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FROM BORING TO BAFFLING: Theodore Dalrymple on The Economist:

The anonymity of the articles was intended to create the illusion that the magazine spoke from nothing so vulgar as a perspective, but rather from some Olympian height from which only the whole truth and nothing but the truth could be descried. It is the saving grace of every such magazine that no one remembers what he read in it the week before. Only by the amnesia of its readers can a magazine retain its reputation for perspicacity.

I found its style dull, too. How was it that correspondents from Lima to Limassol, from Cairo to Kathmandu, wrote in precisely the same fashion, as if everything that happened everywhere was fundamentally the same? Walter Bagehot, son-in-law of the founder of The Economist and its most famous editor, was a brilliant prose stylist and a wonderfully witty literary critic, among many other things; but The Economist has long been about as amusing as a speech by David Cameron. Its prose was the literary equivalent of IKEA furniture, prefabricated according to a manual of style; it tried to combine accessibility with judiciousness and arrived only at portentousness.

Who now reads it, and what for? I suppose there is a type of functionary who does not want to be caught out in ignorance of the latest political developments in Phnom Penh, or the supposed reasons for the latest uprising in Ouagadougou. The Economist is intellectual seriousness for middle management and MBAs. To be seen with it is a sign of belonging to, and of identifying with, a certain caste.

See also: the election of 2008, which the Economist went all in to manufacture, and continued to run worshipful covers of Obama posing Ever So Seriously in the years since. But as Mark Steyn wrote in 2009, when the bloom was first rubbing off the era of Hopenchange:

This is the point: The nuancey boys were wrong on Obama, and the knuckledragging morons were right. There is no post-partisan centrist “grappling” with the economy, only a transformative radical willing to make Americans poorer in the cause of massive government expansion. At some point, The Economist, Messrs Brooks, Buckley & Co are going to have to acknowledge this. If they’re planning on spending the rest of his term tutting that his management style is obstructing the effective implementation of his centrist agenda, it’s going to be a long four years.

And for the Economist (and the similarly corporatist Bloomberg “Unexpectedly” Business) the “fun” continues, as the blinders never came off.

(Found via Kathy Shaidle.)

UNEXPECTEDLY: Seattle CEO who set firm’s minimum wage to $70G says he has hit hard times:

Dan Price, 31, tells the New York Times that things have gotten so bad he’s been forced to rent out his house.

Only three months ago Price was generating headlines—and accusations of being a socialist — when he announced the new salary minimum for all 120 employees at his Gravity Payments credit card processing firm. Price said he was doing it, and slashing his $1 million pay package to pay for it, to address the wealth gap.

“I’m working as hard as I ever worked to make it work,” he told the Times in a video that shows him sitting on a plastic bucket in the garage of his house. “I’m renting out my house right now to try and make ends meet myself.”

The Gods of Copybook Headings could not be reached for comment.

HEY SEATTLE! HOW’S THAT $15 AN HOUR MINIMUM WAGE LAW WORKING OUT FOR YA? “The law of unintended consequences is a bitch, ain’t it?”

Unexpectedly so.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Fall in gas prices hasn’t led to increased consumer spending. “Visa CFO Prabhu also said the company felt that the money being conserved at the pump was being funneled into savings accounts, a trend that has been backed up in various economic data reports. . . . But just a few months ago, the collapse in gas prices was supposed to be the next big thing for the US economy. Instead, it seems like nothing has happened.”

Maybe consumers realize that we can’t expect any real economic improvement until after January 2017 at the earliest.

JOURNALISM: CBS’s Charlie Rose, who on the eve of the 2008 election claimed “I don’t know what Barack Obama’s worldview is” (a ludicrous statement at that late date, especially considering Rose had an entire newsroom of reporters at his beck and call) interviews Major Garrett on CBS This Morning. “Rather than defend his colleague’s tough question, co-host Charlie Rose chose to ask if he had any regrets or ‘second thoughts’ surrounding his actions.” To his credit, Garrett replied:

And the whole point of the question Charlie was why were these four Americans not accounted for in the context of negotiating a wide range of issues with the Iranians? Remember, in the final hours of this deal, the Iranians put other things on the table that hadn’t been previously discussed. The arms embargo on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles. If those could be introduced, it seems to that it’s reasonable to ask the Commandeer in Chief if other issues on the American side could have been introduced. I suggested there might have been one, the fate of four Americans. I stand by that.

At long last, Charlie is having his question answered — and doesn’t like what he hears.

I bet Sharyl Attkisson could tell Garrett what happens at CBS when journalists there covering the Obama White House actually do their job.

RELATED: Palace Guard swings into action: CNN Blasts CBS News’s Major Garrett for Asking Obama Tough Question, and “unexpectedly,” Time-Warner-CNN-HBO spokesman Bill Maher formerly the host of a show called “Politically Incorrect,” plays the race card.

If only Garrett had thrown a shoe at the president, CNN would be singing his praises.

MAJOR GARRETT RESPONDS TO ‘CONTROVERSY’ OVER HIS QUESTION FOR THE PRESIDENT: “Clearly it struck a nerve. That was my intention.” Garrett went on to add: “Was it provocative? Yes. Was it intended to be such? Absolutely.”

There’s a 50 percent chance other journalists might “unexpectedly” discover they no longer have to be presidential stenographers come January 2017.

RELATED:

THE UNABOMBER’S CHILDREN: “My favourite Deep Green Resistance member is the woman who wants a return to conditions during ‘the first four million years’ of human existence, when everybody “participated,’” Tim Blair writes. She’s wearing adult braces, which weren’t exactly a common feature of the pre-civilisation era.”

“The extreme green movement is nudging ever closer to a form of fascism,” Blair adds. “There is not much difference between words once deployed in the service of preserving a master race and words now deployed in the service of preserving a master planet”

Not exactly occurring unexpectedly.

IN THE END, GREECE’S WAR ON DEBT IS A MORALITY PROBLEM: A majority of Greeks simply do not believe debt must always be repaid.

Good thing such a fundamental transformation could never happen to America’s morals…

RELATED: Chicago’s Financial Fire: “After years of warnings, financial reality is hitting home in Chicago, clouding Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s hope for a transformational legacy.”

Unexpectedly.

GERMAN TEXTBOOKS AND ANTI-ISRAEL LIBERAL ELITES: At Commentary, Evelyn Gordon writes “a German study showing that educated elites, rather than the far-right fringes, are the wellspring of anti-Semitism in that country; just last month, another study found that the same is true for anti-Israel sentiment. And the reason for this goes beyond the obvious fact that anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism are related:”

The background to the new German study is a series of polls showing shocking levels of anti-Israel sentiment among ordinary Germans: For instance, fully 35 percent “equate Israeli policies toward the Palestinians with Nazi policies toward the Jews.” Given the vaunted “special relationship” between Germany and Israel, such findings raise obvious questions about how so many Germans developed such warped views.

So a group of German and Israeli researchers decided to analyze German textbooks to see what exactly German schools are teaching their students. They examined 1,200 history, geography and social studies textbooks from five German states, and concluded that these books portray Israel almost exclusively as a militarist, warmongering society.

Israel’s robust democracy, respect for human rights and other achievements are absent in these books. The illustrations consist of “tendentious and one-sided photographic presentations” of Israeli soldiers threatening or inflicting violence on Palestinians.

To quote from a 2012 article at the Israeli YNet Website:

To quote psychiatrist Zvi Rex: “Europe will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.” Europe doesn’t want to live under the psychological burden of Auschwitz forever. The Jews are living reminders of the moral failure of Europe. This leads to the projection of guilt on Israel and the remaining European Jews.

Gordon also notes that in America, 47 percent of Democrats “deemed Israel racist, with only 32 percent disagreeing, and a whopping 76 percent said Israel has too much influence on U.S. foreign policy. But in truth, it shouldn’t be news to anyone by now that anti-Israel sentiment, like its kissing cousin anti-Semitism, is primarily the province of the liberal elites.”

Read the whole thing.

RELATED: “A BBC documentary has substituted the word ‘Israelis’ for ‘Jews’ in its translation of interviews with Palestinians, its maker has admitted.”

Unexpectedly.

MEDIA FAIL: THE FLAWED EARLY COVERAGE OF 1995 OKLAHOMA CITY FEDERAL BUILDING BOMBING:  From Joseph Campbell, whose previous book was the Blogosphere favorite Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism, and whose latest work is 1995: The Year the Future Began. At his new 1995-themed blog, Campbell writes that when it came to the Oklahoma City bombing, “The news media — especially broadcast outlets — leaned hard on what proved to be an erroneous presumption.” Unexpectedly:

As such, the reporting in the immediate aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing offers a telling reminder about how early news accounts of a major disaster tend to be misleading and off-base.

“It is,” I write in my latest book, 1995: The Year the Future Began, “a vulnerability the news media seldom seem to anticipate, or to learn from.”

In pushing the flawed narrative in April 1995, the news media effectively laid the groundwork for enduring suspicions that the bombing at Oklahoma City was the work of a broad and shadowy international conspiracy which, in one inventive telling, included the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Ramzi Yousef.

But as I write in 1995, the 20 years since the bombing at Oklahoma City has produced no compelling evidence that the conspiracy extended beyond an undistinguished trio of disaffected U.S. Army veterans: Timothy J. McVeigh, the remorseless ringleader who was executed in 2001; Terry Nichols, the principal accomplice who is in prison for life, and Michael Fortier, who knew about the bomb plot but did nothing to stop it.

That, I write, “was the likely extent of a ragtag conspiracy that brought about the Murrah Building’s destruction,” killing 168 people and injuring more than 680 others.

“But for many Americans,”I add, “it was just too ragtag, too improbable to embrace. The gravity of the attack in Oklahoma City — not unlike the assassination of President Kennedy — seemed to cry for a plot more substantial and a conspiracy more elaborate and sophisticated than misfit Army buddies angry at the federal government.

But the news media’s first instincts 20 years ago were to press the Middle East angle, and press it hard.

In contrast of course, today, the CAIR-chastened media now sees the vast right wing conspiracy hidden behind every corner, with shadowy Reds (Red Staters, in this case) lurking everywhere.

I recently read Campbell’s new book, and it’s a fascinating snapshot of a year that foreshadows our current era in many respects; his chapters on the Oklahoma City bombing, the OJ trial and even the birth of Internet institutions such as Amazon are particularly engrossing, with many new details for those who thought they knew all the angles to those once ubiquitous stories.

UNEXPECTEDLY: NEW YORK TIMES KEEPING TED CRUZ’S NEW BOOK OFF ITS BESTSELLER LIST, DESPITE FIRST WEEK SALES THAT WOULD PUT HIM AT #3:

This week, HarperCollins, the book’s publisher, sent a letter to The New York Times inquiring about Cruz’s omission from the list, sources with knowledge of the situation said. The Times responded by telling HarperCollins that the book did not meet their criteria for inclusion.

“We have uniform standards that we apply to our best seller list, which includes an analysis of book sales that goes beyond simply the number of books sold,” Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy explained when asked about the omission. “This book didn’t meet that standard this week.”

Asked to specify those standards, Murphy replied: “Our goal is that the list reflect authentic best sellers, so we look at and analyze not just numbers, but patterns of sales for every book.”

Back in 2008, Roger Kimball, the publisher of Encounter Books (and my colleague at PJM), decided he had enough of those “standards,” and publicly called the NYT on their Pinch of BS:

Encounter Books, the conservative publishing house run by Roger Kimball, will no longer send review copies to the New York Times. In an amusing and much-discussed item posted to the company’s Encounter Intelligence Web log, Mr. Kimball explained that the Times has “studiously” ignored almost all of his titles, and so if it plans to review any in the future, it will have to buy them like any other reader.

In a phone interview with The New York Sun, Mr. Kimball said he doesn’t think his decision will jeopardize the financial health of his company; if anything, it might serve as a “wake-up call” to Times Book Review Editor Sam Tanenhaus, whom Mr. Kimball describes as a “moderate left-wing opportunist” responsible for perpetuating the “travesty” that has become of a once justly celebrated organ of cultural criticism. The Times is now a clearinghouse of “press releases emanating from the p.c. seats of established opinion” and “metrosexual lifestyle stuff,” Mr. Kimball said. (Mr. Tanenhaus did not return The Sun’s phone call for comment.)

When he was named the editor of the Times Book Review in 2004, many believed that Mr. Tanenhaus would be sympathetic to the intellectual right, Mr. Kimball noted, citing Mr. Tanenhaus’s well-received biography of Whittaker Chambers. And yet, throughout his tenure as the head of the Sunday books section, Mr. Kimball charged, Mr. Tanenhaus has assigned those few conservative books the paper has covered to reviewers who seem to have their own axes to grind, and who appear to have little interest in giving the books an objective reading.

“It’s not that the reviews are critical,” Mr. Kimball said. “It’s that they’re sophomoric and uninformed” and seldom rise above the level of the “ideological hatchet-job.”

In early 2009, at the peak of the left’s “We Are Socialists Now” shiny Obama unicorn fever, Tanenhaus, then still editor of the Times’ book review section, infamously published a thin screed titled The Death of Conservatism. About five minutes later, the Tea Party emerged, and by the end of 2010, thanks in large part to the all-Democrat Obamacare bill, the GOP recaptured the House, in 2014 the Senate, and currently 31 states have Republican governors and the GOP controls numerous state legislatures.

Will the GOP take back the White House in 2016? Not if the Times can help it — and they’re doing everything they can to prevent it.

JUNK SCIENCE = GARBAGE POLICY: “This spring, Dr. Johannes Bohannon and a team of German scientists discovered that people on low-carbohydrate diets could lose weight faster if they used one weird trick: Eat a bar of chocolate every day,” T. Becket Adams writes at the Washington Examiner:

Newsrooms around the world responded eagerly to Bohannon’s findings.

“Excellent News: Chocolate Can Help You Lose Weight!” Huffington Post India declared in a report.

The U.K.’s Daily Mail blared in a headline, “Pass the Easter Egg! New study reveals that eating chocolate doesn’t affect your Body Mass Index…and can even help you LOSE weight!”

In the United States, Modern Healthcare wrote, “Dieting? Don’t forget the chocolate.”

The story continued to grow, with news of the sweet discovery spreading from the Internet to print and television. Even Europe’s highest-circulation newspaper, Bild, got in on the action, publishing a report titled “Slim by Chocolate!”

Journalists and readers looked past the too-good-to-be-true nature of the findings and devoured the story wholesale.

But Bohannon’s research was a hoax.

The health study was deliberately faked to test the hypothesis that scientists and reporters rarely detect junk science. No one caught on to this ruse.

Unexpectedly.

US NEWS & WORLD REPORT: POLYAMOROUS RIGHTS ADVOCATES SEE MARRIAGE EQUALITY COMING FOR THEM:

Like others across the country last week, a Washington, D.C., couple and their housewarming guests buzzed about the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. But they were far more interested in Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissent than the majority opinion that made same-sex marriage the law of the land.

The couple – a husband and his wife – are polyamorous, and had just moved in with their girlfriend. And in Roberts’ dissent, they saw a path that could make three-way relationships like theirs legal, too.

“Did you see we were mentioned by Roberts?” the husband beamed as he welcomed guests the day after the ruling. The chief justice wrote that polygamy has deeper roots in history and that the decision allowing gays to marry ”would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.”

“If the majority is willing to take the big leap,” he added, “it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one.”

Unexpectedly.

“But why stop there when the concept of liberty goes a lot further?”, Richard Epstein writes in “Hard Questions on Gay Marriage,” at the Hoover Institute’s Defining Ideas Website. “In particular, Kennedy never explains why his notions of dignity and autonomy do not require the Supreme Court to revisit its 1878 decision in Reynolds upholding criminal punishment for polygamy, which is still on the books. Nor does he ask whether the dignity of workers could, and should, be used as a reason to strike down the full range of labor regulations on both wages and hours that make it flatly illegal for two individuals to enter into a simple employment contract on mutually agreeable terms.”

“HELLO, DETROIT? I THINK WE’VE FOUND YOUR NEXT MAYOR!”

“How can something like this happen without prior warning?” asked Angeliki Psarianou, a 67-year-old retired public servant, who stood in the drizzle after arriving too late at one empty ATM in the Greek capital.

Yes, it’s always unfortunate when bad economic news keeps happening so (wait for it…wait for it…) “unexpectedly.”

UPDATE: Closer to home, “Who’s ready for a bailout of … Puerto Rico?”

UNEXPECTEDLY: Confederate Flag Purge Goes Nuts Almost Immediately, Hits Harmless Strategy Games.

THE IRS SCANDAL, DAY 778: “Now it turns out that 422 backup tapes from the crucial period were routinely erased by IRS workers. The tapes were destroyed in March 2014, according to the Treasury inspector general for the IRS, J. Russell George. That is long after lawmakers started trying to obtain all of Ms. Lerner’s emails, and long after the IRS issued instructions for employees to cease routine destruction of documents that might relate to the probes.”

Unexpectedly.

NIKKI HALEY’S STOCK RISES AMID FLAG FUROR:

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) is attracting widespread praise for leading the bipartisan effort to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the Statehouse.

Haley’s swift response has put her back in the national spotlight, stoking speculation that she could be the vice presidential nominee on the GOP’s 2016 presidential ticket. The 43-year-old governor saved her party from divisive bickering and damaging headlines that could have lingered for months.

While other prominent Republicans hemmed and hawed, Haley was clear  at her press conference Monday that the flag must come down. Defenders of the flag, meanwhile, largely remained silent.

The long-term political impact of Haley’s new stance — which is much different than her position last year — is unclear. But the short-term effect is obvious.

Note though that hitting Control-F on the above article at The Hill and typing in the words “Fritz” or “Hollings” brings back zero results.

Unexpectedly.

RELATED: “If someone said to [Ann] Coulter, ‘You’re just a whitebread girl from Connecticut, what do you know of America?,’ I imagine she’d have a pointed two-word rebuttal, and that rebuttal would be well-justified,” Ace of Spades writes. “Why is Nikki Haley then to be dismissed [by Coulter] based upon the accident of her own birth?”

UNEXPECTEDLY: TV Networks Omit How Democratic Governor in South Carolina Raised Confederate Flag in 1962.

UNEXPECTEDLY! U.S. economy shrinks .7 percent in first quarter. “The numbers released Friday were a revision of earlier figures that had showed GDP growing in the first quarter at 0.2 percent. The contraction was the U.S.’s third in the aftermath of the Great Recession.” Maybe we’re not really in an “aftermath.”

UNEXPECTEDLY! Sticker Shock for Some Obamacare Customers. “So the proposed 2016 Obamacare rates have been filed in many states, and in many states, the numbers are eye-popping. Market leaders are requesting double-digit increases in a lot of places. Some of the biggest are really double-digit: 51 percent in New Mexico, 36 percent in Tennessee, 30 percent in Maryland, 25 percent in Oregon. The reason? They say that with a full year of claims data under their belt for the first time since Obamacare went into effect, they’re finding the insurance pool was considerably older and sicker than expected.”

Gee, that’s bad luck.

THE STEPHANOPOULOS TRIFECTA, over at Ed Driscoll.com:

More Stephanopoulos Conflicts of Interest Emerge.

ABC and Stephanopoulos ‘Make Brian Williams Look Like An Eagle Scout.’

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Donated $50,000 to Clinton.

Yes, it’s now up to $75,000. But don’t miss the video featuring Stephanopoulos playing giggling straight man to Diane Sawyer as she attempts to explains media ethics and an “unexpectedly” incredulous public at the end of that last link. (Bumped).

UNEXPECTEDLY! Under Health Care Act, Many Tax Filers Are Discovering Costly Complications. “This filing season, for the first time, millions of Americans are facing tax implications — and new forms that even seasoned preparers are finding confusing — related to their health insurance status. The changes are not only complicating things for tax filers, but also costing many of them money.”

UNEXPECTEDLY! “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week and nonfarm productivity contracted more sharply than previously thought in the fourth quarter.”

UNEXPECTEDLY! Cornell, meet Obamacare’s cousin: Students revolt over new $350 health fee.

UNEXPECTEDLY! NYT: Insured, But Not Covered.

UNEXPECTEDLY! How A High Minimum Wage Closed Down a San Francisco Bookstore.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Minimum Wage Hike Closes San Francisco Bookstore.

UNEXPECTEDLY! As Medicaid Rolls Swell, Cuts in Payments to Doctors Threaten Access to Care.

UNEXPECTEDLY! As Medicaid Rolls Swell, Cuts in Payments to Doctors Threaten Access to Care.

EVERYTHING HE TOUCHES: Michael Barone: Obama Will Leave The Dems In Shambles.

Before the election results are in, and keeping in mind that there may be some unpleasant surprises for one party or the other — or both — it’s possible to assess how the Democratic Party has fared under the leadership of President Obama. To summarize the verdict: not so well.

By one metric it has done very badly indeed. When Obama took the oath of office in January 2009, there were 257 Democrats in the House of Representatives. Going into this election there are 201 (including two vacant Democratic seats). . . .

Why has the Democratic Party fared so poorly under Obama’s leadership? I can see two reasons: one ideological, one demographic.

Start with demographics. The Obama coalition, even more than Bill Clinton’s, is based on overwhelming support from constituencies with some conflicting interests. It’s a top and bottom coalition: he carried the very lowest and highest income and education groups, while his support sagged among those in the middle.

His strongest groups are blacks and gentry liberals — the same two groups he gathered together when he got to design his own state Senate district in 2002. Majorities of both groups still support him, but perhaps with diminished enthusiasm. Black crowds unexpectedly started walking out before he finished talking at recent events in Prince George’s County, Md., and Milwaukee.

Moreover, the geographic clustering of blacks and gentry liberals in central cities, sympathetic suburbs and university towns puts the Obama Democrats at a disadvantage in equal-population districts where Republican voters are spread more evenly around.

Meanwhile, the thrill is clearly gone among two groups that backed him heavily in 2008 and 2012, and which will inevitably be larger parts of the electorate in the future: Hispanics and Millennials.

Well, they haven’t exactly prospered under Obama.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Romney Foreign Policy Team Is Schooling 2016′s Republicans.

Well, in retrospect Romney’s foreign-policy chops from 2012 are looking spot-on, while Obama’s are looking kinda . . . chickenshit.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Flow Of Money From South Texas Oil Startles Economists.

The economists had predicted just last year that they expected the total economic impact to South Texas to be $89 billion in 2022. Instead, they now estimate that the impact has already reached almost that amount: $87 billion.

What’s making the difference?

Primarily all the jobs from drilling and running pipelines.

“But also because of lots of new manufacturing activity. And a lot of that is being driven by the low cost of natural gas,” said Tunstall.

I mean, who could have seen this coming? Well, maybe Rick Perry.

THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN. I THINK IT DEFINES OBAMA’S PRESIDENCY: “Jobless claims unexpectedly rise 11,000 to 315,000 last week.”

BRING BACK DDT: Mosquito-Borne Viruses Hit Japan and the U.S.

Mosquito-borne viruses are showing up unexpectedly in affluent countries where they have been largely unknown.

Yoyogi Park, a popular oasis in downtown Tokyo, was closed last week after authorities realized it was the center of Japan’s first outbreak of dengue in 70 years.

Dengue is also called breakbone fever for the severe joint pain it causes. Repeat infections can cause dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can be lethal. Since Japanese authorities detected the first case Aug. 27, 65 more have been found, most of them associated with Yoyogi Park. The victims included two models covering the outbreak for a local television station.

Fear of the virus is spreading. In Yokohama, officials closed a large beach park after one local woman infected in Tokyo said she was later bitten by a mosquito there.

In the United States, more than 750 cases of another painful disease, chikungunya, have been reported this year. Almost all have been in tourists returning from the Caribbean, where the disease is rampant, particularly in the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique and Puerto Rico. Nine million Americans visit the Caribbean each year.

But Florida residents who had not traveled were infected this summer, and the virus was found in a Texas mosquito, meaning that it is becoming established in the United States.

Chikungunya was unknown in the Western Hemisphere until late last year.

Victims can often be seen walking stooped over with pain; the name means “bent up” in Makonde, an East African language.

There used to be malaria in East Tennessee where I live — and Yellow Fever epidemics in Philadelphia.

YOU KNOW, THEY DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE ANY LEGAL AUTHORITY TO DO THAT: Golfers frisked as Obama arrives at Martha’s Vineyard club. How come nobody ever tells them to buzz off, and that if the President wants to play golf he can damn well respect the rights of others? The response to the ominous “So, you’re not cooperating?” should be “No, are you assaulting me?”

If the President wants to go out in public, fine. If he can’t do it without assaulting the rights of citizens, then he should stay home. But hey, most of these folks probably voted for him. So: Enjoy!

UPDATE: From the comments:

Think of it this way…

There are probably two Republicans on MV and they are incognito.

Obama is pissing off all the right people.

Well, that part is fun.

UNEXPECTEDLY! ObamaCare Enrollment Is Shrinking, Top Insurers Say.

SCIENCE: Isaac Cohen: An ‘Ether Of Sexism’ Doesn’t Explain Gender Disparities In Science And Tech.

The most relentlessly cited statistic was that women make up only 16% of the tech workforce. At first glance, this looks pretty lame. But once you catch your breath, you realize that most of these jobs require a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Women only earn 18% of such degrees awarded to United States residents. Not such a bad effort, then, by Google and company. Still, that didn’t stop the public shaming. Earnest apologies were issued, and calls were made for reform.

Who deserves the brunt of our collective outrage over these lopsided ratios? More importantly, who should be charged with fixing them?

One highly controversial theory — the one that got Larry Summers in deep trouble — argues that there are male advantages in math-related cognitive ability, especially at the so-called “right tail” end of the bell curve. But it’s not necessary to hit that third rail, because even the most capable women shy away from engineering and computer science.

To my knowledge — I’m biased — no school enrolls more fiercely intelligent women than Yale. Yet even there, women are only 18% of computer science majors. The figures are similar at other high-flying schools that admit the best and the brightest women. Not unexpectedly, the prevailing narrative at Yale is that these numbers reflect some kind of glaring injustice. But what exactly is Yale doing wrong? . . . In fact, despite the mainstream media’s insistence that sexism is rife, there exists very little evidence of pervasive bias. Studies occasionally pop up that point to overt or subtle bias in academic hiring or funding, but they are debunked as often as they are trumpeted. And the discrimination that social scientists claim to demonstrate is rarely strong enough to explain observed disparities.

One explanation I’ve seen is that most women don’t want to date science-and-engineering guys. Thus, they avoid those majors. . . . But read the whole thing.

UNEXPECTEDLY: An Unfolding Fiscal Disaster: The calamitous finances of Obamacare.

UNEXPECTEDLY! University to decrease jobs after state increases minimum wage.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Final US GDP contracts 2.9% vs -1.7% estimate; May Durables drop 1.0%. Unexpectedly!

UNEXPECTEDLY! Consumer prices rise sharply in May. “Consumer prices last month posted their sharpest increase in 15 months as inflation continued a recent acceleration from unusually low levels. The consumer price index jumped 0.4% after rising 0.3% in April, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Economists had expected a 0.2% increase.”

UNEXPECTEDLY! More patients flocking to ERs under Obamacare.

UNEXPECTEDLY! In a Single Year, Basic Hospital Prices Soar — And Experts Aren’t Sure Why.

UNEXPECTEDLY: This Simple Graph Compares Reagan’s and Obama’s ‘Recoveries’. All the people I know who are in business for themselves already know this in their guts (and in their bottom line.)

UNEXPECTEDLY: Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day.

CHANGE: Aging Baby Boomers Becoming the Roommate Generation, at ABC. Note the unexpectedly “funemployment”-style slant of the article.

 

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Student debt holds back many would-be home buyers. “Of the many factors holding back young home buyers — rising prices, tougher lending standards, a still-shaky job market — none looms larger than the recent explosion of college debt.”

Unexpectedly!

THE CULTURE OF UNEXPECTEDLY! Wrong Again: The economists’ confession.

TRAIN WRECK UPDATE: ObamaCare enrollments dip. Unexpectedly!

YOU MAY NOW KIDNAP AND STRIP THE BRIDE: 15 Unexpectedly Barbaric Origins Of Modern Wedding Traditions.

UNEXPECTEDLY! “A run of weak U.S. data, including an unexpected fall in January manufacturing output on Friday, has caused some investors to revise their expectations of how fast the Federal Reserve will scale back stimulus and tighten monetary policy.”

The “stimulus” bill is five years old today.

UNEXPECTEDLY: 2013 GDP Grew only 1.9%, down from 2.8% in 2012. Well, 2013 wasn’t an election year.

UPDATE: First-Time Jobless Claims Rise Unexpectedly.

MICKEY KAUS: GM Loses Market Share, Again?

The press won’t make it easy for you to discover–gets in the way of the pre-packaged “Detroit is back!” narrative–but it looks like General Motors lost market share again in 2013. According to Ward’s Auto, GM sales grew 7.3%–but the market as a whole grew 7.5%. … GM sales for December unexpectedly cratered, despite “high inventory levels … unseen since before the Great Recession.” … If this is a good year for GM, I wonder what a bad year will look like.

I dunno, but I’ll bet it’ll happen unexpectedly.

THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: Jobless claims unexpectedly jump to highest level since March.

SARAH HOYT: Woe Is Obama: Is the president depressed as his “accomplishments” come home to roost? “Unexpectedly! Everything going wrong for the most brilliant man in the nation!”

UPDATE: The National Enquirer was already on this. Hey, as John Edwards can attest, they’re not always wrong.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Obamacare Exchanges Won’t Hit Enrollment Targets.

I PREFER MY “PEELING AN ONION OF FAIL” METAPHOR, BUT “FAIL FRACTAL” HAS A NICE RING TO IT, TOO: ACA Fail Fractal: The Deeper You Get, The More Dysfunction You See.

Higher deductibles can, in certain contexts, be useful for introducing some price sensitivity into the system. But that depends on how people go about dealing with them. There are two deep-rooted problems with what remains in many ways an excellent health care system overall: it is too expensive, and not enough people have enough access to it. The cheaper health care becomes, the easier it is to expand access. In a cheaper system, fewer people need subsidies and the subsidies they do need are smaller. Without fixing costs, on the other hand, more and more people, not to mention the government, struggle to pay for our system, and the resources for expanding access shrink as the cost of do so grows.

Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act puts most of its effort on the wrong end of the problem: access rather than price. That’s one reason the rollout has been going so poorly and in some respects will get worse. Because not much effort was put into cost control, many insurers have taken the one easy step available to them to limit rate shock: restricting provider networks. As a result, people are unexpectedly losing access to doctors they have seen for years.

Unexpectedly!

WHY OBAMACARE IS LIKE THREE MILE ISLAND. “The administration clearly understood this — right up to the point where a major component failed. Now it’s apparently planning to keep the reactor running with as many pieces as possible in the hopes that none of it will unexpectedly blow up. This is not sound policy thinking, or even sound political thinking, and I think that all of us who care about keeping insurance available for ordinary Americans should try to talk them out of it — for their good, as well as our own.”

Alternative analogy: The Iraq War.

SALENA ZITO: No Evidence Dems Can Take Back House.

It is a possibility pushed by paid pundits as reality, but the facts do not support it.

That does not mean a wave election isn’t brewing out on Main Street. In fact, early polling indicates the 2014 midterm might produce another electoral shift, but not one that shoves Republicans out of power.

First of all, the playing field of vulnerable GOP seats is too narrow for Republicans to lose their majority, baring a massive wave. (Think 1894, when 107 Democrats were swept out of the House.)

Second, major waves historically have not happened concurrent with the “six-year itch” – the election held in the sixth year of a president’s tenure, in which the party holding the White House typically loses a substantial number of House and Senate seats.

And remember that, in the 1996 midterm election of the Clinton era, Republicans lost 18 incumbents but kicked the Democrats’ butts in the open-seat races. The Republicans’ losses were mostly “wave seats” that they unexpectedly won two years earlier, during their first sweep back into power after 40 years in the political wilderness.

Coincidentally, all of that occurred in the year of another government shutdown – that one over the funding of Medicare, which is a heck of a lot more popular with voters than Obamacare.

Today, every member of Congress, along with the White House and President Obama, are getting battered in the polls over how they’ve handled the shutdown, with Republicans taking a slim lead on the voter-anger index.

Kyle Kondik, a House analyst for the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, says that if (and he stresses a big “if”) Republicans eventually suffer because of the shutdown, it will not be Tea Partiers who are hurt.

“While the Republican brand is poor, the president isn’t particularly popular – his approval is only in the low to mid 40s, according to polling averages,” said Kondik. “There would have to be an incredible amount of revulsion with the Republicans to deliver the House to the Democrats.”

Plus, historically, there’s basically no precedent for the president’s party to capture control of the House in a midterm year. Many presidents have held the House in a midterm, but they haven’t taken control of it in a midterm.

Mostly this is Dem pundits playing on GOP fears. It’s working, too.

YA THINK? USA Today editorializes: Exchange launch turns into inexcusable mess.

President Obama’s chief technology adviser, Todd Park, blames the unexpectedly large numbers of people who flocked to Healthcare.gov and state websites. “Take away the volume and it works,” he told USA TODAY’s Tim Mullaney.

That’s like saying that except for the torrential rain, it’s a really nice day. Was Park not listening to the administration’s daily weather report predicting Obamacare’s popularity?

Park said the administration expected 50,000 to 60,000 simultaneous users. It got 250,000. Compare that with the similarly rocky debut seven years ago of exchanges to obtain Medicare drug coverage. The Bush administration projected 20,000 simultaneous users and built capacity for 150,000.

That’s the difference between competence and incompetence.

Ouch.

UNEXPECTEDLY! August Housing Starts Weaker Than Anticipated.

NOT EXACTLY LEADING WITH HIS STRENGTHS: Obama’s week ahead: All about the economy.

President Obama will launch a week of economic events on Monday, highlighting the five-year anniversary of the crashing of the financial market to argue that Republican policy prescriptions to looming fiscal battles would undo recent gains.

Looking back to the economic collapse of 2008, which helped propel him to the White House, Obama will argue the country has since been on a steady climb back to prosperity. The White House is hoping to use the week as leverage before an October deadline to keep the government funded and ahead of the nation reaching its borrowing capacity just weeks later.

It’s all fun and games until someone says the magic words: Labor Force Participation Rate.

UPDATE: Industrial Production Misses Fifth Month In A Row. Unexpectedly!

POLITICIZING IS WHAT HE DOES. IT’S ALL HE KNOWS: Obama’s Politicizing National Security.

UPDATE: Related: What The Hell Is Going On? “So far as we know, most everyone in the government was expecting the bombing would start on Saturday afternoon, Washington DC time. Government officials, above all those with expertise in military operations, were told to cancel their Labor Day vacations and show up for overtime work. No golf for them! Then President Obama–in the face of most all the advice from his ‘national security team’ (I even heard a national radio network broadcaster call it ‘the war cabinet’)–changed his mind. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Surprisingly. How? Why? . . . We don’t have an answer, which suggests to me that we’re missing some key element in the story.”

UNEXPECTEDLY! GDP Growth Revised Downward. A Wall Street reader emails:

The “unexpected” downward revision to first quarter GDP confirms what everyone expected going into this year: The tax increases would hurt consumers. Funny how that “reality” didn’t show through the government data until as long after the fact as possible.

An undiscussed consequence of this suspicious pattern is that markets will decreasingly trust government data, potentially increasing volatility and decreasing stability. Note I believe these are undiscussed, not necessarily unintended, consequences.

It’s sad to see this degree of irresponsibility.

THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: Manufacturing Drops Unexpectedly.

THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN! “Thursday’s economic data was mixed: weekly jobless claims unexpectedly rose while housing starts in April unexpectedly fell.”

THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: “Previously owned U.S. home sales unexpectedly dropped in March.”

RECOVERY SUMMER! Retail Sales Fall . . . wait for it, wait for it . . . Unexpectedly! “Retail sales in the U.S. unexpectedly fell in March by the most in nine months as employment slowed, showing households ended the first quarter on softer footing.”

I WAS EXPECTING AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: Thunderstorms contain ‘dark lightning,’ invisible pulses of powerful radiation.

Scientists recently discovered something mind-bending about lightning: Sometimes its flashes are invisible, just sudden pulses of unexpectedly powerful radiation. It’s what Joseph Dwyer, a lightning researcher at the Florida Institute of Technology, has termed dark lightning. Unknown to Franklin but now clear to a growing roster of lightning researchers and astronomers is that along with bright thunderbolts, thunderstorms unleash sprays of X-rays and even intense bursts of gamma rays, a form of radiation normally associated with such cosmic spectacles as collapsing stars. The radiation in these invisible blasts can carry a million times as much energy as the radiation in visible lightning, but that energy dissipates quickly in all directions rather than remaining in a stiletto-like lightning bolt.

Dark lightning appears sometimes to compete with normal lightning as a way for thunderstorms to vent the electrical energy that gets pent up inside their roiling interiors, Dwyer says. Unlike with regular lightning, though, people struck by dark lightning, most likely while flying in an airplane, would not get hurt. But according to Dwyer’s calculations, they might receive in an instant the maximum safe lifetime dose of ionizing radiation — the kind that wreaks the most havoc on the human body.

I wonder if the mechanism is related to that by which Scotch tape creates X-rays? Interestingly, pilots have reported all sorts of strange sights on the tops of thunderstorms that meteorologists for years pooh-poohed, but science keeps finding evidence that there really are weird things going on there.

THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: “The pace of expansion in the U.S. manufacturing sector unexpectedly slowed in March, according to an industry report released on Monday.”

TWO PBSs IN ONE! PBS’s Mark Shields: ‘The Rich Are the Scum of the Earth:’

MARK SHIELDS, PBS: I think it was G. K. Chesterton who said, “Wherever they are, the rich are the scum of the earth.”

[Laughter]

SHIELDS: For some reason, Charles doesn’t want to stand up for rich Russians. And I think somebody has to stand up for people who put their money in offshore or nontaxable places. Let’s remember, I mean, look at it this way: Cyprus is the Cayman Islands of a different time zone. That’s what it is. We don’t want rich people paying taxes whether they’re Russian or whether they’re Republicans.

GORDON PETERSON: But the rich people he’s talking about …

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: You don’t think there’s a difference between the way the Russian economy works and who gets rich? Russia doesn’t have a Steve Jobs. Russia has people who steal from what was once Soviet property and you get your money if you’re a crony of Putin and his other people.

SHIELDS: I wasn’t defending how one gets it. I was just merely addressing the compulsion to keep it and never to surrender any to the public wheel.

KRAUTHAMMER: There’s a difference between gains which are ill-gotten or fairly gotten.

PETERSON: Nina.

NINA TOTENBERG, NPR: [Groans] I’m not sure that a lot of the people that Mark is talking about who aren’t Russian got it so fairly either.

But please you wealthy people whom we just condemned, continue to sponsor our shows, and give generously during one of our seemingly weekly fundraisers. A generous pledge of $500 will bring you a $9.99 DVD of Woodstock and a PBS totebag!

Actually, the full Chesterton quote is:

“You English are an extraordinary lot,” said the Irishman, with a sudden and sombre quietude. ” I sometimes feel you may pull through after all.”

After another silence he said, ‘ You’re always right, Hump, and one oughtn’t to think of Yankees like that. The rich are the scum of the earth in every country. And a vast proportion of the real Americans are among the most courteous, intelligent, self-respecting people in the world. Some attribute this to the fact that a vast proportion of the real Americans are Irishmen.”

Modesty regarding my own heritage means that I can neither confirm nor deny the last portion of that sentiment, but it’s difficult to see anyone at PBS declaring that “a vast proportion of the real Americans are among the most courteous, intelligent, self-respecting people in the world.” I would imagine the thoughts of someone staring out from the glass windows of a PBS building into the hinterlands would be much more akin to this. Not to mention, this.

RELATED: Tales of the One Percent: “WaPo Executives Make Millions While Paper Cuts Staff, Benefits.” That seems rather “unexpectedly” paradoxical behavior from the management of a paper that supported Occupy Wall Street in 2011.

WHY YOUR KID CAN’T GET A JOB, as explained by Michael Malone of Forbes and Silicon Valley marketing executive Tom Hayes:

So what is a kid today to do? One answer is to establish a powerful personal brand independent of work experience. Not just cobble together a few starter jobs, but pursue their own aspirations – and then learn how to define them and market them to the corporate world. Another answer is to take advantage of being a digital natives and build new kinds of networks – and a sharing economy – and find jobs for each other and hire amongst themselves. Freelancing is likely to be their future anyhow, so why not start and learn the skills (from DIY bookkeeping to marketing) of being an entrepreneur now? Young job hunters need to rethink their social media presence. Social proof is critical to employers. Ditch the frat party photos, avoid the drunken tweets. Turn your public social media presence into a showcase of your personal brand and portal of interests and skills. Connect the dots for the prospective hiring manager. The best way to combat a thin resume is with photos, video, endorsements. Be unusual and memorable: if, for example, you reached Level 60 on World of Warcraft, tell your future boss why that means you have monster leadership skills. And, show you have a big and growing network that comes with you when you get hired.

Read the whole the whole thing, and then pass it along to someone who either needs the advice personally, or has kids who would benefit from these suggestions.

Though I’m not sure if ditching the frat party photos is the answer though. They can take you “unexpectedly” far in politics, to the point where you can declare “Peace In Our Time:”

obama_speech_writer_jon_favreau_hillary_cutout_2008

ILLINOIS LAW MUST OUTLAW STALKING, NOT ENCOURAGE IT:

Yes, that’s correct; during labor disputes, Illinois’s law against “aggravated stalking” does not apply to union organizers (Public Act 097-0468). This leads to a simple and logical question: is it ever acceptable to engage in stalking? Apparently, the answer in the Land of Lincoln is yes.

For anyone who engages in aggravated stalking in Illinois, it is a Class 3 felony with a “second or subsequent conviction” serving as a Class 2 felony. The penalty for the crime is serious and it should be. That’s what makes the exemption for organized labor — a special interest — so outrageous and inexcusable.

But unfortunately, Illinois is not alone; it is joined by California, Pennsylvania and Nevada. These states have placed the interests of Big Labor bosses above the safety of average citizens.

Unexpectedly.

CYPRUS: Gold Price Jumps — Unexpectedly! — as Cyprus Tries to Halt Capital Flight.

UNEXPECTEDLY: We had to pass the bill to find out what was in it — and now we know: under the Orwellian named Affordable Care Act, “medical claim costs, the largest driver of health insurance premiums, are expected to increase by 32 percent for individuals, a new study by the Society of Actuaries finds.”

And 2014 is just around the corner

 

DEHUMANIZING ELIMINATIONIST RHETORIC:  “[Anyone] who would run out to buy an assault rifle after the Newtown massacre has very little left in their body or soul worth protecting,” tweets Jim Carrey, in-between sparring with moviegoers on Twitter who disagree with his anti-Second Amendment viewpoint.

Presumably Carrey is wishing for his box office appeal to become increasingly “selective,” as Spinal Tap manager Ian Faith euphemistically explained his charges’ own declining popularity.

Update: An Insta-reader emails that Carrey’s hateful rhetoric is “a pretty harsh thing to say about Gabby Gifford’s husband….”

Meanwhile, Greg Gutfeld and Dana Loesch punch back twice as hard; including Loesch asking Carrey if he’ll be denouncing his own upcoming Kick Ass 2 movie, to remain consistent with his anti-gun rhetoric; Carrey bravely runs away in response. Unexpectedly.

(Bumped to top.)

THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: Homebuilder Confidence in U.S. Unexpectedly Fell in March.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Health Insurers Raise Some Rates by Double Digits. “Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers. Particularly vulnerable to the high rates are small businesses and people who do not have employer-provided insurance and must buy it on their own.”

Hey, weren’t these the people ObamaCare was supposed to help? Who could have seen this coming?

UNEXPECTEDLY! USA Today: Health Care Law May Mean Less Hiring In 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed.

UNEXPECTEDLY! After a school massacre, the U.K. banned handguns in 1998. A decade later, handgun crime had doubled.

UNEXPECTEDLY: U.S. retailers scramble after lackluster holiday sales. “The 2012 holiday season may have been the worst for retailers since the 2008 financial crisis, with sales growth far below expectations, forcing many to offer massive post-Christmas discounts in hopes of shedding excess inventory.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: For Poor, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall. “Not one of them has a four-year degree. Only one is still studying full time, and two have crushing debts. Angelica, who left Emory owing more than $60,000, is a clerk in a Galveston furniture store. . . . even after accounting for financial aid, the costs of attending a public university have risen 60 percent in the past two decades. Many low-income students, feeling the need to help out at home, are deterred by the thought of years of lost wages and piles of debt.”

Go to college, but don’t borrow money to do it. Plus this: “The growing role of class in academic success has taken experts by surprise since it follows decades of equal opportunity efforts and counters racial trends, where differences have narrowed.” Unexpectedly!

IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET, you should read Matt Lewis’s column in The Week about how the media should be ashamed of their Sandy Hook shooting coverage.

But aside from the “Death Porn,” as some have called it, there’s also the instinct toward moral bullying and control coupled with appalling ignorance that was demonstrated by Rupert Murdoch and Mark Shields, both of whom seem to think that any American can just waltz up and buy a machine gun at the drop of a hat. Perhaps Murdoch’s ignorance is excusable because he’s a foreigner — though if he wants to use that as an excuse, he might also want to butt out until he learns something about the country he’s criticizing — but Shields’ excuse is . . . what, exactly? Senility?

CRITICIZING THE “DEATH PORN MEDIA.”

UNEXPECTEDLY: US Manufacturing Declines in November: ISM Index. “U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly contracted in November, falling to its lowest in over three years in a sign the sector may be struggling to gain traction, according to an industry report released on Monday.” Funny, there was no sign of this before the election. . . .

On the other hand, there’s this: Knoxville One Of Just Three U.S. Cities In Recovery From Recession.

UNEXPECTEDLY! New home sales stagnant, cast shadow on housing. “New U.S. single-family home sales fell slightly in October and sales for the prior month were revised sharply lower, casting a faint shadow over one of the brighter spots in the U.S. economy.” Funny that the prior month’s numbers were “revised sharply lower” after the election.

UNEXPECTEDLY! U.S.: Dallas Fed Manufacturing Business Index Falls Unexpectedly to -2.8 in November.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Obama hits the links for post-Thanksgiving golf.

BUT IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF THE JAPANESE TSUNAMI SANDY: Unexpectedly, Right After Election, Jobless Numbers Hit New High. “Sandy drove the number of people seeking unemployment benefits up to a seasonally adjusted 439,000 last week, the highest level in 18 months.”

UPDATE: Mocking the Sandy excuse.

NEW YORK POST: “An unexpectedly defensive President Obama yesterday dared Capitol Hill Republicans to ‘go after me’ on the Benghazi consulate intelligence debacle.” Didn’t Gary Hart once say something like that? Plus:

Here’s hoping the debate begins with a dissection of Obama’s admission that Rice’s dishonest post-Benghazi appearances on TV talk shows were made “at the request of the White House.”

That’s when she repeated the already-discredited line that Benghazi was a “spontaneous” attack fueled by an Internet video.

The president accused McCain and Graham of seeking to “besmirch her reputation” — which is a little silly, given the job she herself has done of it.

Senators have an obligation to hold to account any top official who lies to the country — or who serves as a transmission line for false information.

All this eclipsed news that former CIA Director David Petraeus has reversed course and agreed to testify under oath about his undercover post-attack fact-finding trip to Benghazi.

The retired four-star general also blamed Benghazi on the video — in front of Congress, no less! — although he certainly had to have known better.

This time, he will be under oath, and lawmakers need to wring the full truth out of him. Of course, whether his own personal drama played any role in his earlier, misleading, testimony must be explored, as well.

Benghazi is important in its own right — by all accounts it represented a grave US intelligence failure.

Equally critical is the likelihood — near certainty, actually — that the murders of four Americans were politicized to serve Obama’s re-election campaign.

Indeed. And a filmmaker is in jail as a scapegoat.

WELL, I CERTAINLY WOULDN’T HAVE EXPECTED IT: WWII Nazi’s Tank Manuals: Unexpectedly Hilarious! Though “hilarious” is a bit strong. “Amusing,” maybe.

UNEXPECTEDLY: PETA unintentionally red-lines the irony meter: “PETA Thanksgiving billboard asks kids: Would you eat your dog?”

Well, it does seem like a viable first step for any young man on the path to the presidency days.

TEN YEARS AGO ON INSTAPUNDIT:

SOME ADVICE FOR BUSH: Jonah Goldberg warns that the Republicans need to avoid overreaching, as Republicans have done in the past when things went unexpectedly well. (I linked to a similar warning from John Ellis earlier today). Democrats and their friends in the media, after all, will be waiting to pounce on anything that will let them paint the Republicans as corrupt pawns of greedy big business.

I think he’s right, and in particular I think that the Bush Administration needs to do something dramatic that will position it on the side of consumers against Evil Big Business. And I have just the thing: The Bush Administration should take on the crooks and thugs of the recording and movie industries. And it should do so on the side of artists and consumers.

It’s widely believed that the recording industry shafts its artists. As Ken Layne has pointed out, when 9,000 artist accounts were audited, 8,999 were found to have involved underpayments to the artists. Artist retirement funds have been underfunded, too — sometimes to ridiculous levels. And the record companies recently settled a price-fixing suit brought by state attorneys general.

Meanwhile the entertainment industries are trying to take control of people’s computers, televisions, and stereos. Consumers are gouged for ticket prices, radio is ruined by payola and other shady practices, and pretty much everyone knows that the whole industry is rotten to the core. (Heck, it was the topic of the very first post on InstaPundit). And by siding with artists, the Administration will be able to split an industry that’s usually united against the Republicans right down the middle. And voters identify with actors and musicians much more than with the suits who run the record and movie industries.

By taking on this big business that everyone has come to hate, the Bush Administration can position itself as a tribune of the people against greedy corporate interests. (And make media assaults on the Administration easy to discount as a self-interested response to its efforts to enforce the law). That they happen to be greedy corporate interests that give generously to Democrats will only make it more appealing.

This was good advice ten years ago after an unexpectedly large GOP victory. It’s good advice today after a GOP defeat. But will it happen? Experience says not, because Republicans can’t seem to bring themselves to go after big business, even big business that hates them.

EXPECT MORE OF THE UNEXPECTEDLY: Hey, look on the bright side: it will be fun to continue seeing all bad economic news reported as “unexpectedly” in the MSM for another four years.