November 27, 2014

CAR AND DRIVER: Massive Takata Airbag Recall: Everything You Need to Know, Including Full List of Affected Vehicles.

CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE: Pentagon Renaming “Illegal Combatants” as “Unprivileged Belligerents.” No, seriously. The Obama Administration seems determined to live up to every right-wing caricature. Hey, maybe those aren’t caricatures after all, then.

FIRST HUMAN TRIALS IN EBOLA VACCINE look promising.

THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED: Voter ID Laws Don’t Suppress Minority Voters.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Too much makeup sex led to millionaire’s restraining order.

VITAMIN D UPDATE: Low Vitamin D Tied to Higher Death Risk. “Many observational studies suggest that low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk for disease, but it is not clear if low vitamin D is a cause or an effect of poor health. Now a new study, using a technique called Mendelian randomization, provides persuasive evidence that low serum vitamin D itself increases the risk of death.”

WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING? Illegal immigrants to be eligible for Social Security, Medicare.

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THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: The ATF’s Fake Retail Stores, Bad Behavior… And Why It Only Came Out Because They Failed To Pay Rent.

WELL, YES: Where UVA Went Wrong: Students Need to See Rape as a Felony, Not Just a Campus Infraction. But treating it as a felony doesn’t create work for campus bureaucrats.

FIRE SALE: Amazon Fire Phone Price Drops Again. It’s not doing well. I’d wait for later versions.

GOPRO DEVELOPING camera-equipped drones.

Well, you can already get these GoPro-compatible drones. But I can see why GoPro wants to get into the act.

HOW PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS saved the Pilgrims.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 567.

ROBERT TRACINSKI: Dear Media: How Not to Screw Up the Next Ferguson.

I hate to say, “I told you so.” No, really, I hate it. The city of Ferguson, Missouri, is in flames yet again as angry mobs—largely composed of outside agitators—vent their rage against “the system” after a grand jury refused to indict a white police officer for shooting a young black man. All of that destruction could have been prevented if the media knew its own business and didn’t need constant reminders from people like me about how to report on the use of deadly force.

Specifically, I warned them about Zimmerman Amnesia, the dogged failure to learn from the media’s mistakes in reporting previous cases. . . .

The early reports were very clear that Michael Brown was a good, kind-hearted young man bound for college, that the shooting was totally unprovoked, that he was shot multiple times in the back, that he was executed in cold blood. Then the evidence, as it emerged, knocked down each of these claims one by one.

Cases involving the use of force tend to be messy, and getting at the facts is difficult. It requires a lot of sorting of competing claims, cross-examination and confrontation of witnesses, and a thorough review of the physical evidence, which often refutes the eyewitness testimony.

Two things: (1) They don’t want to do the work; and (2) They don’t mind peddling falsehoods so long as those falsehoods inflame the right people.

#FERGUSONSYLLABUS: Teaching Ferguson.

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THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Maryland’s Assistant Attorney General For Consumer Protection Falls For Urban Legend.

HMM. WHAT DOES THIS SAY ABOUT BARACK OBAMA’S PRESIDENCY? Elizabeth Drew: The Firing of Chuck Hagel.

While I had come to admire Hagel as a thoughtful man, there’s a question of whether anyone can make the leap from a senator’s office—with an average staff size of 34 people, to the Pentagon, the world’s largest institution, which employs about 26,000 personnel on site, plus about a half million overseas, plus an active military of about 1.5 million men and women. In general, transitions from Capitol Hill to a cabinet office, in either party, haven’t been markedly successful. The Pentagon has been a sinkhole of failures.

So if the transition from Senator to SecDef is too much, how about from Senator to Commander In Chief? The evidence would seem to support Drew’s position there, too . . . .

THE INSTA-WIFE: I Give Thanks for All the Men Cooking for Thanksgiving.

HOW TO GRILL YOUR ENTIRE THANKSGIVING DINNER. I cook the legs of lamb on the grill, but the turkey goes in the oven, as do the sides. That’s why I have a double-oven kitchen.

MARK RIPPETOE: Why You Should Make Strength Training Your New Year’s Resolution.

If you’re going to do that, you should pick up his book.

November 26, 2014

BOMBS FOR BUMS: Alleged plot included bombing Gateway Arch, killing St. Louis County prosecutor. “The men wanted to acquire two more bombs, the sources said, but could not afford to do it until one suspect’s girlfriend’s Electronic Benefit Transfer card was replenished.”

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DON SURBER: Caveman Liberalism.

JACOB SULLUM: Darren Wilson Would Have Been Acquitted, But He Should Have Been Indicted Anyway.

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BIG GOVERNMENT: How the Obama administration gives away military-grade weapons to local police. “In the weeks after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., images of officers training rifles on crowds of protesters from the turrets of armored vehicles became a potent symbol of the distrust between law enforcement and citizens in Ferguson — and elsewhere.”

Though, to be fair, in light of what’s happened in Ferguson since then, my initial distaste for that behavior has weakened somewhat.

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: The teenage girl with a bi-gender boyfriend who decides every morning what sex he wants to be.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Micrometer-scale structures built from DNA bricks.

BUT OF COURSE: F.D.A. to Require Calorie Count, Even for Popcorn at the Movies.

FASTER, PLEASE: Strange thrust: the unproven science that could propel our children into space.

THOMAS CROWN: Ways To Make White People Take Racism Seriously.

WHY APPLE failed to make sapphire iPhones.

SOME GOOD NEWS: Vandalized Ferguson bakery receives nearly $100K in online donations.

SELF-GRUBERING: Obama: “I just took an action to change the law.” Well, this should help the legal challenge to his immigration order . . . .

SO I SAW INTERSTELLAR LAST WEEKEND, AND I WAS GOING TO POST A REVIEW, but I’ve been busy and honestly I don’t have a lot of thoughts. It looked great on IMAX. The beginning and end were good; the middle not so much. I don’t expect Hollywood productions to get the orbital mechanics right, but good grief. . . . Overall, I give it about a 7. Parts were excellent, but I wish they’d spent as much time on story refinement as they probably did on deciding whether or not to include fake lens-flare in shots of Saturn’s rings.

SO WHY ALL THE FERGUSON HOOPLA? Last time the Dems and Sharpton made a big deal of a shooting, it was the Trayvon Martin case, hyped to keep up black turnout for 2012. But now there’s not an election. So why Ferguson, and why now? Polling indicates that most people aren’t all that sympathetic, and protests that tie up Interstates, etc. aren’t going to attract swing voters.

But it’s not about swing voters. It’s about the base. And it’s not about the Democratic Party’s base, but about certain leaders’ base within the Democratic Party. This may be best understood as an intra-party struggle. Obama is the champion of the urban-black wing of the party, and because of him that wing has been on top. But his star is fading, black voters are beginning to realize that they haven’t benefited economically, and the next Dem nominee — whether it’s Hillary Clinton, Jim Webb, or Elizabeth Warren — will be from the white gentry-liberal wing of the Democratic Party. The riots, the marches, the traffic-blocking are a way of telling them that the Sharpton wing is still a force to be reckoned with, and to improve its bargaining power between now and 2016. At least, that’s the only way this — not at all spontaneous — street theater makes sense.

WAPO: Documents And Evidence From The Ferguson Grand Jury Findings.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: The 5 Best and 5 Worst States to Get Caught Speeding.

#FEMALEPRIVILEGE: What if Guys Acted Like Girls on Instagram?

MASCULINITY, AT A GUESS: Zero Tolerance For What? “The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors on Tuesday unanimously committed to adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual assault – although the university hasn’t figured out what zero tolerance means.”

You want to show zero tolerance for rape? Report it to the police. Plus, from the comments:

If this is true, and i suspect it iS, then a zero-tolerance policy is likely to dissuade many students from even applying for admission to UVa. Who would want to risk expulsion for having a sexual relationship that could be misinterpreted, intentionally or otherwise, as sexual assault?

Indeed.

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Why are so many young men paying for sex? Well, it protects you from the Campus Sex Police.

IN THE MAIL: From Gregory Zuckerman, The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 566.

WHY UVA COULDN’T WIN:

I’ve spoken at length about the troubling impact that campus adjudication with limited due process can have on the lives of accused men. I’ve spoken less, however, about the other problem, which is how it can leave predators free to commit more rapes. Helping victims focus on their own healing may well be better for the victims; I’m not an expert, so I couldn’t say. But it’s probably worse for the future victims. Expelling a man may be a pretty big burden on him, but we’d really like to put an even bigger burden on people who gang-rape 18-year-old girls; we’d like to lock them up where they can’t get at any more 18-year-old girls. I’m at least open to arguments that a college disciplinary hearing is what we need to combat “non-consensual-kissing.” But it is ludicrously inadequate as either a punishment for, or a deterrent to, what allegedly happened in that fraternity house.

Do victims have a right to stay home and focus on themselves, while leaving the predators who did it at large to rape again? Do administrators have a right to focus on the victims, rather than the risk to the community? These are hard questions, and I’m not sure I have good answers. But I do worry that by bundling gang rape into the catch-all category of sexual assault, in the hopes of raising the offensiveness of groping women and otherwise forcing your unwanted attentions on their bodies, we are also reducing the seriousness with which we treat gang rape.

When a currency is inflated, it loses value. That applies to moral currency, too.

AUSTIN BAY: As The World Burns, Obama Fires Hagel. “Gates and Panetta demonstrated a commitment to U.S. defense, a commitment beyond dramatic gesture. Their post-Pentagon assessments of the Obama administration are both scathing. They see Obama as a political leader focused on his own political welfare. Obama is fixated on two figurative battlefields: domestic U.S. social justice/identity politics and the next news cycle. He is very good with words. He is very good at winning presidential election, but as for other deeds? Not so much. . . . A SecDef serves at the president’s pleasure. Contradicting your boss has risks, especially a boss with a brittle ego. Hagel is gone. The Islamic State, however, remains. The Islamic State will have to be convinced it’s a junior varsity. Vladimir Putin is a big-league player; he persists in waging an imperial war in Eastern Ukraine. China probes its Southeast Asian maritime border. Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons continues. Syria bleeds. Libya fragments. North Korea builds ICBM’s. Unless backed by demonstrated capabilities and the demonstrated will to act, dramatic gestures and words in the Washington Beltway do not affect these circumstances a whit.”

Related: Middle East Policy: The Other Huge Obama Disaster Of The Week.

CHANNELING YEATS. WELL, KINDA. James Delingpole: These Cambridge buttocks have restored my faith in the future of Western Civilisation.

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ROGER SIMON: The New York Times and Other Members of the Ferguson Hall of Shame. “That the photograph of Walter Duranty — the New York Times Moscow correspondent who deliberately whitewashed Stalin’s 1930s forced starvation of millions of Ukrainians and won the Pulitzer for it — still is on the newspaper’s wall of fame with their other prize winners is apparently no aberration. The New York Times has no moral center. In fact, it’s despicable. On November 24, they published the home address of Officer Darren Wilson.”

Plus: “Not quite cancer but pretty bad is Jay Nixon, the governor of Missouri. Not only did he attempt to prejudge the case, calling for Wilson’s head like some minor league Robespierre months before there was any evidence, but then, on the night of the grand jury announcement, after having brought in the National Guard, he goes completely AWOL and doesn’t use the Guards at all, leaving the poor store owners of Ferguson to fend for themselves, not to mention the police. Everyone got to watch the results on TV.”

WHO WANTS TO BE THE LAST CAREER TO DIE FOR A MISTAKEN PRESIDENCY? Hagel successor, with limited room to maneuver, will face quandary in Iraq, Syria. “The next defense secretary will also have to contend with a sometimes-tense relationship with the White House. Both of Hagel’s predecessors, Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, have criticized Obama’s handling of national security matters since leaving office and have complained of White House micromanagement of the military.”

The White House isn’t competent. But it is involved.

UPDATE: John Fund: Why Obama Is Finding It Hard to Get a New Defense Secretary.

IT’S NOT A CURE-ALL, BUT IT’S DEFINITELY SOMETHING I FAVOR: Brown Family Statement Vows Campaign for Police Body Cameras.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Student Mugged, Says He Deserved It Because of His ‘Privilege.’

HEY, REMEMBER WHEN HE HAD CONTROL OF BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS? Roll Call: Obama Wants Middle Class Aid Before Corporate Tax Breaks.

Meanwhile, I have a few proposals of my own.

HEY, I WAS SAYING THAT BACK IN 2009. Schumer says Democrats erred by passing ObamaCare. “Schumer says Democrats ‘blew the opportunity the American people gave them’ in the 2008 elections, a Democratic landslide, by focusing on healthcare reform instead of legislation to boost the middle class.”

Do tell. It’s almost as if helping the middle class wasn’t a priority.

HIGH-TECH LYNCHING: Ohio students want to ban fraternity based on anonymous social media posts.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Why College Is Necessary But Gets You Nowhere.

NO SURPRISE: Most Businesses Destroyed in Ferguson Minority Owned.

KURT SCHLICHTER: America, You’ve Been Grubered!

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REDACTED: How the NY Times whitewashed their Hagel coverage.

LEFTIES ALWAYS WANT TO ELIMINATE ALTERNATIVE POWER CENTERS IN ANY SYSTEM THEY CONTROL: UVA Faculty Want Abolition of Greek System, Emails Reveal.

REVIEW: David Lat’s new novel, Supreme Ambitions.

NOTHING SHADY ABOUT THAT: New York Times Publishes Darren Wilson’s Address.

THOUGHTS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: “Domestic violence is not a gendered issue. When it comes to violence in the family, women are just as violent as men, and until we stop acting like this is a men’s problem and start treating it like a problem women and men alike face, as both victims and perpetrators, we can never make things better. The ones who suffer most are the children who grow up in environments where hitting and other forms of abuse are how you solve problems or resolve frustrations. . . . I think our problem as men is our inability to see women as dangerous and violent, as if women are not fully grown adults capable of as much violence and abuse as we are. I’ve seen time and again, not just in myself but in other men, an almost complete inability to label a woman acting violently as an abuser.”

NOAH ROTHMAN: More evidence that the left wants to get into your bedroom.

The American right was at once mocked and feared by liberals for the scrutiny they devoted to the sex lives of average Americans. This impulse among conservatives culminated in George W. Bush’s administration’s unsuccessful attempt to enshrine heterosexual marriage into the U.S. Constitution.

The critiques of social conservatism in the last decade as prudish and meddling were well-founded, but that seems like a generation ago. As American conservatism continues to embrace a more libertarian view on those policies which relate to the policing of consensual relationships, the left has become consumed with supervising sexual activity and defining more and more of it as unconventional.

Mrs. Grundy self-identifies as feminist now.

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ELIANA JOHNSON: Henry Waxman’s Republican Heir: Jason Chaffetz hopes to land the kind of blows that Darrell Issa hasn’t been able to. To be fair, Waxman always had a lot of help from the press.

LUCY JEWEL: Indie Lawyering: A New Model for Solo and Small Firm Practice.

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DO STATINS protect people from air pollution?

FASTER, PLEASE: Remotely controlled magnetic nanoparticles stimulate stem cells to regenerate bones.

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INSIDE RUSSIA’S Baikonur Cosmodrome.

GANGSTER GOVERNMENT: Treasury: 2,500 documents ‘potentially’ show IRS sharing taxpayer data with White House.

ROBERT MERRY: Obama’s Big Ferguson Failure.

Related: Flames of Ferguson Illuminate Age of Obama. “When history remembers the Obama administration, the flames of Ferguson will light up our memories. It wasn’t just an AutoZone and Jade Nails burning up in the fires of Ferguson, it was also the ‘Hope’ of 2008 going up in smoke. Instead of hope, the age of Obama has been characterized by racial division and discord.”

UPDATE: “Communist agitators stirring up a civil rights protest sounds like a bad ‘60s flashback, but that’s just what happened last week in Ferguson, Missouri.”

WELL, SOMEBODY’S NOT HAPPY:

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 565.

WELL, WE CERTAINLY DON’T WANT MORE WHITE HOUSE IN IT: The Case for More Congress In American Foreign Policy.

At the same time, with our Libyan policy, like the country itself, in ruins, one has the sense that the Benghazi investigation missed the larger point. The United States participated in the overthrow of the Qaddafi government, largely on humanitarian grounds, but we were utterly unprepared for the aftermath. Libya is in chaos today, radical jihadi groups have proliferated in the ruins, Qaddafi’s arms and fighters have fanned out across North Africa and the Middle East, and arguably more Libyans have died as the result of the intervention than would have perished had we stayed home. On top of this, there are credible allegations that the U.S. had guaranteed Qaddafi’s safety when he gave up his WMD program. Did our intervention in Libya break a pledge, or did it reduce our ability to persuade other countries to abstain from WMD programs? Did the decision to intervene in Libya also mean that the U.S. was less ready and able to respond appropriately to the much greater humanitarian and strategic crisis that holds Syria in its grip? . . .

A review of our policy failure in Libya (or earlier ones in Iraq and elsewhere) isn’t just about second guessing and assigning blame. It is about making sure that the nation’s foreign policy infrastructure is up to the tasks that our turbulent century has set for us.

This is the investigation we needed after the Libya fiasco. Unfortunately, unless something changes we are unlikely to get it.

What we need to do at this point is begin to rethink the role of the Congress in American foreign policy. If there is one thing that has become clear since the end of the Cold War, it is that the United States needs to raise its game in foreign policy.

Yeah, that’s pretty obvious.

HE WAS A LOUSY CANDIDATE, BARELY CONFIRMED, BUT STILL SMARTER THAN HIS BOSS: Bumbling Start, White House Micromanagement Doomed Hagel. The big news is that you’re hearing this from the National Journal.

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DANA MILBANK: With Chuck Hagel’s departure, Obama is turning into George W. Bush. Most of Bush’s flaws, none of his virtues.

Plus: “Obama went on at great length about the ‘class and integrity’ of the ‘great friend’ he was pushing out the door, praising Hagel for everything from drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan to working to reduce sexual assaults. Only in passing did Obama mention the war that threatens to dominate the last two years of his presidency.”

Yeah, winning the war is job number one. Obama’s failure here will come to dominate his portrayal in history. The other stuff, not so much.

UPDATE: The New York Times Changes Its Story Deleting The Most Remarkable Thing About Chuck Hagel’s Firing.

Taken as a whole, the original New York Times story paints a pretty damning picture of the White House’s national security policy setting. Mr. Hagel, so long as he was a loyal foot soldier for the President, was okay even if he was on the outside of the White House cool kidz team.

But the moment Hagel spoke up on ISIS, contradicting the White House, it was game over.

In other words, Chuck Hagel was not fired for incompetence. He was fired for telling the truth on ISIS — calling it an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” thereby forcing Barack Obama to deal with a threat he very much would like to ignore.

It’s only made more interesting by the New York Times’s decision to complete delete that bit explaining the motivation for his firing.

Someone from the White House called them, presumably.

CHANGE: Great Lakes ice cover developing; Earliest in over 40 years.

But Fallen Angels was just a science fiction novel, you guys. Right? Guys?

HOW DO YOU SPELL SCAPEGOAT? H-A-G-E-L. “So Chuck Hagel has been fired as defense secretary. We were critical of his appointment, and opposed his confirmation by the Senate. But let’s be clear: Hagel has done what he was asked and what was expected of him at the Pentagon. To the degree he has deviated from the Obama White House line, he’s been more right than wrong (e.g., on the threat the Islamic State poses). So why has he been fired? Because the Obama White House needs a scapegoat. President George W, Bush fired Don Rumsfeld in connection with a change in strategy (the surge) and to bring in someone of independent stature. That’s not the case today. President Obama continues to want a Pentagon with weak leadership and little independence. There’s therefore no reason to expect the next two years of Obama foreign and defense policy to be any better than the past two.”

ED DRISCOLL: Season’s Greetings From Ferguson.

Note that The ACLU’s statement doesn’t criticize the Grand Jury’s decision.

Related: Ferguson Witness Told Investigators That Michael Brown Charged Cop “Like a Football Player. Head Down.” “The witness’s account of the unarmed Brown charging Wilson–even after he had been shot in the hand during a struggle at the cop’s patrol car–supports the officer’s contention that he fired a series of shots as Brown bore down on him.”

UPDATE: So, Hillary’s been awfully quiet. This, via Facebook, may explain why. I’d guess that Today Show viewers are her core demographic.

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Yeah, the margin seems huge, but it’s an online survey of Today viewers, not a poll. I suspect it would be a lot narrower if people hadn’t awakened to images of burning and looting, too.

Meanwhile, I went to the Today site to see if the number has updated, and now I can’t find the survey at all. I found a clip encouraging people to come to the site and vote, but either I’m just missing it or it’s been taken down.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, that’s not too far from this online poll at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. My guess is that this means the media coverage will drop off sharply.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 10.59.41 AM

MORE: And here’s a poll at NJ.com:

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 12.30.09 PM

POLL: Latino voters want more, more, more.

THE HILL: How Obama and Chuck Hagel reached the end of the line.

While aides described the departure as a mutual decision based on shifting priorities at the Department of Defense, there are signs that tensions between Hagel and the White House contributed to the personnel change.

Hagel struggled to break into the president’s tight-knit inner circle, and clashed with influential White House officials on key policy initiatives. His frequent rhetorical missteps contributed to perceptions he was out of sync with the West Wing.

Ultimately Hagel believed the pivot to combating ISIS represented a dramatic change from the types of reforms he had hoped to accomplish during his tenure at the Pentagon, aides said.

White House and Defense officials said Hagel was tapped to spearhead efforts like combating sexual assault in the ranks and trimming the Pentagon’s budget to deal with sequestration.

Yeah, I think their priorities were off a bit. Plus:

The steady stream of stories in recent weeks that suggested Hagel was having a difficult time penetrating the president’s inner circle carried echoes of Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, two past Defense secretaries who went on to write tell-all books critical of the president’s handling of defense policy.

Former Democratic aide Brent Budowsky said Democrats across the Capitol saw Hagel’s ouster as the latest example of “unprecedented” drama created by “too tight and too controlling of an inner circle.”

Translation: Valerie Jarrett.

IN LIGHT OF THE BILL COSBY STORIES, ANOTHER PROPOSED LAW: I suggest the Casting Couch Act of 2015. This would make it a felony to promise anyone an entertainment-industry position in exchange for sexual favors. Also, statutory damages of at least $100,000 per offense, and legal fees. Like campus sexual assault, this is a War On Women that must be stamped out with the Power Of The State!

Perhaps Kurt Schlichter can offer some related suggestions.