September 19, 2014

SOME PROMINENT LIBERALS ARE unhappy with the dumb campus sexual assault bill. Well, they should be. And some prominent Republicans — like Sens. Heller, Rubio, Grassley, & Ayotte — should be ashamed for backing this un-American legislation.

MORALE: The U.S. Navy Is Fading Away. “The U.S. Navy recently ran an opinion survey which confirmed that morale was low and getting worse, with a growing number of experienced sailors eager to get out of the navy. The most common gripe was the length of time spent at sea and the belief that those long voyages to distant waters were going to get longer. There was also growing disillusionment with navy leadership. Sailors saw senior officers more concerned with political correctness and ‘zero tolerance’ than with legitimate complaints of sailors and junior officers.”

When the “social justice warriors” take over the military, the real warriors are inclined to depart. Which may well be the plan.

JIMMY WALES, CALL YOUR OFFICE: Why Is Wikipedia Deleting All References To Neil Tyson’s Fabrication?

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO HAZE! Lawyer: UNM women’s soccer players forced to strip, drink alcohol, sprayed with urine. “Members of the UNM women’s soccer team are alleging they were hazed by teammates Sunday night. A victim’s parent confirmed to KOB Monday night that freshmen on the women’s soccer team were forced to strip naked, consume large amounts of alcohol and were sprayed with urine. One of the victims ended up in the hospital, according to UNM police, who also said someone called 911 just before midnight Sunday night to report the incident.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Regents OK raises up to 20% for UC chancellors.

REMY: The ISIS Crisis.

JOE PAPPALARDO: The Right (and Wrong) Way to Use Artillery: Ukraine Edition.

IN THE MAIL: From Alex Epstein, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Irwin Vise-Grip GrooveLock 8-Piece Plier Set, $58.99 (63% off).

And, also today only: Jurassic Park Trilogy on Blu-Ray: $29.99 (65% off).

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 498.

BIG NEWS FROM LAST NIGHT: Wisconsin Dem. Gubernatorial Candidate Mary Burke Blames Consultant For Campaign Plagiarism.

Was it Fareed Zakaria?

SO, BASICALLY, MSNBC MIGHT AS WELL HAVE JUST BROADCAST DIRTY LIMERICKS FOR SIX MONTHS: The Hill: Report: Bridge scandal probe finds no tie to Christie.

Federal officials on Thursday said they have not found information linking New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) to traffic lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, a move that could help Christie repair his political image if he decides to launch a 2016 White House bid.

While the Justice Department investigation into the 2013 lane closures that caused major traffic is ongoing, federal officials told NBC 4 New York they have so far uncovered no evidence Christie had knowledge of or directed the road closures.

“My experience with federal law enforcement is that once you reach critical mass if you don’t have it within nine months or so you’re not likely to ever get it,” former federal prosecutor Robert W. Ray, who is unaffiliated from the Christie investigation, told NBC 4.

Christie has repeatedly denied claims he knew about or was involved in the closures, which caused problems for drivers and Fort Lee, N.J., Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who didn’t endorse Christie’s reelection.

So much for this breathless Esquire story by Scott Raab and Lisa Brennan.

GREGG EASTERBROOK: What Happens When We All Live To 100?

Viewed globally, the lengthening of life spans seems independent of any single, specific event. It didn’t accelerate much as antibiotics and vaccines became common. Nor did it retreat much during wars or disease outbreaks. A graph of global life expectancy over time looks like an escalator rising smoothly. The trend holds, in most years, in individual nations rich and poor; the whole world is riding the escalator.

Projections of ever-longer life spans assume no incredible medical discoveries—rather, that the escalator ride simply continues. If anti-aging drugs or genetic therapies are found, the climb could accelerate. Centenarians may become the norm, rather than rarities who generate a headline in the local newspaper. . . .

If medical interventions to slow aging result in added years of reasonable fitness, life might extend in a sanguine manner, with most men and women living longer in good vigor, and also working longer, keeping pension and health-care subsidies under control. Indeed, the most-exciting work being done in longevity science concerns making the later years vibrant, as opposed to simply adding time at the end.

I wrote about this in Forbes back in 2009.

I DUNNO, WON’T THIS JUST ENCOURAGE THE SCOTS TO TRY AGAIN? Astronomers To Revisit Question Of Whether Pluto Is A Planet.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Colleges Give Students Academic Credit for Pushing Socialist Causes on Campus.

END-OF-SEASON DEALS on Pool & Spa Supplies.

Also, Backyard Birding & Wildlife Products.

INSTAVISION ON YOUTUBE: War on Men? Sexual Assault Hysteria Could Mean Fewer Male Students. I talk with the Washington Examiner’s Ashe Schow about campus sexual assault hysteria.

Plus, InstaVision acquires a new sponsor:

IT’S COME TO THIS: Exclusive: Angry with Washington, 1 in 4 Americans open to secession.

I suggest that federalism is the answer.

ARRH! Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Teacher Nicole Dufault charged with sex with 3 teen students at Columbia High School.

WAR ON WOMEN: Democratic Men Declare War On Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is coming under fire from her party — and male Democrats are hanging her out to dry.

Wasserman Schultz has become a liability to the DNC due to a string of gaffes, including one recently in Wisconsin that caused Democrats such a headache that she may no longer be welcome to campaign for the gubernatorial race in the state.

Wasserman Schultz has also drawn ire for focusing on her political ambitions ahead of DNC goals, Politico reported, and for attempting to get the DNC to buy her clothing for multiple events.

President Obama hasn’t liked Wasserman Schultz since 2011, when she complained to him that she couldn’t hire a donor’s daughter to the DNC. “Obama summed up his reaction to staff afterward: ‘Really?’” the article recounted.

Though Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., had a monthly lunch with Obama while he was DNC chair, Wasserman Schultz does not. She’s also not involved in strategy talks with Obama or the administration.

Obama is apparently also growing tired of Wasserman Schultz’s constant requests for photos with him.

After being asked Thursday if Obama had “complete confidence” in Wasserman Schultz, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said only that the president has “strong confidence” in her abilities.

After the 2012 election, several men in Obama’s inner circle wanted to replace Wasserman Schultz with a man — R.T. Rybak, a DNC vice chair and former mayor of Minneapolis.

Then-DNC executive director Patrick Gaspard, Obama’s re-election campaign manager Jim Messina, and political strategist David Plouffe all “intensely” debated the idea of replacing Wasserman Schultz.

And it appears the only reason they didn’t replace her was, according to the article, “the optics of Obama dropping a woman from the party leadership,” especially after they spent 2012 blaming Republicans of waging a “war on women.”

Well, that didn’t last.

EXPOSED: The Secret Mailing List of the Gaming Journalism Elite. It’s basically Journolist for people who didn’t go to Harvard. “The sight of journalists not only engaging in activism on behalf of their reporting subjects but also discouraging other reporters and editors from covering stories of interest to their readers will be disturbing to many in the industry, who have long suspected a persistent bias and unusual levels of co-operation and co-ordination from senior journalists.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: New Jersey Bill Would Freeze Tuition — at Private Colleges, Too. Well, academics tend to favor price controls, right?

SHOCKER: Audit finds U.S. Higher Education Act funding anti-Semitism at UCLA.

A CRACK IN THE WALL OF ABSOLUTE JUDICIAL IMMUNITY? No prosecutor? No defense lawyer? Judge allegedly held trial anyway; 3rd Circuit allows lawsuit. “A judge accused of trying two defendants without a prosecutor or defense lawyers may have shed his immunity to a civil rights suit, a federal appeals court has ruled.”

ANDREW KLAVAN: Is ISIS Islamic?

JULES CRITTENDEN ON IRAQ, BACK IN 2008:

This is not a simple war to understand, and it has been going on for decades. It has expressed itself with everything from low-grade terrorism to conventional war to nuclear threats, across multiple continents, and with many, seemingly unconnected, adversaries. Just the part of it we call the Iraq war has involved many different, and not always distinct, adversaries in numerous, overlapping conflicts. Faced with this kind of complexity, it isn’t so surprising that vague messages of “hope” and “change” resonate with the American public, and politicians vie for the right to own those terms.

The shallowness of the debate suggests our nation is in danger of failing the test of our time. The abstract circumstances of cause and consequence in this war have fostered an avoidance of reality in some quarters–and at some of the highest levels of our leadership, often quite nakedly for purposes of political gain. Would-be leaders would rather play to emotions than make the hard calculations that adulthood forces on us.

Iraq has become the central battlefield in the 21st century’s Islamic war, and may have been destined to be, with or without us. Lying geographically, ideologically, and culturally athwart the Middle East, rich in resources and boiling with rage long before we got there, it is the place where the war will either be settled or truly begun. It is a fitting role for the cradle of civilization to host a war in which the very progress of civilization is being challenged.

While there were terrible errors made in going to war in Iraq, the decision to go to war was not one of them. . . .

Five years on, the threat Saddam Hussein posed to regional stability–global stability, if you consider the resources he sought to control–has been neutralized. The toll in American and Iraqi lives to date may well have averted a far worse toll, though we can yet get the full accounting if we withdraw precipitously. The deadly influence of Iran remains limited by our presence in Iraq and by the still somewhat credible threat to use force against its nuclear ambitions. Iraqi genocide and the remaking of the map of the Middle East to the benefit of the Islamic Republic of Iran remain potent what-ifs.

The side benefits of the 2003 invasion included a briefly more compliant Iran and capitulation by Libya. The beacon of democracy shined, with successful, if sometimes problematic, democracies emerging in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon and with democratic movements making gains elsewhere in the Islamic world. Even the Palestinians had a crack at it and have learned that choices come with consequences. Those parties most threatened by civil order find themselves increasingly marginalized within the larger Islamic world, from Hamas in Gaza, to Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, to the Pakistani Taliban.

Yeah, well Obama pretty much threw all that away. Now he’s bringing us Iraq War II — halfhearted, on the cheap, and run by committee. And we’ll be very lucky indeed if, at the end of Obama’s presidency, things are as good in the Middle East as they were at the beginning of Obama’s presidency.

TRAIN WRECK UPDATE: Minnesota’s Biggest Obamacare Insurer Leaves Exchange. “PreferredOne was the least expensive insurer in the Minnesota’s state-run Obamacare exchange last year. It was also the most successful at signing up customers, capturing 59 percent of the state’s market for private plans, according to CBS Minnesota. And now it’s leaving the exchange, and the 30,000 people who had enrolled in its coverage.”

ALSO NO TO BECOMING VENEZUELA WITH A WORSE CLIMATE, I SUSPECT: Scotland Votes No On Independence.

SOMEHOW, IT’S NEVER A TEA PARTIER: Guy Who Threw Molotov Cocktail Into Congressman’s Office Was Active In Occupy Movement.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D):

For many feminists, questioning claims of rampant sexual violence in our society amounts to misogynist “rape denial.” However, if the CDC figures are to be taken at face value, then we must also conclude that, far from being a product of patriarchal violence against women, “rape culture” is a two-way street, with plenty of female perpetrators and male victims.

How could that be? After all, very few men in the CDC study were classified as victims of rape: 1.7 percent in their lifetime, and too few for a reliable estimate in the past year. But these numbers refer only to men who have been forced into anal sex or made to perform oral sex on another male. Nearly 7 percent of men, however, reported that at some point in their lives, they were “made to penetrate” another person—usually in reference to vaginal intercourse, receiving oral sex, or performing oral sex on a woman. This was not classified as rape, but as “other sexual violence.”

And now the real surprise: when asked about experiences in the last 12 months, men reported being “made to penetrate”—either by physical force or due to intoxication—at virtually the same rates as women reported rape (both 1.1 percent in 2010, and 1.7 and 1.6 respectively in 2011).

In other words, if being made to penetrate someone was counted as rape—and why shouldn’t it be?—then the headlines could have focused on a truly sensational CDC finding: that women rape men as often as men rape women.

Rape culture, indeed.

I LIKE IT THAT THEY’RE TAKING THE OFFENSIVE HERE: FIRE Mails First Amendment Warning to More Than 300 Colleges. “In a national certified mailing sent today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) warns the leaders of more than 300 of our nation’s largest and most prestigious public colleges and universities that they risk First Amendment lawsuits by continuing to maintain speech codes that violate student and faculty rights. . . . The letter informs college and university leaders about FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, announced in July with the filing of First Amendment lawsuits against Ohio University, Iowa State University, Chicago State University, and Citrus College in California. As the letter details, lawsuits will be filed against public colleges maintaining unconstitutional speech codes in each federal circuit. After each victory by ruling or settlement, FIRE will target another school in the same circuit—sending a message that unless public colleges obey the law, they will be sued.”

THAT’S FUNNY — IT SEEMS LIKE EVERY INSTITUTION CONTROLLED BY THE LEFT DOES: Science Has a Sexual Assault Problem.

September 18, 2014

CATHY YOUNG: Crying Rape: False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

IT’S NOT PLAGIARISM, SHE’S JUST, ER, REDISTRIBUTING INTELLECTUAL CAPITAL: Wisconsin Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Plagiarized Large Portions Of Jobs Plan.

FOR TOMORROW’S INSTAVISION, I ANTICIPATED THE MARKET RESPONSE TO CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT HYSTERIA. Here it is.

WHY #GAMERGATE MATTERS:

Finally, that framing of #GamerGate is precisely the kind of journalistic malpractice that created the firestorm in the first place. Gamers do not think girls are taking away their toys nor are they angry about women increasingly entering the industry, but they are tired of watching people who claim to be journalists pushing their particular social agenda, smearing people with the actions of the few trolls that exist in every community, and getting into bed with the subjects they cover.

Yes, the spark that ignited this firestorm involved the personal sexual activities of a female developer, but even then gamers were hardly concerned with her sexual proclivities, only the resultant conflict of interest her choice of partners had created. Rather than investigating if the accusations of malfeasance leveled against her and her partners had any merit, the games media sought to suppress any discussion of the issue at all. Were it not for that attempted censorship, the simmering pool of discontentment that had been building for so long within the community likely would not have been set ablaze. Then, rather than squelching that fire by admitting their mistakes and addressing gamers’ concerns, the gaming media effectively soaked themselves in gasoline and took a run through the flames by turning on their readers and maligning them as hateful misogynists.

As a result, we have people of all genders, races, and political persuasions banding together to demand objectivity and transparency in journalism, while pushing efforts that promote actual equality rather than the faux equality of outcomes and quotas. And despite the vehement attacks upon them, they have already succeeded in forcing several major outlets to re-examine their policies and in funding the efforts of a group the social justice crowd attempted to destroy.

The “social justice warrior” crowd isn’t about social justice. It’s about using race-and-gender talk to keep people in their place. In exchange for this, they get to cement their position on one of the lower rungs of the New Class.

PETER THIEL IS TRYING THE RIGHT THINGS: Technology Stalled in 1970: Peter Thiel says he’s trying to get entrepreneurs to go after bigger problems than the ones Silicon Valley is chasing. “[Twitter’s] specific success may be symptomatic of a general failure. Even though it improves our lives in certain ways, it is not enough to take our civilization to the next level. . . . You have to think of companies like Microsoft or Oracle or Hewlett-Packard as fundamentally bets against technology. They keep throwing off profits as long as nothing changes. Microsoft was a technology company in the ’80s and ’90s; in this decade you invest because you’re betting on the world not changing. Pharma companies are bets against innovation because they’re mostly just figuring out ways to extend the lifetime of patents and block small companies. All these companies that start as technological companies become antitechnological in character. Whether the world changes or not might vary from company to company, but if it turns out that these antitechnology companies are going to be good investments, that’s quite bad for our society.”

I had some kind-of-related thoughts here.

ED DRISCOLL: Barack Obama Transformed into Lyndon Johnson So Slowly, I Hardly Even Noticed.

AT AMAZON, deals on Generators & Portable Power for storm season.

Plus, bestsellers in Men’s Grooming.

JON GABRIEL: Obama Can’t Afford To Win In Iraq. “He can’t afford to. If the projection of American military power successfully solved the problem of Islamic terrorism, it would shatter Obama’s entire worldview.”

NOAH ROTHMAN: The Left’s War On Football. I’m torn. On the one hand, I understand they’re attacking it because it’s unacceptably masculine. On the other hand, the NFL has become such a bunch of PC pantywaists — remember when they caved to a lefty pressure campaign to get rid of Rush Limbaugh? — that I’m inclined to just let it burn.

SPYING: Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police, even with search warrants.

The move, announced with the publication of a new privacy policy tied to the release of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, amounts to an engineering solution to a legal quandary: Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that prevents the company — or anyone but the device’s owner — from gaining access to the vast troves of user data typically stored on smartphones or tablet computers.

The key is the encryption that Apple mobile devices automatically put in place when a user selects a passcode, making it difficult for anyone who lacks that passcode to access the information within, including photos, e-mails and recordings. Apple once maintained the ability to unlock some content on devices for legally binding police requests but will no longer do so for iOS 8, it said in the new privacy policy.

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said on its Web site. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

Security as a selling point. I think we’ll see more of this.

SPYING: Middle-School Dropout Codes Clever Chat Program That Foils NSA Spying.

DOESN’T ADVANCE THE NARRATIVE: Media Apathetic on Abuse Charges Against Soccer Star Hope Solo.

STEPHEN GREEN EXPLAINS THINGS TO THE SLATE CROWD: No, Jillian, Spanking Is Not Sex.

WAR ON TESTOSTERONE: F.D.A. Panel Backs Limits on Testosterone Drugs. “An expert panel voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday for the Food and Drug Administration to impose strict new limitations on the multibillion-dollar testosterone drug industry, recommending that the agency tighten labels for the medicines so they are not prescribed to men who only have problems related to aging, such as low energy and libido. The F.D.A. often takes the advice of such panels.” I’m leery of this stuff, but I have a friend who went on testosterone therapy 12 years ago and who says it changed his life.

AT AMAZON, Fall Deals on Men’s Shoes.

Also, shop the Tailgating Party Store.

WILL THE IPHONE 6′S CAMERA REVOLUTIONIZE FILMMAKING? “Amidst all the hoopla over the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and their motion processors, faster CPUs, and larger screens, it was also announced that Apple’s latest smartphones would have a much better camera. And while that’s great news for those looking to take less-wack selfies at the bar, the new video features that come along with it mean something else: a high-quality camera filmmakers—and those who aspire to be—can keep in their pockets.”

REGARDLESS, I’VE ALWAYS AVOIDED THEM. AND CYCLAMATES WERE THE ONLY ONES THAT EVER TASTED GOOD. Artificial sweeteners may leave their users glucose intolerant; Saccharin and other sweeteners alter the bacteria living in our guts.

“MEANWHILE, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY HAS TURNED INTO PEYTON PLACE.” Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Hillary Clinton, and the Democrats’ War On Women. “If the targets of back-biting were Republican women I have little doubt that the media would hop on the ‘war on women’ bandwagon. Really, why is poor Wasserman Shultz taking blame when the male president is responsible for the party’s bad fortunes? And how [many] of these ‘personal questions’ about Clinton have to do with her age — a sign of sexism in a world in which men grow distinguished and women grow old? (If you think this is pure silliness, you know how Republicans feel when accused of misogyny.)”

UPDATE: From the comments: “More like The Harper Valley PTA, it would seem.” Heh.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Novel multifunctional nanoparticle for diagnosis and therapy. “A variety of nanoparticles have been designed for multiple nanomedical purposes. An article at KurzweilAI.net presents news from UC Davis of a ‘nanoporphyrin’ platform for developing multifunctional nanoparticles based upon treelike dendrimer structures made using porphyrin, cholic acid, amino acids, and polyethylene glycol.”

BECAUSE THE PURPOSE OF THE WHOLE CAMPAIGN IS TO MAKE RULES FOR MEN, NOT RULES FOR WOMEN: Ashe Schow: Why is it ‘victim-blaming’ to suggest ways to defend against rape and sexual assault?

DID YOU BRING ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE? LA School District Reluctantly Gives Up The Grenade Launchers The Pentagon Gave Them. They’re keeping the military rifles and MRAP, though.


DONATED BLOOD AGAIN TODAY for the UT vs. Florida competition. (Yes, this is an old picture, because I forgot to get them to take one this time. But the process looks about the same). Once again, there were a lot more women donating than men. And once again, the questions they asked were more detailed than the last time. I was talking to Doug Weinstein the other day, when he’d just donated, and we concluded that we’d better keep giving because it seems like we’re pretty much the only ones left who are allowed to donate blood.

Seriously, all these Mad Cow Disease questions — is that really still a thing?

CHANGE: The People Who Organized Occupy Wall Street Are Now Suing Each Other.

WHAT REVIEWERS SAY ABOUT THE IPHONE 6 AND 6 PLUS.

THIS ISN’T COMFORTING: Australia Raids Thwarted ISIS Beheading Plot. “Police on Thursday said they thwarted a plot to carry out beheadings in Australia by supporters of the radical Islamic State group. They raided more than a dozen properties across Sydney and were holding six people and have identified the suspected ringleader, officials said.”

CHARLES COOKE: Forgiving Biden: Media that lean left will react differently to their friends than to their enemies. Gaffe by a Republican: Their inner bigotry is showing through the mask! Gaffe by a Dem: Meh, people misspeak sometimes.

GANGSTER GOVERNMENT: Department Of Justice, Media Matters Coordinate To Attack Reporter.

THE DEMOCRATS’ WAR ON WOMEN: How gender mattered in the rise and fall of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

CAMPUS SEX POLICE GETTING CREEPIER: “His questions were strictly about my relationship with her and my personal sex life.” If a University administrator asks about your sex life, end the discussion, lawyer up, and file a complaint.

Plus, there’s a good Title IX suit when a female professor tells an ex-girlfriend she’ll make a male student’s “life suck without him knowing why.”

IN THE MAIL: One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War.

Plus, today only: Timex Ironman Watches Starting at $27.99. I have an Ironman. Love the Indiglo feature.

And, also today only: One Year of Vogue Magazine plus a Free Clutch, $6.00 (95% off).

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 497.

WILL SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE CREATE A BANDWAGON EFFECT?

So, what will happen after tomorrow’s vote in Scotland? Success for “Yes” will likely give strength to independence movements elsewhere. In particular, it may encourage some of the more moderate regionalist and nationalist parties seeking forms of devolution and autonomy within the state to “up” their demands to full secession. A “yes” result in Scotland may strengthen those who oppose the constitutional stipulation that France, Italy, and Spain are indivisible, and trigger a “demonstration effect”, even if many of the pro-independence movements currently lack for the foreseeable future the political momentum or popular legitimacy necessary to realize their ambitions.

A “no” vote is very likely to strengthen the arguments of those who oppose independence and may similarly show the regions that they are better together within their states, especially in these trying economic times. However, it wouldn’t likely herald the end of efforts to achieve constitutional changes, either in Scotland or elsewhere. The pro-UK parties have all promised to grant the Scottish Parliament further constitutional powers if “no” wins. If they play their cards right, independence-seeking parties in France, Italy, and Spain may use this fact to pressure their national governments to do the same, strengthening demands to devolve even more powers.

Is it really imaginable today that if part of the United States genuinely wanted to secede, it would be stopped with the kind of violence we saw in the American Civil War?

A HEARTBEAT AWAY: Joe Biden Pulls Off A Gaffe Hat Trick.

Related: Remember When Slate Cared About Jewish Stereotypes?

INTERESTING: How Gangs Took Over Prisons.

AMAZON INTRODUCES A BUNCH OF NEW KINDLES. I like the Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition, where if the kids break it, they replace it free, no questions asked.

There’s also the new Fire HDX 8.9, designed to compete head-to-head with the iPad and Surface.

And the Kindle Voyage, designed to replace my Paperwhite, but with better display and extended battery life.

Plus, the Kindle Fire HD is just 99 bucks, and the base Kindle (now with touchscreen) is just $79.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: “Last year was a difficult one for college admissions — with institutions reporting more and more difficulty filling their classes.” This year is no better, and may turn out to be worse.

Who could have seen this coming?

IRS SCANDAL UPDATE: Koskinen: ‘Hard Drive Crashes Continue As We Speak.’ I’m sure they do.

A SMALL VICTORY IN THE WAR ON CAMPUS SEX: Clemson University is no longer prying into its students’ sex lives.

ED MORRISSEY: Fumbling The Ideological War Against ISIS. Maybe we should try calling them racists or something. That always seems to work.

THE STORY CHANGES: Delays contributed to patient deaths at veterans’ hospital, IG concedes.

Delays in receiving medical care contributed to patient deaths at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix, a top official in the agency’s inspector general’s office testified Wednesday.

Dr. John Daigh, assistant VA inspector general for healthcare inspections, acknowledged that patients were harmed by the long waits for treatment at the facility, where top administrators concocted phony appointment lists to hide the delays.

Daigh also said he could not “conclusively assert” that no patients died because they could not get timely care.

That language is crucial because the IG’s final report on patient deaths in Phoenix included a line that it could not “conclusively assert” any patients died because of the unacceptable delays documented in the investigation.

That phrase was not in draft versions of the report sent to top VA officials for comment and review. It only appeared in the final version published Aug. 26.

VA administrators seized on that phrase when they leaked a statement to the media before the final IG report was issued, touting the finding that deaths from delays could not be proven.

Richard Griffin, acting inspector general, was more reluctant than Daigh to concede harm to patients and possible patient deaths from delays.

Griffin said the lack of timely care “could have” contributed to patient deaths.

“It may have contributed to their death,” Griffin said as he was pressed for an answer by Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla. “But we can’t say conclusively it caused their deaths.”

Griffin was more definitive later in the hearing when questioned by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the committee.

“Can you conclusively say no deaths occurred from delays in care?”

“No,” Griffin replied. “We don’t know. It’s a causality thing.”

In other words, let’s not bicker and argue about who killed who. This is supposed to be a happy occasion!

AT LEAST SHE DIDN’T CALL THEM “SHYLOCKS” OR SOMETHING: Elizabeth Warren: It’s “Fair” to Compare Israel to Nazis.

I UNDERSTAND HARRY REID CARRIES BABY WIPES ON HIS PERSON AT ALL TIMES: Roll Call: Reid, Heller Push Proper Hygiene at Capitol Event.

IRS COMMISSIONER: Our Story On The IRS Scandal Isn’t Changing. It’s Just, You Know, Evolving Now And Then.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) commissioner denied Wednesday that his agency had an ever-shifting story when it came to former official Lois Lerner’s missing emails.

Republicans weren’t buying it.

John Koskinen, the IRS chief, used his testimony to rebut statements from a conservative group that the agency had back-ups of Lerner’s emails, and sought to explain why Lerner’s BlackBerry was wiped clean just months before she started getting questioned about the agency’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups.

Koskinen said that Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration was examining back-up tapes, which the IRS had routinely recycled before 2013, to see if any of Lerner’s emails could be retrieved.

Lerner’s old BlackBerry, Koskinen added, was recycled to protect confidential taxpayer information. The BlackBerry, Koskinen said, would have been little help to investigators anyway, because Lerner’s email was managed elsewhere.

“I’ve tried to tell you the truth every time I’ve been here,” Koskinen told a House Oversight subcommittee on Wednesday.

Koskinen’s Wednesday appearance was at least his fourth just before the Oversight panel since the agency said in June that a computer crash left it unable to locate an untold number of Lerner’s emails from 2009 to 2011.

Lerner, who formerly headed an IRS division overseeing tax-exempt groups, has long been the central figure in the agency’s Tea Party controversy.

I’ve taken a dislike to this Koskinen fellow. He seems sleazy even by DC standards.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Poll: Most Americans no longer think a college education is ‘very important.’ “Amid a national debate about the worth of a college education, a respected annual poll about the education views held by Americans has found that only 44 percent of Americans now believe that getting a college education is ‘very important’ — down from 75 percent four years ago.”

That’s a brutal decline. Add to this the threat posed by the campus rape panic — chasing women away with exaggerated claims of rape, and men with quite realistic fears of the Sex Police — and college recruiting will be increasingly difficult, I expect.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Police: New charges after woman visits alleged rape victim’s school.

A Montgomery County woman previously charged with statutory rape was arrested Friday after visiting the alleged victim’s school, according to police.

Jennifer Hodges was charged with violation of protection and contempt of court on top of her statutory rape charge. . . . Hodges was arrested for the statutory rape charge on June 19 and is set to appear in court Oct. 1. Hodges is also set to appear in court Sept. 24 for the violation of protection and contempt of court charges.

You know, you just see more of these stories all the time, it seems.

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR MITT ROMNEY, OFFICIOUS BUREAUCRATS WOULD BE PRYING INTO PEOPLE’S SEX LIVES. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Public university requires students to submit sexual history or face disciplinary action. “Clemson University is requiring students to reveal how many times they’ve had sex in the past month and with how many partners. In screenshots obtained exclusively by Campus Reform, the South Carolina university is asking students invasive and personal questions about their drinking habits and sex life as part of what they’ve billed as an online Title IX training course.”

REMEMBER WHEN DEMOCRATS WERE SAYING “LISTEN TO THE GENERALS?” Barack Obama silences generals on US ground troops in Iraq.

I’d really like our campaign against ISIS to succeed, but with our current leadership I’m not expecting much. I’ll be happy if we avoid a debacle. Also, surprised.

September 17, 2014

ROGER SIMON: Suppose They Gave a Climate Conference and Nobody Came. “Climate armageddon is a messianic cult based almost entirely on religion and faith and very little on science.”

$22 TRILLION, AND I DIDN’T EVEN GET A LOUSY T-SHIRT: The War on Poverty Has Been a Colossal Flop. “Since its beginning, U.S. taxpayers have spent $22 trillion on Johnson’s War on Poverty (in constant 2012 dollars). Adjusting for inflation, that’s three times more than was spent on all military wars since the American Revolution.”

If you think of it not as a program to eliminate poverty, but as a voter-farm for Democrats, it’s been fairly successful, though.

VICTORY HAS A THOUSAND FATHERS. DEFEAT HAS ONE MOTHER: DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Politico: Democrats turn on Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

AT AMAZON, Up to 30% off on Select Snowboards. Winter is coming. Also up to 30% off on Downhill Skis and on Ski Boots.

Plus, up to 40% off on Sunglasses.

J. CHRISTIAN ADAMS: ‘CATALIST’: Obama’s Database For Fundamentally Transforming America. “This tool, the Catalist database, was employed in the 2012 election. That election defied conventional wisdom: Mitt Romney sought and won independent voters overwhelmingly, but still lost. If you wondered why the conventional wisdom about independents and moderates didn’t seem so wise in 2012, the answer is Catalist.”

SCIENCE FICTION WRITER JOHN C. WRIGHT talks to the Honey Badger Brigade.

I read his City Beyond Time. It was good. I liked the way the Time Lords, in constantly rewriting history, got themselves in more and more trouble, sort of like central planners everywhere.

TO BE FAIR, THE FIRST AMENDMENT ALREADY DOES THAT: US law would safeguard free-speech rights to criticize business online. Many businesses, it’s true, don’t seem to understand this.

3 THINGS TO KNOW about NASA’s new private space contracts.

PETER BEINART: ‘Security Moms’ Are Back—and That’s Bad News for Democrats.

JACOB SULLUM: Gee, if only that Obama fellow showed the concern for constitutional niceties on warmaking that George W. Bush did.

To be more precise, Obama claims Congress already declared war on ISIS, although it surely did not realize it was doing that. Thirteen years ago this week, the president notes, Congress authorized George W. Bush “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”

It is hard to see how that Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) covers ISIS, which did not exist at the time and, although it used to be affiliated with Al Qaeda, has been repudiated and expelled by the latter organization. Defending Obama’s interpretation of the AUMF, former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger tells The New York Times you could “read the reference to 9/11 organizations to include all the evolving versions of radical jihadism.” Yes, you could read it that way, but not very plausibly.

In a speech last year, Obama argued that Congress should “refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate,” because “unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states.” You can’t say he didn’t warn us.

Obama has a back-up justification for the war against ISIS—or at least, the part of it that is happening in Iraq. “The 2002 Iraq AUMF would serve as an alternative statutory authority basis on which the president may rely for military action in Iraq,” the White House says. “Even so, our position on the 2002 AUMF hasn’t changed and we’d like to see it repealed.”

So here is another authority that Obama says he should not have but which he is nevertheless happy to use as a rationale to avoid a constitutionally required vote by Congress. Nor is that the only awkward part.

With the Obama presidency, it’s awkward parts all the way down.

ANOTHER CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT WITCH HUNT FAILS: DePauw Punishment Halted in Sex Case.

In the fifth consecutive decision on behalf of due process rights for an accused student (joining Xavier, St. Joe’s, Duke, and Marlboro College), Judge William Lawrence, a George W. Bush appointee, issued a preliminary injunction preventing DePauw University from proceeding with a two-semester suspension for sexual assault meted out to a student named Ben King.

Judge Lawrence’s decision was unusually comprehensive, but DePauw’s handling of this case was unusually bad.

Which is saying something.

COULD’VE BEEN WORSE. COULD’VE BEEN NICKELBACK: Apple’s Devious U2 Album Giveaway Is Even Worse Than Spam. You know what I’d really like? A version of iTunes that’s as good as iTunes was a few years ago. . . .

A MULTITUDE OF OPINIONS: Who Is Running Phony Cell Phone Towers Around The United States?

POLITICO: Fareed Zakaria, Plagiarist. “For years now, Zakaria has made a habit of borrowing facts, language and style from other sources without attributing the work to its original authors, and he has presented such material as if it were his own.”

AT AMAZON, Deals on Fall Coats.

Plus, Women’s Halloween Costumes. Instead of Slutty Nurse, Slutty Policewoman, etc., why not just Slutty McSlutSlut?

Also, Halloween Costumes for Men.