April 25, 2015

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, INDOCTRINATION EDITION: Rutgers University offers Hillary Clinton-centric class called ‘A Woman for President?’

QUERCETIN FOLLOWUP: So a while back I mentioned that although I was taking Quercetin as an anti-aging supplement, I also found that it helped with allergies. I’ve continued taking it through peak allergy season here in allergy-awful East Tennessee and it’s definitely made a big difference. Ordinarily at this time of year I’d be taking Sudafed most days; this year I’ve taken half a dose a couple of times as a precaution but I’ve never really needed it. It seems to help the sinus congestion a lot; it doesn’t do as much for my other allergy symptom of itchy eyes, though it seems to have helped somewhat on that front. Anyway, I’m pretty pleased.

IN BRITAIN, A BRILLIANT TAX REFORM PROPOSAL:

The sorts of people who get recruited by political causes as celebrity supporters – television personalities, comedians and the like – should have to pay a special “fame levy” of around 20 per cent of their income. This tax would reflect the fact that they get paid to do really cool things, and are at the same time asked to opine about politics without the bother of getting themselves elected to anything.

It would, however, be voluntary. All the celebrities would need to do, to avoid the toll, is sign a public declaration to the effect that they wanted to opt out.

They’d be free to sign or not to sign. Either way, the rest of us would know whether or not to take them seriously when they assured us that they “wouldn’t mind paying a bit more tax” in order to “make society fairer”.

Heh.

ROGER KIMBALL: Jihad In Catalonia: Police raid Spanish Jihad cell, arrest 11, break up plot to bomb builidings and behead random victims. “While Barack Obama is busy telling Americans that Islam is ‘woven into the fabric’ of America since its founding, police in Spain have just arrested eleven members of a jihadist cell that, woven into the fabric of Spain, was plotting to bring ISIS-style beheadings to a western city near you. As Soeren Kern notes in an important and depressing post at the Gatestone Institute web site, police have accused the cell of planning to bomb various public and private buildings in and around Barcelona and of—this is especially nice—plotting to kidnap and behead a random person. I’m not sure that the Muslim presence in Spain has gotten the attention it deserves here, but as Kern points Catalonia not only has the largest Muslim population in Spain, it also has the largest concentration of radical Islamists in Europe.”

My biggest worry is that this might provide talking points that will stoke an anti-Islamic backlash in the West.

CAR OF THE WEEK: This 1970 Hemi ’Cuda Has 81 Original Miles—and You Can Own It.

21ST CENTURY POLITICS: Social Justice Bullies: The Authoritarianism of Millennial Social Justice. “The modern social justice movement launched on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Jezebel, Slate, Huffington Post, et al. is far more reminiscent of a Red Scare (pick one) than the Civil Rights Movement.” Yeah, the lefties’ only real problem with McCarthyism is that it was aimed at them. They were fine with the methodology, just not the targeting.

THIS KIND OF THING HURTS CHRIS CHRISTIE’S BRAND: New Jersey man denied gun permit for crime he didn’t commit. Not so much the stories themselves, which are horrific, but Christie’s failure to oppose New Jersey’s authoritarian, prohibitionist firearms regime.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 715.

SUPREME ETHICS:  Democrats on the Hill, led by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), are once again pushing legislation that would impose a code of ethics upon the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court itself has repeatedly rejected the idea of adopting such an ethics code, including the current Roberts Court.  Members of the Court do voluntarily agree, however, to follow the same rules as other federal judges on honoraria, gifts, and outside income.

There is a Judicial Code of Conduct for United States Judges– which binds all federal judges except the U.S. Supreme Court–which requires recusal in certain instances of bias and prohibits federal judges from engaging in various acts that may create an appearance of partiality, including engaging in political activities. So why doesn’t this Judicial Code of Conduct also apply to Supreme Court Justices?  Because the Supreme Court is the only court that is constitutionally required to exist, with all lower federal courts existing only insofar as Congress wishes to establish them.  The lower federal courts, therefore, are “creatures” of Congress, established and controlled by it.  Congress’ ability to impose a code of conduct upon judges it creates is thus clear, as a legal matter.

But the Supreme Court is not created by Congress; it has independent constitutional existence.  While Congress has power to regulate the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, give Senatorial advice and consent to Supreme Court nominations, impeach Justices, control the Supreme Court’s budget and even to enact legislation defining the number of Justices that sit on the Court, it otherwise lacks a clear textual authority to regulate the way the Court adjudicates cases.  The Court’s historic position is that because it isn’t created by Congress, Congress cannot impose a code of ethics upon it; doing so would violate separation of powers.

While having the Supreme Court abide by a Code of Ethics sounds good at first blush, the question isn’t really whether it should have such a code, but whether Congress should be able to impose one upon a co-equal branch of government.  And the reasons cited for congressional enactment of such a code focus exclusively on supposed unethical behavior by conservative Justices.  For example, Justice Clarence Thomas failed to report his spouse’s income from conservative groups, necessitating several years of revised disclosure forms.  Justices Antonin Scalia and Thomas have attended events at the National Lawyers’ Convention of the Federalist Society.

But of course, liberal Justices have engaged in the exact same behavior.  Justice Ginsburg has lent her name and given speeches to the NOW Legal fund and recently made comments about same-sex marriage cases that clearly indicate her prejudgment on the issue. Justice Elena Kagan refused to recuse herself from the recent Obamacare subsidy case, King v. Burwell, even though she served as the U.S. Solicitor General and was intimately involved in the defense of the law. And like Ginsburg, Kagan’s comments and officiating at a same-sex marriage ceremony have called for her recusal from the same-sex marriage cases now pending before the Court.  Justice Breyer has faced his own calls for recusal, based on potential financial conflicts.

The point is that while it may be a good idea for the Supreme Court voluntarily to adopt ethics rules for itself (which it de facto seems already to have done), I am highly skeptical about Congress imposing them, and the political mischief that could ensue.  Indeed, liberals/progressives are already overtly attempting to bully the Court, calling for term limits (which, btw, would require a constitutional amendment), and generally calling for “reforms” of a Court they think is too conservative (and likely to stay that way for some time).

My hunch is that congressionally-imposed SCOTUS ethics rules would only further politicize the Court, which would not be good for the rule of law.

FUNNY HOW THIS IS THE ONE TIME WHEN THE GOVERNMENT CARES WHERE ITS MONEY GOES: Megan McArdle: When Deadbeat Dads Can’t Catch a Break.

When you look at the havoc these policies wreak on the lives of poor people, it’s obvious that there’s something very wrong in the system. And yet when you try to come up with a solution that wouldn’t result in these penalties, you start to see how we got here in the first place. Shouldn’t parents support their children? Of course they should. Should the government be paying benefits for children when the mother or father could be contributing? Of course not; benefits are for people who can’t take care of their children, not for people who don’t want to.

So you demand that parents pay child support. But if you simply set the support at a fraction of their income, you will encourage people to work off the books and hide their incomes from the court, or get back at their ex-partners by minimizing their income so as to yield very little in the way of support checks. So judges set child support at the amount that a parent could be expected to earn working a full-time job.

Naturally, it’s not enough to just mandate payment; you also have to mandate penalties, or else selfish mothers or fathers will simply refuse to pay. Punishments were set up for noncompliance, and systems were set up to automatically garnish paychecks. It all seems very fair — unless the system makes a mistake, or Mom or Dad genuinely can’t find enough work, at which point it suddenly becomes Kafkaesque. I once watched a colleague struggle through New York state’s bureaucracy, which through its own screw-up had garnished so much of his paycheck that he basically had no money for food or rent. The error took months to fully resolve, because why should they care about some deadbeat dad feeding himself?

They care about the moms a lot more. But there’s no pity for the dads. Given all the stories of horror, it’s amazing that so few of them go postal.

CRAZY CHICK BECOMES WOMAN SCORNED, GETS ELEVATED TO FEMINIST HEROINE: Robby Soave: Student Falsely Accused of Rape By ‘Mattress Girl’ Sues Columbia U., Publishes Dozens of Damning Texts; Sulkowicz made life a living hell for Nungesser. Well, that’s certainly what it looks like.

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PUNCH BACK TWICE AS HARD: Breaking! Anti-Israel boycotters don’t like being boycotted! “After years of being a boycott punching bag, supporters of Israel are fighting back.”

OH, PLEASE. I MEAN, SURE, SHE’S PUT ON A LITTLE WEIGHT, BUT . . . ‘Hillary Thinks She Is Bigger Than God.’

JOURNALISM: NYT Refuses To Publish Pushback Letter From Cruz’s Debate Partner.

Rob Marks, the liberal who served as Sen. Ted Cruz’s college debate partner, is alleging that a recent New York Times article “greatly mischaracterizes” Mr. Cruz’s career as a Princeton debater, and “ignores the context of some of these debates.”

The Times has posted at least four articles on the subject, but has declined to publish Marks’ letter to the editor, now obtained by The Daily Caller. . . .

Cruz’s spokesman responded in the Times story, saying that “25-year-old alleged college campus recollection stories, based on anonymous hearsay and reported as ‘fact,’ shouldn’t be taken [seriously] at all. This is ridiculous.”

Hey, the Times is actually publishing bad news about Hillary. You can’t expect them to simultaneously publish things that benefit a Republican candidate.

UNRAVELING: Liberal Common Cause demands Clinton Foundation, Hillary audit.

The financial issues plaguing Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign have become too much even for liberal groups, and now Common Cause is calling for an independent audit of donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Amid suggestions that foreign governments donated to the foundation in hopes of getting special treatment from President Obama’s State Department when Clinton was his top diplomat, the group on Friday said a “thorough review” is needed.

The Clintons’ spin yesterday — that this was all a dastardly “conservative” smear — is looking even weaker.

CHANGE: General: China Space Threat Drives U.S. Space Warfare Buildup. “Hyten’s complete remarks on the Chinese space threat and the U.S. response are set to be aired Sunday on 60 Minutes. The program will also reveal one of the Air Force’s new systems for space warfare, a high-technology laser-guided telescope.”

TED CRUZ: Clinton Foundation Should Return Foreign Donations. Then they’d have no money left.

No loss to charity, though: Only 15% of Clinton Foundation Donations Go To Charities. It’s like it’s just a big money laundry or something.

ISN’T IT JUST DRINKING WITH SOMEONE YOU LOVE? Drinking Alone: A Bad Idea or a Toast to Oneself?

WELL, THAT’S BECAUSE IT ISN’T: Young Arabs Agree: Israel Isn’t Arab World’s Major Problem.

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!

IF YOU’RE UP EARLY TOMORROW MORNING, YOU MIGHT WANT TO WATCH C-SPAN. John Lott emails:

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.

SURE, THAT’S WHAT THEY SAY, BUT WE KNOW IT’S REALLY FOR DEFENSE AGAINST ALIENS: Proposal Would Put Laser Cannon on ISS to Blast Space Junk.

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.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: ASU Pushes MOOCS into the Mainstream.

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.

IN DEFENSE OF FAREED ZAKARIA.

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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.

UPDATE: Ouch.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 9.04.03 AM

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.”

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.”

IN PAST YEARS, I WOULD HAVE DISMISSED THIS AS OBVIOUS CRACKPOTTERY. BUT NOWADAYS, WHO KNOWS? . . . Christians Are Being Systematically Purged From The U.S. Military.

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.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

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Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Just remember, when winter storms are over, spring and summer storms are on the way.

“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.

AT AMAZON, Spring Deals in the Sports & Fitness Outlet Sale.

Plus, Mother’s Day Gifts in Home & Kitchen.

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.