October 20, 2014

FRANK BRUNI: I’m beginning to think this Obama chap isn’t as competent as we were told.

WE have no clue at this point how far Ebola could spread in the United States — and no reason for panic.

But one dimension of the disease’s toll is clear. It’s ravaging Americans’ already tenuous faith in the competence of our government and its bureaucracies.

Before President Obama’s election, we had Iraq, Katrina and the meltdown of banks supposedly under Washington’s watch. Since he came along to tidy things up, we’ve had the staggeringly messy rollout of Obamacare, the damnable negligence of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the baffling somnambulism of the Secret Service.

Now this. Although months of a raging Ebola epidemic in West Africa gave the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sufficient warning and ample time to get ready for any cases here, it was caught flat-footed, as its director, Tom Frieden, is being forced bit by bit to acknowledge. Weeks ago he assured us: “We are stopping Ebola in its tracks in this country.” Over recent days he updated that assessment, saying that “in retrospect, with 20/20 hindsight,” federal officials could and should have done more at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

President Obama made his own assurances and then corrections. He said back in mid-September that “in the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home.”

Well, we weren’t wholly prepared, and the event was never unlikely: This country is a potent magnet for travelers, with a proudly (and rightly) open posture toward the world.

Yeah, we might wind up rethinking that. Plus:

Rationally or not, this is one of those rare moments when Americans who typically tune out so much of what leaders say are paying rapt attention, and Obama’s style of communication hasn’t risen fully to the occasion. Even as he canceled campaign appearances and created a position — Ebola czar — that we were previously told wasn’t necessary, he spoke with that odd dispassion of his, that maddening distance.

About the ban, he said, “I don’t have a philosophical objection necessarily.” About the czar, he said that it might be good to have a person “to make sure that we’re crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s going forward.” He’s talking theory and calligraphy while Americans are focused on blood, sweat and tears.

Ebola is his presidency in a petri dish. It’s an example already of his tendency to talk too loosely at the outset of things, so that his words come back to haunt him. There was the doctor you could keep under his health plan until, well, you couldn’t. There was the red line for Syria that he didn’t have to draw and later erased.

Yeah, it’s as if he’s totally in over his head or something.

October 19, 2014

PEGGY NOONAN: The Travel Ban And The New Czar.

What normal people can see and imagine is that three Ebola cases have severely stressed the system. Washington is scrambling, the Centers for Disease Control is embarrassed, local hospitals are rushing to learn protocols and get in all necessary equipment. Nurses groups and unions have been enraged, the public alarmed—and all this after only three cases.

What would it look like if there were 300? That is not a big number in a nation of over 300 million. Yet it would leave the system hyperstressed, and hyperstressed things break down.

How many people and professionals have been involved in the treatment, transport, tracking, monitoring, isolation and public-information aspects of the three people who became sick? Again, what if it were 300—could we fully track, treat and handle all those cases? If scores of people begin over the next few weeks going to hospital emergency rooms with Ebola, how many of their doctors, nurses, orderlies, office staffers, communications workers and technicians would continue to report to their jobs? All of them at first, then most of them. But as things became more ragged, pressured and dangerous, would they continue?

This is why people are concerned. They can imagine how all this could turn south so fast, with only a few hundred cases. This is why the White House claims that we will not have a widespread breakout is fatuous: Even a limited breakout would take us into uncharted territory.

The only thing that will calm the public is competence.

Uh oh.

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MY ENTIRE TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! SERIES can be found here.

OVER HALF A CENTURY LATER, STILL COVERING FOR THE ROSENBERGS: The New York Times Gets Greenglass Wrong. “Julius Rosenberg’s spy ring provided an extraordinary trove of non-nuclear espionage on radar, sonar, and jet propulsion engines to the Soviet Union, but the Rosenbergs’ contributions to the Soviet nuclear weapons program were also important. The information from David Greenglass and from a second nuclear spy recruited by Julius Rosenberg, Russell McNutt, was welcomed by the KGB as valuable and practical confirmation of data it was receiving from Klaus Fuchs and Ted Hall, the two major Soviet nuclear spies in the Manhattan Project. Further, their activities did not cease with the defeat of Nazi Germany. Believing that war between the U.S. and the USSR was inevitable, Rosenberg, Greenglass, and other members of their network continued to provide the Soviet Union with American military secrets until their exposure in 1950.”

Commies get a pass.

WHO NEEDS CONGRESS ANYWAY? Next – Obama To Sidestep Congress On Iran.

WITH TWO YEARS LEFT, A FULLY-DEPRECIATED PRESIDENT: Reuters: Obama makes rare campaign trail appearance, people leave early. “President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.” He was interrupted by a heckler, too.

Plus, hashtag mockery on Twitter.

GOOD: Dozens Declared Free of Ebola Risk In Texas.

A LOOK AT THE CREATOR OF GOOGLE SCHOLAR. “One serious estimate places the index at 160 million documents as of May 2014.”

YEP: The Democrats’ embarrassing attempt to blame Republicans for Ebola collapses. NIH Director Collins is going to regret raising this issue, too, because it’s brought a lot of attention to the stuff that the NIH spends money on.

JOEL ZINBERG: Ebola And Electronic Medical Records. “Hospitals and physicians are being required to buy EMRs that are expensive and difficult to use, and that often interfere with quality care rather than enhance it.”

SO, IT’S BASICALLY THE HUNTER BIDEN STORY, THEN: Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong.

Speaking of which, I’d really like to see some investigative journalism into how Hunter Biden got his military commission.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Sterling woman faces felony charges for sex crimes against children.

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NEWS YOU CAN USE: Viagra Can Be Good For Your Heart, Too. That’s not really a shock, since it actually started out as a heart drug.

SCIENCE: Scientists Able to ID ‘Aware’ Vegetative Patients.

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: How Clean Are Our Chickens?

I DON’T KNOW WHY, BUT I FOUND THIS AMUSING: “Surprisingly good for a freeze dried breakfast.”

Though this is a bit sad: “Even my wife who likes nothing that I do said it was good.”

CHANGE: After biosafety lapses, US halts funding for work modifying virus targets. “Prompted by several recent biosafety lapses (including the discovery of old smallpox samples at the National Institutes of Health), the government will temporarily stop funding for these projects. During the pause, the government will organize a “deliberative process” that will consider the value of the research and the appropriate safety precautions that will need to be followed if it’s done. The review will be run by a combination of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and the National Academies of Science. The funding pause will apply to any projects that can allow viruses like the flu, MERS, and SARS to either add mammals to the list of species they can infect, or to increase their virulence following infection.”

SCIENCE: The 1918 Flu Killed 40 Million People. This Man Is Re-Creating the Virus.

REPORT: Doctor details life in Ebola-torn Liberia. “It’s sort of a paradox. You no longer see people dying in the streets. I haven’t seen a single dead body in the streets. The riots have calmed down. There isn’t the panic there was at the beginning, but the cases continue to rise. The paradox is that everything on the surface feels normal, but in the neighborhoods this infection is still blazing away and people are still dying of it. . . . Some of the government officials I’ve met with just seem terribly depressed, because they feel responsible for these deaths.”

Related: Ebola Patient Contacts Emerge From Monitoring. “The top administrator for Dallas County said Saturday it’s a ‘critical weekend’ in the Ebola containment effort as the first people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan after he became ill begin emerging from a 21-day monitoring period.”

Plus: Fauci tries to calm US after missteps on Ebola, amid concerns Americans have lost faith.

JONATHAN LAST: Ebola: Six Reasons To Panic. “Despite the fact that Duncan was a lone man under scrupulous, first-world care, with the eyes of the entire nation on him, his R0 was 2, just like that of your average Liberian Ebola victim. One carrier; two infections. He passed the virus to nurse Pham and to another hospital worker, Amber Joy Vinson, who flew from Cleveland to Dallas with a low-grade fever before being diagnosed.”

Plus: “At a deeper level, the Ebola outbreak is a crisis not for Obama and his administration, but for elite institutions. Because once more they have been exposed as either corrupt, incompetent, or both.” And that’s the most panic-inducing part.

UPDATE: Orwellian whitewash: CDC deletes faulty Ebola guidelines poster.

ED DRISCOLL: Hey, Let’s Watch Obama Undercut His Administration’s Own Spin.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 528.

CRY HAVOC, AND LET SLIP THE LAWYERS OF WAR:

David Woods, the HuffPo’s military correspondent, cites it as a “good-faith effort” to uphold “American values.” But nobody is suggesting that this is necessary because American troops routinely violate the norms of civilized warfare. Instead, this seems to be an effort to sanitize something that is inherently messy (“War is heck”). This is a classic peacenik proposition: the whole world can be tamed, and not only that, so too can the means by which it is tamed.

The overlawyering of our armed forces is not new—it has been growing steadily since the post-Vietnam era. It’s part of a general trend to officialize and bureaucratize American life. Ask any doctor how much time she spends filling out paperwork.

The proliferation of legalese and formalism in American institutions generally is one of the forces undermining our national spirit and slowing our economic growth. But it’s particularly nasty and dangerous when it comes to the business of war. Our politicians keep heaping new burdens on the armed forces, sending them on muddled missions with impossible orders, forcing them to jump through various hoops for the sake of political correctness, and hampering them at every turn with threats of prosecution by bloodless bureaucrats who’ve never known or seen war.

Accountability is important, but increasingly in our society accountability is for the little people. The powerful and the well connected hire lawyers; the ordinary person gets monitored by them. We don’t have policy malpractice lawyers investigating the geniuses who invaded Libya and abandoned Iraq, but the poor kids trying to carry out the crazy orders that come down from on high will get dinged if they put a foot wrong. No doubt there are some lawyers checking to see that those 3,000 Americans sent into the Ebola hot zone don’t break any rules—but there aren’t any lawyers and there isn’t any law to make sure that the people who sent them there knew or really even cared what they were doing.

Yeah, for that we need to bring back tar and feathers.

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Supreme Court May Yet Blunt Obama’s ‘Disparate Impact’ Weapon.

SO I GUESS WE SHOULD GET READY FOR TWO WEEKS OF NONSTOP RACE-BAITING: Memo: “Crushing Democratic Losses” If Blacks Don’t Turn Out In Big Numbers.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire emails:

Is Obama likely to support an Ebola travel ban from West Africa two weeks before the election, thereby stepping on the “racist Republican haters” message? Is our new political fixer Ebola Czar going to give that advice?

He will have more flexibility after the election.

In so many ways.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Male strippers on Ebola-infected nurse’s flight pretty appalled by CDC’s irresponsibility. “The experience of these men speaks to the CDC’s larger problems in gaining trust with the American people to fight an Ebola outbreak. The agency, whose approval numbers are falling precipitously, has routinely made assurances that were later proven untrue, failed to be as proactive as Axl and Taylor, and made moves so obviously reckless that humble, normal Americans look at the agency’s conduct and quite rationally conclude it’s not to be trusted. This is not panic or the result of some political campaign to undermine the CDC. This is self-inflicted. For instance, the CDC told Vinson, who has been exposed to Ebola and had a slight fever, that she could jump on a plane to the Midwest. It also failed to anticipate the need to monitor a nurse who may have handled an Ebola patient’s samples. That nurse is now isolated in her cabin on a cruise ship, which are of course infamous hotbeds for contagious disease outbreaks. Vinson, for her part, asked the CDC if she should fly and made a mistake in trusting their advice. Axl and Taylor aren’t making the same mistake, and many Americans will be inclined to be wary as well. Again, that reaction is a direct result of the CDC’s actions in handling Ebola.”

UPDATE: Cruise ship woman tests negative for Ebola.

HE DOESN’T MISS A LOT: Limbaugh Pounces After CDC Chief Says Ebola Flight Ban Would Be Pointless Since Illegals Can Cross Border Anyway. “Do you know what he just said there? …. He just threw amnesty overboard! He, he, he just threw amnesty under the bus. He just threw Obama’s precious open borders under the bus. He says if we try to eliminate travel, then they’re going to come here illegally — acknowledging there are others already doing that!”

FCC COMMISSIONER AJIT PAI: The government wants to study ‘social pollution’ on Twitter.

Named “Truthy,” after a term coined by TV host Stephen Colbert, the project claims to use a “sophisticated combination of text and data mining, social network analysis, and complex network models” to distinguish between memes that arise in an “organic manner” and those that are manipulated into being.

But there’s much more to the story. Focusing in particular on political speech, Truthy keeps track of which Twitter accounts are using hashtags such as #teaparty and #dems. It estimates users’ “partisanship.” It invites feedback on whether specific Twitter users, such as the Drudge Report, are “truthy” or “spamming.” And it evaluates whether accounts are expressing “positive” or “negative” sentiments toward other users or memes.

The Truthy team says this research could be used to “mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate.”

Hmm. A government-funded initiative is going to “assist in the preservation of open debate” by monitoring social media for “subversive propaganda” and combating what it considers to be “the diffusion of false and misleading ideas”? The concept seems to have come straight out of a George Orwell novel.

The NSF has already poured nearly $1 million into Truthy. To what end? Why is the federal government spending so much money on the study of your Twitter habits?

Some possible hints as to Truthy’s real motives emerge in a 2012 paper by the project’s leaders, in which they wrote ominously of a “highly-active, densely-interconnected constituency of right-leaning users using [Twitter] to further their political views.”

Tar. Feathers.

BILL QUICK: We Are All Preppers Now? I’ve Been a Prepper For Years!

You should read his disaster novel, Lightning Fall.

GOVERNMENT IS JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR THE THINGS WE CHOOSE TO DO TOGETHER: How the feds block Ebola cures.

We have technology to potentially control Ebola and other viral outbreaks today. But the federal bureaucracy refuses to catch up with 21st-century science.

For example, diagnostic startup Nanobiosym has an iPhone-sized device that can accurately detect Ebola and other infectious diseases in less than an hour.

Two other companies, Synthetic Genomics and Novartis, have the capacity to create synthetic vaccine viruses for influenza and other infectious diseases in only four days. Both firms can also share data about outbreaks instantaneously and make real-time, geographically specific diagnosis and vaccine production possible.

These companies could start producing Ebola vaccine/treatments tomorrow — except that the Food and Drug Administration’s insistence on randomized studies and endless demands for more data means firms have to spend millions on paperwork instead of producing medicines.

And for every small company drained by such tactics, many others conclude it’s not even worth trying.

These advances aren’t available because the FDA is using 19th-century science to decide which medical technologies should be used in the 21st century. . . . Part of the problem: FDA scientists receive no reward for approving breakthroughs, but suffer public anger if but one person dies because a drug is misused. The price we pay for this culture of caution rises every day.

Sigh.

October 18, 2014

STACY MCCAIN lays down an old-fashioned Fisking. For a moment, it was 2002 again!

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BETTER PLANNING COULD HAVE AVOIDED THIS: Coast Guard Gets Blood Samples From Health Care Worker Quarantined on Ship. “A Coast Guard helicopter met a cruise ship in the Caribbean today to collect a blood sample today from the Dallas health care worker who handled clinical specimens from an Ebola-infected patient and is on board the boat, which is scheduled to dock Sunday morning. The lab worker remained on the boat, the Carnival Magic, according to a statement from Carnival.”

And by “better planning,” I mean pretty much any planning at all.

EBOLA’S GREATEST THREAT: A Third World Pandemic. I dunno, the third-world countries like Nigeria seem to have a better handle on things than we do. . . .

WITH ISIS ON THE MARCH AND EBOLA ON THE LOOSE, Obama spent today golfing with an ESPN host.

HUNTER BIDEN QUESTIONS: “a) Why was a 40+ year-old man allowed to enlist and b) why was a 40+ year-old man doing coke?” Answers: a) Joe Biden’s son, and b) Joe Biden’s son.

But I would like to see some investigative journalism into how he got a waiver that’s usually limited to people with critical skills that he did not possess.

YES. NEXT QUESTION? Is the Left Losing its Mind Over Campus Sex?

LAUGHING, CRYING, WHATEVER.

FREE SPEECH: Court allows First Amendment claim based on alleged professor retaliation for paper ‘harshly critical of … lesbianism.’ “The Court questions whether a university can have a legitimate pedagogical interest in inviting students to engage in ‘incendiary’ and provocative speech on a topic and then punishing a student because he or she did just that. Simply because Plaintiff expressed views about homosexuality that some people may deem offensive does not deprive her views of First Amendment protection. Plaintiff has made out a plausible case that Hinkley ostracized her because of Hinkley’s personal disagreement with Plaintiff’s ideology, and not for a legitimate pedagogical purpose.”

WHY DOCTORS give ObamaCare a failing grade.

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EBOLA CZAR PREDICTED in 2001 commercial.

BOBBY JINDAL PUTS THE BOOT IN.

Apparently we’re at Stage Two right now.

EBOLA: Demanding Perfection Ensures Failure.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER SOMEONE SURVIVES EBOLA?

REVOLVING DOOR: Ex-Google lawyer nominated as patent office director.

MORE ON benzodiazepines and dementia.

The study participants were individuals over 66 years of age. Those who took low-dose benzodiazepines, or who took only occasional high dosages, did not have their Alzheimer’s risk increase for the five years they were studied after having been initiated on these agents. In contrast, those who frequently took long-acting benzodiazepines, who frequently took high doses, or who took any such drugs regularly over several months, suffered a more disturbing fate: Specifically, those who took the cumulative equivalent of daily doses for three to six months over a five-year period were roughly 32% more likely than those who took no benzodiazepines to develop Alzheimer’s. And those who took the cumulative equivalent of a full daily dose for more than six months were 84% more likely to do so.

It is already acknowledged by the thought leaders in the medical community that benzodiazepines are not meant for long-term use, and should not be taken steadily for more than three months. But a glance at the refill patterns of most patients reveals that these drugs are used on a chronic basis, for years and years.

Yes, they’re for acute, not chronic anxiety. But the meds for chronic anxiety aren’t nearly as good.

ARE THEY OVERREACTING? Why The Airlines Are Overreacting To Ebola.

RON FOURNIER: The Ebola Czar Has No Clothes. “We shouldn’t need an Ebola czar. The president needs to do his job better.”

DAMON LINKER: Ebola and America’s epic institutional fail. When you have the worst political class in your history — and we do — your institutions don’t fare especially well.

Related: Aid group leader: Africa’s Ebola standards higher than CDC’s. “U.S. standards for protecting healthcare workers from Ebola are weaker than those widely used in West Africa, according to the leader of a group treating victims of the virus in Liberia.”

SHOCKER: Obama Disappointed (Again) By Clunky Big Government Fail (Again).

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 527.

WELL, THAT’S BEEN THE HISTORY OF EVERY SIMILAR PROGRAM, AS NOTED HERE: How Much Will Obamacare Cost? Bet on ‘More Than Expected.’ “In 1967, Congress estimated that the nation’s single-payer system for the elderly, Medicare, would cost $12 billion in 1990. The actual price tag was $110 billion, for an error ratio on 9.17:1.”

SAUDIS PLAY CHICKEN WITH AMERICAN OIL SHALE:

The benchmark for American crude, called the West Texas Intermediate (WTI), fell below $80 per barrel for the first time in more than two years in trading today before staging a small rally. Similarly, Brent crude, Europe’s benchmark, traded below $83 per barrel, a four-year low, before seeing a slight rebound on what Reuters explains to be “technical buying ahead of options expiry for U.S. crude oil and contract expiry for Brent crude.”

But temporary rebound notwithstanding, there’s no denying that this is a bear market for crude oil. Brent prices have dropped by more than 28 percent since June, while WTI has tumbled nearly 25 percent in that same time period. Weak demand has collided with an oversupplied market, partly due to Libyan supplies coming back online after protracted disruptions, and, of course, in part due to booming supplies out of the suddenly shale-rich America.

The question on everyone’s minds is, where is OPEC? The cartel of petrostates has colluded in the past to cut production to keep prices artificially high, yet the organization’s largest producer and, historically, the one most likely to take the lead on these cuts—Saudi Arabia—has cut prices, not production, in recent weeks. . . .

There has been some speculation that the Saudis may be looking to abdicate their role as OPEC’s (and therefore the world’s) de facto swing supplier, banking on the fact that U.S. shale producers, the new kids on the block, will soon have to cut production because fracking will cease to be profitable. America’s unconventional oil drilling tends to be more expensive; the IEA recently announced that at $80 per barrel, 96 percent of shale drilling would still be profitable, but if WTI prices were to dip much lower, the shale boom would hit a considerable hurdle.

We’re not there yet, and in fact the price of oil today exists in a kind of sweet spot: high enough to continue to incentivize U.S. fracking, but low enough to benefit American consumers (average gas prices in the U.S. are at their lowest level since 2011) and stymie some of America’s geopolitical opponents. Russia, for example, needs oil to trade above $100 per barrel to balance its budget.

The Saudi strategy isn’t unlike a game of chicken. The Saudi breakeven price hovers around $93 per barrel, and while it can afford to operate in the red to gain market share for now, it may not be able to do so in the long term. Banking on American shale production cuts may be a bigger gamble than the Saudis expect, too: it will take some time for the market to shift and fracking to draw down, even if prices continue to plunge.

And U.S. shale has a final trump card: innovation. Though fracked wells have steep decline rates, drillers continue to optimize rigs and maximize output while minimizing costs.

Under a Reynolds Administration, I’d respond to this “chicken” game by opening up federal lands to exploration and drilling.

UPDATE: Some support for a Reynolds 2016 campaign in the comments. Hmm. What would my slogan be? How about An Inexperienced Law-Professor President Got Us Into This Mess, And It’ll Take An Inexperienced Law-Professor President To Get Us Out!

YEAH, BUT WILL WHAT WORKED FOR THEM WORK FOR OUR OWN, LESS-COMPETENT GOVERNMENT? Here’s What We Should Learn From Nigeria’s Incredible Effort To Shut Down Ebola.

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TWEET OF THE WEEK.

MICHAEL WALSH: Ten Things the Ebola Crisis Tells Us About the Obama Administration.

The announcement of Ron Klain as the new Ebola “czar” checks all the boxes: Harvard Law, longtime Democrat party op, veteran of the Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry campaigns. The problem is, it checks all the wrong boxes. The Progressive myth is that we ought to have a government of experts — top men! — to handle the nation’s problems in a calm, deliberative manner. The reality is that we have a nation of unscrupulous lawyers, amoral apparatchiks and political hacks whose only area of expertise is manipulating the electoral and governmental systems and getting rich by doing so.

Yeah, pretty much.

SEX IN THE TIME OF EBOLA:

When the only way to get an often fatal disease is through contact with body fluids, it makes good sense to be very careful about sexual partners and practices. But since Ebola victims can infect others only when they are showing symptoms — high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and aches — physical intimacy probably isn’t a common way of transmitting the disease.

However, the Ebola virus can survive in semen for months after a man recovers from the infection, posing an ongoing threat to sexual partners long after he is well. At a time when a man’s bloodstream is swimming with antibodies, and he is immune to the disease, he still may be able to infect others. . . .

The magnitude of the threat is not entirely clear, however. After past Ebola outbreaks, follow-up studies of people who have recovered from Ebola found no evidence that the virus was transmitted from a recovered patient to close contacts, according to Bruce Ribner, medical director of Emory University’s Infectious Disease Unit, who led the team that successfully treated American missionaries Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol.

Yeah, I’d err on the side of safety.

MICKEY KAUS: New York Times Cocoon, Verified!

A man named Tyler Pearson had posted a list of the 1000 Twittter accounts most commonly followed by the 677 New York Times staffers on the paper’s public list. It is, as you would expect, embarrassingly cocooned: Times staffers follow people who share the liberalish/leftish viewpoint of the Times itself, meaning these staffers are less likely to even find out discordant information. Which may be why they are so often surprised, or late to a story.

Actually, it’s not as bad as expected. It’s worse! Jack Shafer takes the Liebling-Optimality** award (in that he’s the first non-liberal on the list, and with 235 NYT followers well above anyone more conservative) but as far as I can see you have to go a long ways down, past acceptably self-critical conservative David Frum, and the NYT‘s own Ross Douthat to get to a genuine partisan ‘winger Tweeter –@Karl Rove, who’s followed by 67 Timesers that person is merely talking head Ari Fleischer, followed by 6.9% of Timesers. [Correction: I'd missed Rove. Thanks to alert reader NM for pointing him out] …

Of the 1000, you could count those who oppose comprehensive immigration reform on the fingers of one hand, and you wouldn’t need the thumb (and maybe not the pinkie). …

Coming soon: The memo from @deanbaquet telling reporters gee, maybe they should branch out a bit and include some Republicans on their feeds! Whoever gets that Times affirmative action traffic will have some MSM-influencing power. …

Not on the list: Byron York, Instapundit, Rich Lowry, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham., Jonah Goldberg, Conn Carroll. No Powerliners, no Red Staters. certainly no Ace of Spades.

To be fair, there’s one NYT editor who pitches links to me. I assume that means he follows. But maybe not!

ED DRISCOLL looks at low-information journalist Katy Conrad, who wonders when Sen. Rand Paul became a doctor.

UPDATE: From the comments: “The sad part of it all is that Dr. Paul is more qualified to talk about ebola than the administration’s ebola czar.”

ED DRISCOLL: Buzzfeed Accidentally Gives The MSM Game Away. “They’ve been pivoting ever since; watch next year for the same leftists who accused Hillary of the most virulent racism in 2008 to tell you she’s the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being they’ve ever known in their life.”

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH: What Academic Intolerance Looks Like.

SO DOES EVERYTHING ELSE IT DOES: Peggy Noonan: The administration’s Ebola evasions reveal its disdain for the American people.

The administration’s handling of the Ebola crisis continues to be marked by double talk, runaround and gobbledygook. And its logic is worse than its language. In many of its actions, especially its public pronouncements, the government is functioning not as a soother of public anxiety but the cause of it. . . .

Does the government think if America is made to feel safer, she will forget the needs of the Ebola nations? But Americans, more than anyone else, are the volunteers, altruists and in a few cases saints who go to the Ebola nations to help. And they were doing it long before the Western media was talking about the disease, and long before America was experiencing it.

At the Ebola hearings Thursday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) said, I guess to the American people: “Don’t panic.” No one’s panicking—except perhaps the administration, which might explain its decisions.

Is it always the most frightened people who run around telling others to calm down?

This week the president canceled a fundraiser and returned to the White House to deal with the crisis. He made a statement and came across as about three days behind the story—“rapid response teams” and so forth. It reminded some people of the statement in July, during another crisis, of the president’s communications director, who said that when a president rushes back to Washington, it “can have the unintended consequence of unduly alarming the American people.” Yes, we’re such sissies. Actually, when Mr. Obama eschews a fundraiser to go to his office to deal with a public problem we are not scared, only surprised.

But again, who do they think we are? You gather they see us as poor, panic-stricken people who want a travel ban because we’re beside ourselves with fear and loathing. Instead of practical, realistic people who are way ahead of our government.

If we were practical, realistic, and way ahead of our government, there would be politicians hanging from lampposts right now.

October 17, 2014

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: ‘Ebola Czar’ Absent from White House Ebola Strategy Meeting.

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OOPS: “The officials said that while the federal investigation was continuing, the evidence so far did not support civil rights charges against Officer Wilson.” Plus: “The officials briefed on the case said the forensic evidence gathered in the car lent credence to Officer Wilson’s version of events.”

FASTER, PLEASE: T-Cell Therapy Puts Leukemia Patients in Extended Remission.

KNIFE UPDATE: Following SayUncle’s recommendation from a few weeks ago, I’ve been carrying this Spyderco Endura. It’s unobtrusive, and it’s really easy to get it to flip open upon removing it from your pocket.

Perhaps one day I’ll strap on a Bowie just to see how it plays — it’s legal in Tennessee now, I believe — but today is not that day.

STUDY: Higher Levels Of Vitamin D Make Childbirth Less Painful.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Albany Law School Dean Steps Down Amidst 34% Enrollment Decline, Faculty Buyouts.

JERRY POURNELLE: A New Ebola Czar; Military deploys to plague zone. Competence in government. “God protects fools, drunks, and the United States of America. Of course we were a much more devout nation when Bismarck made that observation.”

Plus: “The rest of the article is worth your time. Five of the 58 medical professionals involved in the Science Magazine study died of Ebola before the paper was published. . . . Nine Doctors Without Borders physicians, all equipped with the best of isolation and prophylactic gear, have died of Ebola. Of the physicians and nurses who have died of Ebola in this epidemic, most (more than 60%) had what was considered more than adequate protective gear and were instructed in its use. The US Military being sent into the plague zone have had four hours of instruction.”

COMING OUT NEXT WEEK: Rush Limbaugh’s Rush Revere And The American Revolution: Time Travel Adventures With Exceptional Americans.

WELL, I’VE BEEN NOTING SECRET SERVICE MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS SINCE 2002: Exclusive: German tourists breached White House security in 2008.

YEAH, IS THAT A BAD REFLECTION ON AIRBNB, OR ON THE LAW? 72 Percent of Airbnb’s NY Rentals Are Illegal, Report Says.

IF WE COULD DIVERT IT TO HIT MARS, IT WOULD BE A START AT TERRAFORMING: Once in million years: Super-sized comet to pass Mars. It would donate a considerable store of volatiles, and the impact would liberate a lot of frozen atmosphere at the surface.

However, if I recall correctly — it’s been a while since I read Martyn Fogg’s magisterial treatment — it takes rather a lot of comets to create a Martian atmosphere, and if you try to shortcut by using bigger ones (like in excess of a mile in diameter for the head) the impact becomes so big that it blows a lot of the new volatiles right out into space. So, maybe not.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Warrant sheds new details on Stamford High School sex case. “The 26-page affidavit paints a picture of a troubled and jealous teacher who, according to the student, let him cut school, took him off campus to smoke marijuana and have sex, and warned his female classmates to stay away from him. A married mother of two, Watkins, 32, of Norwalk, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree sexual assault, risk of injury to a child and possession of marijuana.”

METAPHOR ALERT: Obama: ‘My Credit Card Was Rejected.’

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Plus, take 20% off Coats, Sweaters, Scarves & More. Winter is coming.

READ THIS STORY ON HUNTER BIDEN, to see how the nomenklatura fare these days.

Plus: “Connecticut legal authorities say the youngest son of Vice President Joe Biden does not face automatic review of his state law license following his discharge from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine use.”

SECRET TREATIES: Leaked TPP IP Chapter Would Lead To Much Greater Online Surveillance… Because Hollywood Still Hates The Internet. “Over the last few years, after Hollywood lost the SOPA fight and realized that legislation was more difficult, it’s now seeking these so-called ‘voluntary’ agreements — even when they’re really done by the government with the threat of regulations if an agreement isn’t reached. These kinds of campaigns are hardly ‘voluntary’ in reality, and are generally designed to get Hollywood everything it wants without having to through any sort of democratic process. Kind of like trade agreements. Is it any wonder why the USTR has been so adamant about keeping the details of this agreement a secret?”

If Republicans were smart, they’d make an issue of this. So they won’t. Smart people would see it as an opportunity to (1) stick it to Hollywood, one of the Dems’ biggest funders; (2) Look good to libertarian-leaning tech youth; and (3) do the right thing. Instead, the GOP will reflexively side with Hollywood because, hey, it’s a big business, right?

SO AS PARENTS ARE GIVEN LESS AND LESS CONTROL OVER THEIR KIDS, THEY’RE HELD MORE AND MORE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT THEY DO: Parents face defamation trial over fake Facebook page their kid made.

LIKE IT’S ACTUALLY A DEATH STAR, MAYBE? WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!!!!! Saturn’s Death Star Moon Is Hiding Something.

SPYING: Your Driving History is Public, Unless You Want a Copy.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Wallingford woman gets 17 years for filmed sexual assault of child. “A Wallingford woman was sentenced to over 17 years in prison for filming herself sexually assaulting a 3-year-old female child, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Connecticut. Angela D. Martin, 30, filmed herself with a cell phone sexually abusing the child and sent it to another individual in California, according to court documents.”

EBOLA CZAR RON KLAIN: Obama’s New Ebola Czar Was Deeply Involved in Solyndra Scandal. Klain’s a competent political fixer. By naming a lawyer/political fixer as Ebola Czar, Obama’s demonstrating that he sees Ebola as a political problem first and foremost.

UPDATE: Paul Rahe: Damage Control. “The mainstream press in its wisdom tells us that Klain is a good manager. His accomplishment? He managed the allocation of stimulus funds. Take a moment to think about that. . . . Klain’s new job is not to protect thee and me from an outbreak of Ebola. It is to protect the President from an outbreak of criticism.”

Meanwhile, whatever happened to prior Ebola Czar Dr. Nicole Lurie?

BRUCE THORNTON: The Politics of Victimhood. “The trump card of suffering might be politically useful, but using it is a dishonest tactic that inhibits informed deliberation and debate. Relying on emotion and sentiment, no matter how understandable they are as a response to suffering, have since ancient Athens been the agents of bad policies and dangerous political decisions, and tactics for pursuing political advantage at the expense of the public good. They have no place in our already conflicted and divisive public political discourse.”

The proper response is to treat this as the emotional bullying it is, and make the process unpleasant for the bullies.

IN THE MAIL: From Russ Roberts, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Up to 69% Off Select Rubbermaid Commercial Products.

And, also today only: 40% Off Merrell Casual Shoes for Men and Women.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 526.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Eric Holder’s Top Deputy Resigns Amid Revelation Fast and Furious Guns Used in Phoenix Crime.

METAPHOR ALERT: Kerry Flies Commercial After Jet Breaks Down in Vienna. “The Iranians had a laugh at the United States’ expense when Secretary of State John Kerry’s plane broke down on Thursday as he sought to return to Washington after high-level talks here on Tehran’s nuclear program.”

WILL FREEZING YOUR EGGS HELP YOUR CAREER?

What I haven’t seen anyone explain is when, exactly, you’ll be ready. For most people, your 40s and early 50s are your peak earning years — is that really going to be a good time to meet that special someone, or finally step back to invest some time in having kids? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m already noticing that I have a lot less energy than I used to. It’s not that I can’t get my work done or anything like that. But it used to be that if I had to travel for six days straight and then deliver a 2,500-word essay on the 7th, I could dial up my reserves and power through it — miserable and cranky, to be sure, but functioning. Then one day, around the time I turned 40, I dialed down for more power and there just … wasn’t any. My body informed me that it was tired, and my brain would not be doing any more work today, and we were going to sleep whether I liked it or not.

This is — as friends who have done it freely remark — a difficult age to be taking on your first newborn. I can’t even imagine trying the same feat 10 years from now, when my joints will be even creakier and my reserves even more depleted.

Well, my joints are a lot better than they were a decade ago, thanks to — you knew this was coming — the Rippetoe strength workout. But it’s true. And I was talking yesterday to a friend who used to run a lot, but who’s now switched almost entirely to weight training too (not exactly Rippetoe, but close) and he says all of his hip and knee pain has vanished. I believe it. A few months ago Helen and I thought he was walking like an old man. Now, he’s not.

Which is not a reason to put off having kids, just a reason not to accept all age-related decline as inevitable. Long-term, of course, it is inevitable barring new technologies I fervently hope to live to see. But there’s a lot of wiggle-room in the short- and medium-term.

Meanwhile, if I were a young single guy, I’d at least think about banking a bunch of sperm and then getting a vasectomy. That way I’d have control over my own reproduction.