September 17, 2014

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 497.

SAY, SOMEONE SHOULD CALL THE DSCC AND ASK if they’ve stopped paying women 82 cents for every dollar they pay men.

CALIFORNIA GETS TO ZERO ON HEDGE FUNDS:

This is splendid news for all the people of California, though, of course, it will be a bit hard on the hedge fund managers. Notwithstanding the prospect of desperate fund managers having to fly commercial and sell the third home, other states should follow suit.

However, it’s worth noting what this means: California has given up on the hope of above-market returns from hedge fund investments. There is a reason that public-sector pensions have been pouring money into hedge funds: It’s become clear that they are dramatically underfunded. California, for example, is about 25 percent underfunded, according to its chief actuary, with only a 50 percent chance of meeting its 7.5 percent target for annual investment returns.

A state can deal with a pension shortfall in two ways: It can raise contributions, or it can try to get higher returns out of the assets it already has. As mentioned above, this isn’t really a strategy that’s open to a fund as large as Calpers, but that hasn’t stopped Calpers from trying. After a series of grossly irresponsible pension enhancements at the height of the stock market bubble, Calpers tried to make up for the shortfalls by using accounting gimmicks to lengthen the schedule of top-up contributions and pushing into riskier investments.

Now the riskier investments have failed, and the accounting gimmicks were mostly based on the hope that the higher returns would bail Calpers out at some unspecified later date. That leaves the California taxpayer with higher contributions. This has already become a problem with many state and local governments; expect it to become a problem for many more.

It’s nice that they’re finally recognizing reality. It would have been better if they’d been more realistic all along.

TED CRUZ HAS BEEN BACKING MARILINDA GARCIA: In new ad, GOP millennial candidate says Congress needs a ‘new generation of conservative leaders.’

WEAK HORSE DIPLOMACY: What Happens When You Bet on Europe and the US These Days. “Ukraine’s devastating defeat by the Russian army not only forced it to ask for a humiliating cease fire, but has now compelled Kiev to make large political concessions to Putin.”

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CHANGE: Benghazi Hearings About To Force The Press To Pay Attention. I dunno, they seem pretty good at not paying attention to things that don’t advance the narrative.

“WE VALUE INCLUSIVITY AND DIVERSITY ON OUR CAMPUS,” which is why Chik-Fil-A is strictly verboten.

WELL, THERE’S AN ELECTION COMING, SO OF COURSE THEY’RE LYING: PolitiFact: Democrats Are Recycling False Accusation That Republicans Support Tax Breaks for Companies That Ship Jobs Overseas.

PERHAPS WE CAN LEARN FROM THE UKRAINIANS: Ukrainian politician gets dumped in a garbage bin by angry mob.

WHY WON’T KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND NAME THE MEN SHE SAYS HARASSED HER? Ann Althouse offers numerous theories — pretty much all unflattering to Gillibrand — but I favor this one:

She wants to protect the men she hasn’t named. They’re her political allies, perhaps quite well-known characters. I think we can assume that they are all Democrats, since we haven’t heard otherwise and she probably would have taken the opportunity to ding Republicans, and since Republicans would be more likely to maintain formal politeness with her and not to assume that they could take liberties.

Of course, there’s also this possibility: “Maybe it didn’t happen. There are no names named because there are no names to name.” She could have just been pulling a Neil deGrasse Tyson.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Whistleblower calls IG report clearing VA of deaths a ‘whitewash’ or cover up.

Attempts by the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general to absolve the agency of blame in patient deaths are either a whitewash or a cover-up, the whistleblower who first revealed falsified appointment lists in Phoenix said in written testimony released Tuesday.

Dr. Sam Foote, a former doctor at the Phoenix VA facility, also called for an independent investigation into patient deaths and the use of phony appointment lists to hide long delays in care. . . .

“At its best, this report is a whitewash,” Foote said in his written testimony. “At its worst, it is a feeble attempt at a cover-up.”

Foote added the IG’s final report, issued Aug. 26, appears to be “designed to minimize the scandal and protect its perpetrators rather than to provide the truth along with closure to the many veterans and their families that have been affected by it.”

Foote first went to the IG in October 2013 with allegations that hospital administrators in Phoenix were using secret waiting lists to hide long wait times patients faced when seeking care. IG investigators seemed uninterested, he said.

At that time, 10 patients on the list had already died while waiting for appointments, according to Foote. They asked Foote to fax patient information to a phone number that did not work.

The office also did not respond as Foote sent emails asking for further instructions in December.

Government healthcare.

WASHINGTON POST: Obama, The Divider. “The most troubling number for President Obama in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll is this one: Americans say 55 percent to 38 percent that he is more of a divider than a uniter.” Given that he’s seized every chance to sow division since entering office, that’s not really a surprise, is it?

DAVID SOLWAY: The New Colonizers: When prayer space is really occupied territory. “Every immigrant group in this country has variously adapted to the heritage culture, integrating more or less seamlessly by the second generation. However, second-generation Muslims are increasingly being radicalized, some going off to fight with jihadist militias in the Middle East and Africa, others plotting terror attacks on the very country that has offered them freedom, health care, education and the opportunity to prosper. The common denominator along this spectrum of cultural invasiveness is the sentiment of vested ascendancy and pre-eminence minus the obligation of having to earn them.” Democracy, immigration, multiculturalism. Pick any two.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Troubled Law School Defaults On Its Bonds, May Be Forced To Cease Operations. It’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

UPDATE: “Thomas Jefferson’s latest available Form 990 lists the Dean’s salary as $528,430.”

AND RIGHTLY SO: Federal Appeals Court Rebukes Florida Cops for Using SWAT-Style Raids to Check Barbers’ Licenses. Strip ‘em of immunity and let people sue them and this will stop.

WELL, THAT’S COMFORTING: Official: Rogue state could weaponize Ebola.

A rogue state could turn Ebola into a weapon of mass destruction, a federal health official acknowledged Tuesday.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it would take a “state-type” actor to successfully weaponize the disease, noting that the Soviet Union stockpiled similar hemorrhagic fevers during the Cold War.

“Theoretically, you can manipulate almost any virus to change it in any way you want,” said Fauci, whose agency is part of the National Institutes of Health.

“The only trouble is, it wouldn’t be easy for somebody to do that in their backyard laboratory. They would probably kill themselves doing it. It would take a state-type [actor].”

See, this is why I wish the CDC and NIH would focus on actual diseases, and not political science like gun-control.

DO NOT TRUST CONTENT FROM NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Yet another Tyson anecdote fails analysis, this one about the “Space Pen.”

At this point, maybe someone should go back and check his astrophysics papers?

September 16, 2014

I WISH I COULD CALL THAT CRAZY: Canadian News Outlet Warns Canadians That US Law Enforcement Officers Will Pull Them Over And Seize Their Cash.

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TRIFECTA: The Great Unraveling: Can the Threads of the American Tapestry Be Rewoven?

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Student Loan Debt Increasingly Burdening The Elderly. “A]n estimated two million Americans age 60 and older … are in debt from unpaid student loans, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Its August Household Debt and Credit Report said the number of aging Americans with outstanding student loans had almost tripled from about 700,000 in 2005, whether from long-ago loans for their own educations or more recent borrowing to pay for college degrees for family members. . . . While older debtors account for a small fraction of student loan borrowers, who have accumulated nearly $1 trillion in such debt, the effect of owing a constantly ballooning amount of debt but having a fixed income can be onerous, said Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.”

It kind of sucks to have your Social Security check garnished for student loan debt.

ONCE YOU’VE HAD EIGHTY, YOU’LL NEVER BE SATED. Er, or something. 88-year-old Grandfather Busted For Prostituting Himself To Young Women. “His johns were all young women. Twenties, thirties. Most quite beautiful. Never really seen anything like this dynamic, but strange things do happen.”

UPDATE: Shockingly, this turns out not to be true.

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I DON’T FIND THIS SURPRISING AT ALL: Muscle Mass Predicts Longevity Better Than BMI.

SNAKE OIL ALERT: Another Day, Another Quote Fabricated By Neil deGrasse Tyson.

We’ve already established that a newspaper headline touted for years by Tyson likely doesn’t exist. We’ve also established that the exact quote he uses to bash members of Congress as being stupid also doesn’t exist. And then we established that the details within one of Tyson’s favorite anecdotes — a story of how he bravely confronted a judge about his mathematical illiteracy while serving on jury duty — seem to change every time Tyson tells the story.

In addition to those two highly questionable quotes and one highly questionable story, we now have another blatantly false quote peddled by Tyson. He has peddled this quote for years (including at a presentation on Sunday night at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle).

According to Tyson, in the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Bush uttered the phrase, “Our God is the God who named the stars.” According to Tyson, the president made that claim as a way of segregating radical Islam from religions like Christianity or Judaism. . . .

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s story has three central claims: 1) Bush uttered that precise phrase, 2) in the days immediately after 9/11, 3) in order to distance American religion from that practiced by radical Muslims.

As you have probably already guessed, every single claim is false. Every one! Then there’s Tyson’s aside that Bush’s quote was a “loose quote” of the book of Genesis. Yep, that’s false, too. Add embarrassing biblical illiteracy to Tyson’s list of accomplishments on his CV. . . .

Tyson’s falsehoods didn’t stop there, though. After deliberately slandering Bush by attributing to him a quote he never made, Tyson launched into another tirade about how he was selected, by Bush, mind you, to be on a committee to select recipients of the National Medals of Science and Technology. The point of that story? That Tyson is way smarter than Bush, who was too stupid to even read the citations of the awards. But if you watch the video of the event, you’ll notice that the reason he didn’t read the citations is because he was too busy personally awarding the medals and shaking the hands of the guests of honor. . . . At this point, I’m legitimately curious if any quotes or anecdotes peddled by Neil deGrasse Tyson are true. Over the last week, I’ve examined only four, and every single one appears to be garbage.

I’m beginning to think that this Tyson fellow may be a bit of a putz. And I used to just think he was a blowhard.

REMEDIES FOR FALSE ARREST: What are your options if falsely arrested? There are limited options for compensation.

Suppose a police officer finds an aspirin powder in your pocket and insists a presumptive test kit shows it is cocaine.

You are handcuffed and arrested. Maybe your neighbors or co-workers are watching, thoroughly embarrassing you and damaging your reputation. You are hauled off to jail, held for several hours and freed only after you post bail. Your mug shot is published online and in print in one of those “Just Busted” tabloids. You shell out money to get your vehicle out of the impound lot and hire a lawyer.

Then, weeks later, a test by a forensic chemist reveals that powder was exactly what you said it was — aspirin — and prosecutors drop the charge.

The officer was wrong. Your dignity, reputation and wallet paid the price for the officer’s mistake.

Lawsuit in the making, right?

Not under Tennessee’s Governmental Tort Liability Act.

If a citizen is wrongfully arrested, the tort liability law protects governments and their employees from legal action.

It’s that way most places. It shouldn’t be.

WELL, THAT’S ENCOURAGING: The Mathematics of Ebola Trigger Stark Warnings: Act Now or Regret It.

TEST-DRIVE: 2015 Mercedes Benz S550 Plug-In Hybrid. “The 114-hp electric motor is integrated inside the seven-speed automatic, and it is powerful enough to propel this S-class to 87 mph on electricity only. Using a light touch on the accelerator, it can go for 20 miles on a full charge before the direct-injected, twin-turbocharged 329-hp V-6 kicks in.”

CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT IT’S BLACK? Buy Johnny Cash’s Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.

FOUR HARSH TRUTHS about dating and mating.

DISAPPOINTING, BUT NOT ENTIRELY SURPRISING: NASA asteroid defense program falls short: audit.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE (CONT’D): New Jersey High School Teacher Charged With Having Sex With Student. “She is charged with aggravated sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual assault.”

I WAS EXPECTING AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: US Military’s Meteor Explosion Data Can Help Scientists Protect Earth. “The data contain a ‘potential goldmine of information,’ particularly regarding meteorite-producing fireballs and their pre-atmospheric orbits, as well as information that helps address the general question of meteorite-asteroid linkages.”

CHANGE: White House Yanks Debo Adegbile Nomination. “The Debo Adegbile story has ended. The White House yesterday pulled his nomination to head the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division after it was defeated on a procedural vote in the Senate in March. PJ Media was the first to report on the radical background of Adegbile within hours of the nomination being made. After Adegbile was defeated in a procedural vote, left wing groups held out hope that another vote would be scheduled in the Senate and Democrats who opposed Adegbile would suddenly support him. That didn’t happen.”

WHY WE SHOULD encrypt everyone’s email.

FEWER SUICIDES where the natural levels of lithium in the water is higher?

ELIANA JOHNSON: Jindal’s Gamble: Can a wonk win the nomination? If he’s planning on running in 2016, I recommend he consult with Mark Rippetoe now.

NOT A SITCOM: My Favorite Millennial.

IN THE MAIL: From John Varley, Dark Lightning (A Thunder and Lightning Novel).

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 495.

TRANSPARENTLY BAD: U.S. Whistleblowers Feel Blowback. We need to enact the kinds of protections I describe in this piece.

SHOCKER: Fracking Not at Fault in Water Contamination.

This makes sense—fracking generally occurs thousands of feet underground, far, far below aquifers being tapped for drinking water. The water tables and the shale rock being hydraulically fractured are separated by impermeable layers of rock—that’s how these aquifers formed in the first place. It stands to reason, then, that contamination of drinking water would have to occur in the vertical parts of these wells that travel through these underground water reservoirs.

Water pollution is a serious issue, and one that certainly deserves ongoing scrutiny. But it seems as if the drinking water contamination issues that greens have pointed to as reasons to stop the shale boom have occurred due to well failures (often because of poorly poured cement casings), rather than due to fracking itself. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement here, but it does suggest this is a manageable risk, rather than an indelible feature of the drilling process.

Sounds right to me.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: How ‘Consensual’ Sex Got A Freshman Kicked Out Of College And Started A Huge Debate.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Applications Decline at All Five Georgia Law Schools.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN FOR TODAY: Mining In The Last Frontier.

NOW ON SSRN, MY LATEST SHORT PAPER: Don’t Fear the Leaker: Thoughts on Bureaucracy and Ethical Whistleblowing. Download it early and often!

THE WSJ SAYS IT’S BOEING OVER SPACEX: Boeing Takes Lead to Build Space Taxi: Aerospace Giant Poised to Beat SpaceX for U.S. Contract to Ferry Astronauts. “Boeing Co.appears positioned to beat out two smaller rivals for the bulk of a multibillion-dollar NASA contract to ferry astronauts to and from orbit, according to government and aerospace-industry officials. An award to Boeing would represent a victory over the newer Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, which had been considered a favorite in many quarters because of its lower costs and nimbler approach. The decision on the development of space taxis will be a milestone for commercial space endeavors, locking in unparalleled authority for contractors to develop and operate vehicles with limited federal oversight. An announcement is expected as early as Tuesday. . . . If Boeing ends up with the largest share of the commercial-crew program’s future dollars, the Chicago company could buttress its position as a leading force in U.S. manned space efforts for generations.”

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Report – emails reveal ‘collusion’ with green activist groups over EPA climate agenda.

IRS SCANDAL UPDATE: Why Focus On Ray Rice Instead Of Lois Lerner? The focus on Ray Rice is to avoid talking about things like Lois Lerner.

ON THE OTHER HAND, OUR SYSTEM OFFERS MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRAFT: U.S. Ranks 32nd (out of 34 OECD Countries) in International Tax Competitiveness.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Politically Connected: Ties Link Embattled Government Bank, Well-Heeled Consultants.

Among other roles, Albright Stonebridge Group helps clients with government relations and crafts messaging plans for businesses. It is not, however, a registered lobbying firm, according to records at the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit that tracks how money and lobbying affect politics.

Still, many of ASG’s top officials share a history with the Export-Import Bank and worked with the government agency in a variety of capacities.

The close ties with the Ex-Im Bank paid off for three clients that, collectively, benefited from more than $6.3 billion in financing from the bank between 2009 and 2013: Siemens AG, First Solar and Dow Chemical Co.

During that same period, Albright’s daughter, Alice Albright, was Ex-Im’s chief operating officer and executive vice president.

Sounds like another argument for my revolving door surtax.

OH, GOODY: Byron York: Mike Huckabee gears up for 2016 run. Well, that should give worried Democrats some hope.

Mike Huckabee is leading the Republican presidential race in Iowa. And not by just a point or two: in a new CNN survey, the former Arkansas governor, winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses, is at 21 percent, with his closest GOP pursuer, Rep. Paul Ryan, nine points behind. Rand Paul is 14 points back, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush 15 behind.

Few frontrunners choose not to run. And when Huckabee, not yet a candidate and officially undecided, invited a group of reporters to meet with him at a hotel outside Washington Monday, he certainly looked like a man preparing to jump into the race.

One obvious sign is that Huckabee is talking about world affairs. Back in 2007, when he first ran for the GOP nomination, he became frustrated when debates focused on the war in Iraq. “Do you realize that in four debates we never had a single question on education?” he once complained.

On Monday, though, Huckabee opened his discussion with foreign policy. He has just returned from a trip to Israel — his third this year. Huckabee, who is perhaps the walking personification of American evangelical support for Israel, says he has lost count of the times he has been there since his first visit in 1973. What he is sure of is that President Obama has taken the wrong approach to Israel’s latest conflict.

Well, that’s plucking the low-hanging fruit.

BOOTIES ON THE GROUND: U.S. military will lead $750 million fight against Ebola in West Africa. “President Obama will announce Tuesday that the U.S. military will take the lead in overseeing what has been a chaotic and widely criticized response to the worst Ebola outbreak in history, dispatching up to 3,000 military personnel to West Africa in an effort that could cost up to $750 million over the next six months, according to senior administration officials.”

Whether or not you favor this, it does underscore something I’ve been pointing out — that officialdom seems pretty worried about this outbreak compared to those in the past.

WELL, BUT SO IS OUR COMMANDER IN CHIEF: WaPo Editorial: The U.S. strategy to defeat the Islamic State is underpowered.

“DJANGO UNCHAINED” ACTRESS’S CLAIM OF POLICE OVERREACH SEEMS TO HAVE FALLEN APART. “Anyway, let’s go to the video and you can judge for yourself. From what I can tell, any investigation into this is going nowhere. The officer was completely within his rights to ask Watts for her ID and she flipped out on him. He conducted himself in a calm manner, in the view of many, knowing he was being filmed. This sounds more and more like somebody who wants to be a big shot and attract the spotlight.” Just another reason all of these interactions should be recorded.

FIRE: Due Process Advocates Take Critical Look at How Colleges Are Dealing with Sexual Assault Allegations.

Sexual partners, of course, do not always agree on why they are having sex. Should that really negate otherwise valid consent? How clearly must each partner communicate their reasons for engaging in sexual activity? Is “yes, because” the new “yes”? That OSU has set forth this absurd standard is a stark illustration of how the movement to better protect students from sexual assault has led some institutions astray.

As we move away from a definition limited to what Susan Estrich once critically described as “real rape” — forcible sex by a stranger — into the newer, more ambiguous definitions, a fair system would be charging more women with rape, and finding them guilty. But while the “real rape” definition made rape something mostly done by males, and the new system is far more gender-neutral and encompasses all sorts of suasion and ambiguity as rape, the point of all these programs still seems to be to find and punish male students. That, in itself, is a Title IX violation, and the more that ambiguous, non-violent conduct gets included in the definition of rape, the more women will be included, and the more the disparity in prosecution/punishment will stand out.

Related: We need to teach women not to rape.

SHARYL ATKISSON: Hillary Cronies Sanitized Benghazi Files Before Accountability Review Board Got Documents. “As the House Select Committee on Benghazi prepares for its first hearing this week, a former State Department diplomat is coming forward with a startling allegation: Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to ‘separate’ damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. According to former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, the after-hours session took place over a weekend in a basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is the first time Maxwell has publicly come forward with the story. At the time, Maxwell was a leader in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, which was charged with collecting emails and documents relevant to the Benghazi probe.”

We used to call it “vacuuming” the files back in the day.

Related: Hillary’s “Plumbers” Hid Benghazi Docs.

MICHAEL BARONE: Obama forced by events to reverse course — and disillusion base.

One of his chief advantages over Hillary Clinton in 2008 was her vote for the Iraq war resolution in 2002 and Obama’s opposition to it, albeit as a state senator from an overwhelmingly Democratic district.

In the late 1960s Democrats switched from being the more hawkish of our two parties, more likely to support military interventions and commitments, to being the more dovish. Visceral opposition to military action, and suspicion that even the most limited such action will lead to massive war, is deeply implanted in many Democratic voters.

You can expect, therefore, a skittish reaction to Obama’s announcement of a military escalation from senatorial and congressional candidates in states with dovish Democratic electorates like Colorado and Iowa. We also may also see depressed turnout of Democratic doves all over the country in November.

It is apparent that Obama’s decision to take military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, however limited, came despite his deep-seated feelings and was forced on him by events. American voters do not take kindly to videotaped beheadings of Americans. It unleashes a Jacksonian impulse to wipe the people who do these things off the face of the earth.

Obama, like his predecessor, likes to depict Islam as a religion of peace. An unhappily large number of Muslims, however, have other ideas. Their aggression and immunity to appeasement have forced the president to take actions that he, like many of his fellow Democrats, abhors.

Yeah, that keeps happening.

THE HILL: Administration threatens to cut off ObamaCare subsidies to 360,000.

The Obama administration announced Monday it will cut off tax subsidies to about 360,000 people if they do not offer proof of their income in the next two weeks.

Officials will send final notices this week to individuals who signed up for ObamaCare with income levels that didn’t match government records. The announcement marks the administration’s first move to tackle the politically charged issue of income verification, which has remained a key GOP argument against the healthcare reform law.

Those who don’t confirm their income levels could lose their tax credit and face higher premiums and higher deductibles.

Nearly 90 percent of the 8 million people who signed up for ObamaCare have received government subsidies. The average consumer pays $82 per month for a $346 plan, receiving an average subsidy of $264.

The administration had already warned that it would end coverage for the 966,000 individuals whose immigration status could not be confirmed by the government.

So by the rules of discourse arrived at during the ObamaCare debate, this means the Obama Administration hates sick people and wants them to die, right?

ROLL CALL: The Republican Brand’s Recovery Tour, Sort Of.

There was a time, a little less than a year ago, when Democrats salivated at the thought of running against the GOP brand and demonizing Republican candidates by attacking them and their party for “shutting down the government.”

But the Republican brand has largely recovered from its low point in late October, and even former Virginia Republican Rep. Tom Davis might now have to revise and extend his one-time comment that if the Republican Party “were a dog food, they would take us off the shelf.”

The turnaround in the Republican Party brand — and changes in the brands of the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama — is another reason why Democrats find themselves on the defensive in this year’s elections.

Instead of trying to make the midterms a referendum on the government shutdown and the Republican Party, Democratic strategists are trying to discredit individual Republican nominees.

I think it should be a referendum on Obama.

Related: Democrats Sound The Alarm On Southern California Race. “Democrats are sending warning signals on a previously sleepy southern California House race — a tangible sign of an increasingly tough midterm for the party. Freshman Rep. Julia Brownley is one of three House Democrats receiving extra and early help from the national party. A year ago, her district was barely on the party’s radar of competitive races, after President Barack Obama carried it by 10 points last cycle.”

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Teacher group: Math is ‘the domain of old, white men.’

CHANGE: In Immigration Debate, Polls Show Tide Turns For GOP.

September 15, 2014

A FAILURE OF CONFIDENCE: Poll: Americans don’t believe Obama will defeat ISIS; Now what? “Sowing distrust and discord among Americans has served Barack Obama well politically during his 68 months in office. But now as the former community organizer faces ISIS and the worst foreign policy crisis of his ineffective presidential tenure, that distrust and division has circled around to bite its master. After his nationally-televised address Wednesday and a tepid Friday fundraiser talk justifying his belated actions, a new poll reveals that a large majority of Americans says it lacks confidence he can accomplish his stated goals of beating the brutal new terror group that released a video of its beheading of a British citizen over the weekend.”

Weak horse.

IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, The Great Unraveling. Rodger Cohen also looks at cultural decay, dimly senses cause — even quotes Kipling — but doesn’t quite take it to the hoop.

Meanwhile, Ed Driscoll looks at who’s to blame.

HMM: Did Neil deGrasse Tyson Just Try To Justify Blatant Quote Fabrication?

GAMERGATE: Angry Feminists, Unethical Journalists Are the Ones Not Welcome in the Gaming Community. “To the feminist campaigners trying to ruin video games for everyone and a press that refuses to reform itself despite clear evidence of professional failure, gamers have responded with all the heroic defiance of Will Smith delivering a nuke into the mothership — and with just as much style. Through a series of fundraisers and lobbying efforts, as well as polite but firm advocacy on Twitter, they have begun to formulate a coherent intellectual and activist response to those who mystifyingly claim that their games and their culture are both somehow ugly, bigoted and evil. . . . #GamerGate has exposed both the feminist campaigners and even some gaming journalists as completely out of touch with the very reasons people play games. . . . The only group that genuinely isn’t welcome is that small but noisy battalion of social justice warriors, who bring nothing but gloom and despair, and their loyal band of incompetent, unethical bloggers, who are so desperate to advertise their upstanding moral virtue to the sisterhood that they have forgotten to check their consciences. We should resist this new tyranny.”

RAPE CULTURE: Woman Charged With Breaking Into Home, Raping Man In Seattle. “The unidentified, 31-year-old man said he awoke at 2 a.m. on June 17, 2013 to Gilman straddling him and having sexual intercourse with him. Police say he told the 240-pound suspect to get off, but she allegedly refused and told him to be quiet. He was able to break free from underneath her and said he pushed her out of the apartment.”

We need to teach women not to rape.

FROM VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: World War II — A Six Lecture Series.

WITH ALL THE DIET-AND-FITNESS BLOGGING LATELY, I thought some people might be interested in this interview of Paleo diet expert Nell Stephenson.

Her blog is Paleoista.

THE EURO-MODEL OF POST COLD WAR INTERNATIONAL ORDERING IS COLLAPSING EVERYWHERE: A Court’s Collapse: The International Criminal Court gives up on its prosecution of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN IS UP: Mining In The Last Frontier.

SPEAKING OF PHOTOS THAT FORESHADOWED THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

FASTER, PLEASE: Scientists unveil magnetic cure to clean up blood. “Scientists said Sunday they had invented a device that uses a magnet to extract bacteria, fungi and toxins from blood, potentially throwing a lifeline to patients with sepsis and other infections. The external gadget, tested so far in rats but not yet humans, could be adapted one day for stripping Ebola and other viruses from blood. Acting rather like a spleen, the invention uses magnetic nanobeads coated with a genetically-engineered human blood protein called MBL. The MBL binds to pathogens and toxins, which can then be ‘pulled out’ with a magnet, the developers wrote in the journal Nature Medicine.”

Since I lack a spleen, I’m particularly interested.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN IS UP: Mining In The Last Frontier.

REMEMBER WHEN SUGGESTING THAT OBAMA’S PHOTO MADE HIM LOOK LIKE AN ARROGANT NARCISSIST WAS RACIST? Good times, good times.

UPDATE: Krauthammer: “Obama is clearly a narcissist. The man lives in a cocoon surrounded by sycophants.”

I CREDIT THE MARK RIPPETOE WORKOUTS: I’m the hottest guy in New Media, according to Politichicks.

AND THEN SHE SAID, THAT’S FUNNY, I HAD TWO WHEN I CAME IN HERE: Women, It’s Time to Reclaim Our Breasts.

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Plus, Fall Deals on Metal Detectors. They’ve come a long way since I was a kid.

MARK RIPPETOE: Bodyfat and Age: Just How Important Is Thin?

STABBING WITH SYRINGE raises new fears of Ebola as a weapon. New?

THE DEATH OF ADULTHOOD IN AMERICAN CULTURE. Interesting to see the writer dimly grasping the reality of cultural decay, but unable to face the badthink thoughts needed to understand what’s going on.

LIFE IN MULTICULTURAL BRITAIN: Security guard bars Jewish schoolboys from entering sports shop. Want to bet he was “Asian?”

WHAT WE’RE AFRAID TO SAY about Ebola. “The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.”

Better check my stock of N95 masks. . . .

YOUR CHILDREN DO NOT BELONG TO THE STATE: Florida mom lets her kids try booze in controlled setting, gets arrested and charged with child neglect. And have you noticed that the “Child Protection” people always have time for cases like this, but are seldom to be found when there’s actual abuse? Tar. Feathers.

IN THE MAIL: From David Limbaugh, Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 494.

DEMOCRACY, OPEN IMMIGRATION, MULTICULTURALISM: PICK ANY TWO. The England That Is Forever Pakistan: Multiculturalism and Rape in Rotherham.

What has gone wrong in Rotherham, and what is wrong with its Pakistani community, are questions much asked in recent weeks: How could this small, run-down town in northern England have been the center of sexual abuse of children on such an epic and horrifying scale?

According to the official report published in August, there were an estimated 1,400 victims. And they were, in the main, poor and vulnerable white girls, while the great majority of perpetrators were men, mainly young men, from the town’s Pakistani community. Shaun Wright, the police commissioner who was responsible for children’s services in Rotherham, appeared before Parliament after his refusal to resign over the scandal. The scandal has cost both the chief executive and the leader of the council their jobs, and four Labour Party town councilors have been suspended.

A popular explanation for what Home Secretary Theresa May has described as “a complete dereliction of duty” by Rotherham’s public officials is that the Labour-controlled council was, for reasons of political expediency and ideology, unwilling to confront the fact that the abusers were of Pakistani heritage. Proper investigation, it is said, was obstructed by political correctness — or, in the words of a former local M.P., a culture of “not wanting to rock the multicultural boat.” . . .

The Pakistani community in Rotherham, and elsewhere in Britain, has not followed the usual immigrant narrative arc of intermarriage and integration. The custom of first-cousin marriages to spouses from back home in Pakistan meant that the patriarchal village mentality was continually refreshed.

The results are so ugly that even the New York Times is noticing.

Related: Rotherham child-sex victim confronts her alleged abuser in the street… but SHE is arrested by a van load of police. Yeah, it’s pretty clear what side the police are on here.

USA TODAY EXPOSES the Senate’s secret book of rules.

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THE LIBERAL GILDED AGE: Jay Cost reviews Joel Kotkin’s The New Class Conflict. Exerpt:

Kotkin asserts that a new ruling class has emerged from the upper echelon of society, one that is starting to rival the oligarchs of the late 19th century. In the Gilded Age, it was the railroad barons, oil magnates, and sundry industrial tycoons who had in their pockets machine politicians. Today, our incipient rulers come from the technology sector, which sprung up in California and Seattle in the wake of the computer and Internet revolutions. Joining them is a new “clerisy” of elites from academia, government, think tanks, and media.

The two camps are united around the concept of so-called “gentry liberalism,” which is defined by postwar ideals such as environmentalism, consumer rights, and cultural leftism. This differentiates the new oligarchs from the old ones in important ways. The so-called Robber Barons had an interest in economic growth and, ultimately, a vibrant middle class that could afford to purchase the goods they made. Today’s would-be oligarchs lack such an incentive. As Kotkin notes, one need not be middle class to afford a smartphone. And the new oligarch’s ideological commitment to environmentalism usually means stifling development for the sake of “sustainability.”

Arrayed against the oligarchs is a group Kotkin calls the yeoman class, a phrase that harkens back to the small, independent farmers idealized by the Jeffersonian Republicans of the early 19th century. Today’s yeomanry is not on the farm, but is composed of small businessmen and property holders. Often aligned with them are the old industries—oil, natural gas, coal, and other extracted-resource concerns—that share the yeoman’s priority for broad-based economic growth.

The heart of Kotkin’s work is in chapters two through four, where he describes the nature of each of these classes. His best work is really in the discussion of the tech oligarchy, which he dissects. He peels away its inflated self-conception to reveal a hypocritical, self-interested class of billionaires whose interests run contrary to the revolutionary and egalitarian rhetoric they espouse.

Read the whole thing. I think that Kotkin’s book is a very important one, and wrote about it here.

WOMEN AND MINORITIES HARDEST HIT: Obama push to hire veterans into federal jobs spurs resentment. “Those who did not serve in the military bristle at times at the preferential hiring of veterans and accuse them of a blind deference to authority. The veterans chafe at what they say is a condescending view of their skills and experience and accuse many non-veterans of lacking a work ethic and sense of mission.”

This bit seems revealing: “In her first week on the job as a management analyst in HUD’s human resources office, Gwen Colvin, a former master sergeant in the Air Force, started to move the boxes she had brought with her so she could unpack them and hang her military commendations and other memorabilia on her office wall. Her colleagues told her to wait for the maintenance staff to do those things because that was the protocol. Colvin said she was dumbfounded. In her view, she needed something done, so she did what she did in the military: She got it done.”

DAN MITCHELL ON dumb things people say about libertarians.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Bombshell Emails: White House Coordinated With Department of Labor To Hide Illegal Obama Fundraiser Hilda Solis’ Schedule. I’m sure the Justice Department will be right on that.