BALANCE OF TRADE: “The US is a world leader in sperm exports primarily because sperm banks in the U.S. are run on a for-profit basis. As a result, US sperm is reckoned to be of high quality particularly because the US version comes with a background on the vitals of the donor.”
WELL, REMEMBER, THE DEMS CAN’T EVEN PASS A BUDGET ON TIME: Acing the SNAP Challenge: GOP communications director eats for $4.50 per day.
A Republican hill staffer participated in a publicity stunt designed to bring awareness to the plight of food stamp recipients by spending only as much money on food in a week as the federal food stamp program provides.
The SNAP Challenge, as it’s called, referring to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, isn’t as difficult as many Democrats claim, he says.
“I wanted to personally experience the effects of the proposed cuts to food stamps,” said Donny Ferguson, communications director and agriculture policy adviser for Rep. Steve Stockman (R., Texas), in a news release.
“I didn’t plan ahead or buy strategically, I just saw the publicity stunt and made a snap decision to drive down the street and try it myself,” Ferguson said. “I put my money where my mouth is, and the proposed food stamp cuts are still quite filling.”
About thirty Democrats have said they will participate in the SNAP Challenge, which requires participants to eat on only $4.50 per day, or $31.50 per week. . . .
Ferguson says Democrats are playing up the difficulties of the challenge in order to boost the political case for increasing food stamp benefits.
“Not only did I buy a week’s worth of food on what Democrats claim is too little, I have money left over,” Ferguson said.
“I didn’t use coupons, I didn’t compare prices and was buying for one, instead of a family. I could have bought even more food per person if I were splitting $126 four ways, instead of budgeting $31.50 to eat for one.”
Or you could just raise your debt limit and buy whatever you want on credit. We’ll call that the OBAMA Challenge.
BLOOMBERG NEWS, UNSURPRISINGLY, WANTS MORE “PUBLIC HEALTH” RESEARCH ON GUNS. They call the ban on funding such research “senseless.”
Meanwhile, my suggestion to the “public health” community is to focus on actual diseases, rather than politically-disapproved behaviors.
IT’S KINDA LIKE SYRIA, I DON’T REALLY WANT EITHER TO WIN: Clash Of The Blue Titans In Detroit.
Unions seem determined to fight municipal bond market investors over who should shoulder the burden for Detroit’s debts, setting up a lose-lose situation for blue politics.
If the unions win, it could lead to an implosion in the municipal bond market across the country as lenders realize that money lent to struggling cities may never be paid back. As Walsh notes, this outcome would upend standards that “such bonds are among the safest investments and that for ‘general obligation’ bonds cities could even be compelled to raise taxes, if that’s what it took to make good.” This would be disastrous for other cities, which would find it much harder to borrow money, and would likely need to pay exorbitant interest rates to do so.
If the unions lose, however, it would deal a major blow to support from their own members. Detroit’s pensioners would begin to wonder why they pay dues to a union that can’t guarantee the pensions or benefits they were promised. A similar dynamic all but destroyed unions in the private sector as striking union members saw their jobs shipped away to China.
The stakes are high in Detroit’s looming legal battles, but the results will rock the blue model to its core no matter where the dominoes fall.
JAMES TARANTO: We Are All Dick Cheney Now.
Before we go any further, let’s correct the president on some factual matters. The court that administers the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is not transparent; its rulings, including the “secondary order” leaked by erstwhile NSA contractor Edward Snowden, are classified top secret. It’s accurate to say that the court provides scrutiny–”a system of checks and balances,” as the president put it–but not transparency.
The FISA court is not, as Obama implies, an innovation of his administration. It was set up in 1978, when Obama was still a member in good standing of the Choom Gang. As we noted June 6, the NSA effort was brought under the FISA court’s jurisdiction no later than Jan. 17, 2007, by which point Obama was a celebrity, but Dick Cheney was still vice president and would be for more than two more years.
The real problem here, though, is not the president’s casual attitude toward the facts but his relentless partisan hostility. What does he hope to accomplish by asserting that he’s no Dick Cheney? The obvious political answer is that it is an appeal to people for whom Cheney is a demon figure–that is, the Democratic base. Lots of “raving liberals” are feeling betrayed by Obama’s seeming failure to live up to his rhetoric about civil liberties and such. Perhaps there is a psychological aspect to Obama’s pronouncement–that is, maybe he’s trying to reassure himself that he’s better than the leaders he demonized.
But Obama does a serious disservice to the country by casting what is in fact a bipartisan antiterror program in such partisan terms. His message, as an irreverent National Journal headline puts it, is: “Trust Us, Because . . . Trust Us.” We’d change the emphasis a bit: Trust Us, Because . . . Trust Us.
MORE RUBES SELF-IDENTIFY:
Pew survey, June 13, 2012: 89% of Germans would like to see Obama re-elected.
Thanks to reader Roger Heinig for the links.
WHEN P.C. FILTERS BREAK DOWN: Boston Bombing victim calls suspects’ mom ‘vile.’
Michelle L’Heureux, a 38-year-old John Hancock consultant, told the Herald yesterday it’s time to stop being “politically correct” and speak out — making her one of the first victims to stand up to the terror-talking Chechen family.
“I feel a little bit of hatred towards her. I think she is a vile person,” L’Heureux said of the mom. “If you don’t like our country, get out. It’s as simple as that.”
But where else can you get such generous welfare benefits? Plus:
L’Heureux, who can only walk a few steps each day, hopes the bombings lead to more open lines of communication.
“A Muslim terrorist bombed us, and people need to start talking about that more, instead of being so politically correct,” L’Heureux said. “The more politically correct we are, and the more ‘Oh, let’s not hurt their feelings,’ the more they’re going to be able to do these type of things.
“If I ever have children, I don’t want to be afraid that something like this is going to happen to them in our country,” she said. “We’re a civil society. We shouldn’t have to worry about walking your children down Boylston Street, and being blown up by a bomb.”
Well, Obama says Al Qaeda isn’t a threat any more. So we’ve got that going for us, anyway.
ENOUGH WITH THESE HUGE “GANG” BILLS THAT NO ONE UNDERSTANDS: Sessions: Even the Gang of Eight Don’t Really Understand Their ‘Disastrous’ Immigration Bill.
SEXISM, OF COURSE: Why Does No One Care That A Young Don Draper Was Raped?
IS THAT MS. MAGAZINE My Month With A Gun column a hoax? I don’t know, but I got an email from reader David McKissack, “I followed your link and commented that I couldn’t find a state which had the concealed carry regs and fee she mentions. I asked which state it was and thanked her in advance. My comment went into ‘moderation’ and this morning it’s gone, unanswered.” I wrote the Ms. people to ask about it, then followed up twice, but so far no answer. Anybody out there know more? Is there a state that matches her description?
UPDATE: Bryan Preston: Ms. Magazine’s ‘My Month with a Gun’ Story Shooting Blanks? “According to this bio, Yewman lives in Washington State. But Ms. Yewman’s experience obtaining a concealed carry permit do not exactly match the regulations in Washington State. The concealed carry fee in Washington State is $52.50, not the $56.50 that Yewman states. In Washington State, applicants must undergo a background check separate from the background check they undergo when they purchase a firearm, which by regulation can take up to 30 days, not the seconds it takes to undergo a NICS check at the point of sale. Yewman mentions the second background check but states that she got the permit quickly, with no mention of any wait at all. That’s possible, but the fee doesn’t match. Also, wait times have been skyrocketing in Washington State this year. . . . There is a state that charges $56.50 for concealed carry permits. That state is Iowa. But Iowa requires more than just the fee. Concealed carry applicants have to provide proof of familiarity with firearms, in the form of a certificate from a hunter safety course or NRA safety course. Heidi Yewman doesn’t live in Iowa and says that her state required nothing in the way of proof of familiarity with firearms.” This doesn’t prove that the story is a fraud, but you’d think her editors would be asking her questions.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Heh.
SADLY, ALL IS PROCEEDING AS I HAVE FORESEEN: Egypt Shoots Tourism Industry in the Foot.
Handing over control of a tourist hotspot to a party that loathes tourists is asking for trouble, but that’s exactly what Egypt has just done. On Sunday, President Morsi appointed Adel al-Khayat of the Gamaa al-Islamiyya party as Governor of Luxor, a region home to the ruins of two temples and several monuments, widely known as the “open air museum.” The party, Gamaa al-Islamiyya, not only holds conservative views against sunbathing, women wearing shorts, and alcohol, but is also responsible for the 1997 attack in Luxor that killed 60 tourists. . . . This is a boneheaded move for a country that relies so heavily upon tourism for its economic well-being.
When you import half your calories, and tourism is your main source of foreign exchange to buy food, you want to make the tourists happy. I doubt this will do that.
JAMES TARANTO: Moonlight Serenade: Whom does Mrs. Weiner work for?
New York’s Daily News reports that white-knight Weiner “defended his wife” during a Saturday campaign appearance. “I’m proud of my wife and I’m proud of the work she’s done,” he said, adding that “she has done everything completely above-board with approval of the State Department.”
That may well be true–in which case the scandal here may be what’s above board rather than what’s below it. The Post reports that an unnamed State Department official “noted there were 100 such consultants at the agency.”
A hundred Abedin-size salaries would add up to $13.5 million–presumably not counting benefits–being paid to people whose work for the department has to compete with their outside gigs for their time and attention. Are they thoroughly screened for conflicts of interest? If so, that’s an addition expense for the taxpayers. If not, we can’t rule out the possibility that some State Department workers are trading on their access to what Grassley calls “political intelligence.
ROGER KIMBALL: James O’Keefe Is Back. “I’ve only just dipped a toe into the book, but already I can see that this intellectual heir to Andrew Breitbart has produced a devastating attack on the smary leftist establishment. I don’t expect to see it reviewed in The New York Times, but I’l wager it will rocket up that paper’s bestseller list. Don’t miss it.”
The book is Breakthrough: Our Guerrilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy. I will note that, like a lot of anti-Obama folks who achieved success earlier, O’Keefe was conveniently sidelined for the 2012 election. A coincidence, I’m sure.
BYRON YORK: Rise in illegal crossings roils immigration debate. “What Schumer conceded, perhaps in an unguarded moment, is that the border remains quite porous, and the U.S. can expect “lots of millions” to cross illegally in coming years if nothing more is done. The disagreement on Capitol Hill, of course, is over what should be done, but Schumer’s off-the-cuff analysis provides a lot of material for Republicans pressing for a guarantee of greater security measures before millions of illegal immigrants are given legal status.”
SHOCKER: Hidden camera catches wireless company employees passing out ‘Obama phones’ to people who say they’ll SELL them for drugs, shoes, handbags and spending cash. “The ‘Lifeline’ free-cell-phone scheme cost $2.2 Billion last year alone, all of it from fees added to the phone bills of paying customers. The biggest beneficiary other than low-income consumers is billionaire Carlos Slim Helu, whose TracFone has collected $1.5 Billion to date.”
J. CHRISTIAN ADAMS: Left Loses Big in Citizenship Verification Supreme Court Case. “In the last year, I’ve litigated five NVRA cases and worked on the preemption issues for years, and there is more to cheer in today’s opinion than bemoan. Those complaining about the opinion don’t understand what the Left’s goals were in this case: total federal preemption, and on that score, Justice Scalia foiled them. On that score, the decision today was a huge war won, even if the small Arizona battle was lost.”
BRUCE SCHNEIER: Blowback from NSA scandal will lead to more ‘Internet Nationalism,’ undermining U.S. diplomatic initiative for global Internet freedom. “Now, when countries like Russia and Iran say the US is simply too untrustworthy to manage the Internet, no one will be able to argue. We can’t fight for Internet freedom around the world, then turn around and destroy it back home. Even if we don’t see the contradiction, the rest of the world does.”
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Barack’s Best Friend Erdogan Not Looking Pretty.
Violence in Istanbul is threatening President Obama’s relationship with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. What started out as a protest against the development of a park has morphed into a show of much wider discontent. Over the weekend, more than two weeks after the protests started, police used tear gas and water cannons to clear Gezi Park of its protesters and spent most of Sunday chasing protesters and looters into shopping malls and upscale hotels.
To most outsiders, this looks like an excellent time for some soothing words and calming speeches in Turkey. Erdogan has a solid majority in parliament and his core supporters don’t seem fazed by the protests in Istanbul. (Think of Erdogan as the George W. Bush of Turkey, and the protesters are secular liberals who hate him as much or more than the American left hated W. The more the left protests, the more Erdogan’s base rallies to its man.) Making a few concessions, pulling the police back except where violence or looting actually occurs, and calming things down were the actions most of us would advise at a time like this.
But Turkish politics has its own rhythms, and Erdogan has his own priorities—and temperament. In response to the protests, he’s toughening his rhetoric and promising a crackdown.
Actually, Obama and Erdogan have similar approaches. Obama is just more constrained.
WELL, YOU JUST DID, DUMBASS: “‘There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it,’ a Rubio aide told me. ‘There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly.’”
Rubio has killed himself with his base through a classic example of hubris and Freshman overreach. He could have gotten behind an immigration bill, but getting behind this immigration bill, another cooked-up-in-a-backroom you’ve-got-to-pass-it-to-find-out-what’s-in-it monstrosity was a mistake. His second mistake, and the really fatal one, has been expressions of contempt toward his base. Suggesting that people who don’t support his bill are racist, and that American workers are dumb, is political poison. And his staff should know better than to say this kind of thing to any journalist, however friendly-seeming. All in all, a really disappointing performance from Rubio.
MORE: Prof. Stephen Clark writes:
Rubio’s staff, in instances like this, don’t reflect well upon his organization. He has since denounced the comments you quote. That said, I believe two things: First is that despite his Tea Party support, Rubio strikes me as instinctively a Bush-type moderate when it comes to the role of the federal government: compassionate conservatism take two. Second is that he is firmly convinced that he can carry moderates and a significant minority, if not the majority, of Hispanic voters in a general. He’s moving away from the base that elected him in hopes of enlarging his base for a national run. Unlike Paul or Cruz, he is explicitly courting the establishment of the Republican party. That tack has not hurt candidates running for the party’s presidential nomination. So his actions may alienate the base that first elected him, but he’s probably made the calculation that this base won’t get him the nomination in 2016.
P.S. He’s also courting the MSM constituency with his support of the current immigration bill: McCain is the model here.
And that worked out so well for McCain in the general election.
AT AMAZON, BESTSELLING BOOKS ON TIME MANAGEMENT. If you’ve been thinking about buying one, don’t put it off. . . .
And a reminder: InstaPundit is an Amazon affiliate. When you do your shopping through the Amazon links on this page, including the “Shop Amazon” tab at the top or the searchbox in the right sidebar, you support the blog at no cost to yourself. Just click on the Amazon link, then shop as usual. I thank you, and my family thanks you!
WELL, YES: “Is there anybody more vilified today than the American father?” But it’s true that dads don’t get a lot of respect in the popular culture. Plus: “Revealingly, the federal government spends $5 billion a year to enforce child support (usually from fathers) but just $10 million to enforce visitation rights (generally on behalf of fathers).”
THAT’S MORE THAN HAVE DONE SO HERE, I BELIEVE: Hundreds in Hong Kong protest NSA surveillance.
Suspended and arrested after refusing to change his NRA shirt. Today, 14-year-old Jared Marcum appeared before a judge and was officially charged with obstructing an officer.
A $500 fine and up to a year in jail, that’s the penalty that Jared could face, now that a judge has allowed the prosecution to move forward with it’s obstructing an officer charge against him.
“Me, I’m more of a fighter and so is Jared and eventually we’re going to get through this,” Jared’s father Allen Lardieri said. “I don’t think it should have ever gotten this far.”
The Logan County Police Department initially claimed that the at-the-time 8th grade Logan Middle School student was arrested for disturbing the education process, obstructing an officer and Lardieri says that officers even went as far as threatening to charge Jared with making terroristic threats.
“In my view of the facts, Jared didn’t do anything wrong,” Ben White, Jared’s attorney said. “I think officer Adkins could have done something differently.”
Prosecuting attorney Michael White refused to respond to any questions, as did Logan Police.
I hope that prosecuting attorney Michael White, as well as the school board, hear from a lot of people.
MEGAN MCARDLE: When Work Disappears: What do we do with people whose livelihoods are destroyed? This phenomenon is appearing all over. My colleague Ben Barton is working on a very interesting book about the future of the legal profession that catalogues all the ways technology and market forces are chewing up lawyers. When I finished his (surprisingly sunny) conclusion, I emailed him this quote from Arthur Allen Leff:
The radically unknown is always frightening (at least to those making out all right as is), especially considering how many lives can be lashed to pieces as a new distributional curve flails about, desperately seeking a new equilibrium.
There’s a lot of flailing going on, and there has for years been insufficient concern about what all the folks on the left half of the bell curve are going to do with their lives — only now it’s looking like the left 2/3 or maybe 3/4. I’m not sure what to do either. Here are my thoughts from a decade ago. I note that when the economy picked up, we heard less of that talk for a while. But I do think there’s something structural going on, not just an economic cycle.
The interesting thing, too, is that Paul Krugman, in the column Megan is responding to, flat-out admits that sending people to college doesn’t help much. In fact, it can hurt. For the book I’m working on now (basically a combination and substantial expansion of The Higher Education Bubble and The K-12 Implosion) I’ve been looking at research finding that students going in to college with identical “predictors” in terms of grades and test scores have very different trajectories coming out based on family income. The “strivers” with good scores but poor family backgrounds may actually do worse than if they hadn’t gone to college at all, as they often get distracted into partying and graduate with low grades and an overhang of student debt, winding up in jobs that they could have gotten without “investing” in college at all. One student’s father is quoted as comparing colleges’ sales pitches to TV infomercials. . . .
Of course, it’s not just technology that’s killing jobs. Regulation is killing jobs, too:
About 40% of Mr. Puzder’s employees are part-time and therefore exempt from ObamaCare’s coverage mandates. “That percentage of employees will probably go up. Everybody is hiring more part-time employees,” he says, though he is quick to add that “we’re not firing anyone to hire” part-time workers. “Through attrition, three full-time employees go away and you hire four part-time employees who basically have the same hours.”
Mr. Puzder also expects fast-food restaurants to deal with ObamaCare by replacing workers with kiosks. “You’re going to go into a fast-food restaurant and order on an iPad or tablet instead of talking to a person because we don’t have to pay benefits for any of those things.”
Krugman doesn’t seem focused on this problem.
PEGGY NOONAN: Privacy Isn’t All We’re Losing: The surveillance state threatens Americans’ love of country. Under Obama, it’s become less lovable. I suspect this isn’t entirely an accident. “Trust in government, historically, ebbs and flows, and currently, because of the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department, Benghazi, etc.—and the growing evidence that the executive agencies have been reduced to mere political tools—is at an ebb that may not be fully reversible anytime soon. It is a great irony, and history will marvel at it, that the president most committed to expanding the centrality, power, prerogatives and controls of the federal government is also the president who, through lack of care, arrogance, and an absence of any sense of prudential political boundaries, has done the most in our time to damage trust in government.”
Further thoughts here.
UPDATE: Poor Michael Gerson, who’s in the embarrassing position of being less clueful than Peggy Noonan.
THE PERILS OF GRANDSTANDING: Judge: Obama sex assault comments ‘unlawful command influence.’ So what about his comments on the Zimmerman trial? . . .
UPDATE: Yes, yes, I know that there’s no such thing as unlawful command influence in the civilian legal system. I’m just noting his tendency to politicize criminal cases.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:
Isn’t it interesting that here, in a case in which he is in the chain of command, he spoke out forcefully and, evidently, too pointedly. Contrast that with the Gosnell case, in which he had no part in the executive hierarchy but dodged answering questions with the invented excuse, “I can’t comment on it because it’s an active trial.”
I’m a Fed, so please don’t use my name.
Yes, consistency is not his strong suit. But, to be fair, no one has ever really demanded it of him.
MODERN FARMER: The Inside Story of a “Juror Revolt” in Amish Raw Milk Trial. Note that Judge Reynolds is no relation here. Interestingly, the lawyer was named Glenn Reynolds, and is no relation to the judge, or me. At least, no close relation: I was once told that all Reynoldses were basically kicked out of England in the early 18th Century and came over together in three chartered ships. I don’t know if that’s actually true, but it’s consistent — pretty much every one in my line of ancestry was kicked out of Europe at some point.
UPDATE: A reader emails: “I’ve served on 2 juries in my life–one acquittal, one guilty–but not for several years. With all I’ve seen in the last few years, I have reconsidered listening to a judge’s instructions. I’ve lost a lot of respect for the court system with the plea bargaining and prosecution antics I’ve read about. Not saying I’m for jury nullification, but I no longer naively look at a court proceeding as an impartial search for the facts. I guess I never should have.” Probably not.
And Mac Overton writes that we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of pasteurization, sending this:
The final proof of the benefits of pasteurized milk came when Straus began providing milk to an orphanage that had seen death rates as high as 42% from tuberculosis and other milk-borne diseases. The orphanage was located on Randall’s Island in the East River. All the milk it used was provided by a single herd of cows kept on the island, so it was easy to control the milk the orphans drank.
Straus started pasteurizing the orphanage’s milk in 1898. Within a year, the mortality rate dropped to 28%, and continued downward in the years that followed.. . .
In 1913, a typhoid fever epidemic struck New York, claiming thousands of victims. By now there was proof that typhoid fever was carried by milk, and that it could be killed through pasteurization. New York City finally stopped dragging its feet. By the end of 1914, 95% of the city’s milk supply was pasteurized. By 1917, nearly all of the 50 largest cities in the nation required pasteurization; the rest of the country would follow over the next several years.
The impact of pasteurized milk on public health was nothing short of astounding. In 1885 the infant mortality rate in New York City was 273 per 1,000 live births -more than 27%. By 1915 the infant mortality rate was 94 per 1,000, a drop of two-thirds.
Hey, I’m not knocking pasteurization.
THE ONE CONSTANT IS THEIR HAND IN YOUR POCKET: Classic: States debate taxing green cars to recover lost gas tax revenue.
I’m somewhat sympathetic to the notion that, because gas taxes pay for roads, it’s unfair for those who aren’t buying gas to get what critics call a literal free ride. This problem is more pronounced with bike riders who argue for reconfiguration of entire cities’ roads without throwing a whole bunch in the pot. But the larger point is how elaborately stupid, counterproductive, and at odds with themselves idiotic governments become in using our money to push for one policy with subsidized products, only to turn around and complain that all those subsidies are costing them money. Um, yes, that’s what we were saying years ago when you started subsidizing these cars with thousands of our dollars and lecturing us about how awesome it was going to be. STEP AWAY FROM THE RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINES IN YOUR MINDS. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING.
SO WITH CBS NEWS’ SHARYL ATTKISSON’S COMPUTER HACKED, a reader emails: “Did a politicized bureaucracy spy on the Romney/ GOP campaign and interfere with a Federal election?”
It gets harder and harder to write such suggestions off as absurd.
UPDATE: It would be interesting, wouldn’t it, to pull out some of the Romney campaign’s computers and see if they show the kind of evidence that CBS’s experts found on Attkisson’s computer?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Myk Zagorac writes: “I don’t think you could show any such tampering as I’m guessing they’ve been long since repurposed. But, weren’t iPads and laptops stolen out of a Romney staff member’s car? Why leave a hacking trail if you don’t have to?” I’m sure that was just a coincidence.
CHANGE: When Greens Endorse Nuclear Power. “It takes Robert Stone’s controversial new documentary Pandora’s Promise 30 minutes and five apostate environmentalists, but it finally gets to the point: Nuclear power, the energy source many people fear most, is the best and currently only way to satisfy the world’s voracious demand for electricity without producing carbon dioxide and other emissions that contribute to climate change.”
Yep. If you don’t support nuclear power, you’re not serious about limiting carbon emissions.
SINCE I DON’T HAVE A REAL SPLEEN, THIS INTERESTS ME: Artificial Spleen Offers Hope for Faster Sepsis Diagnosis and Treatment.
MICHAEL S. MALONE: The All-Seeing Eye. “The other day, my college age son quietly went around the house and put electricians tape over the camera lenses on the displays of all our home computers. I laughed when I discovered what he had done. . .then paused: after all, it wouldn’t be that hard for someone to remotely turn that camera on and secretly watch me and my family. I left the tape on. This is what it has come to. The revelations of recent days about the NSA being able to spy on the phone calls of millions of everyday Americans, without warrant, in search of a few possible terrorists has made everyone just a little more paranoid – and a little less trusting of the benign nature of our Federal government. The reality is that we may not yet be paranoid enough.”
MICKEY KAUS: The Secret DUI Factor.
I’m told, by a reliable and well-placed source, that a good deal of the Democratic opposition to John Cornyn’s proposed amendment to the Gang of 8 bill has nothing to do with border security. It has to do with DUIs. Specifically, Cornyn’s amendment would bar illegal immigrants with misdemeanor DUI convictions from ”probationary” legal status, which is the immediate legalization offered by Marco Rubio, et al, to most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants now living in the U.S.. For the pro-amnesty side, the exclusion of DUI offenders is apparently a deal-killer. There must be a lot of them!
Pro-Gang Democrats (and Republicans) understandably don’t want to publicize their DUI defense. DUI offenders are not an inherently popular group, and accidents in which undocumented immigrant drivers kill innocent civilians tend to be well publicized. It’s not a coincidence that Obama’s executive mini-amnesty of so-called “Dreamers”–issued before the 2012 election–claimed to exclude DUI offenders. But the broader Gang of 8 legislation, written after the election, allows two free misdemeanors–apparently including DUIs–before an illegal immigrant is disqualified.
Why such solicitude? You may well ask. (I am asking! — ed) And well you may!
A MAJOR PROBLEM FOR AMERICA: We don’t know how to employ geniuses.
JUSTICE: Horrifying Video Of Alleged Sexual Assault While Family Court Judge Literally Looks The Other Way. “The video is safe for work, but again feels more like a snuff film than a courtroom video. You’re watching a helpless person get violated by the system in real time. . . . Doninger has been sitting on the bench for almost two years since this incident, with no investigation, review, or punishment for her disgraceful behavior caught on video.”
WIRED: Why ‘I Have Nothing to Hide’ Is the Wrong Way to Think About Surveillance. Including this: “We won’t always know when we have something to hide. . . . If the federal government can’t even count how many laws there are, what chance does an individual have of being certain that they are not acting in violation of one of them? . . . If the federal government had access to every email you’ve ever written and every phone call you’ve ever made, it’s almost certain that they could find something you’ve done which violates a provision in the 27,000 pages of federal statues or 10,000 administrative regulations. You probably do have something to hide, you just don’t know it yet.”
This kind of ties together with Ham Sandwich Nation.
NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Eyeball Licking Causing Pinkeye In Japan. “I mean they don’t really make tongue rubbers, but maybe they should.”
MARK STEYN ON TODAY’S IRS: When Your W-2 Meets an AR-15. “When the IRS is accused of ‘targeting,’ don’t assume they’re speaking metaphorically. . . . A bureaucracy is bad. A politicized bureaucracy is worse. A paramilitary politicized bureaucracy is nuts. And, in fact, evil. There is no reason in a civilized society why the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Paperwork should have his own Seal Team Six.”
HOWARD NEMEROV INTERVIEWS AUTHOR ROB OLIVE: “I have NO confidence whatsoever that some sort of gun registry doesn’t already exist, in light of the NSA revelation, IRS revelation, AP wiretap revelation, etc.” Don’t be ridiculous. A gun registry would be in violation of federal law. Our law enforcers would never break the law.
RON FOURNIER: Why I Don’t Care About Edward Snowden: Hero or traitor? The White House would love to distract us from its actions. “The Snowden narrative matters mostly to White House officials trying to deflect attention from government overreach and deception, and to media executives in search of an easy storyline to serve a celebrity-obsessed audience.”
Dubbed the “nuclear codes” by campaign aides, the Obama campaign database is widely described as one of the most powerful tools ever developed in American politics. According to published reports, it contains the names of at least 4 million Obama donors – as well as millions of others (the campaign has consistently refused to say how many) compiled from voter registration rolls and other public databases. In addition, the campaign used sophisticated computer programs — with code names like “Narwhal” — to collect information through social media: Anybody who contacted the campaign through Facebook had their friends and “likes” downloaded. If they contacted the campaign website through mobile apps, cellphone numbers and address books were downloaded. Computer “cookies” captured Web browsing and online spending habits. . . . Reading this story in the context of the just-concluded campaign, it all seemed mildly spooky. . . . The IRS became an arm of the Obama campaign, at least in practice if not in name, from 2010 to 2012. Did the NSA do anything similar? Was there any overlap at all between the data-mining tools and techniques used by the Obama campaign and the data-mining tools and techniques used by the National Security Agency?
Even if actual data didn’t migrate from the NSA program, I wonder if know-how didn’t cross over. Were some of the same people from Facebook, Google, etc. working on both? That would be interesting to find out. This makes James Taranto’s “President Asterisk” point look still more salient.
UPDATE: Reader Jim Bullock writes:
Did not the administration crow quite a bit over the last year about targeting “connectors” among Al Qaeda higher-ups as a means of disabling the system? These people were selected as targets for drones and other “actions” based on their being connectors.
So, we seem to think identifying connectors works, and removing them harms the networks. It is worthwhile making them targets, simply on the basis of being connectors.
Meanwhile, the “innocuous” “metadata” collected on US citizens is nothing to worry about, except you can build with it connection maps to *find* bridging folks (who’s removal would cripple the whole network), and DHS has identified some very interesting groups and positions as terrorist, or potentially terrorist. Christians, by name, for one.
I really do not want to start wearing a tinfoil hat, but it’s seemingly more
stupid every day to do otherwise.
In the Obama era, it’s not whether you’re paranoid. It’s whether you’re paranoid enough.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader writes:
It appears to me that something is not being highlighted enough. Preston makes excellent points about the thoroughness of the Obama information on their own donors, and how to use that information. You yourself make the connection about the know-how to use what the NSA programs were doing and apply it to their own campaign.
Are people yet making the connection between the data that the IRS was trying to compile on Tea Party groups and the NSA program structure? We have heard how the questionaires being sent to the 501(c)4 groups were asking for social networking contacts, donor lists, websites, etc…..
It seems to me that this targetted collection of networking data was being done explicitly to build up the same sort of deep database of their political opponents. Even the recent fun mental exercise of identifying Paul Revere as one of the lynch-pins of the American Revolution by using the same techniques, this data collection on political enemies is designed to do the exact same thing. Find those most crucial in either influence, fundraising, publishing, and education, and do………. what? I’m sure it isn’t to help, and if not, what is left?
I think this needs to be pointed out repeatedly, the NSA programs and the IRS data collection are intrinsically tied together and this needs to be shouted from the rooftops.
If you publish, please use only my first name. I realize the NSA has probably already read this, and I’m sure you and your website are already identified as one of those ‘nodes’ that bridges many gaps. Lucky You.
It does seem a bit suspicious, doesn’t it?
The results for the IRS were striking. Of the IRS lawyers who made contributions in the 2012 election, 95% contributed to Obama rather than to Romney. So among IRS lawyers, the ratio of Obama contributors to Romney contributors was not merely 4-to-1 as previously reported, but more like 20-to-1. The ratio of funds to Obama was even more lopsided, with about 32 times as much money going to Obama as to Romney from IRS lawyers.
So has the IRS gone off the rails into hyper-partisanship, leaving behind other more balanced federal agencies? … The data show, however, that the partisanship of the lawyers in the IRS is not unusual or even particularly extreme among federal agencies. In fact, the lawyers in every single federal government agency–from the Department of Education [100%] to the Department of Defense [68%] — contributed overwhelmingly to Obama compared to Romney. The table below shows the results for all agencies with at least 20 employees who contributed to either Obama or Romney. . . . The root of the problem is the rule by a class of career government employee lawyers who lack the diversity of opinion that is found in the non-lawyer private sector. The IRS inquiry, rather than focusing narrowly on “who knew what” within the agency, should lead to a top-to-bottom rethinking of who’s doing the administration in the modern bureaucratic administrative state.
This makes the notion of a “nonpartisan” civil service ring rather hollow.
UPDATE: Reader Brenda Schoer writes: “Given the job market for lawyers, is it really possible that not a single Republican lawyer applied for a job at the Dept of Ed? Do these government agencies have to put ‘REPUBLICANS NEED NOT APPLY’ on job postings to warrant an EEOC or DOJ investigation?”
Well, J. Christian Adams has documented highly politicized hiring at the Justice Department, so don’t expect much from that quarter.
MORE: Here’s the original post on this, from Rob Anderson at Pepperdine.
READER CHRISTOPHER FOX EMAILS: “Don’t have time to scan your blog and see if you already mentioned it, but the $500 Xbox One is now available for preorder on Amazon. If you’re allowed, I’d throw something up on your page and try and catch some of that sweet lucre.” Thanks! Done. Any lucre that results will be much appreciated. Some worry that the Xbox One is a privacy threat, but of course, nowadays what privacy is left to threaten?
MICKEY KAUS: Don’t Let The Scandals Distract You: The Immigration Bill Is The Biggest Deal. “It’s time to wake up! Conservatives — while you are (rightly) excited about NSA snooping and partisan IRS corruption, the Congress is about to change America in a more profound, permanent way right under your noses. In the process it will hand President Obama the major second term achievement that will help him overcome the very scandals that are distracting you–or, rather, make his survival or re-ascendance unimportant. He will have won. Democrats will have shaped the future electorate to their own liking. They’ll have transformed what America is.”
To be fair, I heard Limbaugh last week saying that the immigration bill was the single most important thing going on. But it’s hard to stay focused in this environment. Hey, maybe there’s something to the dense-pack theory after all . . . .
WHAT KIND OF OPERATION WAS HILLARY RUNNING? State Dept. Inspector General: U.S. Ambassador to Belgium ‘Solicited Prostitutes, Including Minors.’
Plus: “Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy ordered the investigation ceased, and the ambassador remains in place, according to the memo. Gutman was a big Democratic donor before taking the post, having raised $500,000 for President Obama’s 2008 campaign and helping finance his inaugural.”
A MILLIONAIRE? You still can’t afford to retire.
Efforts by the Fed and others to stimulate the economy by keeping interest rates low have produced cheaper mortgages, but they have also hit savers hard. As the report notes, benchmark Treasury yields have remained below four percent since the beginning of the financial crisis. If an ordinary American’s portfolio income is below four percent, withdrawing that much annually, combined with inflation, will bleed his portfolio over time.
Even millionaires in the top eight to ten percent of American households now need to be more careful with their retirement plans. The only safe retirement advice remains: save more than you think you should, and plan to work longer.
With people living well into their eighties and beyond, retirement at 65 is now out of the question for most Americans. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Work is natural to human beings and keeps us mentally and physically more healthy. And besides, the social goal of mass retirement in the mid-sixties is simply not possible anymore. All of us need to make the attitude adjustment that 70 or even 72 is the new 65.
Welcome to the Senior Squeeze. Related: Obama Recovery Going So Well That Two-Thirds Are Delaying Retirement.
UPDATE: Reader J. Johnson writes:
In re the squeeze on seniors (of which I am one), you might want to mention that Bernanke’s ‘Zero Interest Rate Policy’ ZIRP has decimated the savings of people like me because we now earn essentially no interest on the money we saved for a lifetime, so we must dip into principal to pay our bills. Meanwhile, the TBTF banks wallow like hogs at the Fed window to get no-interest money they can use to ramp up the stock market and give Obama talking points about how the economy is recovering because stock prices are up. I don’t think this is going to end well for anybody.
PROF. JACOBSON: Lasciviousness In The Defense of Liberty Is A Vice. “As this plays out, it’s not clear that Snowden has added a lot to what we already knew, as Mandy pointed out this morning, but it does cause us to focus our attention on the potential for abuse particularly in light of the IRS targeting.”
Plus: “Flashback: NSA personnel would trade clips of eavesdropped phone sex between US soldiers abroad and wives in US.”
UPDATE: Related: Spy center missed bomb suspect, watched JP peace activists. “A controversial police spy agency overlooked the alleged Boston Marathon bombing mastermind, but kept secret files on local peace activists—possibly including marathon rescue hero Carlos Arredondo. The Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), an anti-terrorism agency run by the Boston Police Department with state and federal support, was the focus of Congressional scrutiny this month for failing to know anything about the late marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, both before and immediately after the April 15 attack, despite the Russian government warning the FBI about his possible terrorist training activities.”
MEGAN MCARDLE: Why Whistleblowers Are Weird. “We may well end up grateful to Edward Snowden, and also find that we don’t like him very much. Of course, Edward Snowden probably doesn’t care. After all, if he cared about people liking him as much as the rest of us do, he probably wouldn’t have been able to do with he did.”
WELL, THAT’S A RELIEF: Obama: ‘We Don’t Want to Tax All Businesses Out of Business.’
THOUGH IF OBAMA WAS SNOOPING ON CONGRESS, YOU’D THINK HE’D HAVE DONE BETTER AT MOVING HIS LEGISLATION. Snooping Concerns Emerge Over Congressional Blackberries Serviced By Verizon. “Through a blanket seizing of these communications, the NSA is permanently intercepting and storing privileged material. This rasies further constitutional issues regarding separation of powers.”
NSA WHISTLEBLOWER GOES PUBLIC. Some are calling him a hero, others a traitor. I’d say it’s a bit early to form an opinion, though the stuff he’s released is creating a much-needed stir. It’s very interesting to see the traditional left-right split erode, as Glenn Beck praises Glenn Greenwald’s big scoop.
UPDATE: A dissent from the widespread sentiment by reader John Burke:
I think it’s reprehensible that so much of the right of all colorations have fallen over themselves to team up with Glenn Greenwald, a hard-core leftist who finds nothing to like about the US or its policies and consistently defends terrorists, and the Guardian, a foreign left-wing paper to recklessly bash NSA intelligence gathering — no doubt in most cases because it casts Obama as a hypocrite on counter-terrorism issues.
A close reading of the NSA disclosures so far makes clear these are programs designed to collect foreign intelligence information at a time when most international communication has moved onto web platforms and phone calls are mostly mobile. Exposure of details about these programs risks harm not only to counter-terrorism activities (just how do you suppose CIA pinpoints al Qaeda targets in Pakistan for drone strikes?), but to all of our intelligence gathering and counter-espionage activities. Buried in a NYT story about PRISM is a reported fact that should give everyone pause: the biggest haul of data from PRISM in one recent period came from Iran.
Now, Greenwald’s stoolie has fled to Hong Kong where he hopes to be shielded by the Communist Chinese, great lovers of freedom as they are, while he spouts about how courageous he is.
It would be very disappointing to at least some of your longest term readers if you fell for this. These guys are out to do as much damage as they can to the United States.
Well, as I say, stay tuned.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:
In response to reader John Burke’s comment on your post, specifically this part:
“These guys are out to do as much damage as they can to the United States.”
Who says this isn’t the same goal of the current regime in Washington? Everything that has happened since Obama took office either seems designed to hurt the US as much as possible or is the product of complete incompetence. Unfortunately, I don’t think Obama is that dumb. Biden, maybe.
I work in higher ed in a high level administrator position, so please don’t attach my name to anything as I face Obama fanboys all day long. It would make my already challenging days more difficult.
Good point. And reader Mark Cridland writes:
I lost a lot of respect for you a few minutes ago when reading your comments about Snowdon. I can’t imagine why it would be “a bit early to form an opinion.” This is just as clean a call against overpowering and centralized government authority as can be imagined.
(Why do NSA disclosures require “a close reading”?… Except that perhaps Burke-types like to imagine themselves as specially-perceptive people who really know how to parse information, just like these monsters in our government who’ve spent our money collecting it. About us.)
Well, I’ve been counting on Twitter for a couple of years now, and it handily completes the chores that your blog handled in the early days after the attacks, when Kaus so aptly described your perspective as “catholic.” I’ll never understand how intervening events have left you so timid, but it doesn’t really matter.
There’s a good chance that even Snowden doesn’t really know who he’s working for. Bear that in mind. But reader Chris Bray writes:
Your anti-Snowden reader is full of shit. The NSA is not building that Utah facility to narrowly examine carefully chosen foreign targets as security threats. We’re transitioning to a total surveillance society, and Edward Snowden is trying to tell us about some of it. This is where we sort the limited government conservatives from the Lindsey Graham crowd.
Well, stay tuned. Just remember that you may or may not know what’s really going on.
IN RESPONSE TO THE SPYING SCANDALS, a lawyer-reader emails:
When I was in law school, the US armed forces were banned from the on-campus interview process because of what the law school establishment viewed as their lack of respect for human rights. It cannot be gainsaid that no organization serves as a greater threat to the human rights of those living in the United States than the U.S. Department of Justice, which has run roughshod over civil liberties and continues to push the envelope in redefining acceptable law enforcement conduct. I can’t really understand how any law student would want to join in these efforts — even when more respectable legal work is so hard to come by — but the legal academy can demonstrate where they stand in this battle by refusing to aid and abet the DOJ through the use of their on-campus interview programs. Let’s add the IRS to the banned list to while we are at it.
If you publish this idea, please don’t use my name. Let’s make the DOJ subpoena our email providers to get it.
Well, I won’t give it up without a court order.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Waiter and waitress nation: The May payrolls report shows the US creating jobs, just not many good ones.
Well, the Silicon Valley plutocrats who donate to Obama need people to handle the valet parking.
UPDATE: A reader email: “Remember when Bush was president…..and Liberals derided the jobs being created as ones ‘flipping burgers?’ Amazing how their current position on the political power food chain colors some people’s perceptions.” Yes, those were called McJobs.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Employment In U.S. Lags Where It Was In 2007. “While several European countries have fared worse, Canada, Sweden and even Britain, which is trapped in yet another recession, have enjoyed healthier job gains than the United States. In fact, of the nine countries surveyed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only perennially-troubled Italy and Japan performed worse.” But Obama’s big Wall Street donors have done well.
SO I JUST WATCHED AN NYC LOCAL NEWS STORY (PIX 11 NEWS) ON THE SANTA MONICA SHOOTING, and they never mentioned the shooter’s name, which is John Zawahri. Instead they spent a lot of time talking about guns.
UPDATE: A reader emails: “I don’t know how significant the ‘Middle Eastern’ness of the last name really is. Most Arabs in America are Christian. The first names of the brothers ‘John’ and ‘Chris’ are not very Islamic.”
Yeah, but the point is what the press doesn’t think we should know.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Santa Monica gunman had past mental issues, police sources say. Typical. Also typical is that not much was done, even though apparently everyone saw him as a powderkeg.
“You folks in the media, I challenge you to add another [notch] to your resume. Learn about guns. Take a safety course,” Heller told a room of reporters at the National Press Club. “If you don’t … you’re going to have a struggle understanding the process. When I see people take a firearms class, and they start out as antigun, they enjoy it, they start to absorb that environment. If you did, you would not make mistakes, like calling a magazine a clip.”
That advice is one the gun rights community has offered before.
But the press, for the most part, hasn’t listened.
GLENN DERENE: Why the NSA Prism Program Could Kill U.S. Tech Companies. “Spying on foreigners could create a terrible blowback to the U.S. economy. Has it really come to this? . . . If you lived in Japan, India, Australia, Mexico, or Brazil, and you used Gmail, or synced your photos through iCloud, or chatted via Skype, how would you feel about that? Let’s say you ran a business in those countries that relied upon information services from a U.S. company. Don’t these revelations make using such a service a business liability? In fact, doesn’t this news make it a national security risk for pretty much any other country to use information services from companies based in the U.S.? How should we expect the rest of the world to react? Here’s a pretty good guess: Other countries will start routing around the U.S. information economy by developing, or even mandating, their own competing services.”
UPDATE: A reader emails: “I’ve been wondering why nobody that I’ve read has connected this to Obama’s high tech campaign that won the election. Who could forget the picture of the crazy looking guy with the big hair,glasses and earrings who worked for Obama?”
MORE: Another reader writes:
I thought I was the only thinking such thoughts. The difference is I have been thinking them since the election and my first thought when I heard about the data sweep was the election. Here is why: The turnouts still make no sense to me. How does someone vote for McCain and not for Romney? I can’t get past that basic question. Since the election we have learned of the high tech wizardry of the Obama campaign, we know there was election fraud, we know Obama was effective in shaping Romney’s image using TV and early ads but I still can’t get past that basic question. So what if in addition to all I have just listed the wizardry was not solely used to predict the election and turn out the vote for Obama? What if data (from NSA or Google or Facebook or Apple) was used to reduce Romney’s turnout by identifying lukewarm voters and shaping social network messages with the intent of getting them to stay home? Not switching them, but just getting them to stay home. If you had enough of the right data for large enough of a population you could swing an election.
But wait there is more: Charles Martin wrote about this a bit, but I also was a volunteer for Romney’s high tech effort to get out the vote called Project Orca . It was such a disaster I have long believed there were several Obama moles on the Orca team and that they sabotaged it. Ok, I didn’t really believe that, but it was the best explanation I could come up with. The revelations in the last week have caused me to reassess and I now believe Orca was hacked. IE cyber sabotage. Which is the simplest explanation for the problems that I know about.
Well, it’s certainly nothing you can dismiss out of hand, at this point.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Chris Jefferson writes:
Please don’t let a former Romney operative blame the NSA or Google for the bill of goods that was sold to the hapless Mitt Romney by a school of K-Street sharks. They never even tested that thing to make sure that it worked.
But they all got paid! With money looted from faithful Romney contributors all over the country.
Orca was a disaster from the word “go”!
Well, that is certainly true.
A GOLD MEDAL IN THE HYPOCRISY OLYMPICS: Obama Tells Fatcat Donors Democrats Favor Free-Market Solutions and Less Government Regulation.
“IT DOESN’T STOP IN CINCINNATI:” Cleta Mitchell on how to investigate the IRS.
Ms. Mitchell says she learned this week that the IRS even intervened in the business dealings of a donor to conservative causes. “There were two public companies that were in the process of trying to do a merger and somehow the IRS stepped in and demanded all this information and said, ‘If you don’t give it to us we’ll stop this merger,’ ” she says. “But I cannot get [the donor] to come forward . . . ‘Look I’ve been through this hassle with the IRS. I don’t need any more.’ People are really afraid and the donors are the most afraid.”
See, it’s the IRS that should be afraid here, not its victims.
MICKEY KAUS: Handy U-Print-It Pocket Guide: Why S.744′s a Fraud. “Senate debate on S.744, the Schumer-Rubio ‘comprehensive’ immigration amnesty bill, is scheduled to start within days. As a public service, kausfiles provides this handy pocket guide to the provisions of the bill that promise tough future enforcement, etc. –and the reasons why they don’t do what they pretend to do. You can print a PDF of this guide here.”
UPDATE: A reader emails:
What if Google killed Reader (a decision that still seems to make little sense to the active user) over PRISM? That is, for those that use Reader for their surfing, it’s a giant collated list of most of what they do online. If the feds were including Reader requests along with all of the email, etc. that they were scooping up, might Google’s best defense (if they were in fact trying to follow the “Don’t be Evil credo”) be to simply discontinue the service and at least quit generating the history going forward?
And what if all this web data was shared with a campaign apparatus? Wouldn’t this be a great way to target your resources towards states that were winnable over ones that were probably (based on web traffic analysis) outside of your abilities to win? Isn’t this just an extension of the Nate Silver type approach, but with orders of magnitude more data to work with? Incumbents would be all but invincible with this kind of information. And that doesn’t even get into the ability to blackmail just about anyone based on something in their web history over the last 15 years.
Please withhold my name if published. I don’t want that thing pointing at me. Though I guess it doesn’t matter anymore, since they’re reading this email anyway. This should bother everyone a whole lot more than it seems to be right now.
I think people are catching on.
THE TELEGRAPH: Not superhuman Barack Obama, just a very naughty boy.
This, so Barack Obama used to say in his stump speech of 2008, “is not who we are”, and the thousands who ecstatically cheered that slightly glib line instinctively knew what he meant. “This” was shorthand for George W Bush, and for those oppressively dark and fetid corners of government activity with which his name was synonymous: Guantanamo Bay, drones, the surveillance powers granted to the state by the Patriot Act, and the other measures taken in response to the atrocities of 9/11.
As for the “we”, in its royal or imperial usage that of course meant “I, Obama”, but it also referred to the wide-eyed disciples who worshipped him as a deus ex machina, floating down from his Illinois Olympus to cast healing sunlight on all those dirty little nooks and crevices, and allow America to call herself the land of the free without inviting sardonic smirks.
Five years on, Guantanamo Bay survives, the teenage computer gamers of the US military guide ever more drones to deliver remote control destruction, and we now learn that the government’s use of electronic surveillance is so wide-ranging that the default adjective of Orwellian barely seems adequate.
There is no form of communication or online activity – phone calls, emails, web page visits, Skype, social networks, and so on – that the National Security Agency, under its Prism programme, may not follow as and when the fancy takes. It can track users’ activities in real time. Assuming it has the technical capability remotely to activate lap top cameras, the age of the telescreen has arrived.
PRIVACY: Google bans Glass from its own shareholder meeting. “Google shareholders and other individuals were in for a surprise when they arrived at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Thursday. Google, ironically, banned attendees from wearing the company’s own wearable computing device at the meeting. The company forbade people from using electronic devices such as smartphones, cameras and recording devices. The restriction infuriated the nonprofit watchdog organization Consumer Watchdog, which called out Google executives as hypocrites.”
FLASHBACK: What I wrote about Patriot Act talk just after September 11. It holds up pretty well, I think . . . .
THEY APOLOGIZE, BUT THEY DON’T CHANGE: IRS apologizes for lavish conference spending, plastic fish.
Multiculturalists are no less prone than other human beings to be hostile to out-groups. It’s just that they are willing to accept almost anyone foreign, or otherwise identifiably different, into their in-group. The only out-groups they readily recognize are familiar, domestic ones, like the “other communities” that, according to Rae Binstock, “don’t have to deal with the idea that lots of communities of different people have to coexist.” It all goes back to oikophobia.
So much does. Plus: “Moral responsibility is the essence of humanity. It is what sets Homo sapiens apart from other animals. Assigning moral responsibility to whites while denying it to nonwhites is therefore a way of dehumanizing the latter. Multiculturalism turns out to be a disguised form of white supremacy.”
CHART OF THE DAY: Student Loan Debt is Skyrocketing. “I understand why this has happened, and I understand why it’s hard to get a handle on, but we’re going to regret it if we don’t do something about this. We’re training a whole generation to be wary of going to college, and for those who do, we’re forcing them to start out their lives living under a mountain of debt. . . . It’s also yet another fault line between young and old that’s not likely to turn out well. My generation got a cheap college education when we were young, and we’re getting good retirement benefits now that we’re old. Pretty nice. But now we’re turning around and telling today’s 20-somethings that they should pay through the nose for college, keep paying taxes for our retirements, and oh by the way, when it comes time for you to retire your benefits are going to have to be cut. So sorry. And all this despite the fact that the country is richer than it was 50 years ago.”
THIS ISN’T HOW I ENVISIONED THE 21ST CENTURY: The Meth-Fueled, Weeklong Orgies Ravaging London’s Gay Sex-Party Scene. “David Stuart told me that around 75 percent of the 800 men being treated at Antidote’s services are HIV positive, with 60 percent failing to adhere to their HIV treatment when under the influence of drugs.”
ANN ALTHOUSE: Character assassination attempted on 5th Circuit Judge Edith Jones. “This is truly scurrilous. I’m embarrassed for these organizations — so-called civil rights groups — who filed this complaint. . . . She gave a speech. You don’t have the text, but you’d like to destroy her. Why not just argue and debate about the ideas? Instead, you tell us about how you — who don’t like her legal decisions — felt an upswelling of emotion over whatever it was she said. Shame on you!”
WHEN WOMEN DON’T WANT SEX, it’s all the fault of men. Well, yeah. I mean, what isn’t? And it’s not sexist to say that. But if a man were to suggest that booming sales of erectile-dysfunction drugs are driven by the upsurge in obesity among American women, well, he’d be savaged by all right-thinking people. Because sexism.
THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR MITT ROMNEY, ARTISTS WOULD BE JAILED OVER POLITICAL SENSIBILITIES. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Teen Jailed for Rap Lyrics Posted After Boston Bombings.
A Massachusetts teen has been jailed for a month without bail on charges of making a bomb threat after writing rap lyrics that some found threatening following the Boston Marathon bombings.
Cameron D’Ambrosio, 18, was arrested May 1 after friends saw a message he posted to his Facebook page and reported him to his high school principal.
Within hours, police picked him up and later executed a search warrant at the home of his parents, seizing a laptop and Xbox but finding no evidence of explosives, weapons or anything else to indicate he planned to act on any threat, says his attorney. He’s been held without bail since his arrest while authorities convene a grand jury to determine if there is probable cause to indict him. Prosecutors successfully argued that D’Ambrosio was a danger to the public and needed to be held without bail.
The post D’Ambrosio wrote referred to the Boston Marathon bombings that occurred on April 15 and killed three bystanders and have been attributed to two local Chechen brothers.
D’Ambrosio is an aspiring rapper and has posted a number of YouTube videos of himself rapping under the name CammyDee (see video above).
In his post, D’Ambrosio allegedly wrote “fuck a boston bombinb [sic] wait till u see the shit I do, I’ma be famous for rapping, and beat every murder charge that comes across me!”
Police Chief Joseph Solomon said that jokes about bombing and killing people don’t fly in an age when such real events are a regular occurrence.
Apparently, Chief Solomon doesn’t understand the law, or the meaning of “jokes.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE: Telling Women They Don’t Need to Lose Weight Doesn’t Do Them Any Favors. “What I’m finding is a puzzling combination of the ‘fat acceptance’ or ‘body acceptance’ and politeness being used against women who are really trying to do something good for themselves. . . . Body acceptance is not about trapping someone in any one particular body.”
RECRUITING VICTIMS for the campus sexual-harassment industry. Remember guys, if you go to online school, you don’t have to worry about bogus sex charges.
And here’s a piece of research I’d like to see: What’s the racial/gender makeup of the campus student-conduct offices regulating this sort of thing? I’ll bet it’s not representative of the student body.
I’M GOING TO GO WITH A COMBINATION OF DEEP, ABIDING IGNORANCE COMBINED WITH INTENSE AND UNREFLECTIVE POLITICAL AND CULTURAL BIAS. Why Does the American Media Get Big Stories Wrong? When you’re dumb, but smug, you make a lot of mistakes. And you don’t learn from them.
TRYING TO AVOID THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION’S SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY: Purging My Syllabus. “I’ll have to come up with some alternative readings if we’re going to have anything at all to talk about in class. I don’t know yet what I’m going to substitute, but I’m leaning toward Winnie the Pooh, Where the Red Fern Grows, and the Sears Roebuck catalog, Fall/Winter 1963.”
UPDATE: More on sexual harassment from Peter Wood.
SOMEONE WITH THE CREDIBILITY THE POSITION DESERVES: Susan “YouTube” Rice to take over as National Security Adviser.
CLAIRE BERLINSKI: The Real Trigger Behind The Protests In Turkey. “Briefly, it is this: A large segment of the population is infuriated by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attitude. To wit: The people who didn’t vote for me don’t matter – screw them. This is not new; he has always been this way. But the constraints upon his authoritarian impulses – the army, the independent judiciary, the opposition press – have systematically been eroded over time, leading to ever more authoritarian policies.” Good thing nothing like that could happen here.
DONALD KAGAN ON the future of liberal education. “It was once common to think of the medieval university as very different, as a place that focused on learning for its own sake. But the medieval universities, whatever their commitment to learning for its own sake, were institutions that trained their students for professional careers.”
READER BOOK PLUG: Reader Thomas Neven asks me to plug his book, Sir, the Private Don’t Know: Sixteen Weeks of Hell on Parris Island. He calls it “an account of Marine boot camp as it existed 40 years ago. It was a much different place then from now.”
MEGAN MCARDLE: The Economic History Of Stereotypes. “I mean, while I haven’t done a survey, I’m sure that most black people love fried chicken, because everyone loves fried chicken except vegetarians and women from New York who have convinced themselves that they don’t like anything with more than 15 calories. Fried chicken is sublimely delicious when done right, and even when it’s done wrong, it’s not bad. How did people get the idea that loving tender, crispy fried chicken was some strange thing that only racial minorities do? . . . Until World War II, chicken was not cheap; it was more expensive than beef. Of course, we don’t have good price data for the pre-Civil War south, but given the relative scarcity of meat in 19th century diets, I’m pretty skeptical that plantation owners were giving their slaves a lot of chicken.”
WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Immigration bill lacks the 60 Senate votes needed to pass. “The immigration reform bill headed to the Senate floor lacks the 60 votes it needs to advance and will likely have to be partially rewritten to win congressional approval, proponents of the bill said. Democratic and Republican sources working to build support for the bill agreed that garnering the necessary GOP votes would require amending the legislation to strengthen its border security components. Additionally, there are senators on both sides of the aisle who don’t support the current measure because of provisions other than border security who also must be appeased.”
Polls show it’s a low priority to most Americans.
THE HILL: GOP threatens IRS purse strings.
GOP appropriators on Monday said they would use the IRS’s purse strings to get answers about how and why it targeted conservative groups.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said his panel may impose conditions on IRS funding, calling the targeting tantamount to a political enemies list that harkens back to “a dark page in our past.”
Other Republicans on the panel wondered how Congress, in the words of Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), “should spend one more dime” on the agency without having more answers on how the tax agency is currently operating.
“We will not rest until this is done,” Rogers told Danny Werfel, the acting IRS chief, at an Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Monday.
“And I don’t need to remind you or anybody else that the power of the purse rests with the Congress, and we’re prepared to use that purse to get to the truth.”
Zero out their conference budget. That seems to be the thing they value most.
IF YOU WANT TO RAISE MEN WITHOUT CHESTS, YOU HAVE TO START EARLY: Hero Teen Punished by School for Stopping Knife-Wielding Bully. This sort of behavior by “educators” needs to be stigmatized and punished, with names named. But bear in mind that “Sir John A. Macdonald junior high school does not ‘condone heroics,’” and that its principal’s name is Michael Bester, from whom we can be fairly certain to expect nothing in the least bit heroic, ever.
MARC THIESSEN: What About Those Leaks, Mr. Holder? “Let’s not forget that the real scandal here is the serial disclosures of highly classified information by senior Obama officials — leaks that have done immense damage to our national security. Instead of being outraged that Attorney General Eric Holder subpoenaed the phone and e-mail records of Fox News reporter James Rosen, we should be demanding to know if Holder has been equally aggressive in going after the records of reporters from the New York Times, The Post and other news outlets — records that could lead directly to members of the president’s inner circle.”
IRS SCANDAL UPDATE: IRS Targeted GOP Donors, Too.
Half of recent college graduates don’t have jobs or don’t use their degree in the jobs they find. Since 1990, the cost of college has increased at four times the rate of inflation. Student loans are clocking in at $1 trillion.
Something’s got to give. Education is going to change, the question is how and when. Think about it: Today’s job market—whether you’re designing new drugs, fracking for oil, writing mobile apps or marketing Pop Chips—requires graduates who can think strategically in real time, have strong cognitive skills, see patterns, work in groups and know their way around highly visual virtual environments. This is the same generation that grew up playing online games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, but who are almost never asked to use their online skills in any classroom.
MOOCs will inevitably come to K-12 education too.
AN INDEPTH LOOK AT the Justice Department’s jiggery-pokery in the Rosen case. We don’t actually think he was a co-conspirator, we just called him one so the judge would give us the warrant! “If they did not believe Rosen was committing a crime, they shouldn’t have been invoking that part of the PPA. Either they were really accusing him of a crime or they weren’t. I mean, you can’t have it both ways. It’s very troubling.”
The Benghazi scandal was and is shocking, and the Justice Department assault on the free press, in which dogged reporters are tailed like enemy spies, is shocking. Benghazi is still under investigation and someday someone will write a great book about it. As for the press, Attorney General Eric Holder is on the run, and rightly so. They called it the First Amendment for a reason. But nothing can damage us more as a nation than what is happening at the Internal Revenue Service. Elite opinion in the press and in Washington doesn’t fully understand this. Part of the reason is that it’s not their ox being gored, it’s those messy people out in America with their little patriotic groups.
Those who aren’t deeply distressed about the IRS suffer from a reluctance or inability to make distinctions, and a lack of civic imagination.
Dumb flyover slopeheads. Even if the audits were wrong, it’s probably best to keep them in their place.
It is considered a bit of a faux pas to point this out, but what we are talking about in part is a Democratic president, a largely Democratic professional administrative class in Washington, and an IRS whose workers belong to a union whose political action committee gave roughly 95% of its political contributions last year to Democrats. Tim Carney had a remarkable piece in the Washington Examiner this week in which he looked for campaign contributions from the IRS Cincinnati office. “In the 2012 election, every donation traceable to this office went to President Obama or liberal Sen. Sherrod Brown.” An IRS employee said in an email to Mr. Carney, “Do you think people willing to sacrifice lucrative private sector careers to work in tax administration . . . are genuinely going to support the party directed by Grover Norquist?” Mr. Carney noted that one of his IRS correspondents had an interesting detail on his social media profile. He belongs to a Facebook FB -0.00% group called “Target the Shutdown at the Tea Party States.” It advised the president, during the 2011 debt-ceiling fight: “For instance, shut down air traffic control at airports in Norfolk, Tampa, Nashville.”
Wow. I guess that was target practice.
Honestly, we might be better off abolishing the civil service and going back to the spoils system. At least then there’s no pretense of fairness, and you know who to blame.
UPDATE: Reader Mark Miller writes of Peggy Noonan’s conversion:
I know you often mention Noonan’s ridiculous attacks on McCain/Palin back in 2008 when she criticizes Barry these days. But in can’t be repeated often enough. People like you knew and told people (repeatedly) what was coming if Obama won. You didn’t know the exact detail of the abuses of power that would come but you knew they were coming. People like Peggy Noonan, David Brooks and Christopher Buckley, on the other hand, assured us that John McCain was too unpredictable for the Presidency and Sarah Palin not worthy of the Vice-Presidency. Barry, on the other hand, had the look of a president and certainly could be trusted with the levers of power. He went to an Ivy League school, after all.
Noonan looked down her nose at us in the flyover country and tut-tutted to her Beltway friends about how us slope-foreheads didn’t know how to judge politicians like those in the political class knew how to judge them.
Look what you gave us, Peggy-O.
It would be nice for Noonan to apologize to Palin and to also apologize to the country for being so gravely wrong on a matter so important to the future of our country. Until she does that, her criticism of the President is laughable. She helped ensure he would win.
Well, it’s worth pointing out, but better a slow learner than someone who doesn’t learn at all.
BEST GUESS: He’s gay, and in denial. But it’s a guess. Plus, from the comments: “I once met Bella Abzug’s husband. He looked desiccated and shrunken. I don’t think he had such an exciting sex life.”
JOURNALISM PROFESSOR CALLS FOR FIRING SQUAD, MISSILE ATTACKS ON NRA.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Mockery from reader Kevin O’Brien:
He writes: “But, the gun safety debate is B.S. This foaming at the mouth, Obamar is coming for the guns, Nanny Bloomberg is a bad billionaire, and most despicable of all, those survivors and victims are pawns in the liberal agenda is knuckle-dragging Cretan talk.”
One would think a Card Carrying Journalist™ would be able to distinguish between a Cretan and a cretin. Evidently not.
(One is a resident of a large Greek island. The other, it seems, is a professor at a university best known for its football squad. NTTAWWT).
Extra credit: diagram that sentence.
And there’s this: “Except it won’t be a boot. It’ll be an M1A Abrams tank, supported by an F22 Raptor squadron with Hellfire missiles. Try treason on for size. See how that suits. And their assault arsenal and RPGs won’t do them any good.”
Er, Hellfire missile isn’t used by the F22. And I don’t know where he gets the idea that RPGs are widespread among the Americans he hates (or is it the Cretans? I don’t think they have RPGs either).
If this guy thinks he’s propping up the anti-gun, for-renewing-AWB-before-he-was-agin’-it, “background checks”-as-registration Manchin, well… I bet Joe doesn’t want the propping.
But politics aside, shouldn’t a professor of anything be able to express himself in English? STEM grad assistants, maybe not, but a full professor? Of Journalism, lord love a duck?
There’s a reason the higher education bubble is popping.
MORE: Another reader emails: “Headline: Journalism Prof Swindell insults Greeks: Academic cretin has Greek Parliament in uproar.”
DON’T WORRY, HONEY, IN A FEW YEARS THAT’LL CHANGE: Awful Woman Complains She’s “Too Pretty” To Marry Her Fiance.
YA THINK? Boy, the head of the IRS went to the White House a lot. “Last week, conservatives were saying that former IRS head Douglas Shulman had been to the White House 118 times, while his predecessor had visited the Bush era White House only once. I didn’t write about it because I idly assumed that this reflected some underlying change in administration management style or legislative priorities; perhaps, for example, he’d been there talking about Obamacare implementation and changes in tax enforcement. But the Daily Caller has now compiled a list of White House visits by various administration officials, and Shulman sure does seem to visit a lot more than other folks. . . . Though I don’t think that the administration was involved in some sinister conspiracy, I do think that conservatives have legitimate reason not to trust that the laws of the land are being impartially applied to them. This sort of thing doesn’t help. The administration needs to move to restore confidence by being as open and transparent as possible.”
You keep ignoring these scandals, assuming that this is just paranoia over something for which there is a simple straightforward explanation. Well, each time it turns out that there is a simple, straightforward explanation. But . . . .
ANSWER: WE’RE NOT READY: Asteroid fly-by on Friday sparks debate over readiness for ‘Armageddon’-style event.
ADVICE: Don’t Sell Your Pension.
WHEN ADMINISTRATORS GO WILD: Gordon Gee rips ND, Catholics. “The president of Ohio State University said Notre Dame never was invited to join the Big Ten because the university’s priests are not good partners, joking that ‘those damn Catholics’ can’t be trusted, according to a recording of a meeting he attended late last year.”
ARE THESE KINDS OF THOUGHTS ALLOWED? Incendiary Thought: Men Don’t Whine About Work-Life Balance, They Just Get It Done.
This is discussed in the Insta-Wife’s new book, Men On Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – and Why It Matters.