February 1, 2015

ROGER KIMBALL on Charlie Hebdo and the “but”-heads.

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SCOTT WALKER REJECTS YOUR PREMISE:

The conventional wisdom after Republicans lost two presidential elections to Barack Obama was that the GOP needed to concede the premise of certain Democratic talking points. Suddenly immigration reform became urgent enough for a prospective GOP candidate to lead the effort in the Senate. And even more suddenly, talk of inequality has emerged in conservative circles. But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? What if, instead, Scott Walker is right?

The Wisconsin governor is enjoying a bit of a boomlet right now, as Peter Beinart notes in a sharp piece on Walker’s unapologetic conservatism. And he’s earned it. He won three statewide elections in four years, and did so with national media attention and the concerted lunatic tactics of public unions (death threats, violence, compulsive Hitler comparisons) aimed at him and his supporters. He won comfortably and with a smile on his face. Walker never lost his composure and never stooped to the level of his fanatical liberal opponents.

None of this is news. What’s changed is that Walker has, in the last week, gone national. His speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit earned rave reviews, and was followed with what appears to be the first pro-Walker presidential ad. And everyone seems to have noticed what Walker’s opponents in Wisconsin have learned the hard way, repeatedly: he’s a formidable politician. This should worry his GOP rivals not only because of Walker’s win streak, but also because Walker is doing something many of them aren’t: he’s setting the terms of the debate instead of following the terms the Democrats have set.

An idea so crazy, it just might work!

NEWS YOU CAN USE: The Brutally Honest 6 Reasons You Are Still Overfat.

YES, WELL, NOBODY WANTS MEASLES: As Measle Cases Spread in U.S., So Does Anxiety. “The measles outbreak tied to Disneyland continued to spread anxiety Friday as two new cases emerged overnight in Marin County in California — along with at least one in Nebraska — while Arizona officials warned that at least 1,000 people may have been exposed to the virus through seven others in that state.”

Related: Health officials: N.Y. Amtrak passenger had measles. Plus: Measles at Bard triggers effort to isolate disease.

JERRY POURNELLE: Air Power And Other Matters. “America’s foreign policy since 2009 has been a disaster. It is now getting worse.”

PHOTOS: The Freakish Tans and Surprising Friendships of Pro Bodybuilding. As I’ve mentioned before, the amount of discipline required for such competitions is astounding. Related item here.

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MARK RIPPETOE: Squat Mechanics: A Deep Analysis.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Structural DNA nanotechnology with programmed motions.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Robot Workers In New Japanese Hotel.

MICHAEL S. MALONE: The Purpose of Silicon Valley: Capital and engineering talent have been flocking to seemingly trivial mobile apps. But would we really be better off if more startups instead went directly after big problems? “This town used to think big—the integrated circuit, personal computers, the Internet. Are we really leveraging all that intellectual power and creativity creating Instagram and dating apps? Is this truly going to change the world?”

NEWS: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wins Kansas GOP presidential straw poll.

SPACE: This is the Drone Helicopter NASA Scientists Want to Send to Mars.

IN THE MAIL: The Membership Economy: Find Your Super Users, Master the Forever Transaction, and Build Recurring Revenue.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 633.

BLUE MELTDOWN: Detroit Seizes Homes to Fund Corruption.

Detroit is foreclosing on tens of thousands of homes — in order to pay for an unaffordable city government that fails the essential tests of governance. The NYT reports that the city is seizing the homes of residents who failed to pay property taxes, and putting some of the houses up for public auction. . . .

This story shows just how bankrupt the Great Society model of urban governance has become. These property taxes are themselves exorbitant, and the structure they help pay for is an unsustainable system of unionized employees. Since the 1960s, Democrats have supported a model that, at its worst, is characterized by corrupt political machines that rule in de facto single-party urban enclaves. They are propped up by state and federal subsidies and show little to no interest in effective management, economically sustainable development policies, anti-corruption efforts, or school performance. . . .

This wasn’t the Great Society that Lyndon Johnson had in mind, but it is the society that Detroit and New Orleans, among others, have today. And things could get worse. The financial pressures on the city will intensify as the pension squeeze continues and as the unions fight harder to protect their privileges. Meanwhile, in too many places, single-party political machines will continue to focus on cronyism and identity politics without thinking hard about the urgent economic tasks city governments need to perform.

Which single party is that?

EVEN THE NEW YORK TIMES IS USING THIS DESCRIPTION OF OBAMACARE: Anatomy of a Health Care Mess. The book in question is Steven Brill’s America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Back-Room Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System.

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ASHE SCHOW: Institutionalized victim blaming is making a comeback.

For the past several years, activists have been telling us that any suggestion relating to protecting oneself from becoming a victim is victim-blaming. Tell a woman not to walk down dark alleys at night, and you’re essentially telling her that it’s her fault if she ends up being assaulted, robbed or murdered.

But now, outright bans on risky behavior — all in the interest of protecting women — are suddenly coming back into fashion.

First, sorority women at the University of Virginia were banned from attending parties with boys this weekend by their own National Panhellenic Conference. The reason for the ban, which carries undisclosed sanctions if broken, was “safety concerns,” due to sexual assault allegations in the past. . . .

As if the U.Va. ban wasn’t bad enough (it was based off of a discredited rape allegation in Rolling Stone, after all), Dartmouth has decided to ban hard liquor on campus — in part to cut down on sexual assaults.

It was just last year that telling women not to drink so much was considered victim blaming, but now it’s okay?

We seem to be going back in time; telling women where they can go, whom they can associate with — even what they can drink. At least it’s all in the name of protecting us poor, fragile ladies, am I right?

Heh.

MICHAEL TOTTEN: The Truth About American Sniper: Chris Kyle wasn’t a savage; he killed savages.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Washington Post: Why college isn’t always worth it: A new study suggests the economic return on a college degree may be a lot more modest than you think.

“‘Ticket’ implies a college degree is something you can just cash in,” said Alan Benson, assistant business professor at the University of Minnesota. “But it doesn’t work that way. A college degree is more of a stepping stone, one ingredient to consider when you’re cooking up your career. … It’s not always the best investment for everyone.”

Benson, along with M.I.T.’s Frank Levy and business analyst Raimundo Esteva, co-authored a new paper, released this week, examining the value of public university options in California. Factors like how long it takes to complete a degree — often longer than four years — and whether students make it to graduation, he learned, can significantly diminish the value of pursuing higher education. . . .

“The return to a college degree in 2010,” researchers wrote, “could be less than the interest on unsubsidized Stafford loans.”

Do tell.

CHANGE: Walker Surging in Iowa Poll as Bush Struggles. Hillary Clinton is running away from the potential Democratic field.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is surging, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is an also-ran and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is dominating in a new poll of Iowans likely to vote in the nation’s first presidential nominating contest.

The Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, taken Monday through Thursday, shows Walker leading a wide-open Republican race with 15 percent, up from just 4 percent in the same poll in October. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky was at 14 percent and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, stood at 10 percent.

Bush trailed with 8 percent and increasingly is viewed negatively by likely Republican caucus-goers. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is in even worse shape, with support from just 4 percent. More troubling for Christie: He’s viewed unfavorably by 54 percent, among the highest negative ratings in the potential field. At 9 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson pulls more support than either Bush or Christie.

Not that big a surprise.

January 31, 2015

ED DRISCOLL: The Left Devours Itself.

Certainly we’re seeing that played out on a national scale this month, with the crude Vietnam-era attacks from Michel Moore, Seth Rogen, Howard Dean, Bill Maher and others on the far left on Chris Kyle’s legacy due to the blockbuster success of American Sniper. These double as thinly-veiled (often not-so-thinly veiled) slurs on the rest of Red State America as well, of course, with “soft America” seething at the resurgence of “hard America,” to use Michael Barone’s phraseology from his 2004 book. How angry is soft America these days? As John Nolte noted last night at Big Hollywood, the Onion’s otherwise often enjoyable A.V. Club film and TV Website took a nasty shot this week at the owner of a small restaurant chain in Michigan who symbolically “banned” Michael Moore and Seth Rogen after their submoronic anti-American remarks. “And how does the AV Club respond to this symbolic but righteous protest? By using no fewer than 7 paragraphs to relentlessly mock the Little Guy and his business,” Nolte writes, “the saddest piece of starf**king I’ve ever come across.”

Actually, that phrase is a pretty good description of most Left politics, in particular the cult of Obama.

SCIENCE: Why Mars’s Two Hemispheres Are Completely Different.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Female drama teacher charged with raping male student. “A former drama teacher accused of raping a 15-year-old student appeared in court Wednesday, facing multiple charges and accusations she manipulated the boy by threatening to kill herself after he exposed their secret relationship. . . . Attorneys for the state said that McCrea coached the boy on what to tell police and urged him to deny everything. They said the two even set up fake Facebook identities, so they could communicate secretly online.”

Plus: Teacher and basketball coach charged with sexually abusing female students. “Cara Labus, 30, met the two alleged victims when they were 14 and 16 while working at a Chicago high school. Labus, who also taught basketball at Jerling Junior High School, is said to have engaged in sexual acts with the two.”

Related: Have Teacher-Student Sex Crimes Become A National Crisis? “In October, a male victim of rape by a female teacher killed himself seven years after his initial report to the school district superintendent failed to lead to her arrest, and in 2014, eight different teachers accused of being in relationships with students eventually committed suicide. ‘These are devastating, life-alternating and sometimes life-ending crimes,’ says Abbott.”

I think the gender imbalance has created a culture of female entitlement in schools. We obviously need federal Title IX-type legislation to force equality. For the children. #EndTeacherRapeCulture!

THIS IS HOW HOME INVASIONS SHOULD END: Grandchild Defends Grandmother In Deadly Home Invasion. “Police say Isai Robert Delcid, 18, was shot and killed by the resident’s grandson. His brother, 22-year-old Carlos Delcid, was arrested later Tuesday night. . . . Police say the brothers were reportedly trying to break into the home when a 14-year-old, who was visiting his grandmother, shot Isai Delcid. Delcid was pronounced dead at the scene. Carlos Delcid ran from the scene. He was located and arrested later that night. . . . Wyant said that his grandson did a good job, and that he’s thankful he was there. ‘What would have happened if he wasn’t there?’”

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IT’S NOT SURPRISING THAT GASOLINE ENGINES ARE GOOD. THEY’VE HAD WELL OVER A CENTURY OF CONSTANT REFINEMENT, UNDER HEAVY COMPETITIVE PRESSURES. The Car of the Future May Run on Gasoline: For all the talk of electric cars, the old-fashioned internal combustion engine is proving to be hard to beat.

When most of us picture the high-tech personal mobility of the future, we tend to imagine a sleek, dead-quiet electric car, packed with voice- or motion-directed gizmos and self-driving features. We see ourselves gliding around almost effortlessly, free to talk, work or text as we see fit.

What few of us conjure up is having this sort of experience in a gasoline-fueled car. But that may be changing in the face of recent design advances. The internal combustion engine—the workhorse of the industrial age—is proving to be much more than a stubborn technological incumbent.

More than a century after becoming the dominant way that people move around, gas-powered cars are challenging ostensibly more advanced electric vehicles. It has proved hard to beat engines in which fuel is ignited, drives pistons and propels a vehicle. Even in 2040, according to forecasting agencies such as the U.S. Energy Information Administration, cars with gas- and diesel-powered engines will still represent some 95% of the international car market.

A fully refined technology can be hard to beat.

A MODEST PROPOSAL TO REDUCE “INEQUALITY:”

So Obama has had to abandon his plan to tax 529 college savings plans to pay for his “free” community college proposal, because lo and behold lots of middle class people are 529 savers. But Republicans could still enable Obama to pay for this proposal with a tax that actually hits the genuine rich: a surtax on large private college endowments—say on all endowments that are more than something like $1 million per student. This would hit the ivy league schools that these days are raking in nearly $1 billion a year in contributions according to the latest reports. (I recall an old line from Conan O’Brien—a Harvard grad—about Harvard’s donor pitch: “We’re Harvard. We don’t need your money. We just want it.”) Or instead of a surtax directly on endowments, reduce the tax deductibility of donations to college endowments above a certain level.

And if Republicans really want to start riots in faculty clubs, they should pass Obama’s community college plan with one proviso: that all community college credits be fully transferrable to any four-year college that accepts any federal funding (which is every institution of higher learning except Hillsdale and one or two others). Watch the four-year colleges sputter with indignation. Watch Obama veto the bill.

More suggestions at the link.

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ALL OVER A STORY THAT EVERYONE ADMITS WAS FAKE: U-Va. sorority sisters ordered to stay home Saturday night for their own safety – while fraternity brothers party. This seems like a Title IX violation itself. On the other hand, “Boobytrap” spelled backwards is “Partyboob.”

NO, IT’S VANDALISM: Eugene Volokh: No, pasting over anti-Islam ads with images of ‘Ms. Marvel’ isn’t free speech.

A group that is sharply critical of Islam recently bought space for anti-Islam ads on San Francisco buses. San Francisco had a First Amendment obligation to allow such ads; as a court recently held, once a city opens up a bus advertising program, it may not reject such ads based on their anti-Islam viewpoint.

But earlier this week, some people pasted over parts of the ads with a picture of Ms. Marvel, a Muslim American superhero recently introduced by Marvel Entertainment, and with stickers bearing various messages, including “Free Speech Isn’t a License to Spread Hate.” Is this action itself constitutionally protected free speech, as some have suggested?

No — just as it wouldn’t be protected free speech to take a pro-religious-tolerance advertisement (or a mosque advertisement) and paste anti-Islam messages over it. People have no right to just attach their own messages to city vehicles. Indeed, attaching messages that write over lawfully purchased advertising messages likely qualifies as “[d]amag[ing]” another’s property, or as “[d]efac[ing]” it by “mark[ing]” over it. (Attaching stickers is considered “mark[ing]” property, and marking is considered defacing even if it’s easy to remove. The statute I cite requires that the defacing or damaging be done “maliciously,” but that would likely be understood here as simply requiring that the defacing or damaging was done intentionally, rather than by accident.)

Now a government entity could permit people to freely write things on certain government property, or attach things, even when it obscures what other people have written or attached. For instance, some universities have “free speech walls” that are designed for that; likewise, if chalking sidewalks is generally allowed, then overwriting someone else’s chalking with your own might be, too. But I highly doubt that San Francisco has opened up its buses for everyone to paste materials on. Instead, it has allowed people to buy advertising space, without letting others paste over that advertising space.

So the pasting over the ads is illegal. Moreover, the city has to treat this sort of defacement the same way it would treat defacement of other speech. If, for instance, the city has a practice of removing such material pasted over ads, and replacing the original ads that were legally paid for, then the city has to do the same here. Conversely, if the city decides to tolerate and not remove such pasted-on material — and its advertising contract lets it do so — then the city has to equally tolerate any anti-Islam material pasted over other ads in the future.

Well, we’ll be watching. And if “free speech isn’t a license to spread hate,” then “free speech isn’t a license to spread communism.”

PETER WEHNER: America’s Anti-Israeli President.

IF THIS IS ALL THEY’VE GOT. . . . Ann Althouse is unimpressed with the Boston Globe’s Jeb Bush High School Expose. “Boys lifting up other boys. Not even tackling them. Lifting them. So what?! What I’m reading here is an absence of cruelty and a damned modest amount of rowdy fun. This is all you’ve got, Globe? It’s just dumb.”

The Globe hopes you’ll remember the adjectives its writers inserted, and not pay attention to the facts. For the Globe’s readership, that’s probably a fair bet.

AMY CHUA, MOM OF THE DECADE: “Dogs are so much nicer than daughters.”

PAUL RAHE: The Party Of The Living Dead. “A few days ago, in India, Barack Obama gave a three-minute speech in which he referred to himself 118 times. That speech is emblematic of his entire administration. . . . Thanks, in part, to the self-absorption of their standard-bearer, the Democratic Party now controls fewer Congressional seats than at any point in my lifetime. Its presence in the Senate is at a near-record low, and one would have to go back nearly 90 years to find a time when it was in as bad a shape in the state assemblies and senates.”

UPDATE: Tom Maguire emails a typo-correction:

The headline to which Mr. Rahe linked was this:

Watch Obama Refer to Himself 118 Times in Three Minutes

But the text says this:

The president went on to refer to himself an astonishing 118 times in the short 33-minute speech, touching on injustices in the United States and in his own personal life.

And per the WH transcript, the speech was 34 minutes.

You know, 118 times in 3 minutes seemed like a lot to me, even for Obama, but then I thought, well, it is Obama. I note that the headline says 3 minutes, but the URL says 33, so I guess it is just a typo.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 632.

JESSE WALKER: What the Hell Does ‘Politically Correct’ Mean?: A Short History. According to the leftsplainers at Vox, there’s no such thing!

Plus, the joys of undergraduate cluelessness: “In the early ’90s, a woman told me that she and her friends had often said ‘politically correct’ without any irony when she was an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr. She wasn’t happy when she started hearing people use the expression disdainfully.”

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Never Again?

“From the Jewish point of view, European anti-Semitism is a sideshow,” Charles Krauthammer writes today. “The story of European Jewry is over. It died at Auschwitz. Europe’s place as the center and fulcrum of the Jewish world has been inherited by Israel. Not only is it the first independent Jewish commonwealth in 2,000 years. It is, also for the first time in 2,000 years, the largest Jewish community on the planet.”

“The threat to the Jewish future lies not in Europe but in the Muslim Middle East, today the heart of global anti-Semitism, a veritable factory of anti-Jewish literature, films, blood libels and calls for violence, indeed for another genocide,” he adds.

Anti-semitism was temporarily eclipsed by killing a lot of people who attempted genocide. Were I the Israelis, I’d be a lot more willing to do that again. But, you know, maybe that’s just a Scots-Irish thing.

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TERESA SULLIVAN IS BEHAVING UNETHICALLY, AND BREACHING HER DUTY TO TREAT ALL UVA STUDENTS FAIRLY: U.Va. president admits rape story was false; keeps restrictions on fraternities.

University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan finally admitted that she knows the Rolling Stone article detailing a brutal gang rape at the university was discredited.

“Before the Rolling Stone story was discredited, it seemed to resonate with some people simply because it confirmed their darkest suspicions about universities — that administrations are corrupt; that today’s students are reckless and irresponsible; that fraternities are hot-beds of deviant behavior,” Sullivan said during a presidential address.

Of course, Sullivan fell for the story hook, line and sinker as well. But it is her next sentence that really shows how out of touch she is.

“Working together, we have soundly refuted those suspicions through our actions over the past two months,” Sullivan said.

But have they?

Immediately following the Rolling Stone story, Sullivan extended the Greek council’s voluntary weekend ban (calling it a “pause”) on social activities through Jan. 9. And in order for Greek organizations to resume activities, they had to sign new agreements with the university that put new restrictions on their social activities.

Remember, these actions were spurred by a Rolling Stone article that has since been discredited.

The new restrictions on fraternities contradict what Sullivan said. They show that the university doesn’t trust Greek organizations, thinking they are “hot-beds of deviant behavior” with members that are “reckless and irresponsible” that need new rules that are more restrictive to save them from themselves. (Example: “Beer may be served, unopened in its original can.”)

The fraternities and sororities have been forced to adopt the new guidelines for fear of having university ties cut. They will never get an apology from Sullivan, that much is clear. But it would have at least been nice if she were straight with the students and told them that she is still acting on the “darkest suspicions” fueled by a false story about a rape.

She’s taking advantage of a false story that her office had a part in producing to do things she just wanted to do anyway. Where’s the Board of Visitors?

WHY DO THEY HATE SICK LITTLE GIRLS? Stanford threatened with lawsuit over MLK Day protest.

Stanford University received an email after the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day “Silicon Shutdown” protest threatening legal action due to the rally shutting down traffic on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge.

The email apparently is from the attorney of a family whose 3-year-old girl was in “medical distress” and was en route to the hospital when it encountered the protesters, who were blocking their path.

This happened with the I-93 protesters in Boston, too.

REIHAN SALAM: The Upper Middle Class Is Ruining America — And I want it to stop.

You might be wondering why I’m so down on the upper middle class when they’re getting in the way of the tax hikes that will make big government even bigger. Doesn’t that mean that while liberals should be bothered by the power of the upper middle class, conservatives should cheer them on? Well, part of my objection is that upper-middle-income voters only oppose tax hikes on themselves. They are generally fine with raising taxes on people richer than themselves, including taxes on the investments that rich people make in new products, services, and businesses. I find that both annoyingly self-serving and destructive. The bigger reason, however, is that upper-middle-class people don’t just use their political muscle to keep their taxes low. They also use it to make life more expensive for everyone else.

Take a seemingly small example—occupational licensing. In North Carolina, teeth-whiteners without expensive dental degrees would like to be allowed to sell their services but are opposed by the state’s dentists, as Eduardo Porter noted in a recent New York Times column. Are the good dentists of North Carolina fighting the teeth-whiteners because they fear for the dental health of North Carolinians? It doesn’t look like it. A more plausible story is that dentists don’t want to compete with cut-rate practitioners, because restricting entry into the field allows them to charge higher prices. We often hear about how awesome it is that Uber is making taxi service cheaper and more accessible for ordinary consumers but how sad it is that they are making life harder for working-class drivers who drive traditional cabs. Notice that upper-middle-class credentialed professionals like dentists, lawyers, and doctors rarely get Uber’d to the same degree. Even when innovative services try to do things like, say, offer a free alternative to expensive insurance brokers, state and local governments will often step in to say, “Oh, no you don’t.” Want to offer a low-cost, high-quality education by, say, replacing expensive professors with Filipino instructors who teach calculus over streaming video? Sorry, pal, you first have to get approved by an accreditation body controlled … by the existing schools you’re trying to out-compete, which employ upper-middle-class people who don’t take any crap.

Or take immigration policy: Dean Baker of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research has called for increasing the number of doctors, dentists, and other professionals allowed into the U.S. while limiting the number of less-skilled people, like would-be retail clerks, custodians, and housekeepers. The reason is that high-skilled immigrants squeeze the wages of upper-middle-class professionals, who can afford to take a hit while lowering the cost of various services for poorer people by giving them the option of going to cheaper doctors and dentists. By contrast, bringing in retail clerks, custodians, and housekeepers makes life cheaper for the upper-middle-class professionals while squeezing the wages of working people, particularly immigrants who already live in the U.S. Want to guess how popular the idea of increasing the wages of nannies is with the upper-middle-class people who employ them? I’d love to know, but I’m sorry to report that upper-middle-class pollsters have yet to ask the question.

Yes, but I know the answer. Plus: “Even more egregious is the way that upper-middle-class NIMBY-ism pushes for strict land-use restrictions that drive working- and lower-middle-class people out of the country’s most desirable and productive cities.”

Also: “The upper middle class controls the media we consume. They run our big bureaucracies, our universities, and our hospitals. Their voices drown out those of other people at almost every turn.”

THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE: VIDEO: Feminist activist wears plastic bags over shoes to mock female Senator Joni Ernst. “While attending a pro-abortion celebration this past weekend, the secretary for Florida’s National Organization for Women chapter was caught wearing plastic bags over her shoes in an attempt to mock Sen. Joni Ernst (R). In her GOP response to the State of the Union, Ernst, a freshman senator from Iowa, recalled wearing plastic bags over her one good pair of shoes in order to keep them from getting ruined on rainy days. . . . Several women also attending Roe on the Rocks: Celebrate Choices over the weekend complimented Axler on her Target bags. The celebration featured Diane Price Herndl, professor and chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies department at the University of South Florida, who also delivered a speech at the event.”

Let’s just say that the plastic bags aren’t the only questionable sartorial choice displayed here. But feminists mocking poor people isn’t surprising. Feminism has always been a movement of the upper middle class, which is very eager to distinguish itself from the lower middle class.

BLOWBACK: Targeted By Obama, Bibi Surges In Israeli Polls.

THERE SHOULD BE ZERO TOLERANCE FOR WRONG HOUSE RAIDS. EVERY TIME IT HAPPENS, THE PERSON IN CHARGE SHOULD BE FIRED.

The feds still won’t reveal what an internal investigation determined about a Deputy U.S. Marshal’s raid on the wrong Sarasota apartment, but the nurse terrorized there just got good news.

The U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to pay Louise Goldsberry and her boyfriend $90,000, according to her lawyer, in connection with the botched July 2013 action by the U.S. Marshals Services’s Fugitive Task Force.

The city of Sarasota, which had a police officer assigned to the federal unit, has agreed to pay another $3,000, according to Goldsberry’s lawyer, Andrea Mogensen.

Goldsberry, as you might recall, was washing dishes in her kitchen — after dinner with her visiting boyfriend and a day on the job as an operating room nurse — when she saw an armed man.

He was pointing a gun toward her, through her kitchen window.

Goldsberry screamed, ducked, and crawled to her bedroom. She and her boyfriend were further shocked when another man began banging on the front door, demanding to be let it. He claimed to be a law officer.

From what Goldsberry had seen, that seemed unlikely. While the man at the door cursed and threatened to break in, she grabbed her small pistol from her bedroom and cowered in the hallway, thinking it was a home invasion.

Instead of directing Goldsberry to call 911 to confirm that law officers were at her door, Deputy U.S. Marshall Matt Wiggins kept yelling and then opened the front door, while protected by a tactical shield. He aimed a blinding flashlight and a gun at the panicked woman.

She would have been within her rights to shoot them. And if she had, they’d have made something up to pretend it was her fault. There isn’t nearly enough accountability for this sort of thing. And that lack of accountability produces this sort of sense of entitlement:

Wiggins confirmed afterward that he had threatened to shoot Goldsberry if she did not drop her gun and come out. He told me she should feel grateful he did not do so and, for that matter, grateful that he did not arrest her.

Wiggins said he could not see why she would be complaining to the press when she was the one who disobeyed police orders.

He was a home invader. If he had been shot, it would have been his fault. He should be apologizing most contritely. And since he doesn’t grasp this, he shouldn’t work in law enforcement at all.

SO THIS MAKES THEM HOSTAGE-TAKERS AND TERRORISTS, RIGHT? Dick Durbin: Senate Democrats will block House DHS bill. If the Dems block it, McConnell can always go nuclear on them. Because the filibuster is evil, and so are other techniques that thwart the Senate majority. We learned that last year . . .

COULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED TO A NICER GUY: CIA and Mossad killed senior Hezbollah figure in car bombing. But this was in 2008. Not much chance we’d do anything like it today.

But the big question is why this is — pretty obviously deliberately, and with high level approval — being leaked today, by a different administration. I wonder who the “lawmakers” the CIA briefed were.

January 30, 2015

IF SO, IT’S BECAUSE THEY FEARED INVESTIGATIONS BY A GOP CONGRESS: FDIC retreats on Operation Choke Point? I’ll be interested, though, to hear what people in the affected industries have to say over the coming months.

ROLL CALL: Democrats Lose Candidate and Hope in New York Special Election. “The date hasn’t even been set, but Republicans have all but won the special election in New York’s 11th District. The Staten Island-based district has swung from being a top Democratic target in the midterms all the way across the competitive spectrum to Democrats punting the opportunity to win the seat in a special election.” Fallout from the Garner case?

TRIFECTA: Are Liberals Actually Admitting Islamic Terrorists Exist?!?

OUT: NANNY STATE. In: Ninny State.

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PERHAPS SOME DONORS GOT UPSET OVER THE LOONINESS: Frederick Lawrence to step down as president of Brandeis.

UPDATE: Roger Simon comments: “Nowhere in the email is there mention of the fierce defender of women’s rights and critic of Islam Hirsi Ali, nor was there reference to another controversy surrounding Brandeis student Daniel Mael and his response to tweets by still another student calling the recent murder of two NYPD officers ‘hilarious.’ Brandeis, a secular Jewish university founded in 1948 in the wake of the Holocaust, has been under fire of late for anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic statements from students and faculty.”

SO, SORT OF LIKE THE IRAN/IRAQ WAR THEN: “The obvious thing to say about Jonathan Chait’s battle against the left is that we’re rooting for casualties.”

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Technology Makes It Easier To Find Sexual Partners, But This May Have Public Health Consequences.

Before the days of the internet, finding a casual partner meant putting in some effort: chatting up someone in a bar, say, or hanging about in a shady spot known to be frequented by like-minded people. Nowadays, a naughty encounter is but a click away, thanks to smartphone apps such as Tinder and Grindr and listings websites such as Craigslist. But with convenience comes less happy consequences, as a paper just published in MIS Quarterly suggests.

Jason Chan of the University of Minnesota and Anindya Ghose of New York University have looked specifically at what effects a local Craigslist site has on its state’s rates of reported HIV cases. Craigslist started life as a round-robin e-mail in the San Francisco area in 1995, but has ballooned to a 700-site network in 70 countries. The sites make their money mainly from listings for jobs or housing, but their free personal ads, which often solicit casual sexual partners, account for a big chunk of the sites’ content. These sites were rolled out piecemeal across America over several years, providing a natural laboratory to examine how their arrival affected sexual health.

Drs Chan and Ghose looked at HIV rates in 33 states between 1999 and 2008, mostly in America’s central regions (Craigslist’s spread to populous cities along coastal regions was much faster, muddying the data there). The arrival of Craigslist, they found, was correlated with an average increase of 15.9% a year in the number of HIV infections compared with what would have been expected had it not been launched; the pair estimate that the listing website was associated with between 6,130 and 6,455 extra infections a year throughout the country. That held true even after controlling for national and local HIV trends (which were often in decline), the level of urbanisation, and changing rates of people getting tested for the virus.

Although the sites also feature a section dedicated to escort services, these did not appear to be correlated with the increased infection rate. Instead, it seems, the majority of new infections result from men seeking other men.

I find all of this unsurprising.

WELL, PERSONALLY I HAVE THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD PENCILED IN FOR 2042: Bill Gates on dangers of artificial intelligence: ‘I don’t understand why some people are not concerned.’

LIFE IN THE OBAMA ERA: Corporate Profits Soar, Average Incomes Plummet.

THE SCIENCE OF Itching. “Why is it that watching someone else’s finger being hit with a hammer will usually not make us withdraw our own fingers, but watching someone scratch will make us feel itchy and cause us to scratch as well? The best guess is as follows: Through most of our human history, we have been routinely exposed to disease- and toxin-bearing parasites. In situations where these occur, if you notice that the person next to you is scratching, there is a good reason to believe you are also being exposed to the same dangerous insect, worm, etc., and it’s therefore adaptive for you to feel itchy and scratch in order to reduce your own chance of harm. Pain, in contrast, is weakly social contagious, because the cause of most pain is not generally spread from person to person.”

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A LIFESTYLE SO GOOD, IT’S MANDATORY: “California has effectively decriminalized marijuana (possession of less than an ounce is a civil matter roughly equivalent to a speeding ticket — a rarely written speeding ticket), and the state has a medical (ahem) marijuana program that is, for the moment, largely unregulated. At the same time, the state is launching a progressive jihad against ‘vaping,’ the use of so-called e-cigarettes that deliver nicotine in the form of vapor. . . . If that seems inconsistent to you, you are thinking about it the wrong way: For all of its scientific pretensions and empirical posturing, progressivism is not about evidence, and at its heart it is not even about public policy at all: It is about aesthetics. The goal of progressivism is not to make the world rational; it’s to make the world Portland.”

LONGTIME GAMING SITE JOYSTIQ POISED TO BITE THE DUST.Joystiq‘s position on major ethical issues in recent years mean it will not be missed by many readers.”

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: SCHOOL CHOICE MOVEMENT SHOWING REMARKABLE GROWTH.

WHILE I WAS OUT RUNNING ERRANDS AND AT THE GYM, Mitt Romney Announced He Won’t Run. I hope, however, that he’ll keep taking shots at Obama, Hillary, et al. Meanwhile, does this mean that my prediction about a “head fake” toward the presidency was right? Stay tuned.

HEY, WHEN HE’S RIGHT, HE’S RIGHT: Joe Biden: ‘The Past Six Years Have Been Really, Really Hard For This Country.’

A “FOUR DOOR CORVETTE?” The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V.

HOW LICENSE PLATE READERS ARE being abused by law enforcement.

I had a Popular Mechanics column on that a while back.

BILL WHITTLE: Afterburner: What Liberty Looks Like: Stories of Freedom. “If America is not evil, then the Left is out of business.”

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 631.

JONI ERNST AND ECONOMIC PROGRESS: When Bread Bags Weren’t Funny.

Last week, in her State of the Union response, Joni Ernst mentioned going to school with bread bags on her feet to protect her shoes. These sorts of remembrances of poor but honest childhoods used to be a staple among politicians — that’s why you’ve heard so much about Abe Lincoln’s beginnings in a log cabin. But the bread bags triggered a lot of hilarity on Twitter, which in turn triggered this powerful meditation from Peggy Noonan on how rich we have become. So rich that we have forgotten things that are well within living memory. . . .

I am a few years younger than Noonan, but I grew up in a very different world — one where a number of my grammar school classmates were living in public housing or on food stamps, but everyone had more than one pair of shoes. In rural areas, like the one where Joni Ernst grew up, this lingered longer. But all along, Americans got richer and things got cheaper — especially when global markets opened up. Payless will sell you a pair of child’s shoes for $15, which is two hours of work even at minimum wage.

Perhaps that sounds like a lot to you — two whole hours! But I’ve been researching historical American living standards for a project I’m working on, and if you’re familiar with what Americans used to spend on things, this sounds like a very good deal. . . . Your average middle-class person was, by the standards of today, dead broke and living in abject misery. And don’t tell me that things used to be cheaper back then, because I’m not talking about their cash income or how much money they had stuffed under the mattress. I’m talking about how much they could consume. And the answer is “a lot less of everything”: food, clothes, entertainment. That’s even before we talk about the things that hadn’t yet been invented, such as antibiotics and central heating.

Now some people — mostly billionaires, or at least Hollywood millionaires — say we should get by with less.

Plus:

In every generation, we forget how much poorer we used to be, and then we forget that we have forgotten. We focus on the things that seem funny or monstrous or quaint and darling. Somehow the simplest and most important fact — the immense differences between their living standards and ours — slides right past our eye. And when Ernst tried to remind us, people didn’t say “Wow, we’ve really come a long way”; they pointed and laughed.

Well, that’s just because she’s a Republican woman.

KNOW YOUR PLACE, PEASANTS! Bedford reprimands students for tweets critical of superintendent for not cancelling school Wednesday. “On Wednesday, the Union Leader received an anonymous tip that four Bedford High students had been suspended for inappropriate responses to McGee’s tweet. On Thursday, neither McGee nor Principal Bill Hagen would confirm that students had been suspended, citing privacy issues.”

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): 23-year-old NEISD teacher arrested, charged with sexual relationship with student.

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POLITICO: Exclusive: Hillary Clinton may delay campaign: Top Democrats give a new date for the campaign’s likely start. Love the photo. A cynic would say that Hillary isn’t running — perhaps her health isn’t up to even a fake campaign — but that they want to keep the possibility alive as long as possible to maximize speaking revenues and political leverage. Or they may have just found out that she polls best when she’s out of the public eye. . . .

UPDATE: Related thoughts on Romney: “As for bulling through the GOP field and still having what it takes to fight the well-rested and untested wife of the ex-President who only ever won an election in New York state and served a rather lackluster term as Secretary of State, I think he’s up for that fight.”

Related: Hillary’s Poll Numbers Are Collapsing. They’re already warming Elizabeth Warren up in the bullpen.

SEE, THAT’S WHY I’M ONLY USING UBER: Former Beltway Cabbie Added to Most Wanted Terrorists List.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Hillary Clinton Faces Scrutiny for Use of Private Jets. “Hillary Clinton took more than 200 privately chartered flights at taxpayer expense during her eight years in the U.S. Senate, sometimes using the jets of corporations and major campaign donors as she racked up $225,756 in flight costs.”

BYRON YORK: Public opinion left out of picture in Obama immigration drive.

Gallup recently asked adults around the country a very simple question about immigration: Are you satisfied, or dissatisfied, with the level of immigration into the United States today? Are too many immigrants coming? Too few? Or is the number just about right?

Before giving the results, it’s important to note what that number is. The U.S. awards legal permanent resident status — a green card, which means lifetime residency plus the option of citizenship — to about one million people per year, a rate Sen. Marco Rubio calls “the most generous” on earth. In addition, the government hands out more than a half-million student and exchange visas each year, tens of thousands of refugee admissions, and about 700,000 visas to temporary workers and their families. The percentage of foreign born in the U.S. population is heading toward levels not seen since the period of 1890 to 1910.

So is that too much, or too little? Gallup found that 47 percent of Americans believe the level of immigration should stay where it is. Thirty-nine percent want to see it decreased. And just seven percent want it increased. (The remaining seven percent said they don’t know.)

Put another way, 86 percent of Americans would like immigration into this country to remain at today’s level or to decrease, versus seven percent who want to see it increase.

Obama doesn’t care about public opinion, since he’s constructing an all-new public more in line with his own views.

ROLL CALL: GOP Senators Seek to Put Focus Back on VA Scandal.

A group of Republican senators hopes to return attention to accountability issues at the Veterans’ Affairs Department that have disappeared from the headlines.

“The television cameras may have turned their focus elsewhere, but we will not,” Kansas GOP Sen. Jerry Moran said in a statement Thursday announcing he’s spearheading the Senate companion to a bill designed to give more power to the VA secretary to discipline senior executives engaged in improper practices.

“Despite the passage of the Choice Act last year, the VA is still not doing enough to hold those responsible accountable for their corrupt behavior when treating our nation’s veterans,” Moran said, calling for dismantling of a “system that rewards mediocrity and failure.”

He’s joined on the effort by Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Marco Rubio of Florida, according to an advance release obtained by CQ Roll Call. McCain has consistently said that more needs to be done in the aftermath of the scandal that originated out of the VA hospital in Phoenix.

Among the changes, the bill would allow for senior employees to face reductions in their pensions after relevant criminal convictions, and an overhaul of the way the VA handles performance evaluations.

Reductions in their pensions after criminal convictions?

UNIVERSITIES REALLY NEED TO GET OUT OF THE SEXUAL-ASSAULT BUSINESS: All charges dismissed against 5 William Paterson students in sex assault case.

Ron Ricci, an attorney for Latimer, said the case was presented to a grand jury on Monday, and the panel declined to indict after a one-day presentation.

“The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office conducted a thorough investigation, and they presented the case honestly to a grand jury on Monday. The grand jury declined to indict all the defendants,” Ricci said.

“I am not going to get into the specifics, just that the facts demonstrated that this was not a sexual assault, and the actions of those young men were not in violation of the law. It clearly wasn’t a crime,” he said.

Ricci said all the defense attorneys had provided evidence to prosecutors “that this was not a sexual assault.”

The outcome “just proves that schools and deans should be careful before they make comments that boys are guilty of sexual assault,” Ricci said. “These boys were not suspended; they were expelled. They never got a hearing in front of the school, and there were damaging statements made by school officials.

“It was outrageous that these young men had to go through the publicity they had to go through. My client’s family is extremely disappointed by how the investigation was handled by William Paterson University and its police department.”

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Kathleen Waldron, the president of William Paterson University, said, “We respect the decision reached through this legal process. The University has its own student conduct process that is independent of the state’s legal proceedings and the University process will continue.

You know, this kind of thing could easily create a hostile educational environment where male students are discouraged from learning.

I’D MAKE HIM WEAR OUT THAT VETO PEN: Senate votes to build Keystone, defying veto threat from Obama.

The Senate on Thursday voted 62-36 to build the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, delivering Republicans the first legislative victory of their new majority.

Nine Democrats joined with Republicans in voting to approve the $8 billion project, five votes short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a promised veto from President Obama.

As somebody said on Twitter, I’m sure that Mary Landrieu is happy this thing finally passed.

January 29, 2015

WELL, HE’S A MOCKER: Obama mocks Mitt Romney’s poverty pitch. But Obama must love poor people. Look how many more of them he’s created.

UPDATE: Romney punches back.

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TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Vancouver teacher accused of raping student released from jail. “An Evergreen High School teacher accused of raping a 15-year-old student appeared in court Wednesday and then posted bail hours later. According to state prosecutors, Stephanie McCrea manipulated the boy during their nearly two-month relationship, threatened to kill herself and then attempted suicide two weeks ago. In court, McCrea stood stoic and said very little, often looking down at the ground as the judge spoke. She faces several charges, including four counts of child rape, sexual misconduct with a minor and tampering with a witness. . . . A judge on Wednesday set McCrea”s bail at $40,000 and ordered her not to have any contact with minors, except for her 9-year-old son. She was also prohibited from using any type of electronic communication device. She posted bail and was released from the Clark County jail just before 4:30 p.m., refusing to talk to reporters as she walked out.”

I wonder if a male teacher would have gotten such light bail.

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IF YOU STRIKE ME DOWN. . . . The impact of Charlie Hebdo: Americans now back Muhammad cartoons.

REMY: I Need A Hashtag.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Can Israel Survive? Traditional pillars of the tiny democracy’s security have begun to erode. If I were the Israelis, I’d build a doomsday device, to give everyone a stake in my survival. Maybe several devices. But that’s just me. . . .

HAVEN’T YOU, AT SOME POINT, RAISED ENOUGH MONEY? Charitable Donations to Colleges Reached All-Time High in 2014 ($38 Billion). Perhaps Congress should cap endowments, and enact some other schemes to spread the charitable wealth around. I think everyone’s better off when you spread the wealth around.

RON CAPSHAW: Flipping The Hollywood Blacklist Narrative.

Once on a British talk show in the early 1970s, anticommunist actor John Wayne startled the host by acknowledging that there was indeed a Hollywood blacklist. Wayne’s follow-up, however, made the host’s jaw drop even farther; the blacklist, he stated, wasn’t wielded by industry anticommunists against Communist Party members, but by the reverse. It was for this reason, Wayne stated, that he enlisted in the anticommunist fight in order to defend conservative screenwriters and get them back on the payroll.

Wayne, regarded by the Old and New Left, as a fascist, was in actuality more of a rebel against the establishment than they ever would be. The “establishment” in this case was Left Coast Hollywood, already entrenched by the early 70s, who, taking a leaf from the Hollywood communist narrative, asserted that the blacklisted were liberals battling fascism in the form of industry anticommunists. Upholders of free speech rather than the Stalinists they were, they paid the consequences for their New Deal liberalism by going to jail and being denied employment in the industry for two decades. Their eventual triumph wasn’t just in overturning the blacklist, but in getting modern day Hollywood, academia and liberals to accept their narrative. Hence, anticommunist movie stars like Robert Taylor have had their names removed from buildings, while blacklisted screenwriters such as Dalton Trumbo have free speech fountains at colleges dedicated to them.

This spin is nourished by the memoirs of the children of the blacklisted, who give the narrative more poignancy by showing how the blacklist warped their childhoods. These recollections all follow the same theme: assertions by the children that their parents were not knee jerk Stalinists; followed by a strong, loving family unit (no affairs or alcoholism are allowed into this narrative); then the unit is warped while at the same time being brought closer together as the blacklist hits; then a decade of near-poverty, school yard bullying, and a redemptive move toward leftist politics.

More than honoring the memory of their parents is involved here. As with Left Coast Hollywood, they have followed the narrative by continuing how they were used by their parents in protests against their jail terms—displayed with placards bearing how their parents were going to jail while their parents stood piously by.

By contrast, the children of their anticommunist foes have stayed silent. But Allen Ryskind, the son of the blacklisted’s bete noir, Academy-awarding screenwriter Morrie Ryskind, does not engage in self-pity or strumming the violin in Hollywood Traitors. While he notes that his father was the victim of the blacklist Wayne spoke of, he doesn’t play on it. Nor does he use the example of his father—a Jew and member of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League and the Screenwriters’ Guild as well as a two-time voter for FDR—to refute the Left’s charge that their opponents were anti-Semites, anti-labor and anti-New Deal.

Only one of those three things is dishonorable. Here’s a related piece from Tim Cavanaugh, and here’s more on the subject of Hollywood’s “missing movies.”

Meanwhile, the book is Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters — Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH says goodbye to Andrew Sullivan. Actually, I suspect Sullivan will be back. In my observation, it’s easier to quit blogging than it is to stay quit.