March 4, 2015

MICHAEL BARONE: The worst colleges and universities for free speech. “It’s a list with a lot of diversity — something that is valued seemingly above all else in American colleges and universities these days. The list includes highly respected flagship state universities (the University of Illinois, the University of Iowa), universities founded to nurture ancient religious traditions (Georgetown, Marquette, Brandeis), an urban college under severe stress (Chicago State), a suburban second-line college (Cal State at Fullerton) and a small city two-year institution (Modesto Junior College).”

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IT’S COME TO THIS: Hillary fallout: Josh Earnest now basically arguing that official government e-mail accounts are optional; Update: For aides too?

Related: Uh oh: Even without media hand-wringing, Democrats worry Hillary is imploding. “The political press seems loathe to draw unfaltering conclusions about Clinton’s ability to serve as an effective campaigner, but Democrats with skin in this game are not displaying the same nonchalance.”

It’s sad when actual Democratic operatives don’t shill as hard as their counterparts in the press.

LIZ PEEK: Netanyahu Shows Obama’s Deal with Iran Is Lose-Lose.


ASHE SCHOW: Sexual assault bill is back, and not much better than before.

Last week, a bipartisan group of senators reintroduced a campus sexual assault bill which, as I wrote last year, has some serious problems.

The Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which picked up two additional sponsors from last year’s version, purports to combat sexual violence. In reality, the bill fosters a campus climate where accused students are guilty until proven innocent.

The first bone of contention: The continued insistence by bill sponsors to call complainants “victims” before any evidence is compiled. At least they use the appropriate term “accused” (instead of “rapist”) for those on the other side, but the phrasing still shows bias toward a “guilty until proven innocent” mentality that has currently resulted in some 60 accused students suing their universities for unfair treatment.

This year’s version of the bill at least pays lip service to the notion of due process for what is actually a felony being adjudicated by campus administrators. The bill now includes the term “due process” three times, a 300 percent increase from last year’s bill, which included the term exactly zero times.

On page 31 of the bill’s 51 pages, due process gets its moment to flicker under a dark bridge.

The rest of it is basically hatred and fearful stereotyping of males. Plus:

Another troubling aspect included in the section about “support services” for the accuser is a requirement for schools to provide legal counseling. This would be a perfectly reasonable resource for schools to provide — if they were also provided to the accused student. This hints at further bias against students accused.

Remember, these students are being accused of felonies. This isn’t a disciplinary hearing for plagiarism, which can get a student expelled but not imprisoned. Documents and “evidence” included these proceedings can and will be turned over to prosecutors, should that be the next step. Universities, under political pressure, often ignore or explain away evidence provided by accused students and then find them guilty based solely on an accusation.

Note that Republicans Marco Rubio, Chuck Grassley, and Kelly Ayotte are on board with this, but are unable or unwilling to answer Schow’s questions.

GEORGE WILL: Stopping The IRS:

n 2013, Roskam, in a televised committee hearing, told the story of Al Salvi, who in 1996 was the Republican’s Senate candidate against then congressman, now senator, Dick Durbin. Democrats filed charges with the Federal Election Commission against Salvi’s campaign, charges that threatened to dominate the campaign’s final weeks. Salvi telephoned the head of the FEC’s Enforcement Division, who he says told him: “Promise me you will never run for office again, and we’ll drop this case.” So said Lois Lerner. After Salvi lost, FBI agents visited his elderly mother, demanding to know, concerning her $2,000 contribution to her son’s campaign, where she got “that kind of money.” When a federal court held that the charges against Salvi were spurious, the FEC’s losing lawyer was Lois Lerner.

Roskam’s telling of Salvi’s story elicited no denial from Lerner. Neither did the retelling of it in this column (June 13, 2013). No wonder: The story had not been deemed newsworthy by the three broadcast networks’ evening news programs, by The New York Times or The Washington Post. With most of the media uninterested in the use of government institutions to handicap conservatives, stonewalling would work.

It still is working through dilatory and incomplete responses to subpoenas, and unresponsive answers to congressional questions. Lerner’s name now has an indelible Nixonian stain, but there probably will be no prosecution. If the administration’s stonewalling continues as the statute of limitations’ clock ticks, Roskam says, “She will get away with it.”

Now in his fifth House term, Roskam, 53, says, “The advantage in this town is always with the entity that doesn’t want to do anything.” Many thousands of Lerner’s emails that supposedly were irretrievably lost have been found, but not released. The Justice Department’s investigation, which was entrusted to a political appointee who was a generous contributor to Barack Obama’s campaign, is a stone in the stone wall.

It’s a culture of corruption. Remember this, and act accordingly in all things. But wait, it gets worse:

Roskam says the task now is “to see that Lois Lerner 2.0 is impossible.” One place to begin is with the evidence — anecdotal but, in the context of proven IRS corruption, convincing — of other possibly punitive IRS behavior toward Republican contributors and other conservative activists. This justifies examining the IRS’ audit selection process. This would produce interesting hearings for most of the media to ignore.

Next, there should be hearings into the illegal disclosure of taxpayer information about conservative individuals and groups to the media and to liberal officials and groups. Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer for some groups abused by the IRS (and for this columnist on different matters), also suggests prohibiting IRS employees from joining a union.

“The National Treasury Employees Union,” she says, “provides no protection to IRS employees that federal statutes and the civil service system do not already provide. It already takes an act of God to hold an IRS employee accountable for his or her actions. But it is worse than merely redundant for IRS employees to belong to the NTEU. Because it adds nothing to its members’ protections, it is a purely political organization. In 2014, fully 95 percent of its contributions went to Democrats, including 11 Democratic members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. So, the IRS employees’ union dues finance the election of people who are supposed to scrutinize IRS’ behavior.”

The nice thing is, if Obama has to veto an IRS reform bill, it would be unpopular and would bring all this back up.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: UC to freeze California enrollment, cap UCLA, Berkeley non-residents. “In recent years, UC sharply increased the numbers of students from outside the state because they pay about $23,000 more in tuition than Californians do. But the rising presence of non-Californians is a hot political item, and legislative proposals to increase state funding to the UC require a freeze on their ranks. . . . An unprecedented 20% of this year’s freshman class across UC is from outside California and about 30% at UCLA and UC Berkeley. Though UC officials insist that Californians are not being excluded to make room for non-residents, many parents and legislators believe that UC has admitted far too many students from outside the state and are concerned that the practice hurts in-state students’ chances for admission.”

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Billionaire Trying to Force Costly Green Mandate on New York: John Catsimatidis pushing biofuel mandate as he finishes construction on Brooklyn biofuel plant. He has a face that should appear in a thousand political ads. Thomas Nast couldn’t have done better.

DIVIDED DEMOCRATS: Centrist New Democrats Want Bigger Role in Party’s Message.

The New Democrat Coalition members have long bemoaned their exclusion from the leadership table that’s typically — especially now — skewed to the left.

But with Democrats of all stripes evaluating what went wrong in the 2014 midterms and wondering how to win back seats in 2016, members of the group see an opening to really be heard — and hopefully taken seriously.

That’s why, for the first time in its nearly 18-year history, the group is putting out a comprehensive legislative agenda.

Good luck, guys.

THE HILL: Netanyahu speech divides Dems.

The fiery takedown of one of Obama’s top foreign policy priorities split leading Democrats, with some hailing the speech as a thoughtful warning from America’s closest ally in the Middle East and others condemning it as an underhanded attack on the White House.

More than 50 Democrats boycotted the speech to protest both Netanyahu’s censure of Obama’s policies and Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) decision to invite the prime minister without first consulting the White House or Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who attended the speech, issued a scathing statement afterward.

“I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech — saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the [negotiating] nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation,” Pelosi said.

That view wasn’t shared by other top Democrats, who praised Netanyahu’s message as both powerful and necessary amid a time of rising terrorist threats in the Middle East.

Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said it was “a very strong speech” in defense of Israel’s position.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, called it a “powerful, strong, factual, inspiring” address that “sent a very strong message to the entire world.”

And Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, said it was “a brilliant speech” that did “a very effective job” warning Congress of the risks surrounding Obama’s Iran negotiations.

“I was skeptical about the deal going in, I’m just as skeptical after the speech, and I think a significant number of my colleagues are where I am,” Rep. Israel said. “He changed minds. The question is: How many minds did he change?”

I’m not sure it’s just about changed minds. It’s also about stiffened spines.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Latest Scott Walker Scandal: His Spokeswomen Are WAY TOO HOT.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Sweet Briar College, Citing ‘Financial Challenges,’ Will Close Its Doors in August. “The Richmond Times-Dispatch notes that the college is the state’s third liberal-arts institution in two years to close, joining Saint Paul’s College and Virginia Intermont College. Founded in 1901, Sweet Briar has 328 employees, including 72 full-time faculty members. It enrolled 700 students this year.”

Who could have seen this coming?

March 3, 2015

IT’S COME TO THIS: ObamaCare Opponents Face Death Threats In The New York Times.

MOTHERHOOD AND FEMINISM: “Having a Baby Is Not Unlike Dealing With a Death.”

WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, FRANCIS SEJERSTED? Nobel Peace committee demotes controversial head.

Norway’s Nobel Peace Prize committee on Tuesday demoted its controversial chairman Thorbjoern Jagland in a move unprecedented in the long history of the award.

The organisation, which said the former Norwegian prime minister would remain as a committee member, gave no reason for its decision.

However the renowned diplomat had drawn sharp criticism shortly after becoming chairman in 2009 for awarding the prestigious Nobel to newly elected US President Barack Obama.

Yeah, that’s worked out badly. And it’ll be worse yet for peace before it’s all over. But forget what I said about Sejersted, as he chaired the committee the year they awarded the Prize to Yasser Arafat, instead of my nomination that year, Arthur C. Clarke.

UPDATE: From the comments:

For failing to stand for freedom and prematurely withdrawing from Iraq (though declaring the U.S. operation a ‘success’), Obama invited the Syrian Civil War that’s killed about as many people as the Iraq war. That withdrawal also invited bloodthirsty ISIS to fill the void in Syria and Iraq, and left Israel alone in the neighborhood as Iran finishes building its bomb.

How many old wars did the Nobel Peace laureate reignite and how many new wars did he set the stage for? He’s even brought back a war that six years ago seemed impossible to re-create: the Cold War with Moscow.

And let’s not pretend east Asia is any more peaceful since Obama sent up the white flag. North Korea is re-invigorated and threatening war. And an enormously wealthy totalitarian China is preparing to steal islands it never owned, from Taiwan to Hawaii.

What did you celebrate with that 2009 prize, Thorbjoern Jagland? You celebrated war.

Si vis pacem, para bellum. This saying can be read two ways. The traditional reading is that if you want peace, you’re more likely to get it by being prepared for war. But it may have a second meaning — that wanting peace too much makes war more likely. Experience certainly supports that.

A UT FACULTY MEMBER ON THE WHOLE “DE-TENURING” THING: Hey, what about those swarms of administrators eating up our substance and producing nothing?

At the same time, the number of administrators, most of them much more highly paid than any faculty member, has blossomed in an era of better “business models” for universities. The organizational charts from the three main divisions of UT (the President’s staff, the Chancellor’s staff, and the Provost’s staff) are dizzying in their complexity and do not fully represent the number of associate deans and other administrators for each of the Colleges and other units. The same Board meeting that broached the removal of tenure as a cost-saving measure began (after the invocation) with Di Pietro putting forward a statement about a new Vice President of Development and Alumni Affairs (actually, a promotion) at a salary of $307,000, before benefits, moving expenses, and an additional “non-accountable expense allowance.” That figure would hire 5-6 assistant professors or 8-9 lecturers in English, depending on how you do the math, probably with change left over. Development folks are supposed to raise funds, I understand, but I have my concerns about how much of the university’s resources now go to them and the effectiveness of their approach, which actually cost the English department money (another story for another day). My main point is that higher administrators make great salaries, usually 3 or 4 times what tenured faculty members make and 8 to 10 times what full-time lecturers make, and their numbers and roles seem to be growing with more calls for “review,” “accountability,” “making hard decisions,” and “better management.” Call it the spread of Vice. New initiatives justify new administrators, who usually create more work (and anxiety) for teaching faculty already struggling to find the time to see to their increased responsibilities, take care of more students, and stay on top of new developments in the field. These administrators are also no longer (as they once were) subject to any faculty oversight or review, though we do get the occasional survey about whether we “like” what they’re doing. The teaching faculty carry on, like Orwell’s Boxer from Animal Farm, determined to work harder, while we await the withering away of the state. That’s why listing the removal of tenure in the context of a list of money-saving and revenue-generating proposals sounded so ominous to many of us. Even if “de-tenure” was truly a typo, it was a revealing one.

As I note elsewhere at some length, the explosion of academic administrators is a major cause — probably the single biggest cause — of runaway higher education costs, but administrators never seem to want to cut administration. We’ve replaced loads of full-time teaching faculty with adjuncts, but nobody’s talking about “adjunct administrators.” Why not?

DON’T GIVE UP NOW: Brian Cates: We’re Almost There In Taking Over The GOP From Bottom To The Very Top.

A STATE WITHIN A STATE: Source: Top Clinton Aides Used Secret Email Accounts at State Dept.

Hillary Clinton is defending her use of a private email address, hosted at, to conduct official State Department business by claiming that her emails were captured by official accounts that other agency employees were instructed to use to contact her. But according to a knowledgeable source, at least two other top Clinton aides also used private email accounts to conduct government business—placing their official communications outside the scope of federal record-keeping regulations.

“Her top staffers used those Clinton email addresses” at the agency, said the source, who has worked with Clinton in the past. The source named two staffers in particular, Philippe Reines and Huma Abedin, who are said to have used private email addresses in the course of their agency duties. Reines served as deputy assistant secretary of state, and Abedin as Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. Both rank among Clinton’s most loyal confidantes, in and out of the State Department.

We were able to independently verify that Abedin used a address at some point in time. There are several email addresses associated with Abedin’s name in records maintained by Lexis-Nexis; one of them is An email sent to that address today went through without bouncing.

Hmm. Related: Oh the irony: Jay Carney, top Clinton advisor eluded to importance of Records Act. Well, for Republicans.

FROM ED DRISCOLL: More thoughts on academia and the Right.

MODERN TIMES: Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts. Our ruling class doesn’t like the idea of moral facts because that might limit their flexibility, which reduces opportunities for graft and self-aggrandizement.

THE NEEDS OF DRAMA vs. the needs of culture. “The needs of drama are quite different from those of culture. They are ruled by the desire to entertain. Whatever enthralls the audience most, that is what drama requires. Unfortunately for those who would use stories to teach cultural mores, what makes a story entertaining is often directly at odds with what is good or virtuous or politically correct.”

CONFESSIONS OF an angry beige nerd.

WHAT WITH THE SNOW AND VARIOUS CRISES AT HOME, BY THE TIME I HEARD OF THIS IT WAS OVER: ‘De-Tenure’ Do-Over. I suspect that the assault on tenure, however, is only beginning to gather steam. Personally, I’ve felt a lot freer to speak and write about what I believe than I would without tenure, though that doesn’t answer the question of whether tenure is, on balance, for good or ill.

Plus, from the comments: “The only thing he left off of his “6 point plan” is something like, ‘review and restructure bloated administrative structures including but not limited to excessive numbers of assistant, associate, and deputy deans, restore transparency to governance and involve community in decisions.’ Administration always skates in these things. They never admit they are part of the problem.”

Yes. Administrative bloat is the biggest driver of higher costs in higher education; shockingly, administrators don’t want to deal with that.

ROGER SIMON: Bibi’s Speech: The Real Fallout.

Related: Obama Has The Problem, Not Netanyahu. “The administration would desperately like to talk about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech. . . . It is bizarre for the administration to concede the point that the concessions described are dangerous and in fact being offered. It is even more bizarre to suggest after saying sanctions worked to bring them to the table and then say sanctions would chase Iran away and that we have no option other than war. Bizarre but not unexpected. Either by design or ineptitude, the president has put himself and the world in a tight spot.”

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: When Do Caribbean Immigrants Become Black? Well, immigrants from the Caribbean do better because they don’t have a legacy of slavery and poverty.

SO IT’S NOT JUST ROTHERHAM. THESE MUSLIM RAPE RINGS SEEM TO BE A GENERAL PROBLEM IN BRITAIN: Police investigating grooming and sexual abuse of teenage girls as young as 13 in Rochdale charge 10 men. Good thing Labour instigated a mass-immigration program to make Britain less British. Mission Accomplished!

Related: Reversing the procedure: Norway deports 824 extremist Muslim immigrants, violent crime drops 30%.

UPDATE: The Norway item appears to be bogus.


For about a decade, Venezuela under Hugo Chavez and, to a lesser extent, Argentina under the Kirchners were popular models for leftists seeking an alternative to the neoliberal consensus. The Chavez program of dramatically expanding social spending and the Kirchner refusal to kowtow to foreign investors finally offered alternatives you could point to when the neoliberals started chattering about market confidence and budget balances.

Those neoliberals frequently pointed out the problems with those policies. Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, diverted oil-investment funds into social spending, causing Venezuela’s oil production to fall; the only thing propping up the economy was the rapidly rising price of oil. Argentina cut itself off from world capital markets, and over the years it had to resort to increasingly desperate fiscal strategies; the only thing propping up its economy was a big commodities boom, driven by the same Chinese demand that was causing oil prices to soar. But these arguments failed to convince those who were gaga for Chavismo; all that free-market cant was just theory, and the Chavez acolytes could point to real, tangible advances in reducing poverty and boosting economic growth.

All that ended a few years ago, of course. Both countries are in recession and suffering import shortages, including tampons in Argentina and condoms in Venezuela. Latin America’s social progress has stopped, thanks partly to a sharp uptick in Venezuelan poverty. The question of whether government redistribution or a commodities boom was responsible for Venezuela’s advances against poverty now seems to be resolved in favor of the commodities boom. If oil prices don’t recover, Venezuela’s government is headed for fiscal crisis very soon.

Sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money. The later it is, the worse for everyone.

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Should Pregnant Women Eat More Tuna?

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: “Advances in information technology that would have seemed like pure magic in colonial times mean we can now create a 21st Century National University that will help millions of students get a high-quality, low-cost college education — without hiring any professors, building any buildings or costing the taxpayers a dime.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE: The Internet of Anything: A Shortcut to Your Drone License.

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IS THERE ANYTHING HE CAN’T DO? Homer Simpson predicted the mass of the Higgs boson particle 14 years before it was discovered.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanotechnology making 3D transistors by directed molecular self-assembly.

QUESTION: Should The Punishment For Falsely Accusing People Of A Crime Match The Punishment For The Crime Itself? I think that if you make a false accusation and later admit its falsity, you should get off much lighter. If you get caught through other means, though . . . .

WAR ON WOMEN: Hillary Clinton Tries To Explain Away Her Office’s Sex Pay Gap. “During her nearly two terms as a U.S. senator, the median salary for women in Hillary Clinton’s office was much less than the median salary for men. As first reported by the Washington Free Beacon’s Brent Scher, women in Clinton’s office earned 72 cents to the dollar that men earned. That’s even less than the oft-cited (and highly misleading) 77-cent figure for all working women in the United States.”

But if the suggestion that Hillary was discriminating against women is “a ridiculous proposition,” as her spokesperson says now, then perhaps suggesting that such pay gaps result from discrimination elsewhere is also ridiculous.

MORE BIBI FALLOUT: Chappaqua, We Have A Problem. “Clinton refuses to say whether she agrees with President Obama’s notion that Iran should keep thousands of centrifuges and after 10 years be free from inspections and sanctions, even though last night he essentially conceded (and his national security adviser Susan Rice confirmed at an AIPAC conference) that he has given up trying to dismantle Iran’s illicit nuclear program and instead will let Iran keep what it wants and be free of sanctions and inspections in as little as 10 years.”

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Google will test 90% internet service for parts of southern hemisphere via Internet Balloons by the end of 2015. “Google Loon has had tests with major cellular carriers. The internet balloons have provided high-speed connections to people in isolated parts of Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand. Mike Cassidy, Project Loon’s leader, says the technology is now sufficiently cheap and reliable for Google to start planning how to roll it out. By the end of 2015, he wants to have enough balloons in the air to test nearly continuous service in several parts of the Southern Hemisphere. Commercial deployment would follow.”

6 WEIRD IDEAS For Finding Life in Our Solar System.

BOB ZUBRIN: How Obama Is Giving Iran a Nuclear Arsenal.


SHOCKER: COMPETITIVE LABOR MARKETS GOOD FOR WORKERS! Why drivers are winning the labor war between Uber and Lyft.

WELL, THE GOAL WAS TO MAKE SURE HE DIDN’T APPEAR ON A 2016 REPUBLICAN TICKET: Petraeus reaches deal to plead guilty to misdemeanor but will likely not face prison time. Though now that Hillary has her own email-handling scandal. . . .

TWO THINGS PEOPLE ARE MISSING ABOUT NETANYAHU’S SPEECH: (1) He didn’t just make a case for why the U.S. should be harder on Iran. He made the case for unilateral Israeli military intervention too, sub silentio. (2) The most damaging thing to Obama here isn’t even the substance, but the contrast in style. Netanyahu, as someone said on Twitter, was better in his second language than Obama is in his first. And he presented himself as a leader who cares about his country, rather than one, like Obama, who makes excuses for its enemies.

UNFAIRLY DISPROPORTIONATE: Joint Tax Committee: The Top 1% Receives 19% Of All Income, Pays 49% Of All Income Taxes. “For 2015, the top 10 percent (in terms of income) of all tax returns receive 45 percent of all income and pay 82 percent of all income taxes. The top five percent of all tax returns receive 34 percent of all income and pay 71 percent of all income taxes. The top one percent of all tax returns receives 19 percent of all income and pay 49 percent of all income taxes.”

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 663.


The core problem of the welfare state is that it relieves people of the need for family to take care of them, but it does not relieve society of the need for caretakers. In fact, because there’s evidence that more generous social-security systems cause people to reduce their fertility, you can argue that these systems are undercutting the very actuarial basis upon which they depend.

The effect is what social-security systems are struggling with around the world: As the ratio of workers to retirees declines, it gets harder and harder to raise the tax revenue to cover benefits. Though Americans talk anxiously about the fiscal health of our systems, international pension-reform wonks actually look enviously at our system, which contains fewer of the incentives for earlier retirement that plague many countries.

But our demographic transition is not just a problem of pension math. There’s also the problem of what it does to economic growth as society ages. As workforce growth slows, so does gross domestic product growth. In theory, this can be made up with greater productivity growth. But productivity growth is moving in the wrong direction — and because older people tend to be more risk-averse as workers and investors, that too may be a natural result of an aging society.

And, of course, there is the question of who will provide the actual hands-on care that people need. Here, the usual solution proposed is immigration. There are a couple of problems with that. The first is that everywhere else is undergoing the same demographic transition as we are, so the limitless supply of young foreigners may dry up as aging parents require them to be nearer to home and family capital gets concentrated upon a few people rather than dispersed among many children.

But there’s another problem, which is that old people are often vulnerable. This is why stories of abuses in nursing homes are so common; it is not that the state doesn’t care about the people in its charge, but that “the state” does not actually provide the care — individual people do, some of whom are badly motivated. And incentives get very tangled when strangers are in charge of caring for frail people who may be experiencing cognitive decline.

Yep. Even in fancy, expensive places, the staff doesn’t have nearly the incentive to look after you that family does, something that’s being demonstrated right now in my own life and family.

USING FEAR TO LIMIT CIVIL RIGHTS IS AN OLD GAME: WaPo Tries to Stir Up Panic to Reverse Constitutional Carry Momentum.

ANDREW KLAVAN: The Republican who can win the general election is whichever one realizes that he is running against the news media. That’s right. They’re not fair or professional. Heck, they’re not even biased. They’re actively working to help Democrats win, and to make Republicans lose.

OVER AT PJ MEDIA, liveblogging Bibi’s speech.

YA THINK? Byron York: Scott Walker is headed for trouble with the GOP establishment. They’re worried he might win, and with GOP majorities in Congress actually try to do something.

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L’ETAT C’EST MOI: President Obama Is ‘Very Interested’ in Raising Taxes Through ‘Executive Action.’ Taxation without representation is the very definition of a tyranny, no?

LIFE IN THE DEBLASIO ERA: Murders up 20% in 2015 in year-to-year comparison, NYPD says.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: EXPOSED: Department of Justice Shut Down Search For Lois Lerner’s Emails.

ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS: Moved by plight of Christians, modern-day defenders of the faith head to Iraq to fight ISIS.

In a smoky living room in a makeshift military headquarters in this northern Iraqi city, Brett, a former U.S serviceman with tattoos of Jesus etched on his forearms, explains how he hopes to help to keep the church bells of Iraq ringing.

“Jesus tells us what you do unto the least of them, you do unto me,” said the 28-year-old from Detroit, who served an extended tour in Iraq in 2006 and 2007 and asked for his surname not to be published to protect his family at home. “I couldn’t sit back and watch what was happening, women being raped and sold wholesale.”

So in December he travelled to northern Iraq, where he joined a growing band of foreigners leaving their lives in the West behind to fight with newly formed Christian militias. The leaders of those militias say they’ve been swamped with hundreds of requests from veterans and volunteers from around the world who want to join them. . . .

Brett and others say they receive dozens of emails a day from potential recruits.

“This place will be flooded,” he said. “From Australia, Asia, literally everywhere. It’s overwhelming, it’s awesome.”

Interesting. You know, we’re always told that killing terrorists just creates more of them. Perhaps killing by terrorists will just create more terrorist opponents. . . .

SPEAKING OUT FOR DUE PROCESS: Members of civil rights commission oppose ‘disregard for rule of law’ over campus sexual assault rules.

Two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights have written a letter to Congress opposing the budget increase to the Department of Education for sexual assault enforcement they say disregards the rule of law.

Gail Heriot, a law professor at the University of San Diego, and attorney Peter Kirsanow sent the letter last Thursday outlining the dangers of allowing the Department’s Office for Civil Rights to continue adjudicating sexual assaults without providing due process rights to the students involved.

“[W]e have noticed a disturbing pattern of disregard for the rule of law at OCR,” the Heriot and Kirsanow wrote. “That office has all-too-often been willing to define perfectly legal conduct as unlawful.”

“Though OCR may claim to be under-funded, its resources are stretched thin largely because it has so often chosen to address violations it has made up out of thin air,” the letter added. “Increasing OCR’s budget would in effect reward the agency for frequently over-stepping the law. It also would provide OCR with additional resources to undertake more ill-considered initiatives for which it lacks authority.”

One example the letter gave of such an overreach is of sexual assault enforcement at colleges and universities.

The letter states that the now-infamous 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter, which sparked the current issues with how sexual assault is handled on campus, required universities to lower the burden of proof used in disciplinary hearings from the “clear and convincing” evidence standard to the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. The lower standard requires administrators to be just 50.01 percent sure the accuser is telling the truth over the accused, which in today’s society where there is immense federal pressure to expel accused students (whether there is even any evidence) makes it all the more dangerous.

The letter stated that nowhere in the text of Title IX, which has been used to justify the school’s need to adjudicate outside the justice system, or in earlier Office for Civil Rights regulations does it state such a low burden be used.

OCR should be defunded. And Congress should have hearings in which university presidents are grilled about the many cases in which falsely accused students were abused.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: State Department Walks Back Claim On Clinton Foundation Review. “The State Department is stepping back from a spokeswoman’s comment last week suggesting that the agency’s ethics lawyers signed off on donations to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.”

Plus: Hillary Clinton’s Use of Private Email at State Department Raises Flags. ” Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record. Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.”

It’s like they were hiding something.

UPDATE: Hacked emails indicate that Hillary Clinton used a domain registered the day of her Senate hearings. “Examining the registry information for ‘’ reveals that the domain was first created on January 13, 2009 — one week before President Obama was sworn into office, and the same day that Clinton’s confirmation hearings began before the Senate.”

Sure seems like a deliberate attempt to evade federal law.

JOSH KRAUSHAAR: I Underestimated Carly Fiorina. Here’s How.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Leftists Outraged University Won’t Regulate What Students Wear Off Campus.

Liberals are upset that the University of Texas–Austin is refusing to punish students for wearing politically incorrect clothing to an off-campus party. On February 7, members of Phi Gamma Delta threw an off-campus party that fraternity president Andrew Campbell said was supposed to be “western” themed. Some of the guests, however, had apparently heard it was a “border patrol” themed party, and showed up in “culturally insensitive” attire such as construction gear and sombreros, according to an article in the Daily Texan, the school’s official student newspaper. School administrators decided that although they would work to educate the frat members about cultural sensitivity, they could not punish anyone formally because the party was off-campus. After all, a university can hardly dictate to students what to wear everywhere they go. To me, this decision seems obvious. But some of UT’s social-justice, pro-diversity warriors are disgusted that the school will not police clothing choices for the sake of of political correctness.

I remember when clothing choice was a matter of personal freedom, and anyone who objected was a hopeless fuddy-duddy. Hey, wait, that’s still true!

SOME GOOD NEWS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE COLLEGE OF LAW. My Dean, Doug Blaze, emails the faculty: “Just an update – an amazing one. Nationally applicants are down 5% and applications down 7.5%. But our applications are up 79%. In-state are up 51% and out-of-state 96%.” He adds: “BTW, the quality of the pool despite the increase in size is as good as last year.”

Well, we’ve made a lot of national lists of bargain-priced quality legal education so I guess word is spreading.

ED DRISCOLL: Obama: The Provincial President. “I miss the days when America was led by a grownup who had faith in his country and its people. I hope we have that experience once again.” To be fair, America and its people elected Obama twice.

NO THANK YOU: How To Enjoy The Cold: Advice From An Arctic SCUBA Diver. I dove (on Cayman) with a fire chief from Calgary and his lovely wife a few years back, and they were extolling the virtues of ice diving. They cut a hole in the ice on a lake, and put a bunch of lanterns around it so you can find it on the way up, and then dive. I’m sure it’s lovely, but I’m more a tropical type. My regulator is certified for Arctic temperatures, but I very much doubt I’ll ever put that to the test.

On the other hand, I used to have a Russian friend who said that the problem is never that it’s too cold — it’s that you aren’t dressed warmly enough. I embrace that.

March 2, 2015

JUSTICE: Jury sentences Hasan to death for ’09 Fort Hood massacre. “Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist convicted in the November 2009 shooting rampage that left 13 dead and 31 wounded, was sentenced to death Wednesday by a military jury. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty, saying Hasan’s murderous rampage at the sprawling military base here left tragic and devastating loss for victims and loved ones.” Justice, but justice delayed.

FASTER, PLEASE: Lockheed Martin’s new Compact Fusion Reactor might change humanity forever.

PHOTO OF THE DAY: Caption This: John Kerry And Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Share The Warmth.

DR. HELEN: The Evils of the (Straight) Male Gaze.

COL. KURT SCHLICHTER FINDS THE SCHWERPUNKT IN THE CULTURE WARS: Let’s Destroy Liberal Academia. “Understand that the purpose of modern American ‘education’ is not to educate students. It is primarily to provide cushy, subsidized sinecures for liberal administrators and faculty while, secondarily, providing a forum to indoctrinate soft young minds in the liberal fetishes du jour. Actually educating students is hard, and a meaningful education is anathema to liberalism. In the liberals’ ideal world, the universities would simply fester with leftist nonsense and not even bother with trying to teach their charges anything at all. And today, it’s pretty close to being the liberals’ ideal world.”

SPACE: Spacex successfully launches two satellites in one rocket launch.

WALTER HUDSON: Atheists Can Be Moral Too.

If you’re interested in the question of whether morality can exist without God, you might enjoy Arthur Allen Leff’s discussion in Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law. Or, in shorter and more pungent form, his treatment in Memorandum From The Devil. Also, these — especially the latter — are two of the best-written law review articles ever.

THIS PIECE ON GERRYMANDERING IN THE WASHINGTON POST, is okay as far as it goes, but note the casual partisanship: The “abstract” red-and-blue example features gerrymandering by the red, and the real-world focus features Republican gerrymandering. With regard to California, we’re told: “California’s districts are drawn by an independent commission, not by the parties.” This is formally true, but the California Democrats famously outfoxed the state’s hapless GOP and took over that commission, something anyone writing about politics should know.

Anyway, back when Dems dominated state legislatures, gerrymandering was all in good fun, just part of the rough-and-tumble of politics. Now that the GOP has historically high levels of state control, gerrymandering will become The Great Political Evil Of Our Time.

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Plus, big savings in the Spring Sportsmen’s Event. An “event” is like a sale, only more . . . eventful!

IT’S ALMOST AS IF THEY’RE NOT REALLY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, JUST WAGING LAWFARE FOR THE OTHER SIDE: Human rights lawyers accused of misleading a five-year war crimes inquiry by claiming British soldiers tortured innocent Iraqis.

This is interesting, though: “Now the government is gearing up to sue law firms for millions of pounds in legal costs and calling for the PIL’s chief lawyer, Phil Shiner, to be struck off.”


JOEL KOTKIN: Misunderstanding Millennials.

STUN GUNS NOT PROTECTED BY THE SECOND AMENDMENT: A somewhat questionable opinion from Massachusetts.

“INSANELY DANGEROUS?” WELL, IT’S TRUE THAT I PREFER SCUBA. The Insanely Dangerous, Weirdly Meditative Sport of Freediving. I don’t think it’s really insanely dangerous.

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Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. I’m happy to have my generator.

A NEW METHOD FOR GROWING BRAIN CELLS. “Before it grows in one of Lancaster’s dishes, a brain organoid begins as a single skin cell taken from an adult. With the right biochemical prodding, that cell can be turned into an induced pluripotent stem cell (the kind that can mature into one of several types of cells) and then into a neuron. This makes it possible to do things that were impossible before. Now scientists can directly see how networks of living human brain cells develop and function, and how they’re affected by various drug compounds or genetic modifications. And because these mini-brains can be grown from a specific person’s cells, organoids could serve as unprecedentedly accurate models for a wide range of diseases. What goes wrong, for example, in neurons derived directly from someone with Alzheimer’s disease?”

EBOLA UPDATE: Nearly Halted in Sierra Leone, Ebola Makes Comeback by Sea. “Public health experts preparing for an international conference on Ebola on Tuesday seem to have no doubt that the disease can be vanquished in the West African countries ravaged by it in the last year. But the steep downward trajectory of new cases late last year and into January did not lead to the end of the epidemic. . . . The wharf, Tamba Kula, is an informal settlement where hundreds of people live in shanties made of reclaimed wood and corrugated metal roofs. At the slum’s entrance, a towering sign displays an image of the Statue of Liberty, an advertisement for daily British Airways flights with connections to the United States that were canceled when the Ebola outbreak was declared.”

Plus: “I feel like these people, they aren’t ready to end Ebola yet.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: America’s High-Risk, High-Reward Higher Education System.

The wage premium attached to a BA is higher than ever, and AA’s have considerable labor market value as well. This is the “high reward” part.

But for too many others, it’s a risky investment. Many who start higher education never finish a credential. Just 31 percent of those students from the bottom income quartile who start college finish a bachelor’s degree. Recent data suggests that the returns to “some college” have essentially fallen to zero. Even among those who do finish, there’s a risk that the investment won’t pay off. One study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York show that the 25th percentile of bachelor’s degree recipients earn no more than a high school graduate, and haven’t since the 1970s.

Yes, that’s why the simplistic defenders of “a college degree” are being naive — or dishonest. There’s no such thing as a generic college degree, and the return on investment varies a lot. What’s more, there are many risks that are, from the standpoint of an 18-year-old college applicant, imponderable.

TEST DRIVE: 2015 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Nighthawk.

But if you’re going to read about that car, you should read P.J. O’Rourke. “One will be sold to Puff Daddy, and the rest will go to the Persian Gulf.”

MARK CUNNINGHAM: What Our President Should Say About Islam. This is clearly something Obama doesn’t want to say, though. Why not?

WHAT FREEDOM LOOKS LIKE: I built an AR-15 in my kitchen. “Buying this kind of rifle is the modern version of getting a Corvette during your mid-life crisis—but cheaper and probably less dangerous.”

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Quartering Spyware Troops In A Digital Age: Why Your Home Should Be Your Castle.

ANN ALTHOUSE: “Obamacare threatens to end John Roberts’s dream of a nonpartisan Supreme Court.” “Just one headline that I’m quoting to stand in for all the articles I’m seeing that seem to be mostly only about scaring/manipulating/massaging the Supreme Court into feeling deep down inside that it simply must not ruin Obamacare. To my eye, this effort seems so transparent and desperate that it heightens a perception that the text of the statute just won’t work for what they really, reeeeeally need it to do.”

YEAH, I DON’T GET IT. What’s Eating Joe Scarborough? Host Grows Testy After Saying He’s ‘Available’ To Moderate GOP Debates. I, too, got an angry DM from Scarborough, just for RTing it, but couldn’t respond because he doesn’t follow me. And I’m still mystified. I didn’t think the story reflected badly on him, particularly, and it was just one RT out of the hundreds (or more) I do in a day. And, as everyone knows, RTs aren’t endorsements. Anyway, Joe, if you’re reading this, sorry!

IN THE MAIL: Built By DIY: Frugal and Easy – DIY Household Hacks to Clean, Organize, and Declutter Your Home.

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And, also today only: 40% Off Saucony Running Shoes. Spring is coming.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 662.

SALENA ZITO ON JOURNALISM: Arrogant media elites mock Middle America. Most of these media folks come from flyover country, and their main source of self-regard lies in feeling superior to the rubes they left back home, who never properly appreciated them in high school. . . .

PUTIN WON’T BE PLEASED: Is American LNG Ready to Help Europe?

When Russia threatened to cut off gas to Ukraine last year, policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic began to call for American gas producers to start exporting some of the enormous new quantities of shale gas to Europe as a way to help allies reduce dependence on Gazprom. At the time we pointed out two flaws in that strategy: first, constructing the requisite infrastructure on both ends of the supply chain takes years, so this would be no quick fix; and second, Europe would only receive American LNG if it outbid Asia, which at the time was ponying up a great deal.

That latter reasoning no longer holds, which changes the calculus somewhat. Already Europe is on track to double its LNG imports this year, though it’s still not sourcing that from America. That’s because the American LNG export infrastructure is still under construction. Just a few short years ago we were building import terminals; turning that completely around is neither cheap nor easy, and it won’t happen overnight.

Still, if Asian demand remains slack, Europe’s medium-term energy future looks brighter. Diversifying away from Putin’s gas supplies is obviously a top priority there, and American gas can help.

The more energy America produces — and exports — the more it hurts our various enemies around the world.

ANA MARIE COX: Why I’m Coming Out As A Christian.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Quartering Spyware Troops In A Digital Age: Why Your Home Should Be Your Castle.