January 26, 2015

OBAMAVILLES: More homeless camps are appearing beyond downtown L.A.’s skid row. They told me if I voted for Mitt Romney, oligarchs would grow fabulously wealthy even as poverty worsened. And they were right!

January 25, 2015

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: ASU offers course in “The Problem with Whiteness.”

SULTAN KNISH: The Hollywood Jihad Against American Sniper.

American Sniper broke box office records that had been set by blockbusters like Avatar, Passion and Hangover Part II by refusing to demonize American soldiers or to spin conspiracy tales about the war. Instead of pandering to coastal progressives, it aimed at the patriotic heartland.

In a sentence you no longer expected to hear from a Hollywood exec, the Warner Brothers distribution chief said, “This is about patriotism and all the things people say the country is lacking these days.”

The backlash to that patriotism and the things the country is lacking these days didn’t take very long to form and it goes a lot deeper than snide tweets from Michael Moore and Seth Rogen. Academy members were reportedly passing around an article from the New Republic, whose author had not actually seen the movie, but still denounced it for not showing Chris Kyle as a bigoted murderer.

Hollywood progressives are both threatened and angered by American Sniper. And with good reason.

There’s a real opportunity for a new studio that focuses on making films like this. Will some rich guy put some money into that instead of funding some lame Karl Rove initiative? It would do more good. . . .

SO OVER ON TWITTER, INEZ FELTSCHER IS ARGUING THAT Congress’s abortion bill is unconstitutional because it’s outside Congress’s enumerated powers. I think that’s probably right, and in fact argued just that in a law review article written with Dave Kopel over a decade ago. That said, however, under Sebelius Congress could presumably place a stiff federal tax on abortion. And given that the ObamaCare penalty/tax wasn’t excessive, a similar tax on abortion presumably wouldn’t be either. . . .

YEAH, WELL, SO WHAT? Group says ‘American Sniper’ film spurs threats against Muslims. Maybe you guys need to start work on your image at home before you engage in media critiques and warning of the anti-Muslim “backlash” that somehow exists only in the media.

And when you complain about “threats,” a few Twitter posts that aren’t even actually, you know, threats don’t count.

SO THE INSTA-DAUGHTER COOKS MOST OF HER OWN FOOD AT COLLEGE, and one of the things she likes is this spiralizer, which she got for Christmas. She wrote that last night she used it to make this recipe and that it turned out really well. She also used this cast-iron skillet, which my sister gave her for Christmas. She’s becoming quite the foodie.

SO THERE’S HOPE FOR AMERICA, POST-OBAMA, AFTER ALL: Scientists Figure Out How to Unboil an Egg.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN FOR TOMORROW: Obama Goes Where The Money Is: Middle Class Savings Like Blood In The Water.

PRESIDENT GOLDMAN SACHS HAS BEEN GOOD FOR WALL STREET, BUT NOT FOR ORDINARY AMERICANS. EVEN MIDDLE-CLASS BLACKS ARE SUFFERING.

African Americans for decades flocked to Prince George’s County to be part of a phenomenon that has been rare in American history: a community that grew more upscale as it became more black.

The county became a national symbol of the American Dream with a black twist. Families moved into expansive new homes, with rolling lawns, nearby golf courses and, most of all, neighbors who looked like them. In the early 2000s, home prices soared — some well beyond $1 million — allowing many African Americans to build the kind of wealth their elders could only imagine.

But today, the nation’s highest-income majority-black county stands out for a different reason — its residents have lost far more wealth than families in neighboring, majority-white suburbs. And while every one of these surrounding counties is enjoying a strong rebound in housing prices and their economies, Prince George’s is lagging far behind, and local economists say a full recovery appears unlikely anytime soon.

The same reversal of fortune is playing out across the country as black families who worked painstakingly to climb into the middle class are seeing their financial foundation for future generations collapse. Although African Americans have made once-unthinkable political and social gains since the civil rights era, the severe and continuing damage wrought by the downturn — an entire generation of wealth was wiped out — has raised a vexing question: Why don’t black middle-class families enjoy the same level of economic security as their white counterparts?

Hopey-changey!

DARWIN AWARD, HONORABLE MENTION: Woman injured while trying to pet black bear.

YEAH, WE’RE PRETTY MUCH LIVING IN THE END TIMES NOW: YouTube’s Highest Paid Star Is A Mysterious Woman Who Unwraps Disney Presents.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN FOR TOMORROW: Obama Goes Where The Money Is: Middle Class Savings Like Blood In The Water.

ED DRISCOLL: Is the Britain—or America—of 2015 Capable of Producing Another Churchill?

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100 YEARS AGO TODAY: The First Transcontinental Call.

FLASHBACK: My thoughts on blackout preparedness. How are we doing? Well, I put in a generator earlier this year. . . .

SORRY, OBAMACARE DOESN’T COVER YOUR CANCER THERAPY. Have some LSD.

IN THE MAIL: From Jeb Kinnison, Red Queen: The Substrate Wars.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 626.

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Davos’s Destructive Elites. “The stories add up: Jeff Greene brings multiple nannies on his private jet to Davos, and the rest of the guys gathered to talk past each other about the plight of the working man scarf down couture hot-dogs that cost forty bucks. Bill Clinton makes the case for wealth-redistribution while sporting a $60,000 platinum Rolex.”

Related: Flying Around on Private Jets to Save the Planet. America has the worst political class in history, but the rest of the world isn’t doing a whole lot better.

UPDATE: Davos Is A Corporatist Racket. “All right, you say, but surely it’s useful for powerful people to exchange ideas and learn from each other’s mistakes. Well, yes; but this lot rarely seem to learn. Whatever the problem, their preferred solution is always to establish a global bureaucracy staffed by people like themselves. Obviously, they don’t put it like that. . . . If only these men really were as clever as they thought. Or, to be more precise, if only their cleverness translated into making good decisions. In fact, Davos Man consistently gets the big calls wrong.”

SO MAYBE REPUBLICANS SHOULD ACTUALLY PASS THESE OBAMA TAX PROPOSALS:

Americans like to hear that rich people are going to be forced to pay their “fair share.” They would probably be considerably less excited to hear that Obama wants to tax the earnings on educational savings accounts, or that any assets they inherit from their parents would be subject to a capital gains tax. To be fair, there are generous exemptions. But there are a lot of affluent-but-hardly-wealthy folks in blue states who would be very unhappy to hear that that nice Westchester home Mom and Dad bought for $15,000 in 1952 is going to be subject to a capital gains tax — at the same time as they’re suddenly paying income taxes on the capital gains and dividends in little Sally’s college account. . . .

Taxing the earnings on college savings accounts is even stranger, both because this hits the middle class, and because if you tax the earnings, there’s not all that much point to having the account; essentially, Obama is taxing college savings accounts in order to fund universal community college. This is scraping the bottom of the barrel, and what it tells you is that Obama has already run through most of the practical and politically palatable ways to tax the affluent.

Add to this, since Obama wants more taxes on “the rich,” a cap on the mortgage interest deduction at, say, $200,000, and an end to the deductibility of state income and property taxes. Yeah, this will hurt Blue State types harder, but hey, they voted for Obama. This is a win-win: He gets the blame, or he vetoes it.

Also, repeal the Hollywood tax cuts!

BOB DYLAN TO AARP: The Government’s Not Going To Create Jobs.

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BYRON YORK: 12 keys to the GOP presidential race right now.

1. The candidates who have run before — Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum — all think they can get their teams back together for another race. They can’t. Each man has been in touch with staff and supporters from 2008 and 2012, with the assumption that the people who were willing to work for them back then will do so again in 2016. But the world has changed; issues have changed and new candidates have emerged. Moderates who backed Romney now have Jeb Bush and Chris Christie to consider, while conservatives who backed Huckabee and Santorum have Ted Cruz and Ben Carson. Even if the veterans run again, they won’t be able to recreate what they had before. They’ll have to do something different.

York has 11 more, and they’re all worth reading, but let me reiterate my belief that what the GOP needs is fresh blood, not people who have been running for President since the iPhone was new.

THE ECONOMIST: America’s New Aristocracy: As the importance of intellectual capital grows, privilege has become increasingly heritable.

Thomas Jefferson drew a distinction between a natural aristocracy of the virtuous and talented, which was a blessing to a nation, and an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, which would slowly strangle it. Jefferson himself was a hybrid of these two types—a brilliant lawyer who inherited 11,000 acres and 135 slaves from his father-in-law—but the distinction proved durable. When the robber barons accumulated fortunes that made European princes envious, the combination of their own philanthropy, their children’s extravagance and federal trust-busting meant that Americans never discovered what it would be like to live in a country where the elite could reliably reproduce themselves. . . .

Intellectual capital drives the knowledge economy, so those who have lots of it get a fat slice of the pie. And it is increasingly heritable. Far more than in previous generations, clever, successful men marry clever, successful women. Such “assortative mating” increases inequality by 25%, by one estimate, since two-degree households typically enjoy two large incomes. Power couples conceive bright children and bring them up in stable homes—only 9% of college-educated mothers who give birth each year are unmarried, compared with 61% of high-school dropouts. They stimulate them relentlessly: children of professionals hear 32m more words by the age of four than those of parents on welfare. They move to pricey neighbourhoods with good schools, spend a packet on flute lessons and pull strings to get junior into a top-notch college.

The universities that mould the American elite seek out talented recruits from all backgrounds, and clever poor children who make it to the Ivy League may have their fees waived entirely. But middle-class students have to rack up huge debts to attend college, especially if they want a post-graduate degree, which many desirable jobs now require. The link between parental income and a child’s academic success has grown stronger, as clever people become richer and splash out on their daughter’s Mandarin tutor, and education matters more than it used to, because the demand for brainpower has soared.

I don’t know, an awful lot of those Ivy League graduates are credentialed, but not educated. For them, I suppose, there’s always a career in journalism or politics.

IT BEGINS: Maine Governor Proposes Taxing Large Charities.

UPDATE: I had some thoughts on taxing nonprofits here.

ROBERT VERBRUGGEN: Treating Parents Fairly:

The stabilization of the proportion of mothers who stay at home, the persistence of the dramatic increase in working motherhood that occurred in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, and Americans’ continued uneasiness with full-time working motherhood all have implications both for generations of children and for the economy. And given the stakes and the complexity of the problem, it is tempting for many to look for guidance from experts. But because there are so many factors to consider, social science has not reached a consensus about what is best for children.

The lack of consensus, however, has not deterred policymakers from attempting to help parents by passing “family friendly” legislation. Unfortunately, and likely in large part because there is no social or scholarly consensus on which to base such policies, we have a host of government programs that work at cross purposes, prodding women into the workforce while at the same time making it difficult for mothers to work outside the home.

Well, that’s how government tends to work.

PUNCHING BACK TWICE AS HARD: Dad posts meddling note sent home by teacher over packed lunch.

Missing from the story: The name of the teacher. Name and shame the nannies. But at least the school superintendent, Damon Kizzire, is named. He’s apologized to the family.

REWRITE OF THE PHILOSOPHERS’ SONG: HEIDEGGER, HEIDEGGER WAS A NAZI OLD BEGGAR WHO WOULD SEND YOU OFF TO BELSEN. “Professor Shocked, Shocked To Find Out Prominent Nazi Was An Anti-Semite.”

The chair of Germany’s Martin Heidegger Society resigned in genuine horror after some of Heidegger’s private papers were released and showed that, surprise, surprise, he was an anti-semite.

The immense awkwardness that is Heidegger’s Nazi affiliation is always quite a thing to behold. The simple fact of the matter is that, in terms of influence and also perhaps quality, Heidegger is a giant of 20th century philosophy, and one whose influence was felt primarily on the “Left.” The fact that a man who exercised such a tremendous influence on postmodern and progressive philosophy was also a Hitler supporter obviously raises eyebrows.

Well, they were the National Socialists, something most intellectuals today are at pains to ignore, just as they were for years at pains to explain away Heidegger’s Nazism, which it turns out he actually believed in.

ROGER SIMON: Obama, the Shiite, Goes to Riyadh. “Much of this Iran-coddling began back when the Green Movement was in the streets of Tehran seeking the overthrow of the ayatollahs and chanting ‘Obama, Obama… Are you with us or are you with them?’ Our president did not respond. He was already in private communication with the bizarre Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Obama wanted to be the one who got credit for reining in the excesses of the Islamic Republic, not those unruly student demonstrators who were the ones suffering from the regime in the first place, being murdered, tortured and raped in Evin Prison, often in reverse order. . . . Now I realize Obama is not really a Shiite. He was raised in Sunni Indonesia. And, yes, Sunnis — notably ISIS, Boko Haram and AQAP — are leading the way in the public butchery department for the moment and need to be opposed with all our might. But that doesn’t mean Shiites are not active. Just the other day we had the mysterious Buenos Aires death of Alberto Nisman, who was about to reveal truths about the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in that city in which 85 were killed — a kind of simultaneous beheading in which Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah are said to be the culprits. Almost anyone honest and awake knows the Islamic Republic is and has been the primary state sponsor of terrorism worldwide for decades. . . . The president now has an Iran deal so tied up in his mind with his legacy that the appearance of Netanyahu in front of Congress opens a psychological wound so large Obama is likely to do almost anything. The world — not just Saudi Arabia and Israel — had better beware.”

WHATEVER COULD OBAMA HAVE IN MIND? Charles Krauthammer On How Israel Tension Raises Questions On Iran.

THIS IS WHAT EVERYONE PREDICTED WHEN THE ADEA WAS APPLIED TO ACADEMIA. I SAY, SUCK IT, LEFTIES. It Is Time to End Tenure at Age 70. “A specter haunting the academy today is of an intellectually wizened white male professoriate refusing to step aside for au courant, energetic, ambitious, and of course diverse younger faculty.”

Interestingly, most of those doing the warning were those “intellectually wizened white males.” So, like I say, suck it.

BUMMER: Fast Track on Drug for Ebola Has Faltered.

GRAPHIC: Watch the rapid decline of “white America” over three decades. Of course, counties with 98% white is setting the threshold pretty high.

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ER, WHY? Great news. Republicans look at eliminating filibuster for SCOTUS nominees. “If the GOP scraps the filibuster for SCOTUS nominees now, it benefits nobody except Barack Obama and his allies, making if much easier for him to rail through a far more liberal choice than would otherwise be possible. Then, if the GOP manages to lose the White House again and the margin in the Senate remains small, the Democrats will get at least four more years of benefit out of it. If the Republicans do take the White House but somehow lose ground (and control) in the Senate, the Democrats can simply put the filibuster back in place in January of 2017, and what possible evidence of good will exists to suggest that they wouldn’t make such a hypocritical move? I suppose I’ll wait to hear a more full explanation from Alexander and friends if this proposal actually picks up steam. But for the moment, it just doesn’t make any sense.”

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMEBODY WHO GAINS WHEN THE GOVERNMENT DISTORTS THE MARKET: Smart Shoppers Hitting Gun Buyback Events for Bargains.

LEFTY BILLIONAIRE GETS OFF PRIVATE JET, SAYS AMERICANS HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF: “Billionaire property investor Jeff Greene recently spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying he believes people in the United States need to stop aiming so high and start living with less. . . . The only issue Americans took with the 60-year-old’s opinions was, well, everything, given he owns a $195 million palace in Beverly Hills, which has 23 bathrooms and a rotating dance floor, as well as four other blue ribbon properties, and is famous for throwing wild parties on a 145-foot yacht.”

Related: Hundreds of Private Jets Delivered People to Davos. Also, It’s Climate Change Day at Davos.

Plus, winning Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 10.02.44 AM

FIGHT THE POWER: German man went to court, won the right to pee standing up.

UPDATE: A former student writes from Germany that this case was their dinner table conversation tonight. To be fair, some of the blame goes to the dreadful German style of toilet design. I think that America offers a happy medium between the German and Japanese schools of toilet craziness.

I SUSPECT “CIVILITY” IS OR WILL BECOME A PROXY FOR “NOT OFFENDING PEOPLE BY HAVING THE WRONG IDEAS:” Higher Education Update: 80% of Provosts Favor Civility as Factor in Faculty Hiring and Tenure Decisions. It’s unsurprising, of course, that administrators would feel that way.

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SPACE: Mars Rover Opportunity Marks 11-Year Anniversary with Stunning Photo.

mars-rover-opportunity-panorama-2

WILL YOU LOSE MORE WEIGHT exercising on an empty stomach? You’ll find it hard to work out really intensely — at least, I’ve tried a couple of times to do heavy squats without eating enough and I ran out of gas. It was quite palpable.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Wait! What? FCC ponders plan to route U.S. 911 calls through Russian satellites.

WOMAN WHO IS INCAPABLE OF FEELING FEAR says it’s not all that great. We wouldn’t have evolved it if it weren’t useful.

IN THE MAIL: From Lewis Dartnell, The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 625.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Uncle Sam Is Coming After Your Savings.

Earlier in the week, I discussed the Obama administration’s proposal to tax earnings on so-called 529 college savings plans, part of a package of tax hikes that will pay for new programs such as his proposal to make the first two years of community college free. This has been touted as a plan to hike taxes on the rich to help the middle class, but in fact it’s more of a plan to redistribute money from the upper middle class to the lower middle class.

As I noted then, this proposal is not going anywhere, not just because Republican congressmen will block it, but because it would be very unpopular with affluent blue-state voters who currently vote for Democrats. About the only people I saw defending this particular idea were blue-state singles who haven’t yet confronted the monstrous expense of shepherding their progeny into the new mandarin class to which they belong.

Everyone else seems to be somewhere between confused and aghast. One comment in particular struck me, as I saw it several times on social media and in writings: “How would you feel if they did this to Roth IRAs?”

Why did I find that particular question a compelling topic for a column? Because it’s a question we may have to ask ourselves. As I observed when I first wrote about the plan, the very fact that we are discussing taxation of educational savings — redistributing educational subsidies downward — indicates that the administration has started scraping the bottom of the barrel when seeking out money to fund new programs. Why target a tax benefit that goes to a lot of your supporters (and donors), that tickles one of the sweetest spots in American politics (subsidizing higher education), and that will hit a lot of people who make less than the $250,000 a year that has become the administration’s de facto definition of “rich”?

Presumably, because you’re running out of other places to get the money.

And spending less is unthinkable. Is this why Dems also want mandatory IRAs? First force the savings, then confiscate!

SO THE BEST AIRPLANE FOR ATTACKING ISIS IS THE A-10, and the Pentagon is scrapping them.

You know, Robert Conquest once wrote, “The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies,” but that statement is striking a little too close to home lately.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Failing Up: Company behind HealthCare.gov debacle gets an IRS contract.

January 23, 2015

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Law Firm at Center of Silver Scandal Donated Huge Sums to Dems, Including President Obama. “And although no wrongdoing has thus far been attributed to the law firm, it’s at least worth noting that two of the biggest recipients were both involved with the Moreland Commission, which was mysteriously and abruptly disbanded by the governor in March 2014 after less than a year on task of probing public corruption.”

COME ON, CHUCK, YOU KNOW THEY DON’T COVER THINGS THAT MAKE OBAMA LOOK BAD: Chuck Todd Blasts the media for ignoring Yemen in their coverage. “They’re all on Tom Brady. Yemen is actually on fire.”

VIDEO: Dean Cain Backs Up Talk, Imam Choudary Threatens Death!

MORE ON the Disneyland measles outbreak. Vaccinate your kids — but we probably need better vaccines, too.

HOW THE BRAIN STORES TRIVIAL MEMORIES, just in case.

ANOTHER REASON TO KEEP YOUR KIDS OUT OF PUBLIC SCHOOL: All Your Facebook Passwords Are Belong To Us.

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A PORSCHE 928 disguised as a VW Golf.

THE SCIENCE DOESN’T MATTER UNLESS THE SHIRTS WERE PROPERLY VETTED: Rosetta Finds Out Much About a Comet, Even With a Wayward Lander. Because the most important part of any scientific venture is what people are wearing.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Piezoelectric monolayer joins toolkit for nanomanipulation.

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WHY YOUR SMARTPHONE NEEDS AN INFRARED SENSOR.

ROBERT VERBRUGGEN ON Obama’s Plan To Tax Parents Of College Students.

DEEP SCRUTINY: X-Rays Reveal Contents of Ancient Scrolls Buried by Mt. Vesuvius. “Over 260 years ago, archaeologists discovered hundreds of ancient scrolls left behind in an ancient library in Herculaneum, which was covered in volcanic material after the infamous eruption in 79 A.D. Unfortunately, these charred scrolls are next to impossible to open without destroying them, leaving their contents largely a mystery. But a new imaging technique allows researchers to see what’s written inside, without ever opening the delicate artifacts.”

DAVID STEINBERG: Was Strange Cantor Event Prelude to ‘Cantor for Virginia Governor 2017′?

GALLERY: The 11 Coolest Cars From the Detroit Auto Show.

K.C. JOHNSON: Shame On Kirsten Gillibrand.

Apart from Claire McCaskill, no senator has more aggressively advocated weakening due process protections for students accused of sexual assault than New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She continued her anti-due process crusade in two high-profile moves this week. First, Gillibrand invited Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz as her special guest for the State of the Union address. Sulkowicz has attracted international media attention for her “performance art” project of carrying a mattress around campus to protest what she considers Columbia’s insufficient response to a student she claims sexually assaulted her. No evidence exists that the student did, in fact, sexually assault her: even under Columbia’s extraordinarily imbalanced sexual assault policy, which tilts nearly all procedures in the advantage of the accusing student, the disciplinary panel didn’t find Sulkowicz’s allegation credible. Why Gillibrand came to believe Sulkowicz remains unclear. . . .

Even more troubling, however, was a Huffington Post essay penned by Gillibrand to accompany her invitation. The New York senator explained that she reached out to Sulkowicz to show solidarity with a student who “carries her mattress everywhere she goes to symbolize the burden she carries every single day as long as her rapist is still on campus.” Note the senator’s remarkable word choice. Gillibrand didn’t say “as long as her alleged rapist is still on campus.” Or “as long as the person she says raped her is still on campus.” No: Gillibrand, a sitting U.S. senator, has described a Columbia student as a “rapist”—that is, someone guilty of a criminal act—based solely on an allegation from a single person. And not merely a generic type of allegation, but one that even Columbia didn’t deem credible and the police did not pursue. As FIRE’s Ari Cohn has pointed out, with this statement Gillibrand laid “bare her disregard for rights of the accused.” For the senator, “allegations of rape = guilty of rape.”

Imagine the reaction of the Times editorial page if a New York senator on virtually any other criminal justice issue described as guilty of a criminal act a resident of the state who (a) hadn’t even been criminally charged and (b) had been deemed non-culpable of any criminal activity by an internal inquiry.

Yes, but men don’t have feelings, and don’t really matter anyway. Because fairness and equality!

IT’S COVERUPS ALL THE WAY DOWN: Whistleblower: Pelosi Covered Up Role In Crisis. “We’ve long suspected the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission wasn’t honest in examining events before the meltdown. But an ex-commissioner says the probe was actually a full-blown political cover-up. In a just-released book, former FCIC member Peter Wallison says that a Democratic Congress worked with the commission’s Democratic chairman to whitewash the government’s central role in the mortgage debacle.”

The book is Peter Wallison’s Hidden in Plain Sight: What Really Caused the World’s Worst Financial Crisis and Why It Could Happen Again

UPDATE: From the comments:

The pattern of reviews on Amazon for Wallison’s book hint at a coordinated attack on a book and a subject which is a sacred cow to liberals. He criticized the Dodd-Frank act. He dares to skewer the holiest of holys, the no-down-payment-low-interest subprime loan as being a major factor in the meltdown.

Interesting to note: The praise for the book comes from those who are noted as having made a “verified purchase.” The disgruntled reviewers blatantly parrot one another in talking point fashion in an effort to discourage anyone from buying / reading this book.

How about that?

PAUL RAHE: A Revolution Of Sorts In New York.

Silver’s indictment is big news. If he was on the take for fifteen or more years — to the tune of $6 million — then we can be confident that everyone else associated with him was also on the take. The government of the state of New York is that sort of polity. If Mr. Big is receiving, everyone else is getting some sort of cut.

This would explain why, in March 2014, Andrew Cuomo, the current Governor of New York, suddenly shut down the Moreland Commission, which he had set up in 2013 — no doubt, in anticipation of a presidential run — ostensibly for the purpose of cleaning up politics in New York. That commission was apparently turning up evidence that impinged on people close to the Governor himself, and it had to go.

Well, Cuomo is a threat to some powerful Democrats outside of New York.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 624.

CHEAP GAS PROBABLY WON’T LAST:

No one knows exactly what factors are causing prices to fall so far, so fast, but there is a strong suspicion that Saudi Arabia, which you can think of as the central banker of OPEC, is letting prices fall in the hopes of killing off the competition from U.S. and Canadian shale oil. The question, then, is: Who will blink first?

At first blush, you might think that Middle Eastern oil producers have the upper hand. Their oil requires relatively little investment to get out of the ground; it’s not quite as simple as sticking a straw in the desert and sucking out the black stuff, but it sure looks like that compared to the complexity of a fracking operation. And fracking wells dry up fairly quickly, requiring even more investment just to stay in place.

But the shale oil producers also have some advantages. First of all, the Saudis need high prices to support their government spending — the IMF estimates that they require a price of about $90 a barrel just to pay the bills. That means they can’t keep up a price war forever. Second of all, upstart industries tend to improve pretty quickly in their first years or decades of operation, and fracking is no exception; my Bloomberg News colleagues report that the break-even point for many operations is $70 or less, which is lower than OPEC nations can sustain.

Even if they manage to push U.S. and Canadian fracking operations offline temporarily, the technology and expertise still exist. It took less than 10 years from the time when prices started soaring to the point where the U.S. was producing more oil than most OPEC members. If oil prices soared again, it would take even less time to get up and running again.

Stay tuned.

2014 CALLED AND IT WANTS ITS HYSTERICAL OVERREACTIONS BACK: ‘Yes means yes’ law could be coming to Arizona. Just another front in Democratic politicians’ war on men.

WHY DO BAD THINGS ALWAYS HAPPEN TO HER? Kirchner: Argentine prosecutor was killed to discredit me.

YEMEN: Sure sign of an Obama foreign-policy success: the evac. Helicopters on the Embassy roof: To some, they’re a fond memory.

YOU KNEW THIS WAS COMING: TurboTax Apologizes for Bait-and-Switch, Provides $25 Refunds to Customers. The reputational damage is more expensive than the refunds.

KING ABDULLAH’S friends at the New York Times. I’m not so sure even about the notion that the Saudis are America’s allies. . . .

FLYING COVER: Major media mostly ignoring four potential Democratic Hillary 2016 rivals.

A search of U.S. publications in Lexis Nexis for “Jim Webb” since Nov. 20, 2014 — the day the former Democratic senator and Reagan administration official announced he was considering a run for president — produces only 93 results.

Results for potential Republican 2016 candidate Mike Huckabee (“Huckabee”) since just three weeks ago, when he gave up his Fox News program and signaled a probable run: 227.

Though there are presently at least five Democrats who say they’re seriously considering bids for the White House — a sizable number — major media news coverage has disproportionately focused on the GOP side, which has at least nine potential candidates, and on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Many of the potential 2016 candidates are barely known to the public, but lack of visibility two years out isn’t the handicap it once was. Clinton has a commanding lead in the 2016 contest, but a Jan. 6, 2007, poll found that 61 percent of the respondents said they didn’t know enough about then-Sen. Barack Obama to have an opinion of him. He went on to defeat Clinton in the Democratic primary and win the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

Hillary’s inevitable, just like she was last time.

RICHARD LANDES: We’ll Always Have Paris, Won’t We? “For fifteen years now, there has been a consistent stream of powerful evidence for all the trends that now, in this latest jihadi assault, so rudely shocked all of France. Those of us who have been tracking these trends for the last fifteen years are astonished that so many really didn’t see this coming. In part, the ignorance came, alas, from the brilliant choice by the jihadis to target Jews first. For many reasons, none of them particularly admirable, many among the French journalistic and political elites preferred not to talk about or acknowledge this assault on the Jews.”

YOUR TAX DOLLARS NOT WORKING: HHS Inspector General Details How Feds Botched the Obamacare Exchange Planning Process.

SCRATCHING OUT THE EYES OF FOREIGN OBSERVERS: China harassing and imprisoning Chinese working for foreign news outlets.

Zhang Miao has now been in prison for almost four months.

She is a Chinese researcher for a German newspaper in China, and her arrest has sparked fear, outrage and some soul-searching among foreign news organizations in China about the role of their Chinese assistants.

Reporting from China has become increasingly difficult and harrowing in recent years for both Chinese and foreign media, with a sweeping crackdown on press freedom since China’s President Xi Jinping took power.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, China had more journalists in prison last year than any other country. Most were Chinese citizens.

For years, the most common threat to foreign news outlets has been expulsion. But increasingly, Chinese authorities are attacking news bureaus at their most vulnerable point: their dependence on Chinese citizens who translate and facilitate their coverage.

Just in case you thought the Chinese had gotten nice or something.

BARBARA KAY: Rape culture proofiness feeds moral panic over non-existent epidemic.

“SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS” ON THE JOB: Nearly 200 pictures of Ferguson looters released.

Clearly, they’re concerned about police accountability.

INSTITUTIONALIZING SEXISM: The “Manspreading” Campaign — A Portent Of Things To Come. “It is inconceivable that any other identifiable group would be singled out in such a humiliating fashion for public correction.”

Punch back twice as hard. And never give them credit for being “well-meaning.” Because they don’t mean well.

Meanwhile, I wonder where this whole “manspreading” thing got its start?

DON SURBER: Advice on men’s issues for 2016 Democratic presidential hopefuls.

If Republicans have female problems, Democrats have a problem with men. In the last presidential election, Democrats got 47% of the male vote, Republicans 53%. Then came the 2014 disaster in which Democrats had their biggest butt whupping since 1928. 2016 is less than two years away, and Hillary or Fauxcahontas represent the feminist sense of entitlement that most men dislike. . . .

The presumption of guilt when a woman accuses a man of rape causes resentment among men, and their wives, mothers and sisters. Hostility toward men — particularly young men — brings out the Mama Bear in most women.

Another stat that needs to go to rest is that 77 cents on the dollar that women make. No one believes it except the Democratic core. We know it does not take into account child raising and taking lighter jobs. Men dominate the dangerous jobs — lumberjacking and commercial fishing — and deserve more due to their risks.

Here is a statistic that needs a political home: men are 9 times as likely to go to prison. The same crime often gets women a lighter sentence. Female privilege anyone?

Read the whole thing.

January 22, 2015

THE LOLITA EXPRESS? “Flight logs on pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s private jet puts Bill Clinton sharing a ride with a pornstar, as well as a woman who procured underage hookers for the billionaire.”

More here: “Other MRG films include Deviant Desires and Carnal Confessions; the company has since been purchased by Larry Flynt. Exposed, appropriately enough, was directed by a pseudonymous auteur who went by the name of Clinton J. Williams.”