December 17, 2014

AFTER NORTH KOREAN HACKS AND THREATS, Sony Pulls The Interview From Distribution. Once you pay the Danegeld, you will never be rid of the Dane. That said, something about this whole thing feels “off.”

UPDATE: “No one should kid themselves. With the Sony collapse America has lost its first cyberwar. This is a very very dangerous precedent.”

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SCIENTISTS ARE SMART IN A PARTICULAR WAY, I’D SAY: Scientists Are Not That Smart.

The popular image of scientists is of a tiny, elite (and possibly deranged) minority of people engaged in esoteric pursuits. One of the three most common responses when I tell somebody I’m a physicist is, “You must be really smart. I could never do that.” (The other responses are, “I hated that when I took it in high school/college,” and, “Can you explain string theory to me?” This goes a long way toward explaining why physicists have a reputation as lousy conversationalists.)

While the idea that scientists are uniquely smart and capable is flattering to the vanity of nerds like me, it’s a compliment with an edge. There’s a distracting effect to being called “really smart” in this sense — it sets scientists off as people who think in a way that’s qualitatively different from “normal” people. We’re set off even from other highly educated academics — my faculty colleagues in arts, literature, and social science don’t hear that same “You must be really smart” despite the fact that they’ve generally spent at least as much time acquiring academic credentials as I have. The sort of scholarship they do is seen as just an extension of normal activities, whereas science is seen as alien and incomprehensible.

A bigger problem with this awkward compliment, though, is that it’s just not true. Scientists are not that smart — we don’t think in a wholly different manner than ordinary people do. What makes a professional scientist is not a supercharged brain with more processing power, but a collection of subtle differences in skills and inclinations. We’re slightly better at doing the sort of things that professional scientists do on a daily basis — I’m better with math than the average person — but more importantly, we enjoy those activities and so spend time honing those skills, making the differences appear even greater.

Also, nowadays being a scientist means having an enormous tolerance for tedium, not only in the pursuit of science, but in the pursuit of funding.

WALL STREET: A Black Hole For Our Best And Brightest. When your smartest people go into finance, it’s bad news.

A PRETTY COOL ANIMATED GRAPHIC of how a 1911 handgun works.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Broadening the synthetic biology path to molecular nanotechnology.

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WHAT A CURRENCY COLLAPSE LOOKS LIKE: Russians Rush To Stores As Country Fears Bank Run. “Russian consumers flocked to the stores Wednesday, frantically buying a range of big-ticket items to pre-empt the price rises kicked off by the staggering fall in the value of the ruble in recent days. As the Russian authorities announced a series of measures to ease the pressure on the ruble, which slid 15 percent in the previous two days and raised fears of a bank run, many Russians were buying cars and home appliances — in some cases in record numbers — before prices for these imported goods shoot higher.”

OBAMA ANNOUNCES “NEW CHAPTER” ON CUBA. “The Obama administration will initiate diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana in coming months, the president said. . . . The president also announced measures to ease travel and the flow of goods between the United States and Cuba. However, the embargo on Cuba cannot be lifted without congressional approval. And critics accused the president of putting his legacy ahead of achieving democratic reforms in the communist nation.”

I’d love for Cuba to open up so I can get a cheap Caribbean beachfront place. But it would have to decommunize before that was worthwhile.

PRIVACY: Cops illegally nailed webcam to utility pole for 6 weeks to spy on house. “The Justice Department contended that the webcam, with pan-and-zoom capabilities that were operated from afar—was no different from a police officer’s observation from the public right-of-way. . . . US District Judge Edward Shea disagreed and ruled (PDF) that a warrant was necessary to spy on Leonel Vargas via a webcam controlled by local police.”

HONESTY IS GOOD FOR COUNTRIES: “Why do some countries suck? There are some countries more people would like to be in and another set of countries that most of the inhabitants want to flee. What causes this? It’s mainly about corruption, and in the 21st century we have a much better idea of how much and where it is.” The problem is that while corruption may be bad for countries, it’s good for the political class.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: This Is the First Robot To Be a Paying Airline Passenger.

OUT: RETURNING ISRAEL TO ITS PRE-1967 BORDERS. In: Returning Israel To Its Pre-1948 Borders.

MICHELLE OBAMA ENCOUNTERS THE LEGACY OF SLAVERY AT TARGET. Or maybe not: “A different explanation is that somebody mistook Michelle for someone who was tall, athletic, and happy to help. And hey, two out of three ain’t bad.”

What’s interesting to me about this obviously-contrived episode is how hard the Obamas are working to position themselves as Super-Sharptons for the post-presidency.

MORE SUPPORT FOR INTERVAL TRAINING: “According to a lovely new study, a single minute of intense exercise, embedded within an otherwise easy 10-minute workout, can improve fitness and health.”

IT’S NOT JUST A PINK GUN: Tamara Keel looks at a pistol offering for women.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: No Free Speech At Marquette.

Marquette University, the Jesuit school in Milwaukee, has shot itself in the foot again. Weeks ago in a “Theory of Ethics” class, philosophy instructor Cheryl Abbate listed several possible topics of discussion, but said one of them –gay marriage—could not be addressed because any opposition argument would offend homosexual students, and besides society has already agreed that gays can marry. This is a strong pattern for the campus left: topics they want to talk about (e.g., the Keystone pipeline, abolishing fraternities) are discussed endlessly, even in classes where the topics have little or no relevance. But topics they don’twant discussed are banned as “already settled” or as harassment.

Did Marquette overrule Abbate and say that gay marriage can certainly be discussed in class? Or that Catholic doctrine cannot be off limits at a Catholic university? Well, no. Like so many other universities, Marquette passed on the free speech issue and went after a lone professor—John McAdams–who had criticized Marquette’s woeful reaction to Abbate in his blog, “Marquette Warrior.” The next step was very predictable: Marquette suspended McAdams, said he is under investigation and banned him from the campus, without listing any charges against him. Presumably the unannouced charge is harassment, since the letter from Dean Richard Holz to McAdams ended with a sentence saying “I am enclosing with this letter Marquette’s harassment policy….:”

“Harassment” is not a synonym for “disagreement” or “criticism,” but many in the higher education community appear to be ignorant of this fact.

IN THE MAIL: From Damon Root, Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 587.

READY FOR HILLARY TO GO AWAY: People Magazine’s worst selling issue this year? The one with Hillary Clinton on the cover.

RUSSIA: Ruble Crisis Puts Putin’s Back Against the Wall.

It’s panic time in Moscow, as the deadly double whammy of collapsing oil prices and Western sanctions is knocking the Russian economy into recession. Nothing the government can do has been able to stem the accelerating selloff in Russian assets, and the meltdown has gone so far that average people increasingly understand that their economic futures are at risk. . . .

The Putin government has come to a fork in the road—and both of its choices look unpleasant. It can accept that the oil price collapse is forcing it to change paths in foreign policy and give up (at least for now) on its dreams of geopolitical revenge for the defeat in the Cold War—or it can double down on the fight against the West and the world system.

The first course is obviously the smartest from the standpoint of Russian national interest, but the second may make more sense in terms of the personal fortunes of one Vladimir Putin—and unless something changes in Russia, Putin is firmly in charge.

Putin has to be thinking in terms of using the crisis to enforce even tighter government control over Russia’s economy: cracking down on currency trading, increasing control over banks, possibly repudiating private as well as public debts to Western creditors. To make this work, he’d have to resort to claims that the West is in an all-out war to destroy Russia, and that national mobilization (under, of course, his inspired leadership) is the only way to save the country.

The long term prospects for such a course of doubling down on an aggressive foreign policy are not good.

Nope. Here’s a Russian joke I heard yesterday: You should have all your money in rubles — because no one will expect to find money in a sack of rubles.

JERRY POURNELLE HAD A MILD STROKE YESTERDAY. According to his son, Alex, “He’s doing well, recovering in the hospital, good prognosis, and talking up a storm.”

LEFTY POLITICS IS NEVER ABOUT WHAT IT’S OSTENSIBLY ABOUT: Green Groups Capitalize on Police Shooting Protests.

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ROGER SIMON: We need a wartime consigliere.

Actually, we need a wartime President. Obama has a wartime consigliere, it’s just not for the war Roger wants to focus on.

GOOD QUESTION: Why Does Uncle Sam Hate American Expats? I was talking the other day with a former student who practices law in Germany now, and she said her tax preparer quit because of the complexities of U.S. tax law for expats. It’s also hard for Americans to get bank accounts abroad, even when they’re permanent residents of foreign countries, because of the grabbiness of U.S. law. I suggested she file a human rights complaint, since no other country does this to its citizens, and I was only half joking. . . .

TRANSPARENCY: No Author, No Law.

The reason behind Dodd-Frank’s rendition of this common requirement is straightforward: If Wall Street conglomerates are able to use our bank deposits — which are meant to be kept safe — in addition to their own money to gamble on speculative derivative instruments, then (a) there will be much more gambling of precisely the kind that brought us the 2008 crash; and (b) we taxpayers, rather than Wall Street, will cover the losses that the next crash occasions. We will, in other words, be bailing out Wall Street all over again — socializing losses even as Wall Street continues to privatize gains for itself.

This is, of course, perfectly disgusting. But what is yet worse is that no one will “own” it — presumably because it is so disgusting. We still do not know who inserted the provision, nor do we know why. All that we know is that whoever did it did it both (a) surreptitiously, apparently in hopes no one would notice, and (b) at the last minute, in connection with a continuing resolution cum omnibus spending bill, apparently in hopes of holding continued government operation itself hostage to the provision’s getting through.

Perhaps I am overreacting, but it seems to me that the way in which this provision has found its way into the cromnibus legislation is deeply subversive of our democracy. The aim, after all, is apparently both (a) to circumvent what would otherwise be a necessary agreement secured both transparently and free of budgetary time pressure, and (b) to render the party or parties whose consent is thus circumvented unaware of the guilt or identity of the guilty party.

Every provision of every bill should be directly traceable to individual members of Congress.

That said, so long as we’re in the current boat, could some InstaPundit reader who works on Capitol Hill insert language in the next debacle of a bill that retroactively frees me of income tax back to 2010, and gives me the right to commandeer federal jets for my personal travel? I’d kind of fancy taking Air Force One on one of my dive trips. Also, I’ll bet that would encourage better oversight in the future. . . .

FASTER, PLEASE: The Bipartisan Plan To End IRS Stealing.

For years, the Internal Revenue Service has been stealing taxpayer assets from small businesses — not for breaking tax law, but for making legitimate bank deposits under $10,000. It’s one form of the increasingly well-known practice called “civil asset forfeiture.”

The IRS has the power to seize small cash deposits under $10,000. These deposits seem suspicious because cash deposits over $10,000 trigger a bank report to authorities. Terrorists, drug dealers, and money launderers all make cash deposits under $10,000 to avoid triggering the bank report. The illicit practice is called “structuring.”

The problem is that many small businesses accept cash payments and make large deposits that happen to fall under $10,000.

Sadly, this attempt to crack down on terrorist funding is used by the IRS to abuse small businesses. In October, the New York Times reported on the story of Carole Hinders, a small business owner who had over $30,000 seized by the IRS. The IRS does not even need to charge someone with a crime to seize assets under an alleged structuring scheme.

Thankfully, a bipartisan bill has been introduced in Congress that would end the practice.

On December 10, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Ranking Member Sander Levin, D-Mich., introduced the Taxpayer Protections Against Abusive Seizures Act.

Well, it’s worth trying before going all the way to tar and feathers.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Blacks Falling Behind Under ObamaCare.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: 1L Enrollment Shrank 4.5% in 2014, to the Lowest Level Since 1974 (When There Were 53 Fewer Law Schools). “The 204 ABA-accredited law schools enrolled 37,924 full- and part-time first-year students in the fall of 2014, a drop of 4.4 percent from 2013 and a drop of 27.7 percent from the historic high of 52,488 in 2010, according to an ABA press release.” There’s no particular reason to think we’ve hit bottom yet.

ASHE SCHOW: Atticus Finch: American literature’s most celebrated rape apologist. “If ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ were taught in women’s studies classes today, Finch would have to be labeled the villain of the book for not accepting at face value an accuser’s tale of rape and for posing difficult, painful questions to her on the witness stand.”

HANUKKAH: A Dangerous Holiday.

December 16, 2014

THE UNRAVELING HOAX: University Of Virginia Student’s Catfishing Scheme Revealed. “A University of Virginia student named Jackie appears to have used internet phone services to fabricate the identity of a man she says she was going on a date with on the night she claims she was gang-raped by seven fraternity members.”

Related: Life In Post-Truth America.

KNIFE RIGHTS UPDATE: Connecticut Supreme Court: Second Amendment protects dirk knives and police batons.

This bit is interesting, as it seems to suggest that the more equipment police have, the more likely it is to be protected for civilians: “This widespread acceptance of batons within the law enforcement community also supports the conclusion that they are not so dangerous or unusual as to fall outside the purview of the second amendment. To this end, the fact that police batons are inherently less lethal, and therefore less dangerous and less intrinsically harmful, than handguns, which clearly constitute “arms” within the meaning of the second amendment, provides further reason to conclude that they are entitled to constitutional protection.”

Plus, an observation that could have come right out of my Second Amendment Penumbras piece: “Post-Heller case law supports the commonsense conclusion that the core right to possess a protected weapon in the home for self-defense necessarily entails the right, subject to reasonable regulation, to engage in activities necessary to enable possession in the home. Thus, the safe transportation of weapons protected by the second amendment is an essential corollary of the right to possess them in the home for self-defense when such transportation is necessary to effectuate that right.”

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HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Harvard Law student’s disastrous argument for delayed exams due to emotional trauma blows up. What would Professor Kingsfield say? My guess: “You come here with skulls full of mush. And these days, you leave here the same way.”

UPDATE: “God. At the age of this Harvard Law Review editor, my grandfather was a Marine, storming Saipan.”

MULTICULTURALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS: In Germany, anti-Islam voices grow louder, worrying leaders. “In Dresden, more than 10,000 people marched against the ‘Islamization’ of Germany, the largest yet in a series of protests against the country’s policy of welcoming immigrants.”

I SUSPECT THE ANSWER IS THAT THE RESPONSIBLE AUTHORITIES WERE AFRAID OF BEING CALLED “RACIST.” Australia vows to unearth why ‘sick’ extremist was at large.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Why Google doesn’t care about hiring top college graduates. “Google has spent years analyzing who succeeds at the company, which has moved away from a focus on GPAs, brand name schools, and interview brain teasers. . . . Many schools don’t deliver on what they promise, Bock says, but generate a ton of debt in return for not learning what’s most useful. It’s an ‘extended adolescence,’ he says.”

All is proceeding as I have foreseen.

JONATHAN TURLEY: After Ferguson, come the apologies for nothing:

College campuses last week seemed more like centers of political reeducation rather than real learning as various academics have been forced into public apologies over references to the recent controversial decisions of grand juries in Missouri and New York.

Consider the bizarre case of University of California at Los Angeles law professor Robert Goldstein who based an essay question on his final on Michael Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head, chanting, “Burn this b—- down!” after the grand jury decision. The angry mob proceeded to loot and burn various businesses in the town. With some calling for Head to be prosecuted, this was a ready-made question for exploring the limits of the First Amendment in a real-life situation. However, Goldstein was immediately attacked by commentators like Elie Mystal of the blog Above the Law for being “racially insensitive and divisive.” Mystal falsely stated that Goldstein’s question asked students to “advocate in favor of extremist racists in Ferguson.”

Goldstein actually apologized and told his students that he “clearly underestimated and misjudged the impact of this question.” He proceeded to throw out the question in what seemed a cringing compliance with a new taboo subject.

Related: The Trouble With Teaching Rape Law. “Imagine a medical student who is training to be a surgeon but who fears that he’ll become distressed if he sees or handles blood. What should his instructors do? Criminal-law teachers face a similar question with law students who are afraid to study rape law.”

Higher education today: A race to the bottom, between the vicious and the trivial.

UPDATE: A bright spot from Oberlin, of all places.

HOW LENA DUNHAM AND OTHER CELEBRITIES ARE GLAMORIZING RAPE: “If rape culture exists it’s not on college campuses. This is a developing and startling trend with Hollywood and feminist entertainment culture. The glamorization of rape as a means of fitting into a social clique. It’s not about demanding truth. It’s about demanding obedience. Not getting young women to bond with shared experiences of a sexual assault to find healing, but that it’s simply becoming a fad and cool to do so. This is a dangerous bandwagon that corporate pop culture is all too happy to attempt to exploit. . . . This is feminist driven media attempting to gleefully create a culture of Rape Glam and at the forefront is the hipster queen of millennial drama, Lena Dunham.”

Well, women used to bond in their twenties by talking about their children, but a whole class of women don’t have those to talk about anymore.

Plus, the piece reminds us that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) herself made a Dunhamesque non-specific accusation about Senatorial fat-shaming.

SORRY, BUT I’M UNENTHUSED: Jeb Bush Fires 2016 Starting Pistol. Jeb’s a nice guy, and would certainly be a better President than Obama — but, then, my cat would be a better President than Obama, and I don’t own a cat.

I don’t want any more Bushes or Clintons. It’s embarrassing to see this kind of dynasticism in America. My concern is that the GOP’s donor class can only get interested in candidates that the GOP’s base finds unappealing, and vice versa.

FASTER, PLEASE: On-Off Switch for Critical Stem Cell Gene Discovered.

WELL, 2050 IS A LONG WAY OFF: The Coming Cost of Superbugs: 10 Million Deaths Per Year. But this is bad enough: “Antibiotic resistance currently accounts for an estimated 50,000 deaths in the US and Europe, which have surveillance to support those numbers. (The CDC puts the number for the US at 23,000.) But the project estimates that the actual current death toll is 700,000 worldwide.”

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WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: A Step Toward Artificial Cells, Built from Silicon.

HMM: First District Court Ruling On Obama Executive Amnesty Finds It Unconstitutional. “According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes ‘beyond prosecutorial discretion’ in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals. As a consequence, Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.”

DANA LOESCH: The Terrorist Guild.

IT’S POTEMKIN VEHICLES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Why Your Electric Vehicle Might Not Be as Green as You Think.

IF THE CAMERA IS “ACCIDENTALLY” TURNED OFF, YOU SHOULDN’T GET PAID: Oakland cops disciplined 24 times for failing to turn on body-worn cameras.

K.C. JOHNSON: UVA’s Stalinist Rules For Convicting Males. “The collapse of the Rolling Stone rape story had an important byproduct—it showed the stunning unfairness of UVA’s proposed new sexual assault policies. UVA’s proposed guidelines, like those of many colleges, are heavily pitched toward accusers, minimize due process and all but ensure that key evidence will not come before the university, especially if that evidence might contradict the accuser’s version of events.”

Really, why pay six figures to send your kids to places that are prone to hysteria and a police-state mentality?

JUST BE YOURSELF: John Tierney on the Paradox of “Effortless Action.” “It’s why some leaders have charisma and why business executives insist on a drunken dinner before sealing a deal.”

IN THE MAIL: From Christopher Lansdown, Ordinary Superheroes.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 586.

HOW SOCIAL COUNTERREVOLUTIONS BEGIN: ‘No’ Is a Woman’s Most Powerful Word.

Whether or not “no means no” might have been adequate to prevent the problems of date rapes behind the sock hop, it was not adequate to all the difficulties we faced. My generation drank more than our mothers had, so that women were more frequently incapable of saying no, or much of anything else. There were no parietal rules to keep us out of each other’s rooms, or force us to come home at an early hour. Nor could we fall back on “nice girls don’t”; we had to refuse this specific man each time, not on the grounds that some external force was stopping us, but because we simply didn’t want to have sex with him. That’s an uncomfortable conversation, and modern though we may be, most of us still hated uncomfortable conversations, especially if we’d had a few and just wanted to go to sleep.

I’m not calling for a return to single-sex dorms, curfew rules, and the presumption that “nice girls don’t.” I’m just pointing out that these things gave our mothers an easy way to say “no” that didn’t have to be explained or defended, and wouldn’t be taken as a specific rejection of this person right in front of you. We were chanting a slogan designed for a world that no longer existed. In the world where we lived, it required an assertiveness and a confident self-knowledge that a lot of 19-year-old girls found hard to muster. It required actions we weren’t always willing to take, like loudly saying “no,” and leaving if he persisted. In other words, it left us vulnerable, though not in the same way that our mothers had been. . . .

It is not the word “no” that women are struggling with; it is the concept of utter refusal. That is what has to change, not the words to describe it. It is perhaps unfair that this burden should be placed on women, especially when we are socialized to be accommodating and “nice” (especially to men). Unfortunately, no one else can bear the burden of deciding who we want to have sex with, and then articulating it forcefully.

Nor should feminists be eager to help women avoid the burden of deciding, and then stating their opinion in the strongest possible terms. “No” and “I don’t want to” are great tools for women to master. For centuries, society protected nice middle-class women from having to use them by deciding what we wanted, and punishing anyone who wanted anything else. Now that those rules are gone, some feminists are essentially advocating handing the burden of deciding what we want over to … men, who are supposed to guess whether we are offering “affirmative consent,” and be punished if they guess wrong.

We’ve reached the point that yes doesn’t even mean yes. Meanwhile, as Don Surber notes, under modern feminism even women bosses in the workplace want men to spare them the pain of definite statements.

The point of her piece was that men have to understand the rules of women in the workplace, and not that women have to understand the rules of business. She uses a wifely logic:

I’ve been at countless meetings at various news organizations where a male editor, suggesting a story idea, loudly declares something like: “We need a piece on the drop in gas prices!” A woman, making the same point, might ask hesitantly: “Has anyone noticed that gas prices are falling? Do we know why?”

Both are saying exactly the same thing: Get me the damn story on gas prices, and get it now.

It’s the old if-you-really-love-me-you’d-know-what-I-mean routine.

But actually they are not saying the same thing. One is giving an order (“We need a piece on the drop in gas prices!”), the other is asking pointless questions (“Has anyone noticed that gas prices are falling? Do we know why?”). The problem is the second speaker is not saying what she means, which means she is a poor communicator, which makes her a bad boss. The whole piece is that kind of passive-aggressive nonsense.

This is what a feminist looks like, at the end of 2014. Women used to be made of sterner stuff. No wonder so few women self-identify as feminist now.

IT’S NOT LIKE HE SAID “MACACA” OR SOMETHING: WashPost Buries Story of Virginia Democrat Convicted of Sex With 17-Year-Old Receptionist. “How is this a story for page C-7?” Because he’s a Democrat.

I WONDER HOW THIS POLLS: Democrats in Congress Fight to Allow Gay Men to Donate Blood.

CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS: Here’s why Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story went viral.

DEMOGRAPHICS IS DESTINY: Joel Kotkin: Can Abe Tackle The Real Reason For Japan’s Decline? “Japan’s working-age population (15-64) peaked in 1995, while the United States’ has grown 21% since then. The projections for Japan are alarming: its working-age population will drop from 79 million today to less than 52 million in 2050, according to the Stanford Institute on Longevity.”

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: An Epitaph For Hope And Change.

#ILLRIDEWITHYOU MAHMOOD: University of Michigan Campus turns on Muslim conservative who penned satire.

Some students took offense to the article, saying it belittled their concerns about social justice. Mahmood, who is Muslim and describes his political views as mostly conservative and libertarian, says the first big backlash came when another student complained anonymously about being offended and he was fired from the student newspaper, the Michigan Daily.

“These progressive students attacked Omar because they felt that he, as a Muslim, cannot also be a conservative,” Derek Draplin, a student and editor of the conservative student paper The Review, which published the parody, told FoxNews.com. “He doesn’t fit their social justice agenda so they attack him, censor him, try to get him to shut up.”

On Friday night, according to Mahmood, people attacked his dorm room door, egging it and leaving copies of his satirical article with notes on the backs including “Shut the f— up!” and “You scum embarrass us” and “DO YOU EVEN GO HERE?! LEAVE!!” along with various others, including an image of a creature with horns and another one of him with his eyes crossed out.

FoxNews.com viewed surveillance footage taken early Friday at 1:40 a.m. local time inside of Mahmood’s dorm, which is for students but is run independently of the university. It showed four figures meeting in the hallway and one of them handing the other three hooded sweatshirts. The three then put on hooded sweatshirts and go to his door. Mahmood says he believes he knows who the attackers were based on the footage.

Frankly, they deserve to feel belittled. They’re pathetic.

ROLL CALL: Defiant Pelosi Stands Firmly On Left. Well, to be fair, with that much Botox the not-moving part is easy.

THIS SEEMS TO BE A BIGGER ISSUE WITH THE POLITICAL CLASSES: Washington Post: That big CIA ‘torture’ report? Americans just shrugged. “The poll shows people says 51-29 percent than the CIA’s methods were justified and 56-28 percent that the information gleaned helped prevent terror attacks. . . . And it’s not just that people who aren’t concerned about torture aren’t tuning in. Those who have followed the story the most, in fact, approve of the program 59-34 percent. Even Democrats are pretty split on the justification for the program. While 37 percent say it was justified, 46 percent say it wasn’t. Liberal Democrats disapprove 65-25 percent, but moderate and conservative Democrats approve 48-32 percent.”

Hey, lots of people watched 24, so it’s all Hollywood-approved.

I DON’T KNOW WHY HE DOESN’T JUST SWITCH OVER TO REPUBLICAN: Manchin siding with NRA against surgeon general nominee.

ANOTHER LAWPROF WEIGHS IN ON THE UVA DEBACLE: Scott Gerber: President Teresa Sullivan Needs To Focus On Fairness, No PR.

It was bad enough to read the multi-part stories in major news outlets during the summer of 2012 about the petty infighting that led to President Sullivan’s resignation and subsequent reinstatement. Embarrassment was all I felt about that episode, a reaction shared by Virginia’s governor at the time who ordered the Board of Visitors to resolve the dysfunction between the president and the Board immediately or face removal from office. But, by definition, allegations of sexual assault against students impact the health and safety of the young people a university is charged with educating, inspiring, and protecting. It is profoundly inappropriate that such allegations be treated as public relations problems to be managed by the university’s senior leadership and its lawyers.

The UVA administration’s approach to Jackie’s allegations is, regrettably, an unfortunate example of an all-too-predictable response by academic administrators across the country who seem to be concerned far less with doing the right thing than they are with keeping their own jobs. The result is almost always callousness, deceit, cover-ups and, far too infrequently, justice. Students deserve better, including the students at my beloved UVA. Mr. Jefferson would expect no less.

Alas, apparatchiks always tend to think of appearances, not honor.

FORMER PUBLIC DEFENDER: Lena Dunham and the damage done by false accusations.

As a public defender in Fairfax County, I once watched the sentencing of an attractive, young defendant who had falsely accused her middle-aged, married neighbor of rape.

The police believed her and investigated and arrested the alleged rapist. At the sentencing of the woman, the prosecutor described the indignity to which the neighbor had been subjected: an arrest in front of his neighbors, the harm to his reputation, the embarrassment to his family, the threat of serving up to 30 years in prison. He was innocent, and he suffered even though he was not convicted. False accusations are easily made yet devastating.

The Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney pursued the false police report with the same seriousness he had the original rape charge. The woman who made the false claim deserved prosecution and punishment. And the innocent deserve protection. They deserve to be protected by the police and by the media.

Thus, I have a suggestion for The Post: Stop minimizing the harm caused by Lena Dunham’s accusation.

#FALSERAPECULTURE. The author is a law professor now.

December 15, 2014

MICKEY KAUS: Is Obama Trying To Lose The Amnesty Lawsuit?

THIS IS LOOKING MORE AND MORE LIKE A DELIBERATE HOAX: Friends of U.Va. rape accuser begin to doubt story.

Three friends of the alleged University of Virginia rape victim are growing more skeptical about her account, saying they have doubts about information she gave them and why she belatedly tried to get herself deleted from the Rolling Stone article that engulfed their campus in controversy.

The friends say among their concerns is the fact that the woman, named only as “Jackie” in the article, gave them a cellphone number so they could text a man she said she was seeing around the time she alleged she was gang-raped at a fraternity house.

Eventually, the friends ended up with three numbers for the man. All are registered to Internet services that enable people to text without cellphone numbers but also can be used to redirect calls to different numbers or engage in spoofing, according to multiple research databases checked by The Washington Times.

“That definitely raises some red flags,” Alex Stock, a University of Virginia junior and friend of Jackie, told The Times. “I think as more details come out I definitely feel a little more skeptical. This is all new territory for me. I’m not too technologically savvy.”

The friends say Jackie also gave them the name “Haven” as the first name of the upperclassman she was seeing shortly before the purported attack, but they haven’t been able to find anyone by that name enrolled on the campus or even living in the area.

Occam’s Razor has been saying “hoax” for a while, but this just made it a bit sharper.

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Who does New York Magazine think they are, Rolling Stone?

HMM: Here Are EIGHT Campus Rape Hoaxes Eerily Like The UVA Rape Story.

KURT SCHLICHTER MOCKS SECESSIONIST FANTASIES: Blue America Without Red America Would Be A Basket Case.

I had some related thoughts here.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: The Campus As California. “Campuses are becoming the haunts of the very wealthy and the poor, with little regard for any in-between — sort of like California.”

DON’T COPS HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO? The Best of the Worst of 2014.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Doctorates Up, Career Prospects Not.

Universities are awarding doctoral degrees at an accelerating pace, despite the fact that the career prospects of those who receive their Ph.D.s appear to be worsening.

That dichotomy is among the starker findings of the annual data on doctorate recipients from the National Science Foundation, drawn from a survey sponsored by the foundation and other federal agencies and conducted by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. The data may for some reinforce the idea that institutions are turning out more Ph.D. recipients than can be absorbed, at least in some fields.

American universities awarded 52,760 doctorates in 2013, up 3.5 percent from nearly 50,977 in 2012 and nearly 8 percent from 48,903 in 2011. . . .

The numbers suggest that more people are seeking terminal degrees and that universities are welcoming them with open arms — but the data on what the Ph.D. holders do with their new degrees raise questions about whether the credentials will pay off for the individuals themselves, at least in the short term.

The important thing is that universities are getting their money up front.

IF YOU OPPOSE NUCLEAR ENERGY, YOU DON’T REALLY CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT: An Open Letter To Environmentalists On Nuclear Energy.

SAVING LIVES ON THE BATTLEFIELD, with injectable hydrogel.

WHY THE NHL lost control of its Mumps outbreak. You really don’t want mumps as an adult male.

CAVE FIND SUGGESTS when humans figured out fire.

12 DAYS OF DEALS: Christmas Deals in Home Goods.

Also, $25 off the Kindle Fire HD7.

THE CULT OF BULLETPROOF COFFEE. Well, it’s better for you in the morning than a bagel, because it’s low carb.

THE MPAA REALLY IS AN AWFUL ORGANIZATION: Leaked Emails Reveal MPAA Plans To Pay Elected Officials To Attack Google.

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO DRIVE the 1980s’ greatest supercars.

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Elizabeth Warren, corporate-welfare queen.

JOURNALISM: Of Course: NY Magazine Story of 17-Year-Old Market Whiz Debunked.

THOU SHALT NOT CONTRADICT THE NARRATIVE, ESPECIALLY WITH ICKY PATRIARCHAL FACTS: Angry protesters denounce George Will at MSU; called ‘rape denier,’ backs turned. Hey, they’ve been turning their backs on the truth for a long time. But the biggest joke: signs stating “rape is not a pawn to be politicized.” Uh huh.

Even more delicious: “At Michigan State’s ‘alternative ceremony,’ one speaker was professor Ruben Parra-Cardona, associate director of MSU’s Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence. Ruben, in a speech, criticized Will for seeing sexual violence ideologically. The scholar also checked his own privilege.”

Related: Charles C.W. Cooke: Does Truth Matter to the Feminist Left? The reactions to the unraveling of the Rolling Stone story suggest not. “Where most readers accepted with alacrity the possibility that Sabrina Erdely could have got it wrong, the tireless archaeologists of our supposedly ubiquitous ‘rape culture’ took to remolding their position every six-and-a-half minutes and to carrying on in public like a bunch of frothy peanut-gallery-voyeurs at a backwoods 17th-century witch trial. Just a few short weeks ago, when Rolling Stone’s story was almost universally believed to be true, we were urged to read each and every sordid detail of the case so that we might better acquaint ourselves with the broader problems that are presented by ‘rape culture.’ Today, as the story continues to collapse, the opposite view is regnant, and the very same people who pointed excitedly to Erdely’s work now contend that we should not be focusing on an individual case such as this in the first place.”

THE NEW CRITERION ON DOUBLE STANDARDS: “Why is it acceptable for celebrities or other certified feminist icons to prance around in pornographic splendor when men are expected to behave with Mrs. Grundyesque rectitude?” Because feminism, as practiced, is all about expanding women’s options and diminishing women’s responsibilities, while doing the opposite to men. Because equality!

SO IT SEEMS THAT THE MAIN FUNCTION OF THESE “HANDS UP DON’T SHOOT” PROTESTS is to bankrupt blue-state police departments. Now even Deval Patrick is complaining.

“KNOWN WOLF” SYNDROME: Sydney Hostage-Taker Is Yet Another Case. “Monis came to Australia in 1996 from Iran and his immigration status was that of political refugee. He has since had other well-known run-ins with law enforcement. In 2009, he sent a series of hate messages, which he deemed as ‘flowers of advice,’ to the families of Australian military members who had been killed in action. He likened their deaths to the deaths of Hitler’s soldiers, as well as to families of Australian victims of international terrorism attacks. He was given 300 hours of community service. In another case, Monis was charged with 50 counts of sexual assault, where it was claimed that he lured victims in and assaulted them claiming it was a ‘spiritual healing technique.’”

IN THE MAIL: Edited by Tom Kratman and Vox Day, Riding the Red Horse.

Plus, today only at Amazon: $125 Off the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.”

And, also today only: Up to 66% Off Select Celestron Telescopes.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 585.

BLOWBACK: ‘Fire University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan’ put to petition.

STEPHEN L. CARTER: Why The CIA “Torture Report” Is Like the Rolling Stone Rape Debacle.

By not talking to relevant CIA personnel, the staff weakened what was in most other respects a thorough and troubling examination of poorly conceived and poorly run program. But one needn’t be a supporter of the enhanced interrogations — I’m certainly not — to find unpersuasive the proffered explanation that CIA officials could not talk to the committee while a criminal investigation was pending. The investigation closed in 2012. Had the committee wanted to interview CIA officers closely involved in the program, there was plenty of time to do so, even if it meant postponing the date for finalizing the report. If, on the other hand, there are pending criminal matters to which the public isn’t privy, then releasing the report with all the accompanying hoopla is sure to poison the jury pool.

Why, then, didn’t the staff members speak to ranking intelligence officials, either in the CIA or elsewhere in the executive branch? Perhaps we see at work a malady that has become all too common: a reluctance to disturb the narrative.

Nowadays, narratives are all the rage, and inconvenient facts and testimony are generally left out of the story. This is exactly what got Rolling Stone magazine in trouble. Even back when I was a college journalist, we never ran a controversial story without seeking a response from the other side. But Rolling Stone, in its vivid account of a rape alleged to have occurred at a fraternity house on the University of Virginia campus, did exactly that. No comments from the accused; no comments from the fraternity; no comments from the accuser’s own friends. The accuser supposedly placed these limits as a condition of writing the story. Why on earth did the magazine go along?

Surely the same explanation applies. To do otherwise would have disturbed the narrative. Sexual assault is said to be rampant on campus, and Rolling Stone had a powerful story to tell. Adding even routine denials, to say nothing of the sort of widely varying accounts that a serious investigation would surely have unearthed, would have reduced the power of the tale.

It’s hard to believe that the magazine would have stumbled into the same thicket of unprofessional journalism had it been reporting on, say, a source’s allegations that the Internal Revenue Service had targeted conservative organizations. Possibly the story wouldn’t have run at all; certainly it would not have run without a serious effort at verification.

Journalistic standards, like Congressional ones, are amazingly flexible depending on who is being targeted.

ROGER SIMON: Did Edward Snowden Hack Sony Pictures? “Many of us who have spent even part of our lives working in the film industry, particularly those who have committed the unpardonable sin of not adhering religiously to the orthodox liberal line, cannot but grin at the release of the hacked emails from the bosses of Sony Pictures. We were right all along about these self-described liberals and progressives and now we have proof — they are pond scum. They are about as liberal and progressive as Attila — not that those words mean anything anyway. They’re also racist, but forget about that. It’s hardly surprising. What is surprising is that they are clueless. They don’t know what the average ten-year-old nerd knows.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Four Charts That Explain Why America Has Too Many Law Schools.