October 10, 2015

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One week ago, when summarizing the current state of play in Syria, we said that for Obama, “this is shaping up to be the most spectacular US foreign policy debacle since Vietnam.” Yesterday, in tacit confirmation of this assessment, the Obama administration threw in the towel on one of the most contentious programs it has implemented in “fighting ISIS”, when the Defense Department announced it was abandoning the goal of a U.S.-trained Syrian force.

But this, so far, partial admission of failure only takes care of one part of Obama’s problem: there is the question of the “other” rebels supported by the US, those who are not part of the officially-disclosed public program with the fake goal of fighting ISIS; we are talking, of course, about the nearly 10,000 CIA-supported “other rebels”, or technically mercenaries, whose only task is to take down Assad.

The same “rebels” whose fate the AP profiles today when it writes that the CIA began a covert operation in 2013 to arm, fund and train a moderate opposition to Assad. Over that time, the CIA has trained an estimated 10,000 fighters, although the number still fighting with so-called moderate forces is unclear.

The effort was separate from the one run by the military, which trained militants willing to promise to take on IS exclusively. That program was widely considered a failure, and on Friday, the Defense Department announced it was abandoning the goal of a U.S.-trained Syrian force, instead opting to equip established groups to fight IS.

It is this effort, too, that in the span of just one month Vladimir Putin has managed to render utterly useless, as it is officially “off the books” and thus the US can’t formally support these thousands of “rebel-fighters” whose only real task was to repeat the “success” of Ukraine and overthrow Syria’s legitimate president: something which runs counter to the US image of a dignified democracy not still resorting to 1960s tactics of government overthrow. That, and coupled with Russia and Iran set to take strategic control of Syria in the coming months, the US simply has no toehold any more in the critical mid-eastern nation.

And so another sad chapter in the CIA’s book of failed government overthrows comes to a close, leaving the “rebels” that the CIA had supported for years, to fend for themselves.

But then, there are lots of people on the left who are quite happy with the way the Vietnam War ended, thought the good guys won, and wish to relive the glory days:

SPYING: Obama administration won’t seek encryption-backdoor legislation.

ARE FEDERAL BUREAUCRATS REALLY WORTH 78 PERCENT MORE THAN JOE BLOW WORKERS? Latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis says total compensation of 2.1 million federal civil servants is $119K vs $67K for taxpayers employed by private companies. What’s wrong with this picture?

IT ISN’T JUST NEW JERSEY RESIDENTS WHO ARE FLEEING TO THE SOUTH: 1954 Frank Lloyd Wright House Is Rebuilt Anew, Piece by Piece, in Arkansas.

(H/T: Iowahawk.)

BECAUSE POLITICIANS LIE: Why Do Senators Keep Lying About What CISA Would Be Used For?

THE REAL OBAMA DOCTRINE:  Niall Ferguson charts Mr. Obama’s disastrous foreign policy in the Wall Street Journal:

The same fuzzy thinking informed Mr. Obama’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly last week, in which he first said he wanted to “work with other nations under the mantle of international norms and principles and law,” but then added that, to sort out Syria, he was willing to work with Russia and Iran—neither famed for spending time under that particular mantle—so long as they accepted the ousting of yet another Middle Eastern dictator.

A fighting chance for a better future in the Middle East? Make that a better chance for a fighting future.

It is clear that the president’s strategy is failing disastrously. Since 2010, total fatalities from armed conflict in the world have increased by a factor of close to four, according to data from the International Institute of Strategic Studies. Total fatalities due to terrorism have risen nearly sixfold, based on the University of Maryland’s Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism database. Nearly all this violence is concentrated in a swath of territory stretching from North Africa through the Middle East to Afghanistan and Pakistan. And there is every reason to expect the violence to escalate as the Sunni powers of the region seek to prevent Iran from establishing itself as the post-American hegemon.

Today the U.S. faces three strategic challenges: the maelstrom in the Muslim world, the machinations of a weak but ruthless Russia, and the ambition of a still-growing China. The president’s responses to all three look woefully inadequate.

Those who know the Obama White House’s inner workings wonder why this president, who came into office with next to no experience of foreign policy, has made so little effort to hire strategic expertise.

That’s not much a head-scratcher, considering this well-known passage from Jodi Kantor’s  2012 book, The Obamas:

Obama had always had a high estimation of his ability to cast and run his operation. When David Plouffe, his campaign manager, first interviewed for a job with him in 2006, the senator gave him a warning: “I think I could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I’ll hire to do it,” he said. “It’s hard to give up control when that’s all I’ve known.” Obama said nearly the same thing to Patrick Gaspard, whom he hired to be the campaign’s political director. “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Obama told him. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

Presumably, Obama believes such boundless omniscience extends to foreign policy as well.

(And being too insular not to give a damn about the hash you’re making of the world helps, also.)

LOOKING FOR VICTIMHOOD IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES: Time Magazine Celebrates ‘How Che Guevara Didn’t Let Asthma Affect His Ambitions.’

I assume someone there is also hard at work on a piece celebrating how Hitler dramatically overcame bullying and microaggressions by snooty art teachers as a young man, and how Stalin overcame numerous health issues on the way to implementing his own “ambitions.”

Related:“The Rise of the Culture of Victimhood Explained,” by Reason’s Ronald Bailey.


FASTER, PLEASE: A New Way to Fight Aging in the Brain.

PROTECTOR: Witness reportedly says French train hero was protecting woman during stabbing. “U.S. airman Spencer Stone, hailed as a hero in the French train attack in August, was protecting a woman when he was stabbed during a street fight outside a California bar, a witness says. Eric Cain, a worker at A&P Liquors, told local TV in Sacramento Thursday that he saw a man and a woman fighting and then saw Stone intervene.”

It’s usually unwise to intervene in such affrays, unless things are looking especially deadly. Which, given that Stone was stabbed, may have been the case here.


NEWS YOU CAN USE: 5 Places You Can Drive a Tank Right Now.

THIS IS JUST PATHETIC: The Times Backs Off on Temple Trutherism. “The correction is right as far as history is concerned, but as to the Times article it is thoroughly dishonest.”

IN THE MAIL: From Dean Ing, It’s Up to Charlie Hardin.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 884.

LEFT AND LEFTER: Study: Democrats Moving Left Faster Than Republicans Moving Right.

At least since the 2010 midterms, it’s been a liberal talking point that Republican extremism is to blame for political polarization and gridlock. In the old days, the argument goes, Republicans were a moderate party, but over the past generation the GOP has been gradually taken over by its far-right wing. Before the last GOP debate, for example, the Center for American Progress launched a “Right of Reagan” campaign to supposedly show “how the extremism of today’s Republican presidential candidates sets them apart from their conservative idol.”

But as the debates over issues like the $15 minimum wage, healthcare, and universal preschool have already shown, the Democrats have moved to the left at least as quickly as the Republicans have moved to the right. After all, Hillary Clinton has to renounce a good chunk of her husband’s positions to be competitive in the 2016 primary.

Now, a paper on polarization and inequality released in August by political scientists from Princeton, Georgetown, and the University of Oregon (and highlighted this week in a Washington Post article) provides some empirical evidence that Democratic Party’s leftward drift is more pronounced than the GOP’s rightward drift, at least at the state level.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.

TURKEY: Explosions At Peace Rally Leave More than 80 Dead.

UH OH: Clinton’s support slides ahead of first Democratic debate.

GOOD: An Iranian General Is Killed in Syria.

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‘THE MARTIAN’ VS ENVIRONMENTAL DEFEATISM: “The message of this story is clear: There is nothing man can’t achieve if he is willing to ‘science the s*** out of it,’” Andrew Klavan writes:

Compare this to the ceaseless carping demands of modern environmentalism:  ”Don’t move! Don’t dig! Don’t explore! Don’t go! Don’t build! We’ll all die! Stuff will run out! People will be exploited! Air will turn solid! Heat will kill! Cold will freeze! Huddle in! Return to the earth! Go small! Die stupid!”

It’s nonsense. Our resources won’t run out because our only true resource is the bottomless human imagination and its infinite cleverness. Oil was just goo till we turned it to energy. We’ll do the same with sea water and atoms and shoelaces and whatever else we need until we reach new planets with new stuff to make into energy and go on from there.

So thanks, environmentalists! Now shut up and buzz off while we make use of the earth and explore the universe.

If only real-life NASA took the same advice – back in March, Charles Bolden, its administrator, was heard muttering to Ted Cruz, “We can’t go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater and we don’t know it — and that’s understanding our environment.”

Wow, I thought NASA had better telemetry systems than that. But it is true, I suppose — you never know when you’re going to go sleep one night and wake up the next morning to find that Cape Canaveral and Merritt Island have suddenly gone missing. Perhaps Bolden should sell that story to Ridley Scott?

WELL, THAT’S BECAUSE THEY SHOULDN’T: Another op-ed suggests colleges shouldn’t handle campus sexual assault.

It seems at least once a week an opinion piece is published urging legislators, the media and anyone who will listen to stop giving in to the idea that campus sexual assault is at crisis levels and that the only way to fix the problem is to create pseudo-courts that eviscerate due process rights.

The most recent example comes from the Courier-Journal, the main newspaper in Louisville, Ky., and is written by attorney and blogger Bridget Bush. Bush argues that these campus kangaroo courts are not the right venue for accusations of sexual assault (a felony).

“Sexual assault, when it really occurs, is a crime. It should be investigated by professional law enforcement, not campus police. It should be prosecuted by actual prosecutors — not college administrators,” Bush wrote. “Expulsion from college is not a sufficient punishment for rape: jail is. To the contrary, merely expelling a true perpetrator just sets him free to rape non-students.”

Bush included a story about a friend’s daughter, who was (wrongly) accused of sexual assault. These cases almost always involve a woman accusing a man, but in this case, a woman accused another woman.

The woman’s parents hired an attorney, as every student who is accused of sexual assault in college should do. (Sadly, many students can’t afford to do this, and are at a disadvantage while the accuser has an entire school administration office in her defense free of charge.) The attorney was not allowed to represent her during the campus hearing. She was allowed only to accompany her client as an “adviser” but not make objections or cross-examine the accuser or witnesses.

The accused woman was lucky in that witnesses came forward to dispute the claims from the accuser, and she was found not responsible. Her college degree was not disrupted (though the degrees of many male accused students who are found not responsible are disrupted) and she graduated on time. Perhaps because the accused student was a woman, and this entire “epidemic” is predicated on the “war on women” narrative that women are victims while men are perpetrated, she received leniency.



● Shot: “Has Gop Hit Rock Bottom? No, It Could Actually Get A Lot Worse,” Byron York writes in the Washington Examiner.

● Chaser: “Divided, They’ll Fall: The Democrats could be coming apart,” Fred Siegel argues in City Journal.

As Mike Judge’s Idiocracy increasingly seems like a documentary, and our elites on both sides of the aisle seem equally pathetic when compared with their past counterparts, perhaps both stories are true to some extent. Especially considering that “We have the worst political class in American history,” as Glenn has noted on numerous occasions in recent years.

MORE SPELUNKING IN THE MEMORY HOLE: Friday A/V Club: What the Gun Debate Looked Like in 1967: Black Panthers, hunters, and “nuts with guns.”

In some ways, the gun debates of the 1960s looked a lot like the gun debates of today: The people pushing new rules argued that the arms trade was underregulated, stressed that they didn’t want to interfere with hunters, and complained about the National Rifle Association (though the NRA was more amenable to new gun laws in those days than now). In other ways, the debates were rather different: Some of the loudest voices defending the Second Amendment belonged to the Black Panther Party and its supporters on the radical left, and that in turn prompted some conservatives to back certain sorts of gun control.

Both the similarities and the differences are on display in this 1967 footage from the San Francisco TV station KRON, in which a Bay Area official fulminates on all of the above subjects. The immediate context for the interview was the Panthers’ armed march on the California State Assembly in Sacramento. Unable to arraign the marchers on any other charges, the authorites charged them with conspiring to forcibly enter the legislature, a legal maneuver that meets the interviewee’s approval.

Read the whole thing.


Gaia can’t be doing all that badly, can she? After all, Branson hasn’t voluntarily grounded his fleet of airliners, and Al Gore effectively declared “Mission Accomplished” for the radical environmentalism movement when he sold his TV network to the Biggest of Big Oil, the nation of Qatar.

But perhaps to be on the safe side, you can help Branson reduce his own carbon footprint by choosing a different airline when flying.


The title of the article says it all: “Historical Certainty Proves Elusive at Jerusalem’s Holiest Place.” The conceit of the piece by Rick Gladstone, one of the Times’ foreign editors, is that it is impossible to determine whether the enclosed plateau above the Western Wall is really where either of the biblical Holy Temples stood before their destruction, the first by the Babylonians and the second by the Romans.

* * * * * * * *

By treating lies denying the historical ties of Jews to Jerusalem as being deserving of a fair hearing, the Times is calling into question more than claims about who gets to pray on the Temple Mount. The reason why Palestinians say such things isn’t because they have a solid historical case, but because their goal is to treat Jews and Judaism as alien to the place where the Jewish history began. The stakes here are not about archeology but about the right of Israel to exist. The Times has a long history of journalism malpractice with regard to Israel and Jewish issues dating back to the Holocaust. But Gladstone’s atrocious effort to treat history as bunk is an act of intellectual dishonesty that will rank it beside the worst articles ever published by the newspaper.

But it does lend credence to this claim by Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the US:

[Oren] called the New York Times editorial-page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, after the paper published an op-ed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which Abbas startlingly claimed the Arabs had accepted the UN Partition Plan of 1947. The conversation went thus:

“When I write for the Times, fact checkers examine every word I write,” I began. “Did anybody check that Abbas has his facts exactly backward?”

“That’s your opinion,” Rosenthal replied.

“I’m an historian, Andy, and there are opinions and there are facts. That the Arabs rejected partition and the Jews accepted it is an irrefutable fact.”

“In your view.”

“Tell me, on June 6, 1944, did Allied forces land or did they not land on Normandy Beach?”

Rosenthal…replied, “Some might say so.”

To place the Times’ doublethink into context, Liel Leibovitz of Tablet magazine writes, “The New York Times’ Goes Truther on the Temple Mount.” “Was the White House ever in Washington, D.C.? Can we ever really know for sure? Not unless we dig under the existing structure and find indisputable archaeological evidence of the original structure, which British general Robert Ross is said—by some sources—to have torched in August, 1814,” adding, “If you find everything about the previous paragraph patently ridiculous, you are clearly not a reporter or an editor for The New York Times.



October 9, 2015

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KURT SCHLICHTER: Here’s What’s Behind Our Obsession With Zombies: In a time when Americans are figuratively at each other’s throats, our monsters are our fellow citizens. “What is out of control, or what seems like it is out of control, is our society itself. A pervasive unease in America is deepening. It is a sense that our society has become unstable, that the normalcy we took for granted is gone and perhaps not coming back. There is a sense that at the other end of the tunnel we have walked down is chaos. We are at the point where millions look at Donald Trump as the solution to our problems, not a symptom. It’s that bad.”

Fundamentally transformed. But what does it say that the basic values of zombie flicks are conservative?

UNIVERSITIES HAVE NO BUSINESS PUNISHING ANYONE FOR SPEECH, “OFFENSIVE” OR OTHERWISE: UCLA Is Investigating a Fraternity’s Offensive ‘Kanye Western’ Theme Party. It Shouldn’t.

Slash their administrative budget. Oh, who am I kidding? This is California, where the main point of state universities is to employ lefty drones.


WELL, YOU COULD TRY RESIGNING THE PRESIDENCY, FOR A START: What Are 10 Ways That I Can Stop Feeling Like a Failure?

IT’S THE PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE OF CARS: Why The 1951 Hoffman Is The Worst Car Ever.

AMY ALKON: WHAT IF SOME YOGA-DOER WANTED TO CREATE A “SAFE SPACE” FOR WHITE PEOPLE? “Previously: ‘The State of Washington is suing a small flower shop after the owner declined to provide flowers for a homosexual wedding — based on her religious beliefs.’”


MEDIA NARRATIVE CHART NOW ONLINE: “I created a chart to ensure that budding journalists understand how to properly frame a story involving any type of shooting, terror attack, or other violent crime,” Jon Gabriel writes at Ricochet. “Remember that the job of the Objective Journalist™ is not to tell the audience what happened, but to expand the event into an indictment of Western culture.”

And to advance the interests of their bosses atop the Democratic party, but that goes without saying.


Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 9.16.17 PM

I LIKE THE LOOK: Toyota S-FR Concept: The Scion FR-S’s Angry Little Brother. “Front-engine, rear-drive, with a curb weight under 2,200 pounds. Oh, and it’s headed for production.”

I hope they don’t blink on the styling. The Scion is a surprisingly attractive car, proof that inexpensive cars don’t have to be ugly.

“THE QUEEN IS COMING — LOOK BUSY!” Most worker ants are slackers. “Ants and bees have reputations as efficient team players. In Temnothorax rugatulus—a small brown ant found in pine forests in North America—division of labor is common, with workers specializing in tasks like foraging, building, and brood care. But new research shows that many ants in a colony seem to specialize in doing nothing at all. To get a closer look at how these ants filled their time, researchers marked every member of five lab-based colonies with dots of colored paint. Over the course of 2 weeks, a high-definition camera recorded 5-minute segments of the ants in action six times a day, capturing their behavior (or lack thereof). Out of the ‘workers,’ 71.9% were inactive at least half the time, and 25.1% were never seen working. A small fraction of the ants, just 2.6%, were always active during observation, the researchers wrote last month in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Previous studies have postulated that inactivity might be temporary, with ants working in shifts dictated by circadian rhythm. But the new results show that the lazy workers stay lazy no matter the time of day.”

Slave societies rarely encourage individuals to put forth their best efforts.


So on top of the millions of dollars we’ve already spent combating “climate change” and saving the glaciers, we’re also going to study how to live in the ever-slowly-defrosting polar icecaps to the sweet tune of $524,086.

Take it from the grant description itself, courtesy of the National Science Foundation:

As Arctic ice continues to melt, humans will enter the high north in growing numbers to develop local resources and expand transportation links. The result of this increased activity will be intensified urban development in extreme conditions. The purpose of this project is to promote greater urban sustainability in the Arctic so that the ultimate human impact on the larger environment will be as small as possible.

I know who I want to see in charge of this project:


NEWS YOU CAN USE: Three ‘Harmless’ Bumper Stickers That Police Say Can Destroy Your Family.

IMAGES FOR THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: What 7 Abandoned American Embassies and Military Bases Look Like Now.

WATCH: NYU PROF: FIGHT ‘CLIMATE CHANGE’ WITH HORMONE TREATMENTS ON SMALL CHILDREN — ‘CLOSES THE GROWTH PLATES’ TO STUNT THEIR GROWTH. Professor Liao says shrinking humans helps fight climate change since ‘larger people consume more energy than smaller people.’

But as Obama’s “Science” “Czar” might ask, why all the half measures, when a much more, well, final solution, for want of a better phrase, suggests itself?

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Rainier Beach Yoga in Seattle has a class called “yoga for people of color.” It started last week and runs once a month.

Teresa Wang, co-founder of the specialized class, said it was started by five queer people of color who came together to create a safe space for people of color who might otherwise be uncomfortable.

An email blast about the class says it’s aimed at people of color and of all sexualities, ages, body sizes, abilities, genders, and experience with yoga. It specifically identifies “lesbian, bisexual, gay, queer and trans-friendly/affirming,” plus people who self-identify as “African American/black/of the African Diaspora, Asian, South Asian, West Asian/Arab/Middle Eastern, Pacific Islander, First Nations/Alaskan Native/Native American/Indigenous, Chican/Latin, or Multiracial/Mixed-Race.” The email adds that “white friends, allies and partners are respectfully asked not to attend.”

So what would happen if a white man decided to attend?

“Well, it’s a class for people of color, so he would be coming to that class knowing that we’re really clear about who we are asking to come to class, so…I’m not really sure because it hasn’t happened to us,” Wang said. “So I don’t really know.”

Perhaps as a result of making the Drudge Report, it seems that Rainier Beach Yoga has deleted the announcement from their Facebook page, but a copy remains in Google’s cache as of the time of this post:


So, separate but equal, to coin a phrase. Michael Graham’s Redneck Nation, written in 2001, which warned about the increasing return of such practices despite America’s best efforts to build a colorblind society in the 1960s through the 1980s, still seems remarkably current.

WELL, THIS IS COMFORTING: Family and friends of British nurse to be tested for Ebola after she contracts the virus again: Glasgow medic returns to London hospital isolation unit in ‘serious condition.’ I didn’t know that it was possible to get Ebola again.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: The Straight Poop on the Halloween Whopper’s … Green Poop Problem.

IMAGINING our Martian future.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: At USC, Our Administrator-to-Faculty Pay Ratio is a Major Problem. “Amid concern over rising tuition, USC has seen a 305.8 percent increase in hired administrative employees over a 25 year period, while the number of enrolled students has only increased by 66.3 percent, according to a study by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and the American Institutes for Research which looked at data from 1987 until the 2011-12 academic year.”

What a fascinating phenomenon. Someone should write a book about it.

WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS: A “Victory Garden” In A Can.

AUTONOMOUS HIGHWAY DRIVING: Coming sooner than you think?

ASHE SCHOW: Hillary Clinton’s (Democrat) Woman Privilege: Hidden emails reveal laughable technological illiteracy, but the media won’t run with this narrative. “If she were a Republican man, she would be chastised for being so bad at, well, everything that has to do with technology. Heck, if she were a Republican woman, she’d be ripped to shreds as a moron on par with how the media treated former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin or former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. If either of those two women couldn’t figure out how to find an NPR station, for example (as Ms. Clinton couldn’t), they would be the subject of continuous mockery. . . . The bottom line is that there is a narrative here that is not being played out for Ms. Clinton the way it would be for a Republican. There’s comedy gold here, but pointing this out about Ms. Clinton—a woman—would be seen as sexist, even though similar claims of technological incompetence and being too old and out-of-touch have been lodged against Republicans.”

AND, IN FACT, PRETTY MUCH ALWAYS DO: Facebook Is Big, But Big Networks Can Fall. And though it may take a long time to happen, the unraveling process can be very sudden. “Looking at the most recent Pew study on Internet usage among young people, I see that 71 percent of teens use Facebook, with the median user having slightly less than 150 friends. Forty-one percent of them report that they use Facebook most often. But when I look at a similar Pew study from 2013, it looks to me as if 76 percent of teens were using Facebook, with a median number of 300 friends, and 81 percent of social media users reported that they used Facebook most often. If I were Facebook, those numbers would keep me awake at night — not because Facebook can’t survive with only 70 percent of the market, but because a network that is getting smaller and less valuable to its users is a network that is very vulnerable to disruption.”

IT’S ALWAYS NICE TO SEE MEDIA NARRATIVES COLLAPSE SO THOROUGHLY: Common Response After Killings in Oregon: ‘I Want to Have a Gun.’ And it’s nice when the American public displays such obvious good sense.



The walls of our upstairs hallway testify that we once had photogenic children. There are rows of framed pictures that show them playing baseball, basketball, holding a toad and smiling in the sunlight at their eager parents. Everything is orderly and bright.

But these are pictures from another time. The children in those aging frames don’t look like the giants clomping around the living room and leaving their dishes all over the house even if I’ve told them a thousand times. Those older forms bolt the minute I incline toward the camera. Sometimes when I take out my phone to check email, the little Garbos vanish. The email icon and camera icon are right next to each other, and my children can’t be too careful.

Read the whole thing.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN IS ON TAXES AND MIGRATION: Are America’s tax migrants bringing California and New York’s high-tax views to sunny low-tax shores of Texas and Florida? “If I were one of those conservative billionaires (hello, Koch brothers! hi, Sheldon Adelson!) who are always donating tens of millions to support Republican candidates, I think I might try spending some of the money on something more useful: A sort of welcome wagon for blue state migrants to red states. Something that would explain to them why the place they’re moving to is doing better than the place they left, and suggesting that they might not want to vote for the same policies that are driving their old home states into bankruptcy.”

MIKE NEEDHAM: The Heritage Action CEO explains, “The reality that drove McCarthy’s exit from the Speaker’s race.”

The reality is simple: In the aftermath of the 2011 showdown over the debt ceiling—the showdown that led to the spending caps that Boehner, et al. are now attempting to bust—the GOP began taking a passive posture toward President Obama and a dismissive disposition toward conservatives.

That dynamic within the House Republican Conference has been building over the past four years. It came close to boiling over in January, and finally became too much in September.

Of course, Americans outside of Washington played an undeniably important role in this process. The revival of the conservative grassroots empowered by access to information and a proliferation of technology created an atmosphere that forced Boehner to resign. And in a nod to political reality, McCarthy said “I don’t want to make voting for speaker a tough one…” Indeed it would have been, because as Boehner’s second in command, McCarthy would have been viewed in a similarly unfavorable light.

Rep. Peter King, a liberal Republican from New York, suggested America is now “A banana republic.” That is a petulant, childish reaction intended to dismiss the serious nature of the party’s internal divisions.

To be clear, the solution to overcoming that divide is not some moderate caretaker or an absurd coalition-style government with Nancy Pelosi. . . .

The Republican Party has fallen into the same trap—refusing to recognize or address its serious internal problems. This is an action-forcing event, and every single Republican needs to recognize it as such.

Exactly. Is the GOP establishment listening yet? Somehow, I doubt it.


SOLVING THE IMPORTANT ISSUES: Why Do I Jerk Awake Right As I’m Falling Asleep?

IN THE MAIL: From Ben Bova, Rescue Mode.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 883. Plus, a reader poll on whether he should continue this daily coverage.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: College Debt Woes Point to Grim Future.

The problems detailed in this article are real and important, but there’s a big one that’s not mentioned: Sooner or later, interest rates will go up generally, and that’s likely to price some colleges out of the bond market completely.

This should remind us that America is locked into an educational model, that, like our health care system, rests on foundations that drive prices up faster than inflation year by year by year. Education is important to Americans, and we do what we can to keep up, but ultimately we need to figure out how to deliver the education we need at a price we can actually pay. Sadly, it remains the case that the people who know the system best are, for the most part, less interested in helping think through and implement creative reform than in perpetuating the privileges that come with their jobs in the current, outdated system.

If only someone had warned them.

GQ MAGAZINE COLUMNIST SAYS F**K BEN CARSON: “Writer Drew Magary (actual photo above) has penned a new piece for GQ Magazine titled “Fuck Ben Carson” because he’s clearly smarter than a pediatric neurosurgeon.”

The photo really says it all.

I JUST WISH THAT THE PEOPLE WHO LOATHE ME FELT THE SAME WAY: Brendan O’Neill: Why we must fight for free speech for people we loathe.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN IS ON TAXES AND MIGRATION: Are America’s tax migrants bringing California and New York’s high-tax views to sunny low-tax shores of Texas and Florida? “If I were one of those conservative billionaires (hello, Koch brothers! hi, Sheldon Adelson!) who are always donating tens of millions to support Republican candidates, I think I might try spending some of the money on something more useful: A sort of welcome wagon for blue state migrants to red states. Something that would explain to them why the place they’re moving to is doing better than the place they left, and suggesting that they might not want to vote for the same policies that are driving their old home states into bankruptcy.”

WHY SHOULD THE REST OF US FOLLOW THE LAW, WHEN OBAMA DOESN’T? U.S. officials conclude Iran deal violates federal law. “Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws.”

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Ben Carson suggests that gun rights might have changed history for Jews in WWII.

For a careful and meticulously documented history of the Nazis’ gun-confiscation efforts — which strongly suggest that the Nazis thought Carson’s opinion had merit — see Steve Halbrook’s Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State.” Some of this is summarized in this review by Clayton Cramer.

REPUBLICAN EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS TAKE NOTICE: With new equal-pay act, will Jennifer Lawrence get paid like Bradley Cooper?

Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence was paid 7% of the profit on the 2013 ensemble film “American Hustle,” a big payday for the A-list actress. But Bradley Cooper and two other male co-stars each earned 9%.

That’s the kind of inequity potentially targeted by California’s Fair Pay Act, which is aimed at leveling the compensation field between men and women. The bill, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this week, applies to businesses statewide but has particular resonance in Hollywood, where women have become increasingly vocal critics of the pay gap.

Indeed, the entertainment industry played a key role in pushing the bill forward. Patricia Arquette raised the issue of pay inequality while accepting the best supporting actress Oscar during this year’s Academy Awards — a moment that the Fair Pay Act’s author, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), said gave the measure momentum.

* * * * * *

“This will ultimately force production companies, studios, TV networks, talent agencies and management firms to look more closely at their practices to make sure that they are providing equal pay,” said attorney Bryan Freedman, a veteran Hollywood attorney and a founding partner of Freedman Taitelman.

Failure to do so, added attorney Seth Neulight, could expose studios to litigation.

“I think you’ll see studios and their counsel take it more seriously than they have in the past,” said Neulight, a partner in the labor and employment practice group of Nixon Peabody. “There is now another tool in the toolbox for female actors to speak out.”

And another tool in the toolbox for attorneys who want to cause far left Hollywood plenty of well-deserved mischief. (And why not repeal the Hollywood tax cuts in the process, as well?)

(H/T: Virginia Postrel.)

HOUSE DEM CRAFTS CRAIGSLIST AD TO FIND SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Eh — it’s worth a shot; think of it as the Internet equivalent of preferring to search through the first 2000 names in the Boston telephone directory rather than the 2000 faculty members of Harvard, to modify William F. Buckley’s famous quip.

OBAMA’S HISPANIC PUPPETS: Congressional Hispanic Caucus admits that White House vets their press list.

ASHE SCHOW: Education Department officials’ candid acknowledgement.

For years, those opposed to campus adjudication of sexual assault have argued that the document declaring that schools must create court systems was not legally binding. It turns out Education Department officials agree.

The document, known as the “Dear Colleague” letter, was issued in 2011 and directed schools to create courts with severely limited to no due process protections for accused students. This was done supposedly in an effort to combat an “epidemic” of campus sexual assault. Schools that didn’t punish accused students — even if the evidence didn’t support the accusation — were at risk of losing government funding and threatened with federal investigations.

Those investigations almost always (except for once, to my knowledge) result in a finding that the school violated the anti-discrimination law known as Title IX, which is the basis for the Dear Colleague letter. Should a school find an accused student not responsible, the accuser would file a claim with the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights and the school would be investigated.

Organizations like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education have pushed back against the Dear Colleague letter, arguing that because the document didn’t go through the proper regulatory channels, it was not legally binding. . . .

Cohn has now documented two Education Department officials who have acknowledged that the Dear Colleague letter is not legally binding. Both acknowledgements have occurred in the past few weeks.

Colleges won’t fight, though, because they’re happy to throw young men under the bus. In the War On College Men, they’ve chosen their side.

WHY SUSAN RICE PLAYED THE RACE CARD: At Commentary, Jonathan S. Tobin writes:

The headline on the Politico website for the Ross excerpts when it went up on Thursday morning was one that used a quote in which the State Department veteran claimed that Rice spread the word that “Netanyahu did everything but ‘use the N-word’ in his interactions with Obama over Iran. Later in the day, that was changed to the more neutral (and actually more in keeping with thrust of the content of the story) headline, “How Obama got to “Yes” on Iran.” But as inflammatory as that initial headline was, that one line was what has everyone talking about Ross’s book today. Indeed, although Ross’s purpose is to try to repair what he correctly terms the unnecessary damage to the alliance that was caused by the administration’s combative attitude toward Netanyahu, that false allegation by Rice actually tells us more about what’s wrong between Washington and Jerusalem than anything else.

“Ross draws a distinction between Obama’s first term, when a figure such as National Security Director Tom Donilon worked to reassure the Israelis that they were not being left alone to fend for themselves, and his last,” Tobin adds. “In his second term, Obama ceased caring about what the Israelis thought, and Donilon’s successor Susan Rice acted on that imperative.”

In his 2002 article with the classic headline “Carterpalooza,” Jay Nordlinger wrote, “No one quite realizes just how passionately anti-Israel Carter is. William Safire has reported that Cyrus Vance acknowledged that, if he had had a second term, Carter would have sold Israel down the river.”

Think of the last eight years as Jimmy Carter’s long-lost second term – dialed up to 11.

THE CAMP OF THE SAINTS IS JUST A NOVEL, RIGHT GUYS? RIGHT? GUYS? Refugee Charity Stops Aid To Calais Because 97% Are Men With ‘No Real Reason’ To Be There.

BRAVE SIR BARACK RAN AWAY: White House Is Weighing A Syria Retreat. Bravely ran away he did, brave, brave sir Barack.

ROLL CALL: Senate Clears NDAA with Veto-Proof Majority. “The White House has threatened to nix the measure over its inclusion of tens of billions of additional war funds to supplement the Pentagon’s everyday operating costs.”

Prediction: Whatever happens here, Obama will be back asking Congress for more war money within a year.

EDWARD LUTTWAK: Putin’s Great Crime: He Defends His Allies and Attacks His Enemies. “Conduct particularly reprehensible in the eyes of the Obama Administration, which does the exact opposite.”


Other than no Republican ever being elected president again, what could go wrong?

WELL, GOOD: New Cornell president ‘would never’ require trigger warnings.

“A university is about the fullest and freest expression of ideas and arguments,” she said. “There isn’t any idea that ought not to be tested and questioned. Because that’s how we get closer to the truth.”

It’s sad that it’s refreshing to hear this from an academic administrator, but, you know, it’s refreshing to hear this from an academic administrator.

HMM: Issa Considering Running For Speaker.

Related: GOP Pressures Reluctant Ryan.

Also: 7 Republicans Who Could Be Speakers.

Plus, it’s open season for pundits running with the — correct! — notion that you don’t have to be a member of Congress to be speaker. My own choice: Mike Rowe. It’s one of the few Dirty Jobs he hasn’t done.


Something that can’t go on forever won’t, to only slightly paraphrase Herb Stein.


FORGET THE GENDER GAP, THE REAL ISSUE IS THE FEDERAL PAY GAP: Federal Employees’ Wages Growing Faster Than Everybody Else’s. “Federal civilian workers had an average wage of $84,153 in 2014, compared to an average in the private sector of $56,350. The federal advantage in overall compensation (wages plus benefits) is even greater. Federal compensation averaged $119,934 in 2014, which was 78 percent higher than the private-sector average of $67,246.”

IT’S A SIGN.  THE SOLAR SYSTEM IS OURS:  (Hey, look, let’s just get off the rock, okay?) Pluto: NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft reveals blue skies and red water ice


BEATS OBAMA’S MOTORCADE: Sight Of 400 War Elephants On Horizon Marks Hillary Clinton’s Arrival In Swing State. (And yes, it is a joke.)

STAND UP: The Real Benghazi Investigation.

MUSH HEADED: Russian Scientists Build Monument To Honor Lab Rats. Is there a monument honoring the kulaks, sacrificed in an attempt to risk an impossible future?  Mush headed.

SHOCKED, SHOCKED:  Muslim Brotherhood official, former Clinton Foundation employee arrested in Cairo.


REVOLUTIONARY OR A FLUKE: Scientists Sequence First Ancient Human Genome From Africa.

THE REAL PROBLEM WITH A CULTURE OF VICTIM GLORIFICATION: The Real Problem With Susan Taffe Reed and Fake Indian Tribes.

October 8, 2015


THOUGHT: The Tea Party wing of the GOP has put paid first to Eric Cantor, and now to Boehner. What’s left of the GOP establishment is saying that the insurgency is stupid. But if the GOP establishment had done its job, there wouldn’t be an insurgency. So who’s stupid here?

As Ed Morrissey notes: “In 2010 and again in 2014, Republicans won back control of Capitol Hill by promising not just to stop Barack Obama’s agenda but reversing it, even though simple majority control in Congress isn’t sufficient to do so while Obama remains president. The GOP overpromised and under delivered–a classic set-up for discouragement and backlash.”

OBAMA DOES WHAT HE WANTS WITHOUT REGARD FOR THE LAW. WHY SHOULDN’T THE REST OF US DO THE SAME? Obama weighs expanding background checks through executive authority.

FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED: Report: U.S. Concedes Air Superiority Over Syria to Russia.