November 28, 2014

“SMART DIPLOMACY” UPDATE: Anti-ISIS coalition to meet next week. “Foreign dignitaries from around 60 countries that make up the international coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will meet for the first time next week, the State Department announced Wednesday. Secretary of State John Kerry will chair the first ministerial meeting on Dec. 3 at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The ministers plan to ‘discuss the political mechanism for our joint efforts to degrade and defeat’ ISIS, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.”

I’m not super-optimistic about this.

MILO YIANNOPOULOS: An Open Letter to Bloomberg’s Sheelah Kolhatkar, on the Delicate Matter of Anita Sarkeesian. “Dear Sheelah Kolhatkar: Yesterday, my attention was drawn to your extraordinary profile of video game critic Anita Sarkeesian, which is to be a cover story in Bloomberg Businessweek. On Twitter I intemperately called it a ‘grotesquely shoddy work of credulous, ridiculous fangirlism.’ On reflection, I conclude I did not go far enough.”

NO, AND I HOPE SOMEONE CHALLENGES THEM ON THIS: Constitution Check: Does the government have the authority to write restaurant menus?

It’s also an obsolete approach, now that there are loads of smartphone apps that give you more detailed nutritional info — carb/fat/protein breakdowns, for example — at your fingertips.

HMM: NSA Chief Predicts ‘Traumatic’ Cyber Attack Within Next Decade. “NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers, who took the helm of the agency in April, said that foreign criminal gangs have traditionally hacked into U.S. commercial systems to steal information that they could use or sell for a profit. But a new trend is emerging as these groups and foreign governments are increasingly cooperating with one another.”

Yeah, this is another reason why I’m not excited about the “Internet of things.”

WELL, THEY HAVE TO BE WORRIED ABOUT RE-ELECTION. OBAMA DOESN’T. Tensions flare between Senate Democrats, White House.

Criticism of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law by a top Senate Democrat this week laid bare post-election tensions that could pose challenges for the party in upcoming fights with Republicans over taxes, energy and immigration.

In a high-profile speech on Tuesday dissecting Democrats’ losses in this month’s midterm elections, Charles Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, listed “a cascade of issues” botched by the White House, starting with Obama’s push for healthcare reforms soon after he took office in 2009.

Later on Tuesday, the White House took the unusual step of publicly pledging to veto a deal on tax breaks that Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid was trying to hammer out with Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Funny, just a couple of weeks ago it was the White House accusing Congressional Republicans of “obstructionism.”

FROM JOHN C. WRIGHT: Thoughts On Thanksgiving. With a reference to Robert Heinlein.

November 27, 2014

CAR AND DRIVER: Massive Takata Airbag Recall: Everything You Need to Know, Including Full List of Affected Vehicles.

CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE: Pentagon Renaming “Illegal Combatants” as “Unprivileged Belligerents.” No, seriously. The Obama Administration seems determined to live up to every right-wing caricature. Hey, maybe those aren’t caricatures after all, then.


THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED: Voter ID Laws Don’t Suppress Minority Voters.

AT AMAZON, Holiday Deals in Automotive.

Also, best of the year in Movies & TV.



21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Too much makeup sex led to millionaire’s restraining order.

VITAMIN D UPDATE: Low Vitamin D Tied to Higher Death Risk. “Many observational studies suggest that low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk for disease, but it is not clear if low vitamin D is a cause or an effect of poor health. Now a new study, using a technique called Mendelian randomization, provides persuasive evidence that low serum vitamin D itself increases the risk of death.”

WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING? Illegal immigrants to be eligible for Social Security, Medicare.

AT AMAZON, shop the Holiday Toy List.

Plus, up to 35% off on complete Callaway golf sets.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: The ATF’s Fake Retail Stores, Bad Behavior… And Why It Only Came Out Because They Failed To Pay Rent.

WELL, YES: Where UVA Went Wrong: Students Need to See Rape as a Felony, Not Just a Campus Infraction. But treating it as a felony doesn’t create work for campus bureaucrats.

FIRE SALE: Amazon Fire Phone Price Drops Again. It’s not doing well. I’d wait for later versions.

GOPRO DEVELOPING camera-equipped drones.

Well, you can already get these GoPro-compatible drones. But I can see why GoPro wants to get into the act.


TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 567.

ROBERT TRACINSKI: Dear Media: How Not to Screw Up the Next Ferguson.

I hate to say, “I told you so.” No, really, I hate it. The city of Ferguson, Missouri, is in flames yet again as angry mobs—largely composed of outside agitators—vent their rage against “the system” after a grand jury refused to indict a white police officer for shooting a young black man. All of that destruction could have been prevented if the media knew its own business and didn’t need constant reminders from people like me about how to report on the use of deadly force.

Specifically, I warned them about Zimmerman Amnesia, the dogged failure to learn from the media’s mistakes in reporting previous cases. . . .

The early reports were very clear that Michael Brown was a good, kind-hearted young man bound for college, that the shooting was totally unprovoked, that he was shot multiple times in the back, that he was executed in cold blood. Then the evidence, as it emerged, knocked down each of these claims one by one.

Cases involving the use of force tend to be messy, and getting at the facts is difficult. It requires a lot of sorting of competing claims, cross-examination and confrontation of witnesses, and a thorough review of the physical evidence, which often refutes the eyewitness testimony.

Two things: (1) They don’t want to do the work; and (2) They don’t mind peddling falsehoods so long as those falsehoods inflame the right people.

#FERGUSONSYLLABUS: Teaching Ferguson.

AT AMAZON, fresh deals on Bestselling Products, updated every hour.

Also, check out the Kindle Daily Deals.

And, today only: 40% off Samsung Memory cards.

Plus, Amazon’s Black Friday deals start today. Browse and save! I appreciate your buying via my links.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Maryland’s Assistant Attorney General For Consumer Protection Falls For Urban Legend.


While I had come to admire Hagel as a thoughtful man, there’s a question of whether anyone can make the leap from a senator’s office—with an average staff size of 34 people, to the Pentagon, the world’s largest institution, which employs about 26,000 personnel on site, plus about a half million overseas, plus an active military of about 1.5 million men and women. In general, transitions from Capitol Hill to a cabinet office, in either party, haven’t been markedly successful. The Pentagon has been a sinkhole of failures.

So if the transition from Senator to SecDef is too much, how about from Senator to Commander In Chief? The evidence would seem to support Drew’s position there, too . . . .

THE INSTA-WIFE: I Give Thanks for All the Men Cooking for Thanksgiving.

HOW TO GRILL YOUR ENTIRE THANKSGIVING DINNER. I cook the legs of lamb on the grill, but the turkey goes in the oven, as do the sides. That’s why I have a double-oven kitchen.

MARK RIPPETOE: Why You Should Make Strength Training Your New Year’s Resolution.

If you’re going to do that, you should pick up his book.

November 26, 2014

BOMBS FOR BUMS: Alleged plot included bombing Gateway Arch, killing St. Louis County prosecutor. “The men wanted to acquire two more bombs, the sources said, but could not afford to do it until one suspect’s girlfriend’s Electronic Benefit Transfer card was replenished.”

AT AMAZON, deals in Home, Kitchen & Dining.

Plus, deals galore in Sports & Fitness.

And make your Christmas/Hanukkah shopping easier with a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime.

DON SURBER: Caveman Liberalism.

JACOB SULLUM: Darren Wilson Would Have Been Acquitted, But He Should Have Been Indicted Anyway.

AT AMAZON, up to 58% off on Hell On Wheels, Seasons 1-3.

Plus, deals on Wearable Technology.

BIG GOVERNMENT: How the Obama administration gives away military-grade weapons to local police. “In the weeks after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., images of officers training rifles on crowds of protesters from the turrets of armored vehicles became a potent symbol of the distrust between law enforcement and citizens in Ferguson — and elsewhere.”

Though, to be fair, in light of what’s happened in Ferguson since then, my initial distaste for that behavior has weakened somewhat.

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: The teenage girl with a bi-gender boyfriend who decides every morning what sex he wants to be.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Micrometer-scale structures built from DNA bricks.

BUT OF COURSE: F.D.A. to Require Calorie Count, Even for Popcorn at the Movies.

FASTER, PLEASE: Strange thrust: the unproven science that could propel our children into space.

THOMAS CROWN: Ways To Make White People Take Racism Seriously.

WHY APPLE failed to make sapphire iPhones.

SOME GOOD NEWS: Vandalized Ferguson bakery receives nearly $100K in online donations.

SELF-GRUBERING: Obama: “I just took an action to change the law.” Well, this should help the legal challenge to his immigration order . . . .

SO I SAW INTERSTELLAR LAST WEEKEND, AND I WAS GOING TO POST A REVIEW, but I’ve been busy and honestly I don’t have a lot of thoughts. It looked great on IMAX. The beginning and end were good; the middle not so much. I don’t expect Hollywood productions to get the orbital mechanics right, but good grief. . . . Overall, I give it about a 7. Parts were excellent, but I wish they’d spent as much time on story refinement as they probably did on deciding whether or not to include fake lens-flare in shots of Saturn’s rings.

SO WHY ALL THE FERGUSON HOOPLA? Last time the Dems and Sharpton made a big deal of a shooting, it was the Trayvon Martin case, hyped to keep up black turnout for 2012. But now there’s not an election. So why Ferguson, and why now? Polling indicates that most people aren’t all that sympathetic, and protests that tie up Interstates, etc. aren’t going to attract swing voters.

But it’s not about swing voters. It’s about the base. And it’s not about the Democratic Party’s base, but about certain leaders’ base within the Democratic Party. This may be best understood as an intra-party struggle. Obama is the champion of the urban-black wing of the party, and because of him that wing has been on top. But his star is fading, black voters are beginning to realize that they haven’t benefited economically, and the next Dem nominee — whether it’s Hillary Clinton, Jim Webb, or Elizabeth Warren — will be from the white gentry-liberal wing of the Democratic Party. The riots, the marches, the traffic-blocking are a way of telling them that the Sharpton wing is still a force to be reckoned with, and to improve its bargaining power between now and 2016. At least, that’s the only way this — not at all spontaneous — street theater makes sense.

WAPO: Documents And Evidence From The Ferguson Grand Jury Findings.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: The 5 Best and 5 Worst States to Get Caught Speeding.

#FEMALEPRIVILEGE: What if Guys Acted Like Girls on Instagram?

MASCULINITY, AT A GUESS: Zero Tolerance For What? “The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors on Tuesday unanimously committed to adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual assault – although the university hasn’t figured out what zero tolerance means.”

You want to show zero tolerance for rape? Report it to the police. Plus, from the comments:

If this is true, and i suspect it iS, then a zero-tolerance policy is likely to dissuade many students from even applying for admission to UVa. Who would want to risk expulsion for having a sexual relationship that could be misinterpreted, intentionally or otherwise, as sexual assault?


21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Why are so many young men paying for sex? Well, it protects you from the Campus Sex Police.

IN THE MAIL: From Gregory Zuckerman, The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Up to 50% Off Toys from Mattel and Fisher-Price.

And, also today only: Photive Water Resistant Bluetooth Speaker, $39.95 (71% off).

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 566.


I’ve spoken at length about the troubling impact that campus adjudication with limited due process can have on the lives of accused men. I’ve spoken less, however, about the other problem, which is how it can leave predators free to commit more rapes. Helping victims focus on their own healing may well be better for the victims; I’m not an expert, so I couldn’t say. But it’s probably worse for the future victims. Expelling a man may be a pretty big burden on him, but we’d really like to put an even bigger burden on people who gang-rape 18-year-old girls; we’d like to lock them up where they can’t get at any more 18-year-old girls. I’m at least open to arguments that a college disciplinary hearing is what we need to combat “non-consensual-kissing.” But it is ludicrously inadequate as either a punishment for, or a deterrent to, what allegedly happened in that fraternity house.

Do victims have a right to stay home and focus on themselves, while leaving the predators who did it at large to rape again? Do administrators have a right to focus on the victims, rather than the risk to the community? These are hard questions, and I’m not sure I have good answers. But I do worry that by bundling gang rape into the catch-all category of sexual assault, in the hopes of raising the offensiveness of groping women and otherwise forcing your unwanted attentions on their bodies, we are also reducing the seriousness with which we treat gang rape.

When a currency is inflated, it loses value. That applies to moral currency, too.

AUSTIN BAY: As The World Burns, Obama Fires Hagel. “Gates and Panetta demonstrated a commitment to U.S. defense, a commitment beyond dramatic gesture. Their post-Pentagon assessments of the Obama administration are both scathing. They see Obama as a political leader focused on his own political welfare. Obama is fixated on two figurative battlefields: domestic U.S. social justice/identity politics and the next news cycle. He is very good with words. He is very good at winning presidential election, but as for other deeds? Not so much. . . . A SecDef serves at the president’s pleasure. Contradicting your boss has risks, especially a boss with a brittle ego. Hagel is gone. The Islamic State, however, remains. The Islamic State will have to be convinced it’s a junior varsity. Vladimir Putin is a big-league player; he persists in waging an imperial war in Eastern Ukraine. China probes its Southeast Asian maritime border. Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons continues. Syria bleeds. Libya fragments. North Korea builds ICBM’s. Unless backed by demonstrated capabilities and the demonstrated will to act, dramatic gestures and words in the Washington Beltway do not affect these circumstances a whit.”

Related: Middle East Policy: The Other Huge Obama Disaster Of The Week.

CHANNELING YEATS. WELL, KINDA. James Delingpole: These Cambridge buttocks have restored my faith in the future of Western Civilisation.

AT AMAZON, countdown to Black Friday deals. Browse and save!

Plus, deals galore in Health, Beauty & Grooming.

And, today only: Just Dance 2015, $24.99.

And please do me a favor: When you shop at Amazon, just click through one of my links first. You’ll support InstaPundit at no cost to yourself. I appreciate it, especially this time of year!

ROGER SIMON: The New York Times and Other Members of the Ferguson Hall of Shame. “That the photograph of Walter Duranty — the New York Times Moscow correspondent who deliberately whitewashed Stalin’s 1930s forced starvation of millions of Ukrainians and won the Pulitzer for it — still is on the newspaper’s wall of fame with their other prize winners is apparently no aberration. The New York Times has no moral center. In fact, it’s despicable. On November 24, they published the home address of Officer Darren Wilson.”

Plus: “Not quite cancer but pretty bad is Jay Nixon, the governor of Missouri. Not only did he attempt to prejudge the case, calling for Wilson’s head like some minor league Robespierre months before there was any evidence, but then, on the night of the grand jury announcement, after having brought in the National Guard, he goes completely AWOL and doesn’t use the Guards at all, leaving the poor store owners of Ferguson to fend for themselves, not to mention the police. Everyone got to watch the results on TV.”

WHO WANTS TO BE THE LAST CAREER TO DIE FOR A MISTAKEN PRESIDENCY? Hagel successor, with limited room to maneuver, will face quandary in Iraq, Syria. “The next defense secretary will also have to contend with a sometimes-tense relationship with the White House. Both of Hagel’s predecessors, Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, have criticized Obama’s handling of national security matters since leaving office and have complained of White House micromanagement of the military.”

The White House isn’t competent. But it is involved.

UPDATE: John Fund: Why Obama Is Finding It Hard to Get a New Defense Secretary.

IT’S NOT A CURE-ALL, BUT IT’S DEFINITELY SOMETHING I FAVOR: Brown Family Statement Vows Campaign for Police Body Cameras.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Student Mugged, Says He Deserved It Because of His ‘Privilege.’

HEY, REMEMBER WHEN HE HAD CONTROL OF BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS? Roll Call: Obama Wants Middle Class Aid Before Corporate Tax Breaks.

Meanwhile, I have a few proposals of my own.

HEY, I WAS SAYING THAT BACK IN 2009. Schumer says Democrats erred by passing ObamaCare. “Schumer says Democrats ‘blew the opportunity the American people gave them’ in the 2008 elections, a Democratic landslide, by focusing on healthcare reform instead of legislation to boost the middle class.”

Do tell. It’s almost as if helping the middle class wasn’t a priority.

HIGH-TECH LYNCHING: Ohio students want to ban fraternity based on anonymous social media posts.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Why College Is Necessary But Gets You Nowhere.

NO SURPRISE: Most Businesses Destroyed in Ferguson Minority Owned.

KURT SCHLICHTER: America, You’ve Been Grubered!

AT AMAZON, Black Friday Deals Week Deals. Browse and save!

Plus, coupons galore in Grocery & Gourmet Foods.

REDACTED: How the NY Times whitewashed their Hagel coverage.


REVIEW: David Lat’s new novel, Supreme Ambitions.

NOTHING SHADY ABOUT THAT: New York Times Publishes Darren Wilson’s Address.

THOUGHTS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: “Domestic violence is not a gendered issue. When it comes to violence in the family, women are just as violent as men, and until we stop acting like this is a men’s problem and start treating it like a problem women and men alike face, as both victims and perpetrators, we can never make things better. The ones who suffer most are the children who grow up in environments where hitting and other forms of abuse are how you solve problems or resolve frustrations. . . . I think our problem as men is our inability to see women as dangerous and violent, as if women are not fully grown adults capable of as much violence and abuse as we are. I’ve seen time and again, not just in myself but in other men, an almost complete inability to label a woman acting violently as an abuser.”

NOAH ROTHMAN: More evidence that the left wants to get into your bedroom.

The American right was at once mocked and feared by liberals for the scrutiny they devoted to the sex lives of average Americans. This impulse among conservatives culminated in George W. Bush’s administration’s unsuccessful attempt to enshrine heterosexual marriage into the U.S. Constitution.

The critiques of social conservatism in the last decade as prudish and meddling were well-founded, but that seems like a generation ago. As American conservatism continues to embrace a more libertarian view on those policies which relate to the policing of consensual relationships, the left has become consumed with supervising sexual activity and defining more and more of it as unconventional.

Mrs. Grundy self-identifies as feminist now.


ELIANA JOHNSON: Henry Waxman’s Republican Heir: Jason Chaffetz hopes to land the kind of blows that Darrell Issa hasn’t been able to. To be fair, Waxman always had a lot of help from the press.

LUCY JEWEL: Indie Lawyering: A New Model for Solo and Small Firm Practice.

AT AMAZON, fresh deals on Bestselling Products, updated every hour.

Also, check out the Kindle Daily Deals.

ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE: Europa Is Stunning In Close-To-True Color.

DO STATINS protect people from air pollution?

FASTER, PLEASE: Remotely controlled magnetic nanoparticles stimulate stem cells to regenerate bones.

HERE’S MY RECIPE FOR Thanksgiving Leg Of Lamb. And here’s a review!

INSIDE RUSSIA’S Baikonur Cosmodrome.

GANGSTER GOVERNMENT: Treasury: 2,500 documents ‘potentially’ show IRS sharing taxpayer data with White House.

ROBERT MERRY: Obama’s Big Ferguson Failure.

Related: Flames of Ferguson Illuminate Age of Obama. “When history remembers the Obama administration, the flames of Ferguson will light up our memories. It wasn’t just an AutoZone and Jade Nails burning up in the fires of Ferguson, it was also the ‘Hope’ of 2008 going up in smoke. Instead of hope, the age of Obama has been characterized by racial division and discord.”

UPDATE: “Communist agitators stirring up a civil rights protest sounds like a bad ‘60s flashback, but that’s just what happened last week in Ferguson, Missouri.”


TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 565.

WELL, WE CERTAINLY DON’T WANT MORE WHITE HOUSE IN IT: The Case for More Congress In American Foreign Policy.

At the same time, with our Libyan policy, like the country itself, in ruins, one has the sense that the Benghazi investigation missed the larger point. The United States participated in the overthrow of the Qaddafi government, largely on humanitarian grounds, but we were utterly unprepared for the aftermath. Libya is in chaos today, radical jihadi groups have proliferated in the ruins, Qaddafi’s arms and fighters have fanned out across North Africa and the Middle East, and arguably more Libyans have died as the result of the intervention than would have perished had we stayed home. On top of this, there are credible allegations that the U.S. had guaranteed Qaddafi’s safety when he gave up his WMD program. Did our intervention in Libya break a pledge, or did it reduce our ability to persuade other countries to abstain from WMD programs? Did the decision to intervene in Libya also mean that the U.S. was less ready and able to respond appropriately to the much greater humanitarian and strategic crisis that holds Syria in its grip? . . .

A review of our policy failure in Libya (or earlier ones in Iraq and elsewhere) isn’t just about second guessing and assigning blame. It is about making sure that the nation’s foreign policy infrastructure is up to the tasks that our turbulent century has set for us.

This is the investigation we needed after the Libya fiasco. Unfortunately, unless something changes we are unlikely to get it.

What we need to do at this point is begin to rethink the role of the Congress in American foreign policy. If there is one thing that has become clear since the end of the Cold War, it is that the United States needs to raise its game in foreign policy.

Yeah, that’s pretty obvious.

HE WAS A LOUSY CANDIDATE, BARELY CONFIRMED, BUT STILL SMARTER THAN HIS BOSS: Bumbling Start, White House Micromanagement Doomed Hagel. The big news is that you’re hearing this from the National Journal.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Black Friday Deals Week. Browse and save!

Plus, check out the Kindle Daily Deals.

And, today only: Up to 40% Off Select Coleman Camping Gear.