July 5, 2015

WELL, IT MAKES SECESSION EASIER: Texas Repatriates Its Gold. “Texas is the only state that owns an actual stockpile of gold, according to public sector and financial industry experts – not just gold futures or investment positions, but approximately 5,600 gold bars worth around $650 million. The holdings, stored at a New York bank, for some harken back to century-old fears about the security of currency not backed by shiny bullion.”

CORRUPT, FECKLESS LEADERSHIP PRODUCES PREDICTABLE RESULTS: Think Greece can’t happen here? You’re wrong.

Something that can’t go on forever, won’t. Debts that can’t be repaid, won’t be. Promises that can’t be kept, won’t be. Plan accordingly.

LIBERIA: 200 Reportedly Had Contact With Ebola Victim. “The World Health Organization reported Friday that nearly 200 people had been in contact with a 17-year-old in Liberia who was confirmed to have died of Ebola on June 28, the country’s first Ebola case since May 9, when it had been officially declared free of the highly contagious disease. In an assessment posted on its website, the W.H.O. said that all of the contacts of the teenager were being closely monitored and that two of them had already tested positive for the virus, confirming what the Liberian health authorities had reported this week.”

So if Liberia was Ebola-free, where did he get it?

AT AMAZON, it’s the Geek Boutique.

Also, introducing Amazon Echo.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Linking together small DNAs to build more diverse DNA nanostructures.

DANIEL DREZNER: Pixar movies ranked by “feels.”

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT HEALTH INSURANCE IS FOR: Unexpected medical catastrophes, especially treatable ones, not routine checkups and fully foreseeable contraception. I faced similar “you’re stealing from the common pot” criticisms when I wrote about my own cancer and the expensive but miraculous drug Herceptin back in 2009. (She’s terribly naive about the British system, however.)

THIS IS WHY I DON’T GENERALLY pair my phone with rental cars.

FREEDOM’S MARCH: As more states legalize fireworks, what’s behind the pyrotechnic boom?

Early protester against nannyism Henry Reed would approve.

GOOD TRY, BUT I’M NOT BUYING IT:  George Will on Chief Justice Roberts’ interpretive methodology: “A Wrinkle in the ACA Decision.

IN THE MAIL: From Tony Daniel & David Drake, The Savior.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 787.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Teacher Charged For Victimizing Male Teen With Month-Long Sex Fling Has Worked At Dirty Dick’s. You can’t make this stuff up. Plus: “Umphlett’s name has been scrubbed from the Currituck County High website, though the Internet Archive shows she had been listed there previously. On Monday, a grand jury indicted the English teacher on a felonious sex offense charge. On Tuesday, she turned herself in. She was processed and quickly released on $5,000 bail.”

LOUISE MENSCH: The railroading of Tim Hunt.

First, The Sun published a photo of Sir Tim smiling at the time, contradicting the claims he “wasn’t joking” and “everybody in the room was stony-faced”.

Second, it appears that members of the Royal Society’s Diversity Committee, Britain’s leading organisation of scientists, had slammed Sir Tim before he’d even said a word to the media.

Professor David Colquhoun, also of UCL, said: “I collected some stuff about the misogynistic Nobel prize winner on my Facebook page.”

And what did he put in that thread about alleged “sexism”?

“Here you can see Tim Hunt tipping a bucket of ice water over his (very successful) wife.” That’s right, an Ice Bucket Challenge!

Then there’s the BBC, which seems to have put words in Sir Tim’s mouth. The Today show quoted him as referring to “women in the lab” and “the trouble with women”. But those words were not in any audio of him they broadcast.

Did he say that? They wouldn’t answer me.

“We treated Professor Hunt fairly,” a BBC spokesman told me. “His words were not selectively edited to change their meaning.”

Oh yeah? Then why did the show use Tim’s words “I was only being honest” in TWO different places referring to two different things?

Meanwhile, the President of the European Research Council, Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, went on the record in an exclusive statement to me on Friday.

He confirmed he had “the testimonies of eyewitnesses” that Tim was being ironic and praising women.

He also said that Sir Tim Hunt “actively supported” and voted for ERC pro-women science initiatives.

Jean-Pierre said Sir Tim was “keen” to talk to “young researchers, male and female” and answer all kinds of questions, which was “precisely why I chose him to accompany two women ERC grantees to attend the very special conference in Seoul.” Oops!

I’ve asked the BBC to release the full audio of what Sir Tim said in his Today interview, and the questions he was asked.

So far they’ve refused to do that. If the Beeb has evidence that can clear him, they have a duty to provide it. Let’s hear that entire tape.

This whole thing stinks.

THE JOY OF just the right amount of sex. “The lesson is not simply to avoid participating in academic sex studies.” I dunno, the illustration and description suggest that maybe it is.

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DANA MILBANK: Clinton And Obama Are On The Wrong Side Of History. Well…

THIS IS COOL: The Hermione Sails Into New York Harbor, Cannons Blazing. “On Wednesday a replica of the Hermione, the three-masted, 32-gun frigate that carried Lafayette to America in 1780 with news of his king’s military support for the Americans, docked at the South Street Seaport. More than two centuries later, the crowds were smaller but the scene was still clangorous. After passing Governors Island, the Hermione sent a round of cannon blasts echoing off the buildings of Lower Manhattan before gliding into port. A band played ‘Down by the Riverside’ as costumed crew members scrambled from the masts for another deafening — and apparently unplanned — salute.”

As a big fan of Napoleonic-era sea stories from Patrick O’Brian, C.S. Forester, et al., I wish I could take a tour.

LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: Gibson Says Self-Tuning Guitars Are Here To Stay, Even As Purists Fret.

BIG BROTHER IS TAXING YOU: Oregon Launches Program To Tax Drivers By The Mile. “According to a national usage fee alliance, 28 states are in various stages of following down the same road. However, there are also privacy concerns. Two of the three OReGO systems track and store a car’s every move.”

As I wrote on this a while back, Don’t Track Me, Bro.

July 4, 2015

REVIEW: Your Stupid Questions Have No Answers: Martin van Creveld vs. the Chimera of Equality. Political and social equality doesn’t mean you’re actually, you know, the same.

A FREE FOURTH OF JULY SHORT STORY: The Bombs Bursting In Air.

IF IT WERE A PILL, EVERYONE WOULD TAKE IT: Older Athletes Have a Strikingly Young Fitness Age. “Older athletes can be much younger, physically, than they are in real life, according to a new study of participants in the coming Senior Olympics. The study found that the athletes’ fitness age is typically 20 years or more younger than their chronological age, providing a clear inspiration to the rest of us to get out and start moving more.”

What’s most striking is that most of them hadn’t exercised vigorously their entire lives, but rather started late in life.

FASTER, PLEASE: Flying on a private jet is getting much cheaper.

PRESS ROPED IN BY AIDES AT HILLARY EVENT: I’m not sure what the usage rights are to the photos in Daniel Halper’s post at the Weekly Standard, which is also currently atop Drudge, so I don’t want to embed any of them here, but if you haven’t seen them yet, by all means click over. I’ll wait.

OK, back? That the press went along with this with such docility tells you everything you need to know about which party they support — they are, as Glenn likes to say, Democratic operatives with bylines. If they were real journalists, or if this technique was employed a GOP presidential campaign, their first thought would be: I’m cutting the rope. Even if I don’t have a knife. I’ll start sawing away with car keys — or simply duck under it, just to see what happens next.

Because what happens next is a headline. One that will quickly become what former AP man Joseph Campbell calls a classic media myth that feeds upon itself: HILLARY’S GOONS HARASS JOURNALIST. JOURNALIST HAULED AWAY BY CLINTON SECURITY.  I BROKE HILLARY’S PRESS BLOCKADE! A real journalist would dine out on the headline for months.

And if this was an opportunity to employ the same headlines but with Bush, Trump, Perry, Cruz or Rubio, the press would be chomping at the bits to write such a story. As Cruz told Glenn Beck on Thursday, “Nothing would make [a journalist] happier than to take your life and filet [a GOP candidate or his operatives] on the front pages.”

But why go out of the way to cause bad press for one of your own?

And for the furious reaction from Twitter users from the photos of the “press lapdogs herded like sheep,” Twitchy has you covered.

ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS: Iraq Christians train to recapture homes from IS.

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JACK NEELY: Was The South Ever Confederate Anyway?

The Civil War is a big bagful of ironies and paradoxes, and not a recommended study for folks who like to keep things simple. It would be a particular challenge for anyone to survive the 1860s in Knoxville and either idealize one side or demonize the other. It took a later generation, one that didn’t remember the war, to glorify it.

I do want to point out something provable. Whether the Confederate flag is an irredeemably racist and oppressive symbol or not, the Confederacy is not “the South.” It is not “the South now,” certainly. It was not even “the South” in 1861. The conflation of the Confederacy with “the South” began, I suspect, as some tired editor’s attempt to make a headline fit.

People of European and African ancestry have been living in the South for 400 years. The Confederacy lasted for four years, about 1 percent of that time. And even during that 1 percent, a large proportion of the people who lived in the South—perhaps even a majority—were skeptical of the Confederacy. . . .

The Confederacy was not universally popular, even in the South. It would be difficult to prove that as much as half the people who lived in the South in 1861 were fond of the Confederacy. Sam Houston, who grew up in East Tennessee and spent his entire life in the South—except when he was in D.C., representing Southern states in Congress—despised the Confederacy and denounced it publicly. David Glasgow Farragut and Gen. William Sanders—whose last names survive in multiple institutions in Knox County—both grew up in the South and fought against the Confederacy. Sanders, who’d spent most of his life in Kentucky and Mississippi, was killed by Confederate bullets. Several of Knoxville’s fiercest Unionists, Parson W.G. Brownlow, William Rule, and Thomas Humes, were lifelong Southerners.

It might take years to do a thorough study on the subject, but judging by what we know of those who favored secessionism or the Union, here in East Tennessee at least, Confederate sympathies didn’t necessarily suggest Southern roots. Many of Knoxville’s notable Confederates were immigrants from Switzerland, Germany, or Ireland. John Mitchel, probably Knoxville’s most nationally famous secessionist—editor of The Southern Citizen, which advocated slavery—was an Irish revolutionary Unitarian who’d spent several years in prison in Tasmania and never laid eyes on the South until 1853. J.G.M. Ramsey, the secessionist most influential locally, was from a Pennsylvania family. Father Abram Ryan, Knoxville’s “Poet-Priest of the Confederacy,” grew up in Maryland and Missouri, son of Irish immigrants. Thousands of New Yorkers, many of whom had never seen the South, were Confederate sympathizers.

Meanwhile, many of Knoxville’s Unionists grew up in multi-generational Tennessee families. Did Southern heritage even play a role in affiliation with the Confederacy? Here in Knoxville, a demographic study might even prove the opposite. Maybe it was the people with the deepest roots here who were most skeptical of the noisy rebel bandwagon.

In any case, in 1861 more than 30 percent of Tennessee’s Southerners voted against secession, against joining the Confederacy. Well over 30,000 Tennesseans took up arms against the Confederacy.

Yes, but the important point is letting low-information white Democrats feel superior.

UPDATE: Oh, look: Here’s one of those now. Though to be fair, I considered using the “outside agitator” line myself.

JEFF CARTER: A House Divided.

LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: “It’s a surreal moment when you discover that a) ISIS has a blocklist, and b) you’re on it.”

MARK JUDGE: In retrospect, Woody Allen’s Manhattan looks like a conservative countercultural film. “I’m from Philadelphia, we believe in God.”

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ANGELO CODEVILLA: Standing Up To The Ruling Class.

HENRY MILLER: When Bureaucrats Get Away With Murder.

AUSTIN BAY: Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy: Liberty Demands Responsibility.

SHOCKER: Mass Killings Inspire Copycats, Study Finds.

We’ve known about the copycat effect for a while. But the press blames everyone but itself when these happen.

BERNIE SANDERS IN THE 1960S: “I love the photo. I’m sure I would have had a crush on him back then. It was very typical for younger people of that time to regard ordinary middle-class people going to work as shuffling, horrifying zombies.”

IN THE MAIL: From MF Thomas & Nicholas Thurkettle, Seeing by Moonlight.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Save 30% on this Bowflex Xtreme Home Gym.

And, also today only: “The West Wing: The Complete Series” Collection on DVD, $58.99 (80% off).

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 786.

JOHN FUND: Practice Free Speech for July 4th: Fight PC Censors.

While the current topic of debate is the Confederate flag, a much broader battle is being waged against American history itself. Increasingly, courses involving any patriotic content or history are being dumped in favor of leftist “diversity studies” or “environmental studies.” Most American agree that the struggle against racism is vital, but so too is the context that the study of American history provides.

In his farewell address before he left office in 1989, Ronald Reagan presciently warned: “We’ve got to teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important — why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are. . . . I’m warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let’s start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual.” In the more than quarter century since Reagan issued his warning, the situation in schools has only gotten worse. Luckily, popular books, films, and the Internet offer an alternative way of reaching young people and passing on a fuller appreciation of America. We’re no longer fighting just to get history into classrooms; we’re now fighting for the right to teach history in all its complexity, not merely the PC versions of it that please sanctimonious leftists. Free speech remains a reality only if its practice is allowed, and increasingly, more and more people are letting the censors and bullies have the only say.

Punch back twice as hard.

ANDREW MORRISS LOOKS AT TAXATION through the lens of James Scott’s excellent Seeing Like A State.

Scott offers four big ideas that shape his analytical framework. First, he argues that a fundamental need of a state is to make its population “legible.” In essence, a legible population is one in which the relevant characteristics for state purposes are defined and known. Second, he contends that by doing so, the state changes the nature of the activities the population carries on, the culture, and the society as a whole. In other words, you get more of what you measure. Third, he attributes social engineering projects in part to what he terms “high modernist ideology,” in which scientific and technical models are uncritically applied to societies, encouraging government actors to believe they can significantly change societies through administrative fiat. Fourth, when this ideology is married to a state with significant coercive power and civil society lacks the capacity to resist, the state does considerable harm by forcing an agenda on society without considering all the costs. Let’s consider each.

To the ruling class, the “considerable harm” is offset by even-more-considerable opportunities for graft.

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IT’S INDEPENDENCE DAY.

quincy4

Quincy, Illinois, September 12, 2009. Taken with the Panasonic Lumix LX-3.

TALK TO YOUR FAMILY THIS HOLIDAY: Happy Fourth – ObamaCare Premiums Set To Soar.

IT’S ALWAYS NICE to make Twitchy.

FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED: Fewer ‘extremely proud’ to be American. “The older you are, the more likely you are to be extremely proud to be American, according to the data. People in the South also tend to be the most proud to be American.”

“SHIT ACADEMICS SAY,” A Social-Media Experiment.

I am not an intellectual, leading expert, or public scholar. I am a rank-and-file academic with the job of balancing respectable research with acceptable teaching evaluations and sitting on enough committees to not be asked to sit on more committees. And in my spare time, I run what is arguably one of the most influential academic accounts on social media: Shit Academics Say.

Since starting the account in September of 2013, it has grown to over 122,000 followers, gaining 250 to 300 new followers daily and ranking in the top 0.1 percent across social media influence metrics such as Klout, Kred, and Followerwonk. To unpack this a bit, tweets sent from my phone while recalibrating dopamine levels on the treadmill, or waiting outside my 3-year-old’s ballet class, are showing up in about 10 million Twitter streams and generating 200,000 to 300,000 profile visits a month, effectively making @AcademicsSay a bigger “social authority” on Twitter than nearly all colleges and academic publications. Not weird at all.

Although this might sound impressive, the popularity of the account is perhaps not surprising. First, academics use Twitter mainly for distraction, with tweets providing humorous details of academic content typically gaining the most exposure. Second, it is immediately apparent to new Twitter users that parody accounts like @kimkierkegaardashian, @NoToFeminism, or @SwiftOnSecurity tend to be more popular than traditional outlets — an observation that sparked an idea for how to personally connect with other academics in a not-boring way and on a scale large enough to have my procrastination count as research.

Hey, I’ve been making my procrastination count as research for years!

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Is It Time To Start Shutting Down Law Schools?

This month, the American Bar Association provisionally accredited a new law school at Concordia University. More than 200 law schools are accredited in the U.S. An analysis of data from the ABA itself raises the question whether that list should be getting any longer.

Law schools exist for a lot of reasons, but a pretty important one is to prepare people to be lawyers. By that standard, a large handful of institutions seem to be failing. Last year, 10 law schools were unable to place more than 30 percent of their graduating class in permanent jobs that required passing the bar, according to ABA data. Those job numbers don’t include positions that schools fund for their graduates or people who say they are starting their own practice.

At the University of Massachusetts School of Law, the American school with the worst job outcomes by this measure, just 22 percent of people who graduated in 2014 got those types of law jobs.

Ben Barton has some thoughts on this.

SOME 4th OF JULY READING: Independence Day links.

THIS IS A MUST FOR MY FAMILY AND ME EVERY FOURTH: This Patriotic Film Honors Life, Liberty the Pursuit of Song and Dance.

OH, WHAT TANGLED WEBS THEY WEAVE: Weenies burn flag to protest cops, get attacked by bikers, need cops to save their asses.

ROGER SIMON: The Last Fourth.

FOR GOD’S SAKE, BARACK, SIT DOWN: How To Talk To Your Family About Obamacare On July 4.

July 3, 2015

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Student “Sugar Babies” Increase 1200%.

WELCOME TO Generation Hugbox.

I’D LIKE TO BELIEVE THIS: America Isn’t Getting More Liberal — It’s Getting More Libertarian.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! State of Oregon fines Christian bakers $135,000 over a wedding cake. “Not only did [Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian] levy a $135,000 judgment against the Kleins for ‘emotional damages’ to the couple denied a wedding cake, he slapped a gag order on them that forbids the Kleins from explaining to potential customers of Sweet Cakes why they won’t bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.”

You will be made to care.

HOW TO TALK TO A NON-LEFTIST THE OTHER 364 DAYS A YEAR: Taking Mr. Obama’s advice and planning to pitch your relatives on the many wonderful benefits of Obamacare tomorrow? What happens the other 364 days? Robert Tracinski of the Federalist offers some advice for his friends on the other side of the aisle to try breaking the ice, including — and I know this will be very difficult for many leftists — “Talk to people beneath your station:”

At a university or in an urban hipsterville neighborhood, you may think that everyone around you is on the same page ideologically. But you are almost certainly wrong. Part of the problem is that a lot of the people who differ from you on politics are the people you don’t notice. They’re not the professors or administrators or graduate students, or the performance artists, and baristas, and artisanal vegan sriracha curators. They are receptionists and groundskeepers and especially small business owners who run some of the stores and shops and restaurants you go to.

Some university employees might be on the right, but I’m afraid they probably won’t talk to you about it. Why? Because they are afraid of losing their jobs. They are afraid that if word gets around about their retrograde views, people will show up with mattresses demanding that they be fired. At the very least, their bosses will quietly disapprove and their potential for advancement and new opportunities will shrink. Maybe they would open up if you talked to them nicely, but chances are that they just don’t trust you.

The same goes for people who work at your graphic design firm in Park Slope. People respond to incentives—you’ll discover this is one of the things those of us on the right believe—and your right-leaning coworkers have little incentive to advertise their heresies.

And look at it this way — if they seem a little crazy at first, remember that your side of the aisle made them that way.

LEAKED DETAILS OF OBAMATRADE: Politico has a story, “Leaked: What’s in Obama’s Trade Deal” that suggests it contains goodies for U.S. pharmaceutical companies:

A recent draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal would give U.S. pharmaceutical firms unprecedented protections against competition from cheaper generic drugs, possibly transcending the patent protections in U.S. law.

POLITICO has obtained a draft copy of TPP’s intellectual property chapter as it stood on May 11, at the start of the latest negotiating round in Guam. While U.S. trade officials would not confirm the authenticity of the document, they downplayed its importance, emphasizing that the terms of the deal are likely to change significantly as the talks enter their final stages. Those terms are still secret, but the public will get to see them once the twelve TPP nations reach a final agreement and President Obama seeks congressional approval. . . .

Some of the most contentious provisions involve “patent linkage,” which would prevent regulators in TPP nations from approving generic drugs whenever there are any unresolved patent issues. The TPP draft would make this linkage mandatory, which could help drug companies fend off generics just by claiming an infringement. . . .

The opponents are also worried about the treaty’s effect on the U.S. market, because its draft language would extend mandatory patent linkage to biologics, the next big thing in the pharmaceutical world. Biologics can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for patients with illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis B and cancer, and the first knockoffs have not yet reached pharmacies. The critics say that extending linkage to biologics—which can have hundreds of patents—would help insulate them from competition forever.

“It would be a dramatic departure from U.S. law, and it would put a real crimp in the ability of less expensive drugs to get to market,” said K.J. Hertz, a lobbyist for AARP. “People are going to look at this very closely in Congress.”

Well, it’s good to know President Obama is making good on his goal of prioritizing the concerns of the middle class. No wonder establishment GOP types supported Obamatrade.

TAMARA KEEL REVIEWS the Walther CCP 9 mm. “The people who griped about the trigger were friends who were at the range shooting their $2,000+ custom 1911s, and they’re not necessarily the target demographic for this gun. Of the regular shooters I handed the CCP to, most handed it back asking how much it cost and when and where could they buy one?”

AT AMAZON: Pressure washers on sale.

STEPHEN CARTER: When Law Students Distrust The Police. “And here a peculiarly ironic dissonance arises. My students, for the most part, are a liberal bunch. That makes them, among other things, enthusiasts of the regulatory state. But if they increasingly mistrust the police, it’s hard to know who’s supposed to enforce all the shiny new laws they hope to enact.”

HE HIT SOME GOOD SPOTS, BUT MISSED SOME, TOO: A $50 Day in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Here’s The Original Freezo, mentioned in the piece.

freezo.jpg

SEEN ON FACEBOOK:

thomastakei

MATT WELCH: ‘His name was Jefferson Davis Hogg!’ If The Dukes of Hazzard was racist, it sure had a funny way of showing it. It’s all about knee-jerk banning, not about any rational consideration. The point is to wield power. If it’s wielded arbitrarily and capriciously, so much the better, as that makes people feel less secure.

FINE, BUT WHEN DOES THE RX-9 COME OUT? The 2016 Mazda Miata has Finally Landed in America.

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ELLEN PAO FACES Reddit Revolt. “Reddit is in meltdown. The hugely popular link-sharing site is in a state of virtual lockdown after the volunteers who run some of the site’s biggest communities (known as “subreddits”) went on the digital equivalent of a general strike. This followed the sacking of Victoria Taylor, a popular site admin, after a Reddit Q&A with the Rev. Jesse Jackson went badly for the activist preacher.”

ANDREW KLAVAN: Cowboy Up, Conservatives – And Happy Fourth. “Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of conservatives saying things like, ‘It’s over. The left has won. This is no longer America. I’m not even going to celebrate the Fourth of July this year.’ I confess this disturbs me. I expect feminists to squeal like hysterical little girls. . . . I expect conservatives to act like men and women — men and women who understand they are part of a fight for liberty that began when Moses killed the Egyptian slavedriver and will not end until Jesus comes again. Open your eyes. The hills are filled with chariots of fire. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Endorsed. Show some backbone.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Toward advanced nanotechnology: Working solid state molecular shuttle.

LET’S GET A STAKE AND A MALLET, JUST TO BE SURE: Is the Carbon Tax Dead?

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: A 21st Century Submarines arms race could see numbers exceeding the 1000 German U-boats of WW2.

WHY IT’S STILL IMPORTANT FOR YOUR FAMILY TO WATCH FIREWORKS: “Show your kids the importance of celebrating their nation’s birthday. Make it personal for them, and don’t be afraid to let them know about some super-cool, ancient guys and gals who persevered for their cause — even though society deemed them wrong — and in the process founded a new world where we are free to create life, enjoy liberty, and pursue happiness. Take time to tell them why we have huge displays in the skies and hot dogs to eat, and why you may get teary at the sound of our National Anthem. Maybe it will spark a conversation; they may even find a new hero. At the very least, they will beg to go see the fireworks in person.”

THE CULTURE-WAR PUSHBACK BEGINS: Video: Flag burners “dispersed” by veterans, bikers. Whose streets? Our streets!

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Here Are The Fireworks Laws In Every State.

Fireworks bans, as reported so many years ago by Henry Reed, were the entering wedge of nannyism.

IN THE MAIL: From Rob Steiner, Muses of the Republic.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 785.

ANDREW MICHTA: Grexit May Be Europe’s Teaching Moment: The unfolding Greek tragedy is about more than economics. It’s also about the EU’s democracy deficit.

The European idea of a common market expanding into a larger community of nations remains as valid today as it was in the 1950s. Trade, cross-investment, and the sharing of resources for infrastructure projects, insofar as they benefit economic growth, are all part of the manifest successes of the original vision of a European community. Still, the EU as it is presently conceived has produced more than its share of hubris and bad ideas, beyond the notion of bringing Greece into the Eurozone. The partial de-nationalization of the state and the partial limits on state sovereignty in the name of peace still lie at the foundation of the original European project, but they have since given way, especially since the end of the Cold War, to a European bureaucratic fantasy of what should constitute the “Union.” The idea of a common market has been knocked out from its central place by the vision of a pan-European quasi-state entity, whose workings few in Europe understand, and which, most importantly, has consistently failed to generate a new Europe-wide identity in place of national allegiances. This is not just a Greek problem; bureaucratic empire building has its limits, and we call those limits “citizens.” The stirrings across Europe, from the United Kingdom through Spain to Poland, show that the issues at hand are not purely economic, and that traditional national identity, citizen participation and sovereignty remain just as relevant to democracy today as they were in years past.

The Common Market was about free trade. The EU was about creating an economic – and, especially, political — counterweight to America. It was a venture that put politics ahead of economics, which explains its current problems.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR SPIES: Hudson Institute senior fellow Gabriel Schoenfeld on “The Central Inclusiveness Agency.”

The Central Intelligence Agency is once again mired in crisis. CIA Director John Brennan finds himself “deeply concerned.” The spy agency he runs suffers from an affliction that he says has “persisted despite repeated efforts by Agency leaders to address it.”

What is ailing this vital guardian of national security? The CIA’s upper echelon, Mr. Brennan said on Tuesday, does “not reflect the diversity of the Agency workforce or of the nation.”

Mr. Brennan was commenting on the “Director’s Diversity in Leadership Study,” an unclassified report released that day. The study comes to the “unequivocal conclusion,” he said in a statement, that there has been a major failure at the agency in the “crucial” area of diversity and inclusiveness. . . .

The report is unsparing. Senior positions at the “highest levels of the CIA” are “consistently occupied by white male career officers.” While minority officers make up 23.9% of the CIA workforce, the higher echelons of the CIA don’t come close to that number. For example, the Senior Intelligence Service, the crème de la crème of the spy agency’s personnel, manages only a 10.8% minority composition. Spies with disabilities and LGBT spies, according to the report, are no better represented in the CIA’s upper leadership, though women are generally faring well.

Yeah, I was just thinking to myself the other day, “Why, oh why, aren’t there more disabled and LGBT spies?” And of course there’s only one logical answer (at least to the Obama Administration): discrimination.

The solution? For one thing, “all leaders, managers, and supervisors” in the CIA should be subject to “mandatory stand-alone diversity and inclusion training.” This must include such “well-established tools” as “unconscious bias training” so that all CIA officers can “learn how societal forces and their own experiences mold their daily decisions and perceptions.” 

I’m glad my tax dollars are now going to go toward remedying this atrocity. Because, you know, how on earth can we gather reliable intelligence if we don’t have enough transgendered or gay spies? They will be particularly useful in our efforts to infiltrate ISIS, I’m sure.

UPDATE: Fixed broken link.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: The Best Way to Day-Drink Is With Low-Alcohol Brews. Small beer was once a staple, but I prefer coffee.

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DID OBAMA REOPEN MIDDLE EASTERN SLAVE MARKETS BY EXECUTIVE ORDER? “Wednesday, President Obama publicly announced that he is issuing an executive order that the U.S. government will no longer criminally prosecute families of American hostages for paying ransom. In so doing, he created a public market for the selling of American citizens—and raised the price on their heads considerably.”

Read the whole thing.

GOVERNMENT AS CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY: Double trouble? IRS lawyer now heads Clinton email production.

VIRGINIA POSTREL: Greece, Capital Controls, and Cloud Computing. “Just as individual Greeks are losing access to Apple’s iCloud, as the Athens staff of Bloomberg News recently discovered, so companies are finding themselves cut off from services critical to their ongoing operations. The problem demonstrates a hidden risk in today’s otherwise efficient vertical disintegration. Taking for granted the easy flow of money across borders, system designers never foresaw a situation in which companies with adequate funds would find that they couldn’t pay foreign vendors.” Plus, the surprising generosity of Silicon Valley.

ASHE SCHOW: New campus sexual assault laws go into effect in Virginia.

Three new laws aimed to curb campus sexual assault in Virginia went into effect on July 1.

Two of the laws deal with reporting requirements for colleges and police departments. The other law, regarding transcript notations, has created some confusion.

Local station WHSV reported that, under the new law, “Any student under investigation for an offense involving sexual violence will have a special notation on their transcript.”

This is not what the law says, however. The law actually states that schools must “include a prominent notation on the academic transcript of each student who has been suspended for, has been permanently dismissed for, or withdraws from the institution while under investigation for an offense involving sexual violence under the institution’s code, rules or set of standards governing student conduct…”

So no, students under investigation will not have their transcripts noted unless they subsequently withdraw from the university while the investigation is ongoing.

Also, universities under the law would be required to “adopt a procedure for removing such notation from the academic transcript of any student who is subsequently found not to have committed an offense involving sexual violence under the institution’s code, rules or set of standards governing student conduct.”

Of course, the likelihood of a student being able to overturn a finding of responsible after the notation has been made is probably rather slim.

While it is good news that this law doesn’t automatically condemn students just for being accused (the whole process does that already), there are still problems with the other laws that went into effect on Wednesday.

Both laws dealing with reporting requirements use the term “victim” throughout, indicating a clear bias against the accused. This has been a common issue with campus sexual assault bills.

Read the whole thing.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Ousted Bill de Blasio aide Rachel Noerdlinger provided insider info and ‘talking points’ to Al Sharpton.

A former top aide to Mayor de Blasio’s wife served as a backchannel messenger to both the mayor and the Rev. Al Sharpton, emails released to the Daily News Thursday reveal.

Rachel Noerdlinger provided Sharpton, her former boss, with insider info and delivered “talking points” to Sharpton to have him attack unfavorable stories on de Blasio, the emails, provided to the News as part of a Freedom of Information request, show.

She also got Sharpton to lend a hand when de Blasio was under fire for interceding on behalf of a supporter, the Rev. Orlando Findlayter, who’d been arrested for outstanding warrants related to traffic violations and a civil disobedience arrest.

Al doesn’t speak truth to power. He speaks for power against truth.

YOU MAY NOT LIKE TED CRUZ’S SUPREME COURT PLAN, but the Supreme Court is already a “third political branch.”

How about this alternative: When Cruz is elected President, Congress ends the filibuster, then expands the Court to 15 justices.

CHANGE: House conservatives emboldened.

A critical bloc of House conservatives has been invigorated by its victory over GOP leaders, who caved in a high-profile fight over a punished subcommittee chairman.

The reinstatement of Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) is a small win for the months-old Freedom Caucus. But it could have broader implications when House Republicans pick a new leadership team after the 2016 elections.

While Freedom Caucus founders insist they aren’t focused on next year’s contests, the cluster of about 50 conservative rebels is gaining clout in the conference and will surely have a role to play if there’s a choice presented to members.

House Republicans are heavily favored to keep their majority, given their 246-188 advantage over Democrats, and many believe the next election could serve as a chance to elect more conservative leaders — including a new Speaker.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) has held the top job since 2011 and says he’s running for a fourth term, but he’s seen a rising number of conservatives defy him in public leadership votes.

And if Boehner calls it quits, his top lieutenants — Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) — could face challenges from the right as they seek to move up the ladder.

Boehner’s speakership has not been exceptionally successful.

DON’T TURN AROUND. DER KOMMISSAR’S IN TOWN. Feds: Celebrate the Fourth By Reciting Obamacare Talking Points to Your Family.

RACISM IN OBAMA’S AMERICA: Hillary Clinton Donor Calls Prominent African-American Legal Scholar a ‘Clown in Blackface’ — Will she condemn? I think that all Democratic candidates should be asked about this. And President Obama, too!

July 2, 2015

ONCE AGAIN, REPUBLICANS PREEMPTIVELY SURRENDERED TO A MEDIA BULLDOZING OPERATION: Confederate Flag Flop: Public Opinion Remains Unchanged From Where It Was 15 Years Ago.

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ADDING TO THE DIVERSITY OF THE DEMOCRATIC FIELD: Jim Webb Announces White House Candidacy.

His message touts his military experience as a company commander in Vietnam and as an assistant secretary of defense and secretary of the Navy.

He also directly takes on Clinton’s record by arguing he would not have voted for the Iraq War if he had been a senator at the time and would not have used military force in Libya during the Arab Spring.

Clinton voted to authorize that war, a decision she’s since said was a mistake, and she played in integral role in the Obama administration’s support of Libyan rebels to oust Muammar Gaddafi.

Yeah, that hasn’t gone very well.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Ex-Bishop Foley teacher sentenced for sex with student. “A former high school Spanish teacher was sentenced to at least six years in prison Thursday morning in Macomb County District Court for her sexual relationship with a student. Kathryn Kronk’s sentence will run concurrent with an identical 6- to 15-year sentence she received in March from an Oakland County judge for having sex with the 15-year-old student. Kronk, 30, a former Bishop Foley High School teacher, appeared in both Oakland and Macomb county courts because her sexual relationship with the student was in his home in Macomb Township and in Sterling Heights. She also engaged in sexual acts with the teenager in classrooms at Bishop Foley High School in Madison Heights.”