April 26, 2015

HOW OUR RULING CLASS THINKS: Gillibrand On Rape Hoaxes: ‘I Hope It’s Just Putting More Of A Spotlight On The Problem.’

BECAUSE DIVERSITY!:  A “diversity” officer at Goldsmiths, University of London, Bahar Mustafa, sponsored a meeting recently to discuss the need for greater “diversity” in the curriculum, announcing on Facebook:

Invite loads of BME [Black and Minority Ethnic] Women and non-binary people!! Also, if you’ve been invited and you’re a man and/or white PLEASE DON’T COME just cos i invited a bunch of people and hope you will be responsible enough to respect this is a BME Women and non-binary event only.

Non-binary is a term that apparently refers to individuals who don’t identify as exclusively male or female.  Ms. Mustafa tried explain the exclusion of whites and men:

Don’t worry lads we will give you and allies things to do.

How thoughtful and inclusive of her, especially for a department that touts as its goals:

  • combat discrimination, victimisation and harassment
  • advance and promote equality of opportunity between different groups
  • foster good relations between people from different groups

Ms. Mustafa–is it a microagression to refer to her as “Ms.”?– describes herself as follows :

I am particularly interested in looking at the gendered body in Japanese pornographic anime and horror through a Foucauldian framework in order to analyse the West’s gaze upon a world it attempts to categorize.  My politics are intersectional, queer, feminist, anti-racist . . . I am a working class, Turkish Cypriot, queer, disabled woman and activist.

Um, okay.  I cannot for the life of me translate that first sentence into English.  She is interested in Japanese anime porn’s portrayal of “gendered” bodies (is there any other kind?) because it attempts to “categorize”?  Whatever.  Yawn.

Apparently, the University was forced to back-walk its exclusionary policy, later posting “ALLIES NOW WELCOME.”   Yeah, right– about as welcome as a bleeding pig in a lion cage.

Can you imagine a University holding an event and publicizing it as “whites only, please?”  Of course you can’t.  “Diversity” is a just a politically-correct label for discrimination against whites, especially white males.  And it most certainly does not include diversity of viewpoint (i.e., conservative thought).

RELATED (kind of):  Abercrombie and Fitch decides to ditch its uber-sexual teen marketing and simultaneously announced  plans to continue to encourage “inclusion and diversity,” such as hiring more non-white “associates” (formerly called “models”).   It also announced plans to establish the A&F Global Diversity and Leadership scholarship program with the National Society of High School Scholars.

Gee, I wonder if this has anything to do with the Supreme Court case currently under consideration, Equal Employment Opportunity Comm’n v. Abercrombie & Fitch?  This is a discrimination claim by a Muslim individual who was not hired by Abercrombie.  During the interview, she wore a headscarf, though it wasn’t mentioned during the interview. She was later told by a friend that she wasn’t hired because of the headscarf.

Bottom line:  Make it very expensive not to hire anyone other than a white male.  And of course, make white men feel unwelcome as much as possible.  Because #diversity!

BECAUSE DIVERSITY!:  Johns Hopkins University student government votes to ban Chick-Fil-A from its campus.  Because, you know, tasty chicken and the whole belief in God thing is a #microaggression against the LGBTQ community.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Hillary’s Scandals: Who Wins, Who Loses?

NEWS FROM THE WISCONSIN STASI: Milwaukee DA John Chisholm Lets The Mask Slip. Again.

For guys who ordered pre-dawn raids using battering rams, the John Doe prosecutors turn out to be kind of touchy… so thin-skinned that they actually let the mask slip.

Milwaukee DA John Chisholm was apparently so unhinged by recent criticism that he actually suggested Saturday that Governor Scott Walker be criminally charged with defamation for criticizing him.

So, no, Chisholm really doesn’t get the First Amendment thing, does he?

And so much for the notion of prosecutorial restraint and Chisholm’s non-political motivations. Normally, prosecutors running a secret investigation that imposes gag orders on subjects avoid public comment. But obviously, they have been feeling the heat — legally, politically. Maybe that’s not surprising, because they’ve had a very bad week. No, make that a bad year.

Chisholm deserves to end up broke and in jail.

ED DRISCOLL: Lambert and Stamp: The Men Who Made The Who.

LIFE IN THESE UNITED STATES: The Plight Of A Christian Professor At An Elite Law School. I totally disagree with Rod Dreher’s counsel of despair. I say, punch back twice as hard. For Jesus! And, yes, I’m totally serious.

WORDS OF WISDOM, FROM JOHN RINGO ON FACEBOOK: “Idiots abound to such an extent one has to pick and choose which ones to care about and which to ignore.”

A TORTUROUS WASTE OF TIME:   Apparently, banning torture — even in one’s constitution — doesn’t do much to reduce the incidence of torture.  A recent study conducted by a couple of law professors concludes that they “do not find any evidence that constitutional torture prohibitions have reduced rates of torture in a statistically significant or substantively meaningful way.”  The authors find that 84% of national constitutions prohibit torture, and yet “countries without constitutional torture bans have actually engaged in less torture” over the 1990-2010 time period studied.

The definition of “torture” itself is highly subjective.  The UN Convention on Torture, for example, defines it as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person”.  But putting that definitional problem aside, torture may well work in some situations, yielding information that could not otherwise be obtained.  Robert Jervis, examining the Senate Intelligence Committee’s controversial report on the CIA’s interrogation program, put it this way in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs:

In judging the torture’s effectiveness, the majority report looks for direct connections between the intelligence derived from the torture and its benefits to national security. But the minority and CIA rebuttals are right to urge a broader view. For one thing, analysts needed a great deal of information about al Qaeda before they could make sense of any one source. By the majority report’s standard, the torture was not effective if it merely contributed to a general understanding of al Qaeda, rather than leading directly to the foiling of a terrorist plot or the capture of an 
al Qaeda member. Yet crucial insights often result from indirect links. It might have been, as the majority report argues, that breaks in many cases came from prisoner interrogations that did not involve torture. But in some cases, interrogators asked those detainees questions because of intelligence that came from others who were tortured. And although the majority report lends little weight to information that simply confirmed other intelligence, such findings can prove invaluable, since tips from individual sources are rarely sufficient to merit action on their own. In essence, the report and the rebuttals talk past each other on this point: the Democrats dismiss evidence of a type that the Republicans and the CIA (rightfully) consider central.

This past week, Amnesty Intenational issued a new report, complaining that the Obama Administration has “done nothing” after the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, and urging DOJ to prosecute CIA and other U.S. officials involved.

Even if one agrees that what the CIA did, post 9/11 was “torture,” the truth remains that in some situations, the risk of not using such techniques may well exceed societal benefits of refraining from their use.  As liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz has put it, “No President would want to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent citizens if he could have prevented these deaths by authorizing the use of nonlethal torture against a guilty terrorist.”

Indeed, there is a logical reason why constitutional prohibitions on torture don’t reduce its use:  We may ban torture, to make ourselves “feel” better.  But given its amorphous definition and potential to save thousands of innocent lives, it will continue to be used in extraordinary situations.  So there is a legitimate question as to whether it is desirable, from the perspective of the rule of law, to ban something society knows (and indeed expects) will be disregarded in the most difficult situations.   And polls show Americans overwhelmingly believe torture is appropriate in such situations.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: ULA’s New Vulcan Rocket Comes Back to Earth via Helicopter. “ULA’s new Vulcan rocket will use BE-4 engines currently being developed by Blue Origin, the private aerospace company of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. They’ll be 20 percent more powerful than the engines currently powering ULA’s Atlas, and Vulcan will be able to handle six strap-on boosters for heavy lifting, as opposed to five on the Atlas. The Vulcan replacement for the Atlas should cost under $100 million, $65 million less than an Atlas launch, and competitive with the SpaceX Falcon. With 65% of the booster costs of the Vulcan wrapped up in the engines, reusability can slash launch costs dramatically. Rather than try to duplicate SpaceX’s not-yet-successful vertical landing to reuse the entire rocket, ULA is planning on reusing just the engines themselves, and to do that, they need to come up with a way of getting them back to Earth in a soft, gentle, non-crashy sort of way.”

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OUCH: I Once Ate Barbecue Pork That Was Smoked in an Old Clothes Dryer: That’s how much barbecue sucks in San Francisco. Though, honestly, that wouldn’t necessarily have to be bad. And, in fact, in this case it wasn’t: “It was really, really good. In fact, it was the only edible barbecue sandwich I’ve been able to find in the entire Bay Area—and I’ve looked, I’ve looked really hard.” Which kind of undercuts the great headline.

But is this really a surprise? I mean, the place is a cultural wasteland: “People in San Francisco don’t have any idea how to make barbecue. They also don’t understand iced tea, chicken and waffles, or biscuits and gravy—but it’s the barbecue that really gets me.”

TEST-DRIVING THE 2016 Lexus ES. I don’t care for the “spindle grille.” It’s not quite as big a turnoff as the Acura beak, which I’ve always detested, but I’m not crazy about it.

SPYING: Google and Facebook Execs Question Government Desire for Encryption Backdoors: Privacy bosses at Google and Facebook say letting the U.S. government unlock encrypted customer data would make law enforcement less accountable. I agree, though I don’t trust Google and Facebook, either.

ACCULTURATED: Fascism in Our Comics: It’s Not Where You Think.

MICHAEL WALSH: The World Barack Obama and Eric Holder Have Made: Baltimore, 2015. “You voted for it, America. And now you’re going to get it, good and hard.”

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Hillary’s Scandals: Who Wins, Who Loses?

IN THE MAIL: From Dr. Tara Palmatier & Paul Elam, Say Goodbye to Crazy: How to Rid Yourself of that Crazy Ex and Restore Sanity to Your Life.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 717.

DEATH BY A THOUSAND LAWSUITS?:   The death penalty may be dying a slow death, by litigation.  The Republican-controlled unicameral Nebraska legislature voted 30-13 (with 17 Republican “yes” votes) to repeal that state’s death penalty. The reasons for lost Republican support are varied:  the inefficiency (and cost) of years of litigation to carry the penalty out; perceived incongruity with pro-life beliefs; fear of wrongful executions; and a shortage of drugs needed to carry out executions.

The drug shortage is the biggest culprit.  The death penalty in most states is carried out by a lethal injection of a three-drug “cocktail”:  (1) an anesthetic (to prevent pain); (2) a paralytic (to paralyze); and (3) potassium chloride (which stops the heart). But in early 2011, U.S. drugmaker Hospira announced it would no longer manufacture sodium thiopental, the primary anesthetic used in the lethal injection cocktail.

Hospira’s exit from the market left States scrambling for a substitute, including purchases of the drug from foreign markets. When death penalty lawyers complained that States lacked legal authority to import sodium thiopental from foreign countries, the Obama Administration seized State stockpiles of the drug, claiming its possession violated federal law.  States then turned to pentobarbital, manufactured by Danish drug company Lundbeck.  But by summer 2011, Lundbeck, too, announced it was denying distribution of the drug to U.S. prisons.

The State of Oklahoma has turned to midazolam hydrochloride as a substitute anesthetic, though it hasn’t specifically been approved by the FDA as such.  It is widely used off-label, however, for anxiety and sedation.  On Thursday, the Supreme Court will hear an Eighth Amendment challenge, Glossip v. Gross, to Oklahoma’s use of midazolam, which claims that its use constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment” because midazolam isn’t foolproof at inducing unconsciousness.

The Supreme Court has never struck down a specific death penalty method as unconstitutional.  Indeed, in 2008, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a four-drug lethal injection cocktail in Baze v. Rees.  The Court suggested, however, that a state may violate the ban on cruel and unusual punishment if it continues to use a lethal injection method, without sufficient justification, in the face of superior alternative procedures.  In the Glossip case pending before the Court, therefore, Oklahoma asserts–in an excellent brief authored by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and well-known constitutional lawyer David Rivkin– that the inmate must carry the burden of proving that there are, indeed, superior alternative anesthetics available. They assert:

This Court requires Petitioners to demonstrate the availability of a constitutional alternative method of execution for good reason. Capital punishment is constitutional, and this Court has made clear that States must have a means of carrying it out, even if some pain results as an inescapable consequence of execution. Accordingly, challenges to a method of execution must demonstrate that there exists a feasible alternative method that will result in substantially less pain. Otherwise, a petitioner’s challenge would constitute a challenge to the death penalty itself – an issue foreclosed by the Constitution.

In the event that the Supreme Court uses Glossip to reopen the constitutionality of lethal injection, States are now bringing back older methods of execution including nitrogen gas, the electric chair and firing squad.

States’ adopting a variety of methods is probably the best way to ensure that the death penalty can survive these liberal/progressive “lawfare” tactics.

UPDATE:  Midazolam’s use for anxiety and sedation is “on label,” but its use for maintenance of general anesthesia is off-label.  It should be noted, however, that off-label uses of all FDA-approved drugs is perfectly legal and indeed, common.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Welfare Reform Was, and Still Is, a Good Idea. Yes, but the Democrats’ political strategy requires a large, dependent, easily-mobilized underclass.

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WE CAN’T TALK ABOUT DIVERSITY AROUND PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT! Anger after white people and men are banned from ‘anti-racism’ rally at British university by its own student union DIVERSITY OFFICER.

A students’ union has been accused of racism and sexism after banning white people and men from an event to promote equality.

Those studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, were invited to the students’ union meeting to discuss ‘diversifying the curriculum’.

But they were shocked when an organiser told white people and men ‘not to come’ as it was only open to BME [black and minority ethnic] women.

The union eventually backed down after a backlash from students, one of whom described the exclusive policy as ‘patronising beyond belief’.

The event, held on Wednesday, was organised by welfare and diversity officer Bahar Mustafa, who said she hoped to persuade academics to broaden courses to include more material relating to minority groups.

Fire her.

THOUGHTS ON UVA AND CAMPUS SEX CULTURE. I’m not convinced that campus sex culture is all that bad — though this piece seems to think otherwise, there are actually fewer sexual assaults on campuses than off — but the hypocrisy and ideological maneuvering of colleges on the subject is pathetic.

FLASHBACK: With so Many Red Flags, Why Isn’t the IRS Auditing the Clinton Foundation? Probably the same reason they’re giving Al Sharpton — and, apparently, the entire on-air staff of MSNBC — a pass.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: How To Save American Colleges.

With acceptance letters in hand, millions of high-schools seniors ruminating over where to attend college—and their parents who are panicked that their kid might pick the place with the best climbing wall—should all take a breath: It doesn’t much matter where you go to college.

What matters is “how you go,” says Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana. He then lays out the results of the Gallup-Purdue Index, a national survey of 30,000 college graduates that was first released last year. The survey attempts to quantify not only what graduates earn but also how well they are navigating adult life.

A mere 39% of college graduates report feeling engaged with their work, and in that group as many hail from top-100 schools as don’t. The three most important contributions that college makes to a sense of workplace thriving after graduation: Having one professor who made you excited about learning, feeling as though teachers cared about you, and working with a mentor. Graduates who checked those boxes were more than twice as likely to sense they are flourishing at work.

But only 14% of those surveyed said they had hit that trifecta in college. Other positive factors from undergraduate experience: working on a long-term project, having an internship and participating in extracurricular activities. Where graduates went to college barely registered as a predictor of job satisfaction.


This surprises me not at all.
But there’s more:

That was two years ago, soon after Mr. Daniels arrived at Purdue. His first order of business: freeze tuition.

“I had a sense, first of all, it seemed like the right thing to do. Not to skip over that. But secondly that we probably could do it without great difficulty,” he says. For decades college tuition has outpaced inflation, forcing students to increase their borrowing, but next year’s Purdue seniors will have never seen a tuition increase.

“I thought this whole process—it’s sort of like a bubble, and people are using that term—just couldn’t go on much further, and so why not get off the escalator before it broke,” he says.

Not many colleges have followed, and Mr. Daniels has a few theories about why. “Corporate boards 15 years ago or so were roundly and rightly criticized for being too compliant with the desires of management. If this was true of corporate boards, I think it’s really been true of a lot of college boards and trustees,” he says. “They have such an affection for dear old alma mater, love those 50-yard-line seats, ‘Whatever you want to do, Mr. President.’ And so it’s been observed a long time that colleges will spend everything they can get their hands on, in the absence of either market pressure or stewardship by a strong-minded board.”

There is also what he considers an “insidious” idea that “if we don’t raise our price, people will think we don’t have confidence in our product.” He points out that “in the absence of proof, people assume a higher price must be a better product or education.” But according to data released last year, half of high-school seniors accepted by their first-choice college attended a different school, and most cited cost as the reason.

The jig is about up. And the many people worried about CEO pay being too high because the board is too close to the CEO might look more closely at higher education, and the nonprofit world in general.

Related: A Degree Signifying Nothing?

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has released a report titled “The Unkindest Cut: Shakespeare in Exile 2015.” According to the report’s author, Dr. Michael Poliakoff, only 4 out of the top 52 liberal arts colleges and universities in the country require English majors to take a course on Shakespeare. “If reading Shakespeare is not central to a liberal education, what is? For English majors to miss out is far worse. A degree in English without serious study of Shakespeare is like a major in Greek Literature without the serious study of Homer. It is tantamount to fraud. A department that claims to cover the full span of literature written in English and represent the highest standards of academic study cannot marginalize the writer most honored and beloved in English literary history,” writes Poliakoff. The report notes that, while many colleges are giving Shakespeare superficial treatment, trendy courses, and even courses that focus on the works of children’s book authors, are growing in number. As ACTA’s president Anne Neal said in a recent interview, “It’s no wonder that the public is rapidly losing faith in our colleges and universities.”

Well, no, it isn’t.

April 25, 2015

JOURNALISM: CNN To Viewers: Check Twitter If You Want The News. “The most powerful man in the world is going to tell some jokes.”

Related: Rioting In Baltimore While ‘Nerd Prom’ Rages 40 Miles Away In DC.

UPDATE: From the comments: “Student Council wannabes are not nerds.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Salena Zito: Elites, Media, And Character.

THE PERSISTENCE OF JOHN DENVER among the Japanese. Love the pic. I had dinner with John Denver at some National Space Society thing or other, and what struck me most was that he was buff. I remembered the skinny fellow from the 1970s, but he had become much more muscular. He knew a lot about space, too, of course.

WHILE BALTIMORE SAW VIOLENT RIOTS OVER POLICE BRUTALITY, folks in the Capital District were walking the Red Carpet and ignoring the National Anthem at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. “No one is allowed to leave Oriole Park at Camden Yards. There are at least 15,000 people trapped in the stadium.”

UPDATE: Emblematic.

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ANOTHER UPDATE: Yep.

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 10.43.21 PM

MORE: This is evergreen:

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 9.59.38 PM

Plus:

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Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 11.51.18 PM

Thronesniffers rejoice in being close enough to smell it.

PUNCHING BACK TWICE AS HARD: Honey Badgers, Expelled From Calgary Expo For Questioning Feminism, Seeking Legal Redress.

Is there a Canadian lawyer interested in getting involved?

IF YOU DEMONIZE PEOPLE AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY, THEY MAY GROW LESS LIKELY TO VOTE FOR YOU: The Democrats’ White-Voter Problem, In Two Maps.

THE PHENOMENON OF Mayonnaise Loyalty.

FIGHT THE POWER: Laverne Cox Gets Naked, Exposes Radical Feminist Exclusionism. “Feminist Meghan Murphy reacted to the photo just as Cox suggests that people often react to black and trans women — with disgust, prejudice and horror. . . . That coldness isn’t new. Ideally, you’d hope, feminism would be about fighting for the rights of all women and trying to free all people from oppressive gender stereotypes. In practice, though, the radical feminist tradition of Andrea Dworkin and Janice Raymond, who Murphy champions, has often built itself on exclusion rather than inclusion. Radical feminism’s radicalism is often defined by smearing other women. . . . The logic that led 19th century white feminists to push for votes for white women alone is still, painfully, visible in Murphy’s attack on Cox. Some women are not worthy of kindness, of love or of sisterhood.”

AUDIO: The Power Line Show: We Interview Scott Walker.

WHEN AMERICA SLIPS BEYOND PARODY: Bill Clinton’s Wife Condemns ‘Scourge Of Sexual Assault’ In First Big Speech.

THE PROBLEM WITH “THE SOCIALIST IMPULSE TO CLASSES VERSUS THE CAPITALIST FOCUS ON THE INDIVIDUAL,” courtesy of Prof. Russ Roberts: “Once you begin to see humans as the interchangeable members of a class, you begin to dehumanize them.”

To the political class, that’s not a bug, but a feature, since you can get away with a lot more.

THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED: Study: College-Age Concealed Permit Holders Don’t Fit Left’s Lawless Portrayal.

GENDER IN ACADEMIA: Chronicle of Higher Education:

In addition to women’s superiority in judgment, their trustworthiness, reliability, fairness, working and playing well with others, relative freedom from distracting sexual impulses, and lower levels of prejudice, bigotry, and violence, they live longer, have lower mortality at all ages, are more resistant to most categories of disease, and are much less likely to suffer brain disorders that lead to disruptive and even destructive behavior. And, of course, they can produce new life from their own bodies, to which men add only the tiniest biological contribution — and one that soon could be done without. . . . To call being male a syndrome is not an arbitrary judgment.

The eliminationist rhetoric just gets more and more open.

THAT’S PRETTY GOOD IN ANY VEHICLE: 58 hours, 55 minutes! Team drives Tesla P85D from LA to NYC in record time.

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HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, INDOCTRINATION EDITION: Rutgers University offers Hillary Clinton-centric class called ‘A Woman for President?’

QUERCETIN FOLLOWUP: So a while back I mentioned that although I was taking Quercetin as an anti-aging supplement, I also found that it helped with allergies. I’ve continued taking it through peak allergy season here in allergy-awful East Tennessee and it’s definitely made a big difference. Ordinarily at this time of year I’d be taking Sudafed most days; this year I’ve taken half a dose a couple of times as a precaution but I’ve never really needed it. It seems to help the sinus congestion a lot; it doesn’t do as much for my other allergy symptom of itchy eyes, though it seems to have helped somewhat on that front. Anyway, I’m pretty pleased.

UPDATE: From Rand Simberg: “On your advice I’ve started taking Quercetin, too. It’s helped a lot with chronic sinusitis I’ve had all my adult life.”

IN BRITAIN, A BRILLIANT TAX REFORM PROPOSAL:

The sorts of people who get recruited by political causes as celebrity supporters – television personalities, comedians and the like – should have to pay a special “fame levy” of around 20 per cent of their income. This tax would reflect the fact that they get paid to do really cool things, and are at the same time asked to opine about politics without the bother of getting themselves elected to anything.

It would, however, be voluntary. All the celebrities would need to do, to avoid the toll, is sign a public declaration to the effect that they wanted to opt out.

They’d be free to sign or not to sign. Either way, the rest of us would know whether or not to take them seriously when they assured us that they “wouldn’t mind paying a bit more tax” in order to “make society fairer”.

Heh.

ROGER KIMBALL: Jihad In Catalonia: Police raid Spanish Jihad cell, arrest 11, break up plot to bomb builidings and behead random victims. “While Barack Obama is busy telling Americans that Islam is ‘woven into the fabric’ of America since its founding, police in Spain have just arrested eleven members of a jihadist cell that, woven into the fabric of Spain, was plotting to bring ISIS-style beheadings to a western city near you. As Soeren Kern notes in an important and depressing post at the Gatestone Institute web site, police have accused the cell of planning to bomb various public and private buildings in and around Barcelona and of—this is especially nice—plotting to kidnap and behead a random person. I’m not sure that the Muslim presence in Spain has gotten the attention it deserves here, but as Kern points Catalonia not only has the largest Muslim population in Spain, it also has the largest concentration of radical Islamists in Europe.”

My biggest worry is that this might provide talking points that will stoke an anti-Islamic backlash in the West.

CAR OF THE WEEK: This 1970 Hemi ’Cuda Has 81 Original Miles—and You Can Own It.

21ST CENTURY POLITICS: Social Justice Bullies: The Authoritarianism of Millennial Social Justice. “The modern social justice movement launched on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Jezebel, Slate, Huffington Post, et al. is far more reminiscent of a Red Scare (pick one) than the Civil Rights Movement.” Yeah, the lefties’ only real problem with McCarthyism is that it was aimed at them. They were fine with the methodology, just not the targeting.

THIS KIND OF THING HURTS CHRIS CHRISTIE’S BRAND: New Jersey man denied gun permit for crime he didn’t commit. Not so much the stories themselves, which are horrific, but Christie’s failure to oppose New Jersey’s authoritarian, prohibitionist firearms regime.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 715.

SUPREME ETHICS:  Democrats on the Hill, led by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), are once again pushing legislation that would impose a code of ethics upon the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court itself has repeatedly rejected the idea of adopting such an ethics code, including the current Roberts Court.  Members of the Court do voluntarily agree, however, to follow the same rules as other federal judges on honoraria, gifts, and outside income.

There is a Judicial Code of Conduct for United States Judges– which binds all federal judges except the U.S. Supreme Court–which requires recusal in certain instances of bias and prohibits federal judges from engaging in various acts that may create an appearance of partiality, including engaging in political activities. So why doesn’t this Judicial Code of Conduct also apply to Supreme Court Justices?  Because the Supreme Court is the only court that is constitutionally required to exist, with all lower federal courts existing only insofar as Congress wishes to establish them.  The lower federal courts, therefore, are “creatures” of Congress, established and controlled by it.  Congress’ ability to impose a code of conduct upon judges it creates is thus clear, as a legal matter.

But the Supreme Court is not created by Congress; it has independent constitutional existence.  While Congress has power to regulate the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, give Senatorial advice and consent to Supreme Court nominations, impeach Justices, control the Supreme Court’s budget and even to enact legislation defining the number of Justices that sit on the Court, it otherwise lacks a clear textual authority to regulate the way the Court adjudicates cases.  The Court’s historic position is that because it isn’t created by Congress, Congress cannot impose a code of ethics upon it; doing so would violate separation of powers.

While having the Supreme Court abide by a Code of Ethics sounds good at first blush, the question isn’t really whether it should have such a code, but whether Congress should be able to impose one upon a co-equal branch of government.  And the reasons cited for congressional enactment of such a code focus exclusively on supposed unethical behavior by conservative Justices.  For example, Justice Clarence Thomas failed to report his spouse’s income from conservative groups, necessitating several years of revised disclosure forms.  Justices Antonin Scalia and Thomas have attended events at the National Lawyers’ Convention of the Federalist Society.

But of course, liberal Justices have engaged in the exact same behavior.  Justice Ginsburg has lent her name and given speeches to the NOW Legal fund and recently made comments about same-sex marriage cases that clearly indicate her prejudgment on the issue. Justice Elena Kagan refused to recuse herself from the recent Obamacare subsidy case, King v. Burwell, even though she served as the U.S. Solicitor General and was intimately involved in the defense of the law. And like Ginsburg, Kagan’s comments and officiating at a same-sex marriage ceremony have called for her recusal from the same-sex marriage cases now pending before the Court.  Justice Breyer has faced his own calls for recusal, based on potential financial conflicts.

The point is that while it may be a good idea for the Supreme Court voluntarily to adopt ethics rules for itself (which it de facto seems already to have done), I am highly skeptical about Congress imposing them, and the political mischief that could ensue.  Indeed, liberals/progressives are already overtly attempting to bully the Court, calling for term limits (which, btw, would require a constitutional amendment), and generally calling for “reforms” of a Court they think is too conservative (and likely to stay that way for some time).

My hunch is that congressionally-imposed SCOTUS ethics rules would only further politicize the Court, which would not be good for the rule of law.

FUNNY HOW THIS IS THE ONE TIME WHEN THE GOVERNMENT CARES WHERE ITS MONEY GOES: Megan McArdle: When Deadbeat Dads Can’t Catch a Break.

When you look at the havoc these policies wreak on the lives of poor people, it’s obvious that there’s something very wrong in the system. And yet when you try to come up with a solution that wouldn’t result in these penalties, you start to see how we got here in the first place. Shouldn’t parents support their children? Of course they should. Should the government be paying benefits for children when the mother or father could be contributing? Of course not; benefits are for people who can’t take care of their children, not for people who don’t want to.

So you demand that parents pay child support. But if you simply set the support at a fraction of their income, you will encourage people to work off the books and hide their incomes from the court, or get back at their ex-partners by minimizing their income so as to yield very little in the way of support checks. So judges set child support at the amount that a parent could be expected to earn working a full-time job.

Naturally, it’s not enough to just mandate payment; you also have to mandate penalties, or else selfish mothers or fathers will simply refuse to pay. Punishments were set up for noncompliance, and systems were set up to automatically garnish paychecks. It all seems very fair — unless the system makes a mistake, or Mom or Dad genuinely can’t find enough work, at which point it suddenly becomes Kafkaesque. I once watched a colleague struggle through New York state’s bureaucracy, which through its own screw-up had garnished so much of his paycheck that he basically had no money for food or rent. The error took months to fully resolve, because why should they care about some deadbeat dad feeding himself?

They care about the moms a lot more. But there’s no pity for the dads. Given all the stories of horror, it’s amazing that so few of them go postal.

CRAZY CHICK BECOMES WOMAN SCORNED, GETS ELEVATED TO FEMINIST HEROINE: Robby Soave: Student Falsely Accused of Rape By ‘Mattress Girl’ Sues Columbia U., Publishes Dozens of Damning Texts; Sulkowicz made life a living hell for Nungesser. Well, that’s certainly what it looks like.

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PUNCH BACK TWICE AS HARD: Breaking! Anti-Israel boycotters don’t like being boycotted! “After years of being a boycott punching bag, supporters of Israel are fighting back.”

OH, PLEASE. I MEAN, SURE, SHE’S PUT ON A LITTLE WEIGHT, BUT . . . ‘Hillary Thinks She Is Bigger Than God.’

JOURNALISM: NYT Refuses To Publish Pushback Letter From Cruz’s Debate Partner.

Rob Marks, the liberal who served as Sen. Ted Cruz’s college debate partner, is alleging that a recent New York Times article “greatly mischaracterizes” Mr. Cruz’s career as a Princeton debater, and “ignores the context of some of these debates.”

The Times has posted at least four articles on the subject, but has declined to publish Marks’ letter to the editor, now obtained by The Daily Caller. . . .

Cruz’s spokesman responded in the Times story, saying that “25-year-old alleged college campus recollection stories, based on anonymous hearsay and reported as ‘fact,’ shouldn’t be taken [seriously] at all. This is ridiculous.”

Hey, the Times is actually publishing bad news about Hillary. You can’t expect them to simultaneously publish things that benefit a Republican candidate.

UNRAVELING: Liberal Common Cause demands Clinton Foundation, Hillary audit.

The financial issues plaguing Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign have become too much even for liberal groups, and now Common Cause is calling for an independent audit of donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Amid suggestions that foreign governments donated to the foundation in hopes of getting special treatment from President Obama’s State Department when Clinton was his top diplomat, the group on Friday said a “thorough review” is needed.

The Clintons’ spin yesterday — that this was all a dastardly “conservative” smear — is looking even weaker.

CHANGE: General: China Space Threat Drives U.S. Space Warfare Buildup. “Hyten’s complete remarks on the Chinese space threat and the U.S. response are set to be aired Sunday on 60 Minutes. The program will also reveal one of the Air Force’s new systems for space warfare, a high-technology laser-guided telescope.”

TED CRUZ: Clinton Foundation Should Return Foreign Donations. Then they’d have no money left.

No loss to charity, though: Only 15% of Clinton Foundation Donations Go To Charities. It’s like it’s just a big money laundry or something.

ISN’T IT JUST DRINKING WITH SOMEONE YOU LOVE? Drinking Alone: A Bad Idea or a Toast to Oneself?

WELL, THAT’S BECAUSE IT ISN’T: Young Arabs Agree: Israel Isn’t Arab World’s Major Problem.

April 24, 2015

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HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Youngstown State University student government removes ‘Straight Pride’ posters. “Campus leaders said that while they believe the posters were meant as satire, the message was inappropriate. . . . The posters counter the school’s mission to create a diverse campus, university spokesman Ron Cole told WFMJ-TV. Officials are investigating possible student code violations, and disciplinary action may follow.” Badthink must be punished!

IF YOU’RE UP EARLY TOMORROW MORNING, YOU MIGHT WANT TO WATCH C-SPAN. John Lott emails:

I will be on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Saturday morning from 7:45 to 8:15 AM to discuss recent developments on guns. I was originally supposed to appear with someone from Bloomberg’s Everytown for an entire hour, but, as Bloomberg’s people consistently do, they refused to be on the show with me. Instead, they will be on immediately after me from 8:15 to 8:45 AM. Many times I have gotten calls from TV producers asking me to be on a TV show only to be disinvited once the Bloomberg people say that they won’t go on with me.

Telephone calls during the segments are appreciated. If you call during the time that Bloomberg’s person, Ted Alcorn, will be on and ask him why Bloomberg’s groups continually refuse to appear on shows without any opposition, possibly that might embarrass them enough to change their approach. The last couple of times that I have been on the Brady Campaign had gotten their members to call in to the show.

It’s not surprising that the Brady folks want to deliver a speech rather than engage in debate.

FROM ARMENIA TO NOW: The Islamic Genocide of Christians: Past and Present. As our President says, if they bring a knife, you bring a gun.

IF THEY’RE NOT CAREFUL, PEOPLE WILL START TO THINK THAT MUSLIM STUDENTS ARE UNPATRIOTIC: ‘American Sniper’ events derailed by Muslim student complaints at University of Maryland.

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A NEW GADGET FROM GARMIN: The Garmin nuviCam LMTHD is a combination dashcam, GPS, lane departure warning, and collision warning device, all in one. “The $400 GPS device features a 6-inch touchscreen with pinch-to-zoom and Garmin’s free lifetime map updates, as well as Garmin’s HD Digital Traffic with real-time traffic updates every 30 seconds. The navigation system is voice activated, and can predict time delays or find detours when you’ve hit a particularly nasty traffic snarl. But the nuviCam’s biggest trick is what you’ll find on the opposite side of the GPS screen. A built-in HD dashcam that continuously records, and saves a timestamped video with GPS location data if it senses an impact. The camera records to a 4 GB microSD card (included), and can even take photos—say, to document damage or capture license plate photos in the event of an accident.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: At UPenn, campus leaders quash effort to address biased professors.

OUT: “HELICOPTER PARENTS.” IN: “DRONE PARENTS.” “A Tennessee father who followed his eight-year-old daughter to school with a drone has now decided to ground it in the wake of the attention his flight has garnered. According to WVLT, a Knoxville, Tennessee television station, Chris Early decided to launch a drone to monitor his child’s walk to school after she requested that she be allowed to walk on her own.”

ISIS: Under The Black Flag. “ISIS isn’t a terrorist organization. It’s a transnational army of terror.”

HEADY STUFF:  An Italian neurosurgeon named Sergio Canavero claims he plans to conduct the world’s first head transplant soon, and it should only take about an hour.  Valery Spiridonov, a 30-year-old computer scientist from Vladimir, Russia, is the first person to volunteer for the procedure.  Spiridonov suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a rare, genetic spinal muscular atrophy disease.

In a meeting of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons this June, Dr. Canavero plans to detail the specifics of his surgical procedure.   In a February article in the Surgical Neurology International Journal, Canavero described the basics of how he plans to fuse the spinal cord of Spiridonov’s head with that of the donor (cadaveric) body.  The goal, according to Dr. Canavero, is “immortality.”  Apparently, elderly wealthy individuals are already lining up for this procedure, in the hopes of replacing their frail, older bodies with fresh, 20-something ones.

NYU Bioethicist Arthur Caplan says Dr. Canavero’s plans are unethical, because the surgical technique for spinal surgery isn’t perfected, the chance of immunosupressive rejection is high, and the brain may not be able to “integrate” with a body with which it isn’t familiar.  According to Caplan, “[T]he most likely result is insanity or severe mental disability.”

Dr. Canavero seems to be a legitimate neurosurgeon with the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, but his obsession with becoming the first successful surgeon to perform a head transplant is a bit Frankenstein-y.   He does seems more legitimate, however, than some prior high profile oddballs, such as Dr. Richard Seed, who made a big splash in the late 1990s when he proclaimed he wanted to perform the first human cloning.

But then again, recent media reports suggested that Dr. Canavero’s talk of head transplants was all an odd publicity stunt for a video game called Metal Gear Solid.  But just today, it’s being reported that Dr. Canavero has filed a sworn affidavit with Italian police, denying that he has anything to do with the game maker, and that it’s using his likeness without his permission.

If Dr. Canavero is legit, this could be the beginning of a very interesting chapter in transplant history.  I think it would be pretty weird, though, to put an older person’s head on a hot, young body.  I kind of liked the old school notion of  achieving immortality via the ‘brain in a jar” scenario.  But bodies are nice.  Stay tuned.

brain in a jar

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Lesbian Teacher Pleads Guilty to Criminal Sexual Conduct With Teenage Girl. “A former Grant High School science teacher has pleaded guilty to having inappropriate sexual contact with a female student with whom she exchanged about 14,000 text messages during a four-week period last fall. Erin Katharine MacDonald, 26, pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with the female student. In exchange for the plea, four additional charges were dismissed. . . . MacDonald faces up to two years in prison when she is sentenced in Newaygo County Circuit Court on May 4.”

FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED: Bill Ayers to University Students: America’s ‘Game Is Over’ and ‘Another World’ Is Coming.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Cal State-Northridge Halts Class Registration Until Students Complete Feminist Anti-Sexual Assault Video Game. Indoctrination before education.

HOW CHRISTIANITY invented children. “Today, it is simply taken for granted that the innocence and vulnerability of children makes them beings of particular value, and entitled to particular care. We also romanticize children — their beauty, their joy, their liveliness. Our culture encourages us to let ourselves fall prey to our gooey feelings whenever we look at baby pictures. What could be more natural? In fact, this view of children is a historical oddity.”

SPACE TELESCOPES ARE EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS: Most powerful space telescope ever to launch in 2018.

As the Hubble Space Telescope celebrates 25 years in space this week, NASA and its international partners are building an even more powerful tool to look deeper into the universe than ever before.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be 100 times more potent than Hubble, and will launch in 2018 on a mission to give astronomers an unprecedented glimpse at the first galaxies that formed in the early universe.

“JWST will be able to see back to about 200 million years after the Big Bang,” NASA said on its website.

It described the telescope as a “powerful time machine with infrared vision that will peer back over 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness of the early universe.”

The project has drawn scrutiny from lawmakers for its ballooning costs—now at about $8.8 billion, far higher than the initial estimate of $3.5 billion.

But NASA has promised to keep the next-generation telescope on track for its October 2018 launch.

Meh. Compared to ObamaCare, that’s not much of a cost overrun.

SURE, THAT’S WHAT THEY SAY, BUT WE KNOW IT’S REALLY FOR DEFENSE AGAINST ALIENS: Proposal Would Put Laser Cannon on ISS to Blast Space Junk.

READER BOOK PLUG: From Taya Okerlund, Hurricane Coltrane.

WHAT SINGING LOOKS LIKE via a high-speed MRI machine.

PUNCH BACK TWICE AS HARD: Columbia student defamed by mattress girl is suing. The University is complicit, of course, in this craziness and in fact put its imprimatur on her unhinged behavior. I’m glad the story mentions Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) complicity, too. “The lawsuit includes dozens of Facebook messages between the two friends — far more than were included in the Daily Beast article in which Nungesser finally told his side of the story. The messages contained many declarations of Sulkowicz’s love for Nungesser before and after the alleged rape.”

AH, THE 1990S: An Oral History of Legendary ’90s Rave Emporium Liquid Sky.

By the way, if you like 1990s trivia and history, check out 90s411.com.

GOOD: Jeremy Clarkson to ‘start again’ with new car show.

SELF-CARICATURE: Taxpayer Funded Video Promoting Eric Holder as “People’s Lawyer.” Actually, it’s a bit of grease for the revolving door.

MICHAEL WALSH: Hillary Clinton: Dead Candidate Walking.

FROM MAURICE STUCKE AND ARIEL EZRACHI: When Competition Fails to Optimise Quality: A Look at Search Engines. (Bumped).

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 715.

WELL, HE’S HONEST, WHICH MAKES HIM STAND OUT IN HIS PROFESSION: Jake Tapper will anchor CNN’s State of the Union.