January 29, 2015

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Can Israel Survive? Traditional pillars of the tiny democracy’s security have begun to erode. If I were the Israelis, I’d build a doomsday device, to give everyone a stake in my survival. Maybe several devices. But that’s just me. . . .

HAVEN’T YOU, AT SOME POINT, RAISED ENOUGH MONEY? Charitable Donations to Colleges Reached All-Time High in 2014 ($38 Billion). Perhaps Congress should cap endowments, and enact some other schemes to spread the charitable wealth around. I think everyone’s better off when you spread the wealth around.

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RON CAPSHAW: Flipping The Hollywood Blacklist Narrative.

Once on a British talk show in the early 1970s, anticommunist actor John Wayne startled the host by acknowledging that there was indeed a Hollywood blacklist. Wayne’s follow-up, however, made the host’s jaw drop even farther; the blacklist, he stated, wasn’t wielded by industry anticommunists against Communist Party members, but by the reverse. It was for this reason, Wayne stated, that he enlisted in the anticommunist fight in order to defend conservative screenwriters and get them back on the payroll.

Wayne, regarded by the Old and New Left, as a fascist, was in actuality more of a rebel against the establishment than they ever would be. The “establishment” in this case was Left Coast Hollywood, already entrenched by the early 70s, who, taking a leaf from the Hollywood communist narrative, asserted that the blacklisted were liberals battling fascism in the form of industry anticommunists. Upholders of free speech rather than the Stalinists they were, they paid the consequences for their New Deal liberalism by going to jail and being denied employment in the industry for two decades. Their eventual triumph wasn’t just in overturning the blacklist, but in getting modern day Hollywood, academia and liberals to accept their narrative. Hence, anticommunist movie stars like Robert Taylor have had their names removed from buildings, while blacklisted screenwriters such as Dalton Trumbo have free speech fountains at colleges dedicated to them.

This spin is nourished by the memoirs of the children of the blacklisted, who give the narrative more poignancy by showing how the blacklist warped their childhoods. These recollections all follow the same theme: assertions by the children that their parents were not knee jerk Stalinists; followed by a strong, loving family unit (no affairs or alcoholism are allowed into this narrative); then the unit is warped while at the same time being brought closer together as the blacklist hits; then a decade of near-poverty, school yard bullying, and a redemptive move toward leftist politics.

More than honoring the memory of their parents is involved here. As with Left Coast Hollywood, they have followed the narrative by continuing how they were used by their parents in protests against their jail terms—displayed with placards bearing how their parents were going to jail while their parents stood piously by.

By contrast, the children of their anticommunist foes have stayed silent. But Allen Ryskind, the son of the blacklisted’s bete noir, Academy-awarding screenwriter Morrie Ryskind, does not engage in self-pity or strumming the violin in Hollywood Traitors. While he notes that his father was the victim of the blacklist Wayne spoke of, he doesn’t play on it. Nor does he use the example of his father—a Jew and member of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League and the Screenwriters’ Guild as well as a two-time voter for FDR—to refute the Left’s charge that their opponents were anti-Semites, anti-labor and anti-New Deal.

Only one of those three things is dishonorable. Here’s a related piece from Tim Cavanaugh, and here’s more on the subject of Hollywood’s “missing movies.”

Meanwhile, the book is Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters — Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH says goodbye to Andrew Sullivan. Actually, I suspect Sullivan will be back. In my observation, it’s easier to quit blogging than it is to stay quit.

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HMM: Oklahoma worries over swarm of earthquakes and connection to oil industry.

But Connecticut is also experiencing swarms of small earthquakes, and it doesn’t have an oil industry. Could it just be better detection technology, noticing swarms that were always there, but previously unnoted?

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Why the Time Seems Right for a Space-Based Internet Service.

OFF THE 3-D PRINTER, Practice Parts For The Surgeon. “That first model helped him to decide what might need to be done and to discuss his treatment plan with her family. Three more 3-D printouts closer to the operation allowed Dr. Meara to rotate the model skull in directions he could not manage with a picture and would not attempt with a patient on the operating table. Then he was able to cut and manipulate the plastic model to determine the best way to push her eye sockets more than an inch closer together.”

DRIVING THE 2017 Jaguar XE.

CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS LECTURES AT YALE: Trigger Warnings, Male-Shaming & Moral Panic: It’s Time to Reboot Feminism.

SPACE: NASA’s Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Has Arrived.

STEPHEN GREEN: Quarter Pounder Blues.

IN THE MAIL: Saltwater Cowboys.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Up to 60% Off Select Sony Memory. More memory is always good, unless you work for the IRS. Or the Justice Department. Or. . . .

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 630. It’s a big one today.

FOR SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK: 5 Facts About Charter Schools.

Also, for those interested in school choice, here’s some recommended reading.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Moral Panics Won’t End Campus Rape.

The sexual abuse of children is not an imaginary problem. It is one of the worst crimes known to our society, and it happens all too tragically often. But somehow, in the 1980s, we became convinced that it was an omnipresent threat, and that we must go to any lengths to eradicate it — up to, and including, believing in the impossible. Many people seem to have swallowed their doubts about these stories for fear of being denounced — just as folks such as Richard Bradley, who first raised questions about the Rolling Stone story, were accused of “rape denial” and being “truthers.”

When people are in the grip of a moral panic, going up against them to question the extent of a threat, even by doubting so much as a single case, can become dangerous. Questioning any expression of the panic is not seen as a logical debate over statistics or the details of a particular instance, but as somehow defending the threatening behavior. Note how careful many people who wrote skeptically about the UVA case were to say that they believe campus rape happens, and it is terrible. People who write that they think an accused murderer may be innocent rarely feel compelled to affirm that yes, they sure do believe that murder happens, and boy, are they against that. This ought to go without saying, and unless we are in the middle of a moral panic, it usually does.

Yet once moral panic sets in, an accusation can also become sufficient evidence unto itself to trigger a severe response: no need to see what the brothers might have to say, or to wait for a police investigation, before you write that op-ed article about rape culture — or start throwing bricks.

Unfortunately, our panicked determination to believe does not ultimately help the cause; in fact, such determination hurts the cause, as well as the innocent people whose names are tarnished along the way. As Judith Levine wrote in the aftermath of the UVA revelations, “feminism can handle the truth.”

Two points: (1) No, they really can’t, it seems; and (2) Solving the problem of campus rape isn’t the agenda here. Remember, “moral panics” don’t just happen. They are created.

ED MORRISSEY: Obama’s Enemies List Targets Red State Voters. “While solidly red states like Mississippi and Texas saw average cuts of 40 percent in federal grants, reliably blue states – and even more importantly, swing states – did much better in disbursements from the federal government.”


IT DOES SEEM THAT WAY: White House Unhinged Over Netanyahu Speech.

UPDATE: From the comments:

Let’s hope the speech kills the talks.

The outline of a potential deal has long been clear:

Iran pretends they don’t have a nuclear weapon program.

And we pretend to believe them.

Yeah, pretty much.

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HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Scott Walker urges professors to work harder. “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, defending proposed budget cuts for higher education, took a swipe at university professors who he said could be ‘teaching more classes and doing more work.’”

I’m disappointed that he’s not focusing more on cutting administration, which represents the largest part of academic bloat in recent years.

ROGER SIMON: Big, Bad Bibi. “Meanwhile, lost in Goldberg’s posturing, and the funfkeying by such great State Department intellects as Jen Psaki, is the subject of Netanyahu’s putative speech. What was it? Oh, yes… Iran. Now I remember. That country that has its hand in nearly every piece of Islamic mayhem from Buenos Aires to Sanaa.”

WHY ARE LEFTY INSTITUTIONS SUCH HOTBEDS OF RACISM AND SEXISM? Female, Minority Professors Are Paid Less Than White Male Professors at UC-Berkeley.

ASHE SCHOW: Vanderbilt gang-rape case shows why justice system must handle campus sexual assault.

Two former Vanderbilt University football players were found guilty on Tuesday of gang-raping an unconscious woman back in 2013. The case provides a clear example of why the criminal justice system is better suited to handle such cases. A jury was able to convict the perpetrators quickly, whereas the university’s parallel investigation had been unable to make a strong enough case. . . .

Further, universities wouldn’t have been able to force the accused students to hand over their pictures and video they had taken of the incident. The victim reportedly didn’t even know she had been raped until she started hearing about the pictures and video. She had continued to date Vandenburg after the alleged incident because she didn’t believe she had been assaulted.

While the police were investigating the matter, the university did conclude its own investigation, which found insufficient evidence against Vandenburg to prove he had “non-consensual sexual intercourse” with the victim. This report was concluded after police had already charged four men (the other two still await trial) with rape.

Though activists continue to demand colleges and universities create an alternate court system to adjudicate sexual assault, the fact remains that, imperfect as it is, the American justice system is still best-equipped to handle this crime. In this case, men who committed a felony are going to jail, not being let loose on the streets with other potential victims.

But turning investigations over to the police wouldn’t create more campus jobs for angry feminists who are unemployable elsewhere. Related: New W.H. campus sexual assault guidelines: Still pretty terrible, but a step in the right direction.

ROLL CALL: Cruz Says Fate of ‘Dangerous’ Lynch Up to McConnell.

Sen. Ted Cruz called attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch’s immigration views “dangerous” Wednesday and questioned whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., should even have the chamber consider her nomination.

“That is the decision the majority leader is going to have to make. I believe we should use every constitutional tool available to stop the president’s unconstitutional executive action. That’s what Republicans, Republican candidates all over the country said over and over again last year,” the Texas Republican said in a brief interview with CQ Roll Call as the daylong Judiciary Committee hearing on Lynch’s nomination neared conclusion.

Given that Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said that committee members will have a week to submit questions in writing once the hearing portion with outside witnesses concludes, it’s unlikely Lynch would be lined up for time on the floor before the Presidents Day recess next month. The timing could coincide with the expiration in funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which is also caught up in Republican opposition to President Barack Obama’s action on immigration.

“For several months now, I’ve called for us to use every constitutional check and balance we have to rein in the president’s illegal action. That includes using the confirmation power given by the Constitution as a direct check on the executive,” Cruz said. “In my view the majority leader should announce the Senate will not confirm any executive or judicial nominees in this Congress, other than vital national security positions, unless and until the president rescinds” the executive actions granting deferred action to almost 5 million of undocumented individuals.

While the attorney general position is exempt from that proposed blockade, Cruz nonetheless sounded skeptical that Lynch in particular should be allowed to advance.

Trouble is, pretty much anybody Obama would nominate would be just about as bad.

PETER SUDERMAN: How Obama’s 529 College Tax Plan Debacle Proves the Welfare State is Doomed: Someone has to pay for it—but no one wants to foot the bill.

To understand just how bad the politics of Obama’s now-withdrawn plan to tax 529 college savings were, think about it this way: Obama, under heavy pressure from both Democrats and Republicans, made a public show of pulling a proposal that already had no chance of passing.

Even as an inert fantasy proposal, it was so widely disliked that the White House had to back down.

It’s a minor but revealing political fiasco—one that shows how distant the White House is even from the interests of its own party while offering a preview of economic policy debates and welfare-state fiscal challenges for decades to come.

The political optics of the plan were flat-out terrible for Obama, who put forth the proposal in the context of a State of the Union address built around the theme of Middle Class Economics. The gist was that Obama proposed taxing the wealthy in order to pay for new middle class benefits, like free community college tuition.

But, somewhat awkwardly, given the president’s chosen theme, 529 plans are tax-advantaged savings vehicles that currently benefit an awful lot of middle class people. In particular, they benefit middle and upper-middle class families in high-tax blue states.

Maybe the GOP should pass it, and put him in the uncomfortable position of having to veto his own proposal. . . .

But here’s the real point: “In the bigger picture, the existing welfare state is unaffordable. Either it will have to be cut, or reformed, or paid for—by someone, somehow. The administration and its allies would like to reassure you that the someones who will pay for all of this will be limited to the richest of the rich, but in practice there’s only so much money that can be squeezed out of the extremely wealthy.” Sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money.

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, THAT’S NOT A BUG, BUT A FEATURE: Pelosi warns Netanyahu: Speech to Congress will hurt Iran talks.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) this week warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his coming speech before Congress threatens to sink the nuclear talks between Iran and the United States, the Democratic leader said Wednesday.

“I think that such a presentation could send the wrong message,” Pelosi told reporters during the Democrats’ annual issues retreat in Philadelphia. “That’s my view, and I shared that with the prime minister today.”

The nuclear talks are a fraud. Pelosi knows that, but she doesn’t mind. She just objects to it being made apparent.

January 28, 2015

I AM STRONG, I AM — AUGGHH! TRIGGER WARNING! Women Are Helpless Victims, Say National Sororities. “It’s not enough to punish men for things they haven’t done. Women must be kept away from men, for their own good, because of the crimes those men haven’t committed. This isn’t happening in Saudi Arabia or some other third-world hellhole. This is happening right here. . . . All because of a fraudulent story in a pathetic, outdated music magazine.”

ACE: “It is becoming impossible to avoid the conclusion that Obama has a visceral hatred of America and its middle class which has largely (and positively) shaped its civic culture for 200+ years.”

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PAGING DR. FREUD: Neurasthenic Woman Panicked By Sight Of Man’s “Bulge.”


I think Charlie can pull it off. Me, I’m too snarky. . . .

THIS IS SMART: So I’m watching Rand Paul, DVR’ed from last night on Kennedy’s new show on Fox Business, talking about the debacle of “Hillary’s war in Libya,” which he calls “a huge disaster.” We talked Qaddafi into giving up his nuclear program, he notes, and then we invaded his country and killed him, which doesn’t help negotiations with Iran.

I think we’ll be hearing more about Hillary’s failed war in Libya. It was a war of choice, we were promised a quick and easy victory, and it left a country in shambles that’s now full of Islamists and a growing terrorist threat.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Prynt Wants To Be A Polaroid For The Smartphone Age. “Prynt is a case that incorporates a little inkless photo printer and connects to your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy smartphone, thanks to a modular system that lets you swap out connectors. Pick a shot from your camera roll, or shoot it with the Prynt app, and you can instantly print out a two-by-three inch photo. Up to 10 pieces of paper fit in the case, which has a battery designed to let you print out 20 prints, each in about 30 seconds. . . . There’s also a nifty, if somewhat gimmicky, augmented reality feature. Take a video while you’re taking your photo, and Prynt can link the clip to your photo. Later on, when you point the app at the printed out version of the photo, it can play back the video on your phone, letting you relive the moment; and since the video is stored in the cloud, anybody you give the photo to can use the Prynt app to view it.”

HEH: Reaction to Jonathan Chait’s Essay on Political Correctness Instantly Proves Chait’s Thesis Correct. It’s interesting how all these critics respond by invoking their minority- or female-privilege rather than engaging his claims.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: CBO Projects Tepid Economic Growth, Rising Deficits Despite Rising Revenues. Yeah, too much spending and regulation will get you that.


21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Man’s Desert Sex Costs Him $250K. He says it was worth it.

IN JOHN CARTER’S WORDS, I STILL LIVE: Andrew Sullivan is going to stop blogging. No, blogging isn’t dead. And InstaPundit gets more pageviews than pretty much everyone who’s calling blogging dead. But I can understand Andrew quitting. For me, the real strain isn’t the blogging, but having to pay close attention to the news all the time. The news is usually depressing, when it’s not angering, and that’s doubly true for the Obama years. But I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

ablogalypseUPDATE: A commenter points out that I’m the last of the Four Horsemen Of The Ablogalypse still riding. My, how time flies. Oh, well. Giddyup!

AN INTERESTING NOTE BY ALEXANDER KASNER IN THE STANFORD LAW REVIEW: National Security Leaks and Constitutional Duty. The argument that the Oath Clause protects leakers who expose illegal or unconstitutional conduct is interesting. I wish I’d thought of that for my Don’t Fear The Leaker piece. (Bumped).

VIDEO: Watch Dodge prove the Charger Hellcat’s 204 mph top speed. “Yes, an American family sedan, recognizably similar to the ones populating rental fleets across the country, and priced within reach of folks who don’t decorate their houses with exotic animal furs, will willingly cannonball you and four other humans well and truly past the 200 mph mark. These are terrifyingly good times to be alive.”

UPDATE: Some people in the comments say the video’s not working for them, but it’s working for me. Try again.

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JERRY POURNELLE: Abolish The Air Force. “The purpose of military forces is to win wars. The purpose of the Air Force is—well, they no longer know. When we had SAC we knew – ‘Our profession is peace’ was not just a slogan – but that too is neglected in the Modern Air Force. . . . As to the rest of the Air Force, it is more interested in the Air Force than winning wars, and considers supporting the field army as beneath contempt. A slow old Warthog does a much better job, but there is no glory in that.”

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Swarms of DNA nanorobots execute complex tasks in living animal.

I WANTED FLYING CARS, but what do I get? Flying selfie-bot drones. “Plenty of people—sports enthusiasts in particular—are ravenous for selfies taken by aerial robots. And start-ups everywhere are now scrambling to develop this technology for them.”

ANTI-AGING NEWS: Telomere Lengthening RNA Treatment Lets Cells Divide More.

SPACE: Here’s What a SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch Will Look Like.

JOURNALISM: Politico invents nasty Mike Huckabee quote, mocks it.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: The Tick-Tock Begins for Andrew Cuomo.

AUSTIN BAY: Time for Obama and Ambassador Power to Account for Their Darfur Failure.

IN THE MAIL: Senate Proof.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 629.

NATIONAL JOURNAL: Democrats Not Giving Up On “War On Women” Tactic Yet:

Democrats are far from finished with their “war on women” campaign strategy, midterm losses be damned.

Critics said Democrats’ focus on topics such as abortion rights and access to contraception proved to be a losing strategy in 2014. But leading Senate Democratic strategists aren’t backing away from the message just yet. They don’t necessarily defend the way the strategy was executed, but they do think a focus on female voters and the subjects they care about will resonate in next year’s races—especially as Republicans on Capitol Hill debate new abortion legislation. . . .

Democrats once considered Sen. Mark Udall’s Colorado race against Republican Cory Gardner an ideal place to emphasize abortion rights and contraception, hoping it would carry Colorado’s cosmopolitan, socially liberal electorate. It had worked there in 2010, when Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet won reelection after successfully characterizing his opponent (now-Rep. Ken Buck) as too extreme.

But by the late summer, with polls showing a close race, Democrats began to worry that Udall—who was saddled with the moniker “Senator Uterus”—had too narrowly focused on abortion rights, at the expense of a more well-rounded message. The criticism crystalized by October when The Denver Post, in an endorsement for Gardner, castigated Udall for running an “obnoxious single-issue campaign.” Udall lost the race, the first Democratic gubernatorial or Senate candidate to do so in Colorado since 2002.

Despite the criticism, Democrats insisted that although the campaign made mistakes, focusing heavily on something like access to contraception was the right thing to do. Their polling backed it up: According to sources close to the Udall campaign, every time the senator wavered from that message, Gardner’s lead would increase. (Lopach, for his part, said that because he just joined the DSCC he wasn’t equipped to assess whether the Udall campaign had focused too heavily on abortion rights.)

To some of them, the message was right—it just wasn’t enough to overcome an unpopular president and strong Republican candidate like Gardner.

My sense is that men are going from indifferent, to seriously turned-off by all this gynocentric rhetoric. So what will the Dems do when their war on women schtick costs them more male votes than it gains them female votes?

LIZ PEEK: Why Elites Think ‘Pro-America’ Is So Last Century.

HOW THE FIRE PHONE FIZZLED. “Understanding Amazon’s journey to create a smartphone, and why it failed, is perhaps the best way to understand the company’s evolving mission and values as it struggles to unearth its next gusher of revenue.” Steve Jobs had the Lisa before he had the Mac.

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“SMART DIPLOMACY” MARCHES ON: Muslim Brotherhood-Aligned Leaders Hosted at State Department; Brotherhood seeks to rally anti-Sisi support.

ROLL CALL: House Democrats Brace for Potentially Tense Retreat. “For House Democrats, the months since the demoralizing midterm elections have been characterized by several public episodes of party infighting — about the culture of the caucus, the ‘brand’ and the perceived lack of opportunities for younger members to climb the ranks.”

ED DRISCOLL: Sorry, Jonathan Chait, But Political Correctness Is The Essence of Liberalism.

JOURNALISM: Media “Blows” Coverage Of Menendez Iran Sanctions Delay.

WELL, LOOK AT HOW THEY TREAT THE TEA PARTY, WHICH IS A VERY MIDDLE-CLASS MOVEMENT: Why are Republicans so weirdly hesitant to talk about America’s middle class?

The paucity of “middle” mentions is bizarre. The story of this anemic economic recovery — and really of the entire 2000s — is how poorly America’s broad middle has done. Countless news stories and research reports have highlighted the middle class’ financial struggles. Clearly, Democrats have gone long on “middle class” for 2016. In his recent State of the Union speech, President Obama coined a new term for his policy agenda: “middle-class economics.” And the Center for American Progress, the “ready for Hillary” think tank, recently produced a lengthy report devoted to solutions for middle-class woes.

But weirdly, much of the GOP is reluctant to explicitly target the middle, either with rhetoric or ideas. It’s not necessarily that Republicans don’t care about the 99 percent. They just think their way is better than the Democrats’ way, even if it’s less obviously and directly helpful to the middle class. This is the party that believes “a rising tide lifts all boats,” that faster economic growth is the best path to shared prosperity. To concede otherwise is to challenge one of the modern party’s first principles. Moreover, many think mentioning the “middle class” by name — much less pushing policies to directly help it — smacks of “class warfare” and uses the language of Karl Marx. As Rick Santorum, one GOPer who has actually focused on the middle, has put it, “since when in America do we have classes? Since when in America are people stuck in areas or defined places called a class? That’s Marxism talk.”

Neither party in this country really wants the middle class to wake up and seize control. Dems can talk about it because they know they won’t rouse it. Republicans can’t talk about it for fear that they will.

K.C. JOHNSON AT MINDING THE CAMPUS: A Slight Nod To Due Process. “Fifty-nine times the document uses the word ‘victim’ to describe a student who has alleged being sexually assaulted; fifty-nine times the document doesn’t couple that description with an ‘alleged,’ even as the document makes clear it’s dealing with procedures that occur before any adjudication.”

GOOD: Sharyl Attkisson leads Loretta Lynch witness list as Senate Republicans plan tough hearing.

Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson leads the list of witnesses who will testify at the confirmation hearing. Attkisson is suing the Justice Department, accusing it of tapping her phones and computer while she worked as a correspondent for CBS News.

Milwaukee Sheriff David A. Clarke will also testify. Clarke accused Holder of race-baiting following the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo.

Senate Republicans have also invited Catherine Engelbrecht, who was subjected to numerous federal investigations and repeated questioning by the Internal Revenue Service after she sought tax-exempt status for her voter ID advocacy group, True the Vote, in 2010.

Among the agencies who began suddenly probing Engelbrecht’s business were the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, which are part of the Justice Department.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley will also testify. He authored a critical column in USA Today entitled “Fire Eric Holder.” Turley said Holder’s Justice Department had violated civil liberties and the free press by snooping into the computers and phones of reporters.

I assume C-SPAN, CNN, MSNBC and Fox will all be covering live.

A MODEL FOR GOVERNMENT ENTITIES EVERYWHERE: Portsmouth regulators vote to eliminate taxi regulations.

In response to Uber ride-sharing drivers now working in the city, the Taxi Commission on Wednesday recommended the elimination of taxi medallions, regulation of taxi fares, city taxi inspections and the Taxi Commission itself.

The commission voted unanimously to send a memo to the City Council outlining its recommendations to lift many regulations currently imposed on drivers-for-hire. . . .

“I think the public is probably better served if we also have ride-sharing,” Cataldo said, explaining that ride-share drivers help get intoxicated people home safely.

Cataldo said the Uber model dispatches more drivers to certain locations when demand peaks and that cab drivers have not been available to transport all of the people who need rides all of the time. He said he’s most concerned about bar patrons having rides between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. because ensuring impaired people don’t drive is “a blessing to the city.”

Cataldo said if drivers are smoking, or offering rides in unkempt vehicles, consumers will decide if they want to hire them. Under the proposal, police would continue to conduct background checks of registered drivers who would also have to provide proof that their passengers are insured for a minimum of $300,000 under a commercial policy.

Several commissioners compared the proposed deregulation of taxi fares to the fact that someone can buy a glass of beer for $4 at a downtown pub and pay $8 for a glass of the same beer at a nearby restaurant.

“I guess it’s going to come down to what consumers want to do,” said Lt. Chris Cummings, the Police Department’s liaison to the Taxi Commission.

What a novel approach. What if it spreads?

DO TELL: Obama drops proposal to cut tax benefits of 529 college savings plans.

And just one day after my USA Today column blasting that policy came out. Coincidence? I think not.

UPDATE: First link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry!

YES. NEXT QUESTION? Is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Grandstanding At The Expense of Due Process? “By inviting Ms Sulkowicz to accompany her, Senator Gillibrand undoubtedly wanted to send Congress the message that passage of her proposed Campus Accountability and Safety Act is necessary to protect students in their college environments. However, in her effort to push through the bill, Senator Gillibrand not only is willing to use a dubious victim, Gillibrand is also willing to use discredited and out of date statistics and unsubstantiated data.”

January 27, 2015

BYRON YORK: Will Jeb Bush deport four million illegal immigrants?

That’s hardly unthinkable. Obama deported 2 million in slightly more than one term.

WELL, THIS MAKES SENSE: Why Marine Le Pen Is So Popular With France’s Gays:

An insight into the phenomenon comes from Patrick McCarthy, a young gay blogger who lives in Bordeaux. ‘Up until 2005, Bordeaux was a very gay-friendly city,’ he says. ‘Same-sex couples could openly walk down the street holding hands without any problems. However, in the space of two months, five gay men were murdered in the city. The blame was put on Bordeaux’s Muslim community since some of these hate crimes were carried out by people of Arabic origins.’ . . .

The Front National now offers a welcoming home to gay people who feel judged by Muslims and share wider concerns about immigration and the loss of French identity.

That gay men now feel comfortable with the Front National is the result of a deliberate effort by its leader, Marine Le Pen, who has pursued a programme of detoxification (the French term is ‘de-diabolisation’) ever since she took control of the party in 2011.

So the GOP should encourage Muslim immigration so as to pick up gay support! And it’s not just gays: “In the 2012 presidential elections, Le Pen won 13.5 per cent of the Jewish vote. A surprising enough statistic, but her appeal to gay activists has created even more waves.”

WELL, TO BE FAIR, THAT WOULD HAVE SPOILED THE NARRATIVE AND COST HIM CLICKS: N.Y. Times’ Charles Blow cried racism, said nothing about cop who arrested his son being black. “Blow did not return a request for comment on why he omitted the race of the officer in his column or whether the race of the officer matters.” But we all know, don’t we?

UPDATE: On Twitter: “What Charles Blow was upset about was a slight against his son’s class. Not his race.”

HISTORY: Take a Tour of a 1964 Underground Fallout Home.

LAMB AND GUINNESS STEW: Reader Merrill Guice emails: “Decided this was a good week to try this recipe I’d saved. Just wow! I feel like I under seasoned, though. What rough measures did you use for the Rosemary, turmeric, paprika, red pepper, and garlic?”

You know, it’s just “to taste,” and it’s been a while since I’ve made it so I’m not sure the measures. My advice: When in doubt, more! Here’s the recipe. Good for a cold winter night.

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SPACE: Hoping to Set Sail on Sunlight. “The Planetary Society, a nonprofit that promotes space exploration, announced Monday that it would send the first of two small craft testing the technology of solar sails into orbit this May, tagging along with other small satellites on an Atlas 5 rocket. . . . When photons — particles of light — bounce off a shiny surface, they impart a tiny bit of momentum, an effect that comes directly from the equations of electromagnetism published by the physicist James Clerk Maxwell in the 1860s. In his 1865 novel, ‘From the Earth to the Moon,’ Jules Verne appears to have been the first to realize that this force could be harnessed for space travel. The bombardment of sunlight over a large area can gradually but continuously accelerate a spacecraft.”

WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS: A Turbo-Diesel Snow Blower. Well, maybe not everyone.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: 3-D Transistors Made with Molecular Self-Assembly.

AT AMAZON, deals on Top Valentine’s Day Gifts.

Also, markdowns on Athletic Shoes. Spring is coming.

LAW ENFORCEMENT IN THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: The DEA Is Spying on Millions of Cars All Over the U.S. “The primary goal of the license-plate tracking program, run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is to seize cars, cash and other assets to combat drug trafficking, according to one government document. But the database’s use has expanded to hunt for vehicles associated with numerous other potential crimes, from kidnappings to killings to rape suspects, say people familiar with the matter.” Also, one suspects, Tea Party members and law enforcement critics.

SPYING: Feds Spied On Wikileaks’ Journalists’ Emails.

WHY SHOULD POLICE, IN PUBLIC, HAVE A RIGHT OF PRIVACY WHEN CITIZENS DON’T? Cops decry Waze traffic app as a “police stalker.” “The app, used by some 50 million people in 200 countries, is a free service that provides real-time traffic data about accidents, congestion, traffic cameras, and weather among other information. It also allows Waze users to report a police presence, which then appears on a traffic map for others to see. The app provides no other data about the police’s public presence.”

MONEY FOR LAWYERS! YAY! Here come the settlements over lack of due process in campus sexual assault hearings.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Cutbacks Are Looming for Law School Income-Based Repayment Programs. I certainly would not borrow money for law school — or any education — in the expectation that the income-based repayment plans will be there later. They are likely to run out of other people’s money.

I’M NOT INSURING THEM: These Guys Drove A 2000 Horsepower Lamborghini Into A Lake.

HMM: Romney, ahead of 2016 run, now calls Utah home, talks openly about Mormon influence. Prediction: The presidential talk is a headfake, he’ll actually pivot and run against Mike Lee for Senate.

GOOD: Scott Walker forms committee in preparation for 2016 presidential bid.

WAIT, I THOUGHT AL QAEDA WAS ON THE RUN: General Tells Senators al-Qaeda Has ‘Grown Fourfold in Last Five Years.’

INDIANA HAS ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH EASTASIA: Governor proposes his own media coverage. Though to be fair, “professional” journalism is so in-the-tank for its favored party that there’s not much difference.

RICHARD EPSTEIN: The Sad State Of The Union. Hopey-Changey!

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

Plus, today only at Amazon: 45% Off Kate Spade New York Watches, Handbags + More.

And, also today only: Up to 60% Off Select Logitech Products.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 628.

PUSHBACK: Russia Threatens SWIFT.

It is important not to underestimate the amount of bluster and bluff in Russian talk about its friendship with China and its turn to the east. Repeated failures to build an effective Russia-China partnership date back to the era of the Soviet Union and Mao. But both countries, and they are not alone, are deeply and seriously concerned about what they see as the excessive power that the present day SWIFT system gives the U.S. and its Western allies; essentially, the ability to cut a country’s banks off from the global financial system. These are the sanctions that have been so effective against Iran. Russia and China, and a number of other countries, would like very much to break this weapon, something they see as one of the chief props of American world power.

It isn’t easy to build an alternative, and countries like China which depend on large flows of both investment and trade with the rest of the world, and whose financial systems are pointed toward greater rather than less integration with the global system are somewhat less eager about building an alternative than countries like Russia. Furthermore, lots of ne’er-do-wells like Venezuela, Argentina, or perhaps a Syriza-led Greece would love to join an alternative system thinking that it offers them new chances to stiff a new set of creditors.

Still, the more powerful the sanctions weapon becomes, and the more we try to use it, the greater the incentive we create for other people to challenge it. This should at the least cause the West to think twice before slamming sanctions down when somebody jaywalks; this is a tool that should be reserved for great dangers, not pesky annoyances. Yet there’s a longstanding tendency in the West to use sanctions as a substitute for military action—public opinion demands action, politicians don’t want to send troops (and think the public demand for action will cool rapidly when the body bags start coming home), so sanctions become the way to look tough while staying cool.

Which calls for courage and self-discipline among politicians, both, alas, in short supply these days.

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Obama’s 529 Tax Plan Is Just The Beginning.

HISTORY: Remembering Auschwitz: 70 Years After Liberation. Fortunately, it’s impossible to imagine that kind of murderous antisemitism in Europe today.