January 27, 2015

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CHANGE: S&P cuts Russia’s credit rating to junk.

ON PJTV, I TALK WITH BILL WHITTLE AND DAVE SWINDLE: What If Everything Were Cheap? A Post-Singularity Look.

U.S. ANTI-FRACKING INTERESTS: SHILLS FOR RUSSIAN OIL. Foreign Firm Funding U.S. Green Groups Tied to State-Owned Russian Oil Company. “A shadowy Bermudan company that has funneled tens of millions of dollars to anti-fracking environmentalist groups in the United States is run by executives with deep ties to Russian oil interests and offshore money laundering schemes involving members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. . . . No one knows where that firm’s money comes from. Its only publicly documented activities have been transfers of $23 million to U.S. environmentalist groups that push policies that would hamstring surging American oil and gas production, which has hurt Russia’s energy-reliant economy.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: U.C. Berkeley Students Complain About Having To Read Aristotle, Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault. In course on classic social theory. And if that makes it hard for you to focus on the course material, cupcakes, you don’t belong in college.

THOUGH, APPARENTLY, WITHOUT ENOUGH GAME TO PULL IT OFF: Russians charged with plotting to recruit NYC co-eds as spies. But an excuse to run pics of the sexy Anna Chapman, who has nothing to do with this story!

WAPO: Drone incident at White House highlights long-studied, still-unsolved security gap. “The intrusion by a recreational drone early Monday onto the White House lawn exposed a security gap at the compound that the Secret Service has spent years studying but has so far been unable to fix, according to several officials familiar with the concern.”

Meanwhile, InstaPundit’s crack investigative team has produced this photo of the incident as it happened:

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 8.34.25 AM

ASHE SCHOW: The Left is still looking for a modern ‘rape culture’ poster child.

The term “rape culture” entered the English lexicon in the mid-1970s, but has never really found a poster child, a name that could be pointed to as an example of this supposed epidemic of sexual violence toward women on college campuses.

Liz Seccuro should be the best example of this, although hers was a gang rape by a stranger who (20 years later) would go to prison for his act of violence. Since rape culture has come to more generally refer to a new, blurry definition of rape that involves he-said/she-said situations, non-strangers and usually alcohol, Seccuro’s case does not fit.

But today’s activists have needed someone that proves police and school officials still don’t do anything about sexual assault accusations, even after decades of information campaigns. Even better if the alleged rape was perpetrated by white athletes or fraternity members who came from wealthy families.

And they have so far failed to find their poster child.

If there were really a problem, you’d think they could find a victim who wasn’t, you know, made up. Meanwhile:

As activists search for the perfect victim, due process advocates already have several. One doesn’t need to know the names of the Duke lacrosse men charged with rape to know their story and remind people of what mob justice can do to innocent lives. And thanks to Jackie, members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity have also become victims of false allegations and political pressure.

And if one needs actual names, look no further than Patrick Witt or Brian Banks. Witt was a star athlete and potential Rhodes Scholar who was smeared as a rapist and struggled for years to create a new future for himself outside of the opportunities taken from him due to a false accusation.

Banks, another star athlete, spent more than five years in prison for an accusation that was later recanted. He did have a brief stint as an inside linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons, though he was cut several months after signing.

The problem rape culture activists have in finding a perfect victim is the trouble with defining rape in he-said/she-said situations, when the lines are blurred and there’s rarely any evidence for either side. That is a tough situation in which to find a sympathetic character.

But the narrative demands it.

CHANGE: Saudi Succession Hints at Shift in Foreign Role. “Analysts and diplomats who know him say Prince Mohammed embodies Saudi Arabia’s shift to a more assertive foreign policy, propping up allies and dismantling perceived foes. Inside the kingdom, he has been a driving force in defeating extremist networks and in stifling and punishing political dissent.” That last doesn’t seem like much of a change.

PRAGER UNIVERSITY: How Dark Were The Dark Ages?

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): California mom busted for having sex with teen daughter’s ex-boyfriend.

THE NEW YORK TIMES, LESS THAN A YEAR AGO: The End Of Snow?

PROFILES IN HYPOCRISY: Obama Films Anti-Oil-Drilling Video . . . From A Jet With A 53,000 Gallon Fuel Tank. “On Saturday, Obama flew Air Force One over 8,000+ miles to India to discuss global warming and other issues.”

January 26, 2015

NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF SPORT: NFL wife launches obscene diatribe against ‘greedy,’ women-hating NFL. You know, I have no sympathy for these PC-addled losers.

LARRY CORREIA HAS A SCHEME, and you’re invited.

ROGER SIMON: PLAY REVIEW: Barton Disconnects.

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IT’S COME TO THIS: Semi-retired president gonna enjoy his gum during major photo op with important ally. “Two points. One: Is it Nicorette he’s chewing? That would explain, at least, why he couldn’t refrain from smacking away despite knowing he’d be on camera for hours with India’s PM during a formal state parade. How bad is this guy’s smoking habit, though, if he couldn’t make it through an afternoon without a hit of nicotine? Remember, this isn’t the first time recently that he’s been criticized overseas for chewing gum at an international summit. Indian media obviously noticed his ‘ungainly’ display, as you’ll see below. Either he was jonesing awfully hard for a smoke or today’s the day he moved officially from the YOLO phase of his presidency to the WGAF phase.”

DANIEL HANNAN: What’s the Eurocrats’ real fear? Greece quits and thrives.

Meanwhile, Jim Bennett emails: “Just thinking…if I were the newly-elected leader of Greece, and I were considering taking Greece out of the Euro, I would be talking exactly like Tsirpas. That is to say, I would be categorically denying that I was even considering doing such a thing. First, because I would try taking a run at the European leaders and see whether I could get forgiveness on the debts (fat chance), and second, because if you switch currencies you want to give absolutely no advance warning of it, to prevent bank runs and capital flights. You do it Friday evening after bank closing time, and after the capital control decrees have been drafted and are ready to implement.”

ED DRISCOLL: American Sniper Finally Breaks Hollywood’s Anti-Military Omertà.

IF IT’S ONLY VIABLE WHEN SUBSIDIZED, YOUR TECHNOLOGY ISN’T REALLY VIABLE: Worry for Solar Projects After End of Tax Credits. “Ken Johnson, chief spokesman for the Solar Energy Industries Association, the main solar trade group, said that his group planned to lobby Congress to extend the credit beyond 2016. ‘That’s our top priority for this session of Congress,’ he said, adding that developers across the solar industry were ‘trying to do as much as possible before it drops to 10 percent in 2017.’”

WHY EXPERTS ARE WORRIED about a measles outbreak. “‘It is one of the most contagious infectious diseases we know of,’ Shust says. ‘If you’re not immune, you have about a nine in 10 chance of getting it through close contact.’ This might mean sneezing, coughing, or even from germs on a surface.”

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Belen High School employee arrested, accused of rape.

An Educational Assistant at Belen High School has been arrested on multiple charges including criminal sexual penetration.

New Mexico State Police say agents from the NMSP Investigations Bureau arrested Victoria Baker, 34, Friday after allegedly being sexually invovled with a student. . . .

According to the Valencia County Detention Center, Baker is charged with two counts of child neglect, six counts of criminal sexual penetration, eight counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count with tampering with evidence.

Remember, one reason there are so few male teachers is that people are afraid they might be sexual predators.

Related: Sex ed teacher admits to having sex with student in teacher’s lounge. “Daresa Deann Poe, 32, is charged with second-degree rape. . . . Poe teaches seventh grade and high school classes on marriage, child care and family, and consumer sciences, school officials said. She’s also the district’s student advisor for Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America, and a married mother of two.”

FASTER, PLEASE: Nanotechnology May Provide More Effective Cancer Treatment.

A EULOGY FOR SkyMall.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Law Firm at Center of Silver Scandal Donated Huge Sums to Dems. “The plaintiffs law firm Weitz and Luxenberg, which employed Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, is said to have provided Mr. Silver with $5.3 million in referral fees, despite his having ‘never performed any legal work whatsoever,’ according to the prosecutors. If millions of cash for no work sounds like a generous arrangement, it’s not the first time the firm has shown its generosity.”

DON SURBER: Charles Curtis, the Indian who became vice president.

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THE DEATH OF MUSIC SALES: If CDs are “dead,” so is iTunes.

WHY STATES LIKE SIN TAXES.

THOUGHTS ON HISTORY, PROGRESS, and being wrong.

READER BOOK PLUG: From Francis Owen Drewrey, Mascots.

DISPLAYING ADAPTABILITY: Reverse Flows Shore Up Ukrainian Gas Supplies. “After the gas crisis of 2008 to 2009, during which Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine for nearly two weeks, Europe resolved to beef up its energy infrastructure to help prevent such an event in the future. By building out so-called ‘reverse flow’ capabilities, European countries could increase their ability to supply one another in the case of crisis. Now, as Reuters reports, Europe’s reverse flow capacity looks set to jump nearly 27 percent this weekend.”

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Global Home Cleaning Robots Markets Worth $9 billion by 2020.

FAMILIES ADVOCATING FOR CAMPUS EQUALITY: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Should Apologize To Student She Smeared.

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

DREW CURTIS OF FARK.COM: So I’m running for Governor of Kentucky in 2015. Kentucky could do worse — and probably will, unless he’s elected.

IN THE MAIL: From Mike Ritland, Team Dog: How to Train Your Dog–the Navy SEAL Way.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 627.

BLUE-ON-BLUE: Andrew Cuomo Rebukes Teachers Unions: ‘Don’t Say You Represent the Students.’ “The fact that this fiery anti-union tirade passed the lips of a blue state Democrat tells you everything you need to know about just how thoroughly teachers union have alienated many of their natural political allies. And this isn’t merely some quirk of New York politics, as the same thing has happened on a local scale in numerous cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles. Democratic politicians everywhere are more willing to take on teachers unions than ever before.”

It’s as if there’s some sort of K-12 Implosion going on or something.

JAKUB GRYGIEL: Know Thy Enemy: The modern Western penchant for trusting in the equal rationality of all is strategic folly. Aeschylus understood this well.

Good strategy requires a sound understanding of one’s rivals. A rival in any walk of life is, in a sense, an interlocutor. To engage him effectively in debate one must understand his speech and reasoning patterns. Without that knowledge, conversation is at best pointless, at worst self-defeating. So it is in strategy. It is futile to engage in competition with a rival power without having at least an inkling about his thoughts, fears, and desires.

The modern Western penchant for trusting in the equal rationality of all suggests otherwise. According to this conceit, there is no reason to plumb the nature of an enemy’s thinking because it is no different in essence from one’s own. But this is wrong. A rival’s response to one’s strategy is not predictable as a simply rational and universal reaction that can be generalized and grasped with relative ease. Rival states or groups respond to similar actions in different ways based on their culture, worldview, history, and the proclivities of their leaders. Good strategy, as Bernard Brodie once put it, “presupposes good anthropology and good sociology.”

Despite their superficial attachment to multiculturalism, our elites don’t really want to think of other cultures as, you know, thinking differently, for fear that it might somehow be racist to take that into account.

MARK HEMINGWAY: The American Sniper Freakout: Why The Left Can’t Tolerate This Movie. “The film is primarily about the heroism of soldiers who, thrust into battle by larger forces, do their best to protect each other and innocent Iraqis. Clint Eastwood, often described as one of the few prominent right-wingers in Hollywood, opposed the invasion of Iraq and questioned the invasion of Afghanistan. Even so, the film’s lack of left-wing politics has been treated in some quarters as an unpardonable sin.” Gleichschaltung!

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

WAR ON MEN: Amherst College settles suit filed after diploma withheld over rape allegation.

A lawsuit filed by an Amherst College student who argued the school unfairly held up his academic career over an old, unproven allegation of an on-campus rape has quietly settled. . . .

Doe filed the lawsuit last year after the college decided to revive a 2009 allegation a week before he was set to earn his diploma in 2014 – and after the college had disciplined him for excessive drinking and acting out sexually. His accuser, identified only as “Student A” in court records, said he complained to school officials at the time of his alleged encounter with Doe but never filed a formal complaint.

The original demand was for $2 million. Expect to see more lawsuits, as universities are terrible at handling these kinds of cases and — as with this case, it seems — are often more concerned with looking tough to their PC critics than with being fair to individual students.

UPDATE: Sunday Morning, When Facts Don’t Matter.

I admit it: I’m a sucker for a well-played French horn. And I’ve been a fan of CBS’ Sunday Morning since Charles Kuralt held the reins. That his fellow Charles, the Osgood one, wears a bow tie is a bit dated, but still, the French horn intro is magnificent. It’s very hard to blow a good French horn.

But a segment yesterday morning was shockingly bad. Not because it took an ideological position with which I disagree, but because it was factually vapid. The website write-up began with the discredited “According to the U.S. Justice Department, one in five college women will experience some kind of sexual assault while in school.” Would it be too much to expect that a news organization like CBS be aware that these numbers, which don’t come from the DoJ, have been so thoroughly and utterly debunked that not even the most radical feminist organization will use them anymore?

Apparently not.

It’s all about boosting Kirsten Gillibrand, and the “war on women” theme. Facts are optional.

Related: How To Lie And Mislead With Rape Statistics: Part 1. Zerlina Maxwell is mentioned.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A vital correction from reader Bob Strauss: “Sorry to email you at your academy, but the Sunday Morning fanfare is trumpet. Wikipedia has a whole explanation of the piece and who plays it (Wynton Marsalis, currently).”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: CBS News: Are Law School Admission Standards Slipping?

According to an analysis by Jerome Organ, a professor at the University of St. Thomas, 33 percent of law school entrants had median LSAT scores of 160 or higher in 2013, compared with 40.8 percent in 2010 (the LSAT is scored on a scale between 120 and 180). Conversely, first-year students with scores of 149 or lower rose from 14.2 percent to 22.5 percent.

“Not all law schools are lowering admission standards,” wrote Wendy Margolis of the Law School Admissions Council in an email. “If some of them are, you would need to ask them about their individual reasons. …

In recent years, some law schools have cut the number of people they admit and the ranks of faculty that teach them. Given the economics, experts expect some of the nation’s law schools to close and the quality of students to keep slipping.

It’s a shakeout.

MICKEY KAUS: How Romney Can Come Back . . . Using This One Weird Trick!

JOEL KOTKIN: U.S. Economy Needs Hardhats Not Nerds.

One consistent theme of blue-state pundits, such as Richard Florida, is that blue states and cities “are pioneering the new economic order that will determine our future.” In this assessment, the red states depend on an economy based on energy extraction, agriculture and suburban sprawl. By this logic, growing food for mass market consumers, building houses for the middle class, making cars, drilling for oil and gas—all things that occur in the red state backwaters—are intrinsically less important than the ideas of nerds of Silicon Valley, the financial engineers of Wall Street, and their scattered offspring around the country.

But here’s a little problem: these industries do not provide anything like the benefits that more traditional industries—manufacturing, energy, housing—give to the middle and working classes. In fact, since 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the information and technology sectors have lost more than 337,000 jobs, in part as traditional media jobs get swallowed by the Internet. Even last year, which may well prove the height of the current boom, the information and technology industry created a net 2,000 jobs. And while social and on-line media may be expanding, having added 5,000 jobs over the last decade, traditional media lost ten times as many positions, according to Pew.

In contrast, energy has been a consistent job-gainer, adding more than 200,000 jobs during the same decade. And while manufacturing lost net jobs since 2007, it has been on a roll, last year adding more than 170,000 new positions. Construction, another sector hard hit in the recession, added 213,000 positions last year. The recovery of these industries has been critical to reducing unemployment and bringing the first glimmer of hope to many, particularly in the long suffering Great Lakes region.

These tangible industries seem to be largely irrelevant to deep blue economies. A prospective decline of energy jobs, for example, does not hurt places like California or New York, which depend heavily on other regions to do the dirty work. Overall, for example, California, despite its massive energy reserves, created merely 15,000 jobs since 2007, barely one-tenth as many as in Texas. Energy employment in key blue cities such as New York and San Francisco has remained stagnant, and actually declined in Boston. . . .

The new ephemera-based economy thrills those who celebrate a brave new world led by intrepid tech oligarchs and Wall Street money-men. The oligarchs in these industries have gotten much, much richer during the current recovery, not only through stocks and IPOs, but also from ultra-inflated real estate in select regional areas, particularly New York City and coastal California. As economist George Stiglitz has noted, such inflation on land costs has been as pervasive an effect of Fed policy as anything else.

Even in Houston, some academics hail the impending “collapse of the oil industrial economy,” even as they urge city leaders to compete with places like San Francisco for the much ballyhooed “creative class.” Yet University of Houston economist Bill Gilmer notes that low energy prices are driving tens of billions of new investment at the port and on the industrial east side of the city. This growth, he suggests, may help offset some of the inevitable losses in the more white collar side of the energy complex.

The emergence of a new ephemera-led economy bodes very poorly for most Americans, and not just Texans or residents of North Dakota. The deindustrialized ephemera-dominated economy of Brooklyn, for example, has made some rich, but overall incomes have dropped over the last decade; roughly one in four Brooklynites, overwhelmingly black and Hispanic, lives in poverty. Similar patterns of increased racial segregation and middle class flight can be found in other post-industrial cities, including one-time powerhouse Chicago, where areas of concentrated poverty have expanded in recent years.

Nowhere is this clearer than in ephemera central: California.

The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class gets squeezed. Hope and change!

POLITICO: Where Was Obama When The Middle Class Needed Him?

The past six years have seen a series of hits to middle-class economic security in the form of radical changes in healthcare; decreased pension guarantees from companies; less job security; and volatility in financial markets that has made retirement planning challenging. Cap that off with the massive hit to financial net worth because of the bursting of the housing bubble and you have a recipe for roiling discontent. Washington, meanwhile, anchored by the Obama administration, is widely seen as having done precious little other than shore up the financial system and the banks in 2009.

When it comes to the economy, in fact, Obama arguably has spent most of his presidency focused either on the needs of the very poor (the uninsured) or the very rich (Wall Street’s banks, which were nursed back to health).

Hey, they don’t call him President Goldman Sachs for nothing.

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

January 25, 2015

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

SULTAN KNISH: The Hollywood Jihad Against American Sniper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopey-changey!

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

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

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

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

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100 YEARS AGO TODAY: The First Transcontinental Call.

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

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

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

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 626.

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

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

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

SO MAYBE REPUBLICANS SHOULD ACTUALLY PASS THESE OBAMA TAX PROPOSALS:

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

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

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

Also, repeal the Hollywood tax cuts!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IT BEGINS: Maine Governor Proposes Taxing Large Charities.

UPDATE: I had some thoughts on taxing nonprofits here.

ROBERT VERBRUGGEN: Treating Parents Fairly:

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

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

Well, that’s how government tends to work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BUMMER: Fast Track on Drug for Ebola Has Faltered.

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

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Plus, Deal Of The Week: 70% off Prison Break, Seasons 1-4.

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

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

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

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

Plus, winning Twitter:

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

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

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

AT AMAZON, deals galore at the Men’s Denim Store.

Plus, deals on Hunting & Tactical Knives.

Also, check out the Kindle Daily Deals. They’re new every day, you know. . . .

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

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