November 24, 2014

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Obama’s Big Miscalculation.

Frank Fukuyama, no howling partisan, has tagged President Obama’s decision to circumvent Congress on immigration as a “bad call,” and while the President’s limited offer of a three-year temporary work authorization for people in the country illegally was not the worst or the most radical step he could have taken, Frank is right. This was the wrong step at the wrong time. At the very minimum, the President should have given the new Congress ninety days to act before going it alone. Failing to do so isn’t just a slap in the face of his Republican opponents; it is a slap in the face of the voters who no longer trust the President and his party on the big issues of national life.

If the new Congress proved unable or unwilling to act, the President’s step would have had at least an element of political legitimacy to it. As it is, this half-hearted, hobbled amnesty will likely join President Obama’s flawed health care law as a toxic legacy that will haunt the Democratic Party for years to come. Just as the President’s poor reputation was a millstone around the neck of many Democratic candidates in 2014, future Democratic candidates are going to run away from Obama’s memory, and their opponents will work to tag them with the heavy burden of a presidency that most Americans will want to forget. As a political brand, the name “Barack Obama” now risks drifting into Jimmy Carter territory and becoming a label that blights the prospects of the Democratic party and its candidates for years.

Moreover, as with the health care law, the President’s immigration policy doesn’t solve the underlying problems it addresses and makes the task of real reform more difficult. As often happens with our careful and deliberative President, he’s balanced so many concerns so nicely and split so many hairs so finely that the final product doesn’t get much done.

It’s almost as if he’s just not all that good at this Presidenting stuff.

WELL, WITH HILLARY IT’S MORE LIKE BEN-GAY AND GIN: Can any 2016 Democrat have that ‘new car smell’?

REPORTS THAT HE’LL BE REPLACED BY JONATHAN GRUBER ARE UNCONFIRMED: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel To Resign. I’m no Hagel fan, but he’s been one of the less-incompetent members of the team. There have been signs that he was being marginalized for quite a while.

Perhaps as a favor to Hillary, Obama will offer the job to Jim Webb. Or maybe it would be a favor to Elizabeth Warren. . . .

GOOD: Criminal Justice Reform Brings Together Liberals, Conservatives.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Asians Get The Ivy League’s Jewish Treatment.

ELIANA JOHNSON: Rand Paul Hires McConnell Finance Director. Paul seems more comfortable with inside game than his father was, which is a big boost for his chances of being elected, of course.

WELL, THAT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE DUMB: Michael Barone: Nobody is pushing Thomas Piketty’s policies to combat economic inequality. “America already has lots of economic redistribution. American voters evidently sense that more redistribution more would sap economic growth. They’re willing to throw a little to minimum wage earners, but they don’t want to kill the geese laying the golden eggs. Americans are not alone in feeling that way. You don’t see much demand for Piketty policies in other countries either.”

THIS IS SAD. Evelyn Rotier, matriarch of Rotier’s, dies at 94. I had lunch there the last time in was in Nashville, back in August.

SCIENCE: Women with workplace power are more depressed. Men, not so much.

Women with job authority — ones who have the ability to hire and fire people and influence over paychecks — also have significantly more symptoms of depression than women without this kind of power. At the same time, having job authority slightly decreased these symptoms in men.

The findings come from a study to be published in December’s Journal of Health and Social Behavior, authored by University of Texas at Austin sociologist Tetyana Pudrovska. While over the past few decades, there’s been an emphasis on getting more women into leadership roles, “surprisingly little empirical attention has been devoted to women’s experiences after they have obtained authority, and whether women automatically enjoyed the benefits on par with men,” Pudrovska said.

Hmm. We’ve already learned that women are on average less happy than they were in 1970. So perhaps this whole feminism project is about remaking society to suit the minority of women who are feminists, at the expense of the much greater number of women who are not.

UPDATE: From the comments:

I’ve seen many women succeed in the workplace, and it’s often because they married late or kids never happened (despite them wanting children). The long, uninterrupted career path is good for advancement but not necessarily happiness.

Likewise, this study was performed on Baby Boom women – the first wave to go into the workforce. The question is whether modern women would be just as depressed with leadership roles as previous women were, in an era wherein both men and women were not used to having woman bosses.

Good point — though on the female boss angle, preference for male over female bosses — especially among women — hasn’t declined.

Plus: “Feminism is a political herding mechanism for insecure women. It’s thus no surprise that (1) feminists tend to be insecure; and (2) they send messages that tend to enhance insecurity in other women.”

IF POLAND HAD NUKES, IT COULD SERVE AS A STABILIZING REGIONAL POWER IN THE FACE OF U.S. WEAKNESS: Finland feeling vulnerable amid Russian provocations.

YOU CAN’T JUDGE A MAN A FAILURE, EXCEPT IN REGARD TO WHAT HE’S TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH. Iran: Obama’s Biggest Failure Fails Again.

TMZ POLITICS SEEMS TO BE COVERING STUFF THAT OLD MEDIA WON’T:

Others are catching on:

Background here. I wonder how well he knows Bill Clinton?

Plus, Nancy Pelosi.

And a challenge:

Note: Not a verified TMZ account. . . .

MODERN MEDIA: Report: Bill Cosby’s Fixer at NBC Comes Forward. When it was Arkansas State Troopers, nobody believed this kind of story.

A COUPLE OF IDEAS FOR THE GOP IN RESPONDING TO OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION INITIATIVE: These would be embarrassing for Obama to veto, popular with the public, and a good idea anyway.

First, a much stricter prevailing-wage law for H1B visas, with big damages designed to make plaintiffs’ attorneys zero in on this area. You can import foreign help if you want, but you have to pay those Indian or Chinese software engineers the prevailing wage for American software engineers in Silicon Valley, rather than paying the pittance most companies pay now. (In one case, a Silicon Valley firm was paying $1.21 an hour.) There has been a lot of cheating on H1 visas, and this should help. The tech companies’ excuse for hiring immigrants is that they can’t find enough qualified Americans, not that they just want to pay sweatshop wages, though that excuse is bogus. Companies also draw out the H1B application process to keep workers under their thumbs and away from competitors, something called “handcuffing.” Maybe shortening the fuse on the application process there would be a good idea, too, or — again — creating damages that trial lawyers can exploit. (Most GOP types reflexively hate trial lawyers, but, like Kurt Schlichter, I think it’s better to have them working for you than against you). For more fun, make CEO’s and HR heads personally responsible for violations, a la Sarbanes-Oxley. . . .

Tech companies will hate this, but I don’t see any downside for Republicans in siding with employees against the super-wealthy of Silicon Valley. It might even split off some tech-industry support, dividing the Silicon Valley worker bees from the oligarchs. I have Democratic friends who work there and this is a really big issue among them. And who could be against paying a “living wage?” For added fun, have some hearings where fatcat Silicon Valley oligarchs are grilled about worker exploitation.

Second, a tax on remittances to Mexico and other countries from which we get a lot of illegal immigrants. Make it equal to the tax bracket of the average working American. Since they’re not paying taxes, it’s only fair for them to chip in while they’re earning money here. 25% sounds like a good number. And how can Obama veto a tax? Make him.

November 23, 2014

STEPHEN MILLER: Memo To Reince: Enough is Enough. Boycott NBC and ABC. “ABC and NBC have instituted a three-week blackout — on network broadcasts, websites and social media pages — of the devastating admissions of MIT economist Jonathan Gruber. The ACA architect repeatedly boasted of deceiving the American public about legislation that cost six million people their family doctor. This should be the final straw in any relationship the GOP and RNC leadership has with these networks, period. No more debates, no more appearances on ‘Meet The Press,’ ‘Morning Joe,’ or ‘This Week’ on ABC. . . . Boycott both NBC and ABC over failing to report on Gruber’s revelations and put CBS on final notice over the revelations that they coordinated with the Obama administration to tank Sharyl Attkisson’s Benghazi reporting. Network news is a dying religion becoming more ideologically rigid, forgoing any attempt to stay relevant in a media landscape that no longer needs them. Leave them behind. We’ve already shown that it works. Marginalize them and label them progressive news outlets and make them live by it. MSNBC came out of the progressive closet fully earlier this year and their ratings and web traffic got worse. Air America is no more and Current TV is now an unloved stepchild Al Gore gave away for oil money.”

UPDATE: A reader points out that ABC News did cover Gruber, though, of course, not in the saturation-bombing way they would have covered it if parties were reversed.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO LIE ABOUT RAPE: Man in Prison 19 Years Freed After Claim Recanted.

A man who had been in prison for nearly two decades was released from custody Thursday, two years after his supposed victim recanted allegations that he molested her.

Jerry Lee Brock, 55, had been in prison since his conviction for first-degree molestation in 1995. In 2012, the alleged victim, Regina Rush, came forward to say she made the whole thing up, partly as a way to get more attention from her mother.

Good grief.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Asians Get The Ivy League’s Jewish Treatment.

JUSTICE: Wrongly convicted man released from US prison after 39 years. “Jackson spent more time behind bars than any other exonerated inmate in US history: 39 years. His brother, also exonerated, served 27 years.”

IS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S PROBLEM a symptom of watching The West Wing? I’d say it’s more a symptom of watching House of Cards and wanting to emulate. . . .

BAR EXAM SCORE DECLINE increasingly appears to be coming from bar examiners.

CHARLES GLASSER ON FACEBOOK: “How awesome would it be if Warren gets the DNC nod and Rick Perry gets the RNC nod? Cowboys and Indians! (Sort of…).”

TOP GOOGLE ENGINEERS: Renewable Energy Simply Won’t Work.

Two highly qualified Google engineers who have spent years studying and trying to improve renewable energy technology have stated quite bluntly that renewables will never permit the human race to cut CO2 emissions to the levels demanded by climate activists. Whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation: such a thing is impossible.

Both men are Stanford PhDs, Ross Koningstein having trained in aerospace engineering and David Fork in applied physics. These aren’t guys who fiddle about with websites or data analytics or “technology” of that sort: they are real engineers who understand difficult maths and physics, and top-bracket even among that distinguished company. The duo were employed at Google on the RE

REIEEE Spectrum.

Well, there you are. The science is settled.

NOW THEY TELL US: Thousands of Iraq Chemical Weapons Destroyed in Open Air, Watchdog Says. “The United States recovered thousands of old chemical weapons in Iraq from 2004 to 2009 and destroyed almost all of them in secret and via open-air detonation, according to a written summary of its activities prepared by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international body that monitors implementation of the global chemical weapons treaty. The 30-page summary, prepared after quietly held meetings between the organization’s technical staff and American officials in Washington in 2009, was provided to The New York Times by the Pentagon on Friday.”

SHOULDN’T WE ABOLISH THE WHOLE BIOFUEL THING NOW THAT WE’RE SWIMMING IN DOMESTIC OIL? E.P.A. Postpones Setting Standards for Biofuel Blends.

FLASHBACK: The 1979 Toyota Celica Supra. Yeah, cars have gotten a lot better since 1979 — though, admittedly, that wasn’t exactly a peak year for automotive quality. That said, at $1500 more than an RX-7, this car was overpriced.

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YEAH, I SEE ‘EM IN MY YARD, AND I LIVE IN THE BURBS: Wild turkeys have made a comeback and are ruffling some suburban feathers. We get deer everywhere, too. Haven’t started shooting ‘em yet. Of course, if the supply of prey animals gets big enough, the predators will follow. Just ask David Baron.

CAR AND DRIVER COVERS the L.A. Auto Show.

I BLAME GLOBAL WARMING: Why Have Our Brains Started To Shrink?

BETTER INTERNET CONNECTIONS with laser wireless.

PRIVACY: In wake of Uber privacy scandal, Lyft announces data restrictions.

SARAH HOYT: Speaking Truth To Power. “One of the most fascinating conceits of our ruling powerful elites — be they in entertainment, politics, governance, jurisprudence or news reporting — is the often repeated assertion of being some kind of underdog ‘speaking truth to power.’ This comes with the concomitant illusion that anyone opposing them is paid by powerful interests. Never mind that the ones making the accusation are usually in positions of power and receive recognition all out of proportion to their achievements.”

IT’S COME TO THIS: SNL Snubs Obama, Mocks Executive Order.

IN THE MAIL: From Marcus Wynne, The Sword of Michael (Depossessionist).

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 563.

MY MONEY’S ON JIM WEBB, AT LEAST IF HE GETS A BETTER HAIRCUT: Democrats Need a Hillary Backup.

The Democratic presidential bench is looking a little thin these days, isn’t it? After Hillary Clinton, we have … um … Jim Webb, who I bet you can’t even remember what office he held, and outgoing Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who couldn’t even get his own lieutenant governor elected as his handpicked successor in a blue state. If anything happens to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee will effectively be taking out LeBron James to send in Pee-wee Herman.

But how big a problem is this? You don’t need a dozen good people on the bench, just one or two who could make a plausible run for the presidency. And those people tend not to emerge when there’s not much of a realistic shot at winning — for example, when you’ve got a high-profile candidate with great name recognition, primary experience and most of your party’s donor base sitting in their back pocket. Once Hillary wins or loses, other people will presumably start grooming themselves for a serious run, rather than make an idealistic attempt to pull the party leftward in the primaries or a long audition for the VP slot.

I’ve seen this argument made by smart people who know more about politics than I do, and part of me is convinced. But the other part of me wonders where those candidates are going to come from if Democrats remain confined to the deep-blue parts of the map. Those places are more populous, but less numerous, than the red states — which means fewer governors and congressmen to choose from. Especially because a few blue states have shown a penchant for electing Republican moderates to rein in their liberal legislatures.

Barack Obama aside, political talent has to be nurtured.

I think Barack could have done with a bit more nurturing himself.

SMOOTH OPERATOR: Obama Offers to Walk John Boehner’s Dog. Boehner Doesn’t Have a Dog.

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NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: As New Troops Head To Afghanistan, Worries Remain.

R.I.P., Marion Barry.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Watch as CNN pushes Josh Earnest to explain Obama’s immigration ‘flip-flop.’

Cuomo, who is the brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, questioned this line of thought, pushing the White House press secretary to explain what appears to be a pretty obvious “flip-flop.”

“[T]he president promised not to do this,” he said. “He kept saying, ‘I won’t take executive action.’ Everybody keeps showing the tapes of him doing it … And they said if you care about working with us, don’t do this. And then he did it. What’s the calculation?”

Earnest’s response? Blame House Republicans.

Gee, who could have seen that coming?

IT’S A HABIT THAT CAN BE UNLEARNED, THOUGH: MSNBC Shrill Is No Accident. It’s How Liberals Really Think. “Convinced that no intelligent, decent person could take conservatism seriously, liberals believe it is not necessary or even possible, when engaging conservative ideas, to go beyond diagnosing the psychological, moral or mental defects that cause people to espouse them.”

ED DRISCOLL: The Return of Original Sin: God and Manson at Gaia University. “Say what you will about Charles Manson, but he took the ‘warrior’ aspect of the phrase ‘Social Justice Warrior,’ not to mention the quasi-religious doomsday implications of that strange mindset, seriously.”

EVERYDAY HEROES: ‘If We Left, They Wouldn’t Have Nobody.’

When an assisted living home in California shut down last fall, many of its residents were left behind, with nowhere to go.

The staff at the Valley Springs Manor left when they stopped getting paid — except for cook Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez, the janitor.

“There was about 16 residents left behind, and we had a conversation in the kitchen, ‘What are we going to do?’ ” Rowland says.

“If we left, they wouldn’t have nobody,” the 34-year-old Alvarez says.

How can an assisted-living facility close and just leave the patients behind?

IT’S COME TO THIS: Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell Brawl Backstage at The View.

MICKEY KAUS ON OBAMA AND IMMIGRATION: Tomorrow’s Conventional Wisdom, Today!

November 22, 2014

WILL MORE BRITISH POLITICOS DEFECT TO THE UKIP? “A number of Conservative MPs are considering defecting but have agreed with the UKIP leadership that they will only do so if they have a chance of winning in 2015.” Hmm.

HOW ARE WE GOING TO TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE IF THE CONSEQUENCES ARE SO SMALL? No Prison for Lesbian Teacher, 24, Accused of Raping 17-Year-Old Girl.

IOWAHAWK ON OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION MOVE: Somewhere a legal immigrant engineer in his 10th year of paperwork and lawyers is on Orbitz shopping for flights back home.

Which leads to an idea for the GOP: How about legislation to refund the fees to legal immigrants who have applied over the past six years? Dare Obama to veto that. . . .

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FERGUSON: Members of New Black Panther Party Arrested In Gun, Bomb Plot. “As initially reported by CBS News, the men were suspected of acquiring explosives for pipe bombs that they planned to set off during protests in Ferguson, according to the official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the case.”

Let me guess — if that had happened, they would have blamed the Tea Party or something.

SMART DIPLOMACY: ‘Biden, get out’: Protesters heckle VP in Turkey. Hell, we don’t want him either.

DEROY MURDOCK: The Silence Of The Colored People.

Voters on Election Day chose Tim Scott as South Carolina’s U.S. senator. They also sent Utah’s Mia Love and Texas’ Will Hurd to the U.S. House of Representatives. Thus, the 114th Congress will include three black Republicans. This is a new high-water mark for black Americans.

Too bad the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People couldn’t care less. (America’s oldest civil-rights organization still plasters that retrograde expression all over its logo and website.)

NAACP has yet to congratulate, acknowledge, or even attack Scott, Love, and Hurd — now America’s three most powerful elected black Republicans. What you hear is the silence of the Colored People. Despite 10 separate requests for comment on this “advancement of colored people,” I could not squeeze a consonant out of NAACP’s Baltimore headquarters, its Washington, D.C. office, or even its Hollywood bureau. . . .

NAACP did issue a November 14 press release expressing its “strong support of the new Qualified Residential Mortgage rule” under the behemoth Dodd-Frank financial services law. The group praised the rejection of new down-payment rules for home loans. Who needs strong credit standards? What could go wrong?

NAACP has offered communiqués praising Obama’s new draconian carbon-dioxide regulations and even applauding LaJune Montgomery Tabron for becoming president of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. As for three black Republicans getting elected to Congress? Crickets.

The NAACP is just a race-based arm of the Democratic Party. Since nothing it says about these winners can help the Democrats, it says nothing.

SO I HAD LUNCH AT SONNY’S BBQ TODAY, AND IT WAS SAD. Today was their last day in business, as they’ve lost their lease and the restaurant will be torn down to build something fancier and more expensive. I don’t eat there all that much — mostly just when I’m running errands out that way on a Saturday — but the food’s always good, and the people are always friendly. Many of the folks I spoke to today had worked there for years, and they were clearly sad to leave. I’m sure they’ll find other restaurant jobs, but it’s kind of sad. And Sonny’s was also gun-friendly before that became a fad.

YEAH, MOSTLY: “Almost every time I’ve talked to a reporter has gone this way: they had already decided the narrative beforehand.” I can think of some exceptions to this, but not a whole lot.

UPDATE: A reader’s comment about dealing with the press in Iraq reminds me of Toby Harnden’s reporting on the reporters.

Harnden, by the way, has a new book out, Dead Men Risen: An Epic Story of War and Heroism in Afghanistan. Worth a read, I think.

NOTES FOR 400 hours of Richard Feynman’s Hughes Lectures.

SHUT UP, THEY EXPLAINED: Game Developers’ Association Calls 10,000 Tweeters ‘Harassers’–Including Kentucky Fried Chicken.

In a sign of how frenzied, panicky and intolerant the games industry establishment has become over the legitimate concerns of ordinary gamers, the International Game Developers’ Association branded some 10,425 Twitter accounts, including those of journalists, as harassment “offenders” in a humiliatingly ill-conceived attempt to provide a “blocking tool” to its members.

The blocking tool, which has been widely mocked online for its lack of sophistication and “blanket ban” approach, was assembled by Randi Harper, a persistent online agitator. The tool prevents users from seeing not only the tweets of users Harper has decided are implicated in harassment, but also many accounts who simply follow those users, by blocking a list of thousands of users with the use of an automated “bot.”

So indiscriminately has the block list been compiled that the IGDA’s own staff appear on it. Roberto Rosario, chair of the IGDA in Puerto Rico, is named on the list. In an acutely embarrassing moment for the Association, Rosario, who is not a GamerGate supporter, publicly threatened to resign unless his name was removed or the bot was disavowed.

Good grief.

UPDATE: From the comments: “They took the concept of “guilt by association” and created a software algorithm to apply it automatically using social media. Congrats! You invented a McCarthyism robot.” Well, to be fair, Twitter already had one of those.

YOU’LL STILL NEED TO BE PRETTY STRONG TO GET FAR WITH THESE, THOUGH: Scale A Glass Wall With Gecko-Inspired Adhesive On Your Hands. “The Stanford project here uses octagonal hand grips, linked to a foot support below. This allowed a 154 pound human to climb several feet up a sheer glass wall in 90 seconds. If climbing walls sounds like something the military is interested in, that’s because it is. DARPA has climbing projects for both robots and humans. Because that research is of a military nature, it also means that all the details aren’t public like they would be in a published research paper.”

QUIETER, PLEASE: This Tiny Engine Could Make Leaf Blowers Sound Less Like Jets. It’s a rotary.

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POLITICS: EU Parliament Wants To Break Up Google… Because It’s Big & American Or Something. “There’s no discussion about any actual harm… just the fact that some people don’t like the fact that the company is so big (and not European).”

THEY LOOK A LITTLE TOO MUCH LIKE DALEKS: Rise Of The Robot Security Guards.

SPYING: Local judge unseals hundreds of highly secret cell tracking court records; Stingray docs unsealed by North Carolina judge could prompt wave of new appeals. “According to the Charlotte Observer, the records seem to suggest that judges likely did not fully understand what they were authorizing. Law enforcement agencies nationwide have taken extraordinary steps to preserve stingray secrecy. As recently as this week, prosecutors in a Baltimore robbery case dropped key evidence that stemmed from stingray use rather than fully disclose how the device was used.”

A FULL-EMPLOYMENT ACT FOR LAWYERS: CU-Boulder facing Title IX lawsuit from male student suspended in sex assault case. “The student, identified in court documents only as ‘John Doe,’ says he was wrongfully accused and suspended for three semesters after a night of consensual sex. The lawsuit comes amid an unrelated U.S. Department of Education investigation into CU-Boulder, which began last summer when a female sexual assault victim complained CU didn’t do enough to protect her.” From the complaint: “CU-Boulder has created an environment where an accused male student is fundamentally denied due process by being prosecuted through the conduct process under a presumption of guilt.”

I’m beginning to think that this whole campus-sexual-assault thing was secretly instigated by Kurt Schlichter to undermine the higher education establishment and get campus constituencies fighting among themselves, while enriching lawyers.

And seeing as how the complaint against him originated when the woman “realized he’s just another douchy frat dude,” I’m going to suggest that plaintiff’s attorneys in college towns might want to send flyers directly to Greek Row. And maybe even sponsor educational seminars on Title IX. . .

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: While you were sleeping, Obama re-upped us for another year in Afghanistan. “Was Barack Obama conveniently waiting for after the midterm elections to add another year of combat duty to our tour in Afghanistan, or is this just a big coincidence?” Obama’s entire presidency will take place after the 2014 midters — except for what he’s saving until after the 2016 presidential election. You say “lame duck,” he says “more flexibility.”

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: This Japanese Muscle Suit is the real life Power Loader from Aliens. “The 12-pound wearable power-assist device is worn like a book bag and uses a mouthpiece for controls. Wearing it won’t make you suddenly be able to move buildings, but it does make moving larger everyday objects a little easier.”

Another way you can make lifting heavy things a little easier, of course, is by learning to lift heavy things.

SO IF YOU’RE FEELING DEPRESSED ABOUT OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION ACTION, or the situation in general, well, don’t be. Instead, read Kurt Schlichter’s Conservative Insurgency, and make your plans.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 562.

MORE ON THOSE “FOUND” EMAILS FROM LOIS LERNER. I’m cynical enough to suspect that they’ve been found for a long time, and the delay was to (1) get past the midterms; and (2) allow someone to vacuum the archives of any truly incriminating material.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Campus Rapes And Kangaroo Courts.

I’ve heard some version of this argument over and over in discussing campus rape prosecutions: “not a big deal, because this is not the government depriving you of your liberty, it’s just a help for victims to get away from their rapists, and nothing really bad happens to the boys.

In the first place, the government is pushing for these relaxed standards of evidence and due process, via Title IX, which means that this is the government doing something to you. Not putting you in prison, to be sure. But — and I hardly believe I have to say this — getting expelled on a sexual assault charge is, in fact, something very bad happening to you. I don’t know why people keep saying that this is “all” that happens, as if it were the educational equivalent of having to change hotels mid-vacation.

Read BuzzFeed’s account of what happened to men who went through these college disciplinary processes to see just how big this can be. One man lost his job after an anonymous caller notified them of his “convictions” — which were for “non-consensual kissing.” It can go on your permanent record, making it hard to get into grad school — you might possibly recover from a youthful bad grades, or plagiarism, but our society doesn’t offer much rehabilitation for sex offenders. You’ll probably lose credits, and for those attending selective schools, it seems likely to me that a man with such a notation on his record would have a hard time enrolling in another elite school.

When people say this is “no big deal,” how many of them would shrug off having this happen to them, on the basis of a hearing where the odds are stacked in favor of believing the accuser, and double standards are often rigorously applied? Which is to say: when two people who are equally drunk have sex, the girl can be presumed to be unable to consent—while the boy is held to be fully capable of determining her level of intoxication, and of making the informed decision not to have sex with someone too much the worse for wine. And this in the name of promoting equality between the genders.

It’s like there’s some entirely different agenda actually at work here.

EVE TUSHNET reviews The Last Days of Disco.

ONLY THE BEGINNING: Due process win: Swarthmore college settles lawsuit with accused student.

Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania has settled a lawsuit brought by a student accused of sexual assault, admitting the school acted unfairly in charging the student.

In April 2011, a student identified as John Doe shared a kiss and at a later date “consensual physical encounters” with another student identified as Jane Doe, according to the lawsuit filed earlier this year. On May 1, 2011, Jane came to John’s dorm room and initiated consensual sex. The lawsuit alleges Jane admitted she initiated the encounter.

But 19 months later, Jane reported the kiss and initial physical encounters to Swarthmore, saying she had been coerced. After a two-month investigation, the school closed the matter without bringing charges against John.

A few months later, in April 2013, two other students, according to the lawsuit, filed complaints with the Department of Education. These complaints had nothing to do with John Doe.

These complaints caused Swarthmore’s president to announce a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual assault. Just a few weeks later, John Doe’s case was re-opened.

Within a month, John alleges, the school re-opened the case, fast-tracked a hearing and found him guilty of sexual misconduct for an incident that happened two years earlier and had already been investigated and closed. John appealed.

On July 12, 2013, the Department of Education announced it would investigate Swarthmore based on the Title IX complaints unrelated to John. Four days later, according to John’s lawsuit, his appeal was denied.

In early 2014, John filed a lawsuit against Swarthmore alleging multiple violations of its own policies and denying him due process. . . .

Colleges and universities, anxious to be removed from the Department of Education’s list of Title IX investigations, are being incentivized to punish students rather than fairly investigate reports of campus sexual assault. It is terrible that John Doe lost months of his life battling this lawsuit that he could have spent getting an education — a potential detriment to his future earnings potential. His case should serve as a reminder for other colleges that if they treat accused students as guilty until proven innocent and deny them due process in kangaroo courts, they will be sued.

I hope it cost them plenty. And if I were a plaintiff’s attorney in a college town, I’d run “HAVE YOU BEEN FALSELY ACCUSED OF SEXUAL ASSAULT?” ads in the college newspaper on a regular basis.

YOU’VE BEEN GRUBERED! If You Like Your Obamacare Health Plan, You Can Keep It, If HHS Doesn’t Pick a New One For You. “Here’s a Friday Obamacare news-dump for you: In a 300-page regulatory proposal released late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare’s auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law’s exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you’d be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier. . . . It’s not just auto-reenrollment. It’s auto-reassignment. Basically, if you like your plan, but don’t go out of your way to intentionally re-enroll, the kind and wise folks at HHS or state health exchanges might just pick a new plan—perhaps with different doctors, clinics, cost structures, and benefit options—for you. And if you want to switch back? Good luck once open enrollment is closed. There’s always next year. A hassle? Maybe. But have faith: They know what’s best.”

WHAT ABOUT BILL CLINTON’S? Why Is Bill Cosby’s Career Over, But Terry Richardson’s Isn’t? Actually, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy — it’s as if there’s some sort of White Rape Privilege going on here . . . .

UPDATE: Various commenters point out that it’s unfair to put Woody Allen — who faced charges that seemed very dubious — in with the others. That’s a fair point.

HOW THE GOP CAN PLAY Amnesty Jiu-Jitsu.

November 21, 2014

THE INSTA-WIFE: Geeks On Strike?

PROFESSOR SAYS SHE CAN NO LONGER GIVE COMMON-SENSE ADVICE for fear of being accused of victim-blaming.

IT’S ‘COME TO THIS: The Rabid Equality Crowd Finally Outright Admits They Hate Testicles.

SPYING: Utah Considers Cutting Off Water to the NSA’s Monster Data Center.

AT AMAZON, Black Friday Deals Week in Toys & Games.

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ON A FRIDAY AFTERNOON, WHILE AMNESTY-TALK FILLS THE AIR AND WITH A FERGUSON JURY VERDICT IN THE OFFING. HOW CONVENIENT: 30,000 missing emails from IRS’ Lerner recovered.

More evidence of the Obama “dense pack” approach to scandals. Can I call ‘em, or what?

ATTENTION HOMESCHOOLERS, AND EVERYONE ELSE: Open Culture: The Harvard Classics: Download All 51 Volumes as Free eBooks.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: UC-Irvine Cuts Class by 29% in Bid for Top 20 Inaugural U.S. News Ranking.

Heh. Just the other day, the parody student newspaper at UT Law contained an announcement that our entering class next year would consist of a single student, recruited with a $1 million scholarship, in order to boost our US News selectivity ranking. . . .

DEVELOP NEW TESTS, DISCOVER NEW THINGS: Minivan crash test ‘among the worst we’ve ever seen.’ “A new series of crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) revealed troubling results for minivans that are often perceived as some of the safest vehicles on the road.”

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BEAM ME UP: NASA Just Set a New Quantum Teleportation Record of 15 Miles.

Of course, if you could actually teleport human-sized objects, we’d probably start with warheads. . . .

JAMES TARANTO KEEPS LOBBYING ME TO GIVE THIS A TRY: Bringing Sous Vide to the Home Cook.

I mean, it’s not like it’s especially expensive, I just haven’t ever felt sufficiently motivated.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Scientists: Be Lazy, Don’t Rake Leaves. The science is settled. You don’t want to be anti-science, do you?

LIFE IN THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: $4.15 Per Pound: Ground Beef Climbs to Another Record High. “Five years ago, in October 2009, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $2.177, according to the BLS.” Boy, it’s a good thing we haven’t had any inflation or this would be really bad.