April 24, 2015

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HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Youngstown State University student government removes ‘Straight Pride’ posters. “Campus leaders said that while they believe the posters were meant as satire, the message was inappropriate. . . . The posters counter the school’s mission to create a diverse campus, university spokesman Ron Cole told WFMJ-TV. Officials are investigating possible student code violations, and disciplinary action may follow.” Badthink must be punished!


I will be on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Saturday morning from 7:45 to 8:15 AM to discuss recent developments on guns. I was originally supposed to appear with someone from Bloomberg’s Everytown for an entire hour, but, as Bloomberg’s people consistently do, they refused to be on the show with me. Instead, they will be on immediately after me from 8:15 to 8:45 AM. Many times I have gotten calls from TV producers asking me to be on a TV show only to be disinvited once the Bloomberg people say that they won’t go on with me.

Telephone calls during the segments are appreciated. If you call during the time that Bloomberg’s person, Ted Alcorn, will be on and ask him why Bloomberg’s groups continually refuse to appear on shows without any opposition, possibly that might embarrass them enough to change their approach. The last couple of times that I have been on the Brady Campaign had gotten their members to call in to the show.

It’s not surprising that the Brady folks want to deliver a speech rather than engage in debate.

FROM ARMENIA TO NOW: The Islamic Genocide of Christians: Past and Present. As our President says, if they bring a knife, you bring a gun.

IF THEY’RE NOT CAREFUL, PEOPLE WILL START TO THINK THAT MUSLIM STUDENTS ARE UNPATRIOTIC: ‘American Sniper’ events derailed by Muslim student complaints at University of Maryland.

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A NEW GADGET FROM GARMIN: The Garmin nuviCam LMTHD is a combination dashcam, GPS, lane departure warning, and collision warning device, all in one. “The $400 GPS device features a 6-inch touchscreen with pinch-to-zoom and Garmin’s free lifetime map updates, as well as Garmin’s HD Digital Traffic with real-time traffic updates every 30 seconds. The navigation system is voice activated, and can predict time delays or find detours when you’ve hit a particularly nasty traffic snarl. But the nuviCam’s biggest trick is what you’ll find on the opposite side of the GPS screen. A built-in HD dashcam that continuously records, and saves a timestamped video with GPS location data if it senses an impact. The camera records to a 4 GB microSD card (included), and can even take photos—say, to document damage or capture license plate photos in the event of an accident.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: At UPenn, campus leaders quash effort to address biased professors.

OUT: “HELICOPTER PARENTS.” IN: “DRONE PARENTS.” “A Tennessee father who followed his eight-year-old daughter to school with a drone has now decided to ground it in the wake of the attention his flight has garnered. According to WVLT, a Knoxville, Tennessee television station, Chris Early decided to launch a drone to monitor his child’s walk to school after she requested that she be allowed to walk on her own.”

ISIS: Under The Black Flag. “ISIS isn’t a terrorist organization. It’s a transnational army of terror.”

HEADY STUFF:  An Italian neurosurgeon named Sergio Canavero claims he plans to conduct the world’s first head transplant soon, and it should only take about an hour.  Valery Spiridonov, a 30-year-old computer scientist from Vladimir, Russia, is the first person to volunteer for the procedure.  Spiridonov suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a rare, genetic spinal muscular atrophy disease.

In a meeting of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons this June, Dr. Canavero plans to detail the specifics of his surgical procedure.   In a February article in the Surgical Neurology International Journal, Canavero described the basics of how he plans to fuse the spinal cord of Spiridonov’s head with that of the donor (cadaveric) body.  The goal, according to Dr. Canavero, is “immortality.”  Apparently, elderly wealthy individuals are already lining up for this procedure, in the hopes of replacing their frail, older bodies with fresh, 20-something ones.

NYU Bioethicist Arthur Caplan says Dr. Canavero’s plans are unethical, because the surgical technique for spinal surgery isn’t perfected, the chance of immunosupressive rejection is high, and the brain may not be able to “integrate” with a body with which it isn’t familiar.  According to Caplan, “[T]he most likely result is insanity or severe mental disability.”

Dr. Canavero seems to be a legitimate neurosurgeon with the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, but his obsession with becoming the first successful surgeon to perform a head transplant is a bit Frankenstein-y.   He does seems more legitimate, however, than some prior high profile oddballs, such as Dr. Richard Seed, who made a big splash in the late 1990s when he proclaimed he wanted to perform the first human cloning.

But then again, recent media reports suggested that Dr. Canavero’s talk of head transplants was all an odd publicity stunt for a video game called Metal Gear Solid.  But just today, it’s being reported that Dr. Canavero has filed a sworn affidavit with Italian police, denying that he has anything to do with the game maker, and that it’s using his likeness without his permission.

If Dr. Canavero is legit, this could be the beginning of a very interesting chapter in transplant history.  I think it would be pretty weird, though, to put an older person’s head on a hot, young body.  I kind of liked the old school notion of  achieving immortality via the ‘brain in a jar” scenario.  But bodies are nice.  Stay tuned.

brain in a jar

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Lesbian Teacher Pleads Guilty to Criminal Sexual Conduct With Teenage Girl. “A former Grant High School science teacher has pleaded guilty to having inappropriate sexual contact with a female student with whom she exchanged about 14,000 text messages during a four-week period last fall. Erin Katharine MacDonald, 26, pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with the female student. In exchange for the plea, four additional charges were dismissed. . . . MacDonald faces up to two years in prison when she is sentenced in Newaygo County Circuit Court on May 4.”

FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED: Bill Ayers to University Students: America’s ‘Game Is Over’ and ‘Another World’ Is Coming.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Cal State-Northridge Halts Class Registration Until Students Complete Feminist Anti-Sexual Assault Video Game. Indoctrination before education.

HOW CHRISTIANITY invented children. “Today, it is simply taken for granted that the innocence and vulnerability of children makes them beings of particular value, and entitled to particular care. We also romanticize children — their beauty, their joy, their liveliness. Our culture encourages us to let ourselves fall prey to our gooey feelings whenever we look at baby pictures. What could be more natural? In fact, this view of children is a historical oddity.”

SPACE TELESCOPES ARE EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS: Most powerful space telescope ever to launch in 2018.

As the Hubble Space Telescope celebrates 25 years in space this week, NASA and its international partners are building an even more powerful tool to look deeper into the universe than ever before.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be 100 times more potent than Hubble, and will launch in 2018 on a mission to give astronomers an unprecedented glimpse at the first galaxies that formed in the early universe.

“JWST will be able to see back to about 200 million years after the Big Bang,” NASA said on its website.

It described the telescope as a “powerful time machine with infrared vision that will peer back over 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness of the early universe.”

The project has drawn scrutiny from lawmakers for its ballooning costs—now at about $8.8 billion, far higher than the initial estimate of $3.5 billion.

But NASA has promised to keep the next-generation telescope on track for its October 2018 launch.

Meh. Compared to ObamaCare, that’s not much of a cost overrun.


READER BOOK PLUG: From Taya Okerlund, Hurricane Coltrane.

WHAT SINGING LOOKS LIKE via a high-speed MRI machine.

PUNCH BACK TWICE AS HARD: Columbia student defamed by mattress girl is suing. The University is complicit, of course, in this craziness and in fact put its imprimatur on her unhinged behavior. I’m glad the story mentions Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) complicity, too. “The lawsuit includes dozens of Facebook messages between the two friends — far more than were included in the Daily Beast article in which Nungesser finally told his side of the story. The messages contained many declarations of Sulkowicz’s love for Nungesser before and after the alleged rape.”

AH, THE 1990S: An Oral History of Legendary ’90s Rave Emporium Liquid Sky.

By the way, if you like 1990s trivia and history, check out 90s411.com.

GOOD: Jeremy Clarkson to ‘start again’ with new car show.

SELF-CARICATURE: Taxpayer Funded Video Promoting Eric Holder as “People’s Lawyer.” Actually, it’s a bit of grease for the revolving door.

MICHAEL WALSH: Hillary Clinton: Dead Candidate Walking.

FROM MAURICE STUCKE AND ARIEL EZRACHI: When Competition Fails to Optimise Quality: A Look at Search Engines. (Bumped).

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 715.

WELL, HE’S HONEST, WHICH MAKES HIM STAND OUT IN HIS PROFESSION: Jake Tapper will anchor CNN’s State of the Union.

MONKEYING AROUND:  You can’t make this stuff up, folks.  A New York state judge, Barbara Jaffe, has ordered a hearing in May to determine if two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo,  owned by Stony Brook University, are being “unlawfully detained.” The lawsuit has been filed on the chimps’ behalf by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), a group formed to establish the legal rights of nonhumans through litigation, “beginning with some of the most cognitively complex animals on earth, including chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins, and whales.”

The NhRP initially convinced Jaffe that Hercules and Leo were entitled to habeas corpus– the first time any U.S. court has granted such a right to a nonhuman. A few hours later, Jaffe apparently became aware of the fact that non-humans are not entitled to habeas (guess she forgot that basic legal principle?), and issued an order for Stony Brook to “show cause” for “detaining” Hercules and Leo–which is bad enough, as it imposes a burden upon the owner of an animal to explain to a judge why an animal is being “detained.”  I would hate to think that some radical leftist neighbor could haul me into court to “show cause” as to why I am “detaining” my dog, Thomas Jefferson.

And indeed, this nightmare scenario is already unfolding.  A similar habeas corpus petition was brought in NY state courts in December on behalf of a 26 year-old chimpanzee named Tommy, owned as a pet by a couple who kept Tommy in a cage– an understandable “detention,” for a potentially dangerous animal, as illustrated by the tragic recent case of Travis the chimpanzee.   An appellate court rejected the extension of habeas corpus to Tommy, reasoning:

Needless to say, unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions. In our view, it is this incapability to bear any legal responsibilities and societal duties that renders it inappropriate to confer upon chimpanzees the legal rights – such as the fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus – that have been afforded to human beings.

The amazing thing about this rationale is that it implies that if some animals could bear a legal duty, submit to societal responsibilities, or be held accountable for their actions (any one of which could conceivably be imposed via enactment of statutes declaring such), the court would be willing to entertain the proposition that a pet–or any other “detained” nonhuman– could be granted corresponding legal rights equal with humans.  Why even open the door to that possibility?

A similar legal “opening” came from another New York state judge, who in January denied a habeas corpus petition filed by NhRP on behalf of Kiko the chimpanzee, reasoning as follows:

Here, petitioner does not seek Kiko’s immediate release, nor does petitioner allege that Kiko’s continued detention is unlawful. Rather, petitioner seeks to have Kiko placed in a different facility that petitioner deems more appropriate. Consequently, even assuming, arguendo, that we agreed with petitioner that Kiko should be deemed a person for the purpose of this application, and further assuming, arguendo, that petitioner has standing to commence this proceeding on behalf of Kiko, this matter is governed by the line of cases standing for the proposition that habeas corpus does not lie where a petitioner seeks only to change the conditions of confinement rather than the confinement itself.

Ugh.  The judge didn’t say he would have granted a habeas petition challenging Kiko’s confinement per se, but he also didn’t shut the door on that possibility.

I like animals as much as anyone, but they aren’t human.  This doesn’t mean, of course, that our legal regime should tolerate any animal abuse. Indeed, counsel for Tommy’s habeas petition stated that the goal of the lawsuit was not to challenge the conditions of Tommy’s confinement (there was no allegation that he was being abused, which would have triggered protection under state animal cruelty law), but  “to obtain recognition for a single right: the right to not be imprisoned against one’s will” because “Tommy is the equivalent of a human child.”

This argument is gaining ground around the globe.  In December, an Argentine court recently granted a habeas corpus petition and ordered the release of an orangutan being “detained” in a zoo.  Even Obama’s regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, has argued stridently that animals should have legal standing to sue.

Do these radical left-wing animal rights activists stop to think about what the world would look like if they succeed?  They actually argue that since corporations and other business entities have legal rights, “other nonhumans” should, too.  Um, I hate to break it to these bozos, but corporations and other business entities are merely legal mechanisms by which HUMANS join together for purposes of efficiently carrying on a business.

If animals have human rights, it’s not merely that you and I might find ourselves sued by Fido or Mittens, who no longer wish to be “detained” as our pets or in our zoos.  Much of this country’s medical research would shut down, as preclinical trials on animals is necessary for approval of human drugs and invaluable for numerous other medical research.  What is it about radical leftists that their tree-hugging, whale-loving concern for life doesn’t extend to humans?

UPDATE:  Today’s Wall Street Journal has an excellent oped extolling the human benefits from animal testing, including recent progress on Ebola and brain tumors.


Here’s a big leap forward for online ed: Arizona State University is partnering with MOOC provider edX on a freshman year program that doesn’t require any application or upfront costs. Students only pay— $200 per credit—once they pass the courses. They’ll also receive full university credit. “Leave your G.P.A., your SATs, your recommendations at home…If you have the will to learn, just bring your Internet connection and yourself, and you can get a year of college credit,” crowed edX’s CEO. . . .

We don’t yet know exactly how well this program will work. We’re skeptical, for example, that students who go through it will always find it simple to bring their credits with them to another school. Universities, for fairly obvious reasons, don’t really want to make things easy for transfer students. In addition, the ASU program buys into the existing higher ed cartel structure: students are paying more for the university’s brand recognition and stamp of approval than for the actual information learned. We hope that future students will be able to prove what they know and what they can do without having to pay a big name to back them up (perhaps via metrics like testing or more transparent online curricula).
Still, this kind of experiment is promising, and shows how the mainstreaming of MOOCs could help lower costs. A program that is both much cheaper than a traditional university program and also accredited is a crucial addition to higher ed offerings.

I think that Congress should step in and require schools to accept transfer credits. After all, it’s really just one big federally-subsidized industry.


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ROGER SIMON: ‘Voters for Hillary’ Calling—A True Story.

SHOULDN’T HE HAVE FACED UP TO REALITY SIX YEARS AGO? Obama faces up to the grim reality of drone strikes.

MITT ROMNEY ON HILLARY’S URANIUM DEAL: “It looks like bribery.” Well, that’s because it is.

OUCH: The Disastrous Clinton Post-Presidency. “The qualities of an effective presidency do not seem to transfer onto a post-presidency. Jimmy Carter was an ineffective president who became an exemplary post-president. Bill Clinton appears to be the reverse. All sorts of unproven worst-case-scenario questions float around the web of connections between Bill’s private work, Hillary Clinton’s public role as secretary of State, the Clintons’ quasi-public charity, and Hillary’s noncompliant email system. But the best-case scenario is bad enough: The Clintons have been disorganized and greedy.”

As Rick Wilson said on Twitter, when you’ve lost Jonathan Chait. . . .

FROM JON GABRIEL AT RICOCHET, A bullet-point summary of the New York Times’ 4500-word story on Hillary’s corrupt uranium deal. Key bit: “Hillary’s State Department approved the deal and Russia bought Uranium One. Putin can now sell this nuclear fuel to Iran.” Actually, they’re all key bits.

Related: NYT Reporter: Clinton Officials Lied About a Meeting Taking Place, Unaware of Photo Evidence.

UPDATE: Politico: Hillary Clinton struggles to contain media barrage on foreign cash.

ASHE SCHOW: Joe Biden Says Sexual Assault Is Punishable As A Crime — So Why Not Treat It Like One?

Vice President Joe Biden was in Illinois today talking about campus sexual assault. I agreed with almost everything he said. Why? Because he was discussing things that no one except the worst among use could disagree with.

Having sex with a woman who is passed out is rape. Of course. Beating a woman is wrong. Of course. Rapists should go to jail. Of course.

What Biden didn’t discuss was that the issue of campus sexual assault isn’t as simple as he makes it seem. The black and white examples he gave are not the norm on college campuses. There is no “discussion,” as Biden claimed, about whether it’s rape when a woman is passed out.

Where the discussion lies is in he said/she said situations where there’s evidence and witnesses that say she was not passed out or incapacitated, and where the accuser appeared to be a willing participant until months after the encounter.

Biden even said that sexual assault is “punishable as a crime,” yet even as he discussed the historic moves the Department of Education has made in the past few years, he made no mention of the fact that sexual assault on college campuses is no longer being treated as a crime.

Sexual assault – at least on college campuses – is now being treated as a disciplinary matter, just like plagiarism (something Biden has experience with).

Biden also said that campus rapists shouldn’t just be facing expulsion, but “should go to jail.” Absolutely. The problem is that if expulsion and jail are possibilities, as they are with crimes, then both accusers and accused should have due process rights. But that might cut down on the number of students suspended or expelled, as evidence and the presumption of innocence are less valued in disciplinary hearings than accusations are.

Can I just suggest that when even Talking Points Memo calls him Creepy Uncle Joe Biden, he isn’t the best spokesman for this issue?

It’s like being lectured on taxes by MSNBC hosts.


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OPPONENTS OF VOTER ID KEEP LOSING IN COURT: High court denies review of North Carolina voting laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request to review of the legality of North Carolina’s new voting laws that opponents call discriminatory.

North Carolina v. League of Women Voters stems from the sweeping new voter laws North Carolina pursued after the Supreme Court lifted certain restrictions of the Voting Rights Act in June 2013.

The state’s voting reforms created stricter voter-identification requirements, cut a week off of early voting, prohibited local election boards from keeping polls open on the final Saturday afternoon before elections, eliminated same-day voter registration, opened up precincts to challengers, eliminated preregistration of 16 and 17-year-olds in high school and barred votes cast in the wrong precinct from being counted, according to court documents.

The League of Women Voters sued the state, arguing the laws violated equal protections under the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.

Have you noticed how the League of Women Voters is just a bunch of partisan shills?

WOW! I’m on a Twitchy roll this week!

CAMPUS PINKSHIRTS: Oberlin Activists Posted Creepy Messages Accusing Specific Students of Perpetuating Rape Culture: Their crime? Bringing Christina Hoff Sommers to campus. “Images of the posters were sent to Reason via a source who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.Images of the posters were sent to Reason via a source who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.”

Real nice “liberal arts college” you got there.

ALINSKY WEARS high heels. “However, to me, the most offensive part of this charade is that it’s a setback to women in the military. Courageous women have served our country in the military for decades, and this preposterous exercise reduced them to a stereotype of victimized girls in high heels.” Well, those are the women who vote Democratic.

FROM EUGENE VOLOKH, some generally sensible thoughts on sex and consent in the context of relationships. Excerpt:

It seems to me quite obvious that spouses are entitled to say “no.”

At the same time, it seems to me equally obvious that we must consider the parties’ past and unrevoked consent as relevant in some situations where there’s neither a “no” or a “yes.” If A starts caressing B’s genitals while B is sleeping, that’s generally a serious crime. But if A and B are sexually involved, it seems to me it shouldn’t be a crime at all — especially if this has happened before and both parties were quite happy about it — unless B wakes up and says no, or has indicated lack of consent to such behavior in the past. . . .

This is just a reflection of the fact that “consent,” like much in life, can be implied and long-lasting and not just express and short-term. If we’re good friends and you keep letting me borrow something, that may be evidence of consent to borrow it even when I’m not around to expressly say, “Yes, you can borrow it again.” That immediate consent is impossible, because you’re absent, doesn’t mean that there is no consent. Sex is not identical, of course, to borrowing gardening equipment, but in this respect it strikes me as similar: Even when someone isn’t able to immediately consent, it’s sometimes (though not always) reasonable to determine whether they would have consented by looking to past practice among the parties.

And this is especially so, I think, when the incapacity is permanent or at least long-lasting.

Read the whole thing. But however interesting and useful these thoughts are, I believe that the highly unusual Rayhons prosecution was based on the fact that he was a Republican state legislator who could be knocked out pre-election, and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is a Democrat.

SOUNDS LIKE A SEPARATION OF POWERS VIOLATION TO ME: Bill would create ethics code for Supreme Court justices.

As the Supreme Court is gearing up to hear arguments Tuesday in what could be the nation’s most influential case on gay marriage, Democratic lawmakers are calling on the high court to adopt a code of ethics for justices.

The Supreme Court Ethics Act, reintroduced Thursday, would require the Supreme Court to adopt a code of the ethics within 180 days. The nine justices are currently exempt from the code of conduct U.S. judges follow to ensure neutrality and transparency in the nation’s courts. . . .

“There is absolutely no reason why Supreme Court Justices shouldn’t be subject to the same code of conduct as all other federal judges,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in a news release. “The American people deserve to know that our highest court is held to the highest ethical standards, which is why we introduced the Supreme Court Ethics Act.”

And I’m not persuaded by this: “Because Congress determines how many justices sit on the Supreme Court and what they are paid, lawmakers say creating a code of conduct is part of their purview as well.”

Since what House Democrats talk about is about as likely to become law as what I blog about, this is just pre-election agitprop for Dems, in case the Supreme Court rules the “wrong” way. But when you have the likes of Chris Murphy and Louise Slaughter talking about ethics, well. .. .

April 23, 2015

TAXES ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: Civics Lessons From MSNBC. “Al Sharpton, Melissa Harris-Perry, Touré Neblett and Joy-Ann Reid have had plenty to say about taxes and ‘how we’re all in it together,’ in spite of their own histories of owing the IRS.”

THE ROOTS OF EUROPE’S IMMIGRATION DILEMMA. One thing I notice is that all the news coverage is calling them “migrants” instead of “refugees.” Is that because nobody expects them to ever go home?

SEXUAL HARASSMENT: It was female officers who made male ROTC cadets march in high heels. Quick, tell the Defense Department’s gender equity officers.

Related: Army Morale Hits New Low Despite 287 Million Dollar ‘Optimism’ Program.

DISSOLVE THE PEOPLE AND ELECT ANOTHER: J. Christian Adams: Homeland Security Working Overtime to Add “New Americans” by 2016 Election. “Naturalization plus mobilization is the explicit aim of the DHS ‘Task Force on New Americans.’ Multiple sources at DHS confirm that political appointees are prioritizing naturalization ahead of the 2016 Presidential election.”


PUNCHING BACK TWICE AS HARD: Kleiner Perkins seeks almost $1 million in costs in Ellen Pao case.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Pros And Cons Of Going To Grad School.

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“YOUTHS” RUN WILD: SEE IT: Mob of teenagers beats two high school students in Philadelphia subway station.

FALSE. True Or False: We Need The Bar Exam To Ensure Lawyer Competence.

That said, I think that one reason why law schools haven’t become as politicized and irrelevant as most liberal arts departments is that our graduates ultimately have to pass an exam written and administered by outsiders. And I can’t help but think that the current wave of anti-bar-exam sentiment is mostly inspired by the fact that law schools are having to reach way down into their applicant pools, admitting people who won’t do as well on the bar.

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: At Heart of Odd Custody Ruling: a Turkey Baster.

I CREDIT ALIENS: DNA of bacteria crucial to ecosystem defies explanation.

TESLA ISN’T AN AUTOMAKER. It’s a battery company. I hope so, because we need better batteries more than we need better cars.

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WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW (CONT’D): The Unmanned X-47B Just Pulled Off a Mid-Air Refueling. “The Navy’s X-47B demonstrator aircraft flew over Chesapeake Bay on April 22 and connected with a refueling tanker during flight. This capability greatly extends the range of an unmanned aircraft and further increases its ability to hover over a target area. Air-to-air refueling, as Popular Mechanics found during a B-2 flight, takes a lot of hands to go right. The ability of a drone to adapt to the precision flying required for refueling aircraft, and to coordinate with the humans inside the refueling tanker, is impressive.”

By “hover” I think they really mean “loiter,” unless the X-47B has more capabilities than I know.

DOES SAME-SEX MARRIAGE INCREASE ABORTIONS?:  According to an unusual amicus brief filed by “100 Scholars of Marriage,” the answer is “yes.”  The brief is one of many “friend of the court” briefs submitted in the same-sex marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges, slated for Supreme Court oral argument next Tuesday (Apr. 28).

One might understandably inquire, “How could recognizing same-sex marriage increase the number of abortions?” According to a summary penned  by the brief’s author, D.C. attorney Gene Schaerr (a former Scalia clerk):

The metamorphosis of marriage from a gendered to a genderless institution conveys to men (and women) that society no longer needs men to bond to women to form well-functioning families or to raise happy, well-adjusted children. And that message is especially likely to be influential among those on the margins: the poor, the relatively uneducated or others who are highly influenced by cultural messages promoting casual or uncommitted sex.

The weakening or destruction of these norms would result in fewer marriages, more procreation out of marriage, and a higher percentage of children raised in a home without both parents—usually without a father. The consequences would be stark and disastrous: more childhood poverty; increased psychological and emotional problems; more teenage pregnancy; poorer performance in school; higher amounts of substance abuse; more youth committing crimes; and more girls undergoing abortions.

Schaerr’s estimates of increased abortions are very specific:

Accordingly, with 1.275 million additional women never getting married, nearly 900,000 more children of the next generation would be aborted as a result of their mothers never marrying. This is equal to the entire population of the cities of Sacramento and Atlanta combined.

I’m frankly not sure what to make of this.  The problem, as Schaerr freely admits, is that there is no hard statistical evidence that recognizing same-sex marriage would actually cause these consequences. And the limited data that is available suggests that the availability of same-sex marriage does not cause a decline in opposite-sex marriage rates.

On the other hand, there is something instinctive about the notion that if the definition of marriage keeps expanding–even beyond same-sex unions of two adults–its meaning will be diluted and, over time, its value and prevalence.  But this is a slippery slope argument, and the slope isn’t always as slippery as one fears, though it may be somewhat slippery.

The dilution and devaluation may not happen with recognition of same-sex marriage alone, but what if a recognition of same-sex marriage leads to recognition of consensual adult bigamous, polygamous or incestuous unions?  Would “marriage,” defined this broadly, still be something as deeply valued as it is today?  Or is it akin to giving every kid on the team a trophy– i.e., everybody gets one, so it isn’t so special anymore?  Or if marriage continues to be perceived of as a union based on “love,” is there sufficient love to go around, such that a greater number and variety of love-based unions won’t dilute the specialness of marriage?

Given the seeming inevitability of a Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, how broad marriage becomes– and thus how “special” it is perceived–will be determined by our children, or grandchildren.

A DEAL WAS MADE, AND KEPT: Senate votes to confirm Loretta Lynch as Attorney General.

READER BOOK PLUG: From Randy Beck, Time Bridge At Orion.

LISTEN AND believe.

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GOVERNMENT IS JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR THE THINGS WE CHOOSE TO DO TOGETHER: Town Where U.S. Marshal Smashed Citizen’s Camera Rakes in Millions from Federal Forfeiture Rules; South Gate seizes more under federal program than San Francisco.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): LC Charter Academy teacher arrested on multiple sex charges. “Sommer Nicole Odom, 35, of Iowa, La., was arrested Tuesday and charged with three counts of oral sexual battery, four counts of indecent behavior with juveniles and one count of sexual battery.”

EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH: Mixed Signals: Why People Misunderstand Each Other.

HEATHER WILHELM: Attack of the Leftist Snowflakes. “Sadly, huge swaths of today’s college campuses, supposedly pinnacles of higher learning, have morphed into a giant preteen slumber party with an alarming population of sulking corner girls.”

Related: The real victim of ‘rape culture’? Free speech. As the Christina Hoff Sommers furore shows, too many students can’t handle debate.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Hillary’s Free Trade Meltdown May Pull Warren into Race.

TODAY IS THE anniversary of Israel’s independence.

Here we have John Wayne and Kirk Douglas on the subject, from Cast A Giant Shadow.

UPDATE: Second link was wrong. Fixed now. Sorry!

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: SEE IT: Ohio 5-year-old with prosthetic ‘Iron Man’ hand throws out first pitch for Columbus Clippers.

STENCH OF CORRUPTION: Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company.

Related: Clinton charities will refile tax returns, audit for other errors: “For three years in a row beginning in 2010, the Clinton Foundation reported to the IRS that it received zero in funds from foreign and U.S. governments, a dramatic fall-off from the tens of millions of dollars in foreign government contributions reported in preceding years. Those entries were errors, according to the foundation: several foreign governments continued to give tens of millions of dollars.”

IT HAS COME TO THIS:  Amherst, Wisconsin fire chief encourages violence against Governor Scott Walker.   On a Facebook post, he encourages locals to “hit him [Walker] with a shovel.”

Ah, sweet liberal “tolerance.”  liberaltolerance2

IN THE MAIL: From Robert Buettner, Balance Point.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 714.

ED MORRISSEY: The Closing of the Millennial Mind on Campus.

RAND PAUL’S Internet Army.

SADLY, THIS IS NEWS: Iowa Man Found Not Guilty Of Rape For Having Sex With Wife.

But I wonder if this isn’t the key bit: “Rayhons served 18 years as a Republican member of the Iowa House. He withdrew from the race for another term shortly before he was charged last year.” Related: “Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is a Democrat.” Note that Miller’s office tried to move the trial somewhere else, where there were fewer Republicans in the jury pool. Given the prosecutorial misbehavior we’ve seen in Wisconsin, this makes me suspicious. Has anyone asked Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller why this very unusual prosecution was brought, and if politics had anything to do with it?


Poland announced yesterday that it would be buying Patriot missiles from U.S. manufacturer Raytheon in order to upgrade its missile defense shield, adding six batteries by 2022. And predictably enough—like clockwork, really—Russia bared its teeth at the announcement. Both Russia’s top general and its defense minister described the move as NATO aggression towards Russia and made threats towards Poland in response to the missile defense announcement. The Russian invective was also aimed at Romania, where NATO troops are currently holding military exercises and where a missile defense shield installation (of a different variety than the Patriot called Aegis Ashore) is in the works. . . .

The purchase of the Patriots is part of Poland’s pledge to spend more than $1 billion annually for its military modernization budget, which, as Andrew Michta noted in our pages yesterday, makes its projected expenditures “roughly equal that of all the remaining 11 ‘new allies’ who joined NATO from 1999 onward.” This makes Warsaw the top defense spender in the Baltic-Central European theater, a development which could, and hopefully will, push fellow European NATO member countries towards fulfilling their commitment to spend two percent of GDP on defense.

They should.

WILL SCOTUS AGREE TO HEAR WISCONSIN “JOHN DOE” CASE?:  The Supreme Court will decide Friday whether to grant review on a case relating to the infamous Wisconsin “John Doe” investigation of conservative groups that supported Governor Scott Walker and his reform of public sector union collective bargaining.

The case, O’Keefe v. Chisholm, was filed by Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth after they each received John Doe subpoenas in October 2013, demanding that they turn over all Club records and communications–including all emails, financial materials and donor lists–to prosecutors.  Consistent with Wisconsin’s John Doe law, the subpoenas gagged O’Keefe and the Club, prohibiting them from speaking to anyone (including lawyers or the press) about the existence or nature of the subpoenas, under pain of contempt.  Numerous other conservative activists’ homes were searched in middle-of-the-night SWAT raids, their computers, phones and other papers seized, and their victims also gagged.  Documents divulged in the litigation revealed that the prosecutors hoped to expand the John Doe investigation by issuing subpoenas to high profile conservatives such as radio show host Sean Hannity.

O’Keefe’s lawsuit centers primarily around a claim that the John Doe investigation was being conducted in bad faith, in an attempt to silence the First Amendment speech and association rights of O’Keefe and the Club.  In May 2014, a federal trial judge, Rudolph Randa, granted O’Keefe and the Club a preliminary injunction, halting the investigation and finding that their First Amendment claims were likely to succeed on the merits.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed, reasoning that federal courts should not entertain O’Keefe’s First Amendment claims because of the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA)– an argument that none of the parties to the O’Keefe litigation (nor Judge Randa) had argued or briefed.

Specifically, the 7th Circuit ruled that O’Keefe’s federal constitutional lawsuit should not be considered because considerations of “equity, comity and federalism” that underlie the AIA required Wisconsin state courts be given an opportunity to halt the John Doe investigation before federal courts should get involved.  Unfortunately, as O’Keefe’s Supreme Court petition rightly points out, this interpretation of the AIA directly contradicts the Supreme Court’s decision in Mitchum v. Foster (1972), which held that federal civil rights lawsuits were an exception to the AIA.

To make matters worse, the 7th Circuit’s ruling also directly contradicts the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Sprint Communications, Inc. v. Jacobs, that federal courts should not abstain from deciding federal law claims because federal courts “are obliged to decide cases within the scope of federal jurisdiction” and “[a]bstention is not in order simply because a pending state-court proceeding involves the same subject matter.”  Federal constitutional rights are sufficiently important that victims of abusive state government power shouldn’t be forced to wait years to see if state courts will halt abusive state officers’ behavior, before they are able to seek relief from neutral federal courts.

The Supreme Court is also being asked to consider the propriety of the Seventh Circuit’s alternative ruling that a viable First Amendment claim cannot be grounded in an assertion of retaliatory, bad faith investigation– a question the Supreme Court has unfortunately punted since its obscure footnote 9 in Hartman v. Moore (2006).   Since Hartman, five federal appellate courts have disagreed with the Seventh Circuit, and concluded that any retaliatory investigation that would deter a reasonable person from exercising his First Amendment rights is, in fact, actionable.  And this is as it should be:  just consider the IRS scandal, in which the agency has targeted tea party groups for investigation and scrutiny, all in an attempt to chill those groups’ First Amendment activities.  Retaliatory investigation is the quintessential abuse of government power, and it must be actionable lest John Doe-type investigations become a model for intimidating those who dare to participate in the political process.

If the Supreme Court cares about vigorously defending the First Amendment–and recent cases have suggested it does– the O’Keefe case warrants review, to set the record straight about abstention in federal civil rights cases, and to close the gaping First Amendment loophole (disallowing retaliatory claims) endorsed by the 7th Circuit.

WE NEED ACCOUNTABILITY AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS: The Wall Street Journal urges the U.S. Supreme Court to take the free-speech case arising out of Wisconsin’s John Doe investigation. Ann Althouse notes the inability or unwillingness — she doesn’t use the word “complicity,” but I might — of the Wisconsin state courts to deal with this and comments: “It’s one thing for federal courts to refrain from jumping into state court proceedings that might do a decent-enough job of enforcing federal rights. But here, these proceedings have worked to suppress political speech for 2 election cycles and beyond. It’s quite shocking.”

FLASHBACK: Watch Hillary Defend “Heterosexual Marriage” As A Fundamental, Bedrock Principle. “It wasn’t long ago that Clinton sounded much more like a staunch social conservative than a gay rights champion on the issue, describing marriage as a ‘fundamental bedrock principle’ going back ‘into the mists of history’ that was primarily about raising children. During 2004 Senate floor debate, Clinton argued that though she opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment that would have amended the Constitution to make marriage between a man and a woman because she thought the issue should be a state matter, she wanted to make it crystal clear that this in no way suggested she wanted to change the definition of marriage.”

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WASHINGTON FREE BEACON SUPERCUT: MSNBC’s Tax Delinquents Lecture Audience on Taxes. Maybe Republicans object to taxes because they actually pay them, and Democrats don’t mind taxes because, well, they don’t.

UPDATE: From the comments: “They told me that if I voted for Romney, the rich would thumb their noses at the idea of paying their fair share…….and they were right!”

AUSTIN BAY: Apocalyptic Battles, 1945 and 2015.

NO GOOD REASON AT ALL: Why don’t we just abolish the VA? “Yes, there has been misconduct, dishonesty and incompetence, and the guilty must be held accountable. Fundamentally, though, VA staff and officials were responding to perverse incentives and impossible demands presented by a health-care organization that — unlike almost any other in American society — is not only single-payer but single-provider. Without market signals to help allocate resources, long waits and other patient frustrations are inevitable, no matter how sincerely, or how threateningly, Washington orders their elimination.”

WHEN GOVERNMENT IS IN A STATE OF WAR AGAINST THE CITIZENRY: House Report: IRS ‘Deliberately’ Cut Customer Service to Make Tax Season Painful for Taxpayers.


Plus, my interchange with Chait yesterday made Twitchy. It’s always nice to make Twitchy.

KNIFE RIGHTS: Freddie Gray death: Should it really be illegal to carry a knife in the city?

No, it shouldn’t be.

In the end, Freddie Gray paid the ultimate price for the crime of clipping a common knife to his pocket.

After Mr. Gray ran from police seconds after “making eye contact,” officers quickly grabbed the 20-something black Baltimore man and arrested him for carrying what they called a concealed deadly weapon banned by Maryland – what turned out to be a short-bladed folding-knife similar to ones worn everyday by millions of law-abiding Americans.

A week later, Gray was dead from injuries received while in police custody. The Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation into his death, and the mayor of Baltimore was publicly questioning whether anything Gray did or wore should really have been a precursor to arrest. Large protests have erupted in Baltimore after a coroner found that Gray’s vertebrae were broken while he was in custody, and that he was refused immediate medical care for injuries that eventually became fatal. Six officers have been suspended with pay.

Hey, lefties: Want more government? This is more government.

A DUE PROCESS WIN: Ashe Schow: North Dakota Students Now Have Right To An Attorney.

What seems like an obvious right is sadly not so obvious for today’s college students. But a new law in North Dakota is reaffirming one of the basic elements of due process — the right to legal representation — for college students.

The bill, SB 2150, unanimously passed the state’s House of Representatives on April 8 and passed the Senate on April 17 with just one senator voting against. Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed the bill into law on Wednesday.

By signing this bill, Dalrymple, a Republican, has made North Dakota the third state in the nation to allow students facing non-academic disciplinary charges the ability to hire an attorney. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education credits part of the decision to enact the law on the case of Caleb Warner, who was expelled from the University of North Dakota for sexual assault despite evidence of innocence. His accuser was later charged with filing a false police report.

Because of the injustice done to her son, Warner’s mother, Sherry Warner-Seefeld, helped found the Families Advocating for Campus Equality, a group dedicated to due process for college students.

“It is so gratifying to know that parents of students enrolled in North Dakota’s public colleges will no longer have to worry that their children might be railroaded the way my son was at UND,” Warner-Seefeld told FIRE. “Basic fairness necessitates that colleges determining young people’s futures provide the kind of procedural protections now required by SB 2150.”

North Carolina and Arkansas are the only two other states with laws that allow some kind of legal representation during campus hearings.

If I had a hearing in one of the other states, I’d be tempted to bring a kangaroo.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: States Wrestle With Restrictions On Drones.