November 29, 2015


A TIMELY REMINDER: Amazon Carries Shooting Supplies.

IT’S NICE TO BE MENTIONED IN ARS TECHNICA: Could The Third Amendment Be Used To Fight The Surveillance State?

The article links one of my USA Today columns, but I have a more extensive treatment in this piece from the Tennessee Law Review’s Third Amendment symposium.


THEY TOLD ME IF WE RE-ELECTED BARACK OBAMA, SHARIA LAW WOULD GOVERN AMERICA’S HEARTLAND. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Univ. of Missouri prof arrested for dragging hijab-less teenage girl by the hair. “Youssif Zaghwani Omar, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, was arrested on suspicion of child abuse this past week for ‘allegedly grabbing a 14-year-old female relative by the hair and dragging her into a car after he noticed she wasn’t wearing a hijab.’ Omar was at a local high school when he saw the girl without the Muslim headscarf.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE: “Gaming Out The Holidays, and Why You Should Think Hard Before Doing It:”

So, you want to run a holiday-themed adventure for your tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) campaign.  Let’s skip ahead: yes, you really want to run one. No, you don’t care that they’re usually contrived and heavy-handed attempts to run a joke into the ground. Alas, you don’t have any other ideas right now — or, worse, you have this one killer idea, and you’re all agog to make your vision a reality.  Have I summed it up properly?

OK, So… this is going to happen, then.  Well, let’s see if we can mitigate the damage:

From Moe Lane at PJ Lifestyle blog. And yes, given the headline, I had fun putting together the Photoshop to accompany it:


IN THE MAIL: From Lois McMaster Bujold, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.

Plus, today only at Amazon: iRobot Roomba 780 Vacuum Cleaning Robot for Pets and Allergies, $369 (38% off).

And, also today only: 75% or More Off Winter Coats & Jackets.

Plus: Amazon Echo: Only $149.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 934.


As the administrative state distorts the United States’ constitutional architecture, Clarence Thomas becomes America’s indispensable constitutionalist. Now in his 25th year on the Supreme Court, he is urging the judicial branch to limit the legislative branch’s practice of delegating its power to the executive branch.

In four opinions in 112 days between March 9 and June 29, Thomas indicted the increasing incoherence of the court’s separation of powers jurisprudence. This subject is central to today’s argument between constitutionalists and progressives. The former favor and the latter oppose holding Congress to its responsibilities and restricting executive discretion.

“The Constitution,” Thomas notes in Department of Transportation v. Association of American Railroads, “does not vest the federal government with an undifferentiated ‘governmental power.’ ” It vests three distinguishable types of power in three different branches. The court, Thomas says, has the “judicial duty” to enforce the vesting clauses as absolute and exclusive by policing the branches’ boundaries.

Particularly, it should prevent Congress from delegating to executive agencies the essentially legislative power of formulating “generally applicable rules of private conduct.” Such delegation, Thomas says, erases the distinction between “the making of law, and putting it into effect.” This occurs when Congress — hyperactive, overextended and too busy for specificity — delegates “policy determinations” that “effectively permit the President to define some or all of the content” of a rule of conduct.

Today, if Congress provides “a minimal degree of specificity” in the instructions it gives to the executive, the court, Thomas says, abandons “all pretense of enforcing a qualitative distinction between legislative and executive power.” As a result, the court has “overseen and sanctioned the growth of an administrative system that concentrates the power to make laws and the power to enforce them in the hands of a vast and unaccountable administrative apparatus that finds no comfortable home in our constitutional structure.”

Yes, the judicial abdication has been stunning.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Walter Olson: Some Highlights Of The Student Campus Demands.

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HOW’S THAT WHOLE “ARAB SPRING” WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? Ross Douthat compares Syria with Spain in the 1930s.

PETER THIEL: If You’re Serious About The Environment, You Need To Back Nuclear Power.

The single most important action we can take is thawing a nuclear energy policy that keeps our technology frozen in time. If we are serious about replacing fossil fuels, we are going to need nuclear power, so the choice is stark: We can keep on merely talking about a carbon-free world, or we can go ahead and create one.

We already know that today’s energy sources cannot sustain a future we want to live in. This is most obvious in poor countries, where billions dream of living like Americans. The easiest way to satisfy this demand for a better life has been to burn more coal: In the past decade alone, China added more coal-burning capacity than America has ever had. But even though average Indians and Chinese use less than 30 percent as much electricity as Americans, the air they breathe is far worse. They deserve a third option besides dire poverty or dirty skies. . . .

What’s especially strange about the failed push for renewables is that we already had a practical plan back in the 1960s to become fully carbon-free without any need of wind or solar: nuclear power. But after years of cost overruns, technical challenges and the bizarre coincidence of an accident at Three Mile Island and the 1979 release of the Hollywood horror movie “The China Syndrome,” about a hundred proposed reactors were canceled. If we had kept building, our power grid could have been carbon-free years ago.

The anti-nuclear movement was put together by Tom Hayden et al. in the 1970s as a means of keeping the Vietnam-protest infrastructure alive. It was a very expensive choice for America, but what did they care? They were externalizing costs and internalizing benefits, just like the polluters they purported to despise.

JAZZ SHAW: What to Do About Guns and the Mentally Ill?

LOVING BIG BROTHER: Occidental Professors Voting to Give Students Power to Report Them for Microaggressions.

ON CAMPUS, A CLIMATE OF FEAR: Student publication Mocks ‘Safe Spaces’ And Gets Targeted for Defunding.


Don’t worry, I’m sure they don’t mean it — and “unexpectedly,” neither does AP.

NOBODY TELL NOTORIOUS ROBOPHOBE MATT YGLESIAS: The ‘world’s sexiest robot’ revealed: Eerily life-like female android turns heads in China.

RATHERGATE: Hollywood Trying to Rewrite History Again.

DAN MCLAUGHLIN: The Myth of “4 Million Conservative Voters Stayed Home in 2012.″

To the extent that any of these analyses are based on the proposition that Romney got millions fewer votes than McCain, they are provably wrong. What happened is pretty simple: some states and localities take longer to count the votes than others – some big cities are notorious for this, some count absentee ballots slowly, California traditionally counts very slowly, and some of the jurisdictions hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 were understandably slow getting finalized. But the final numbers are not what was originally available in the immediate aftermath of the election:

In 2004, George W. Bush got 62,039,572 votes vs 59,027,115 for John Kerry.

In 2008, John McCain got 59,950,323 votes vs 69,499,428 for Barack Obama – in other words, McCain lost about 2 million votes from what Bush had received, while Obama gained over 10 million vs Kerry’s total.

In 2012, Mitt Romney got 60,934,407 votes vs 65,918,507 for Obama – a million more votes for Romney than McCain, and 3.5 million fewer for Obama (but still up around 6 million compared to Kerry).

Presumably, some of Bush’s voters in 2004 stayed home in 2008 and 2012, while others switched to Obama or one of many minor third party candidates. But even if we compare Romney to Bush, he’s off by only a little over a million votes, not such an enormous number in an electorate of around 130 million people. And exit polling doesn’t really support the notion that self-identified conservatives were noticeably missing. . . .

So, the cavalry isn’t coming. The number of people who voted for a past Republican presidential candidate and not for Mitt Romney likely isn’t be much above the 1 million to 1.5 million range, not enough by itself to cover the distance between Romney and Obama, and the missing stay-at-home voters did not appreciably cut into the proportion of voters who think of themselves as “conservatives.”

But this doesn’t mean the electorate really is static, or that there’s no opportunity to improve on it. What it means is that the missing potential Republican voters are mostly people who have not been regular voters in the recent past, and many of them may not be politically engaged people who think of themselves as conservatives, whether or not their actual beliefs are.

Read the whole thing.

MY FRIEND BLAKE POWERS IS HAVING A BLACK FRIDAY SALE: Flight of the Fantasy is 99c; Slaughterhouse is free; and A Different View, with an introduction by yours truly is also 99c

PROBABLY A COMET: Alien megastructure? Nothing to see around formerly weird star, scientists say.  Yes, Yes, I know.
awiensHappy now?

IT’S MY BACKUP IF SMOD FAILS US AGAIN: CERN’s Large Hadron Collider hits 1-PeV milestone with heavy ions (and re-ignites doomsday talk).

BUT WHAT SOUND DOES GRASS MAKE AS IT GROWS: A Graphene Microphone Could Pick Up Sounds Far Beyond the Limits of Human Hearing.

SO IT’S NOT FOR SEX: What is it for? Why Are Tarantulas Blue?

INSOMNIA THEATER (FIREFLY EDITION): I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving! As a celebration of the holidays, today’s post features a fun blast from the past: legendary author Neil Gaiman takes a look at an absurd case at the University of Wisconsin – Stout that combined two of my passions—freedom of speech and the beloved, yet short-lived sci-fi series Firefly.

Back in 2011, UW-Stout tried to censor the posters Professor James Miller had put on his office door, including one featuring a quote from Firefly. Stout stood by its actions until FIRE’s advocacy campaign on Miller’s behalf inspired Gaiman, along with Firefly actors Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin, to take to Twitter to encourage their millions of followers to contact the university with their support of free speech.

You can check out the video below, as well as my write-up of the whole Stout-Firefly debacle over at The Huffington Post.

FASTER PLEASE: Super-Strong Diamond Nanothread Has People Dreaming Of A Space Elevator.

WHY NOT RUBBER DUCKS: The internet has united to photoshop Isis fighters as rubber ducks.

IT’S NOT THE TOOL, IT’S THE ART: Man doesn’t want to waste money on software, creates brilliant illustrations on Excel instead.

AND PEOPLE WONDER WHY MY DESK HAS A HEAD-SHAPED DENT: The Week in Pictures: Climate Terror Edition.

IT’S SANITY THAT WOULD SURPRISE ME: Prepare to Be Blindsided in 2016.

THEY’LL BURN THEIR FINGERS: Feds finding ways to grab control of Internet.

UH OH.  WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO: Short of developing bi-location, of course. Sitting further away from your boss makes you a better worker, study suggests.

PURSUING THE ELUSIVE WILL: Shakespeare’s kitchen discovered in dig.

BARONESS MUNCHAUSEN CLINTON: Hillary Clinton’s million little lies.


November 28, 2015

WHY A DUCK? Why the internet is putting rubber ducks on heads of Isil fighters.

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ASHE SCHOW: Thanksgiving Dinner With the 2016 Presidential Candidates.

BUT THAT WOULD MEAN GIVING UP ON SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRAFT AND SELF-IMPORTANCE AND CONTROL OVER OTHERS: The Food Cops and Their Ever-Changing Menu of Taboos; After decades of failure, maybe government should get out of the business of giving dietary advice.

With the release of the eighth edition of the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines expected by year’s end, it seems reasonable to consider—with the “obesity plague” upon us and Americans arguably less healthy than ever before—whether the guidelines are to be trusted and even whether they have done more harm than good.

Many Americans have lost trust in the science behind the guidelines since they seem to change dramatically every five years. In February, for example, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee declared that certain fats and eggs are no longer the enemy and that cholesterol is “not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” This, after decades of advising Americans to “watch their cholesterol.”

Such controversy is nothing new. U.S. Dietary Guidelines were first released by the Agriculture Department and the Department of Health and Human Services in 1980. One nutrition expert at the time, Edward “Pete” Ahrens, a groundbreaking researcher on fat and cholesterol metabolism, called the guidelines “a nutritional experiment with the American public as subjects . . . treating them like a homogeneous group of Sprague-Dawley rats.”

The original goals were to: 1) increase Americans’ carbohydrate consumption to 55%-60% of caloric intake; 2) reduce fat consumption to less than 30% from 40% of caloric intake; 3) reduce saturated fat to 10% of calories and increase poly- and monounsaturated fats each to 10% of calories; 4) reduce cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams a day; 5) reduce sugar intake by 40%; and 6) reduce salt consumption by 50%-80%.

These six goals, viewed in the context of what we know today, could hardly be more misdirected.

If only we could hold them liable the way we would if they were pharmaceutical companies that produced similarly defective and harmful products.

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S hypocrisy on Syria. “In 2008, Barack Obama won the presidency promising that he would heal our political divisions. Instead, Mr. Obama has been as polarizing as any president in the history of modern polling. The debate over the Syrian refugee crisis illustrates why.”

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OKLAHOMA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University! “If you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.”

BRENDAN O’NEILL: It’s Time To End The Domestic Imperialism Of The Welfare State.

Welfarism should be radically rethought not in order to save a few billion quid but in order to reverse the state’s spread into communities and to repair the self-belief and independence of working-class and poorer sections of society.

Both the right and left are failing on welfarism. The right ought to oppose it in the name of shrinking state interventionism. And the left ought to oppose it for the reason that many working-class institutions did oppose it when it was first being developed in the early twentieth century: because it makes people unproductive, and rips them from the society they live in, and because we should have full employment not paternalistic handouts.

The end result of this right/left failure is acquiescence to the rise of a new feudalism: millions of middle-class people employed by the state to look after millions of poor people. It is a scandal. It is domestic imperialism.

And, like the old-fashioned variety of imperialism, it provides employment for the unimpressive offspring of the gentry, as well as splendid opportunities for graft.

KATHLEEN PARKER: Trump is the Personification of America’s Vices.

Funny, that’s what many of us were saying about the candidate Parker endorsed in 2008 after years of posing as a conservative.

THE 21st CENTURY ISN’T TURNING OUT AS I’D EXPECTED: People having sex with horses is on the rise in Switzerland.


TRIBALISM IS NOT SCIENCE. SO YEAH. ‘I was tossed out of the tribe’: climate scientist Judith Curry interviewed.

I EXPECT THESE CALLS TO GROW LOUDER — AND, POSSIBLY, TO COME FROM OUTSIDE OF GERMANY AS WELL: Leader of German anti-immigrant party calls on Merkel to resign.

WE TELL OURSELVES STORIES IN ORDER TO LIVE: At City Journal, Ian Penman reviews a new biography of Joan Didion that isn’t quite up to its subject; Penman’s own profile of Didion is a great read, though:

If Didion possessed a quieter sensibility, it would be a mistake to peg it as a more defiantly “feminine”—or even feminist—one. Friends in liberal circles were delighted when she sent up “pretty” Nancy Reagan; less pleased when she did the same thing with some of the more starry-eyed avatars of the Women’s Liberation movement. She already had a sharp eye (and ear) for the little fudges and blind spots in ideological syntax on both sides of the street. As a working mother herself, she naturally saw the need for certain pragmatic political demands, but she talked also of “the coarsening of moral imagination to which . . . social idealism so often leads.” She seemed ill at ease with the all-or-nothing verities of an emergent identity politics: “The idea that fiction has certain irreducible ambiguities seemed never to occur to these women, nor should it have, for fiction is in most ways hostile to ideology.” And while it’s probably fair to say that she was never going to run for, or place, in any kind of Republican Mom-of-the-Year contest, she could offer scathing put-downs of her own gilded social circle: “[t]he public life of liberal Hollywood comprises a kind of dictatorship of good intentions, a social contract in which actual and irreconcilable disagreement is as taboo as failure or bad teeth, a climate devoid of irony.”

She certainly had Woody Allen’s number in the late 1970s; while most critics were dazzled by Manhattan’s gorgeous black and white cinematography and Gershwin score, Didion was astute enough to write:

This notion of oneself as a kind of continuing career — something to work at, work on, “make an effort” for and subject to an hour a day of emotional Nautilus training, all in the interests not of attaining grace but of improving one’s “relationships” — is fairly recent in the world, at least in the world not inhabited entirely by adolescents. In fact the paradigm for the action in these recent Woody Allen movies is high school. The characters in Manhattan and Annie Hall and Interiors are, with one exception, presented as adults, as sentient men and women in the most productive years of their lives, but their concerns and conversations are those of clever children, “class brains,” acting out a yearbook fantasy of adult life. (The one exception is “Tracy,” the Mariel Hemingway part in Manhattan, another kind of adolescent fantasy. Tracy actually is a high-school senior, at the Dalton School, and has perfect skin, perfect wisdom, perfect sex, and no visible family.

Tracy’s mother and father are covered in a single line: they are said to be in London, finding Tracy an apartment. When Tracy wants to go to JFK she calls a limo. Tracy put me in mind of an American-International Pictures executive who once advised me, by way of pointing out the absence of adult characters in AIP beach movies, that nobody ever paid $3 to see a parent.)

These faux adults of Woody Allen’s have dinner at Elaine’s, and argue art versus ethics. They share sodas, and wonder “what love is.” They have “interesting” occupations, none of which intrudes in any serious way on their dating. Many characters in these pictures “write,” usually on tape recorders. In Manhattan, Woody Allen quits his job as a television writer and is later seen dictating an “idea” for a short story, an idea which, I am afraid, is also the “idea” for the picture itself: “People in Manhattan are constantly creating these real unnecessary neurotic problems for themselves that keep them from dealing with more terrifying unsolvable problems about the universe.”

And the grownups would be in short supply ever since.

(By the way, fans of Virginia Postrel’s The Power of Glamour will find much to appreciate in Penman’s discussion of the timeless semiotics of the photo that accompanies his review.)

CHAOS ON THE BRIDGE: Late Thanksgiving night, I watched a surprisingly enjoyable documentary recently added to Netflix titled William Shatner Presents: Chaos On The Bridge, in which a curiously subdued Shatner* interviews the cast and many of the surviving — and still battle-scarred production team members of Star Trek: The Next Generation, to explain why the show was so cringe-worthy in its first two seasons. I started to write a post on it for Instapundit last night, then decided that given its length, it would be more suitable at Ed — please beam over** and read the whole thing.

* Because Shatner himself has to have some amazing stories about butting heads with Roddenberry and discovering in 1986 that he wouldn’t be starring in its first spin-off TV series.

** Sorry — but I really let my inner Trekkie out in the actual post.

FALLEN ANGELS WAS JUST A SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL, RIGHT GUYS? RIGHT? GUYS? Obama Sees Need for More US Icebreakers: Former Coast Guard Commandant.

(Via James Taranto.)

DEAR LIBERALS, STOP DEFENDING RACIST PROGRESSIVE WOODROW WILSON: “Surprisingly, the 28th president still has his defenders on the left,” Damon Root writes at Reason, although much like the MSM’s constant stream of “unexpectedly” bad economic news post-January of 2009, I’m not sure what’s “surprising” about Wilson’s sclerotic “Progressive” defenders:

Not everyone is quite so eager to see Wilson knocked off his pedestal, however. Writing at Politico Magazine this week, left-wing New York University professor Jonathan Zimmerman attempted to defend the beleaguered 28th president by reminding the ungrateful student activists about Wilson’s pioneering progressive agenda. Sure, Wilson may have been a racist, Zimmerman admitted, but “the Progressive doctrines espoused by Wilson” ushered in a new era of activist government that was ultimately “reflected” and enshrined in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Wilson was a founding father of modern liberalism, Zimmerman insisted, and therefore “deserves a good deal of credit” for improving the lives of “America’s poor and dispossessed, including minorities.”

I never cease to be amazed when I encounter this sort of liberal apologia for Woodrow Wilson. This is the same Woodrow Wilson, after all, who imposed Jim Crow on the federal government, praised segregation, glorified the Ku Klux Klan, spied on innocent Americans, censored the mail, trashed the Bill of Rights, and imprisoned multiple critics for the “crimes” of giving speeches, writing editorials, and distributing pamphlets. As H.L. Mencken once remarked about the ugly record of another unlikely liberal hero, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., “If this is Liberalism, then all I can say is that Liberalism is not what it was when I was young.”

Well, it’s not – Mencken wrote that sentence around 1930; as Fred Siegel wrote in his 2014 book, The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class, in order to put a fresh PR spin on their ideology after the horrors of the Wilson administration, the self-described “Progressives” of the 20th century’s early years began to call themselves “liberals” instead during the previous decade — a huge stolen base, considering that there’s a vast difference between the traditional laissez-faire meaning of classical liberalism and the racism, eugenics, and “moral equivalent of war” obsessions of “Progressivism.”

Apparently Hillary thought all of that baggage was forgotten by 2007, when she decided that due to the L-word’s own accumulated history from 1933 to the present, she rebranded herself as “a proud modern American progressive, and I think that’s the kind of philosophy and practice that we need to bring back to American politics.”

Mission accomplished, and then some, Hillary — a racist like Woodrow Wilson would be astonished that a black man was president, but he’d find much to admire in Mr. Obama’s own racialism, corporatism, foreign policy utopianism, and the chaos and riots that he’s sewn since 2009.

VIDEO: Vintage 1937 Film Perfectly Explains the Secrets of Engine Lubrication.

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LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: Editing sperm stem cells could be the safest approach to genetically editing humans.

INSTITUTIONALIZED SEXISM: “Be aware that many legal clinics are reluctant to help fathers.”

TO BE FAIR, NEITHER DOES ANYBODY ELSE: Your Doctor Doesn’t Want to Hear About Your Fitness-Tracker Data.

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FOUR WAYS RUSSIA’S MILITARY is more advanced than you might think.

PREPARING FOR WORLD WAR III: “Because, like I said, America is sickly. It’s getting weaker.”

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 933.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 934.

ARIZONA’S END RUN AROUND THE EDUCATION SPENDING LOBBY, as charted by Ricochet’s Jon Gabriel, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

Providing more resources to teachers and students is popular with many voters; paying higher taxes to hire district paper-shufflers is not. So Gov. Ducey came up with a clever plan to draw $2 billion over a decade from the state trust lands—a constitutional set-aside, established at statehood to promote public education, that currently holds about 9 million acres and more than $5 billion. The governor wanted to put that additional money directly into the classroom, rather than funnel it through layers of bureaucrats. Even with this outflow, the governor’s estimates showed, the trust would continue to grow in the long term, and its value would be higher in five years than today.

More money for schools with no new taxes: What’s not to like? A lot, apparently. Mr. Ducey’s plan disrupted the usual coalition of teachers unions and public school districts, leading some in the K-12 establishment—those administrators and union officials who have a way of soaking up dollars while doing little for students—to take the unfamiliar position of objecting to new education funding.

The superintendent of Mesa Public Schools, Arizona’s largest district, launched an email and robocall campaign to turn parents against the proposal. He insisted he was fighting for “the children,” but he was less upfront about disclosing that his lobbying effort was funded with school-district money that could have been put into the classroom instead.

Read the whole thing.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Ohio State Deans Berate Female Law Student Over Pro-Life Op-Ed After She Sought Protection After Online Threat. “‘I was so shocked. I’ve never been in a situation with people I respected and looked up to and felt so violated.’ Ms. Gesiotto knew that many of her peers at the law school would disagree with the column. She expected to take some flak. What she didn’t expect, she said, was having administrators show less interest in her safety than in tearing apart a column entirely unrelated to her coursework. . . . ‘I was there to report a threat. And then they tried to flip it around and push me into a facilitated discussion with other kids about my article. It was bizarre and very disappointing.’”

Lefties are indulged no matter how over-the-top. People on the right are told: You deserve the threats for making people angry. Also, you’re evil.

If people in the academy wonder why their stock is plummeting with the general public, it’s stuff like this.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Lessons In College Costs For Clinton & Sanders.

But even if we assume that higher education really is too expensive, we face a second conceptual difficulty: Subsidies may not make college significantly cheaper. Although the relationship between the level of aid available to students and the level of tuition has been controversial, this study released in July by economists at the New York Fed is persuasive. The authors found fairly robust effects, with an increase of 60 to 70 cents in tuition for each dollar increase of subsidized student loans. The effect was stronger at private colleges than at public schools, and, among private colleges, was least pronounced at those accepting the smallest proportion of applicants. As these tend to be the schools with the largest endowments, the effect is not entirely surprising.

The Clinton and Sanders plans are aimed principally at public colleges, where out-of-state tuition already rises with the size of Pell grants. One reason in-state tuition doesn’t capture the subsidies is political pressure from residents. So maybe the flood of new federal money would have no effect. On the other hand, given the growing need to compete with the wealthier schools in the educational “arms race of spending” — for example, to hire or retain top faculty — there’s a fair chance that we’d see some significant increases.

Of course it’s possible (some would say likely) that the web of regulations accompanying the grants under both programs would include implicit price controls. I’m no fan of this idea, but lots of smart people think I should be.

Finally there’s the Scottish experience. In 2001, Scotland began the process of abolishing tuition, a goal essentially accomplished in 2008. In a recent Vox article, Libby Nelson pointed to research showing, among other things, that although the change led to an increase in applications, the children of the poor still attend college at relatively low rates. In other words, what has been holding them back might not be the cost.

Read the whole thing.

WHY DO YOU NEVER SEE GASOLINE TAXES ITEMIZED ON YOUR RECEIPT? “Turns out a gallon of gas in Chicago has eight taxes on it.  In Park Ridge adds two cents more.” The Illinois Policy Institute produces a facsimile of what a receipt would look like if they were all listed.


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PREPARE TO BE BLINDSIDED IN 2016: “The last month has been an object lesson in the unpredictability of politics. We began November with news of an improving economy, with a rise in President Obama’s approval ratings. We end it with America and the world on high alert, with Obama on defense,” Matthew Continetti writes. “If the situation is so fluid now, how can we say with any confidence what things will look like a year on? Elections come into focus late. Why? Because most voters don’t pay attention to politics until the balloting is imminent.”

LIARS GONNA LIE: Wikipedia founder advocates for updating policies following ‘The Hunting Ground’ controversy.

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is looking to tighten his website’s rules about editors altering pages with which they have a conflict of interest.

Wales renewed interest in the policies follows a Washington Examiner report that a crewmember of “The Hunting Ground,” a one-sided film about campus sexual assault, had been editing Wikipedia pages to promote the film and conform facts to its narrative.

“I have long advocated that we should deal much more quickly and much more severely with [Conflict of Interest] editors,” Wales wrote after citing the Examiner. “The usual objections (from some quarters — I think most people agree with me) have to do with it being hard to detect them, but in this case, the COI was called out, warnings were issued, and nothing was done. Now the editor has been called out by the media embarrassing him (he deserves it), his employer (who may not), and Wikipedia.” . . .

Another Wikipedia editor, KirkCliff2, chimed in on the thread by suggesting that the crewmember didn’t break just COI rules but also Wikipedia’s rules against gaming the system and neutrality. This editor also noted how Edward Patrick Alva, “The Hunting Ground” crew member, “has also been fairly disingenuous about his actions” and had been “shamelessly plugging the movie and the ‘stars’ thereof.”

Alva had made multiple edits to the Wikipedia pages of subjects from his film, including former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, who was accused of rape by fellow FSU student Erica Kinsman. Some of Alva’s edits included removing information that cast doubt on Kinsman’s story and made the Tallahassee police look worse — in line with how the movie portrays the situation.

KirkCliff2, who wrote that he is “a veteran editor who rarely even weighs in on such issues” believes Alva “must be banned.”

Banned or not, his sleazy conduct should be widely publicized.

BECAUSE THINGS AREN’T WEIRD ENOUGH THIS YEAR ALREADY: #ColoradoSprings shooter’s only online documentation suggests HE identifies as a female.

The 24-hour rule applies, but the way things are going in 2015, this seems plausible. . . .

WEAK, CONFUSED AND ‘UNABLE TO GRASP:’ “Many bad things happen when a leader is weak, confused and forever in search of a credible reason to do nothing,” Wes Pruden writes:

For all his softness on Islam, Barack Obama has little insight into the men who send out mobs to cry “death to America.” He can’t imagine that men can listen to the call to evening Muslim prayer, which so captivated him as a boy growing up in Indonesia — “the prettiest sound on Earth” — and be inspired to dream of bringing down death on America.

The international order so carefully put together, and guarded so faithfully, by American presidents, Democrats and Republicans, after the Cold War was won, has unraveled under this president to the consternation of America’s most faithful allies and to the unexpected delight of the nation’s considerable enemies. The anarchy that will follow this unraveling will be the legacy he leaves behind him.

Read the whole thing.

ONLY FOUR COUNTRIES OUT OF 24 HAVE MAJORITIES WHO SUPPORT A CLIMATE DEAL: “In a similar poll before the Copenhagen meeting in 2009, eight countries had majorities favouring tough action.” This has always been an issue mostly for elites, probably because climate deals all tend to give elites more power and money.

RIDE THE PC RECURSION! Gay marriage is legal in America but not on Indian tribal lands.

Which group of what Thomas Sowell would call “the mascots of the anointed” will win out?

“WE GET ALL THE BENEFITS AND YOU GET ALL THE BILLS:” British video mocks migrants.

AND NOW, THE CALL FOR THE ‘WISE MEN’ TO SAVE OBAMA FROM HIMSELF: That would be the “council of elders” that columnist Bernie Quigley proposes at The Hill. At Red State, Moe Lane responds, “Shocker: 2008 Obama supporter thinks democracy doesn’t work!”

It never fails. You get some ostensibly well-meaning, but ultimately self-deluding guy (in this case, Bernie Quigley) who in 2008 declares Barack Obama to be the ” New JFK” who shows “organizational and conceptual abilities already that are superior to any candidate in our time.”  And, not least because of people like Mr. Quigley, Barack Obama gets elected – and then proceeds to demonstrate an appalling lack of organizational and conceptual abilities, to the point where the Democratic party outside of the executive branch now looks like a minor, regional party that is one bad cycle away from losing the East Coast*.  And, oh, yeah: the country’s foreign policy is in worse shape than ever, and things aren’t really improving.  One would think that this might suggest to people like Mr. Quigley that maybe, just maybe, he backed the wrong horse in 2008…. HAHAHAHA!

Nah, it just tells him that the country’s ungovernable: “Late in life, the great Amb. George Kennan declared that America needed a “council of elders” to contain the excesses of democracy. The governors, perhaps meeting in a selective and representative regional council, like a board of trustees at a university or a board of directors of a corporation, might offer America saving grace at a time of dangerous crossing.”  Because the problem’s not Barack Obama, you see. It’s democracy itself.

As Moe adds, Quigley “is one of the guys who can apparently write ‘the nefarious triumvirate of Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and especially George W. Bush’ with a straight face, and apparently no sense of shame.” Back in 2012, Quigley wrote that Elizabeth Warren’s “claim to be ‘part Indian’ is correct in mythical terms…In the heartland it is almost universal for those who have been there for a few generations to claim Indian blood; that is, to wish it were there even if it isn’t. It is not so much a lie as it is the acculturation of personal and regional American myth; the fabric of old-soul American consciousness.” Rachel Dolezal, call your office. You too, Dan Rather!

But regarding “the council of elders,” at the beginning of 2010, when Scott Brown was sent to the Senate by Massachusetts voters with the hope that he would save America from the debacle of Obamacare, Mickey Kaus wrote, “I’d guess we’re about 36 hours away from a Beltway call for ‘wise men,’” the first of several from pundits hoping to save Obama from himself. But unlike Lyndon Johnson, who met with the New Deal-era Democrat grandees dubbed “the Wise Men” in late 1967 and again in March of 1968, the latter meeting occurring shortly before Johnson concluded that Vietnam — and his presidency — both appeared lost, why would Obama listen to Quigley’s “council of elders?” After all, he professes to believe that “I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. 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.”

Between the race riots, the campus riots, the massive expansion of the federal government and the concurrent belief in its infallibility, the military debacles overseas, a feeling in general that the nation was out of control and now this latest call for the wise men to bail him out, it really does feel like we’re living out the last year of the Johnson administration, doesn’t it? Funny, when Democratic operatives with bylines were submitting Tiger Beat-style articles in 2007 and 2008 dreamily forecasting which Democrat presidencies Obama’s would most closely resemble, LBJ’s rarely made the list. Wonder why?

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): I predicted this in 2009. And boy, was I right.


Mr. Sanders, who first publicly endorsed gay marriage in 2009, expressed varying levels of support for gay rights as he rose from the mayor of liberal Burlington to a congressman and then a senator with statewide support among more socially conservative constituencies such as hunters, blue-collar workers and older voters.

Hey, not everybody can be as progressive on gay rights as Dick Cheney.

JOHN C. WRIGHT’S: Somewhither.

THINGS THAT MAKE URBAN FANTASY WRITERS SQUEE: The Mysterious Secrets Of New York City’s Underworld (Videos).

MY DENTIST TALKED TO ME ABOUT THIS LAST YEAR: We’re going to be farmers of teeth, he said.

WOULDN’T IT BE NICE TO LET IT WORK FOR US: Singapore: the Power of Economic Freedom.

WORTH READING: An Interview with Novelist Thomas Mallon.

THE BEST POET IN THE ROOM: Doesn’t want any wretched refuse!

I HAVE MENTIONED MY SHOCKED FACE, RIGHT? How The New York Times whitewashes Palestinian terror.

TASTE THE TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION: Newsweek didn’t fear the web in 1995.

STILL MORE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE: Number of Unaccompanied Kids Crossing Border Has Doubled in Last Year.

THIS IS MY REALLY SHOCKED FACE: VA spends millions promoting Obamacare, little cutting wait times.

THIS IS MY SHOCKED FACE: Obama’s new cancer Rx is a war on men.

IT’S ALRIGHT.  IT’S NOT LIKE I NEED TO SLEEP.  EVER: Obama’s Most Dangerous Year.

November 27, 2015


Satire: “Pardoned White House Turkey Defects To ISIS.”

DuffelBlog, yesterday.

Real Life:

Speaking at his annual Thanksgiving turkey pardoning on Wednesday, President Barack Obama joked about raising teenage daughters, his critics and the 2016 presidential race.

“As you may have heard, for months, there has been a fierce competition between a bunch of turkeys trying to win their way into the White House,” Obama said.

Following a long pause and some laughter he added, “some of you caught that.”

Obama pardoned two California-raised turkeys, named “Honest” and “Abe,” who will retire to a historic farm in Leesburg, Virginia, rather than end up on Americans’ Thanksgiving tables.

The turkeys were raised by Dr. Jihad Douglas, whom Obama referred to as “Dr. Douglas,” side-stepping the man’s first name, which can refer to spreading Islam through violence. Obama referred to a second turkey farmer, Joe Hedden, by his first and last names.

—Reuters, Wednesday.

Pictured standing to Obama’s right in this photo at the National Turkey Federation Website, Dr. Jihad Douglas is the federation’s current chairman, and president of Aviagen Turkeys, Inc.

RANDALL KENNEDY: Black Tape At Harvard Law:

In a grand corridor of Harvard Law School, framed professors’ photographs hang on a wall. A week ago, someone put slivers of black tape over the faces of most of the African-American professors. I am one of those whose photograph was marked.

Last Thursday, on my way to teach contracts, I received an email from a student who alerted me to the defacement. I saw the taped photos, including my own, right before class. Since then I have been asked repeatedly how I feel about having been targeted by what some deem to be a racial hate crime. Questioners often seem to assume that I should feel deeply alarmed and hurt. I don’t.

The identity and motives of the person or people behind the taping have not been determined. Perhaps the defacer is part of the law school community. But maybe not. Perhaps the defacer is white. But maybe not. Perhaps the taping is meant to convey anti-black contempt or hatred for the African-American professors. But maybe it was meant to protest the perceived marginalization of black professors, or was a hoax meant to look like a racial insult in order to provoke a crisis, or was a rebuke to those who have recently been taping over the law school’s seal, which memorializes a family of slaveholders from colonial times. Some observers, bristling with certainty, insist that the message conveyed by the taping of the photographs is obvious. To me it is puzzling. . . .

Disturbing, too, is a related tendency to indulge in self-diminishment by displaying an excessive vulnerability to perceived and actual slights and insults. Some activists seem to have learned that invoking the rhetoric of trauma is an effective way of hooking into the consciences of solicitous authorities. Perhaps it is useful for purposes of eliciting certain short-term gains.

In the long run, though, reformers harm themselves by nurturing an inflated sense of victimization. A colleague of mine whose portrait was taped over exhibited the right spirit when he jauntily declared that it would take far more than tape to slow him down.


THANKSGIVING FLASHBACK: The Pilgrims And Property Rights.

WELL, THERE’S AN ELECTION COMING: Number of Migrants Illegally Crossing Rio Grande Rises Sharply.