April 30, 2015


Indonesia executed eight people accused of drug trafficking, including two Australians, as part of President Joko Widodo’s “war on drugs”. Australian officials had made personal appeals for clemency from Indonesia’s government, but it all came to naught yesterday, when a firing squad carried out the state’s sentence and shot the convicts dead.

The official response from Australia was carefully measured outrage. . . .

The saga illustrates some of the problems in Australia’s relationship with its giant and increasingly powerful neighbor.
In Indonesia, colonialism remains a very live issue, and Australia’s support for East Timor’s independence has been a sore spot. Some also fear that the restive, mineral-rich Indonesian half of New Guinea might also some day come into play, and that Australia might find it convenient to meddle. And Indonesia, a mostly Muslim country with increasingly conservative social mores, shares the abhorrence of many of its neighbors for drug trafficking, and is deeply committed to tough drug laws.

Australia knows that it needs good relations with its neighbor—for one thing, to help control what could otherwise be a tsunami of illegal immigration by desperate boat people—and Australian politicians of both of the major parties work hard to keep the relationship strong. But Australian public opinion sometimes chafes at what this means.

Far from fading away, these problems are likely in some ways to grow more serious. Indonesian Islam has traditionally taken a relaxed view on many social issues; that is beginning to change as more conservative strains of Islam gain ground. And the Indonesians, with the world’s fourth largest population and a rapidly growing economy, aren’t always averse to throwing their weight around on the diplomatic scene.

Add Australia to the list of nations worldwide that will want nuclear weapons, now that the United States seems an unreliable ally.

Related thoughts here.

YES. NEXT QUESTION? Do Prosecutors Have Too Much Power?

JOHN FONTE: The Conservative Populist Breakout.

ON THE OTHER HAND, IT’S FROM GM: 2016 Cadillac CTS-V Way More Affordable than M5, E63 AMG.

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HEH: Don Surber: Bernie Sanders brings wealth of 19th century ideas to Democratic presidential sweepstakes. “Senator Sanders brings a wealth of ideas from the 19th century including voting rights for women, a graduated income tax, and free public schools. He also favors the prohibition of alcohol, an end to paper money, and diapers on horses.”

Monty Burns’ commie brother!

SHOCKING: ANOTHER FOOD FAD THAT ISN’T BACKED BY SCIENCE. People love chickens that are “vegetarian fed.” Here’s why that’s bad for the birds.

Many of the largest U.S. sellers of organic eggs boast that their hens are vegetarian, and for an increasingly food-curious public, this may be great advertising. . . .

Yet for the chickens, who are natural omnivores that readily devour bugs and small animals when they’re available, the forced vegetarianism can be a disaster.

Chickens on an unsupplemented vegetarian diet typically fall short of an essential protein-based amino acid known as methionine, and without it, they fall ill. Worse, the birds will also turn on each other, seeking nutrients by pecking at each other, and these incidents can escalate into a henhouse bloodbath, farmers say.

“They’re really like little raptors – they want meat,” said Blake Alexandre, the owner of a 30,000 chicken operation in far northern California that keeps its birds on pasture. “The idea that they ought to be vegetarians is ridiculous.”

“This is one of those problems caused by the fact that most Americans are so far removed from their food supply,” said Tracy Favre, a farmer and organic inspector who serves on the federal advisory board for organic products. “When I see eggs in the supermarket being advertised as vegetarian this and that, I cringe.”

I hope the eggs are at least gluten-free.

HMM. IF I WERE GOING TO STAGE A ROBBERY, OR A RIOT, I’D HACK THEM AND THEN SET THEM ALL OFF AT ONCE: Soon, new cars in Europe will automatically call police in a crash.

HILLARY CLINTON: CONGENITAL RULE-BREAKER:  Ron Fournier over at National Journal excoriates Hillary for her history of being above the law.   Fourier’s opening salvo:

Hillary Clinton doesn’t play by the rules.

That’s not a partisan attack. It’s not a talking point. It’s not a fantasy. It’s a fact—an agonizing truth to people like me who admire Clinton and her husband, who remember how Bill Clinton rose from a backwater governorship to the presidency on a simple promise: He would fight for people who “work hard and play by the rules.”

The evidence is overwhelming and metastasizing: To co-opt a William Safire line, Hillary Clinton is a congenital rule-breaker.

Ouch.  Read the whole thing.

YET ANOTHER REASON TO BE SKEPTICAL OF THE “INTERNET OF THINGS.” “Attacks that take down websites by flooding them with traffic have been popular among computer criminals for years. Traditionally, such assaults are launched using PCs infected with malware. But two security companies say they have seen the emergence of a worrying new tactic: home routers, Internet-connected printers, and even webcams being used to knock targeted sites offline. In a report released last week, Chinese security company NSFocus said that it had seen a significant increase in the use of networked home and office devices in so-called denial-of-service attacks.” Not surprising, as the security on these devices is often poor.

HOW TO STOP KILLER ASTEROIDS: Only vigilance and ingenuity stand between Earth and oblivion.

I had an idea for a science fiction story: Man travels back in time to prevent assassination of Franz Ferdinand, and successfully prevents World War I, and, by extension, World War II. The result is a century of peace and prosperity, but somewhat slower technological development, so that in 2038 we’re just seeing the earliest beginnings of a space age — as a killer asteroid, unstoppable, appears and wipes out civilization.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How To Make Tires Last 10 Years. Really?

ED MORRISSEY: The Stagnant Economy Spells Trouble for Democrats. “The parallels between Hillary Clinton and George H. W. Bush already exist, especially since her appeal to Democrats will be her ability to lock in the policies begun by Barack Obama. Her age and her long history in Washington DC make her the establishment candidate, with Republican candidates claiming youth and outside-the-Beltway credentials. If Democrats nominate her for the presidency as expected, the argument for her election would be continuity – to ‘stay the course,’ as Reagan himself put it, on the route that Obama created. That makes Democrats especially dependent on not just the reality of a strong economy, but the perception of economic strength as well.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Nick Gillespie: College Kids Are Human Veal: Abetted by idiot administrators, today’s students seem incapable of living in the real world. “But really, what the fuck is wrong with kids these days and, more important, the supposed adults who look after them? They act as if they are raising human veal that cannot even stand on their own legs or face the sunlight without having their eyeballs burned out and their hearts broken by a single deep breath or uncomfortable moment. I’m just waiting for stories of college deans carrying students from class to class on their backs. . . . It’s as if college presidents, deans, and the ever-increasing number of bureaucrats and administrators and residence-life muckety-mucks walked away from Animal House firmly believing that Dean Wormer was not only the hero of movie but a role model. At all costs, order must be enforced and no space for free play or discord can be allowed!”

TEXAS TO MONITOR US MILITARY EXERCISE:  Governor Greg Abbott announced that he has ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor U.S. military as it conducts an upcoming two-month, 1,200 troop training exercise in the State.  Abbott ordered monitoring to assuage concerns of Texans that the exercise will provide a platform for U.S. military occupation of,  and imposition of martial law on, Texas.  Abbott explained in a letter to the Commander of the Texas State Guard, Major General Jake Betty:

“During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.  By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.”

This is why I love Texans.  And kudos to Abbott for doing what he thinks is right, knowing the onslaught of mainstream media criticism to come.  A healthy dose of suspicion is warranted, especially with this Administration.

IN THE MAIL: From Robert J. Spitzer, Guns across America: Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 721.


Knoxville, Tennessee. The Henley Street bridge (recently rebuilt) viewed from Volunteer Landing. Unedited pic from iPhone 6.

ARE ELECTED JUDGES POLITICIANS?:  According to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision yesterday in Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, the answer is “no.”  The Court’s 5-4 split is itself worth noting:  Chief Justice John Roberts– in a classic move he made in the case upholding Obamacare, NFIB v. Sebelius–joined the Court’s four liberal Justices (Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor) and wrote the majority opinion.  Eight Justices (all of them except Ginsburg) agreed that a Florida ban on judges soliciting campaign contributions was a presumptively unconstitutional violation of free speech under the First Amendment and subject to “strict scrutiny.”

Roberts’ majority concluded that banning judges’ solicitation of campaign contributions survived strict scrutiny because it furthered the compelling government interest in protecting judicial integrity and the public’s confidence therein, and was narrowly tailored to serve that interest. This integrity is essential, said the Roberts’ majority, because “judges are not politicians,” even when they are elected, and the public needs to have confidence that judges will decide cases impartially, without regard to who has given contributions to them.

But is this really true?  Judges in 39 states are elected in some manner.  In 30 of these states, elected judges are banned from soliciting direct campaign contributions.  In the Williams-Yulee case, for example, Ms. Williams-Yulee (who ran for a county court in Florida, but lost) sent out a mass mailing to potential supporters, signed it, and then posted the same letter on her website.  This triggered disciplinary proceedings by the Florida Bar, which resulted in her reprimand and payment of court costs of almost $2,000, which was affirmed by the Florida Supreme Court.

When we elect our judges, do we really think they aren’t politicians?  What is a “politician,” if not someone who is elected (and hence, politically accountable) to the people via elections?  I’m sure we all agree that judges (elected or not) should be impartial, and apply the law rather than make it up themselves.  But that aside, if we choose to elect our state judges (federal judges are constitutionally required to be appointed for life), doesn’t that mean that they are politicians, and that we want them to be politically accountable to us for their behavior while on the bench?

If elected judges are “politicians” in this sense, then why shouldn’t they have a robust First Amendment right to ask for campaign money, the same as elected members of the executive and legislative branches?  Indeed, under most states’ judicial solicitation bans, judges cannot even ask for campaign contributions from their own family members, though they can set up “campaign committees” that issue contribution solicitations indirectly.  They can even write personal “thank you” notes when such committees receive contributions.  As Adam Liptak observed in his New York Times summary, “Under Wednesday’s ruling, then, judicial candidates can say thank you, but they may not say please.”

Moreover, in most states, judicial candidates and judges can ask lawyers for other benefits, such as tickets to a football game, but they cannot ask for a $1.00 campaign donation.  These gaps and inconsistencies in judicial solicitation bans led Justice Samuel Alito to observe, in dissent, that Florida’s law was “about as narrowly tailored as a burlap bag.”

The four, dissenting conservative Justices in Williams-Yulee have a point:  The liberal Justices (plus Chief Justice Roberts) just don’t seem to like judicial elections very much, and seem to paternalistically justify protecting the “Brotherhood of the Robe” by claiming that citizens will somehow think elected judges raising money like other politicians will make them less partial than they otherwise would be.  Maybe this is because, when judges are elected, they tend to vote more conservatively.

Here in Florida, where our appellate judges are subject to retention elections, I assume simultaneously that judges are both “politicians” (politically accountable via elections) but also “impartial,” as the Code of Judicial Ethics requires them to be.  If I received a letter in the mail from some judge (or candidate) asking me for money, I would probably just chuckle and throw it in the trash.  If I gave money, it would be because I knew the person and believed him/her to be a good judge (or potential judge).  I certainly wouldn’t think I could “buy” a judge for the limited contribution allowed of $1,000- $3,000.

If contribution limits are accepted as an appropriate means for preventing members of the legislative and executive branches from being “bought,” then why aren’t they similarly accepted for elected judges?  According to the Williams-Yulee Court, it’s because judges are just “different.”  I don’t see how this distinction is supported by the First Amendment.

IT’S THE FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY of the fall of Saigon. Sadly, a lot of our elites think the good guys won that day.

But some related thoughts are here.

SPACE: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin soars into space from West Texas. “Powered by a BE-3 engine, the spacecraft flew to 307,000 feet, the edge of space, and returned smoothly to the ground. The company said it was able to recover the reusable spacecraft.”

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WHAT I’VE NOTICED IS THAT THERE’S ALWAYS AN EXCUSE: After U.S. economy slows to crawl, analysts hope the reason is the season.

What IowaHawk has noticed is that the same people who are telling us that the economic slowdown is because of the extraordinarily cold winter are also telling us that this is the hottest year on record.

UPDATE: From the comments: “The Soviets blamed the weather for 75 consecutive poor wheat harvests; it seems churlish to deny this excuse to the Obama administration after just 7 years.” Fair point!

WELL, YES: Ted Cruz: Obama has enflamed race relations.

Sen. Ted Cruz on Wednesday asserted that President Obama has irresponsibly enflamed race relations in the United States and wasted a unique opportunity to heal old wounds and bring Americans together.

The Texas Republican, a candidate for president in 2016, made those comments during an appearance in Washington hosted by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in the midst of continuing unrest between African-Americans and the police in Baltimore. Like Obama, whose mother was Caucasian and father an African from Kenya, Cruz is biracial — the son of a white mother and Hispanic father who was born and raised in Cuba.

During a question and answer session with USHCC President and CEO Javier Palomarez, Cruz alluded to his belief that Obama has been a racially divisive president. Asked by CNN’s Dana Bash in a short news conference that followed if that’s what he meant, Cruz didn’t back down.

“I think he has not used his role as president to bring us together. He has exacerbated racial misunderstandings, racial tensions, from back at the beer summit to a series of efforts to pit Americans against each other. And, part of the problem is the way he advocates for any given plan, is to build a straw man of the opposition and then to vilify their position. So that, in the president’s telling, anyone who opposes Obamacare wants people to be denied healthcare and to get sick and pass away. That’s the only reason someone could oppose Obamacare, is because you malevolently want people to suffer,” Cruz said. “When you come to the Iran deal, anyone that opposes this terrible Iran deal, must be because they want war. Dividing us over and over and over again is a dangerous approach for a president. It’s an irresponsible approach for a president. I think we need to be looking to unity.”

He’s been an irresponsible President.

WELL, WELL: IRS watchdog finds 6,400 missing Lois Lerner emails. See, Lois, you should know how all the pros play the game — you have your own server at home, to facilitate evidence destruction.

SO, QUITE SOME TIME AGO I BOUGHT THE AMAZON FIRE TV BOX and I just realized I never put up the promised review. Short answer: It works really well. Video quality is excellent, whether it’s accessing the Internet via wi-fi or via ethernet, the menus are clear and easy to follow, it integrates Netflix perfectly, and it changes “channels” smoothly and without lag. The small remote works well, and the spoken-search feature does too. I have the box, not the Amazon Fire Stick, but the latter should be equally satisfying, and is cheaper. Well worth it, especially if you have Amazon Prime.

And speaking of Amazon Prime, you now get streaming music stations, a la Pandora, for free with your Prime membership, and there’s even an Amazon Music app for your phone.

WASHINGTON POST: How Hillary Clinton is running against parts of her husband’s legacy.

Hillary Rodham Clinton isn’t just running against Republicans. She’s also running against parts of her husband’s legacy.

On issues large and small, the Democratic presidential contender is increasingly distancing herself from — or even opposing — key policies pushed by Bill Clinton while he was in the White House, from her recent skepticism on free-trade pacts to her full embrace of gay rights.

The starkest example yet came Wednesday, when Hillary Clinton delivered an impassioned address condemning the “era of incarceration” ushered in during the 1990s in the wake of her husband’s 1994 crime bill — though she never mentioned him or the legislation by name.

Well, that would be kind of awkward. But it’s worth noting that the 1994 crime bill was an awful piece of legislation, rammed through by the Democrats . . . and that it led to the Republicans taking the House later that year.

Related: Paul camp accuses Clinton of running from husband’s legacy with prison reform speech.

Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign mocked Hillary Clinton’s call Wednesday for justice reform, claiming she’s running from policies her husband advocated during the Clinton administration. . . .

His campaign sent out an email accusing Clinton of pushing ideas that would “undo some of Bill Clinton’s work — the same work she cheerfully supported as First Lady.” His campaign cited the Clinton administration’s “war on drugs” focus, pointing in part to a Salon.com report that highlighted the findings of the Justice Policy Institute. They found “the number of prisoners under federal jurisdiction doubled” under the Clinton administration.

Paul’s campaign accused Hillary Clinton of trying to reverse that legacy while also “emulating proposals” that Paul himself has pushed — like moving away from mandatory minimum sentencing.

Still, the campaign said: “We welcome her to the fight.”

Hillary’s problem is, the more she runs away from Bill’s legacy, the more she has to explain what she, in particular, has to offer America. Which, basically, boils down to her being Bill’s wife.

Related: Hillary’s “let’s not send people to prison” speech is exactly what you’d expect from someone who just destroyed a mountain of evidence.



YET ANOTHER SOCIALIST ENTERS THE FRAY: Bernie Sanders: ‘I am running for president.’

Hillary Clinton got her first official challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination Wednesday night, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announcing he intends to seek the White House in 2016.

“I am running for president,” Sanders said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Sanders will likely make an official public announcement Thursday. The Hill previously reported the senator will hit the launch button through a low-key event or statement, followed by a kick-off event in his home state in early May, and likely trips to the early-voting states to follow.

Sanders has set a noon press conference Thursday on Capitol Hill to discuss his agenda, which will likely include a huge boost in infrastructure and entitlement spending, free college tuition, higher taxes on the wealthy and initiatives meant to keep money out of politics.

The Vermont independent, who has previously embraced the “socialist” label, believes he is well-positioned to be the liberal alternative to Clinton, who is far and away the frontrunner to be the party’s standard-bearer in 2016.

“People should not underestimate me,” Sanders told the AP. “I’ve run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country.”

And he’s helping to broaden the Democrats’ diversity by making sure that they have the old white man demographic covered as well as the old white woman demographic! I mean, is this not the face of diversity?

Hey, he’s got the Montgomery Burns demographic locked down!

UPDATE: From the comments: “He’s just a prop to make people not notice Clinton’s age.” Well, she does look younger by comparison.

IT’S HARD TO TELL THE “FACT-CHECKING” BIZ FROM THE “DEMOCRATIC TALKING-POINTS SHILLING” BIZ THESE DAYS: Conservative webmag goes to war with Clinton-connected fact-checker.

SO MY REVOLVING-DOOR SURTAX JUST KEEPS LOOKING BETTER: Congressman Investigated By Feds Now Gets Paid By Feds To Lobby Congress.

IT’S POTEMKIN ACCENTS ALL THE WAY DOWN: Speech Pathology: Tracking Hillary Clinton’s Use of Every American Accent East of the Mississippi.

April 29, 2015

HEH: “CNN currently has a diverse panel of leftists on to discuss Ted Cruz’s comments.”

CHARLIE MARTIN: Hurricane Hugos: The controversy surrounding the prestigious sci-fi Hugo Awards. A report on the Hugos’ politicization, and on the pushback.

FIFTY SHADES OF FREDDIE GRAY:  The Washington Post reports that a prisoner sharing a Baltimore police transport van with Freddie Gray could hear Gray “banging his head” against the van walls and believes Gray was “intentionally trying to injure himself.”

Earlier reports that Gray may have had prior spine or neck surgery due to an automobile accident–which may have rendered Gray’s spine vulnerable or weak–now appear to be untrue.  The Baltimore Sun examined the court records related to this rumor and determined that the lawsuit involved claims by Gray and his sister that they were injured by exposure to lead paint.

All of this just emphasizes the need to have a full investigation before jumping to conclusions, much less rioting.  But then again, the actual facts of police encounters in cases such as Ferguson and Baltimore don’t seem to matter to the protesters.

COMPLICATING THE NARRATIVE: Prisoner in van said Freddie Gray was ‘trying to injure himself,’ document says.

I’m skeptical, but this wouldn’t be the first time a black-and-white narrative of police misconduct turned out to be . . . well, to be honest, just plain false. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: As you can see from Elizabeth’s post just above, great minds really do think alike!

MARK RIPPETOE: Strength Training At 92. “Gus has put away her walker and cane, and hasn’t fallen in a year.”


Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 4.08.26 PM

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Mom Says School Wouldn’t Let Daughter Finish Lunch Because It Was Not ‘Nutritious.’ The more bullying, the more people will exit the system.

UPDATE: Oops, my mistake. I’m not sure how, but I somehow missed that this was a preschool. Still lame, though.

OH, GOODY: U.S. Officials Expect Bird Flu to Return in the Fall.

Officials with the Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said the H5N2 virus, along with two other highly pathogenic strains of bird flu, would probably be passed among birds at breeding grounds in the northern United States and Canada through the summer.

The strains are difficult to control, say scientists, in part because wild birds can carry the viruses without appearing to be sick.

The statement marks a shift in tone in the agency’s assessment of the likelihood for a renewed outbreak tied to fall migration. More than 15 million commercial birds nationwide have died or are expected to be killed in the current outbreak, and exports of U.S. poultry and eggs have slowed sharply.

We need better antivirals.

DANIEL HANNAN: Why conservatives have more empathy than liberals.

If you start from the conviction that you’re standing up for the underdog, you will naturally assume that your political opponents are for the powerful. You will subliminally screen out evidence that challenges that view. As Danusha Goska put it in American Thinker not long ago, “Never, in all my years of leftist activism, did I ever hear anyone articulate accurately the position of anyone to our right. In fact, I did not even know those positions when I was a leftist.”

Do rightists also caricature their opponents? Yes, but not to anything like the same extent. A 2012 study by Jesse Graham, Brian A. Nosek and Jonathan Haidt asked conservatives and liberals to answer a series of questions as themselves, and then to answer them in the imagined personae of a typical conservative and a typical liberal. It found that the liberals were the least able to accurately to guess their opponents’ views, seeing conservatism as a kind of moral failure.

Yes, very few lefties can pass the ideological Turing Test.

MICROBIOME NEWS: The Cure for Brain Diseases Is in Your Gut: Researchers are just now starting to link inflammation in your gut with some of the most deadly and debilitating diseases we have. Faster, please. Though I’d take this article a bit more seriously if it didn’t use the words “holistic” and “reductionist” so many times.

SMARTPHONE SECRETS: Better Authentication Than A Password?

REASON TV: Gov. Brown’s Water Plan: Hose Little Guys, Shower Cronies.

I WONDER HOW IT COMPARES TO THE DYMAXION CAR? Jay Leno drives the oddball three-wheeled Davis Divan.

I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE GOTTEN A RIDE: What Made the SR-71 Blackbird Such a Badass Plane: The story of a supersonic legend.

HE’S REALLY ON A ROLL LATELY: Yet another paper from my colleague Maurice Stucke, this time co-authored with Allen P. Grunes of The Konkurrenz Group: No Mistake About it: The Important Role of Antitrust in the Era of Big Data.

GOOD. HE WAS BASICALLY SERVED UP AS A SCAPEGOAT: Judge won’t dismiss lawsuit from band director fired over sexual assault accusations.

Last year, Waters was fired after an internal investigation (which conveniently coincided with an investigation by the Department of Education for Title IX investigations) revealed a “sexualized” culture within the band that Waters failed to adequately stop. Complaints included hazing of new band members (that only a small percentage of the 225-member band found objectionable), an unofficial songbook containing vulgar lyrics for OSU fight songs and an allegedly mishandled sexual assault accusation.

The hazing and other traditions predated Waters, but in the current environment of Title IX witch hunts, someone had to be held accountable. Waters says that OSU officials told him he would be allowed to keep his job if he adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy. Then, two weeks later, he was fired. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Education ended its investigation into OSU, even citing the firing as one reason.

They told me if I voted for Mitt Romney, prudes would be mounting sexual witch-hunts on America’s college campuses. And they were right!

CALORIE LABELS NOT RELIABLE. “An adult aiming to take in 2,000 calories a day on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet may actually be consuming several hundred calories less, he and other experts said. Calorie estimates for junk foods, particularly processed carbohydrates, are more accurate.” Maybe this is one reason high-protein diets promote weight loss — you’re actually eating less than you think!

IN THE MAIL: From Jeb Kinnison, Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Machine Starter Bundle, $199.99 (42% off).

And, also today only: “Futurama: The Complete Series,” $59.49 (70% off).

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 720.

THE BLUE-CITY MODEL:  The Wall Street Journal has an excellent editorial today, explaining how the Baltimore riots demonstrate the utter failure of progressivism in urban America:

The men and women in charge have been Democrats, and their governing ideas are “progressive.” This model, with its reliance on government and public unions, has dominated urban America as once-vibrant cities such as Baltimore became shells of their former selves. In 1960 Baltimore was America’s sixth largest city with 940,000 people. It has since shed nearly a third of its population and today isn’t in the top 25.

The dysfunctions of the blue-city model are many, but the main failures are three: high crime, low economic growth and failing public schools that serve primarily as jobs programs for teachers and administrators rather than places of learning.

Exactly.  John Nolte over at Breitbart has a similar take:

Baltimore is not America’s problem or shame. That failed city is solely and completely a Democrat problem. Like many failed cities, Detroit comes to mind, and every city besieged recently by rioting, Democrats and their union pals have had carte blanche to inflict their ideas and policies on Baltimore since 1967, the last time there was a Republican Mayor. . . .

Liberalism and all the toxic government dependence and cronyism and union corruption and failed schools that comes along with it, has run amok in Baltimore for a half-century, and that is Baltimore’s problem. . . .

Poverty has nothing to do with it. This madness and chaos and anarchy is a Democrat-driven culture that starts at the top with a racially-divisive White House heartbreakingly effective at ginning up hate and violence.

Nolte’s right:  The rioting in Ferguson and Baltimore isn’t driven by poverty, race, or even police brutality.  It’s driven by progressive culture, which teaches that successful business people “didn’t build that,” accepts abortion/divorce/children out of wedlock as normal behavior, proclaims that poor children (particularly minorities) cannot succeed, that police and authority in general are the “enemy,” and that law is rigged against minorities.  Urban music, “leaders” like Al Sharpton, and a Democrat strategy of balkanizing Americans through identity politics–echoed daily by mainstream media–has created a culture that has no respect for the rule of law.  In the eyes of progressives, the American Dream is dead, and they are literally dancing on its grave.

Until this progressive culture changes (if it ever can) or is marginalized politically, we will have lawless behavior every time these destructive, sociopathic cultural expectations are reinforced by tragedies like the deaths of Michael Brown or Freddie Gray.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Blame the Machines.

In late July 2013, 16-year-old Pablo Garcia, who was in the hospital for a routine colonoscopy to check on his congenital gastrointestinal condition, began complaining of numbness and tingling all over his body. Soon he was having seizures. What caused this strange condition? His medication, it turned out: He’d been given 39 times too much antibiotic. How this occurred is the subject of a fascinating piece on Medium, which I urge you all to read. But if I had to condense its five parts’ worth of fascinating insights into one sentence, here’s how it would read: “Machines make us stupid.”

For example, I spent three months traveling last fall, with only a few weekends in the District of Columbia. By the time I returned, I had forgotten the number of our landline. To be sure, we don’t use it very often. Still. We’ve had that number for five years. I forgot it in less than one football season.

But of course, I no longer need to remember phone numbers. I have a cell phone for that. For any other knowledge I need handy, I have a computer. For anything I need to learn, there’s Google. In some sense, this means that I have a better memory and wider knowledge than I used to. But if I’m cut off from these tools, I am suddenly a moron.

I make a point of not using a calculator, and of remembering phone numbers, as much as I can for that very reason. Use it or lose it.

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MARTIN O’MALLEY VISITS BALTIMORE: “White hipster kids in granny glasses and 1990s tennis warm-up outfits walked with an air of adventure.”

QUINN HILYER ON THE LATEST FROM GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: My Alma Mater Makes A Fool Of Itself. “Both the campus paper of record, the Hoya, and the Georgetown Center for Student Engagement (yes, I kid you not, that’s the name of an official department of the university), have done even more to embarrass themselves than did the students who posted ‘trigger warnings’ that Ms. Sommers might say things that upset somebody.”

Cost of attending Georgetown: $67,520 per year. Something that can’t go on forever, won’t.

THEY DO SEEM TO ALWAYS HAPPEN IN DEMOCRAT-RUN CITIES: How to Stop the Next Urban Race Riot? Ask a Republican.

BYRON YORK: Time For Ben Carson To Run A Real Race.

Ben Carson will declare his presidential candidacy in Detroit next Monday. Not a minute too soon.

The retired neurosurgeon and conservative star formed a presidential exploratory committee on March 3. Since then, he’s been traveling around the country in what might be called a non-strategic way — making paid speeches that he had longstanding commitments to give, appearing at events for his Carson Scholars Fund (which awards money to promising students around the country) and, in other ways, not directing any particular focus on the key early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. . . .

Carson will announce in Detroit. It’s a natural choice, since it is not just Carson’s hometown, but also a good political choice because some conservatives see the city, mired in bankruptcy and general, long-running decline, as a laboratory for new policies that could reverse its fortunes. Carson could direct special attention to the city’s problems.

Carson can also, with a well-done rollout next Monday, bring new attention to his fledgling campaign that would stop his slide in the polls. “It’s safe to say that all of the declared candidates so far have seen pops around their announcement,” notes Murray. “We see a great opportunity as Ben starts to define his message and positions on issues.”

Whatever Carson does, it will stand out from the rest of the field. Calling his approach to the 2016 race “unorthodox” would be an understatement. Carson speeches, even in a political setting, can seem more like TED talks on the values that brought him success in the decidedly non-political field of brain surgery. At the same time, Carson has deflected policy questions by saying he is not yet a candidate and is still studying the issues.

That ends soon.

I see more Ben Carson stickers around Knoxville than for any other candidate, for whatever that’s worth.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: North Carolina Legislation Would Require All UNC Faculty To Teach Eight Courses Per Year. You’re going to see a lot more of this, but, like Scott Walker, they’re focusing on faculty because faculty are visible, and missing that most of the higher education bloat comes from administration.

I can recommend some reading on this for the North Carolina legislature.

ROLL CALL: Senators Urge Action on FBI’s Use of Faulty Forensic Evidence.

A group of Democratic senators on Tuesday urged action from the Justice Department and the FBI in response to a recent FBI study showing erroneous and invalid testimony in 96 percent of cases analyzed involving microscopic hair analysis.

The study also revealed 32 defendants of the 257 cases found to be prosecuted on faulty forensic evidence had been sentenced to death.

“We are deeply disturbed to learn that hundreds of potentially innocent defendants were imprisoned or even executed based at least in part on flawed evidence,” the senators wrote. “We commend the Department of Justice (“the Department”) and the FBI for voluntarily undertaking this review. We now request that you take steps to correct the incredible injustices the review has revealed and to strengthen the science and standards underpinning forensic science.”

The letter calls for a three-pronged response to the study: that the Justice Department review the use of microscopic hair analysis in prosecutions by the FBI; that the Justice Department give those who have been convicted using erroneous microscopic hair analysis evidence a “full and fair opportunity to challenge their convictions” instead of simply just being informed of the error; and that the Justice Department and FBI work with the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to review the processes and standards of other disciplines of forensic science to identify opportunities for “stronger standards, better training, and further scientific research.”

“Faulty” is being kind. “Fraudulent” might be more accurate.

THE HILL: GOP leader: Gas tax hike ‘politically impossible.’

A gas-tax hike is dead on arrival in Congress, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday.

Transportation advocates have pushed to increase or index to inflation the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax as lawmakers scramble to come up with a way to pay for an extension of an infrastructure funding measure that is scheduled to expire on May 31.

McCarthy said Tuesday that lawmakers are not willing to ask drivers to pay more at the pump to finance new transportation projects.

People feel like gas is expensive enough.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The George Washington University Tramples Free Speech, Ignores Context in Suspending Student for Indian Swastika Posting. As I mentioned the other day, this is getting a lot of negative treatment in the Indian press, and I would think that GWU wouldn’t want to appear hostile to lucrative foreign students. But I feel like the student-recruiting people don’t have much of a voice where the student-thought-police bureaucrats are concerned.

April 28, 2015

WE’LL BE DOING SOME SITE MAINTENANCE LATER TONIGHT. The page should stay up, but comments, etc. may be a bit hinky at times.

TROLL LEVEL: Grandmaster.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ORAL ARGUMENTS:  The audio is available here, if you are curious to hear the arguments.  A good, short analysis of various Justices’ questions and comments, can be found here.

ANTI-PATRIOTISM IS THE FIRST REFUGE OF SCOUNDRELS: Whole Foods Blasted Online After Making Sandwiches for Members of the National Guard in Baltimore.

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WELL, OF COURSE THEY DID: Naval Midshipmen, Caught in Baltimore Riots, Direct Families to Safety.

ROBERT TRACINSKI: Jim Webb: The Democrat Who Could Win, But Won’t. “I happen to think the most terrifying prospect for Republicans would be a challenge to Hillary from the right: the candidacy of Jim Webb, an old-fashioned, truly moderate ‘Reagan Democrat’ with military credentials—Vietnam veteran and former Secretary of the Navy under Reagan—and a lot of appeal in places like Appalachia, and among blue-collar types. That’s a large part of the reason Webb managed to win a term as Senator from Virginia in 2006.”

LIFE IN THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: Riots Force Orioles, White Sox Game to be Played in Empty Stadium.

IT’S POTEMKIN RIOTS ALL THE WAY DOWN: Social media analysis suggests links between Baltimore and Ferguson violence.

An analysis of social media traffic in downtown Baltimore Monday has unearthed striking connections to the protests in Ferguson, Mo. last year, according to a leading data mining firm that shared its findings exclusively with Fox News.

The firm, which asked to remain anonymous because of its government work, found between 20 and 50 social media accounts in Baltimore that were also tied to the peak period of violence in Ferguson. While further analysis is being conducted on the data, it suggests the presence of “professional protesters” or anarchists taking advantage of Freddie Gray’s death to incite more violence.

Probably Worker’s World or Revolutionary Communist Party types rather than “anarchists.”

THIS SHOULD HELP REDUCE INFECTIONS LIKE MRSA AND C. DIFICILE: Admitted to Your Bedroom: Some Hospitals Try Treating Patients at Home. Plus: “Hospitals help you, but there’s so much noise that you can’t sleep and you’re lonely.” That’s the truth; I wrote about it here.

I remember in some science fiction story or other — I think it was Neil Smith’s The Probability Broach — the doctor recoiled in horror at the outdated practice of putting sick people in hospitals, where they were surrounded by other sick people and germs would tend to accumulate.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Ohio State Law Grad Has $328,000 Of Student Loan Debt. Actually, I had a student graduate with more debt than that, though the vast majority of it had been run up in a very expensive undergraduate and graduate program before ever coming to law school.

JAMES BOVARD: Baltimore Riot: Remember O’Malley’s Anti-Gun Law. “After Baltimore descended into chaos, remember that Gov. Martin O’Malley was so proud of the anti-gun law he got enacted into 2013. We have seen that Baltimore police did not or could not defend people – and O’Malley’s law makes it far more difficult for citizens to acquire the means to defend themselves.”

ERICK ERICKSON: If Only President Obama Weren’t Black.

It must be comfortable and convenient for President Obama to assume the opposition to him is because of his race. He can negotiate a bad deal with Iran and conclude the public hates it because he is black. He can tell people they can keep their doctors then take their doctors away from them and console himself that the anger of the public is just racist. He can see a solid position in Iraq and Afghanistan squandered as ISIS overruns us and, when people point it out, conclude it’s just because of his skin color. People can drop out of the workforce because they can’t find jobs and when their stomachs rumble and their mouths grumble, President Obama can look himself in the mirror and think it’d all be different if he were not a black man.

If only President Obama weren’t black, maybe he would realize that people don’t dislike him because he is black, they dislike him because he is a self-absorbed ass.

If he weren’t black, he never would have been elected, of course. That’s the only reason people voted for him. And even that didn’t work out as hoped.

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TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Peoria High School teacher Bethany Newsome arrested on sex abuse charges involving two students. “A Peoria High School teacher and former varsity volleyball coach who ranked positive attitude above physical ability for her players has been arrested on multiple sexual abuse charges involving two students. Bethany Newsome, 29, of 2916 N. St. Philomena Court was booked into the Peoria County Jail on three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse Tuesday afternoon. The charges specify victims 13 to 17 years old.”

MOE LANE ON TODAY’S PERVASIVE MEDIA: “I mean, keep in mind that the Right has an inherent structural advantage in this regard: the Media hates us and wants us all to die in a grease fire, so we’re all familiar with the basic defense mechanisms already. The Democrats, on the other hand… yeah, they’re only now realizing that everybody has cameras now, not just the reporters who are largely sympathetic to them.”

I’M SURPRISED IRS GOT ANYTHING BACK AT ALL:  Two-thirds of Obamacare subsidy recipients had to pay money back to IRS.  The average payback to IRS was $729.  What government giveth, government may taketh away.

ROGER SIMON: Why Baltimore: An American Tragedy.

Commentators were repeatedly asking – where are the parents? Ben Carson – the neurosurgeon, potential Republican presidential candidate and onetime Baltimore resident – urged the city’s parents “Please, take care of your children.”

Great idea, but here’s the problem. They don’t have ‘em. According to liberal CNN’s Don Lemon, 72 percent of African-American children are born out of wedlock. His stats were born out by the Center for Disease Control. One can only imagine what the stats would be broken down for those Baltimore neighborhoods that were rioting. The presence of a father in the home would be a rarity indeed. And a lot of the moms are probably holding their fatherless homes together for dear life, desperately trying to make a living when their kids are pouring out of school. No one was home.

Of course, it wasn’t always that way. The black family was the bulwark of that community. So what happened? I’ll be blunt, since I was once part of the problem and equally culpable – liberal racism. Ever since the days of Lyndon Johnson, social welfare programs aimed at making the lives of “colored people” better actually made them worse. The assumption behind these programs is that African-Americans – always, constantly, forever unequal and not up to the task – needed a leg up. They got the message. Wouldn’t you?

And wouldn’t it make you pretty angry too? Not that that’s an excuse for violence, not even faintly. The whole system is corrupt, top to bottom.

No wonder the mayor of Baltimore made the inane comment (and then pretended she didn’t) about giving the rioters space to wreak their havoc. That’s the logical extension of the Great Society, this time given forth by a black woman graduate of Oberlin. She didn’t even comprehend at the time the insult to her own people inherent in her comment. When I heard her welcoming Al Sharpton in the press conference, I cringed.

On the other hand, the opportunities for graft over the past 50 years have been splendid.

UPDATE: Well, some parents were still disciplining their kids.

UM: CNN Anchor Brooke Baldwin Blames Military Veterans for Baltimore Riots. “Essentially, what Baldwin said to the world was, ‘Don’t hire veterans! They’re crazy! They will destroy everything!’”


AT AMAZON, deals galore in Training & Fitness.

And shop the Amazon Emergency Prep Store. Plus, Emergency & Long-Term Storage Food Deals. When bad things happen, it’s good to have food.

Plus, Generators and Portable Power for Storm Season. Just remember, when winter storms are over, spring and summer storms are on the way.

SAN FRAN DIVERSITY LOSS IS “CONCERNING”:  A new report finds that San Francisco’s racial and ethnic diversity is declining, as affluent whites flock back to the city, while minorities move out to the suburbs due to ever-increasing rent and other costs.  The report, “An Equity Profile of the San Francisco Bay Area,” by a group called PolicyLink, reads like a liberal/progressives’ dream, lamenting various inequalities between whites and non-whites, and concluding:

The Bay Area stands to gain a great deal from addressing racial inequities. The region’s economy could have been $117 billion stronger in 2012 if its racial gaps in income had been closed: a 32 percent increase.

Wow! So all we have to do is just pay minorities more, and the economy will improve! It’s magic!

The San Francisco Chronicle reporter muses:

So is San Francisco headed for a time when it becomes an affluent, white enclave surrounded by an ethnically diverse population?  “I saw that in the report, and it was definitely eyebrow raising,” says Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation, a community advocacy organization. “We may be entering into a kind of community crisis.” . . . A less diverse city “is not necessarily a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Blackwell said. “But it is concerning.”

So, let me get this straight:  If white people start moving back into a city, this is “concerning”?  And to stop this madness, the proffered solution is to raise wages for minority workers?  Because . . . #diversity!

RELATED:  Liberal/progressive San Franciscans (is there any other kind?) are also presently navel-gazing about the “loss” of diversity in San Francisco’s public schools.  The culprit?:

Dramatic income inequality, shifting demographics, rising housing costs and the proliferation of language programs are fueling the trend. But the biggest culprit, say outside researchers and local education leaders, is the feature that defines the student assignment system: school choice.

Yep, school choice– the one option that is available to minority parents, of any income, who wish to remove their children from failing public schools and improve their opportunities in life.  How dare they take their minority children out of failing schools– it reduces diversity.  They must stay in failing schools, because #diversity!

ORGANIZED CRIMINALITY: Vox: 181 Clinton Foundation donors who lobbied Hillary’s State Department. Funny, a lot of lefty outlets are happy to dish dirt on Hillary all of a sudden.

HEH: 10 Worst Journalist Tweets About The Baltimore Riots.

CHANGE: A Smartphone Eye Exam Service Launches in New York. “A service called Blink is launching today in New York that will bring an eye exam to your home or office for $75, administered by a technician who uses a trio of handheld devices that take the place of the bulky autorefractor, lensmeter, and phoropter you may have seen in an eye doctor’s office. The technician will send the results to an optometrist, who will write a prescription if necessary and e-mail it to you (in the U.S., only ophthalmologists and optometrists can legally write eyeglass prescriptions).”

JOHN CHISHOLM DOUBLES DOWN ON THUGGERY: “Is Milwaukee County DA interested in pursuing criminal libel prosecutions of his political critics?” Hollow threats. He’ll be lucky to escape jail time himself, even with the Democratic Deep State on his side. But he’s a putz who seems to have no qualms about abusing his office for political reasons.

I’LL BE ON SIRIUS/XM’S POTUS CHANNEL IN A FEW MINUTES, talking about Hillary Clinton’s scandals and the Democratic primary field.

SEXISM IN ACADEMIA: Faculty may prefer female applicants for STEM professorships. “The researchers found that, when presented with applications for an assistant professorship, both male and female faculty overwhelmingly preferred female applicants over male applicants with identical qualifications and family situations.”

Female privilege.

FASTER, PLEASE: A Cheap, Ubiquitous Earthquake Warning System. “When an earthquake hit California’s Napa Valley in 2014, ShakeAlert, a demonstration earthquake warning system under development by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), gave a 5 to 10 second warning. Had such a system been in place in Nepal this month, residents of Kathmandu would have had about 15 to 20 seconds to get out of the most dangerous buildings or take cover where possible. Though it doesn’t seem like much, that’s also enough time to trigger automated shutdown systems for rapid transit (the experimental system is already tied to the BART transportation network), nuclear power facilities, or semiconductor manufacturing plants.”

DESIGN THAT IS TOO PLEASED WITH ITS OWN CLEVERNESS IS SELDOM GOOD DESIGN: A Harrowing Test Drive of Buckminster Fuller’s 1933 Dymaxion Car: Art That’s Scary to Ride. You may think that you are a monstrously clever fellow, bur remember that cleverness is not on top, and never has been.

RICHARD EPSTEIN: The EPA’s clean-coal dustup.