Archive for December, 2012

December 31, 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all the Insta-Readers out there. May your 2013 be magnificent.

December 31, 2012

HEH: BREAKING: Journalists critique professionals of another industry for not completing work before deadline.

December 31, 2012

ROD DREHER: It’s Different With Kids. Which is why the country is changing now that fewer and fewer people have them.

December 31, 2012

AT AMAZON, 100 Kindle Books for $3.99 or Less.

Also, over 2000 albums on MP3 for $5 each.

And, new releases on Amazon Instant Video.

December 31, 2012

TRAFFIC AT THE SANTA MONICA CIVIC CENTER: Dear Mr. Fantasy.

December 31, 2012

NEWS YOU CAN USE: The Stylish Man’s Guide To Concealed Carry.

If, of course, the gun store has any guns left.

December 31, 2012

MC5: Kick Out The Jams. Another version here.

December 31, 2012

JUST WAIT UNTIL OBAMACARE HAS FULLY KICKED IN: Where Have All The Primary Care Doctors Gone? It’s all about incentives: “General practitioners work as many hours as, or more, than their subspecialty colleagues. Yet they have among the lowest reimbursement rates. They also shoulder disproportionate responsibility for the bureaucratic aspects of patient care, spending more time and money obtaining treatment authorization from insurance companies, navigating insurers’ ever changing drug formularies and filling out health and disability forms.” Well, I’m sure the paperwork will improve under ObamaCare, right? . . . .

December 31, 2012

MY USA TODAY COLUMN FOR TOMORROW ON WASHINGTON AND INEQUALITY: In a town that has more people per square mile talking about income inequality than probably any other — you also find really striking examples of, well, income inequality.

December 31, 2012

ROGER KIMBALL: Lefts tend to be dour people with no laughter in their hearts. “Why do they tend to be dour people with no laughter in their hearts? Because they regard life as a zero-sum game. . . . It’s a curious thing. Leftists are supposed to be the caring, sharing part of the political fraternity. In point of historical fact, it is an easy thing to demonstrate that their caring has always been more a rhetorical than an actual strategy and that their sharing has been accomplished overwhelmingly with other people’s goods. That said, however, there is still the fact that Leftists are hailed by their enablers as the non-crabby politicians, the people who come into office promising two things: More and Free. How odd it is, then, that they should also be the folks who harbor an unshakeable belief that the universe is a stingy, scarcity driven machine whose iron law is that if A does well, B must do poorly.”

December 31, 2012

SIGNS AND PORTENTS: Massive comet will shine brighter than the moon, say astronomers.

December 31, 2012

STAYING INDEPENDENT IN OLD AGE, with a little help. This area seems ripe for a mix of technical and social progress.

December 31, 2012

BYRON YORK: Obama’s ‘messianism’ makes economy a secondary concern. Obama always comes first.

So we’ve clearly got hubris well established. It only remains to be seen what form nemesis will take. (Related item here.)

December 31, 2012

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How To Cook Steaks On Your Stovetop That Taste Better Than in a Fancy Restaurant.

December 31, 2012

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ON HILLARY’S BRAIN: “The illness has kept her out of the public view since Dec. 7, and has started to raise a host of questions as her team keeps typically tightlipped about the details: Where is the clot located? How severe is her condition? How soon will she recover? And, as Democrats are privately if not publicly speculating, how might her illness affect a decision about running for president in 2016? . . . Not that Democrats are willing to talk openly about the political implications of a long illness, choosing to keep any discussions about her condition behind closed doors. Publicly, Democrats reject the notion that a blood clot could hinder her political prospects.”

UPDATE: A reader emails that it’s lucky Hillary is a Democrat. If she were a Republican, we’d be hearing jokes like “Good news: They X-rayed Hillary’s brain and didn’t find anything!”

December 31, 2012

AT AMAZON, up to 50% off in TV & Video.

December 31, 2012

JAMES TARANTO: Long Walks, Short Piers: The media’s attacks on the Second Amendment–and on the First. “It must be hard living in a country whose very constitution you loathe. Piers Morgan is lucky in that he is a foreign national and has the option to self-deport. Perhaps as a humanitarian gesture Britain’s Parliament could enact a law offering asylum to Americans who attest that they wish to give up on the Constitution. It would also be a way of tweaking the rebellious former colonies, but we doubt anybody would mind.”

December 31, 2012

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Turn Your Laptop Into A Spectrometer.

December 31, 2012

CALL THEIR DISTRICT OFFICES: Are Congressional Republicans Getting Ready To Cave On Gun Control? “Any Republicans entertaining ideas of going along with any Democrat ban should realize that they’re being played by the Democrats and the media, again. . . . Republicans should realize that caving in to the Democrats’ ban demand amounts to party suicide. By that point they have have already caved on tax hikes and may have taken part in slashing our national defense. If they also cave on the Second Amendment, what’s left for them to stand on?”

UPDATE: Reader Ray Conatser writes: “I have heard some talk that passage of new gun control would be a good thing for the Republicans, as it would lead to a repeat of the 1994 midterm elections. I am of the mind that it will only cause more voters that should rightly be in the GOP column to disengage. Reference the voters that stayed home instead of voting for Romney. If the Republicans don’t want to spend another 30 years wandering in the desert on a national level, they need to stand for something other than tax cuts. Maybe they could start with individual liberty and protecting the rights of law abiding Americans.” Yes, it would be a good way to jumpstart a third party, which might be the end of the GOP.

ANOTHER UPDATE: On, 1994, a reader emails: “What happened in 1994? The voters *punished those who had voted against gun rights*. So if the House votes against gun rights, what can we expect to happen? I mean, really, what are these people thinking?”

MORE: Another reader writes:

The Republicans need to understand if they allow something like a mag ban (or worse) to come to a vote, they are dead as a party. This will either make the Tea Party a real third party or cause massive defection to the Libertarian Party.

We know they control the Judicary Committee and they can easily keep anything of this nature bottled-up indefinitely. IN FACT, WE EXPECT THEM TO DO EXACTLY THAT!!! Protecting the Second Amendment is all they have to distinguish themselves right now and if they throw it away, they will pay a terrible price for that disloyalty.

I agree. With control of the House they can’t do a lot to score, but they can be the goalie. If not, what’s the point?

December 31, 2012

AN ANSWER TO THE FERMI PARADOX: Humans May Be The First Generation of Advanced Life In The Milky Way.

That would actually be good, since if aliens exist, they probably want to destroy us.

I recommend this piece by Gregg Easterbrook. Key bit:

James Trefil, of George Mason University, has cautioned that if evolution functions approximately the same way on other worlds that it has functioned here — conferring survival upon the fittest — advanced extraterrestrials might still be aggressive, territorial, and quick to reach for the sword. In that case, counting on poor alien marksmanship might not be prudent. Even if a message arrived from a great distance, we might for defensive reasons be compelled to assume that the senders knew something about the speed-of-light barrier that we didn’t, and withhold our reply.

The most disquieting aspect of natural selection as observed on Earth is that it channels intellect to predators. Most bright animals are carnivores: stalking requires tactics, pattern recognition, and, for social animals, coordinated action, all incubators of brainpower. Though the martial heritage of mankind has been exaggerated in popular fiction (there’s no proof, for example, that our Cro Magnon ancestors waged war against the vanished Neanderthals), it’s reasonably certain that the forebears of modern Homo sapiens were hunters, and it’s definite that man has been savage during the historical era. This isn’t much of a testimonial to “intelligence.”

Well, not as tending to nonviolence. On alien invasions generally, a good fictional treatment is in Greg Bear’s The Forge Of God, For the more technically-inclined, there’s Ernst Fasan’s Relations With Extraterrestrial Intelligences, or some chapters in McDougal, Lasswell, and Vlasic’s Law and Public Order In Space. Kind of old, but still good. A more recent popular treatment that’s worth your time is Ben Bova and Byron Preiss’s Are We Alone in the Cosmos? The Search for Alien Contact in the New Millenium.

if aliens just don’t like us, there’s no need to invade. They could send a half-pound of deadly nanodevices on a stealthed probe. We probably wouldn’t even recognize what was happening as an alien attack.

December 31, 2012

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Single-molecule motor sits on a single-atom ball bearing.

December 31, 2012

GLAD TO BE OF HELP: Reader Shari Hastings emailed last night:

Just made your chicken recipe for our Sunday dinner today. Was very easy to make and deee-lish! I used potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes and onions. Great flavor and enough left over chicken for chicken salad sandwiches for the work week (only 2 of us). The dogs got the skin. They thought it was deee-lish, too.

It’s easy and yummy. Leave out the potatoes and sweet potatoes and it can be pretty low-carb, too. Here’s the recipe again, if you want to try it.

December 31, 2012

GALLUP: Disapproval of Obama Has Climbed 5 Points Since Christmas.

December 31, 2012

REMINDER: Asparagus Can Prevent Hangovers. But, really, try not to drink so much that it matters.

December 31, 2012

AMUSING CUSTOMER REVIEWS for the Playmobil Security Checkpoint.

December 31, 2012

“PERVERSE:” A history lesson from Professor Jacobson.

December 31, 2012

POLITICO: David Gregory under investigation, out of headlines.

Just remember, if you’ve seen someone violate DC gun laws you can file a police report online.

December 31, 2012

SO IF YOU’RE ANTI-CLIMATE-CHANGE, ARE YOU ANTI-EVOLUTION? Climate change may have driven evolution, scientists believe.

December 31, 2012

NOW IF THEY WERE TEA PARTIERS, THIS WOULD BE NEWS: Greenwich Village couple busted with cache of weapons, bombmaking explosives: sources. “The privileged daughter of a prominent city doctor, and her boyfriend — a Harvard grad and Occupy Wall Street activist — have been busted for allegedly having a cache of weapons and a bombmaking explosive in their Greenwich Village apartment.” At least they weren’t drawing comic books.

December 31, 2012

HOW TO TICKET a driverless vehicle. “Under Nevada law, the person who tells a self-driving vehicle to drive becomes its driver. Unlike the driver of an ordinary vehicle, that person may send text messages. However, they may not ‘drive’ drunk—even if sitting in a bar while the car is self-parking. Broadening the practical and economic appeal of self-driving vehicles may require releasing their human users from many of the current legal duties of driving.”

December 31, 2012

MICHAEL BARONE: Health Care, Housing, Education Worse When Government Helps.

December 31, 2012

IN THE MAIL: From Sarah Hoyt, Darkship Renegades. Not to be missed.

December 31, 2012

MORE ELIMINATIONIST RHETORIC FROM AN ALLEGEDLY RESPECTABLE NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST:

• Declare the NRA a terrorist organization and make membership illegal. Hey! We did it to the Communist Party, and the NRA has led to the deaths of more of us than American Commies ever did. (I would also raze the organization’s headquarters, clear the rubble and salt the earth, but that’s optional.) Make ownership of unlicensed assault rifles a felony. If some people refused to give up their guns, that “prying the guns from their cold, dead hands” thing works for me.

• Then I would tie Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control.

This kind of talk makes me want to buy an assault rifle. Or twelve. And really, dude, the fact that you’re angry doesn’t give you some sort of a pass from the norms of civil society. Or, if it does, be prepared to tolerate a lot of things that you’ll find intolerable. Because, you know, a lot of people are angry.

December 31, 2012

TWITCHY: The Top 20 Deleted Tweets Of The Year.

December 31, 2012

NOW THERE’S A SURPRISE: Obama lists those to blame for the fiscal cliff and he’s not one of them. “The Democrat also didn’t have time, apparently, to mention that the distasteful automatic budget cuts called sequestration were the idea of his White House.”

December 31, 2012

CHANGE: U.S., Canada, and Oz Prepare for the Asian Gas Wars.

Australia has designs on becoming the leading natural gas supplier for not only Asia, but the entire world. Indeed, the country has the offshore resources and the thirsty markets nearby in Asia to pass Qatar as the world’s top supplier of LNG.

However, Australia’s march towards energy superpowerdom is beginning to run into domestic problems—and new competition. Rising labor costs and high prices in Australia’s booming economy are making it unexpectedly difficult for the Aussies to export their gas and now energy-hungry Asian countries like China and Japan are starting to eye alternative and equally cheap gas from North America. . . .

Whether it’s Australian, American, or Canadian gas that wins the race to the Asian market (and most likely, there is plenty of demand for all three), a few things seem clear:

(1) The long era in which the Middle East was the global supplier of hydrocarbons is coming to an end.

(2) A global switch from coal to natural gas is one of the most practical ways available for civilization to begin the transition to a new kind of energy market. Greens take note.

(3) Asia is not going to be self sufficient in either energy or food in the 21st century, which, from the standpoint of those who hope to see the world becoming a more peaceful and economically integrated place, is a very good thing. The rising Asian powers will need a healthy, stable and secure global system to feed their people and run their economies.

Indeed.

December 31, 2012

ASK DR. HELEN: Why Are Republicans More Despondent than Liberals were in 2004?

December 31, 2012

SHOCKER: Death of Tea Party appears exaggerated, members in House appear to hold key fiscal vote.

December 31, 2012

AT AMAZON, Year-End Deals In Tools & Home Improvement.

Also, today only: Timex Ironman Race Trainer Digital Heart Rate System (Men’s and Women’s), $89.95 (40% off).

December 31, 2012

ARRESTED FOR “plotting to celebrate Christmas.”

John Gibson, call your office!

December 31, 2012

BENGHAZI: What’s Happening to Hillary? Only a clod would say the clot is a plot! “The suppression of information — the site of the clot — suggests 2 radically different theories: 1. fakery/exaggeration to evade testimony, or 2. something horribly serious. I read Sepkowitz to exclude the middle ground.”

December 31, 2012

MORT ZUCKERMAN: Brace For An Avalanche Of Unfunded Debt: The fiscal cliff isn’t as scary as the looming deficit and debt crisis about to swamp the country.

The greatest fiscal challenge to the U.S. government is not just its annual deficit but its total liabilities. Our federal balance sheet does not include the unfunded social insurance obligations of Medicare, Social Security, and the future retirement benefits of federal employees. Only in the small print of the financial statements do you get some idea of the enormous size of the unfunded commitments. Today the estimated unfunded total is more than $87 trillion, or 550 percent of our GDP. And the debt per household is more than 10 times the median family income.

Something that can’t go on forever, won’t. Debts that can’t be repaid, won’t be. Promises that can’t be kept, won’t be. Make your plans accordingly.

December 31, 2012

ANDREW KLAVAN LIKED ZERO DARK THIRTY.

The two and a half hour film does contain one scene in which a White House official says, in effect, “The president is a thoughtful, analytical man who won’t pull the trigger quickly because he doesn’t want to make the same mistake George W. Bush made with the WMD in Iraq.” That’s the sort of political reading we expect from Hollywood, and Bigelow and Boal make sure to get it in.

But the rest of the movie is a deadpan tribute to the intelligence agents and Navy Seals who slow by slow tracked this bad man down and sent him to meet a Maker very unlike the one he was expecting. Indeed, some could see the overall film as a reprimand to a president who took so much credit for what was clearly the work of men and women laboring through two administrations. Plus the movie graphically depicts how that work involved interrogation techniques that Obama ultimately prohibited — a prohibition which clearly hobbled the search.

Read the whole thing.

December 31, 2012

LABOR: Teamster Local Challenges Obama On NLRB Recess Appointments.

December 31, 2012

JEFF SOYER: Old Time Radio: New Year’s Edition. “Here’s a collection of Old Time Radio shows themed around the New Year. There were many choices but I try to use ones with at least decent to very good audio and a good story.”

December 31, 2012

TWO OLD GERMANS, drinking coffee.

December 31, 2012

THE ELEPHANT IN THE COURTROOM: The Big Top beats an abusive lawsuit by the ASPCA. “The case is an example of how the ASPCA has become increasingly politicized and much different from the nice outfit that looks out for the well-being of homeless and lovable dogs and cats.” This is true of many ostensibly warm-and-fuzzy do-gooding nonprofits.

UPDATE: Reader Alan Cole writes: “After recent news broke about the big judgment against ACPCA in the circus elephant case, I have been noticing lots more TV commercials soliciting contributions to ASPCA — to rescue poor abused doggies & kitties & horsies, etc., from harm. By me, Truth In Advertising would dictate that ASPCA disclose that what it really needs the money for is to pay $9,300,000 to Ringling Bros.” Heh. I’ve noticed those ads too.

December 31, 2012

BEST GUN SALESMAN IN HISTORY: Obama Promises 2013 Gun-Grab Bill; Warns ‘There Will Be Resistance.’ You don’t know the half of it, Barry.

But of course, he can count on grassroots support like this: Lone Picketer Protests Gun Show In Denver.

UPDATE: Perhaps this is all a head-fake, designed to get as many Americans armed as possible as part of the secret preparations for alien attack. Sadly, that would make more sense than what they’re actually doing . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

December 31, 2012

WELL, THERE’S AN ADMISSION IN HERE SOMEWHERE: Mike Seidman: Let’s Give Up On The Constitution. “Imagine that after careful study a government official — say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress — reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?”

I dunno. Does this mean we should ignore Roe? Or Miranda? And Baker v. Carr? And if the Constitution is this obsolete and “evil,” then maybe secession isn’t off the table after all? . . . .

UPDATE: I have some more concrete suggestions for constitutional improvement here. You can see me talk about them in this keynote speech from last year’s Harvard Law conference on constitutional reform here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Paul Berger writes: “The reason a politician or any public official shouldn’t just act in opposition to the Constitution whenever they feel like it? How about because they took an oath not to! If you don’t want to play by the long established rules – find a different game. But I’m just a regular guy in the real world and he’s a Georgetown professor writing in the NY Times, which I suppose speaks volumes about both of us.”

It’s beyond even that. Their entire authority comes from the Constitution, and is the only reason we aren’t entitled simply to ignore them, or hang them from a tree for their insolence. Take away that source of authority because you don’t like the constraints it involves, and you’re a lot closer to the tree. Those who think themselves above the law are not in a position to hide behind it.

MORE: On Facebook, Randy Barnett snarks: “I suppose this means the income tax could now be unconstitutional if we can just get 5 votes.”

MORE STILL: Reader Bill Bacon writes: “If, after all, the Constitution isn’t to be followed then doesn’t that mean we default to the Articles of Confederation? Don’t know about you, but I personally like the idea of having to get unanimous consent of the states to raise taxes….” Heh.

Related: New York Sun: The Times Gives Up. “It will be illuminating to see how far the Times takes its latest lament, particularly because these days the Left generally seems to see the Constitution as a threat more to the liberal than the conservative cause.” As I say, that’s an admission of sorts.

STILL MORE: Inevitably.

December 31, 2012

NEWS YOU CAN USE: What I Learned About Beauty From My 56 Hours In Jail.

December 31, 2012

MODERN SCIENCE WRITING leaves science behind. “Anyone who is willing to take off his partisan glasses will quickly come to the conclusion that both sides of the political spectrum—conservatives and progressives—are willing to throw science under the bus whenever it is politically expedient. It’s too bad that some members of the allegedly ‘watchdog’ media are too blinded by their own partisan affiliations to do their jobs properly.”

December 31, 2012

POOR CHOICE OF METAPHORS: Sen. Feinstein: US has to ‘bite the bullet’ and enact new gun-control restrictions.

Dianne, honey, when you “bite the bullet” and slash entitlements enough to balance the budget, we’ll talk.

December 31, 2012

EMILY MILLER: David Gregory’s Legal Jeopardy.

December 31, 2012

THEODORE DALRYMPLE: Sentimentalizing Serial Murder: A recent book exemplifies the erosion of moral judgment in Britain.

December 31, 2012

P.J. O’ROURKE: Dear Mr. President, Zero-Sum Doesn’t Add Up.

The worst thing that you’ve done internationally is what you’ve done domestically. You sent a message to America in your re-election campaign. Therefore you sent a message to the world. The message is that we live in a zero-sum universe.

There is a fixed amount of good things. Life is a pizza. If some people have too many slices, other people have to eat the pizza box. You had no answer to Mitt Romney’s argument for more pizza parlors baking more pizzas. The solution to our problems, you said, is redistribution of the pizzas we’ve got—with low-cost, government-subsidized pepperoni somehow materializing as the result of higher taxes on pizza-parlor owners.

In this zero-sum universe there is only so much happiness. The idea is that if we wipe the smile off the faces of people with prosperous businesses and successful careers, that will make the rest of us grin.

There is only so much money. The people who have money are hogging it. The way for the rest of us to get money is to turn the hogs into bacon.

Mr. President, your entire campaign platform was redistribution. Take from the rich and give to the . . . Well, actually, you didn’t mention the poor. What you talked and talked about was the middle class, something most well-off Americans consider themselves to be members of. So your plan is to take from the more rich and the more or less rich and give to the less rich, more or less. It is as if Robin Hood stole treasure from the Sheriff of Nottingham and bestowed it on the Deputy Sheriff.

But never mind. The evil of zero-sum thinking and redistributive politics has nothing to do with which things are taken or to whom those things are given or what the sum of zero things is supposed to be. The evil lies in denying people the right, the means, and, indeed, the duty to make more things.

Read the whole thing. Just remember: In a zero-sum society, the redistributors are a lot more important. . . .

UPDATE: Related: Playing the long game on the Fiscal Cliff.

December 31, 2012

TOM MAGUIRE ON FULL-CAPACITY MAGAZINE BANS: “My goodness – the drug cartels can make mini-subs. Will we really be able to stop determined criminals from buying steel boxes with springs?”

December 31, 2012

VIDEO MOCKS CELEBRITIES BY MIXING THEIR DEMANDS FOR GUN CONTROL WITH VIOLENT FILM FOOTAGE.

December 31, 2012

PROF. JACOBSON: It’s not as good as the Christmas Plan, but Joe Manchin’s CALM Act is worth consideration: Deprive Obama of the crisis he uses as leverage.

December 30, 2012

POWER: Mark Levin Audience Helped Defeat Boehner Plan B.

December 30, 2012

AT AMAZON, Year-End Markdowns In Exercise & Fitness Gear.

Also, 60% off The Twilight Zone: Complete Series.

December 30, 2012

TEN YEARS AGO ON INSTAPUNDIT:

The Saudis provided — at a minimum — money to al Qaeda. I know it. Kleiman knows it. Graham knows it. You know it. The administration knows it. The Saudis damn sure know it. Al Qaeda knows it. The families of the victims know it. I’ll lay odds that my Chinese taxi-driver on the way home tonight knows it. Yet its classified?!?

What’s this, the betrayal that dare not speak its name?

If the Bush administration’s plan does not ultimately include regime change in Saudi Arabia, it is destined for failure and the President is going to lose a lot of supporters very quickly. This had all better be part of a brilliant Machiavellian strategy to oust the House of Saud, while Poppy Bush lulls them into a false sense of security by groveling before them for donations to that sanctuary for the needy and oppressed, Andover Academy.

Fracking may do for the Saudi problem what a decade of diplomacy, “smart” and otherwise, has failed to do.

UPDATE: Reader Matt Borcherding writes:

Terrorism is also a Iranian export, fueled by their oil money. Russia’s thuggism, including its invasion of Georgia, is paid for by their oil and natural gas exports. Here in the Western Hemisphere, Venezuela’s oil funds Marxist support if not outright terrorism. But the same argument still applies to all: cheap fracking and shale oil equals less money to the enemies of progress, democracy, and freedom.

Indeed.

December 30, 2012

IRON BUTTERFLY: IN-A-GADDA DA VIDA.

December 30, 2012

EARLIER TODAY, I LINKED this article from the Stanford Law Review Online. Several readers point out that it says: “The vulnerability of reporters’ confidential relationships became front-page news in 2005, when Judith Miller, a reporter for the New York Times, spent eighty-five days in jail before finally revealing to a federal prosecutor the identity of the confidential source who outed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative (her source turned out to be Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby).”

In fact, however, State Department official Richard Armitage, not Scooter Libby, was the source of the Plame leak. Yet this error persists.

December 30, 2012

PETER INGEMI: If gun owners are such dangerous nuts, why is the left so eager to provoke them?

December 30, 2012

CLAUDIA ROSETT: Girding For 2013. “Perhaps the most important bottom line in girding for 2013, is, if you care about capitalism and freedom, about a strong America and a safer, freer world, do not give up. There is a struggle of ideas going on here; and even when much seems lost — spun off the road, over the cliff — plenty may yet depend on even a few who keep the faith, and at the right moment, are ready with a plan.”

December 30, 2012

IT’S NOT BY ACCIDENT: The Egyptian president, Muhammad Morsi, is doing great damage to his country’s democracy.

December 30, 2012

MOSTLY DEAD IS STILL SLIGHTLY ALIVE: Obama Defends Chuck Hagel.

Related: James Hormel: I question the sincerity of Chuck Hagel’s ‘so-called apology.’

December 30, 2012

UH OH: And It’s Biden in the Fiscal Cliff Home Stretch. My own suspicion is that Obama expects the economy to tank in 2013 and wants to hit the cliff so he can blame the Republicans. Which is silly, but the press will go along as usual so it’ll probably work. Putting Biden in charge certainly doesn’t indicate a desire for success.

December 30, 2012

REPORT: Hillary In Hospital With Blood Clot. “She is expected back at her desk on Monday, Mr Reines said. Mrs Clinton is due to give evidence before a Congressional committee on 10 January in connection with the attack in September on the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi.”

December 30, 2012

PAGING ALEC GUINNESS: Cotton fabric cleans itself when exposed to ordinary sunlight.

December 30, 2012

CHANGE: Saudis Sweating Bullets As Energy Revolution Changes The Rules.

The US shale gas boom, drastically cutting the cost of gas, is shaking the foundations of the Saudi Arabian economic model—and more is coming. The highly profitable $100bn Gulf petrochemical industry is taking a hit as its biggest customer—the U.S.—is importing less and relying instead on domestic production.

US petrochemical companies, propelled by cheaper access to raw materials, are competing effectively against companies like the Saudi Basic Industries Corp (Sabic), the world’s largest chemical maker. Sabic also has some home-grown problems. The rapidly growing Saudi population wants to consume (subsidized) petrochemicals at home, air conditioning Saudi houses and running Saudi cars instead of exporting product abroad. Falling production, demand, and prices are beginning to hurt the once stalwart $89bn company. . . .

US gas prices have plummeted due to new techniques, known as fracking and horizontal drilling, developed to extract the vast deposits of shale gas in the North American bedrock. Production has jumped by nearly a quarter since 2000, reducing demand for Saudi gas. If China figures out how to exploit its own shale gas reserves the Saudis will have every reason to be nervous. The two pillars of the Saudi economy—oil and petrochemical exports—will both be on shaky ground.

But the changing energy landscape threatens more than economic consequences for the Gulf state. The US could surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer by 2020, and this could mean big changes for US foreign policy and the domestic economy.

Terroristic Islam worldwide is basically a Saudi export, fueled by Saudi money. The less Saudi money, the better.

December 30, 2012

AFTER A DECADE THAT NO ONE COULD NAME, Tuesday we’ll enter the ‘Teens!

December 30, 2012

ADVICE: If You’re Young, Don’t Give To Charity.

December 30, 2012

AT AMAZON, markdowns on Men’s Athletic Shoes & Boots.

Also, Women’s Athletic Shoes.

December 30, 2012

RATHER UNCONVINCINGLY, Obama Channels John McCain.

December 30, 2012

MORE ON Ray Kurzweil and Google.

December 30, 2012

PRESS: “There are many murders, but some get more media than others. . . . The media reports are — I must assume — a causal factor in the creation of a murderous impulse that some people are not going to be able to control. And yet, the media have their own irresistible impulse to publish these highly stimulating stories, an impulse which, by linking, I am stimulating.”

December 30, 2012

REVEALED BY GOOGLE: What America Really Thinks.

December 30, 2012

15 THINGS that overachievers do.

December 30, 2012

ON THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF SELLING Old Man’s War, John Scalzi has some thoughts. If you haven’t read the book, you ought to.

December 30, 2012

ADVICE ON LIVING WITHIN YOUR MEANS.

December 30, 2012

WHAT IT’S LIKE to be an adult without kids.

December 30, 2012

ON INSIDE WASHINGTON: Evan Thomas, Charles Krauthammer rip Obama for lack of fiscal cliff leadership.

“This is not Congress’ fault,” Thomas said. “Congress is behaving like Congress. This is the president’s fault. The president needs to go to the country and explain why they need to get this done. He has never done that.” . . . Thomas later reiterated his point by saying the aftermath of the election is a time for the president to spend his political capital not on gaining political advantage, but on solving a crisis.

“All political advances are with the president,” Thomas added. “What is he running for? He won, right? This is his time to actually take some political hits and tell the truth for a change instead of trying to get political advantage.”

He’s voting present while casting blame. But you gotta admit, that’s an approach that’s worked pretty well for him so far.

December 30, 2012

LEADERSHIP: Benghazi? Whatever! There was just some ‘sloppiness’ there, says Obama. According to a State Department spokesperson, Secretary of State Hillary of Clinton was unable to comment because of “a really bad hangover.”

UPDATE: From the same interview: “Unfortunately, the camera was not on Gregory at the moment when ‘banning these high capacity clips’ was mentioned.” Heh. I doubt that was by accident.

December 30, 2012

PRIVILEGE AND THE BELFAST PROJECT. “To induce participants to document their memories for posterity, Belfast Project historians promised all those interviewed that the contents of their testimonials would remain confidential until they died. More than a decade later, this promise of confidentiality is at the heart of a legal dispute implicating the United States’ bilateral legal assistance treaty with the United Kingdom, the so-called academic’s privilege, and the First Amendment.”

December 30, 2012

IN THE MAIL: From Toby Buckell, The Apocalypse Ocean. A followup to Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin and Sly Mongoose, all of which I very much enjoyed.

December 30, 2012

FROM PROF. JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Top Media Mythbusting Posts of 2012.

December 30, 2012

CHARLIE MARTIN: 13 Weeks: Week Eight — Plateaus and Diets and Goals, Oh My! “I’ve always had a subconscious awareness that I was fat, and that being fat was disgusting. I suspect this may have had some impact.”

December 30, 2012

IS PUTTING YOUR KID IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS PARENTAL MALPRACTICE? (CONT’D): Boy, Not Making Bombs, Arrested for Having Things Cops Think Could Blow Up (And For Drawings That Spooked a Teacher). Nothing actually dangerous was found.

Lest you think it is inherently suspicious a young man would have chemicals or electronic parts, note that his school is, according to a Press of Atlantic City account, “a magnet school with programs focusing on engineering and environmental sciences and specializing in hands-on learning.”

The system and police should apologize, and there should be consequences and reparations all around. But there won’t be, because accountability is for the little people. Which is why I’m beginning to think that putting your kids in public schools might just be parental malpractice.

December 30, 2012

I THINK THE ANSWER IS “NO.” Should We Criminally Punish Non-Violent, Regulatory Offenses? Indeed, I think it might be that the distinction between malum prohibitum and and malum in se should be incorporated in due process analysis. This is something I mean to discuss if I ever get around to writing my Due Process When Everything Is A Crime piece.

December 30, 2012

AT AMAZON, up to 50% off on Brother sewing machines. Also, 25% or more off on Bakeware, and 50% or more off on Kitchen Knives & Accessories.

And, today only: Kindle Mysteries & Thrillers, $1.99.

December 30, 2012

INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE: Prof. Jacobson: If the names and addresses of gun permit holders are fair game, what about this? When journalists start a privacy war, where does it end? I’d be interested to see the results of criminal background checks.

December 30, 2012

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: In Congress, relatives lobby on bills before family members. Remember when Nancy Pelosi promised to “drain the swamp?” Hahahahahahahahahaha!

December 30, 2012

HARVARD LAW SCHOOL OFFERS first free online course.

December 30, 2012

AMUSE YOURSELF ENDLESSLY with the Thomas Friedman Op-Ed Generator.

December 30, 2012

IN RICO SUIT AGAINST ANIMAL-RIGHTS TERRORISM, ASPCA Pays $9.3 Million in Landmark Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Settlement.

This settlement applies only to the ASPCA. Feld Entertainment’s legal proceedings, including its claims for litigation abuse and racketeering, will continue against the remaining defendants, Humane Society of the United States, the Fund for Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Protection Institute United with Born Free USA, Tom Rider and the attorneys involved.

“These defendants attempted to destroy our family-owned business with a hired plaintiff who made statements that the court did not believe. Animal activists have been attacking our family, our company, and our employees for decades because they oppose animals in circuses. This settlement is a vindication not just for the company but also for the dedicated men and women who spend their lives working and caring for all the animals with Ringling Bros. in the face of such targeted, malicious rhetoric,” said Kenneth Feld , Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Feld Entertainment.

The “animal rights” movement has been a haven for terrorism, lawfare, and all sorts of misconduct for years. It deserves far more scrutiny than it gets. As, for that matter, does the entire nonprofit sector.

And do the ASPCA, et al., get their nonprofit status reviewed in light of this misconduct?

December 30, 2012

2012: “To be frank, most pols had a year of which they should not be proud. President Obama ran a mean-spirited reelection campaign without a specific agenda; he and the country are paying for that now. Mitt Romney lost a winnable race, in part because his political operation was inferior to the Obama machine and in part because he could not connect at a visceral level with enough voters. Senate Democrats went another year without passing a budget and as of this writing haven’t put forth any plan to avoid the fiscal cliff. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) struggled mightily to forge a deal but perhaps has been too optimistic about the president’s deal-making abilities and his conference’s political maturity.”

December 30, 2012

WAR ON SCIENCE: Obama’s Science Commitment, FDA Face Ethics Scrutiny in Wake of GMO Salmon Fiasco.

Two years ago, the FDA had said it was going to release its environmental assessment, the final document in the approval process, within weeks. It was finally and quietly posted on the FDA’s website only last Friday—just hours before the long holiday weekend—and published in the Federal Register on Wednesday.

The release came, FDA sources say, in response to the publication of an investigation in Slate by the Genetic Literacy Project two days before, on December 19. The GLP, which I head, had reported that the FDA had definitively concluded last spring that the fish would have “no significant impact” on the environment and was “as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon.” However, the draft assessment, dated April 19, 2012, was not released—blocked on orders from the White House.

The seven month delay, sources within the government say, came after discussions late last spring between Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius’ office and officials linked to Valerie Jarrett at the Executive Office, who were debating the political implications of approving the GM salmon. Genetically modified plants and animals are controversial among the president’s political base, which was thought critical to his reelection efforts during a low point in the president’s popularity. . . .

According to sources, the White House political block—a direct violation of numerous ethics regulations and possibly of federal laws—was instituted over the objections of scientists at the FDA, but with the awareness of HHS Secretary Sibelius, her senior adviser Andrea Palm and the Office of Science and Technology Policy and its director John Holdren, who is responsible for enforcing “science integrity” across government agencies.

Chris Mooney, call your office.

December 30, 2012

INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE: State of Kansas wants sperm donor found on Craigslist to pay for daughter born to lesbian couple.

UPDATE: Reader Shane McNeill writes:

As a retired attorney, this case is every reason I got out of private and public law practice once we had children of our own. These idiot parents who have children as some kind of status thing, and then delegate them to pawn in their continuing battle with immaturity or responsibility.

This plaintiff no doubt has no financial skin in this lawsuit, and the guy, who by all accounts did this in good faith for good will and at no profit, no doubt had to hire counsel to reply to this abuse.

Is there any kind of fund established to your knowledge to help this guy offset his legal expenses?

This is bullshit, and everything that is wrong with this country. The article barely glances over the “co-parent” who disappeared apparently shortly after the transaction took place.

And there is no reference of any kind to hold this co-parent responsible for the costs the taxpayers are stuck with due to their irresponsibility.

Yes, it’s pathetic. And I don’t know of any legal defense fund. Does anyone?

December 30, 2012

SHUT UP, THEY EXPLAINED.

The editors end the way these “conversations” usually do:

“If LaPierre and the NRA truly want to make meaningful contributions, they should have the grace, decency and good sense to get out of the way. They’ve dominated the debate over gun violence for decades. And they’ve failed.”

Translation: “shut up.” We know what’s best for you.

They keep using that word, “conversation.”