THE HILL ON CPAC: Rand Paul Electrifies Conservative Base. Well, a libertarian who can do that might just have a shot.
March 7, 2014
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Party Schools — Years Of Fun Mostly At Other People’s Expense, But Not Much Learning.
YEAH, SCHEDULED BLOG POSTS WOULD DO THE SAME FOR ME: Woman’s auto-payments hid her death for six years. But not for six years.
THE CORDAIR FOLKS ARE OFFERING 25% off ON ART BY DALE MOMII, which includes some cool aviation pieces. Just tonight.
ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ: AWR Hawkins: Connecticut ‘Does Not Have the Balls’ to Enforce 2013 Gun Ban. Gun owners need to be sure not to dodge jury duty.
AT AMAZON, the St. Patrick’s Day Sale.
Plus, help decide which shows will become series with Amazon Pilot. Watch, choose, and influence the culture, all from the comfort of your own home.
I’M SURE IT’S GEORGE W. BUSH’S FAULT, SOMEHOW: Better Use Those Points: The Sad Decay of Frequent Flyer Programs.
If you’re a frequent flyer, you might have noticed that your miles don’t go as far as they used to. Spurred by rising costs–from fuel to flight training–and too many passengers with too many points, airlines are taking the pruning shears to their loyalty programs, cutting everything from the value of a mile to the perks their most elite flyers receive.
Why? The industry never really recovered from the massive downturn in business after the September 11 terrorist attacks, and over the past decade, airlines have been trying to squeeze every last penny out of their operations. First it was baggage fees, then came overpriced snacks and drinks. Frequent flyers were insulated from many of these costs, receiving free checked bags, first class upgrades, and free flights in exchange for loyalty, but now airlines are looking to their most loyal customers to help keep them in the black.
It started with United last fall, which made sweeping changes to the amount of points its Star Alliance members needed to upgrade or book flights. Now its Delta’s turn. The airline, which flies more people more places and has a fervent rewards fan base, rolled out a new policy that makes transcontinental and other upgrades even harder to obtain for its SkyMiles members. In addition, a new pricing scheme set to begin next year will make earning points significantly more difficult.
I’ve always said that frequent-flyer programs are a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie. When I was flying enough to be a Royal Medallion frequent flyer, I wasn’t looking for more chances to get on a plane. Making the experience more pleasant is better — but they don’t seem to be doing that, either. Personally, I’d pay a premium for more comfortable seats — though I’d pay a bigger premium for more reliable flights. That, alas seems the least likely perk of all.
DAVID BARON, CALL YOUR OFFICE: Washington state girl, 11, shoots cougar that stalked her brother. “11-year-old Shelby White fired a rifle at an emaciated female cougar estimated to weight a paltry 50 pounds. The animal appeared to be following her 14-year-old brother, Tanner, into their home before she shot the life-saving bullet. It was the third such death of a cougar on the Whites’ property in two weeks. Locals speculate the animals are starving and looking closer to humans for food.”
Love the picture.
BECAUSE THE DMCA IS LARGELY EVIL: Disappointing: DMCA Being Used To Make Feynman Lectures On Physics Less Accessible.
I’M INTERVIEWED IN U.S. NEWS about my book, The New School: How The Information Age Will Save American Education From Itself. Say, did I mention I have a book out?
WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Navy will deploy first ship with laser weapon this summer.
POPULAR SCIENCE USED TO BE MOSTLY ABOUT ROCKETS AND STUFF. NOW: How Men Learn (Or Don’t) About Menstruation. But at least the sample is scientific, right? “In their research, the scientists asked 23 young adult men — a largely white, suburban group of 18 to 24-year-olds who had signed up for a college course on human sexuality — about their experiences learning about menstruation.” Uh huh. Broad and deep.
MARK RIPPETOE: Maybe You Should Gain Weight. “The bottom line: bigger and more muscular looks better than smaller and less muscular. Further, more muscular is healthier, stronger, and more useful than less muscular.”
MY VIEWS ON LIBEL ARE PRETTY RELAXED, BUT THIS SEEMS LIBELOUS TO ME: AP smears Trail Life boys with misleading ‘Nazi’ photo. Made worse by a false caption. And the delay in fixing the error once it was pointed out seems like reckless disregard. But hey, smearing kids in the service of a political agenda is par for the course, these days. #Journalism.
ALL WE NEED IS A PRESIDENT WILLING TO USE IT: America’s Energy Weapon. “The US’s energy power, a product of the shale revolution, is what the Kremlin fears most.”
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo are both Democrats, but they couldn’t stand further apart when it comes to charters. On the stump de Blasio promised to end the city’s practice of allowing charter schools free co-location in empty space in public schools, and to restrict the creation of new schools. Cuomo, on the other hand, has joined Democrats like Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel to champion charters as a common-sense education reform.
The two appeared at competing rallies in Albany on Tuesday. De Blasio’s rally in support of a higher tax on wealthy New Yorkers was not specifically targeted at education, but across town, Andrew Cuomo joined Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz at a different rally promoting charter schools. Although de Blasio downplayed the significance of the charter rally, it’s a big deal. Moskowitz is his chief opponent in the charter school co-location fight. Indeed, de Blasio specifically mentioned the need to reduce Moskowitz’s influence as a reson for the policy shift, and Moskowitz has responded with plenty of harsh words of her own. By appearing at the rally, Cuomo effectively endorsed de Blasio’s biggest rival. And he’s not just a silent partner; he spoke forcefully about the need to protect charter schools. . . .
New York is quickly becoming the chief battleground between the Democratic Party’s liberal and moderate wings. The competition between these two men can tell us a good deal about whether the far-left wing of the Democratic party can successfully pull the moderates in their direction and influence the party’s agenda. If they succeed, it could be good news for the GOP come 2016.
Yeah, the GOP should probably be cheering de Blasio on, as he leaves a trail of blue wreckage. The worse it gets in New York, the starker the message.
NOT FLATTERING: How Iran’s Rulers See Obama. “Iran’s rulers are watching Obama lurch from crisis to crisis, and they’re not impressed. Indeed, if this cartoon is a window into their thinking, it’s a safe bet that Tehran is already planning to walk away from the ‘interim’ deal now that it has loosened the global sanctions that had been crimping Iran’s economy.”
Plus: Charles Krauthammer: The Wages Of Weakness. Obama cares about consolidating Democratic power domestically. He’s not interested in what happens abroad, except to the extent it impacts that. And now that he’s been re-elected, he has more flexibility.
JAMES TARANTO: Nuclear Fallout: Democrats filibuster an Obama nominee.
The 47-52 procedural vote that blocked the nomination of Debo Adegbile as assistant attorney general for civil rights was actually bipartisan, with “no” votes coming from all 44 Republicans who were present. But because of a recent Senate rule change, pushed through by Majority Leader Harry Reid, the GOP can’t block a nominee without Democratic help.
It was in November that Reid and the Democrats invoked the so-called nuclear option, depriving the Republicans of their ability to block nominations on what is called a cloture vote–a vote to end debate and bring the nomination to the floor. Before the change, it took 60 “yes” votes to invoke cloture, so that a unified minority party with at least 41 seats could prevent nominations from coming to the floor. Democrats have held the majority throughout Obama’s presidency, but they’ve been below the 60-vote threshold for most of that time. Under the new practice, a simple majority is enough to break a filibuster, so that cloture is tantamount to confirmation.
That means that if the Democratic majority stays unified (or has few enough defections–currently five–to leave a majority in support), it can confirm any Obama nominee. The flip side, as we noted in November, is that one day Senate Democrats will find themselves in the minority, unable to block a Republican president’s nominees. But a smaller unintended consequence came into view yesterday. As the Hill’s Meredith Shiner notes, an effect of the majority rule is “squarely putting the burden of confirmation on the majority and politically exposing the most vulnerable members of that majority.”
Oft evil will shall evil mar.
THEATRICS: Rep. Issa on IRS hearing: I followed the rules, Rep. Cummings threw a ‘hissy fit.’ Cumming’s hissy fit was intended to give the press something to report on besides the fact that Lois Lerner took the Fifth again, undermining the White House’s “phony scandal” claims. Cummings was going to do that no matter what happened — that’s basically his job on the Committee, as the White House’s water boy — and the press was going to pick up on whatever he did because they’re water boys too.
By ignoring the absurd theatrics of the Congressional Black Caucus, Boehner and Issa are making clear that they’re serious, and won’t be rolled here. I think that’s good.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Law School Applicants From Top Colleges Plunge 36%.
THESE GUYS JUST GET WEIRDER: Malaysia Bans Ultraman For Blasphemy. “The Ultraman character, born out of a 1960s Japanese television series, is a superhero with alien powers who protects the Earth from a variety of rampaging monsters. Malaysia’s image as a moderate Muslim nation has been undermined in recent years by a shift towards more conservative Islamic values. Authorities regularly ban movies or books deemed too vulgar, sexually explicit or religiously sensitive and have banned some foreign pop music stars from performing in the country.”
TRAIN WRECK UPDATE: Study: ObamaCare not reaching uninsured.
Old storyline: If you oppose ObamaCare, you want uninsured people to die!!!!
New storyline: Meh, there were always going to be a lot of people left uncovered, but most of ‘em don’t want insurance anyway.
THEY NEVER APOLOGIZE: Jay Carney: No regrets about Team Obama’s dinging Mitt Romney on Russia.
In October 2012 Romney called Russia America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe” and the Obama campaign immediately pounced, releasing an attack ad featuring former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright which accused Romney of being an out-of-touch cold warrior.
The campaign also published and circulated a poster employing a Soviet-style propaganda motif dismissing the “preposterous notion” that Russia is our “No. 1 Geopolitical Foe.”
“Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV,” the poster proclaimed.
For Obama, it’s more like Mission to Moscow.
Personally, I think civilians and police should be able to carry the same kinds of weapons. That’s a useful check on the militarization of the police.
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Obama administration faces FOIA fire over ambassador picks. “State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki faced a fusillade of questions from reporters Thursday asking why the agency has yet to respond to a request for documents showing proof that President Obama’s nominees for ambassadorships are qualified.” It’s nice to see the press asking tough questions. Though, to be fair, at the behest of a union.
March 6, 2014
RAPE CULTURE: Democrat-Controlled Senate Blocks Sexual Assault Bill. #headlineitlikepartieswerereversed
JUAN WILLIAMS: Rutgers rage against Condi Rice — why do liberals have so much hate for black conservatives? “Liberals are shockingly quick to demean and dismiss brilliant black people like Rice, Carson, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), Professor Walter E. Williams and economist Thomas Sowell because they don’t fit into the role they have carved out for a black person in America. Black Americans must be obedient liberals on all things or risk being called a race traitor or an Uncle Tom.”
BECAUSE THEY’RE BEING GOOD PROVIDERS? Male Executives Don’t Feel Guilt, See Work-Life Balance as a Women’s Problem. Actually, reading the article, I think this shows that people’s actions in their own lives are often more traditional/conservative than their beliefs in the public sphere. Harvard Business School students of both sexes may be horrified at these findings, but watch the choices they make themselves over the coming decade or two.
Related: How Serfdom Saved The Women’s Movement. “I have never once argued with my husband about which of us was going to change the sheets of the marriage bed, but then—to my certain knowledge —neither one of us ever has changed the sheets. Or scrubbed the bathtubs, or dusted the cobwebs off the top of the living-room bookcase, or used the special mop and the special noncorrosive cleanser on the hardwood floors. Two years ago our little boys got stomach flu, one right after the other, and there were ever so many loads of wash to do, but we did not do them. The nanny did. . . . Betty Friedan had a crack cleaning woman on staff when she was busy writing about the oppression of domestic work).” This offers insight into the immigration-reform debate, too. . . .
The professional-class working mother—grateful inheritor of Betty Friedan’s realizations about domestic imprisonment and the happiness and autonomy offered by work—is oppressed by guilt about her decision to keep working, by a society that often questions her commitment to and even her love for her children, by the labor-intensive type of parenting currently in vogue, by children’s stalwart habit of falling deeply and unwaveringly in love with the person who provides their physical care, and by her uneasy knowledge that at-home mothers are giving their children much more time and personal attention than she is giving hers. She feels more than oppressed—she feels outraged! she wants something done about this!—by a corporate culture that refuses to let a working mother postpone an important meeting if it happens to coincide with the fourth-grade Spring Sing.
On the other hand, the nonprofessional-class working mother—unhappy inheritor of changes in the American economy that have thrust her unenthusiastically into the labor market—is oppressed by very different forces. She is oppressed by the fact that her work is oftentimes physically exhausting, ill-paid, and devoid of benefits such as health insurance and paid sick leave. She is oppressed by the fact that it is impossible to put a small child in licensed day care if you make minimum wage, and she is oppressed by the harrowing child-care options that are available on an unlicensed, inexpensive basis. She is oppressed by the fact that she has no safety net: if she falls out of work and her child needs a visit to the doctor and antibiotics, she may not be able to afford those things and will have to treat her sick child with over-the-counter medications, which themselves are far from cheap. She is oppressed by the fact that—another feminist gain—single motherhood has been so championed in our culture, along with the sexual liberation of women and the notion that a woman doesn’t really need a man. In this climate she is often left shouldering the immense burden of parenthood alone.
Fish, meet bicycle. But, then, while “you can know chapter and verse about the psychology of oppressed peoples and still not get a man to turn out a nice meal,” if he should somehow happen to do so, women in the pages of The Atlantic will call him a “kitchen bitch.” So maybe staying at the office late doesn’t look half-bad.
SEXISM IN AMERICA: The War On Boys:
The reason for the disparity between boys and girls isn’t exactly pinned down. [Harvard professor Ronald] Kessler points to various factors — community perception, interpersonal skills — as major points of influence: “We had an anthropologist working with us, and the anthropologist went and talked to and watched the kids in the old neighborhoods and the new neighborhoods, and their perception was that when the boys came into the new neighborhood they were coded as these juvenile delinquents,” says Kessler. “Whereas with the girls, it was exactly the opposite. They were embraced by the community—‘you poor little disadvantaged thing, let me help you.’”
Christina Hoff Sommers, call your office.
AL JAZEERA AMERICA: Looking enviously at InstaVision’s audience? “The latest Nielsen ratings show that the network, owned by the government of Qatar, averages only 15,000 total primetime viewers, which is effectively negligible.”
UPDATE: Link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry!
SO THE BREASTFEEDING THING IS MOSTLY JUST FEMALE STATUS-COMPETITION AND MOMMY-SHAMING? Sibling Study Finds No Long-Term Breastfeeding Benefits For Kids.
In 2012, Reid said the following on the Senate floor, about Mitt Romney: “So the word’s out that he hasn’t paid any taxes for ten years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn’t.” The word’s out — and you know about “the word.” To reporters from his home state of Nevada, Reid said, “I don’t think the burden should be on me. The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes.” Bear in mind, this is the majority leader of the U.S. Senate speaking, not a comedian, not a right-wing satirist.
The other day, Reid was tearing into the Koch brothers, backers of causes Reid does not like. He said these guys were “about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine.” Wasn’t Tailgunner Joe supposed to have rendered such language verboten? Have the rules changed?
There are many damning things about today’s Democrats, in my view. None is more damning than that Harry Reid is their choice to lead them in the Senate.
Indeed. Say, how did he become so rich, after a lifetime spent in “public service?”
WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: This Is Not A Frame From A Science Fiction Movie. “It’s an actual image from the successful Morpheus vehicle test completed today at the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility. There’s great video too.” At the link.
HEH: Responding to senator’s bid to ban Bitcoin, congressman calls for cash ban. “Dollar bills are present in nearly all major drug busts in the United States.” Don’t give ‘em any ideas. . . .
WAIT, I THOUGHT THIS SORT OF THING WAS JUST A GOP MYTH: Vote-Buying Scandal Rattles Valley Politics: The FBI investigates the use of politiqueras in Valley elections. Actually, what’s really amazing is that the Holder Justice Department is investigating.
FASTER, PLEASE: A Genetic Entrepreneur Sets His Sights on Aging and Death.
On Tuesday, Dr. Venter announced that he was starting a new company, Human Longevity, which will focus on figuring out how people can live longer and healthier lives.
To do that, the company will build what Dr. Venter says will be the largest human DNA sequencing operation in the world, capable of processing 40,000 human genomes a year.
The huge amount of DNA data will be combined with huge amounts of other data on the health and body composition of the people whose DNA is sequenced, in the hope of gleaning insights into the molecular causes of aging and age-related illnesses like cancer and heart disease.
Slowing aging, if it can be done, could be a way to prevent many diseases, an alternative to treating one disease a time.
“Your age is your No. 1 risk factor for almost every disease, but it’s not a disease itself,” Dr. Venter said in an interview. Still, his company will also work on treating individual diseases of aging.
Well, actually, it is a disease. The FDA just doesn’t recognize it as one.
GARY LIBECAP: Three Cheers For Fracking: Thanks to secure property rights, this technology has the power to resuscitate our lagging economy. The political class views this stuff askance, though, because secure property rights reduce the opportunities for graft.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: A former policeman convicted of tipping off a terror suspect is now a senior official at the IRS.
IN THE MAIL: From Greg Lukianoff, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, now in paperback.
SALON BECAME A HARDCORE RACIST MAG SO GRADUALLY I BARELY NOTICED: Why I can’t stand white belly dancers.
THE U.S. ECONOMY’S Big Baby Problem.
The thing about an increasingly childless economy is that it has major implications for consumption. Just look at this new data from a Gallup survey released today on the average daily spending of families. Even after you control for income, age, education, and marital status, families with young kids spend more every day. These are the sort of spenders you want in a weak economy following a great deleveraging.
The upshot is that when we think about economic growth, some of the most discussed variables on editorial pages and cable news include policy choices like Obamacare and tapering and tax rates, or international events like China’s shadow banking system and the Crimean invasion. And that’s fine: policies and global events do shape lending and spending behavior.
But buried underneath these headlines is the glacier of demographics, the steady and unyielding force of human numbers to shape the economy. The drop in U.S. fertility rates in recent years has almost certainly had a negative effect on consumer spending (and, in turn, lower birthrates are probably an outcome of the recession). In particular, childless couples don’t need space for more kids so they’re less likely to buy homes in the suburbs, depressing demand for housing in an economy that could [use] more bought homes.
One reason people are having fewer kids is that the costs have been artificially inflated even as the benefits have been reduced. I had some related thoughts in this piece.
TO MAINTAIN THE BOGUS RACE-CARD NARRATIVE ON THE ADEGBILE DEBACLE, NPR SAYS “A HANDFUL OF SOUTHERN DEMOCRATS” JOINED REPUBLICANS TO VOTE AGAINST HIM.
Here are the folks NPR considers “Southern Democrats.”
Chris Coons (Del.)
Bob Casey (Pa.),
Mark Pryor (Ark.),
Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.),
Joe Manchin (W.V.),
Joe Donnolly (Ind.)
John Walsh (Mont.)
And of course Harry Reid (Nev.) who did it for procedural grounds.
Not exactly Sons of the Confederacy.
Welcome to Dixie, North Dakotans!
UPDATE: Related: Shaheen dodges reporters after controversial vote. “New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen fled the scene of the vote Wednesday – following her decision to support President Obama’s controversial nominee for U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.” So it was “controversial” in that stronghold of the Old South, New Hampshire.
ANOTHER UPDATE: From the comments: “Bipartisanship is the new racism.”
MORE: Yeah, the version that’s online now has changed. As I’ve noticed before, they do that. I saw Jonah Goldberg tweeting with a producer — sorry, can’t find the tweet now it’s buried — who was saying that it was written as “Senate Democrats” but read as “Southern Democrats” and promising that it would be fixed in later feeds.
DESPITE ALL THE SPYING AND EAVESDROPPING, THEY KEEP MISSING THE BIG STUFF: Intelligence Failure, Revisited.
IRS SCANDAL UPDATE: John Boehner backs holding IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt. “Lerner set off the matter last year when she acknowledged IRS officials gave added scrutiny to conservative groups, leading President Barack Obama to fire the acting IRS commissioner and giving the agency a major black eye.”
But now we’re told it’s a “phony scandal.” Do people usually take the Fifth in phony scandals?
Related: President Obama Is Part Of The Problem In IRS Scandal. Hey, he knew about spying on the Senate oversight committee. How likely is it that he didn’t know anything here?
UKRAINE: More Warplanes:
The Pentagon also announced, in response to what officials said were requests from Eastern European NATO members over the past week, that it would more than double the number of aircraft it has based in Lithuania as part of a regular alliance air-defense patrol.
The patrols over the Baltic nations were initiated a decade ago and are rotated quarterly among NATO members that have the appropriate aircraft. The United States, by coincidence, is in charge of the patrols this quarter and is sending six F-15 fighter jets and a KC-135 tanker to add to the four F-15s already deployed at Lithuania’s Siauliai Air Base.
IT’S THE LAW OF THE LAND! BUT I GUESS THE TERRORIST ANARCHISTS HAVE WON. Administration Extends Obamacare Grandfathering for 2 More Years. Where, exactly, does the legal authority to do this come from?
Plus, most hilarious part of all: “senior administration officials denied a political motive.”
MICHAEL BARONE: Thoughts On The Texas Primary Results.
There’s an obvious trend here, then-Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison challenged Gov. Rick Perry, but with no serious contest this year for governor (and not much of a contest for senator), Republican turnout stayed up and, despite the national hoopla for Davis, Democratic turnout declined somewhat rather than surged. Looking further back, Democratic turnout spiked in 2002 when Laredo banker Tony Sanchez ran a self-financed campaign that brought many Hispanics to the polls; in 1994 and earlier years, Democratic turnout was consistently about twice as high as Republican turnout and five times as high in 1982. What I think is happening is that up through 1994, many voters chose Democratic ballots, because Democrats won most down-ballot offices and state legislative seats and were at least competitive in governor and senator contests. If you wanted to affect the outcome, you voted Democratic. Republicans’ increasing success — they now hold all the down-ballot offices and significant majorities in both houses of the legislature — means that nowadays if you want to affect the outcome, you vote Republican. So the Republican turnout edge in 2010 and 2014 substantially overstates Republican strength in general elections; in the six contests for president, governor and senator starting in 2008, Texas has voted between 54- and 58-percent Republican.
Senators on Wednesday expressed alarm at explosive allegations that the CIA might have spied on their computers to keep tabs on their controversial review of Bush-era “enhanced interrogation” techniques.
Lawmakers from both parties said that if the allegations against the CIA prove true, intelligence officials might have violated the law — and certainly violated the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.
“I’m assuming that’s it’s not true, but if it is true, it should be World War III in terms of Congress standing up for itself against the CIA, ” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told The Hill.
Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) confirmed Wednesday that the CIA inspector general was investigating accusations that the covert agency had peered into the panel’s computers. But she didn’t comment on reports that the investigator has referred the matter to the Justice Department.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), an ex officio member of the Intelligence panel, said the charge of spying is “extremely serious.”
“There are laws against intruding and tampering, hacking into, accessing computers without permission. And that law applies to everybody,” he said.
Brennan in a statement said he was “dismayed” by the “spurious allegations,” which he said were “wholly unsupported by the facts.”
His statement was released Wednesday evening as McClatchy reported that the computer spying was allegedly discovered when the CIA confronted the Senate Intelligence panel about documents removed from the agency’s headquarters.
INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Seven Energy Policies To Make Russia Pay Over Crimea. “Russia’s economy is barely growing and is increasingly dependent on energy production. Oil and gas account for more than half of Russia’s federal tax revenues and about 75% of total exports. Three-fourths of natural gas shipments go to Europe. Europe is dependent on Russia, but the tables are starting to turn. . . . Luckily, this gas-oil price link is starting to break down, thanks to limited liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports and other advances. Here are seven energy policy steps that the West should adopt, all of which have the side benefit of undermining Putin.”
March 5, 2014
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Treasury investigator led life of lies, government dependence.
A high-ranking investigator in charge of rooting out fraud by Treasury Department employees was himself fraudulently drawing simultaneous salaries from both the military and the Treasury.
The same investigator then petitioned the government for a full disability retirement.
But wait, there’s more!
He also pretended to be a peace officer and lied about it, all while racking up massive debts and filing for bankruptcy, according to documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.
The very best.
SUSAN SMITH REDUX? ‘Our Mom Is Trying to Kill Us!’: Hero Recounts Ocean Rescue.
“Help us — our mom is trying to kill us!” a young child screamed as a pregnant woman drove her minivan — with three young kids children inside — into the ocean in Florida, a trucker who waded into the frigid Atlantic waters to rescue them said Wednesday.
Tim Tesseneer, a truck driver and former volunteer firefighter visiting from North Carolina, was one of the first men to reach the van Tuesday in the heavy surf. He and other passersby dived in to pull the children — two girls and a boy, ages 3, 9 and 10 — to safety through a window and a hatchback.
The children, who weren’t badly hurt, were treated at a hospital and were in state custody, Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said Wednesday. The driver, identified as Ebony Wilkerson, 32, of Cross. S.C., was undergoing a mental evaluation Wednesday, and no charges had been filed.
SMART DIPLOMACYTM STRIKES AGAIN: Hillary Clinton: I’m Not Comparing Putin To Hitler, I’m Just Saying He’s Acting Like Hitler.
K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: For the public-schools-as-child-abuse file: School forces half-naked, sopping wet student to stand outside, frostbite results. “A Minnesota public high school was so committed to obeying its fire drill policy to the exact letter of the law that it forced a female student–dressed only in a swimsuit, and sopping wet–to stand outside in the freezing cold for ten minutes. As a result, she suffered frostbite. Administrators wouldn’t let the student retrieve her clothes, sit in a car or wait inside another building, according to WCCO. . . . It was 5 degrees below zero in St. Paul that day. With the windchill, it was 25 degrees below zero. Hagen-Tietz asked to wait inside an employee’s car, or at the elementary school across the street. But administrators believed that this would violate official policy, and could get the school in trouble, so they opted to simply let the girl freeze.”
These people shouldn’t be allowed around children. In fact, they shouldn’t be permitted to breed.
IS THIS REALLY A “Risk-Free J.D.?” “Beginning this spring, if a J.D. student decides not to continue law school after completing the first year of studies, the student can graduate with a Masters in Legal Studies (M.L.S.) degree, without taking any additional courses.” Because, you know, it’s not a J.D.
THE NEW MCCARTHYISM: Mediate: The Democrats’ Crusade Against ‘Un-American’ Activities.
The moral righteousness of resistance to Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) and his House Un-American Activities Committee remains vibrant in the imaginations of modern progressives. McCarthy’s myopic campaign to expose communists in high-profile areas of American life was opposed by liberal dissenters who viewed his investigation as an infringement on their rights of free association, speech, and even thought.
The modern progressive movement admires their predecessors’ stand against McCarthy so deeply that references to that inauspicious period of American history are regularly deployed in liberal publications and media outlets.
Those noble principles apparently go right out the window when Democrats face what increasingly appears to be a catastrophic political landscape heading into the 2014 midterm election cycle. Political handicappers beginning to suggest Republicans have better than even odds of recapturing the upper chamber of Congress in November as Democratic officeholders struggle to defend the political millstone that has become of the Affordable Care Act. Rather than surrender to their fates, Democrats have taken to identifying their own shadowy boogeyman wrecking America from within: the libertarian billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. . . .
That strategy came alive on February 26, when Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) was driven to rhetorical excess arguably unseen since U.S. Army Counsel Joseph Welch pointedly asked McCarthy whether he had “left no sense of decency.”
Taking to the floor of the U.S. Senate, Reid called these two private American citizens “un-American” for exercising their constitutionally protected rights of free expression. . . .
The modern Democratic Party’s origin myth is so closely tied up in their opposition to McCarthyism, they may not be able to objectively view how these actions reflect on them. If they could look objectively in a mirror, they might see that they are becoming precisely what they once opposed.
I think they only opposed it then because it was hurting their party. I don’t think they ever really minded the tactic.
NOTHING SHADY HERE: Police Contract With Spy Tool Maker Prohibits Talking About Device’s Use. “A non-disclosure agreement that police departments around the country have been signing for years with the maker of a cell-phone spy tool explicitly prohibits the law enforcement agencies from telling anyone, including other government bodies, about their use of the secretive equipment, according to one of the agreements obtained by an Arizona journalist. The NDA includes an exception for ‘judicially mandated disclosures,’ but no mechanisms for judges to learn that the equipment was used. In at least one case in Florida, a police department revealed that it had decided not to seek a warrant to use the technology explicitly to avoid telling a judge about the equipment. It subsequently kept the information hidden from the defendant as well.”
Facebook has released their statement on the effort by anti-gun groups to ban speech & photos by gun owners. The other side is going to declare a win because they are recognized by Facebook for their efforts. In reality, the only impact is that if a post gets “reported” as being any kind of regulated product (not just firearms) for sale, the poster will be reminded that they should follow applicable laws.
That’s it. Facebook will pop up a message reminding you that you should follow the law if you post a gun for sale and someone complains to them about it. They won’t ban the speech. They won’t ban the images. They won’t even ban promotions of guns for sale at all.
The only speech-related restriction is that they say they will interpret phrases like “no background check required” as being a possible tip off that the seller may be willing to help others evade the law. They don’t require that private sellers agree to run a background check, just that they don’t make “no background check” a selling point of their firearm.
Under these rules, NRA can still do their gun contests, and local Friends committees can still promote the guns they’ll be giving away to FNRA dinner attendees. You can even still post that you’re going to sell a gun privately. The only thing is that Facebook can tell anyone who complains about the posts that they sent a reminder to follow the law.
If the anti-gunners had truly gotten what they wanted – a ban on firearm images or promotions of any kind – we would have completely pulled our personal and community Facebook accounts and no longer visited the site. I suspect that many of the millions of gun owners on the site would have done the same, and that’s not something Facebook can afford. It is, at best, a pyrrhic victory for the other side.
Moms Demand Illegal Mayors, or whatever the two merged groups are called these days, are declaring total victory in the Facebook/Instagram policy statement that any reported post featuring an offer to sell any regulated product privately will generate a reminder to sellers that they shouldn’t violate the law.
But the Brady Campaign swiftly sent out a letter to their supporters highlighting that the anti-gun groups didn’t get anything they demanded at all, and this is not in any way a victory. The thing is, the Brady Campaign is right on this, at least coming from a gun banner’s perspective.
SPYING: OBAMA KNEW. Obama knew CIA secretly monitored intelligence committee, senator claims. “Independent observers were unaware of a precedent for the CIA spying on the congressional committees established in the 1970s to check abuses by the intelligence agencies.” That’s because such spying is illegal. I wonder who else, inside and outside the various branches of government, was being similarly spied upon. And what was done with the information learned. (Bumped, because this seems big.)
And note my column from a couple of weeks ago. Can I call ‘em, or what?
SMART DIPLOMACYTM BEARS ITS USUAL FRUIT: Report: John Kerry Confidantes Say Obama Sabotaged Mideast Peace Talks With Harsh Interview.
VEBLEN GOODS: How A Louis Vuitton Bag Can Explain The Higher Education Bubble. “In economic terms, higher education is a positional good: It is valuable to have a college degree because other people don’t have one. It is also to a significant extent a Veblen good: Sending one’s children to college, and most especially a prestigious (meaning expensive) college, is a way of signaling social status via the conspicuous consumption of a luxury good.”
PREVENTING CRUISE SHIP DISASTERS: “For the past three decades cruising has been the fastest-growing segment of the travel industry. Eleven new ships were christened last year, and almost 21 million people went on a cruise. Statistically, cruising is relatively safe, but recent failures in seamanship, emergency response, and engineering should sound an alarm. Introduce bad weather or remote surroundings into the equation and an incident like the Costa Concordia shipwreck, which made international headlines two years ago, could result in hundreds of deaths.”
My sense is that they’re a bit complacent. One would expect insurers to police things, but they get complacent too.