May 4, 2015

IN THE MAIL: From Robert Conroy, 1920: America’s Great War.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Up to 60% Off Star Wars Toys, Games, Clothing, and More.

And, also today only: T-fal Ultimate Hard Anodized 12-Piece Cookware Set, Gray, $79.99 (60% off).

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 725.

PATRIOT ACT SHOWDOWN:  Several key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire June 1, including Section 215, which allows collection of so-called “metadata” business records, such as the timing, length and call logs of cell phone records.  The Obama Administration unilaterally modified the section 215 metadata program in early 2014, to restrict somewhat the collection of telephone metadata in response to public outcry.

If Congress fails to reauthorize section 215, the Obama Administration has said it will end the collection of telephone metadata entirely.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) have introduced a bill that would extend section 215, unchanged, through 2020. They have invoked a procedural maneuver that allows their bill to bypass normal committee consideration, and go straight to the Senate floor.

Last Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee, by contrast, passed the USA Freedom Act in a bipartisan effort, 25-2, which would end the section 215 telephone metadata program entirely.

The McConnell-Burr clean reauthorization bill has sparked strong opposition by libertarian-leaning groups, who have urged the Senate to follow the House lead and end section 215 telephone metadata collection. The National Security Council and FBI have stated that a lack of reauthorization of section 215 could hamper its efforts at tracking terror suspects, and it is speculated that other provisions of law could be invoked to continue surveillance of such suspects (without bulk collection of telephone metadata).

With all of the other horrendous events going on in the world, the Patriot Act reauthorization seems to have slipped off the radar of most Americans.

COOKING SIMPLY IS NOT CHEAP:

I don’t need to tell you that food has fashions. Remember when every restaurant with any ambition had a spinach salad with pecans, goat cheese and some sort of onion shaving? That’s now passé even in its last refuge, the twee cafes of Rust Belt suburbs. Or when truffles seemed to sprout from menus like, er, mushrooms, only to disappear almost as quickly, presumably off to hibernate in some subterranean darkness?

We are currently living through what I like to call the salted caramel inquisition, with every perfectly law-abiding caramelized dish in the land, however perfect in its simple sweetness, assaulted and forcibly converted to its more aggressive modern version.

For the last 5 to 10 years, the most notable fashion has been for the complex, spicy and exotic. Foodies exchange worried tips for storing the “basic” spices now grown too numerous for any sort of conventional cupboard. Bitter supertasters exchange angry polemics on the snobs who don’t seem to realize that those of us with less blunted palates might not want every alcoholic beverage well fortified with hops, Campari and an extra-strong helping of Angosturas. Those whose sensitive or aging gastrointestinal tracts cannot cope with all that glorious capsaicin sigh, and order the roasted chicken. Again.

History is reaction and counterreaction. The pendulum is swinging back, as gravity says it must, and I detect a new movement afoot: KISS. Which means, yes: Keep it simple, stupid. And I have to say, I like it.

But women and minorities will be hardest hit.

GARLAND UPDATE: Another “Known Wolf” Attack.

Related: Richard Fernandez: Obama’s Legacy: No One Is Safe.

ANOTHER DEMOCRATIC PARTY PROSECUTOR ABUSING HIS POWER AGAINST A REPUBLICAN: Lawsuit spells out ‘nightmare’ for California man accused without evidence.

MICHAEL TOTTTEN: The Iranian Leader’s Bizarre Twitter Feed.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN IS ON AL SHARPTON’S LATEST LOUSY IDEA: Want a lawless police force? Federalize it. Accountability comes from having law enforcement under multiple umbrellas.

NICK GILLESPIE: Free Speech: Never Give In To The Thug’s Veto. “The future must belong to those who recognize a categorical difference between free expression and violent reprisals. The future must belong to those who affirm speech over silence and freedom over fear, regardless of who is speaking and who is offended.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Green notes that the New York Times’ Liam Stack tries to make it sound like Pam Geller is the crazy one — not the Muslim terrorists who wanted to shoot up her art show. Or course, as someone noted last night, it’s Texas, so even the art shows will probably have you outgunned.

IRS SCANDAL UPDATE: IRS Approved Clinton Foundation And Scientology, But Targeted Tea Party. “Will there be an IRS investigation of the Clinton Foundation? Even suggesting it sounds laughable, for few can stand up to the Clintons, let alone to a Democratic administration. Besides, the IRS Exempt Organizations Division used to be run by Lois Lerner, and it isn’t clear how much has changed.”

SALENA ZITO: A Disturbing Intersection for America.

The economic and political turbulence of the past decade is jarringly similar to the Panic of 1893 and the unsettling elections of 1884 to 1896. Those were eras when extraordinary wealth was created for the elites, and when ferociously competitive elections and ineffectual, corrupt government collided with an agitated, cynical electorate.

Progressives of that previous era — very different from our modern liberal brand — were born of economic dislocation that pressured the establishment, not unlike what is happening today.

In each era, both parties promised reform but didn’t deliver.

Consider Baltimore, ruled by Democrat machine politics for decades. What does the city have to show for that?

A jarring 37 percent unemployment rate for black men ages 20 to 24, a statistic that should be completely unacceptable in any American city.

Disruption and energy should be felt in Baltimore’s ballot boxes, not on its streets as a matter of violent protest and thuggery. Its communities should not allow themselves to be used to keep a political machine in power but then to be promptly forgotten when it comes to governing. . . .

It used to be that both blue-collar and white-collar workers held stable jobs, and living standards for all social classes steadily rose. That model has buckled and bowed until it no longer exists, and people are getting left behind at a staggering rate.

The gap between all things big (government, business, banks), the American people, and their political leaders is greater today than at any time since our little quarrel with England in the 1770s.

We are over-regulated, forgotten and over-taxed by a national capital that has become the Versailles of its time — the seat of not only political power but of unprecedented wealth, with a desire to emulate Hollywood rather than the regular people who have carried the burden of building and protecting that pretentious city.

Nothing brought that image into perspective better than watching a week ago as the cable-news networks covered their own press staffers attending the White House Correspondents Dinner with President Obama, the cream of Hollywood and selected members of Congress — while rioting young men stormed the city of Baltimore.

It was an unsightly, disturbing intersection for America.

We have the worst political class in American history.

NOW SHIPPING FROM MICHAEL Z. WILLIAMSON: A Long Time Until Now (Temporal Displacement).

JOEL KOTKIN: America’s Cities Mirror Baltimore’s Woes.

Certainly Sandtown-Winchester—where Freddie Gray, whose death sparked the riots, grew up—fits this mode. As the liberal Think Progress website explains, more than half of that neighborhood’s people between the ages of 16 and 64 are out of work and the unemployment rate is double that for the rest of the city. Median income is below the poverty line for a family of four, and nearly a third of families live in poverty. About a quarter to a third of the buildings are vacant, compared to 5 percent in the city as a whole.

Yet the people in these neighborhoods do not represent the majority of black America. Besides the gap between blacks and whites, there is also a growing one among African-Americans themselves. This is painfully obvious in the Baltimore region which, extending to the Washington, D.C., suburbs, has some of the highest black wages and homeownership rates of any of the county, and ranks among the best places for African-Americans in a new study I co-authored for the Center for Opportunity Urbanism.

In fact, five of the ten wealthiest black communities in America are in Maryland. Needless to say, residents in those towns are not rioting. There is an increasingly enormous gap between entrenched poor communities, such as those in Baltimore, and a rapidly expanding black suburban population. Barely half of the 775,000 African-Americans in the Baltimore metropolitan region live in the city, and those outside do far better than inside the city limits. In the last decade, suburban Baltimore County added160,000 blacks, far more than moved into the city (PDF). The black suburbanites not only make more money than their urban counterparts but their life expectancy (PDF) is at least eight years longer.

These trends can be seen nationwide.

Flee to the suburbs for the same reason white people did — to escape entrenched, corrupt urban political machines.

WELL, I GUESS IT’S TOO LATE NOW. MIGHT AS WELL BUY THAT SUV I’VE HAD MY EYE ON: Eight Years Ago Today: UN Scientists Say We Have Only Eight Years Left To Stop Global Warming.

On the other hand, maybe we managed to bring things under control just in time: Seven years after former US Vice-President Al Gore’s warning, Arctic ice cap has expanded for second year in row.

Related: Ed Driscoll: Snowfalls Are Now Just a Thing of the Past.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Washington Post: The Clintons, a luxury jet and their $100 million donor.

ROSS DOUTHAT: Our Police Union Problem. All public employee unions should be banned. But people who carry guns for a living especially shouldn’t be unionized.

IT’S ALWAYS NICE TO MAKE TWITCHY. And, really, NPR should be ashamed of that piece, and its dishonest headline, which was corrected to another that was . . . still wrong.

TO BE FAIR, HE’S THAT WAY ON MOST STUFF: Obama is all talk on press freedom, say many critics.

In advance of World Press Freedom Day on Sunday, President Obama took other nations to task for being openly hostile towards reporters, accusing them of squashing the free flow of information.

First Amendment advocates and White House reporters counter that Obama should perhaps first look in the mirror.

As he admonished foreign governments for suppressing the fourth estate, the United States ranked 49th (down three places from the year before) on the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, a list compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

Obama holds the distinction of prosecuting more journalists and whistle-blowers in leak investigations than any of his predecessors. It is that track record that has earned him comparisons with President Richard Nixon in media circles.

Yet, the president still insists that his administration is the most transparent in history, a model for other nations.

Yes, well, he engages in a lot of self-praise, too.

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: US advisers in Iraq settle into life, daily work as part of Inherent Resolve.

Comments one observer: “It’s almost like we never left.”

Well, except that we did leave, creating a vacuum that ISIS filled. And with our once-extensive intelligence networks shut down, we didn’t even know about it until it was too late to nip it in the bud. But aside from that, sure.

May 3, 2015

JOHN HINDERAKER: Why Are Police Shootings Dominating The News? “Rarely has paranoia been more ruthlessly, or more dishonestly, promoted.”

21st CENTURY PORN:   A new website allows women (sorry, boys) to raise crowdsource funding by providing a little home-made porn.  I guess it does have the advantage of cutting out the middleman.

HEH: Iranian Foreign Minister “Punked” In New York City.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN IS ON AL SHARPTON’S LATEST LOUSY IDEA: Want a lawless police force? Federalize it. Accountability comes from having law enforcement under multiple umbrellas.

UPDATE: From the comments: “The primary characteristic of a police state is a state police. Keep it in mind.”

ED DRISCOLL HAS BEEN LIVEBLOGGING the failed Islamic terror attack in Garland, Texas, and the reactions thereto.

Me, I wrote a song, to the tune of You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me, Lucille. “You picked the wrong state to jihad, Abu. Texans have guns and they’re going to shoot you. You picked the wrong state to jihad, Abu.” Okay, I stopped with one verse, but you get the idea.

HEH: Baltimore Is Nothing More Than an Infomercial For U-Haul and The NRA.

OVER AT ACE OF SPADES, SOME THOUGHTS ON ENGAGING WITH THE LEFT: “EFF OFF.” “We have to stop granting the left, and especially the activist left, the SJW types, the courtesy of treating them as if they are legitimate. We need to tell them to eff off. We need to stop debating and start dismissing. Most of what they are saying is so stupid and flimsy that it NEEDS the prop of our treating it seriously to lend it the mantle of legitimacy.”

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Washington Post: The Clintons, a luxury jet and their $100 million donor.

WHEN HATE RULES: DC GamerGate meetup disrupted by ‘feminist bomb threat.’

A 250-strong meetup of GamerGate supporters, which included game developers, journalists and think-tank scholars were evacuated from a bar in Washington D.C on Friday after an anonymous bomb threat was made against the gathering.

This followed an unsuccessful social media campaign spearheaded by anti-GamerGate Salon columnist Arthur Chu to convince the bar’s proprietors to voluntarily eject GamerGate supporters from their establishment.

The event was the largest GamerGate gathering so far, with somewhere between 200 and 300 attendees. It follows a trend toward offline organising by its supporters, who up until recently have tended to congregate on social media and image boards.

The event was held at the Local 16 in Washington, DC, hosted by Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos and featuring AEI resident scholar Christina Hoff Sommers as its guest of honour. Although primarily attended by gamers, a wide range of journalists were also at the event, including author and Reason magazine contributor Cathy Young, Daily Caller columnist and policy analyst Mytheos Holt, and Washington Examiner columnist Ashe Schow.

Police arrived on the scene at approximately 12:15am, just over three hours after the meetup had kicked off. The evacuation began immediately, causing particular difficulty for the event’s two disabled attendees, who had to be carried down from the second floor. The other floors of the bar, which were occupied by regular customers, was also evacuated.

I wonder if the perpetrators will be found and punished? But nothing says we’re the establishment, they’re the crazy ones like a good bomb threat.

THE “FACT-CHECKING” BUSINESS IS BASICALLY A PARTISAN RACKET: PunditFact: A Case Study In Fact-Free Hackery: Watch PunditFact turn a statement that is “clearly accurate” and “technically true” into something that is “Mostly False.”

CONCEALED CARRY SAVES LIVES:  A man with a concealed carry permit in Utah shot and killed a man who was trying to carjack a woman outside a grocery store.  He shot only one round.  Now that police are being restrained by various political and legal forces, it’s good to know our neighbors can protect us.

ANDREW KLAVAN: It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way. “No wonder Hollywood has remade Poltergeist. When it comes to the very worst policy ideas of the 1970s, they’re baaaa-ack.”

TWO SHOT OUTSIDE MUHAMMAD ART EVENT IN GARLAND TEXAS. Unconfirmed reports from SWAT that they had explosives on them.

For updates, check the twitter feed of reporter Jobin Panicker and WFAA News.

Also, Pamela Geller is there and tweeting.

UPDATE: Robert Spencer is there and tweeting, too.

MORE: People Evacuated Singing Patriotic Songs.

And this is cute: “The would-be terrorists in Garland fell for one of the classic blunders: Never assume that you’ve outgunned an art show in Texas.” True!

WALTER HUDSON: A Selfless Parent Is A Bad Parent.

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EMILY BAZELON SAYS THAT JON KRAKAUER’S NEW BOOK ON CAMPUS RAPE is too politically correct and unreflective to be useful.

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: It’s Me Or The Dog. “Don’t get me wrong. . . . It’s very attractive to me that you’re able to care for another living being. I love that. But it’s a step too far. It’s like having another person in the bed.”

DUMB ARGUMENT OF THE WEEK: Today in Congress, We Heard That Encryption is Enabling Upskirt Photos.

REVIEW: The 2015 Volkswagen GTI.

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

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

THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED: Science Confirms: The More Coffee You Drink, The Longer You Will Live. You don’t want to be a science-denier, do you?

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: A 3-D-Printed Implant Saves Lives.

COMPETITION IS GOOD: Report: Comcast plans YouTube-like online video service.

BANNING POLITICAL SPEECH:  It has come to this.  New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority has voted to ban all political, religious and opinion ads. The reason?  An April 21 decision by federal district judge John Koeltl to enjoin the Transit Authority from refusing to run an ad sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) that said, “Hamas MTV:  Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.”  Underneath this caption, the ad said, “That’s His Jihad, What’s Yours?” Here’s a copy of the ad:

The ad was designed to be anti-Hamas and pro-Israel.  A similar, crowd-sourced ad campaign by AFDI was characterized as “Islamorealism.”

The Transit Authority cited “security” concerns in its decision to reject the ad, but Judge Koeltl responded:

While the Court is sensitive to the MTA’s security concerns, the defendants have not presented any objective evidence that the Killing Jews advertisement would be likely to incite imminent violence. Indeed, as the defendants knew when considering whether to run the ad, substantially the same advertisement ran in San Francisco and Chicago in 2013 without incident. The advertisement qualifies as protected speech, and the defendants have restricted it based on its content without a compelling interest or a response narrowly tailored to achieving any such interest. Accordingly, the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction is granted.

In an oped for Breitbart, Pamela Geller, co-founder of AFDI writes:

This is a classic case of the powerful trumping the rights of the common man so as to protect their little club. The political and media elites only allow the public discourse to fall within a certain political spectrum. My ads drove them crazy because they fell outside of that spectrum; I was vaulting over their controls and bringing truths to the public that they didn’t want known. They had to move to shut me down.

I’m siding with Geller on this one.  The NYC Transit Authority is banning all political/religious/opinion ads in an attempt to prevent its rejection of AFDI’s ads from being characterized as a “content-based” restriction on free speech, which is presumptively unconstitutional.  And while it’s true that the Transit Authority has now banned all such ads– not just AFDI’s–it’s a sad day when government opts to shut down all speech merely because some of it may be offensive.  The ad was not the functional equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater; it was controversial because it defies the liberal/progressive worldview of Hamas and the Palestinian effort as virtuous, and Israel as an apartheid state.

Free speech isn’t worth much if government can ban it whenever it offends.  As the Supreme Court said in its 1971 decision, Cohen v. California:

The constitutional right of free expression is powerful medicine in a society as diverse and populous as ours. It is designed and intended to remove governmental restraints from the arena of public discussion, putting the decision as to what views shall be voiced largely into the hands of each of us, in the hope that use of such freedom will ultimately produce a more capable citizenry and more perfect polity and in the belief that no other approach would comport with the premise of individual dignity and choice upon which our political system rests. To many, the immediate consequence of this freedom may often appear to be only verbal tumult, discord, and even offensive utterance. These are, however, within established limits, in truth necessary side effects of the broader enduring values which the process of open debate permits us to achieve. That the air may at times seem filled with verbal cacophony is, in this sense not a sign of weakness but of strength.

NY Transit Authority’s action shows that, from the leftist perspective, Americans can’t handle potentially “offensive” speech by averting their eyes, but need to be paternalistically protected from being exposed to it at all.  We aren’t producing “a more capable citizenry” anymore; quite the contrary.  NY Transit Authority’s decision is a sign of societal decay and weakness, not strength.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Cops Investigate Report of Two Seven Year Olds Kissing at School. “I’ve always thought homeschooling was a great idea. After hearing this story, I’m more convinced than ever before.”

GALLERY: 50 Years Of The Camaro, In Pictures.

SO AFTER I TWEETED THEM, NPR CORRECTED THE HEADLINE IN THIS AWFUL HIT PIECE ON TEXAS GOV. ABBOTT, BUT IT’S STILL WRONG.

As this WaPo article — from last week — explains, Abbott sent the State Guard (not the Texas National Guard, as the NRP story originally claimed) to observe (not “stave off,” as the NPR article still wrongly claims) federal military maneuvers (not a “takeover” as the NPR article still wrongly claims). The WaPo story also explains why, for safety reasons, it’s a good idea for state officials to know about these exercises. Compare the treatment by WaPo — hardly an Abbott-friendly organ — with the NPR piece by Wade Goodwyn, which seems designed to produce agitprop headlines for Dems to share with each other over social media. Now note which one is supported by your tax dollars.

THERE’S A CANNABIS LAW PROF BLOG.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 724.

ICE, ICE BABY:   Stop. Collaborate and listen:  Ice is back, and apparently, it isn’t at risk of disappearing, as Steven Hayward explains.  Okay, it’s a bad reference to Vanilla Ice, but the horrific, imminent doom-and-gloom melting of the Earth’s ice caps–which Al Gore predicted would disappear completely by 2013– are doing quite well, thank you very much.  Indeed, satellite images show the Arctic ice cap has grown and thickened 43-63% since 2012.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) website still claims that the ice caps are the “canary in the coal mine” and “harbinger of things to come” for global warming climate change.  Back in 2009, global warming climate change soothsayer James Hansen of NASA warned the globe that President Obama only “has four years to save the earth.“  Of course, Hansen’s wild exaggerations and data manipulation have been debunked, but this doesn’t stop the leftists, since we all know global warming climate change isn’t really about climate at all, but about wealth redistribution.

President Obama was just down here in South Florida, giving a speech in the Everglades on the hazards of global warming climate change, where he did his best Al Gore imitation:

This is not a problem for another generation.  Not anymore.  This is a problem now.  It has serious implications for the way we live right now.  Stronger storms.  Deeper droughts.  Longer wildfire seasons.  The world’s top climate scientists are warning that a changing climate already affects the air that our children are breathing.  The Surgeon General and I recently met with doctors and nurses and parents who see patients and kids grappling with the health impacts.  The Pentagon says that climate change poses an increasing set of risks to our national security.

Huh– that’s weird:  How come Obama and the Surgeon General are seeing “patients and kids grappling with the health impacts” from the “air that our children are breathing,” when the EPA’s own data indicates that U.S. air quality has improved markedly since 1980? And it seems odd to conclude that “our national security” is at risk due to global warming climate change, when the Obama Administration’s massive Clean Power Plan will cause severe electricity reliability problems, which could cause a major breakdown of law-and-order if coal-fired plants are shut down without first identifying adequate electricity generation alternatives to meet citizens’ needs.

It’s almost like Obama and the global warming climate change alarmists are making this stuff up or something.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Obama’s Foreign Policy: Media Gives President a Pass Again.

Once again, be very glad we don’t have a Republican president right now. If we did, we would be treated to a merciless media pounding, night-and-day, on the series of strategic failures, mistakes and false starts that have characterized America’s war strategy in Afghanistan since 2009. We’d be getting constant reminders of how the President, who repeatedly said that this was a just war that America had to win, and who told us that we should vote for him because he wouldn’t let anything distract him from the vital task of winning said war, hasn’t managed to win it, or even end it, after six long years.

Fortunately for us, there is a Democrat in the White House who, by and large, the press likes and wants to succeed. Thus our newspapers and television screens are blessedly free from invective, derision and snark when it comes to news from Afghanistan.

President Obama has been permitted to fail in Afghanistan quietly and off center stage. We hear nothing anymore about the months of agonized reflection before choosing strategies that didn’t accomplish their goals. We never see mentions of his 2008 campaign rhetoric about Afghanistan—”the necessary war”—against which we might be asked to measure what has actually been achieved.

He’s an affirmative-action President. Nobody expects him to produce much.

HELL, THESE DAYS THE ONION’S NOT EVEN A PARODY: The Onion Is Not a Joke.

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INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Why Can’t White House Just Say ISIS Beheaded Christians? You can tell a lot about a politician’s goals by noticing who he wants to keep stirred-up and angry, and who he doesn’t.

TIM CAVANAUGH: Obama mum after May Day riot re-ruins Seattle.

The morning after hipster rioters turned a May Day demonstration into a replay of the 1999 Battle in Seattle, President Obama boarded Marine One and departed for an overnight retreat without commenting on unrest in U.S. cities that has spread to the Pacific coast.

The president stopped to fist bump with the child of an Associated Press staffer on a sunny Saturday before choppering out of the capital. But he made no comment on the Friday night rioting in Seattle, Wash.

Seattle rioters threw bottles and bricks at police; smashed and tagged property; and attacked reporters and other civilians in unrest that left three officers injured. Police Chief Chris Fowler declared Friday evening that the situation had “turned into a riot.”

Obama’s silence on the mayhem in one of North America’s most progressive cities contrasted with his loquacity earlier in the week, when the president as well as his staff spoke at length after Baltimore erupted in destructive but non-lethal rioting. . . .

The Seattle riot also participates in a long history. The city was attacked by vandals, thieves and looters in 1999, under the pretext of protest against the World Trade Organization. Friday’s violence erupted during a celebration of May Day, which honors traditions of revolutionary destruction designed to raise worker solidarity, expose the contradictions of late capitalism, and usher in a fundamental transformation of economic reality.

Obama beguiled readers of his exquisitely wrought memoir Dreams From My Father with tales of his youthful friendships among Marxist poets and punk rockers. The self-declared communist Van Jones briefly served as the Obama administration’s “green jobs czar.”

But the president has been less eager to attach himself publicly to historic economic-justice movements, or to their extensive legacies of violence. He is presently lobbying Congress for a bill that would give more power to the executive branch in order to conclude a Pacific Rim trade treaty — an agreement strongly opposed by his own party’s left wing.

Seattle police responded decisively to Friday’s criminal frenzy, and by Saturday civil order had been restored in the city. Unlike Baltimore, Seattle is not governed entirely by members of the president’s Democratic party. One Seattle city council member belongs to the Socialist Alternative party.

Well, okay then.

MICHAEL WALSH: GoFundMe: Leftist Tool.

DOING THE JOBS AMERICAN JOURNALISTS WON’T DO: #AskHillary hashtag provides plenty of material for stumped, starstruck reporters.

OVERSIGHT: GOP rep introduces bill to gut EPA.

A House Republican wants to cut 13 programs at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including all of its grants and its ability to regulate ground-level ozone and carbon dioxide.

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) introduced a bill, the Wasteful EPA Programs Elimination Act, which he said is a money-saving measure, citing a Heritage Foundation forecast that it would save $7.5 billion over 10 years.

“As a fiscal conservative, I believe Washington should be respectful of taxpayers’ dollars and live within its means,” Johnson said in a Thursday statement.

Can we do that with the rest of the federal government?

CHAOS UMPIRE SITS: Joan Walsh Says Dangerous Things About Race That Help Perpetuate Police Brutality: Perhaps her white privilege is showing and she should take her ideological fellow travelers’ advice on it.

Since the news came out that three of the officers involved in Freddie Gray’s death were black—this fact is mostly pretty irrelevant to the case. A person isn’t any more or less violated depending on his race or the race of his violator. But it means a lot when some have vigorously pushed the narrative of “black men killed by white cops” as if it were only those instances of state-sponsored violence that were problematic. That narrative helps dangerous myths flourish—like the myth that black cops might be less brutal than white cops. Here’s Joan Walsh arguing that there was “no debate” black cops “absorb” the attitudes of their colleagues. It’s a bizarre idea that’s totally unnecessary if you live in the world but becomes a must-have when your understanding of the problem is based on the fantasy constructed in your head. And it’s a more than slightly racist one because it seeks to diminish the agency of the black adults who make up the black police population.

It gets worse. Walsh also argued that the indictment of the three black cops shows that “black leadership doesn’t protect wrongdoers like white leaders too often do,” this based on just the one Freddie Gray case. This is not only easily disprovable, it too helps perpetuate a dangerous myth. If the black leadership in Baltimore (and how much can be said about “black leadership” or “white leadership” before you’re just resorting to intuitions drawn from racial stereotypes?) were more interested in rooting out police brutality in the police department, why did it take Freddie Gray’s death for Baltimore’s black leadership to say it’ll invite the Department of Justice to probe the Baltimore Police Department for a pattern and practice of police abuse? Stephanie Rawlings Blake has been mayor for four years and Anthony Batts has been police commissioner since 2012. The problem of police brutality in Baltimore, and as any black (or really, any) leader in Baltimore should know (right?), didn’t start with Freddie Gray.

Why are Democrat-dominated cities such havens of racism and police brutality?

May 2, 2015

SO, I’VE WRITTEN ABOUT GARY TAUBES AND MARK RIPPETOE in terms of diet and fitness. If you’ve tried either, or both, please report your experience in the comments. Thanks!

UPDATE: A lot of nice stories from folks. Glad you’re doing well!

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Free Speech on Campus: ‘F*ck Masculinity’, ‘Fight the Straightness.’

SO HOW CAN YOU SIMULTANEOUSLY BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION AND FIND THIS SURPRISING? What It’s Like to Hit a Man. I tried boxing. It was scary how good it felt.

WELL, THAT’S THEIR JOB: Police union pushes back on Freddie Gray findings.

WELL, WELL: ‘Hacktivists’ from around the world take to social media to stir Baltimore unrest. “The company’s specialty is rooting out cyber criminals lurking on social media. And when West Baltimore erupted in rioting Monday, its employees felt compelled to apply their skills. ZeroFox worked into the night tracing tweets and Facebook accounts that shared photos of looting and violence. What they found was that much of the activity was coming from well outside of Baltimore, in some cases from Russia, China, India and the Middle East.”

Why would people in those countries want to stir up unrest in the United States? . . .

ONLY TRAINED LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENTS CAN BE TRUSTED WITH FIREARMS: Capitol Police Left Guns in Bathrooms.

SO, BASICALLY, VICE IS TELLING US THAT THE 19TH AMENDMENT WAS A MISTAKE? Female Hormones Can Make a Bloody Mess of Your Mental Health. Well, no: “As a woman who cries, cuts all her hair off and then realizes two days later as her gusset fills with blood that it was that pesky progesterone all along, I am extremely wary of painting women as somehow weaker as a result of our hormones.” Okay, then.

VOTER FRAUD IS REAL:  There is growing evidence non-citizens are voting.  And of course this is precisely why leftists keep challenging voter ID laws, while simultaneously taking executive action to undermine existing immigration law and grant legal permission for illegals to remain in the country.  Since when is asking for ID discriminatory?  I think I’m going to sue my public library.  And maybe the police department, the next time they pull me over.

AS MARK STEYN SAYS, THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO SHOW UP: The Childless Millennial: A new report finds that today’s twentysomethings have a lower birthrate than any previous generation. Of course, birthrates always plunge under socialism. . . .

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THE MORAL IMPERATIVE OF CAR CONTROL!:   Motor vehicle accidents killed 35,369 Americans in 2013.  So I’m sure the Democrats will be calling for “car control” soon.  Right?  We need to take these dangerous instruments out of peoples’ hands!  Too many people are dying because of cars!

The accidental discharge of guns, btw, was involved in only 505 deaths.  And of course there’s that pesky Second Amendment that impedes progressives’ gun-free nirvana.

HEY, BLOOMBERG PAYS HIM TO SPOUT THAT CRAP, NOT TO DEFEND IT: Michael Bloomberg gun group’s research director refuses on-air debate with longtime researcher. “The research director for Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control advocacy group co-founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, recently refused to appear for an on-air debate with longtime gun law researcher John Lott on C-SPAN’s’“Washington Journal.’”

It’s an astroturf group with talking-point “research.” Dialogue is not their friend, and they know it.

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WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING? When Minimum-Wage Hikes Hit a San Francisco Comic-Book Store. “I’m hearing from a lot of customers, ‘I voted for that, and I didn’t realize it would affect you.’”

Plus: “My jaw dropped. Eighty-thousand a year! I didn’t know that. I thought we were talking a small amount of money, something I could absorb.” Progressives don’t do the math. If they did, they wouldn’t be progressives.

WELL, IT’LL BE EASIER ONCE WE GET THOSE REACTIONLESS THRUSTERS UP TO SPEED: Europe’s Next Space Chief Wants a Moon Colony on the Lunar Far Side.

I DON’T KNOW, THEY’RE A POOR REPLACEMENT FOR MY GENERATOR: Tesla Home Battery Packs. Though the generator is for occasional outages, and these would be for power-rate arbitrage, buying at off-peak hours for a lower price to supply power at peak hours when prices are higher. Such batteries would also add resilience to the grid, which would be good.

FASTER, PLEASE: New test can predict cancer up to 13 years before disease develops: People who develop cancer have shorter telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes which protect the DNA. People have previously feared that artificially lengthening telomeres — which would tend to retard aging — might make cancer more likely. This suggests not.

IMMIGRATION: Disney Fires IT Staff En Masse, Replaces Them With H1-B Immigrants:

For the sponsoring company, what could be better? Management gets the compliant, lower-cost foreign labor often associated with outsourcing without having to deal with the hassles of unreliable remote monitoring or the overhead of having to open a satellite office in Bangalore.

But for foreign workers, there’s a catch: the employee is tied to the company that sponsors the visa. She cannot switch jobs, quit to found a startup, or indeed leave in protest of lower pay or dissatisfaction without forfeiting her immigration status. Moreover, upon termination, she is required to leave the country (unless, as is unlikely, she is able to find a second, established employer here in the U.S. to sponsor her directly).

A healthy U.S. immigration policy, as opposed to what we currently have, would encourage responsible levels of legal immigration, ideally adjustable to prevailing economic conditions, and have a high priority for skilled workers. It would also keep illegal immigration as low as is possible.

In addition, what a healthy immigration policy must not do—at either the low- or high-skilled level—is displace American jobs purely for corporate profit while at the same time creating an entire class of workers who do not enjoy the full rights of citizenship.

To many in our ruling class, this is not simply a feature, but the whole point. More here.

NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF SCIENCE: 170-year-old shipwrecked champagne much like bubbly today, study finds. “We were thinking the chemical composition of this wine would be very different from the composition of wines today. . . . But that was wrong. We have found that the wines were very similar.”

IN THE MAIL: From Nicole Goeser, Denied a Chance: How gun control helped a stalker murder my husband.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 723.

OBAMALAW?:  Al Sharpton is calling for the creation of a national police force.  And it looks like President Obama is considering the option.  While the federal government undoubtedly lacks a “police power” and the concomitant authority to create a national police force, it does have a “spending power,” implied from the Constitution’s enumerated power to levy taxes, and the Supreme Court has upheld the imposition of “strings,” or conditions, on the receipt of federal funds.

In the March 2015 Interim Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing--a group created by Obama’s executive order in the wake of the Ferguson incident –certain recommendations foretell plans to provide federal funding for state and local police, the receipt of which would be dependent upon such police departments meeting requirements established by the federal government, such as:

1.8.1 ACTION ITEM: The Federal Government should create a Law Enforcement Diversity Initiative designed to help communities diversify law enforcement departments to reflect the demographics of the community.

1.8.2 ACTION ITEM: The department overseeing this initiative should help localities learn best practices for recruitment, training, and outreach to improve the diversity as well as the cultural and linguistic responsiveness of law enforcement agencies.

1.8.4 ACTION ITEM: Discretionary federal funding for law enforcement programs could be influenced by that department’s efforts to improve their diversity and cultural and linguistic responsiveness.

2.1 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should collaborate with community members to develop policies and strategies in communities and neighborhoods disproportionately affected by crime for deploying resources that aim to reduce crime by improving relationships, greater community engagement, and cooperation.

2.2  RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should have comprehensive policies on the use of force that include training, investigations, prosecutions, data collection, and information sharing. These policies must be clear, concise, and openly available for public inspection.

2.6 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should be encouraged to collect, maintain, and analyze demographic data on all detentions (stops, frisks, searches, summons, and arrests). This data should be disaggregated by school and non-school contacts.

2.7.2 ACTION ITEM: The Federal Government should create a mechanism for investigating complaints and issuing sanctions regarding the inappropriate use of equipment and tactics during mass demonstrations.

7.1 RECOMMENDATION: The President should direct all federal law enforcement agencies to review the recommendations made by the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and, to the extent practicable, to adopt those that can be implemented at the federal level.

7.3 RECOMMENDATION: The U.S. Department of Justice should charge its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) with assisting the law enforcement field in addressing current and future challenges.

For recommendation 7.3, the COPS Office should consider taking actions including but not limited to the following:

•Create a National Policing Practices and Accountability Division within the COPS Office.
• Establish national benchmarks and best practices for federal, state, local, and tribal police departments.
• Provide technical assistance and funding to national, state, local,and tribal accreditation bodies that evaluate policing practices.
• Recommend additional benchmarks and best practices for state training and standards boards.
• Provide technical assistance and funding to state training boards to help them meet national benchmarks and best practices in training methodologies and content.
• Prioritize grant funding to departments meeting benchmarks

Many of the report’s recommendations are probably good ideas, but the worrisome part is that the Report contemplates federal control of local police practices via conditions placed on the receipt of federal funds.  This would allow the federal government to effectively “takeover” local police practices–something the Constitution clearly would not allow the feds to do directly.

President Obama, after receiving the Report, said, “I’m going to be asking Eric Holder and the Justice Department and his successor to go through all these recommendations so that we can start implementing them.”

This is one to watch, folks– dangerous constitutional territory.  State and local government can easily be coerced into adopting federal policies by dangling juicy federal funds in front of them.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Is the Lost Generation of Law School Graduates Still Lost?

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Riot-Plagued Baltimore’s Catastrophe Is Entirely Of The Democratic Party’s Own Making.

A few weeks ago, there was an election in Ferguson, Mo., the result of which was to treble the number of African Americans on that unhappy suburb’s city council. This was greeted in some corners with optimism — now, at last, the city’s black residents would have a chance to see to securing their own interests. This optimism flies in the face of evidence near — St. Louis — and far — Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco . . .

St. Louis has not had a Republican mayor since the 1940s, and in its most recent elections for the board of aldermen there was no Republican in the majority of the contests; the city is overwhelmingly Democratic, effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department. Baltimore has seen two Republicans sit in the mayor’s office since the 1920s — and none since the 1960s. Like St. Louis, it is effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department. Philadelphia has not elected a Republican mayor since 1948. The last Republican to be elected mayor of Detroit was congratulated on his victory by President Eisenhower. Atlanta, a city so corrupt that its public schools are organized as a criminal conspiracy against its children, last had a Republican mayor in the 19th century. Its municipal elections are officially nonpartisan, but the last Republican to run in Atlanta’s 13th congressional district did not manage to secure even 30 percent of the vote; Atlanta is effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department.

American cities are by and large Democratic-party monopolies, monopolies generally dominated by the so-called progressive wing of the party. The results have been catastrophic, and not only in poor black cities such as Baltimore and Detroit. Money can paper over some of the defects of progressivism in rich, white cities such as Portland and San Francisco, but those are pretty awful places to be non-white and non-rich, too: Blacks make up barely 9 percent of the population in San Francisco, but they represent 40 percent of those arrested for murder, and they are arrested for drug offenses at ten times their share of the population. Criminals make their own choices, sure, but you want to take a look at the racial disparity in educational outcomes and tell me that those low-income nine-year-olds in Wisconsin just need to buck up and bootstrap it? Black urban communities face institutional failure across the board every day. There are people who should be made to answer for that: What has Martin O’Malley to say for himself? What can Ed Rendell say for himself other than that he secured a great deal of investment for the richest square mile in Philadelphia? What has Nancy Pelosi done about the radical racial divide in San Francisco?

Why, blamed Republicans, of course. Plus: “Yes, Baltimore seems to have some police problems. But let us be clear about whose fecklessness and dishonesty we are talking about here: No Republican, and certainly no conservative, has left so much as a thumbprint on the public institutions of Baltimore in a generation. Baltimore’s police department is, like Detroit’s economy and Atlanta’s schools, the product of the progressive wing of the Democratic party enabled in no small part by black identity politics. This is entirely a left-wing project, and a Democratic-party project.”

Ruin follows them wherever they go — but hey, so do splendid opportunities for graft, so what do they care?

FLASHBACK: Haddock And Polsby On How Riots Occur.

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AYAAN HIRSI ALI: Islam ‘not a religion of peace,’ but could become one.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an outspoken critic of Islam, said Friday that the religion she once belonged to was not peaceful, and any politicians that claimed otherwise were not to be trusted.

Hirsi Ali made the remarks at the National Review Institute’s Idea Summit in Washington, D.C.

“Islam is not a religion of peace,” Hirsi Ali said, “but it can become a religion of peace.”

She went on to separate Muslims into three categories: jihadists, a moderate majority and reformers. Hirsi Ali said she had been a member of each group at some point in her life, and that “if there was an Islamic State when I was 15, 16, I probably would have joined it.”

She claimed that Islam is not peaceful, yet she described the majority of Muslims as observers who aren’t radical and who are being pulled in two directions — either by the jihadists or the reformers (also called “heretics,” according to Hirsi Ali).

But her speech on Friday was actually somewhat subdued from her usual style. Last November Hirsi Ali described modern feminism as being too focused on “trivial bull—-.” This time, however, she avoided such inflammatory remarks.

To be fair, Western feminists have been making that point for her ever since.

PROGRESS: University of North Carolina Votes to Remove Controversial Anti-Harassment Rule.

Earlier this week, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) Faculty Council voted to eliminate a university anti-harassment rule that’s been suspended since 2013. UNC’s Student Congress has also approved the change to this speech-restrictive policy, meaning that only UNC Chancellor Carol Folt is left to approve it. UNC law professor Richard Myers, a former federal prosecutor and outgoing chairman of the university’s Committee on Student Conduct, told the Faculty Council the rule was “unconstitutionally overbroad” and had been a source of tension for professors and student groups for a number of years.

As we previously reported, former UNC chancellor Holden Thorp suspended the rule in 2013—which prohibits “disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages or otherwise interferes” with another individual. The suspension came after student Landen Gambill was charged with violating the policy for publicly criticizing the university’s handling of her allegations of sexual assault against a fellow student.

FIRE gives this policy a “yellow light” rating in our Spotlight database, meaning the policy could be used to ban or excessively regulate speech protected by the First Amendment. As Professor Myers correctly stated, this rule is unconstitutionally overbroad because it is too subjective and can conceivably be applied to cover a wide range of speech.

FIRE is happy to see the necessary changes occurring at UNC in order to protect the First Amendment rights of all students. UNC should be proud of tackling this unconstitutional code and removing it from its Code of Conduct. If the Chancellor approves this change, the university will be in line for FIRE’s highest, “green light” rating. We very much hope to add UNC to our green light list, just as we did George Mason University recently!

I’d like to see college guides report on each school’s FIRE rating.

THE SECRET OF WHITE PRIVILEGE IS IGNORING ALL THAT CRAP: ‘Students of Color’ Group at Marquette Demands ‘White Privilege’ Classes. Marquette is really a mess these days, isn’t it? What the hell happened?

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Why men won’t marry you.

THAT KEEPS HAPPENING: Another Attack On Scott Walker Boomerangs.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Texas Tech Dean of Students: Due Process has a “Chilling Effect” on Justice at College.

Amy Murphy, the dean of students at Texas Tech, believes that giving students of her college the rights that they have access to has a “chilling effect” on people’s ability to accuse others of assault.

Murphy told Texas Tech’s college paper that, as a part of the Student Code of Conduct, students at the university do not have the right to confront their accuser. More than that, they cannot have a representative ask questions of the accuser at all, and cross-examination is simply not allowed.

According to Murphy, this process is a “learning experience” that “will be conducted in the least adversarial way possible.”

During Texas Tech hearings about alleged crimes, “students are not able to cross-examine witnesses, nor are the students’ advisers.”

“If cross-examination were to be allowed,” Murphy told the paper, “it would create a chilling effect for future possible reports.”

“We already have the information,” she explained.

Amy, you’re coming across kinda creepy here.

May 1, 2015

DIVERSITY IS OUR STRENGTH: Arrested Baltimore Cops: Three Black, 3 White, One Woman. Well, that’ll let the air out of one major narrative, though I’m sure this is explainable by privilege-osmosis or something.

UPDATE: Yep! “And there is no debate that tragically, black police officers often absorb the attitudes of their colleagues.” It’s from Salon’s Joan Walsh, natch.

SO IT’S TERRIBLE TO SHAME WOMEN FOR NOT BEING “BEACH-READY,” but it’s fine to mock men for having “Dadbods.” Because equality!

WHEN HIPSTER FETISHES COLLIDE: Tattoos Might Be Causing Apple Watches to Malfunction.

WELL, GOOD: Western Hemisphere Wipes Out Its Third Virus: Rubella. “The Americas have led the way when it comes to eradicating diseases. It was the first region in the world to eradicate smallpox in 1971 and then polio in 1994. And the PAHO already has its sights on another target. ‘With rubella under our belt, now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and finish the job of eliminating measles as well,’ Etienne said.”

CHEATERS GONNA CHEAT:  Britain has informed a U.N. sanctions panel that Iran is attempting to procure illicit nuclear materials.  But hey, I’m sure they won’t cheat on us.