March 31, 2015

ASHE SCHOW: Why the Rolling Stone gang-rape story will never be labeled a hoax.

By now it’s clear that the brutal gang rape reported last November in Rolling Stone did not occur. I write that, knowing full well the backlash I could receive from not adding the caveat that something could still have happened to Jackie, the accuser in the story.

Activists have clung to the idea that something probably did happen to make a young woman tell a tale of a brutal gang rape and become a campus activist to keep the hoax claims isolated to a small subset. These same activists bent over backwards following the Charlottesville Police press conference last week to claim that Jackie probably wasn’t lying, because such a false accusation “flies in the face of statistics,” as one CNN panelist said. Of course, the statistic that only 2 percent of reported rapes are false – doubtful anyway – only applies to rapes actually reported to police, which this one was not.

But in any event, the faint possibility that Jackie may have suffered some other horrific event is not the reason this story will not be labeled a hoax by activists or most in the mainstream media.

No, the reason it will not be labeled a hoax comes from an anonymous McGill University student, using the pseudonym Aurora Dagny, who wrote last year that dogmatism is in part to blame for activists’ refusal to accept evidence contrary to their worldview.

“One way to define the difference between a regular belief and a sacred belief is that people who hold sacred beliefs think it is morally wrong for anyone to question those beliefs,” Dagny wrote. “If someone does question those beliefs, they’re not just being stupid or even depraved, they’re actively doing violence. They might as well be kicking a puppy. When people hold sacred beliefs, there is no disagreement without animosity.”

Because the activists behind the Rolling Stone story hold a “sacred belief” that thousands, perhaps even millions, of college students are sexually assaulted each year, any evidence to the contrary is seen as detrimental to the cause.

It’s why Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was able to continue calling Jackie a “victim” of a crime for which there is no proof. It’s why the University of Virginia’s president, Teresa Sullivan, and those responsible for vandalizing the fraternity named in the Rolling Stone article have not had to apologize for their rush to judgment.

This is too kind. Jackie, Gillibrand and Sullivan won’t apologize because they’re political liars, and they’re lying to a constituency that doesn’t care about the truth, and the press — which is part of that constituency to a large degree — won’t punish them for it.

Related: Cathy Young: Jackie Is A Serial Liar. Why Not Say it?

It is, of course, nearly impossible to prove a negative. Short of a surveillance tape documenting Jackie’s every movement, one cannot know for certain that she was never sexually assaulted at UVA. But the evidence against her is damning. It’s not simply that there was no party at Phi Kappa Si, the fraternity named by Jackie, anywhere near the time when she said she was attacked. It’s not simply that her account changed from forced oral sex to vaginal rape and from five assailants to seven, or that her friends saw no sign of her injuries after the alleged assault. What clinches the case is the overwhelming proof that “Drew,” Jackie’s date who supposedly orchestrated her rape, was Jackie’s own invention.

Back in the fall of 2012, Jackie’s friends knew “Drew” as “Haven Monahan,” an upperclassman who supposedly wanted to date her and with whom she encouraged them to exchange emails and text messages. However, an investigation by The Washington Post and other media last December found that “Haven’s” messages were fake; the phone numbers he used were registered to online services that allow texting via the Internet and redirecting calls, while his photo matches a former high school classmate of Jackie’s who lives in a different state. No “Haven Monahan” exists on the UVA campus or, apparently, anywhere in the United States (at least outside romance novels). The catfishing scheme seems to have been a ploy to get the attention of a male friend on whom Jackie had a crush—the same friend she called for help after the alleged assault.

Is it possible that someone sexually assaulted Jackie on the night when she claimed to be going out with her fictional suitor? Theoretically, yes. But it’s also clear that her credibility is as non-existent as “Haven Monahan.”

Moreover, the police investigation has debunked another one of Jackie’s claims: that in spring 2014, when she was already an anti-rape activist, some men harassed her in the street off-campus and threw a bottle that hit her face and (improbably) broke. Jackie said that her roommate picked glass out of a cut on her face; but the roommate disputes this and describes the injury as a scrape, likely from a fall. Jackie also said she called her mother immediately after that attack, but phone records show no such call.

Despite all this, Chief Longo wouldn’t call Jackie’s story a false allegation and even referred to her as “this survivor” (though amending it to the more neutral “or this complaining party”).

Meanwhile, in the CNN report on the March 23 press conference, anchor Brooke Baldwin, correspondent Sara Ganim and legal analyst Sunny Hostin were tripping over each other to assert that “we have to be very careful” not to brand Jackie a liar and that “she could have been sexually assaulted.” Hostin argued that the idea that Jackie made it all up “flies in the face of statistics,” because “only about 2 percent of rapes that are reported are false.”

This is a bogus statistic, which Hostin misattributed to the FBI. (According to FBI data, 8 to 9 percent of police reports of sexual assault are dismissed as “unfounded”; the reality of false rape reports is far more complicated, and it’s almost impossible to get a reliable estimate.) Even if it were true, it would say nothing about Jackie’s specific case. What’s more, statistics on false allegations generally refer to police reports or at least formal administrative complaints at a college—neither of which Jackie was willing to file.

CNN never mentioned the evidence that Jackie fabricated “Haven Monahan.” Neither did the New York Times, which said only that “the police were unable to track Mr. Monahan down.”

Jackie’s defenders argue that rape victims often change their stories because their recall is affected by trauma. It is true that memory, not just of traumatic events, can be unreliable; a victim may at various points give somewhat different descriptions of the offender or the attack. It is also true that, as writer Jessica Valenti argues, someone who tells the truth about being raped may lie to cover up embarrassing details (such as going to the rapist’s apartment to buy drugs).

None of that, however, requires us to suspend rational judgment and pretend that Jackie’s story is anything other than a fabrication. While Jackie is probably more troubled than malevolent, she is not the victim here. If there’s a victim, it’s Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity branded a nest of rapists, suspended and targeted for vandalism—as well as UVA Dean Nicole Eramo, whom the Rolling Stone story painted as a callous bureaucrat indifferent to Jackie’s plight.

Jackie lied, Erdely lied, Rolling Stone lied, Teresa Sullivan — at best — went along with a lie. All should face more consequences than they have so far experienced.

Plus: “For the rest of us, this episode shows how extreme and irrational “rape culture” dogma has become, and how urgent it is to break its hold on public discourse. The current moral panic may be an overreaction to real problems of failure to support victims of sexual violence. But when truth becomes heresy, the pendulum has swung too far, with disastrous consequences for civil rights and basic justice.”

THIS IS AN EASY SETUP FOR THE REPUBLICANS, IF THEY’RE SMART ENOUGH TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT: Roll Call: DCCC to Hit Republicans on College Campuses.

House Democrats will launch a series of attacks on Republicans over college affordability over the next two weeks, when members of Congress will fan out across the country for the Easter recess.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will hit 15 Republicans via advertisements in student newspapers at colleges and universities in their districts, according to a release provided first to CQ Roll Call. The ads attack these Republicans for not supporting Pell Grants — which provide funding for low-income students working toward undergraduate degrees.

The 15 members either voted for the House Republican budget — which calls for 10-year freeze to the maximum Pell Grant award, currently set at $5,775 — or, they voted against both the GOP budget and the budget submitted by House Democrats, which maintained funding levels for the Pell Grant program.

“The Republicans made a clear statement of their priorities by casting votes that would make it more expensive for young people to attend college — priorities that stand in stark contrast to Democrats,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in the release. “We will be using the first week of Congress’s April recess to remind voters just how out of touch Republicans are on college affordability.”

These are the Republicans targeted, and the schools where students will see ads.

The Republicans should respond with a bill freezing tuitions.

DOING JOBS AMERICANS WON’T ARENT’ ALLOWED TO DO: Amazon tests delivery drones at secret Canada site after US frustration.

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED AGAINST BARACK OBAMA, WE’D HAVE POLITICIANS OBSESSED WITH ETHNIC PURITY. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! “A Brooklyn city councilwoman wants to know why ‘blocs’ of Asians are living in two Fort Greene housing projects — and suggested it would be ‘beneficial’ to assign housing by ethnic group.”

AT THIS POINT, NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN IS A BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Rabbi warns Obama against appeasing Iran.

abbi Shmuley Boteach, a television host, author and political aspirant, will publish a full-page advertisement in The Washington Post on Tuesday urging President Obama not to “appease” Iran by signing a nuclear agreement.

The advertisement says Obama should be compared to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain if he signs an Iranian nuclear deal with a one-year “breakout” period.

Chamberlain signed an agreement to allow Nazi Germany to annex parts of Czechoslovakia in 1938, one year before it invaded Poland. Negotiators in the Iran talks are working on a deal meant to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon for at least one year if it pulls out of a deal.

“Do not sign a deal that allows the potentially catastrophic one-year-weapons-breakout period, which endangers the Middle East, America, and the world,” the ad reads.

The ad comes on the day of a deadline for the United States and five other world powers to reach an agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Bad deal.

REALLY? BOYCOTTING ISRAEL? The Virginia bar continues to disgrace itself.

SCOTT SHACKFORD: Indiana’s RFRA—and the Response—Is All About the Signaling: What the law actually says is mostly irrelevant in our cultural climate.

Actually, it’s mostly about satisfying the Democrats’ core constituencies’ bottomless desire to feel morally superior.

OH, OF COURSE NOT: State Department: No consequences for missing Iran deal deadline. Deadlines, Red Lines — consequences not an issue.

March 30, 2015

SPENCER KLAVAN: How Colleges Protect Their Students (Unless They’re Male, Conservative, or Jewish).

WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY: Woman Finds Kidney Donor —via Plea on Car Window.

WALTER OLSON: Obstruction of justice, the collectively bargained way.

ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS: Former 10th Mountain Division soldier aids Christian militias fighting ISIS.

THERE MUST BE SOME OTHER ERROR, IT SHOWS HIS BIRTHPLACE AS NAIROBI: The Hill: Autofill mistake exposes Obama’s passport data.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 8.32.18 PM

THE ADVANTAGES OF BEING IN MALIBU: Pepperdine’s Surf Chapel.

IS A BAD MARRIAGE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH?

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SCIENCE: Survey Says: Middle Class Women Want To Get Laid.

VIDEO: Steve Crowder interviews Mark Rippetoe. Planet Fitness is mocked.

DIVE SITE: There’s a mysterious bomber at the bottom of Lake Mead. “The Overton Arm B-29 — named for the part of Lake Mead where it crashed in 1948 — tested a secret ballistic-missile guidance system. The nature of the test required a risky and dangerous flight. But a historic drought has lowered Lake Mead’s levels, and may soon give recreational divers access to the sunken bomber.”

SHE’D BE A FRESH FACE, AND NOT YOUR USUAL POLITICO: Nashville Tennessean: Vanderbilt’s Carol Swain ‘open’ to leading Tenn. GOP.

CHINA STILL CAN’T FRACK: “Beijing lays claim to the world’s largest shale gas reserves and third-largest shale oil reserves. Yet, as countries like Poland, Lithuania, Romania, South Africa, and the UK are all learning, simply possessing the resource isn’t enough. The American energy renaissance has not come gift-wrapped; rather it has been a product of a great number of favorable factors and innovative efforts.” It’s been so powerful that even Obama hasn’t been able to kill it.

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JET CARDS: THE NEW STATUS SYMBOL? Well, I’d like one, but not so much for the status as for the mobility.

A HISTORY OF WORLD WAR TWO, in 25 Airplanes.

TIPPING: A Guide For Young Men.

READER BOOK PLUG: From Sean Golden, Warrior.

WHEN LAW PROFESSORS breach publication contracts.

ANN ALTHOUSE ON INDIANA AND RFRA: “Indiana has focused attention on RFRA laws, but it’s stupid to focus on Indiana. These laws are all over the place. Understand them. Understand how they apply in many different scenarios and how they are limited by courts in their application. Understand that if we’re going to relieve religious believers of the burdens of generally applicable laws, courts are going to have to avoid preferring one religion over another. You can’t accommodate the religions you agree with or think are sweet and fuzzy and say no to the ones who seem mean or ugly. We need to figure that out. If, in the end, you think the Indiana RFRA is a bad idea, check that map and see if your state has RFRA (or a RFRA-like state constitutional provision) and push for repeal in your state. And get after Congress. Congress started it. Unless you’re Hoosier, leave Indiana alone. Stop otherizing Indiana. AND: I had to wonder What does Garrett Epps think about this? Because Garrett Epps wrote a whole book about how terrible it was for the U.S. Supreme Court to deny special exceptions to religious believers, especially in that case where Native Americans wanted the freedom to use peyote. As I predicted, Epps is otherizing Indiana.”

Here’s the deal: (1) Indiana has gone from a swing state to a red state, so it’s fair game; and (2) Dems need something to agitate the base so it doesn’t pay attention to Iranian nukes, trashed email servers, and an overall culture of corruption. Those who join in are willing enablers.

TEEN LIBERTARIAN draws crowds of 200,000 in Brazil.

HOW “AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT” LAWS CRIMINALIZE EVERYONE: If a student throws her arms around her boyfriend and kisses him without his permission, even if she has done this dozens of times before, she has violated affirmative consent policies. “Affirmative consent laws trivialize sexual assault by turning nearly everyone who has ever dated into a sexual offender.” But only disfavored students will ever be prosecuted.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Florida School Suspends 11-year-old Girl for Video Recording Teacher Threatening to Hurt Other Student. “The evidence Brianna Cooper recorded was enough to get the teacher fired from Samuel Gaines Academy in Fort Pierce, about two hours north of Miami. But administrators say it was also enough to earn the student a five-day suspension. After all, they claim, the teacher, had an expectation of privacy in the classroom.” How can anyone have an “expectation of privacy” in a classroom full of people?

JUDICIAL WATCH: Corruption Scandals Led to Harry Reid’s Abrupt “Retirement.” “You’d never know it from the mainstream media puff pieces of Harry Reid’s sudden retirement, but it was a long string of corruption scandals—including a recent one involving his attorney son—that drove the veteran Nevada senator to abruptly leave public office.”

UH OH: Video: One dead, two wounded at Fort Meade’s NSA gate after vehicle attack. “A bizarre attack on the NSA access gate has left at least one person dead and two more wounded, after guards opened fire on an SUV attempting to crash through the barriers. Initial news reports say that two men dressed as women attempted to force their way into Fort Meade, and the gunfight ensued.”

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: You’re Probably Breaking The Law Right Now.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 690.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: MOOCs Could Save the World.

America’s higher education system is an example to the world—and that’s not necessarily all to the good. In a lead article as well as a special feature, the Economist argues that America’s higher ed system is increasingly spreading across the globe, with more and more people going to universities that resemble America’s colleges. However, as the Economist notes, America’s education system is good at delivering excellence but become increasingly dysfunctional—and very expensive. One of the main reasons is that some colleges have become credential mills, where earning a degree is more important than learning. . . .

Another reason why higher ed’s bang-to-buck ratio is lower these days, ironically, is that generous federal student loans have helped subsidize an expensive system and even perhaps made it pricier. The Economist’s special report argues that technology, especially MOOCs and online courses, could help in this regard by lowering costs. But many colleges—and college faculty members—resist them because they have a lot invested in the status quo.

In fact, the adoption of MOOCs may be a case in which the U.S. can learn from the rest of the world. Unmentioned by the Economist is that MOOCs (though offered by companies of American origin) are popular in other countries like India and Trinidad and Tobago. The rest of the world might surpass us, in other words, in embracing and legitimizing educational tech—particularly if it permits people who wouldn’t ordinarily have access to a traditional, brick-and-mortar college to start attending classes online. If that’s true, American colleges should start taking a page out of foreign colleges’ playbook.

But they won’t because the foreign colleges’ playbook offers insufficient remuneration for administrators.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: You’re Probably Breaking The Law Right Now.

THIS STORY IS SEVERAL MONTHS OLD, BUT SOMEHOW IT’S GOTTEN NEW SOCIAL-MEDIA LIFE, AND IT WAS NEW TO ME: There are more museums in the U.S. than there are Starbucks and McDonalds – combined.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Academic dishonesty at Stanford: What compels elite students to cheat? For some, perhaps many, that’s how they got there. Others learned once they arrived. Neither phenomenon speaks well of college as an improving enterprise.

BYRON YORK: Reid Senate career a story of money and muscle.

In 1998, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid paid $400,000 for two pieces of residential land outside Las Vegas. It was a complicated deal. Reid secretly transferred ownership of the property to a company set up by his friend and lawyer Jay Brown, who then convinced the local government to re-zone the land for commercial development. In 2004, Brown sold it to a group of developers and Reid walked away with $1.1 million.

“The complex dealings allowed Reid to transfer ownership, legal liability and some tax consequences to Brown’s company without public knowledge, but still collect a seven-figure payoff nearly three years later,” the Associated Press reported in 2006. “Reid hung up the phone when questioned about the deal during an AP interview.”

It was a classic Harry Reid transaction: legal but a little shady, and undoubtedly lucrative. Business deals like that allowed Reid to do very well during his years in the Senate, spent of late in a luxury condominium in Washington’s Ritz Carlton.

Democrats: Fighting for the little guy.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Wanted: New, ‘Politically Correct’ White House Fence.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: What happens when you find out a year of college costs $71,000? “The sticker price at NYU gained attention earlier this week when incoming freshmen, Nia Mirza, started a petition to get the school to lower the cost of attendance. Mirza, a 19-year-old from Pakistan, claims the price went up after she committed to early admission to the class of 2019. She said she thought it would cost roughly $64,000 to attend the tony private school.”

Hey, those Presidential beach houses on Fire Island don’t come cheap.

THE HILL: O’Malley: Nuclear Iran ‘greatest man-made threat.’

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Sunday said that a nuclear-armed Iran would present the gravest “man-made” danger to American interests.

“The greatest threat that we face right now in terms of man-made threats is a nuclear Iran and related extremist violence,” O’Malley told host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I don’t think you can separate the two,” he added.

O’Malley, a likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, said climate change served as the worst environmental threat to national security. He said that Tehran possessing atomic bombs, however, was still a preventable catastrophe.

If nothing else, he’s provided the GOP with a TV-ad sound bite.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Boy Got a Haircut Like His Military Step-Brother, School Suspended Him: Why is it okay for public school officials to place totally unnecessary, soul-crushing restrictions on students? Sending your kids, even boys, to public school isn’t exactly child abuse, but it’s looking more and more like parental malpractice.

WELL, THAT’S GOOD NEWS FOR PEOPLE WITH RARE DISEASES: Big Profits Seen In Rare Diseases. “For decades, drugmakers were reluctant to invest in rare-disease treatments, preferring to focus on mass-market drugs for cholesterol, heart trouble, and other common problems. Then, starting a decade ago, patents on some of the industry’s most lucrative medicines began to expire, and cheap generic drugs started wiping out tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue. So many companies shifted money to rare-disease drugs, knowing that those medicines cost less to develop and will face limited competition. Some already sell for $100,000 or more for a year of treatment, although drugmakers usually give financial aid to patients and big discounts to insurers.”

HMM: Black churches divorce Presbyterians over gay marriage. “This shows the riff between white liberals and minorities over gay marriage. Minorities overwhelmingly supported the Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage in California, which passed in 2008.”

Prediction: Neither the press, nor LGBT rights groups, will call them bigots. Here’s the press release.

March 29, 2015

MOE LANE:

There are two things that we know about the next election, more or less: first, the Democrats [are] tanking among white voters. Second, black voters aren’t going to come out for a non-black Presidential candidate with the same intensity that they did for Barack Obama. Add those two together, and the end result looks very bad for the Democratic party.

And that’s why Hillary Clinton is still being propped up by the Democratic establishment: she’s the most prominent female politician that they have right now. I personally don’t think that she’s going to be able to recreate Barack Obama’s 2012 performance when it comes to white women voters, but former Secretary Clinton has a better shot at it than pretty much anybody else. …And that is, as they say, pretty much it.

Martin O’Malley.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Michael Tomasky: “And so what I hope is that Obama administration officials are, well, lying. That is, I hope they’re just saying this stuff about a new and improved Iran because they think it might help build public support for a deal. That’s not very appealing, but it’s better than the other possibility, which is that they actually believe this stuff.”

ED DRISCOLL: Peggy Noonan, Then And Now. In 2008 she was allowed to like Barack Obama. In 2015, she’s not allowed to like Ted Cruz.

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Of Course Ted Cruz Can Win. “In football, any team can win on any given Sunday; in politics, any candidate can win on any given Tuesday. Ted Cruz did not cut a swath through Democrats to take his seat in the Senate — the Democrat, whose name I defy you to call up, was pro forma — but rather by defeating the Republican political machine in Texas and by making fools of its top dogs. If you think that he managed that by being stupid, then there is an adjective in this sentence for you.”

NOW THIS IS FUNNY, BECAUSE THE INSTA-WIFE WAS JUST COMPLAINING THAT ALL THE INTERVIEWS ARE POSITIVE: Lawsuit accuses Angie’s List of manipulating reviews.

Via Don Surber.

ALFONZO RACHEL: The Reasons Why Democrats Are the Party of Slavery and Victimization.

CHANGE: Russia’s oligarchs head for London as rouble collapses. I think they want to get away from Putin’s response to the ruble collapse more than from the ruble collapse itself. . . .

RUTHIE BLUM ON THE LATEST LENA DUNHAM FLAP: “Most striking about the enraged responses was what they did not include: The impunity with which women are allowed to express contempt for members of the male sex, while cloaking their own neediness and hunger for love in outdated feminist lingo. Indeed, nobody calls them out on things that men could never get away with saying, certainly not in print.”

This will persist until men stop putting up with it.

JONATHAN LAST: The Campus Left Begins to Implode. “The good news is that these sorts of perversions always burn themselves out-they’re too untethered to reality. Eventually people realize that the radicalism is really about just one thing: power. And once people begin to challenge the dogmas, they collapse in a cascade. Because as they lose their power to exact a price for criticism, they attract more of it.”

SCIENCE: Indefinite Safe Sex Urged for Liberian Ebola Survivors. “The Liberian government recommended on Saturday that survivors of Ebola practice safe sex indefinitely, until more information can be collected on the length of time the virus might remain present in body fluids including semen. Previously, male survivors were advised to abstain from sexual intercourse or to use condoms for three months, reflecting that the active virus had been detected for up to 82 days in semen.”

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: You’re Probably Breaking The Law Right Now.

MICHAEL WALSH: So What Really Did Happen to Harry Reid? “It’s pretty obvious from the photographs that somebody beat the bejesus out of the soon-to-be-former senator from Nevada. . . . So what happened? Is there a single honest, curious reporter left in Washington? No need to answer that question.”

JEKYLL & HYDE: Driving the BMW i8. “Tromp the i8’s throttle and you’re whisked into motion like protons in a collider. The instant signature shove of electric torque helps. The miniature gas engine chimes in with a backup duet voice. It’s canned but uncanny: a synthesized simulation of engine sound piped through door speakers to complement the actual exhaust note. You’d never know that a three-cylinder engine was at work; instead, the BMW’s chesty rumble sounds like a Porsche flat-six mating with a flying saucer.”

PHOTO GALLERY: The Sad Decline of Florida’s Space Coast.

SPACE: More Ingredients for Life Identified on Mars.

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HISTORIC PROOF: The 1891 Patent for Toilet Paper Settles the Over/Under Question Once and for All. Sorry, I’m not changing.

THE BETTER TO DOWNLOAD YOU, MY DEAR: Carbon nanotube fibers make superior links to brain.

TRADE IN YOUR USED BOOKS AND OLD VIDEOGAMES at the Amazon Trade-In Store.

IT’S ALWAYS IN THE LAST PLACE YOU LOOK: Huge underground city discovered in Turkey–by accident.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Defense Department Keeps Losing ‘Sensitive’ Explosives Gear, Then Finding It For Sale On Ebay.

TAKE THAT, HILLARY: O’Malley: No one’s ‘inevitable’ for 2016.

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) on Sunday scoffed at the notion that any Democrat was a lock for his party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

“History is full of times where the inevitable frontrunner is inevitable until they’re no longer inevitable anymore,” O’Malley said.

Former first lady Hillary Clinton is widely considered the party’s frontrunner heading into 2016.

O’Malley also criticized the idea of presidential dynasties in politics. He said that neither Clinton nor former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.), a likely GOP candidate, were especially qualified for the Oval Office due to their family ties.

“The presidency is not some crown to be passed between two families,” O’Malley said, referencing earlier White House administrations under Bush and Clinton’s relatives.

The former governor also said Americans craved a president who better represented their interests.

“We need a president who is on our side,” he said.

Well, it would be a change. But isn’t pointing that out kinda racist or something?

THIS WAS TRUE A YEAR AGO, AND IT’S TRUER NOW: Obama’s Foreign Policy Failures Are Proving His Critics Right. But not as true as it will be next year. . . .

CHANGE: A Three-Sided Minimum Wage Debate Moves Into Nevada. “The reality is that some people, often for unfortunate reasons, don’t have skills that are worth $9, $10 or $15 an hour.”

The higher the minimum wage, the faster the Age Of Machines is born.

IN THE MAIL: Chips: Season 3.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 689.

DINNER, WITH A SIDE OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS:

As Bovy notes, asking people to “eat local” who live in northern climes where “local” means “nothing green” for six or seven months out of the year, and do not get to spend a few months each winter in Sicily teaching a cooking class, is pretty rich. A food writer who is telling other people how they could eat, if they wanted to, is doing a great public service. A food writer who is telling other people how they should eat (just like me, except without my access to ingredients) is just obnoxious. You can’t possibly know how they should eat, unless you have spent some time living their lives.

It is well to remember that people who spend time professionally writing about food have quite a bit more time in their day for acquiring and cooking food than most people. They also have more resources and recipes at their disposal. And you know, they can move to California to enjoy the produce.

Nor is it just the tyranny of localism; it is the list of ingredients that you ought to like, and the list of ingredients that you shouldn’t, and what the hell is wrong with you troglodytes and your Twinkies?

It’s about status competition, and setting yourself apart from the proles. And, to some degree, it’s a substitute for religion.

THE BIG QUESTION IS, HOW GOOD ARE HER MOB CONNECTIONS? Meet the Woman Harry Reid Wants to Replace Him in the Senate.

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LIFE IN THESE UNITED STATES: The Two Minutes Hate At Lincoln Center. It’s all about the Gleichschaltung.

ASHE SCHOW: Harry Reid’s War On Women.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is retiring. Although he was a faithful steward of the “war on women” political theme his party has used against Republicans, the Nevada senator wasn’t exactly a feminist warrior.

In 2014, he spent months blocking the Debbie Smith Act, which would have helped speed up the rape-kit processing and reduce the current backlog. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, tried to pass it as a stand-alone bill rather than let it get bogged down along with a larger and more controversial Justice authorization package. Reid blocked the bill, hoping to use it as leverage for passing the other measure, but relented about five months later.

Reid also pays women in his office less than men, despite his self-righteous rhetoric on the issue. Women in Reid’s office made an average of $13,500 less than men, according to Fiscal Year 2013 data compiled by the Capitol City Project. Based on the same (misleading) metric he frequently used to condemn all other employers, Reid actually carried a wage gap in his own office roughly the same as the national average. Men in senior-level positions earned more on average than women, and Reid was also more likely to promote them. Reid’s chief of staff, legislative director and communications director are all men.

Finally, there’s Reid’s treatment of women politicians in his own party.

Read the whole thing.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Students told they cannot lampoon U.S. presidents because campus forbids ‘mocking.’ To be fair, if I were as dumb as the administrators at Dixie State, I’d want to ban mockery, too.

THE HILL: RNC on Clinton: ‘Even Nixon didn’t destroy the tapes.’ Nixon didn’t have the press on his side.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: NYU Asks Employees For Donations To Help Students Pay Crippling Cost Of Attending NYU.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO LIE ABOUT RAPE: Girl who cried rape after threesome with two soldiers has been jailed.

A girl who falsely accused two army soldiers of trying to rape her because she felt ashamed about sleeping with them both has been jailed.

Nicole Richess, 20, had a drunken threesome with the two servicemen at a friend’s house and then her own home at the end of a night out.

The following day her boyfriend, Alex Ganter, heard rumours she had been unfaithful and confronted her.

Richess ‘panicked’ and made up the false claim that the two innocent men, aged 23 and 24, had forced themselves on her because she was too ashamed to tell Mr Ganter she had cheated on him.

Mr Ganter, her partner of three years, made her go to the police to report the ‘attack’.

Richess even gave a ‘tearful’ account of the co-called crime to officers and ‘illicitly gained their empathy.’

Her ‘deceitful web of lies’ resulted in the arrest of the two soldiers, leaving them ‘distraught and petrified.’

However, officers began to realise Richess was lying when they gathered the accounts of the soldiers and her friends and she was charged with perverting the course of justice.

Funny, I’m constantly being told that women never lie about rape. And I like this:

Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said: “You made a determined and prolonged attempt to weave a picture of deceit to further your ends and you were prepared to make wholly false allegations of attempted rape against these innocent young men.

“The impact on these victims cannot be understated and false allegations of rape and attempted rape can have dreadful consequences.

“Every occasion of a proved false allegation has an insidious effect on public confidence, sometimes allowing doubts to creep into when one shouldn’t exist.

“Your offence has a corrosive effect on criminal justice.”

Lying about rape is a very serious offense, one that deserves serious punishment. But note that it’s still a man’s fault somehow:

In mitigation, Tony Ventham said Richess – who is seven-and-a-half months pregnant by her current partner – said she felt pressured in to reporting the false claims because her former boyfriend was ‘violent’ and ‘controlling’.

Richess had also taken cocaine for the first time that night.

Mr Ventham said: “She called the police because she was in a panic and because she’s stupid and immature.”

He added: “In December the following month she tried to commit suicide and had been struggling with depression ever since.”

Richess was told she would start her sentence in a young offenders’ institute.

Still, at least there’s some accountability.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Finally: An Anonymous, Online, Geo-Tagged System to Report Microaggressions at College!

I realize that simply by saying that you’ve probably heard of microaggressions, I’m likely committing one.

For the uninitiated, microaggressions are “are statements by a person from a privileged group that belittles or isolates a member of an unprivileged group, as it relates to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability and more.” The really innovative thing about microaggressions is that they are often meant in a spirit of inclusion by the speaker. For instance, depending on who’s speaking and who’s listening, complimeting someone on their hair, clothing, or whatever might count as a covert way of putting him in his place. “That’s a really fancy jacket” may really be code for WTF are you doing in clothes that are above your station?

But I’ll risk microaggressing you to note that the student government at Ithaca College in upstate New York has just passed a mind-blowing bill that will allow students to anonymously report offensive statements such as “Where are you really from?” and “You don’t look disabled.” The system will include “demographics” about the aggressor and the aggressee and tag location info too, according to one of the sponsors of the bill. . . .

So remember, kids, you don’t go to college to learn new things and feed your head. You go to college to be subjected to an anonymous system of collecting information about the bad thoughts you have and the misstatements you make, some of which you might not even have intended to be hurtful.

But rest easy, because if you are in fact accused of microaggressing, your accuser “would likely have to reveal their identity” if any charges are pressed (emphasis added). Because we know how well colleges do at handling legal-style proceedings. . . .

Unless your goal is to chill or control speech and thought, this sort of program is a complete anathema to everything that higher education is supposed to promote and cherish. But there you are, another year older and deeper in debt.

Alan Charles Kors, the University of Pennsylvania historian and co-founder of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), has long argued that colleges systematically engage in false advertising. That is, they tell parents and prospective students that they offer wide-open educational experiences while in fact harshly limiting and circumscribing all sorts of expression and inquiry.

I’d like to think that if Ithaca College actually implements its microaggression reporting system that it will trumpet that fact in all promotional materials so that new and continuing students will understand that they are not entering a space in which free thought and expression are encouraged but one in which they will be subject to surveillance and secret accusations ripped straight out of mid-century anti-totalitarian novels.

If they don’t, I encourage disappointed students to sue them.

March 28, 2015

JOHN HINDERAKER: What Really Happened to Harry Reid? Part 2. “When a guy shows up at a Las Vegas emergency room on New Year’s Day with severe facial injuries and broken ribs, and gives as an explanation the functional equivalent of ‘I walked into a doorknob,’ it isn’t hard to guess that he ran afoul of mobsters. Yet the national press has studiously averted its eyes from Reid’s condition, and has refused to investigate the cause of his injuries. To my knowledge, every Washington reporter has at least pretended to believe Reid’s story, and none, as far as I can tell, has inquired further. . . . What happened to Reid is not just a matter of curiosity. Everyone knows that the Reid family has gotten rich, even though Reid has spent his entire career as a public employee. It is known that a considerable part of his fortune came from being cut in on sweetheart Las Vegas land deals that included at least one person associated with organized crime as a principal. Was the Senate Majority Leader in the pocket of the Mafia? That seems like a question worth exploring, and yet, to my knowledge, not a single investigative reporter has chosen to look into the matter, even with the obvious clue of Reid’s face in front of them.”

Has Reid denied rumors that he was beaten and forced to resign by the father of one of his child-victims? If so, I must have missed it.

WEEKLY STANDARD: The Germanwings Co-pilot’s Non-Existent ‘Muslim Conversion.’ “Given the orientation of the site and reports that Germanwings 9525 was intentionally crashed by the co-pilot, it is hardly surprising that commentators on Politically Incorrect would speculate about whether Lubitz was a Muslim. Reference was made in particular to a blog post by a site regular named Michael Mannheimer. Mannheimer’s post contains no evidence that Lubitz was a Muslim convert, but just more speculation. Mannheimer’s conjecture is based on such apparently suspicious details as the fact that Lubitz did flight training in Bremen and Bremen is also home to a mosque known for its radicalism. In fairness to Politically Incorrect, it should be noted that several commentators on the site have themselves rejected the speculations in Mannheimer’s post as unfounded.”

NO WONDER THE SECRET SERVICE AND DEA DRIVE THOSE HUGE SUV’S: CA Dem Congresswoman Claims Climate Change Will Turn Women Into Prostitutes.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Big 4 Gunning for Big Law. “Can’t say we didn’t warn you about the Walmart thing. Be afraid law firms; be very afraid.”

All is proceeding as Ben Barton has foreseen.

IT’S MORE FUN TO WIELD MOB JUSTICE THAN TO EXPERIENCE IT: After Berating Innocent Chick-Fil-A Worker, Many Say He’s Now Getting Exactly What He Deserves. “Former Vante CFO and treasurer, Adam Mark Smith, went from being relatively unknown to an unemployed, virally-hated man with a video he thought was taking a stand against discrimination of gays. In a YouTube video, Smith berated Chick-fil-A employee Rachel Elizabeth at the drive-thru window when she gave him, a protester, a free cup of water. . . . According to Boston News, Smith went from earning $200,000 a year, with cushy stock options valued at $1 million, to losing everything. His family even had to move into an RV.”

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HOW WE ROLL IN KNOXVEGAS:

A crowd gathered as Knoxville Police Department Lt. Gordon Gwathney struggled with the screaming black woman in the public housing development.

Gwathney already had shot his stun gun at the 5-foot-2-inch tall woman, but her crack cocaine high made her impervious to the electric jolt designed to freeze the muscles of large men. She ripped the metal wires from her body and continued to fight.

As he tussled with the 110-pound woman, the crowd of onlookers in Walter P. Taylor Homes swelled. Gwathney’s radio was ripped from his uniform as he forced the woman to the ground, so calling for help as the crowd closed in around him was not an option.

As he fought to get handcuffs on the squirming woman, two people from the crowd jumped into the fray.

“I saw something I thought I’d never see — people come to the aid of an officer,” Dewey Roberts, former president of Knoxville NAACP, told a community group last week. “They were telling her to calm down and they got his radio that had been knocked loose.”

Roberts witnessed the event through a window at the Dr. Lee Williams Complex, a senior citizens center he oversees in Walter P. Taylor Homes. Roberts had seen the confrontation develop despite Gwathney “trying to de-escalate the situation” and worried as he saw the crowd of black onlookers encircle the lone officer.

“With my experiences with police over the years, I was just amazed,” said the 69-year-old Roberts who led Knoxville’s black community through the racial tinderbox in the late 1990s when several black men died during confrontations with Knoxville officers.

“And it wasn’t just a few people, it was the whole crowd. I was shaking my head in disbelief, but it was a good feeling.”

Well, good.

SPACE: Soon, Humans Will Follow Robots Into Deep Space.