February 6, 2016

PLEASE CLAP: Is New Hampshire the End of the Road for Jeb?, Roger Simon asks.

Related: Jeb’s Super PAC May Have Hinted the End Is Nigh.


FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED: America’s Economic Freedom Has Rapidly Declined Under Obama.

IN THE MAIL: The Joy of Not Working: A Book for the Retired, Unemployed and Overworked- 21st Century Edition.

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And, also today only: 72% Off “White Collar: The Con-Plete Series.”

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 1003.

NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE: The paper on Second Amendment Limitations that I presented at the Georgetown Second Amendment symposium in November. In it, I suggest that some previously accepted limitations on Second Amendment rights may be crumbling under lower-court scrutiny.

Download it early and often!


UPDATE: This is a nice endorsement.


THEIR POLICIES DON’T BEAR DETAILED ANALYSIS: Sanders and Clinton Get Substantive. That’s Where They Go Wrong.

In previous debates, we got bogged down in the need for a new Glass-Steagall. Since the old Glass-Steagall hadn’t actually gone away, and no specific aspects of the theoretical new one were described, this had the ethereal, almost theological flavor of monks discussing how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. To put it in math-esque terms: The possible set of policies included in the phrase “new Glass-Steagall” was so large as to include nearly all possible outcomes, good and bad.

Last night, on the other hand, Clinton decided to stop mucking about with vague promises to bring Wall Street to heel. Instead, she claimed that she was a financial regulator of rare foresight and rarer steely will, hated and feared by the denizens of New York’s financial district. Presumably we are supposed to see that $675,000 she was paid by Goldman Sachs to make three speeches less as a warm gesture between close friends, than as the bags of gold left outside the city gates for the Visigoth king who is threatening to sack the place.

“But what I want people to know,” said Clinton, “is I went to Wall Street before the crash. I was the one saying you’re going to wreck the economy because of these shenanigans with mortgages. I called to end the carried interest loophole that hedge fund managers enjoy. I proposed changes in CEO compensation.”

Finally, specifics! And yet — this was a somewhat surprising claim. Those of us who were writing about financial regulation in 2007 do not recall Hillary Clinton as a fiery crusader against the financial industry. We remember her as being — like all New York senators — rather friendly to the place.

So I went looking for the support for this remarkable statement. Politifact rated a similar statement as true, based on some speeches she gave in 2007, and a plan she put forward in 2008. It is hard, however, to read this collection as a “warning that Wall Street is going to wreck the economy.” It would be more properly termed “Grousing about consumers who can’t afford their bubblicious subprime mortgages,” and vague remarks about transparency and oversight.

Well, Politifact.


HOMELAND SECURITY IS A JOKE: The Hill: DHS ordered me to scrub records of Muslims with terror ties.

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HOW MUCH WORSE COULD IT BE RIGHT NOW? Bernie Sanders will ‘absolutely’ change US-UK defence relationship if elected president. Sanders campaign says US tired of ‘defending the rest of the world’ as surging candidate closes gap with Hillary Clinton in national polls.

Imagining the very worst, immediately after entering the Oval Office, I could see him taking a bust of Winston Churchill that’s been in the White House for years, and mailing it back, just to symbolically flip England the bird. Then just to childishly pour salt in the wound, he’ll give the queen an iPod full of his speeches. He’ll claim he’s too exhausted to host the prime minister. Then he’ll declare that in reality, France is our strongest ally, and keep up the socialist virtue signalling by constantly referring to the Falklands as “the Maldives.”

Oh wait

BLUE ON BLUE. Reminder: Bernie Madoff Donated Mostly to Democrats.

And it was mostly Democrats* who donated to Madoff, thus completing the circle.

* While feeling oh-so-superior to the naive rubes in the big empty space in the middle of  Saul Steinberg’s “View of the World from 9th Avenue” New Yorker cover.

ASHE SCHOW: Yes, Hillary Clinton, you are part of the establishment.

During Thursday night’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont told the audience that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton represents “the establishment.”

His evidence for this was the backing she had gotten from some major political figures in Vermont.

“She has the entire establishment or almost the entire establishment behind her,” Sanders said. “That’s a fact. I don’t deny it.”

Not such a big deal, but Clinton’s response should have floored the audience. Not only did she, yet again, play the gender card and remind the audience (seriously, does she think her voters are stupid?) that she is a woman, but she claimed her gender meant she was not part of the establishment.

So vagina-Americans can’t be part of the establishment now? Who knew?

NEWS YOU CAN USE. Dear Rand Paul Supporters: Here’s Why Your Guy Didn’t Win.

UM, REALLY? Obama compares his work on the economy to his gym routine.

Because I’ve seen his workout video.

PRIORITIES: As Zika Virus Reaches D.C., Congress Calls for Action.

As the Zika virus reaches the United States and the nation’s capital, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling for an urgent response to prevent its spread, and are scheduling briefings and committee hearings to address it.

District of Columbia health officials confirmed this week three cases of the virus in D.C., including one pregnant woman. On Friday, Senate Democrats wrote to President Barack Obama, calling for an “urgent and aggressive response” to the virus.

“We believe that a well-coordinated interagency response plan, coupled with strong investments in our research and response programs, is critical to addressing the Zika virus,” the senators wrote.

They called on the president to take a series of steps including directing USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services to analyze gaps between international and national responses; developing a national strategy to monitor, identify and report infections; increasing research efforts; and coordinating federal agencies.

If only there were some . . . substance that would kill mosquitoes en masse.

MICKEY KAUS ON THE RUBIO MENACE: For “a particular vision of America, in which even unskilled, non-bright citizens can work a full day and earn a respectable living — Marco Rubio is a state-of-the art K-Street kill shot, a sudden existential threat. We may have only a few days to recognize this.”

Read the whole thing.

IT’S BEEN A BAD YEAR FOR DARTMOUTH ON A LOT OF FRONTS: In new sorting of colleges, Dartmouth falls out of an exclusive group.

MARCOMENTUM: Jindal Endorses ‘Principled Conservative’ Rubio.

SO, THE FIX IS IN? Hillary Clinton ’100 percent confident’ FBI won’t find wrongdoing.

Hillary Clinton said Thursday she’s “absolutely” certain the controversy over her personal email server when she helmed the State Department won’t blow up her presidential campaign and “100 percent confident” the FBI probe would find no wrongdoing.

Speaking at Thursday night’s Democratic primary debate, Clinton blamed Republicans for seeking to gin up controversy, likening the email controversy to the GOP’s investigation around her response to the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.

“Before the emails it was Benghazi and the Republicans were stirring up so much controversy over that, and I testified for 11 hours and answered their questions,” Clinton said. “They basically said ‘yeah we didn’t get her, we tried, that was all a political ploy.’ “

Poor Hillary. People are always conspiring against her. Everywhere and all the time.


NOT, NOT THOSE ONES.  THE OTHER ONES: 14 Fun Facts About Broncos.

IF SUBSTANCE COUNTED WE WOULDN’T HAVE OUR CURRENT PRESIDENT: Hillary won the debate — if substance counts.

LIKE THE MYTHICAL SUPERBOWL SPOUSE ABUSE: The Mythical Invasion of the Super Bowl Hookers.


I HOPE NOT, WE ALL REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME THEY CALLED SOMETHING THE JV TEAM: Is the White House writing off Zika as a ‘junior varsity’ virus?

THANK YOU, LORD FOR MAKING OUR ENEMIES RIDICULOUS AND INCOMPETENT: Report: Man Ejected From Somali Plane in Midair Was Suicide Bomber.

HISTORICAL VALUE: The First Super Bowl: Rare Photos From a Football Classic.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Aetna Joins Growing Chorus Warning About ObamaCare Failing.

THEY DISTORT EVERYTHING: The New Heresy: How SJW’s Distort the Doctrine of Original Sin.

OH, THAT GENDER WAGE GAP: Gender Commute Gap — Another Reason Why Men Earn More.


DEBUNKING A MUCH-ABUSED ARGUMENT: On socialism, incentives, and kibbutzim.

LIES, DAMN LIES AND STATISTICS: What jobs? BLS says 665,000 job LOSSES.


ONE MORE WAY HOLLYWOOD SUCKS: Kurt Russell accidentally destroyed a 145-year-old guitar.

February 5, 2016



COURT RULING: Brett Kimberlin Failed To Refute Charges That He Is A Pedophile. “Mr. Kimberlin … [had] to prove that they were false … — a statement that is defamatory but true isn’t actionable. And although he keeps saying he has shown falsity, he declined to take the stand to deny the allegations.”

SPACIOUS: My £70 private jet: Woman is surprised to find she is the ONLY passenger on her flight.

This happened to me when I was a kid once, during the days of still-regulated flights. The stewardess sat and chatted with me for most of the way, and I was old enough (12) to appreciate the attention. Nowadays here in the States I suspect they’d find some pretext to cancel the flight rather than fly with a single passenger.

THE RELIGION OF ANTI-RACISM CAN BE QUITE BIGOTED: In the Safe Spaces on Campus, No Jews Allowed. “It was a prevailing sentiment that I felt at the conference and in the progressive community, that because I am Jewish, I cannot be an activist who supports Black Lives Matter or the LGBTQ community. When I heard that among my peers that ‘the Jews are oppressors and murderers—How can you care about students of color on campus when they’re murdering our people abroad?’—it quickly dawned on me that it wasn’t that they don’t like us because we’re pro-Israel—they don’t like us because we’re Jews. We were targeted.”

Yeah, it’s as if all this “anti-racism” talk is really just a cover for the same old hard-left agitation or something.

MORE OF OBAMA’S UNDER-THE-RADAR GUN CONTROL: OSHA is going after ammo manufacturers.

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VIDEO SPEED ROUND: 44 Questions You Never Thought a Presidential Candidate Would Answer w/ Carly Fiorina.

A LOT OF LAW SCHOOL DEANS WOULD HATE THIS, BECAUSE THEY NEED THE WARM BODIES: Is It Time To Set An LSAT Minimum For Law School Admission? On the other hand, below a certain LSAT score, the likelihood of passing the bar declines precipitously. At the very least, students should be told this.


Related: The 27 Worst Things About Going To Stock Photo University.


“There’s another government statistic that comes out at the same time that does not often get reported, which looks at unemployment not only for those who don’t have jobs, but those who are working part-time when they want to work full-time,” Sanders said at an event in Manchester, N.H.

“And that’s a lot of people in this country. And those people in high unemployment areas who have given up looking for work,” he added. “When you add all that together, you’ve got 9.9 percent unemployment, which is a serious problem.”

And speaking of “All the President’s Stenographers,” naturally The Hill soft-pedals Sanders’ claim under the milquetoast headline, “Sanders lukewarm on jobs report.”

Unexpectedly — as Obama’s stenographers at Bloomberg have been saying since early 2009 whenever there’s bad economic news.

Related: What jobs? Bureau of Labor Statistics says 665,000 job LOSSES.

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S STENOGRAPHERS: Washington Post airbrushes Obama’s mosque visit:

However, the Islamic Society of Baltimore is affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America, which federal prosecutors in 2007 named a radical Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas front and an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator in a scheme to funnel more than $12 million to Hamas suicide bombers.

Moreover, according to Investor’s Business Daily, the mosque was led for 15 years by a radical cleric — Imam Mohamad Adam el-Sheikh — who once represented a federally designated al-Qaida front group. El-Sheikh also has argued for the legitimacy of suicide bombings. And ISB board member and vice president Muhammad Jameel has blamed American foreign policy — namely, U.S. support for Israel — for terrorism and the rise of Osama bin Laden.

I appreciate the sentiment that made President Obama want to visit a mosque. But by failing properly to vet the venue, and indeed reportedly letting the Council on American-Islamic Relations choose the site even though the FBI has banned this outfit from outreach because of known ties to the Hamas terrorist group, it’s questionable that Obama did the the cause of interfaith understanding any good.

Related: “Say, where’s that Obama/Khalidi tape? Why won’t the L.A.Times release it? Oh, who am I kidding? They won’t release it because it would make Obama look terrible. What other reason can there be?”

HMM: Birth Defects in Brazil May Be Over-Reported Amid Zika Fears.

SPEED ROUND! 44 Questions You Never Thought a Presidential Candidate Would Answer with Carly Fiorina (Video).

I definitely approve her answer on the eternal dogs versus cats debate.

GOSH, WHO KNEW? Reuters: German spy agency says ISIS sending fighters disguised as refugees.



I’M SO OLD I REMEMBER WHEN PROFILING WAS BAD: Utah Fusion Center Warns Cops: Watch Out for Don’t-Tread-on-Me Flags.

The report includes several “visual indicators” to help police determine whether they’re dealing with “extremist and disaffected individuals.” These range from images associated with specific political groups, such as the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, to a more generic patriotic symbol, the Gadsden flag—a famous Revolutionary War banner featuring a coiled rattlesnake and the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me.” One of the “indicators” is a slightly altered version of a picture popular with fans of the Grateful Dead; the guide does not note this potential source of confusion, describing it only as “common sovereign citizen imagery.”

Homeland Security remains a joke.

REVEALED: HOLLYWOOD OFFICIALLY OUT OF NEW IDEAS. MacGyver Movie Reboot And New TV Series Pilot On The Way.


Back in 1992 when Bill Clinton was running against George H.W. Bush, if Israel was your issue, you voted for Clinton because he was rightly viewed as more pro-Israel than Bush.

Twenty-four years ago, supporting Israel carried no cost for Clinton. According to Gallup, in 1992, 52 percent of Democrats were pro-Israel.

On the other hand, Bush was probably harmed somewhat for the widespread perception that he was anti-Israel. In 1992, 62% of Republicans were pro-Israel.

Over the past 15 years, the situation has altered considerably.

Today, Republicans are near unanimous in their support for Israel. According to a Gallup poll from February 2015, 83% of Republicans support Israel.

Only 48% of Democrats do. From 2014 to 2015, Democratic support for Israel plunged 10 points.

The cleavage on Israel is particularly acute among partisan elites.

As Caroline Glick writes, “Part of the reason Obama is acting with such urgency and intensity is that he knows that regardless of who is elected to replace him, the next president will not be as viscerally hostile to Israel or as emotionally attached to Islam as he is.”

That really would be a welcome change. Read the whole thing.

Related: A February 2015 post at the Israel Matzav blog titled “Can’t say we didn’t warn you: Most Democrats don’t sympathize with Israel” has the Gallup poll chart illustrating the plunge that Glick describes above

GUNS VS. MISSILES, THE LATEST ROUND: Can howitzers and naval guns shoot down incoming ballistic missiles? The U.S. Secretary of Defense says yes. “The novel project will turn U.S. Army field artillery into ballistic missile defenders. Each U.S. Army Armored Brigade Combat Team has a battalion of 18 Paladin howitzers, meaning the platform is already integrated into the structure of heavier Army brigades. There’s no mention of whether or not the lighter M777 towed howitzer used by light infantry, airborne, air assault and Stryker brigades is capable of using the new projectile. The M777 is also used by the Marine Corps and allies such as Canada and Australia.”

FASTER, PLEASE: A time-release caffeine bracelet.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Politics Is For Politicians. Your representatives aren’t stupid, just self-interested.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The Holocaust as ‘white on white crime’ and other signs of intellectual decay at Oberlin. “I found the entire Facebook post of great interest, not just as a troubling sign of emerging hostility to Jews and Jewish concerns among self-proclaimed social justice advocates on left-wing campuses, but as an equally troubling sign of the degradation of intellectual discourse at such campuses more generally, as reason, compassion and just plain old decent manners are replaced with shrill sloganeering based on which group can most successfully proclaim itself to be a victim.”

On the one hand, higher education is more expensive than ever. On the other hand, it’s less valuable than ever. On the gripping hand, what are we going to do about this?

IF TRUE, THIS IS AN EARTHQUAKE: Quinnipiac puts national Dem primary at dead heat? But how reliable are polls these days?



OF COURSE IT’S DIFFERENT — THE STATE DOESN’T GET ITS CUT: Is Playing Daily Fantasy Sports Any Different Than Playing Powerball?

As Reverend Lovejoy noted, “Once the government approves something, it’s no longer immoral!”


Shot: “We’ve recovered from the worst economic crisis since the 1930s.”

Obama’s Twitter account today.

Chaser: “President Obama Explains How Surging Bartender Jobs Are Unequivocally Good.”

Headline at Zero Hedge today.

The econo-bloggers there ask, “We wonder which ‘economy’ President Obama will discuss…The ‘Bartender’ Recovery,” which links to a chart showing the growth of waiter and bartender jobs versus manufacturing jobs since December of 2007. “Or the ‘Foreign Worker’ Recovery,” followed by a chart which shows the massive expansion of foreign-born workers since December of 2007.

Hangover: “Citi: World economy seems trapped in ‘death spiral.’”

Headline, CNBC today.

As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard adds at the London Telegraph, Jaime Caruana, general manager of Europe’s Bank for International Settlements, “said an ‘illusion of sustainability’ has blinded borrowers and debtors, lulling them into a false of security when credit was easy and asset prices were rising. This illusion can die in the blink of an eye. ‘The turning of the financial cycle can be quite abrupt,’ he said.”

We’ve seen this movie before, haven’t we? Just ask President McCain:

Update: And speaking of shots, chasers, and hangovers, “‘Incredible’! Obama admits lingering ‘hangover’ in jobs report (but guess who’s to blame!).”

Presumably, all those bartenders he’s given jobs to? (Err, including me, as I’m duly licensed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission…)

FASTER, PLEASE? Cheap Cubic-Boron Nitride Could Enable Next Gen Smart Grid.

TEST DRIVE: 2016 Chevrolet Malibu 1.5T: Is it finally the car you knew America could build?


Not to mention their intense paranoia over model airplanes and Estes rockets within 32 miles(!) of Levi’s Stadium.

WHEN EVEN AL FRANKEN HAS FIGURED THINGS OUT: Liberal Senator Al Franken is Questioning Occupational Licensing: Why Aren’t More Arkansas Legislators?

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Politics Is For Politicians. Your representatives aren’t stupid, just self-interested.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 1002.

THE PARTY OF DEATH: Cosmo Laments PP Defunding in Texas, Treats Uptick in Birth Rate Like an Ebola Outbreak.


For a state that prides itself on being “bigger” in every sense of the word, Texas is managing to handle smaller oil profit margins awfully well, as a number of producers in the state’s two shale basins are keeping output up despite plunging prices. . . .

And even as some producers find ways to turn a profit with today’s profits, many in the industry that have seen their margins erased are nevertheless still busy pursuing a forward-looking strategy: drilling but not yet fracking wells. This approach essentially lines up projects to bring online the minute prices rise high enough to justify them. This so-called “fracklog” is a widespread phenomenon, and it’s growing. For Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world’s petrostates, that’s a terrifying prospect, because it means what if and when we see the global glut erased and prices start trending back upwards, these new American supplies will flood the market and bring those prices right back down again.

And while producers amass this fracklog, plenty of companies are innovating ways to keep output up despite the fact that America’s oil benchmark is currently lingering below $32 per barrel. The shale boom isn’t done yet.

The Frackers are doing more to save Western civilization than pretty much anyone else. Certainly more than the Obama Administration or the EU.

WASTING AWAY AGAIN IN AN OBAMAVILLE: The Streets of San Francisco: ‘Super Bowl City’ Meets Tent City. A city in the grip of a housing crisis just spent $5 million on the Super Bowl. Yes, people are angry.

Other than a temporary respite on election night when a candidate with a (D) after his name wins, what other emotion is the left capable of?

By the way, spot the buried lede! Far left Nation magazine suddenly discovers far left San Francisco is a basket case. Or as even the San Francisco Chronicle was forced to admit last year, “People come here thinking of this as the center of innovation and entrepreneurship, and they see a street scene that looks like something out of a Third World country.” These things happen when your last Republican mayor left office over half a century ago.



Perhaps I should reread Mark Levin’s The Liberty Amendments.

I should also note that the Tennessee Law Review published a special symposium issue on constitutional conventions a few years ago. I wrote the Foreword, Sandy Levinson wrote the Afterword, and an all-star cast including Randy Barnett, Brannon Denning, Richard Epstein, Tim Lynch, Rob Natelson, and too many other luminaries to mention contributed the stuff in between. Here’s my contribution, which focuses specifically on spending. And here’s video of me talking about it at the Harvard Law School conference on constitutional conventions.

METAPHOR ALERT: Chicago Stock Exchange Says It’s Being Sold to Chinese-Led Group

TOM MAGUIRE: Hillary-bashing on Goldman omits the Mitch McConnell connection. “First, forget about Jack Nicholson – she really was channeling her inner Mitch McConnell, who made exactly that argument on the Senate floor while opposing Sen. McCain on campaign finance reform . . . Secondly, how many Democrats are going to buy Hillary’s nuanced view that every Republican and possibly one or two Democrats are captive to their donors but she is not?”

PUTIN’S WILLING EXECUTIONER: The Kremlin may be losing its grip on a boogeyman of its own making.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Politics Is For Politicians. Your representatives aren’t stupid, just self-interested.

PUNCHING BACK TWICE AS HARD: Donald Trump Tried To Bully GOP Consultant — She Fights Back With Attorney.

SO I GUESS IT WASN’T POLLING VERY WELL: Trump on Cruz feud: ‘I don’t care about that anymore’.


Nietzsche believed he had killed God in 1883, but man is hardwired to believe in something. From the belief in the perfection of the bureaucratic state (and the concomitant cargo cult worship of the New Deal) to radical environmentalism to what Columbia’s John McWhorter recently dubbed “Antiracism, Our Flawed New Religion,” the entire 150-year old “Progressive” experiment can be seen as an extended experiment to build a new organized religion and/or to create “Heaven on Earth,” but as they said at National Review in the 1960s, “Don’t Immanentize the Eschaton.”

Related: “Liberals often claim that the little people, those without a college education or a subscription to the New York Times, are easy prey for demagogues. Lacking political nous and basic B.S.-resistance, apparently, these plain-thinking folk find themselves in thrall to frothing Fox News anchors and various other big-haired, well-known people who spout simple political messages. We can think independently, but they can’t, say snooty liberals,” Brendan O’Neill writes. “All of which makes the Cult of Ta-Nehisi Coates so ironic. The very liberals who mock rednecks for falling for the bluster of biblical or right-leaning nuts basically bow and scrape at the feet of Coates, treating his every utterance as a bolt from heaven.”

20 years ago, when the leftists at the Washington Post infamously declared that evangelical Christians were “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.” I wonder if they had any inkling how much self-projection they were generating?

(Via Maggie’s Farm.)

JUST IN CASE YOU WONDERED, IF YOU DON’T SUPPORT HILLARY IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE A MISOGYNIST OR SOMETHING: The sexist double standard behind why millennials love Bernie Sanders.

NOTHING SAYS “VOTE DEMOCRAT IN 2016″ LIKE A GOVERNMENT-MANDATED GAS PRICE INCREASE: Obama goes full YOLO: Proposes raising gas prices in final budget.

President Obama is expected to include a proposed $10 “fee” on every barrel of oil in his final budget. Obama suggests the “fee” (read: tax) will be paid for by evil oil companies (aren’t they just the worst?), but in reality, we all know the price will be passed along to consumers.

We just got low gas prices back, and this is what we get from the administration?

This is how big government operates. People are finally getting a break in their pocketbooks, so the government looks for a way to stick it to them. Obama knows that people did pay the higher price for gas, so why not go back to that again and make government the beneficiary?

Republicans should add a rider cutting limiting Presidential use of Air Force One to a single trip per month, effective immediately. For the environment!

GALLUP: Red States Outnumber Blue for First Time in Gallup Tracking.

Gallup’s analysis of political party affiliation at the state level in 2015 finds that 20 states are solidly Republican or leaning Republican, compared with 14 solidly Democratic or leaning Democratic states. The remaining 16 are competitive. This is the first time in Gallup’s eight years of tracking partisanship by state that there have been more Republican than Democratic states. It also marks a dramatic shift from 2008, when Democratic strength nationally was its greatest in recent decades.

The Competitive column includes formerly-blue Pennsylvania and the upper Midwestern states of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. All five went for Barack Obama in the last two elections, and hold a total of 62 electoral college votes in 2016.

A SMALL CIVIL RIGHTS VICTORY: Kolbe v. Hogan: 4th Circuit requires strict scrutiny for Maryland ban on magazines and semiautomatics. “Today the 4th Circuit decided Kolbe v. Hogan, a Second Amendment challenge to a 2013 Maryland arms prohibition statute. The statute bans the sale of firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and also bans many firearms, by labeling them as ‘assault weapons.’ In a 2-1 decision written by Chief Judge Traxler, the Fourth Circuit held that strict scrutiny is the proper standard of review for bans on common arms, such as those at issue in Kolbe. The case was remanded to the district court, which had applied the wrong standard, namely a weak version of intermediate scrutiny.”

SOMEONE TELL BERNIE: For Venezuela, the End Is Near.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is planning to cut 50 percent of the budget for aerial surveillance along the Southern U.S. border.

Related: Border Patrol Agent: We Will Be Terminated If We Try To Enforce The Law.

More: The Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest released a new chart on Thursday exclusively to Breitbart News that shows that the number of fugitive criminal aliens in America outnumbers the populations of every city in New Hampshire.

DEMOCRATS IN DISARRAY: Is an Audit on the Way for Iowa Caucuses?

Iowa Democrats are facing increased pressure to re-examine Monday’s incredibly close and uncomfortably messy vote, especially after the Des Moines Register called for “a complete audit of results.”

But party leaders say it may be hard to recreate what happened at hundreds of small precinct gatherings, where voters can arrive supporting one candidate and leave backing another.

In an editorial published late on Feb. 3 and in today’s print editions, the state’s newspaper argued, “What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. Democracy, particularly at the local party level, can be slow, messy and obscure. But the refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy. The Iowa Democratic Party must act quickly to assure the accuracy of the caucus results, beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

Delays in reporting vote totals on Monday night prompted the state party to reach out to the campaigns to help register the tally. While 100 percent of precincts had reported by the next day, critics of the process pointed to reports of under-staffed precincts and inconsistencies and were calling for the party to take a closer look, including releasing raw vote totals in Hillary Clinton’s razor-thin victory over Sen. Bernard Sanders.

Sam Lau, communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party, said the structure of the caucuses make it difficult to recreate exactly what happened.

How convenient for Hillary.

THE HEAT IS ON, at last, at last night’s Democratic debate:

“I think it’s time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out in recent week,” Clinton said after Sanders talked about getting money out of politics.

Sanders has boasted about not receiving money from Wall street, and has pointed out in recent weeks that Clinton has received large sums in exchange for speaking.

“Sen. Sanders has said he wants to run a positive campaign. I’ve tried to keep my disagreements over issues, but time and time again, by innuendo and by insinuation there is this attack that he is putting forth,” Clinton said.

“Which really comes down to anyone who ever took donations or speaking fees from interest groups has to be bought, and I absolutely reject that Senator. I really don’t think those attacks by insinuation are worthy of you,” Clinton continued.

It doesn’t take much in the way of “art” or “innuendo” or “insinuation” to point out that Clinton bashes Wall Street while taking millions in donations and up to $675,000 a pop in speaking fees from too-big-to-fail firms like Goldman-Sachs.

NOT DEAD ENOUGH: Mocked, resented, and now dead: De Blasio’s horse debacle makes history.

As Kathy Shaidle quipped back in 2014, de Blasio really is the second coming of Rick Moranis as the “Keymaster” in Ghostbusters, isn’t he?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON’S Lessons From the California’s Drought:

Government failure was not just due to acts of commission, but of omission as well. In four years, not a single new reservoir was begun, despite warnings that the state’s reservoir capacity long ago was fossilized—designed for a state of 20 million people, not the present 40 million.

Had the state begun work on a few of the long-planned tertiary reservoirs of the now neglected California Water Project—the Sites, Los Banos Grandes, and Temperance Flat projects—the reservoirs would now be nearing completion and ready to capture nearly four-million acre-feet of additional water runoff, should 2016 prove to be a “wet” year.

If Californians have learned anything, it is that droughts are survivable only to the degree that the state’s reservoirs have water, that water projects must follow their original and contracted purposes (irrigation, flood control, hydroelectric power, and recreation), and that finite aquifers are replenished only by surface irrigation water deliveries that both recharge the water table and preclude the need for subterranean pumping. Because of the state’s failure to initiate a new reservoir, the next drought will hit 50 or 60 million state residents—with the ability to survive only a year or two, not four years, of reduced rain and snowfall.

The environmental movement helped to intensify rather than alleviate the drought. Both Governor Brown and President Obama—contrary to the exegeses of reputable climatologists and meteorologists—ignored the demonstrable and historical role of the El Niño effect. Instead they quickly politicized the drought by blaming generic global warming as the culprit, and then suggested that the cure was a reduction in carbon emissions. There is some irony in the fact that what seems to cause California’s frequent droughts is not the supposed man-caused global warming of recent years, but a natural and slight cooling of the Pacific Ocean that, as its centuries-long wont, helps to alter storm pathways over Western North America.

But building a $100 billion-plus high-speed rail or mandating that California public utilities over the next four years meet targets of 33% renewable energy use will not prevent a periodic drought. Such boondoggles will only ensure less funding for proven drought solutions, such as building more reservoirs, pipelines, and canal transfer systems.

The California legislature has dealt with a number of issues since the beginning of the drought in 2012—mandating transgendered restrooms, outlawing the use of hunting dogs in the pursuit of bobcats and bears, and proposing a vast increase in the state gas tax in a state that currently suffers the continental United States’ most expensive gasoline prices. Yet reservoir construction was not among such high priority considerations, despite voters’ overwhelming passage in 2014 of a $7.4 billion water bond that included the building of one or two new reservoirs—none of which are even close to being started.

Read the whole thing; alas no one in Sacramento ever will.

THE HILL: Limbaugh: Obama ‘constantly denigrates Christians.’

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said Thursday he wonders why President Obama is a Christian given how often he discusses Islam instead.

“President Obama is routinely defending [Islam], talking it up, promoting it,” he said on his broadcast that afternoon. “He says it’s the most peaceful, giving religion out there, that the mosque’s call to prayer is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.”

“My question is, given all this, why did he choose to become a Christian,” he added. “I’ve always wondered that. He’s such a defender and promoter of Islam, and, on the other hand, he and his party are constantly denigrating Christians.”

Limbaugh argued that Obama does not hold Christianity in high regard.

“He says he is one, [but] at the same time, he’s out there, and look what he says about Christians,” he said. “Look, he talks about them as ‘bitter clingers’ and [says that] they hold onto their guns when they’re nervous.

“I don’t care what the issue is, whether it’s guns, whether it’s gay marriage, any cultural or social issue, or the ‘bitter clinger’ comments. How did he end up choosing Rev. [Jeremiah] Wright’s church given his public statements on all this?”

How, indeed?

WHY DO DEMOCRATS HATE THE POOR AND MIDDLE CLASS SO? Obama to propose $10-a-barrel oil tax.

Should be fun hearing what Hillary has to say about this, since in the spring of 2008, she “lined up with Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, in endorsing a plan to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for the summer travel season:”

(Curious how high American gas prices were in that period after Democrats retook both houses of Congress in 2006, and before the oil industry adopted the policy of “drill, baby dill,” to coin a phrase from the fall of 2008.)



GEORGE ORWELL, CALL YOUR OFFICE: Rep. John Conyers (D-MI): Illegal Aliens ‘Are Not Engaging in an Illegal Act.’

To be fair, Conyers knows his illegal acts — he’s seen them up close and personal.

MARK RIPPETOE: Doctors And Exercise Advice. “I won’t bore you with the specifics of the physiology, but every word of this is complete bullshit – of the kind you’d expect from a bartender, not a doctor.”