course host and Democratic operative with a byline John Dickerson, who advised Obama ‘Destroy the GOP’ in a 2013 column at the Huffington Post.


Tuesday’s debate will be moderated by Anderson Cooper with his colleague Dana Bash and CNN Español’s Juan Carlos Lopez chiming in. Don Lemon will handle questions from Facebook, allegedly selected to represent a clued-in online public (sort of the liberal-left equivalent of a Drudge Poll, I suppose).

What does this add up to? How do you spell “softball?”

I think we should help out CNN and come up with a few questions of our own for the candidates, since they’re probably not going to attack each other in any meaningful way.  (I’ll take Chris Cillizza’s word for it). With Donald Trump not in attendance, this could be a monumental snore. (No wonder they cut an hour.)  Someone has to come to the aid of  the network with some interesting questions.

What questions would you like CNN to ask to avoid the appearance of a complete softball debate?


HAPPY COLUMBUS DAY: Many in the West will demonstrate their fierce originality and intellectual independence today by condemning Christopher Columbus using the same shopworn cliches they used last year. For those of a different bent, I recommend Samuel Eliot Morison’s Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus, which takes a somewhat different position. Here’s an excerpt:

At the end of 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through studying the pagan past. . . .

Yet, even as the chroniclers of Nuremberg were correcting their proofs from Koberger’s press, a Spanish caravel named Nina scudded before a winter gale into Lisbon with news of a discovery that was to give old Europe another chance. In a few years we find the mental picture completely changed. Strong monarchs are stamping out privy conspiracy and rebellion; the Church, purged and chastened by the Protestant Reformation, puts her house in order; new ideas flare up throughout Italy, France, Germany and the northern nations; faith in God revives and the human spirit is renewed. The change is complete and startling: “A new envisagement of the world has begun, and men are no longer sighing after the imaginary golden age that lay in the distant past, but speculating as to the golden age that might possibly lie in the oncoming future.”

Christopher Columbus belonged to an age that was past, yet he became the sign and symbol of this new age of hope, glory and accomplishment. His medieval faith impelled him to a modern solution: Expansion.

Morison’s book is superb, and I recommend it highly as an antidote to the simplistic anti-occidental prejudice of today — which, as Jim Bennett has noted, has roots that might surprise its proponents:

This is primarily an effect of the Calvinist Puritan roots of American progressivism. Just as Calvinists believed in the centrality of the depravity of man, with the exception of a minuscule contingent of the Elect of God, their secularized descendants believe in the depravity and cursedness of Western civilization, with their own enlightened selves in the role of the Elect.

Indeed. Nonetheless, Bennett thinks that a different Italian deserves the real credit. (Reposted from 2005, but it still fits.) [Doesn't this leave you vulnerable to charges of recycling too? --ed. I prefer to think of it as "They came at us in the same old way, and, you know, we beat them in the same old way."]

I post this every year, as it’s evergreen. The original link to Bennett’s column seems to have succumbed to link-rot, but I believe this is it.

YEAH, BUT HUMANS HAVE ALWAYS PRESENTED THE BEST FACE TO THE WORLD: This is no different than those Christmas newsletters people send. Our double lives: Dark realities behind ‘perfect’ online profiles.

THIS WILL END IN TEARS: De Blasio’s plan to socially engineer cultural groups.

A SMALL INSTANCE OF ACCOUNTABILITY: EPA dinged for another wastewater spill in Colorado.

YOU SEE THEM AROUND HERE A LOT:  Last week I was trying to point them out to friends from out of state, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember the word “Glider.” How Gliders Fly, And How They’re Different Than Powered Aircraft.

SO CRAZY IT JUST MIGHT WORK: Hopefully Cornell president’s free speech stance sets a trend.

I THOUGHT SO TOO: We should have rebuilt the Twin Towers.

THE BETTER TO HACK YOU WITH: How scientists are upgrading the brain with machines.

A REPUBLIC IF YOU CAN KEEP IT: Ben Carson on protecting the Constitution.

IF THIS WAS ALL CINDY SHEEHAN DID: Military mom selling letter from Barack Obama.

October 11, 2015

IT’S COME TO THIS: All Google’s self-driving car crashes were caused by humans, testers claim. “California’s DMV revealed the vehicles had been involved in nine crashes in the last year – mostly by being rear-ended or side-swiped by other cars.”

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HILLARY’S NIGHTMARE: Gennifer Flowers Is Back.

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: The Speaker Fight Isn’t Chaos, It’s Democracy. Why do you think the establishment of both parties is so upset?

WELL, THAT MAKES SENSE: Clinton Emails Became the New Focus of Benghazi Inquiry.

I BLAME HIPSTERS: There’s a Major Global Coffee Crisis Brewing.

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JAY COST: What The Hell Is Going On? The Fraying Of The National Consensus.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Why the Democratic Party is squelching Larry Lessig’s message.

HOW’S THAT WORKIN’ OUT SO FAR? The End Of The Pax Americana: Obama’s ‘Accomplishment.’

TRUE: Pauline Cafferkey case shows we still know little of Ebola’s long-term effects. “More than a year after the epidemic, doctors are still learning about the long-term effects of Ebola. Before the latest outbreak, which has killed 11,300 people in west Africa, it was known that the virus remained in semen and vaginal fluid, and survivors were advised to abstain from sex for three months after recovery. This year US researchers and medics have discovered that the virus also continues to be present in ocular fluid in the eye and in spinal fluid.”

THE NEW AXIS OF EVIL: Michael Ledeen writes:

The “Axis of Evil” went hand in hand with Bush’s analysis of the threat we faced:  it was, he said, a combination of terrorist groups and countries that supported them.  He promised that the United States would not distinguish between the two groups.  We would go after the terrorists and their sponsors and allies.  That we did it badly—Iran, not Iraq, was the logical target after Afghanistan, and political warfare, not invasion, was the logical method—shouldn’t blind us to the fact that it was already clear in early 2002 that we had to deal with multiple threats, and we’d eventually have to defeat them all or face a grim future.

Would that we’d kept that thought.  Instead, we got the grim future.

We now face a more potent Axis of Evil that includes two of the original three (North Korea and Iran, with Iraq up for grabs), plus Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries, and terrorist groups including al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State.  With the exception of their hatred of the West, there is no single ideology that unites them.  The new Axis includes Sunni and Shi’ite radical Muslims, Communists and other radical leftists, and nationalistic secular tyrants like Vladimir Putin.  They have certainly succeeded in wrecking hopes for a peaceful world.

There is no escape from this war, whatever Western leaders might wish.  We will either win it or lose it, and right now we are losing, most obviously in the Middle East and Central Europe, less dramatically in Africa from Somalia to Nigeria, and in Latin America where Iran is busily strengthening its cooperation with local autocrats.

“We can win this thing.  But we’d better get at it fast.  It’s getting worse right now,” Michael adds. And it will continue to do so until at least 2017.

Speaking of which, “Iran [Reportedly] Tests New Ballistic Missile in Violation of Nuclear Deal.” Or as Amir Taheri today writes in the New York Post, “Obama will be the only person sticking to Iran deal.”

TWO LORNE MICHAELS IN ONE! Weekend Update Slams Excessive Gun Ownership: ‘What Are We Preparing For, a Rap Beef?’

As Stephen Miller ‏responds, “Try getting into SNL’s studio. Armed guards inside and outside of 30 Rock.” Additionally, Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live, the mid-‘80s book by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad features this anecdote from the show’s fifth season, when drug use by the original cast was rampant:

Cocaine, in fact, was a principal cause of the surliness the reporters sensed in Saturday Night. The drug itself made many of those who used it hostile. It also made them suspicious of the media, because now they had too much to hide. By the fourth season cocaine had become a staple on Saturday Night, an integral part of the working process there. Fears of a bust increased. In the fifth season Lorne actually posted a guard, a huge black man named Alvin, outside the elevators on the 17th floor. Ostensibly Alvin was there to keep away fans and other well-wishers, but few on the show doubted that an important part of his job was to prevent any sudden surprises from visiting law-enforcement officers.

Was Alvin armed? The book doesn’t say, but he was certainly a rough man hired to do violence on the show’s behalf, to paraphrase the line frequently (and mistakenly) attributed to George Orwell.

A VACCINE WOULD BE NICE: Desperate Families in Delhi as Dengue Overwhelms Hospitals.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Why the Democratic Party is squelching Larry Lessig’s message.


There’s nothing like the thrill of an incoming text message, particularly when that text is from your vagina.

Looncup is a no ordinary menstrual cup—it’s smart. “Yes, this is the very first smart menstrual cup so it is the very first of it’s kind,” Kate of the Looncup team told the Daily Dot in an email.

For the uninitiated, a menstrual cup is a bell-shaped, silicone receptacle worn inside the vagina to collect period blood during that time of the month. Some women prefer to use a menstrual cup as an eco-friendly alternative to disposable pads and tampons. Menstrual cup wearers must empty their receptacle periodically, but the question is, how do you know when it’s full?

Enter the Looncup: It’s connected to an app on your smartphone, which will tell you in real-time how full your cup is, when it’s time to empty it, and the volume at which you’re flowing. The fuller your menstrual cup, the more alerts you’ll get. It also claims to help detect gynecological problems by monitoring the color the period blood, which could indicate potential issues.

So does this get filed under the “too good to check,” “Well, this is the 21st century, you know,” or “The 21st century isn’t working out the way I had planned” department? Let me know in the comments.

(Oh, and here’s the link to Text from Dog if you’ve never seen the series.)

DON’T MESS WITH THE SCA: Indiana Woman Uses Society For Creative Anachronism Skills To Capture Intruder:

Karen Dolley, 43, was sleeping in her bed when she heard the sound of a man’s voice in her house in the middle of the night, the Indiana Star reports. She flipped the lights on a discovered there was a strange man standing in her living room.

But Dolley didn’t cower. Instead, instincts from years of training and conditioning in Medieval combat skills kicked in. She punched the man 10 times and cornered him.

“I didn’t think I was getting good blows in but my knuckles are bruised today,” Dolley told the Star. “Hitting someone like that, it isn’t like the movies. You’re expecting it to be louder and see people jerk around, but that’s not how it happens in real life.”

Dolley owns a gun, but when she went to grab it, she opened the wrong drawer in the chaos of the moment. So she reached for her ninjato — which is a sword used in the Japanese feudal period.

She held the man at sword point until police arrived minutes later.

She began training in combat when she was 18 as a fighter for the group Society for Creative Anachronism, the Star reports. The group is dedicated to recreating arts and skills of pre-17th Century Europe.

That was a rough period, so if your skills are suitable for pre-17th Century Europe, you’re pretty good.

FASTER, PLEASE: Researchers Have Developed A Lyme Disease Treatment That Will Prevent Infection.

I BLAME CARLY FIORINA. OR MAYBE CONDI RICE: DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Republicans Are Saying ‘Yeah, Let’s Kick Women … Out Of This Country’ [VIDEO]:

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I believe that any one of our candidates will stand in stark contrast, when it comes to the priorities of the American people and how they’re going to make their decision on who they’re going to vote for for President, to any of the Republican candidates. The Republicans are trying to out-right wing each other. Look, between the fifteen Republican candidates who are left — all of whom are trying to out-Trump Donald Trump — by saying, “Yeah let’s kick women. Let’s kick them and immigrants out of this country. Let’s take away health care from women.” … Yes, I think any of the candidates on our side of the aisle … will be chosen and eventually elected as the 45th president of the United States of America because of that contrast.

Wait — are Republicans going to kick everyone out of the country, or put them back in chains? (Or allow women to stay, but leave them barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen?) I wish the Democrats would synchronize their crazy pills and extremist talking points.

AT AMAZON, Get a $50 Credit Toward a Camera or Lens with a Qualifying Accessory Purchase.

UH OH: ‘Climate Change’ — Massive El Nino About to Hit California.

EVERYWHERE ELSE, THE CHARGERS STAND LONELY: In California, Electric Cars Outpace Plugs, and Sparks Fly. “Unlike gas stations, charging stations are not yet in great supply, and that has led to sharp-elbowed competition. Electric-vehicle owners are unplugging one another’s cars, trading insults, and creating black markets and side deals to trade spots in corporate parking lots. The too-few-outlets problem is a familiar one in crowded cafes and airports, where people want to charge their phones or laptops. But the need can be more acute with cars — will their owners have enough juice to make it home? — and manners often go out the window.”

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of space at the Turkey Creek charging station in Knoxville.


IN THE MAIL: From Charles E. Gannon, Raising Caine.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Bissell DeepClean Professional Pet Carpet Cleaner, $159.00 (47% off). If it’s as good as the Bissell spot cleaner I’ve got, it’s awesome.

And, also today only: 50% or More Off Sweaters. Winter is coming.

Plus: Award-Winning Kindle Books, $3.99 or Less Today Only.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 885.


Bergdahl is an embarrassment to the army, but more to the point, he’s an embarrassment to Barack Obama. This case was never going to end up with Bergdahl having the book thrown at him, giving him serious jail time. After all, the narrative must be maintained. The president made a great deal to get Bergdahl released — five terrorist leaders for a deserter — and that desertion in the face of the enemy is “honorable service.”

All hail the bloody narrative.

The Eastasia/Eurasia flip-over in reporting on the Middle East will make for jaw-dropping reading if the president has an (R) after his or her name in January of 2017.