April 1, 2015

POLITICAL SCIENCE: ‘Expert’ Report That Persuaded Doctors to Oppose Fracking Written by Activist.

Harry Reid told me that all these anti-fracking groups are funded by Putin anyway.

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EUGENE VOLOKH: Many liberals’ (sensible) retreat from the old Justice Brennan/ACLU position on religious exemptions.

Many people, chiefly on the left, have criticized such laws, in large part on the grounds that RFRAs might let religious objectors claim exemptions from antidiscrimination law — especially with regard to state and local laws that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

That’s a plausible criticism, it seems to me, though I suspect a somewhat overstated one (and of course its merits turn on one’s views about just how important broad sexual orientation discrimination bans really are). And I agree that many backers of such RFRAs today support them in part because they sympathize with such religious objections, especially with regard to participation in same-sex weddings and commitment ceremonies.

But it’s helpful to note, I think, that, whatever the motivation of some backers of RFRA today, RFRAs largely implement the religious exemption rules that Justice Brennan and the ACLU had long argued for — and that Justice Brennan and the ACLU had sharply criticized Justice Scalia and others for overruling.

Maybe the ACLU and many in that movement have changed its mind on the subject. They are certainly entitled to do so. But it’s worth noting that there is something of a change of mind going on, and that perhaps some of the old criticisms of Justice Scalia — who wrote Employment Division v. Smith (1990), which largely overruled the religious exemption rules that Justice Brennan had advocated — should be retracted.

Yes, I’m so old that I can remember when all right-thinking people deplored Scalia’s Smith opinion and saw RFRA as a moral duty. But that was when cute, peyote-using Native Americans might benefit; now that it’s those beastly, mouth-breathing Christians in flyover country who might benefit, religious exemptions are obviously horrible.

HARRY POTTER: Someone Put Snape’s Scenes In Chronological Order And It Will Make You Feel Things. “Snape is a hero, and don’t say otherwise.”

MICHAEL Z. WILLIAMSON DISCOVERS that he is not a “real” science fiction fan.

SEN. TOM COTTON: How I Would Deal With Iran.

WELL, GOOD: Sprint Has Officially Saved RadioShack From Extinction.

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K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Racketeering Convictions In Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal.

SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE GEORGIA CHAPTER PRESIDENT: Arm Yourself Against The Police.

R.I.P.: Gary Dahl, Inventor of the Pet Rock, Dies at 78.

YEAH, BUT THEY’RE SUBSIDIZED FOR PURELY POLITICAL REASONS: MSNBC ratings crater as NBC looks for new direction. “Strident demagoguery may sell for a short period of time, but it has little staying power. In contrast, the talking head shows on Fox and CNN deal with dissent in a much more mature manner, and usually features more of it than MSNBC prime-time shows do. For that matter, Morning Joe has a much different dynamic than the channel’s prime-time shows, and it’s thriving.”

OUCH: Harry Reid: Extremism in the Defense of Fascism is No Vice.

THE PROBLEM WITH FAKE MEAT: It might be possible to create a burger that helps the environment and improves your health. But will it taste good enough to win over the masses?

I WONDER, ACTUALLY, IF THERE ISN’T MONEY TO BE MADE IN SUING THEM: Massive denial-of-service attack on GitHub tied to Chinese government.

EDUCATION: Why I Teach Plato to Plumbers: Liberal arts and the humanities aren’t just for the elite. “There are among future plumbers as many devotees of Plato as among the future wizards of Silicon Valley.”

THE NEW LINCOLN CONTINENTAL CONCEPT: “Take a Ford Taurus, rub it sparingly with the sad ham of luxury appliqué, and you get the Lincoln MKS. In fact, there may not have been a car more cynical in Ford’s repertoire since post-Malaise downsizing of the 1980s. Finally, Lincoln has decided to erase this blight upon its name, and if the new Continental concept car isn’t the blocky, presidential pomp machine the fashionably tattooed were hoping for, it’s certainly a step away from the baleen-waterfall-stache visual grammar Lincoln has been selling of late.” Okay, that’s not the highest praise. But it’s not bad looking, though this fake Lincoln is prettier.

IN THE MAIL: The Best 379 Colleges, 2015 Edition.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 692.

EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS FEW, OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRAFT, EXCELLENT: The Myth of Universal Pre-K: There is little proof that universal pre-K programs fulfill their promises for disadvantaged children.

The claim that investing a dollar in high-quality pre-K can save more than $7 down the line has been repeated so often it’s achieved the status of received wisdom.

The problem is that there’s no evidence that universal pre-K comes even close to its touted capacity to move the needle for disadvantaged children. Pre-K advocates widely cite two well-run demonstration projects from a half century ago – Perry Preschool and the Abecedarian Project – as proof that pre-K has lasting benefits for low-income kids. Perry Preschool, run from 1962 to 1967 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, placed a total of 64 three- and four-year-old poor children in morning preschool for two-and-a-half hours per day and made weekly home visits to their mothers. Abecedarian, run from 1972 to 1975 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, placed a total of 57 poor children in a full-time, full-year, high-quality childcare/preschool setting from infancy through age five. Both programs had major positive impacts on participants’ educational and life outcomes, sustained for decades into adulthood, with big economic benefits to society through lower social welfare costs, decreased crime rates and increased tax revenue over the lifetimes of program participants.

Skeptics point out that Perry and Abecedarian were small, boutique programs, carried out decades ago, with limited applicability to large-scale pre-K in 2015. But perhaps the most important problem is that the design of those programs bears little resemblance to pre-K – much less universal pre-K – in the first place. Perry could just as well have been called the Perry Home Visiting Project, since the weekly home visiting component of the program was at least as intensive as the 15-hours-per-week preschool part. And Abecedarian wasn’t even a pre-K: Children were enrolled full-time starting when they were infants, not at the preschool age of three or four. . . .

The unfortunate bottom line is that big scale-ups of “pre-K for all” are much more useful to politicians and the middle class than to the disadvantaged children most in need of help.

But they produce lots of unionized, Dem-voting public employees. Stay-at-home moms, on the other hand, show a disturbing tendency to vote Republican.

MARK HEMINGWAY: Meet the Men Behind Hillary Clinton’s Private ‘Spy Network.’

SMART DIPLOMACY: “There are still nearly two years left in Barack Obama’s presidency, but historians looking back on his record in foreign policy will surely identify one costly error: his refusal to follow through on the implied threat in stating that the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons would be a ‘red line.’”

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AUSTIN BAY: Evaluating the Pan-Arab “Joint Army.”

AN EVIL SO UNSELF-CONSCIOUS IT IS AN AWFUL PARODY OF INNOCENCE: Harry Reid is proud he lied about Mitt Romney’s taxes.

You know, if I were Mitt Romney, I’d put a million or so toward hiring some investigative journalists to ensure that Reid’s remaining years were uncomfortable.

ANDREW SULLIVAN: Blogging Nearly Killed Me. “He described the grueling pace that he maintained along with a small editorial staff.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: One-Third Of Federal Student Loan Borrowers Are Delinquent.

OPPOSING TOTALITARIANISM: Paper: Don’t ‘turn colleges into overseers of student sex lives.’

Colleges and universities in New York and, presumably, elsewhere shouldn’t enact “yes means yes” consent policies that force colleges to oversee student sex lives, according to an editorial in the New York Daily News.

The Daily News’ editorial page typically leans slightly to the Left (with the notable exception of endorsing Mitt Romney in 2012), which makes its editorial all the more interesting. The editorial comes on the heels of an op-ed by K.C. Johnson, who co-wrote the book on the Duke Lacrosse hoax, which expressed similar sentiments.

Given the quick debunking of the Rolling Stone article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, the Daily News editorial board suggests colleges rethink their current scorched-earth methods of handling campus sexual assault. Specifically, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s support of the controversial “yes means yes” consent policies that require college students to obtain “clear, unambiguous, knowing, informed and voluntary agreement” before each individual sexual act from kissing to touching to intercourse. These policies not only leave college students vulnerable if they cannot prove they obtained such consent, but also void consent if the accuser had been drinking.

“Nice idea, but unrealistic,” wrote the Daily News. “Without getting an openly stated yes and then another and another, a party who failed to get an explicitly positive response to the question, ‘May I?’ would be subject to sexual assault discipline. Even a thousand yeses might not suffice if a partner had been drinking, as does happen at college.”

The Daily News also faulted Cuomo’s policies for providing a “bill of rights” for students making accusations of sexual assault that provides no due-process rights for the accused. The editorial board also faulted Cuomo and President Obama for continuously citing the debunked statistic that one in five college women have been sexually assaulted.

How many politicians could survive an “affirmative consent” regime?

CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: Column: Rubio trying to restore 2nd Amendment rights of Washington DC residents.

Washington D.C. residents have never had any real Second Amendment rights, in a city where the violent crime rate is more than three times the national average, according to FBI’s Uniform Crime Report data.

Unless a resident has money and/or political influence, the ability to legally carry a firearm for self-defense is something most will never attain.

Each concealed carry permit must be personally approved by the chief of police, and the applicant must prove that their life is in danger.

The last count I saw — eight permits had been issued. Maybe by now they’re up to nine.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, want to restore the Second Amendment right of the District’s 658,893 residents, through the aptly titled bill “The Second Amendment Enforcement Act of 2015.”

Always nice to see civil rights legislation advance, despite all the hate in DC.

JUSTICE: Fired FBI agent pleads guilty to theft of heroin collected as evidence. “A former FBI agent in the Washington Field Office pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing heroin that had been collected as evidence, and in his first public comments, he apologized and warned against the scourge of drug addiction.”

The country’s in the very best of hands.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Danbury teacher charged with sexually assaulting student. “A Danbury High School teacher is accused of sexually assaulting and giving alcohol to a student. A first-year science teacher, 24-year-old Kayla Mooney, turned herself into Danbury police late Tuesday afternoon. She’d been on administrative leave for the last seven weeks while police investigated allegations that she had been engaging in inappropriate conduct with a student.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The Economist: More and more money is being spent on higher education. Too little is known about whether it is worth it.

The modern research university, a marriage of the Oxbridge college and the German research institute, was invented in America, and has become the gold standard for the world. Mass higher education started in America in the 19th century, spread to Europe and East Asia in the 20th and is now happening pretty much everywhere except sub-Saharan Africa. The global tertiary-enrolment ratio—the share of the student-age population at university—went up from 14% to 32% in the two decades to 2012; in that time, the number of countries with a ratio of more than half rose from five to 54. University enrolment is growing faster even than demand for that ultimate consumer good, the car. The hunger for degrees is understandable: these days they are a requirement for a decent job and an entry ticket to the middle class. . . .

If America were getting its money’s worth from higher education, that would be fine. On the research side, it probably is. In 2014, 19 of the 20 universities in the world that produced the most highly cited research papers were American. But on the educational side, the picture is less clear. American graduates score poorly in international numeracy and literacy rankings, and are slipping. In a recent study of academic achievement, 45% of American students made no gains in their first two years of university. Meanwhile, tuition fees have nearly doubled, in real terms, in 20 years. Student debt, at nearly $1.2 trillion, has surpassed credit-card debt and car loans.

None of this means that going to university is a bad investment for a student. A bachelor’s degree in America still yields, on average, a 15% return. But it is less clear whether the growing investment in tertiary education makes sense for society as a whole. If graduates earn more than non-graduates because their studies have made them more productive, then university education will boost economic growth and society should want more of it. Yet poor student scores suggest otherwise. So, too, does the testimony of employers. A recent study of recruitment by professional-services firms found that they took graduates from the most prestigious universities not because of what the candidates might have learned but because of those institutions’ tough selection procedures. In short, students could be paying vast sums merely to go through a very elaborate sorting mechanism.

If America’s universities are indeed poor value for money, why might that be? The main reason is that the market for higher education, like that for health care, does not work well. The government rewards universities for research, so that is what professors concentrate on. Students are looking for a degree from an institution that will impress employers; employers are interested primarily in the selectivity of the institution a candidate has attended. Since the value of a degree from a selective institution depends on its scarcity, good universities have little incentive to produce more graduates. And, in the absence of a clear measure of educational output, price becomes a proxy for quality. By charging more, good universities gain both revenue and prestige.

But value for students and society? “America’s market-based system of well-funded, highly differentiated universities can be of huge benefit to society if students learn the right stuff. If not, a great deal of money will be wasted.”

Do tell.

BUT THEY COVER FOR HILLARY INSTEAD: Mark Tapscott: Feds should have told national archivist of Clinton’s private email abuse. “State Department officials who briefed Secretary Hillary Clinton on administrative policies and procedures soon after she took office were obligated to inform her of federal laws and regulations requiring her to use an official email account for government business and to inform the national archivist if they believed she was not doing so thereafter. . . . Patrick F. Kennedy was under secretary for management under Clinton but it is not known whether he conducted the briefing of Clinton or was present during the discussion. He did not respond to a Washington Examiner request for comment.”

THE DEFIANCE OF THE MANDARIN CLASS: IRS chief to GOP: You can’t abolish us.

The IRS commissioner on Tuesday brushed aside GOP proposals to abolish his agency, insisting the U.S. would have to have a tax collector one way or another.

“You can call them something other than the IRS if that made you feel better,” the agency’s chief, John Koskinen, said after a speech at the National Press Club.

Republicans have heaped even more criticism upon the agency than usual over the last 22 months because of its improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) perhaps has made the most prominent calls to get rid of the IRS. While launching his presidential bid earlier in March, he floated the idea of “a simple flat tax that lets every American fill out his or her taxes on a postcard.”

“Imagine abolishing the IRS,” he added.

Koskinen said Tuesday that, even under the simplest of tax codes, the federal government would need an agency to collect revenue and administer the tax code, something Cruz’s own aides have also admitted.

“Somebody has to collect the money, and then somebody also has to make sure when you fill in the small card, you’re putting in the right numbers,” Koskinen said.

But Koskinen also said he understands why politicians seek to tap into public anger at the IRS.

Understands it? He embodies it.

March 31, 2015

IT’S EASIER WHEN YOU HAVE THE PRESS ON YOUR SIDE: Tim Carney: The Left wages total war; and then plays victim.

LEFTIES CAN’T HANDLE ARGUMENT: ‘Cut his mic off:’ “When I saw on Twitter in the past hour that MSNBC had cut Ryan Anderson’s mic off, I thought: Surely his mic wasn’t literally cut off. But, yes, yes, indeed it was – seeing is believing.”

WELL, TO BE FAIR, SHE HAD HAD THAT HEAD INJURY: Hillary Replied To Drone Email With Decorating Question.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Red Meat Is Not The Enemy. “All the warnings appear to have made a difference in our eating habits. Americans are eating less red meat today than any time since the 1970s. Doctors’ recommendations haven’t been ignored. We’re also doing a bit better in our consumption of vegetables. Our consumption of carbohydrates, like grains and sugar, however, has been on the rise. This is, in part, a result of our obsession with avoiding fats and red meat.”

OF COURSE THEY DO: Becket Adams: Reporters openly side against Indiana law.

BRAD TORGERSON: “Given the fact SF/F can reasonably argue for a consumer base that numbers at least five hundred million people world-wide, it’s a little strange that ‘real fans’ want to keep ‘the most prestigious award’ in the field to themselves. Or, perhaps it’s not strange at all.”

IT’S COME TO THIS: After 50 years of feminism, women want to fantasise about dominant men. You know, you could build a political campaign around this phenomenon if you were smart. Which probably means the GOP won’t. . . .

VOTING: Nigeria’s historic election just proved the world wrong.

For months, there were doubts that Nigeria would survive 2015. Headlines fixated on the winds of Boko Haram’s terrorism combining with the ethnic and religious tensions that divide the north and the south to create a storm of rampant violence that would tear the country apart. There was the expectation that Nigeria would burst into flames as a result of bullets being used to force political change instead of ballots, especially considering the massive election violence that erupted four years ago.

But over the weekend, Nigeria, a country of 170 million, gave the world a largely peaceful and credible election, with its most transparent vote to date. Retired Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) defeated incumbent Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the presidency. To Jonathan’s credit, he called the 72-year-old Buhari on Tuesday to concede. No doubt it is the mark of a functioning democracy when a losing candidate respects the results of a democratic election. Buhari’s victory was decisive: He won 54 percent of the vote to Jonathan’s 45 percent.

Everything’s great, except for this one sad fact: “This is is also the first time that Nigeria used biometric card-reading technology, to help cut back on vote fraud and rigging.” Such a triumph for democracy and the rule of law, marred by the use of racist voter ID.

IT DOES SEEM THAT WHEN I PASS SOMEONE WHO’S ON THE HIGHWAY TEXTING OR TALKING WHILE DRIVING, IT’S USUALLY SOMEONE WHO FITS THIS DESCRIPTION: Profiling the Distracted Driver: Young, Female and Solo. “Lone drivers were more than four times as likely to be talking on the phone as drivers carrying passengers, and women were more than twice as likely to be texting as men.”

WE LIVE IN PHALLOPHOBIC TIMES: Controversial Bull Statue Loses Its Manhood.

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THIS IS NOT A SURPRISE: Losing a job is always terrible. For workers over 50, it’s worse. Employers prefer to hire people who are cheaper and more malleable, which generally means younger. No matter how good and how secure your job seems, always have an exit strategy.

HEALTH: Fish Oil Claims Not Supported by Research. “The vast majority of clinical trials involving fish oil have found no evidence that it lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

YOU COULD BUILD A WHOLE TV SHOW AROUND THIS CONCEPT: Woman Poses as Lawyer, Makes Partner at Firm. “A woman used forged documents to pose as an estate lawyer for a decade and made partner at her small firm before her fraud was discovered, according to charges announced yesterday. Kimberly Kitchen was charged Thursday with forgery, unauthorized practice of law, and felony records tampering. State prosecutors contend Kitchen fooled BMZ Law by forging a law license, bar exam results, an email showing she attended Duquesne University law school, and a check for a state attorney registration fee.”

MYSTERIOUS CHILDHOOD PARALYSIS linked to a cold virus.

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FASTER, PLEASE: Israeli Company’s Vaccine Blocks 90% of Cancer Types. It’s designed to keep cancer from coming back.

ALL THE BEST TREATMENTS COME FROM BALD’S LEECHBOOK: 1000-year-old Anglo Saxon remedy kills hospital superbug MRSA. “The potion was tested on scraps of skin taken from mice infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This is an antibiotic-resistant version of the bacteria that causes styes, more commonly known as the hospital superbug MRSA. The potion killed 90 per cent of the bacteria. Vancomycin, the antibiotic generally used for MRSA, killed about the same proportion when it was added to the skin scraps.”

Plus: “A side effect was that it made the lab smell of garlic. ‘It was not unpleasant,’ says Harrison. ‘It’s all edible stuff. Everyone thought we were making lunch.’”

AN IDEA SO CRAZY, IT JUST MIGHT WORK: Maybe The Best Way To Stop All This Swatting Is To Have Fewer SWAT Teams?

I’M LUKEWARM ON THIS WHOLE INTERNET-OF-THINGS BUSINESS: IBM’s making a new business unit just for the Internet of Things.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Or, well, something. Cops: Teacher Had ‘Secret’ Thing With 11-Year-Old; Geraldine Alcorn allegedly planned to run away with her student.

READER BOOK PLUG: From D. Jason Fleming, Spring That Never Came.

“IT’S NOT A CAR:” Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Unveil Something New April 30.

NIGERIA: Muhammadu Buhari set for victory. There are some reports that Jonathan has conceded.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How Not To Catch A Cold On A Plane.

THE DAILY SHOW AUDIENCE MIGHT FORGIVE THE FIRST TWO, BUT THE LAST ONE HITS TOO CLOSE TO HOME: Jon Stewart’s ‘Daily Show’ Replacement Ignites Furor Over Past Tweets About ‘Jewish Chicks’, Israel and ‘Fat Chicks.’

SO PHYTOPLANKTON ARE ON DECLINE IN THE SOUTHERN OCEAN, and it’s “possibly because of climate change.” But the period in question, 1998 to 2014, is one in which there has been no global warming — it almost perfectly corresponds to the ever-lengthening “pause.” So how can “climate change” be producing short-term results when climate hasn’t been changing over that period?

HER INITIAL CLAIM, UNSURPRISINGLY, TURNS OUT TO BE A LIE: How many devices did Hillary Clinton actually have?

RICHARD EPSTEIN: Wanted: A Color-Blind Voting Rights Law. “What is clear, regrettably clear, is that maximizing black representation upsets the overall political configuration. The creation of more majority-minority districts will move the representatives of those districts to the left, given the strong level of black support for the Democratic Party. By the same token, the remaining majority-majority districts will become more conservative as their candidates for office need not worry about the political preferences of non-members. Looked at in the round, race-conscious rules in drawing district lines lead to increased polarization of politics. It is hard to see why the Equal Protection Clause requires this divisive form of politics.”

THE SOUL OF THE 21ST CENTURY DEMOCRATIC PARTY LAID BARE: Harry Reid’s appalling defense of his attack on Mitt Romney’s tax record.

“Romney didn’t win, did he?” Reid said in response to Bash’s question of whether he regretted what he had said about Romney.

Think about that logic for a minute. What Reid is saying is that it’s entirely immaterial whether what he said about Romney and his taxes was true. All that mattered was that Romney didn’t win.

This kind of thing is surprising only if you haven’t been paying attention. And it’s not as if Reid is an outlier here, except in terms of his honesty.

IN THE MAIL: Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 691.

BYRON YORK: Hillary Clinton Withheld Information From Congress. Now What Does Congress Do?

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Can Latin America Weather the Death of the Blue Model?

Some call it “The Second Machine Age,” some call it “post-Fordism,” and some herald the emerging “information economy.” But no matter what you call the coming change, the march of technology will require a fundamental reorganization of how human capital is deployed in the economy, and nobody quite knows how to prepare for it. Latin America is especially vulnerable, and while the region’s economic leaders are officially optimistic, there’s also an unmistakable note of fear. . . .

Moreno is right to be sounding the alarm bell. Latin America never really managed to develop a successful and inclusive social and economic system in the age of the blue model—the “First Machine Age” when industrialization supported armies of well-paid manufacturing workers and clerical employees. The first-world countries of Europe, North America, and Japan built an age of middle-class mass prosperity in those years—and Latin America mostly had its nose pressed to the window, looking on enviously from outside.

Now, a new industrial revolution is challenging the blue model Fordist utopias of the First World—and Latin America faces changes for which it is poorly prepared. Let’s hope some of Moreno’s good advice is taken, and it’s certainly likely that some Latin American economies (like Chile’s) will do better than others. But from the standpoint of geopolitics and foreign policy, the most likely outcome is that in a large number and perhaps a majority of those economies the challenges of transition will not be met, or at least will be met more slowly than in other parts of the world.

It’s expensive to have a greedy, dysfunctional political class. You can see that right here in America.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL: Harry Reid’s retirement makes sense, until he tries to explain it.

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HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: A revolt is growing as more people refuse to pay back student loans.

All is proceeding as I have foreseen. Make them dischargeable in bankruptcy after five or ten years, but charge a portion back to the recipient universities. And if any traditional university folks think that this sort of pressure will be limited to for-profit schools, they’re kidding themselves.

ASHE SCHOW: Why the Rolling Stone gang-rape story will never be labeled a hoax.

By now it’s clear that the brutal gang rape reported last November in Rolling Stone did not occur. I write that, knowing full well the backlash I could receive from not adding the caveat that something could still have happened to Jackie, the accuser in the story.

Activists have clung to the idea that something probably did happen to make a young woman tell a tale of a brutal gang rape and become a campus activist to keep the hoax claims isolated to a small subset. These same activists bent over backwards following the Charlottesville Police press conference last week to claim that Jackie probably wasn’t lying, because such a false accusation “flies in the face of statistics,” as one CNN panelist said. Of course, the statistic that only 2 percent of reported rapes are false – doubtful anyway – only applies to rapes actually reported to police, which this one was not.

But in any event, the faint possibility that Jackie may have suffered some other horrific event is not the reason this story will not be labeled a hoax by activists or most in the mainstream media.

No, the reason it will not be labeled a hoax comes from an anonymous McGill University student, using the pseudonym Aurora Dagny, who wrote last year that dogmatism is in part to blame for activists’ refusal to accept evidence contrary to their worldview.

“One way to define the difference between a regular belief and a sacred belief is that people who hold sacred beliefs think it is morally wrong for anyone to question those beliefs,” Dagny wrote. “If someone does question those beliefs, they’re not just being stupid or even depraved, they’re actively doing violence. They might as well be kicking a puppy. When people hold sacred beliefs, there is no disagreement without animosity.”

Because the activists behind the Rolling Stone story hold a “sacred belief” that thousands, perhaps even millions, of college students are sexually assaulted each year, any evidence to the contrary is seen as detrimental to the cause.

It’s why Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was able to continue calling Jackie a “victim” of a crime for which there is no proof. It’s why the University of Virginia’s president, Teresa Sullivan, and those responsible for vandalizing the fraternity named in the Rolling Stone article have not had to apologize for their rush to judgment.

This is too kind. Jackie, Gillibrand and Sullivan won’t apologize because they’re political liars, and they’re lying to a constituency that doesn’t care about the truth, and the press — which is part of that constituency to a large degree — won’t punish them for it.

Related: Cathy Young: Jackie Is A Serial Liar. Why Not Say it?

It is, of course, nearly impossible to prove a negative. Short of a surveillance tape documenting Jackie’s every movement, one cannot know for certain that she was never sexually assaulted at UVA. But the evidence against her is damning. It’s not simply that there was no party at Phi Kappa Si, the fraternity named by Jackie, anywhere near the time when she said she was attacked. It’s not simply that her account changed from forced oral sex to vaginal rape and from five assailants to seven, or that her friends saw no sign of her injuries after the alleged assault. What clinches the case is the overwhelming proof that “Drew,” Jackie’s date who supposedly orchestrated her rape, was Jackie’s own invention.

Back in the fall of 2012, Jackie’s friends knew “Drew” as “Haven Monahan,” an upperclassman who supposedly wanted to date her and with whom she encouraged them to exchange emails and text messages. However, an investigation by The Washington Post and other media last December found that “Haven’s” messages were fake; the phone numbers he used were registered to online services that allow texting via the Internet and redirecting calls, while his photo matches a former high school classmate of Jackie’s who lives in a different state. No “Haven Monahan” exists on the UVA campus or, apparently, anywhere in the United States (at least outside romance novels). The catfishing scheme seems to have been a ploy to get the attention of a male friend on whom Jackie had a crush—the same friend she called for help after the alleged assault.

Is it possible that someone sexually assaulted Jackie on the night when she claimed to be going out with her fictional suitor? Theoretically, yes. But it’s also clear that her credibility is as non-existent as “Haven Monahan.”

Moreover, the police investigation has debunked another one of Jackie’s claims: that in spring 2014, when she was already an anti-rape activist, some men harassed her in the street off-campus and threw a bottle that hit her face and (improbably) broke. Jackie said that her roommate picked glass out of a cut on her face; but the roommate disputes this and describes the injury as a scrape, likely from a fall. Jackie also said she called her mother immediately after that attack, but phone records show no such call.

Despite all this, Chief Longo wouldn’t call Jackie’s story a false allegation and even referred to her as “this survivor” (though amending it to the more neutral “or this complaining party”).

Meanwhile, in the CNN report on the March 23 press conference, anchor Brooke Baldwin, correspondent Sara Ganim and legal analyst Sunny Hostin were tripping over each other to assert that “we have to be very careful” not to brand Jackie a liar and that “she could have been sexually assaulted.” Hostin argued that the idea that Jackie made it all up “flies in the face of statistics,” because “only about 2 percent of rapes that are reported are false.”

This is a bogus statistic, which Hostin misattributed to the FBI. (According to FBI data, 8 to 9 percent of police reports of sexual assault are dismissed as “unfounded”; the reality of false rape reports is far more complicated, and it’s almost impossible to get a reliable estimate.) Even if it were true, it would say nothing about Jackie’s specific case. What’s more, statistics on false allegations generally refer to police reports or at least formal administrative complaints at a college—neither of which Jackie was willing to file.

CNN never mentioned the evidence that Jackie fabricated “Haven Monahan.” Neither did the New York Times, which said only that “the police were unable to track Mr. Monahan down.”

Jackie’s defenders argue that rape victims often change their stories because their recall is affected by trauma. It is true that memory, not just of traumatic events, can be unreliable; a victim may at various points give somewhat different descriptions of the offender or the attack. It is also true that, as writer Jessica Valenti argues, someone who tells the truth about being raped may lie to cover up embarrassing details (such as going to the rapist’s apartment to buy drugs).

None of that, however, requires us to suspend rational judgment and pretend that Jackie’s story is anything other than a fabrication. While Jackie is probably more troubled than malevolent, she is not the victim here. If there’s a victim, it’s Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity branded a nest of rapists, suspended and targeted for vandalism—as well as UVA Dean Nicole Eramo, whom the Rolling Stone story painted as a callous bureaucrat indifferent to Jackie’s plight.

Jackie lied, Erdely lied, Rolling Stone lied, Teresa Sullivan — at best — went along with a lie. All should face more consequences than they have so far experienced.

Plus: “For the rest of us, this episode shows how extreme and irrational ‘rape culture’ dogma has become, and how urgent it is to break its hold on public discourse. The current moral panic may be an overreaction to real problems of failure to support victims of sexual violence. But when truth becomes heresy, the pendulum has swung too far, with disastrous consequences for civil rights and basic justice.”

UPDATE: Ann Althouse says I should be calling for “more speech,” not “consequences.” The very first commenter on her post busts her on this, correctly:

The proper remedy for perjury is not “more speech”.

The proper remedy for filing a false police report is not “more speech”.

The proper remedy for slander is not “more speech”.

The proper remedy for all of the above are “consequences”.

Yes, “more speech” is a remedy for opinions one doesn’t like. When speech falls into the category of actions — which false accusations certainly do — it calls for more than simple talk as a response. (But note that Jackie was smart enough not to file a police report, though that should have been a tip-off). And I should note that the fraternity in question was the victim of violent mob action that was ginned up in part by the University of Virginia itself. Is the only remedy for officially-inspired thuggery “more speech?” No. That’s one remedy, but it’s not the only remedy, nor should it be.

THIS IS AN EASY SETUP FOR THE REPUBLICANS, IF THEY’RE SMART ENOUGH TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT: Roll Call: DCCC to Hit Republicans on College Campuses.

House Democrats will launch a series of attacks on Republicans over college affordability over the next two weeks, when members of Congress will fan out across the country for the Easter recess.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will hit 15 Republicans via advertisements in student newspapers at colleges and universities in their districts, according to a release provided first to CQ Roll Call. The ads attack these Republicans for not supporting Pell Grants — which provide funding for low-income students working toward undergraduate degrees.

The 15 members either voted for the House Republican budget — which calls for 10-year freeze to the maximum Pell Grant award, currently set at $5,775 — or, they voted against both the GOP budget and the budget submitted by House Democrats, which maintained funding levels for the Pell Grant program.

“The Republicans made a clear statement of their priorities by casting votes that would make it more expensive for young people to attend college — priorities that stand in stark contrast to Democrats,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in the release. “We will be using the first week of Congress’s April recess to remind voters just how out of touch Republicans are on college affordability.”

These are the Republicans targeted, and the schools where students will see ads.

The Republicans should respond with a bill freezing tuitions.

DOING JOBS AMERICANS WON’T AREN’T ALLOWED TO DO: Amazon tests delivery drones at secret Canada site after US frustration.

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED AGAINST BARACK OBAMA, WE’D HAVE POLITICIANS OBSESSED WITH ETHNIC PURITY. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! “A Brooklyn city councilwoman wants to know why ‘blocs’ of Asians are living in two Fort Greene housing projects — and suggested it would be ‘beneficial’ to assign housing by ethnic group.”

AT THIS POINT, NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN IS A BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Rabbi warns Obama against appeasing Iran.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a television host, author and political aspirant, will publish a full-page advertisement in The Washington Post on Tuesday urging President Obama not to “appease” Iran by signing a nuclear agreement.

The advertisement says Obama should be compared to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain if he signs an Iranian nuclear deal with a one-year “breakout” period.

Chamberlain signed an agreement to allow Nazi Germany to annex parts of Czechoslovakia in 1938, one year before it invaded Poland. Negotiators in the Iran talks are working on a deal meant to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon for at least one year if it pulls out of a deal.

“Do not sign a deal that allows the potentially catastrophic one-year-weapons-breakout period, which endangers the Middle East, America, and the world,” the ad reads.

The ad comes on the day of a deadline for the United States and five other world powers to reach an agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Bad deal.

REALLY? BOYCOTTING ISRAEL? The Virginia bar continues to disgrace itself.

SCOTT SHACKFORD: Indiana’s RFRA—and the Response—Is All About the Signaling: What the law actually says is mostly irrelevant in our cultural climate.

Actually, it’s mostly about satisfying the Democrats’ core constituencies’ bottomless desire to feel morally superior.

OH, OF COURSE NOT: State Department: No consequences for missing Iran deal deadline. Deadlines, Red Lines — consequences not an issue.

March 30, 2015

SPENCER KLAVAN: How Colleges Protect Their Students (Unless They’re Male, Conservative, or Jewish).

WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY: Woman Finds Kidney Donor — via Plea on Car Window.

WALTER OLSON: Obstruction of justice, the collectively bargained way.

ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS: Former 10th Mountain Division soldier aids Christian militias fighting ISIS.

THERE MUST BE SOME OTHER ERROR, IT SHOWS HIS BIRTHPLACE AS NAIROBI: The Hill: Autofill mistake exposes Obama’s passport data.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

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THE ADVANTAGES OF BEING IN MALIBU: Pepperdine’s Surf Chapel.

IS A BAD MARRIAGE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH?

AT AMAZON, take 30% off sunglasses. Summer is coming.

Plus, big savings on Storage & Organization Solutions.

SCIENCE: Survey Says: Middle Class Women Want To Get Laid.

VIDEO: Steve Crowder interviews Mark Rippetoe. Planet Fitness is mocked.

DIVE SITE: There’s a mysterious bomber at the bottom of Lake Mead. “The Overton Arm B-29 — named for the part of Lake Mead where it crashed in 1948 — tested a secret ballistic-missile guidance system. The nature of the test required a risky and dangerous flight. But a historic drought has lowered Lake Mead’s levels, and may soon give recreational divers access to the sunken bomber.”

SHE’D BE A FRESH FACE, AND NOT YOUR USUAL POLITICO: Nashville Tennessean: Vanderbilt’s Carol Swain ‘open’ to leading Tenn. GOP.

CHINA STILL CAN’T FRACK: “Beijing lays claim to the world’s largest shale gas reserves and third-largest shale oil reserves. Yet, as countries like Poland, Lithuania, Romania, South Africa, and the UK are all learning, simply possessing the resource isn’t enough. The American energy renaissance has not come gift-wrapped; rather it has been a product of a great number of favorable factors and innovative efforts.” It’s been so powerful that even Obama hasn’t been able to kill it.

AT AMAZON, shooting supplies.

Plus, deals on Fireproof Safes.

Also, take $25 off the Kindle Fire HD7 Kids’ Edition. Made extra tough, with parental controls and free kids’ content.

JET CARDS: THE NEW STATUS SYMBOL? Well, I’d like one, but not so much for the status as for the mobility.

A HISTORY OF WORLD WAR TWO, in 25 Airplanes.