AT AMAZON, deals on Outdoor Gear.
October 20, 2014
TEACH WOMEN NOT TO LIE ABOUT RAPE! (CONT’D): Woman claims she was sexually assaulted, admits it didn’t happen. “This brings up a difficult question: What would it take for an accuser to be charged with filing a false report?”
AS SOMEONE SAID ON TWITTER, NEXT WENDY DAVIS WILL SUGGEST THAT GREG ABBOTT’S MARRIAGE ISN’T REALLY INTERRACIAL BECAUSE THEY’RE BOTH REPUBLICANS: Wendy Davis supporters try to suggest Greg Abbott is against interracial marriage, but…
THE EARTH’S MAGNETIC FIELD COULD FLIP FASTER THAN WE THOUGHT. “Regardless of the speed at which it occurs, that next reversal might happen sooner than originally thought. Geophysicists have noticed that the earth’s magnetic field has been weakening faster than expected lately, leading them to conclude that a full flip could happen sooner rather than later. (Don’t panic. ‘Sooner’ in this case, means within the next two millennia.)”
OBAMA NOT POLLING SO WELL: Poll: Obama Worse Than Bush. Battleground voters say Bush a better manager of government.
THIS IS UNSURPRISING: Women Prefer Male Bosses Even More Than Men Do. “The survey, which collected responses from 1,032 adults living in the U.S., found women were more likely than men to want a male boss. . . . In the 60 years that Gallup has conducted this survey, women have never preferred a female boss.”
TINA BROWN: Women Feel “Unsafe” With Obama. “Economically, they’re feeling unsafe. With regard to ISIS, they’re feeling unsafe. They feel unsafe about Ebola. What they’re feeling unsafe about is the government response to different crises. And I think they’re beginning to feel a bit that Obama’s like that guy in the corner office, you know, who’s too cool for school, calls a meeting, says this has to change, doesn’t put anything in place to make sure it does change, then it goes wrong and he’s blaming everybody.”
IN THE MAIL: From Rob Steiner, Muses of Terra (Codex Antonius Book 2).
Plus, today only at Amazon: Sony High-Definition POV Action Video Camera HDR-AS30V, $139.99 (53% off).
AS THEY SHOULD. THE NEW POLICY IS A POISON PILL FOR HIGHER EDUCATION. Harvard Profs Hate New Campus Sex Laws.
WHY NEW YORK HATES AIRBNB:
New York is the obvious business case for a service such as Airbnb: a dense city where a lot of people want to visit, and hotel rooms are limited in number. You’ve got a population of educated professionals who travel a lot, leaving their apartments empty. You’ve got insane housing costs in desirable areas, leaving renters open to making a few extra bucks on their abode. Unsurprisingly, almost 30,000 NYC units are available on the site.
It turns out, however, that New York is also one of the most challenging environments for Airbnb. You’ve got a powerful hotel lobby that likes the shortage of affordable rooms for rent. You’ve got an extremely high percentage of renters rather than owners, most of whom probably have leases that forbid subletting without permission. You’ve got a lot of apartments, whose fellow tenants may object to your giving strangers the keys to the front door. And don’t forget the well-organized affordable housing groups who object to landlords converting rental units to short-term stays. All of which has culminated in a law that effectively outlaws the majority of Airnb rentals in the city by making it illegal to sublet a New York apartment for less than 30 days.
Entrenched interests. Plus:
Whenever a new market opens, there’s a sort of wild west period when gaps in the law allow people to make a bunch of money. Over time, however, legislators and regulators wake up, and start laying down the law. Entrenched competitors are protected, numerous interest groups are given concessions, fees are tacked on. The end result is greater certainty, but lower profits and innovation.
I’m afraid that’s going to be the story of the entire Internet soon. Interesting, isn’t it, that most of our growth comes from the parts of the economy that politicians haven’t gotten their sticky fingers on yet.
WAIT, DOES THIS MEAN RON KLAIN IS RACIST? Ebola czar to the rescue? Why the White House may soon retreat on a travel ban.
ESPECIALLY SINCE HE DOESN’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT EBOLA. OR MEDICINE. The uphill battle for Obama’s new “Ebola czar.”
Well, okay, this isn’t helping: “The White House has argued that the chief management credential that qualifies Klain for the job is his experience in helping to implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the 2009 stimulus package that poured about $800 billion into the troubled U.S. economy by way of tax breaks, investments and entitlements.”
A near-trillion-dollar crony giveaway that entirely failed to achieve its stated goals. If the White House regards that as a shining credential, exactly what are they expecting him to accomplish here?
ROLL CALL: Before Ending Chairmanship, Issa Sets Ebola Hearing for Oversight Next Week. Lots of questions to ask.
DEATH OF THE LIBERAL ARTS: Less A Murder Than A Suicide?
Agresto said that much humanities instruction has been co-opted by hyperspecialization and especially by critical theory. He said overly-critical approaches at once demean the subject matter and limit students’ free inquiry. For example, he said, when professors portray the founding fathers as mere “white racists,” no student or parent “in their right mind” would pay $50,000 a year to study them.
To save the humanities, professors must value opening up students’ minds over “preaching and converting,” he said. That means returning to an older mode of instruction, and instilling critical thinking skills. It means getting students to ask questions and helping them see the “variety” of answers – not leading them to a specific point of view, he added.
In the past and at their best, the liberal arts were a “gift” given to everyone, Agresto said. “It didn’t matter that Dante and Homer were dead white males,” and keeping Shakespeare alive wasn’t an “ethnocentric act.”
Indeed. In fact, it’s trying to kill off Shakespeare that is an act of temporal chauvinism.
UPDATE: At the link, lefty commenters already launching ad hominem attacks. Because that’s what they do.
HEINLEINIAN “BAD LUCK:” Rich Karlgaard: America’s Missing Wealth.
Suppose the U.S. economy, since 1949, were giving up 2% extra growth per year because of bad economic policy. Or, as Ramsey might say, because Presidents, legislators and unelected regulators were born stupid or try their best to act that way.
Now, 2% a year doesn’t sound like much. Most of us could spend 98% of our budget next year without too much pain. The quip about compound interest is noteworthy only because it would take a genius like Einstein to observe something so profoundly simple yet subtly opaque.
But run the numbers yourself–and prepare for a shock. If the U.S. economy had grown an extra 2% per year since 1949, 2014′s GDP would be about $58 trillion, not $17 trillion. So says a study called “Federal Regulation and Aggregate Economic Growth,” published in 2013 by the Journal of Economic Growth. More than taxes, it’s been runaway federal regulation that’s crimped U.S. growth by the year and utterly smashed it over two generations.
Not all regulation is bad. Mandatory seat belts have helped cut traffic fatalities by 51% on a population-adjusted basis since 1949. Far fewer people are now killed or maimed in industrial accidents. The air in downtown Los Angeles is breathable again. Would this have happened without federal regulation? Yes, but likely not as fast.
So let’s, for the sake of argument, posit that some regulation has been good for us, while many other regs have only hurt economic growth. Let’s also argue that sensible regulation, combined with the retirement of outdated regulation, could have brought about the same improvements to health and safety–but at a cost of 1% potential growth per year, not 2%. Where would the U.S. economy be today?
–The 2014 GDP would be $32 trillion, not $17 trillion.
–Per capita income would be $101,000, not $54,000.
–Per capita wealth would be $480,000, not $260,000. It would probably be higher than that, since savings rates might be higher.
–The U.S. would have no federal, state or municipal debts or deficits.
–Pensions would be solid. So would Social Security.
–The trend of new entrants to The Forbes 400 would not favor entrepreneurs in software, the Internet and financial services but would be more broadly distributed across all industries. Electronic bits–money and software–are less prone to regulation than such physical things as factories, transportation, etc.
–Faster, quieter successors to the supersonic Concorde? Cheap, safe nuclear power? Cancer-curing drugs for small populations? Bullet trains financed by private investors? Yes!
–The U.S. would have the resources to fight the multiplicity of threats from abroad, from ISIS to hackers.
Am I guilty of positing ideal outcomes from all that extra wealth? Perhaps. Still, it would be wonderful to have that extra wealth in people’s pockets and in government treasuries. What a missed opportunity!
But all that regulation — while making the country much poorer — has vastly enriched the parasite class. They have a bigger slice of a smaller pie, and they like it that way because it makes them feel important.
SO KAY HAGAN AND AND MICHELLE NUNN ARE RACISTS NOW, I GUESS: Why Democrats are sounding like Republicans on Ebola.
SEND MORE ADVIL: Roll Call: Iowa Senate Race Becomes Headache for House Democrats. “Recent polls show state Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican, with a small lead over Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat. But the Republican’s advantage has percolated to three of Iowa’s four House contests, keeping one competitive district in contention for Republicans, plus putting two Democratic seats in play.”
K.C. JOHNSON: Ezra Klein’s Confusion on the California Sex Law.
In an attempt to defend the indefensible, Ezra Klein penned a meandering column responding to the many critics of his “yes-means-yes” defense. Or, I should say, responding to some critics: he ignored perhaps the most troubling response to his piece, Cathy Young’s observation that he had blatantly misrepresented a column by her—which suggested that false rape reports are actually more common than believed—to instead claim (with emphasis) that false rape reports are “very, very rare.”
In the event, Klein (unconvincingly) suggested that Jon Chait had misinterpreted him. (Chait had little difficulty in rebuttal.) Klein stuck by his defense of stats alleging that one in five college women will suffer rape or attempted rape—which means that he must believe, as FIRE’s Robert Shibley noted, that colleges now face “a law enforcement problem of staggering proportions. Yet instead of making sure the police are involved, the state of California has put its faith in a law that by its plain language makes nearly everyone guilty of rape — but only in a campus kangaroo court.” (Klein has urged no greater law enforcement presence on campus.) And Klein was forced to issue corrections about basic elements of legal procedure, which suggested that Vox’s touted explanatory journalism isn’t too good at explaining legal affairs. Shibley’s thorough fisking is a must-read.
Perhaps the most striking—and risible—item in his column was the following assertion about the California law: “There’s a related, and serious, concern here that the process by which colleges manage sexual assault cases is a mess . . . The Yes Means Yes law interacts with these processes a bit, but mostly by telling colleges to clarify them, which will, in many cases, be an improvement.”
This claim is absurd.
Ezra regularly displays breathtaking ignorance and regularly makes absurd claims. This does not appear to have harmed his standing in the lefty journosphere at all.
THAT’S DEEPLY DISAPPOINTING: Cathy Young: The Federalist Society Caves to “Rape Culture” Orthodoxy. “After a fourteen-year relationship, I was blacklisted so thoroughly that you’d think I had showed up for a talk visibly drunk, or had used racial or sexual slurs.”
THE HILL: NIH official remains firm in opposition to travel ban. “A top official at the National Institutes of Health on Sunday said a travel ban on flights to and from West Africa would only make things worse in the fight against Ebola, pushing back against calls from lawmakers to institute one.”
MORE SECRET SERVICE PROBLEMS: Nashville Police Chief Drops Major Allegation About Secret Service in Letter to House Oversight Committee.
The resident refused to let officers enter his home or follow orders to come outside . He was heard shouting at officers, “show me your warrant.”
In a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Anderson claimed that a Secret Service agent asked a police sergeant to “wave a piece of paper” in order to “dupe” the suspect into thinking officers had a warrant.
Officers with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department did not comply with the request, according to the police chief. Police officers ultimately determined that Secret Service agents had no legal basis to enter the resident’s home and the suspect didn’t actually threaten anyone. Fortunately, the situation was resolved without incident and law enforcement left.
In a past letter to then-Secret Service Director Julia Pierson and Assistant Director A.T. Smith, Anderson explained that the incident could have “escalated into a serious and/or embarrassing situation for both of our agencies” if MNPD officers complied with the Secret Service “directive.”
The police chief says he later received a “condescending and dismissive” call from Smith.
I’ve been writing about Secret Service management problems since 2002, but somehow nothing gets done. I suppose that’s why they’re condescending and dismissive — because they can be.
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Government case implodes as its former lawyers allege fraud against Holder DOJ.
More here in the New York Observer.
Related: Justice Department Targets Louisiana. Shaking people down or doing pre-election battlespace preparation, it’s all in a day’s work at the Department of . . . Justice.
TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Lehigh Acres woman arrested for sex with 15-year-old. “Deputies say Victoria Chaluisant first met the 15-year-old victim back in February. That’s when the two began exchanging text messages and eventually started sending naked pictures to each other. Investigators say Chaluisant would even pick up the victim at his home before school just to have sex.”
Plus: “The Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida says Chaluisant was a Family Resource Advisor at the organization since April, working with parents to assist them in obtaining childcare for their children. The organization says it was unaware of her activities.”
Here’s the link for the entire Teach Women Not To Rape! series.
THE DEEPLY SEGREGATED CITY OF NEW YORK: “The online reaction to the reports on racial segregation in New York state’s public schools reminded me, yet again, that most people think of New York as an integrated city, and are surprised or incredulous when that impression is contradicted. This is somewhat jarring, since virtually every attempt to actually measure racial segregation suggests that New York is one of the most segregated cities in the country.”
POLL: Likely Voters Want GOP-Led Congress. “This favoring of Republicans is a first since the poll began asking about it five weeks ago. Though Democrats carry a 10-point lead among low-interest voters, Republicans carry a 10-point lead among high-interest voters, the poll also found.”
WE have no clue at this point how far Ebola could spread in the United States — and no reason for panic.
But one dimension of the disease’s toll is clear. It’s ravaging Americans’ already tenuous faith in the competence of our government and its bureaucracies.
Before President Obama’s election, we had Iraq, Katrina and the meltdown of banks supposedly under Washington’s watch. Since he came along to tidy things up, we’ve had the staggeringly messy rollout of Obamacare, the damnable negligence of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the baffling somnambulism of the Secret Service.
Now this. Although months of a raging Ebola epidemic in West Africa gave the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sufficient warning and ample time to get ready for any cases here, it was caught flat-footed, as its director, Tom Frieden, is being forced bit by bit to acknowledge. Weeks ago he assured us: “We are stopping Ebola in its tracks in this country.” Over recent days he updated that assessment, saying that “in retrospect, with 20/20 hindsight,” federal officials could and should have done more at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
President Obama made his own assurances and then corrections. He said back in mid-September that “in the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home.”
Well, we weren’t wholly prepared, and the event was never unlikely: This country is a potent magnet for travelers, with a proudly (and rightly) open posture toward the world.
Yeah, we might wind up rethinking that. Plus:
Rationally or not, this is one of those rare moments when Americans who typically tune out so much of what leaders say are paying rapt attention, and Obama’s style of communication hasn’t risen fully to the occasion. Even as he canceled campaign appearances and created a position — Ebola czar — that we were previously told wasn’t necessary, he spoke with that odd dispassion of his, that maddening distance.
About the ban, he said, “I don’t have a philosophical objection necessarily.” About the czar, he said that it might be good to have a person “to make sure that we’re crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s going forward.” He’s talking theory and calligraphy while Americans are focused on blood, sweat and tears.
Ebola is his presidency in a petri dish. It’s an example already of his tendency to talk too loosely at the outset of things, so that his words come back to haunt him. There was the doctor you could keep under his health plan until, well, you couldn’t. There was the red line for Syria that he didn’t have to draw and later erased.
Yeah, it’s as if he’s totally in over his head or something.
October 19, 2014
PEGGY NOONAN: The Travel Ban And The New Czar.
What normal people can see and imagine is that three Ebola cases have severely stressed the system. Washington is scrambling, the Centers for Disease Control is embarrassed, local hospitals are rushing to learn protocols and get in all necessary equipment. Nurses groups and unions have been enraged, the public alarmed—and all this after only three cases.
What would it look like if there were 300? That is not a big number in a nation of over 300 million. Yet it would leave the system hyperstressed, and hyperstressed things break down.
How many people and professionals have been involved in the treatment, transport, tracking, monitoring, isolation and public-information aspects of the three people who became sick? Again, what if it were 300—could we fully track, treat and handle all those cases? If scores of people begin over the next few weeks going to hospital emergency rooms with Ebola, how many of their doctors, nurses, orderlies, office staffers, communications workers and technicians would continue to report to their jobs? All of them at first, then most of them. But as things became more ragged, pressured and dangerous, would they continue?
This is why people are concerned. They can imagine how all this could turn south so fast, with only a few hundred cases. This is why the White House claims that we will not have a widespread breakout is fatuous: Even a limited breakout would take us into uncharted territory.
The only thing that will calm the public is competence.
OVER HALF A CENTURY LATER, STILL COVERING FOR THE ROSENBERGS: The New York Times Gets Greenglass Wrong. “Julius Rosenberg’s spy ring provided an extraordinary trove of non-nuclear espionage on radar, sonar, and jet propulsion engines to the Soviet Union, but the Rosenbergs’ contributions to the Soviet nuclear weapons program were also important. The information from David Greenglass and from a second nuclear spy recruited by Julius Rosenberg, Russell McNutt, was welcomed by the KGB as valuable and practical confirmation of data it was receiving from Klaus Fuchs and Ted Hall, the two major Soviet nuclear spies in the Manhattan Project. Further, their activities did not cease with the defeat of Nazi Germany. Believing that war between the U.S. and the USSR was inevitable, Rosenberg, Greenglass, and other members of their network continued to provide the Soviet Union with American military secrets until their exposure in 1950.”
Commies get a pass.
WITH TWO YEARS LEFT, A FULLY-DEPRECIATED PRESIDENT: Reuters: Obama makes rare campaign trail appearance, people leave early. “President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.” He was interrupted by a heckler, too.
A LOOK AT THE CREATOR OF GOOGLE SCHOLAR. “One serious estimate places the index at 160 million documents as of May 2014.”
YEP: The Democrats’ embarrassing attempt to blame Republicans for Ebola collapses. NIH Director Collins is going to regret raising this issue, too, because it’s brought a lot of attention to the stuff that the NIH spends money on.
JOEL ZINBERG: Ebola And Electronic Medical Records. “Hospitals and physicians are being required to buy EMRs that are expensive and difficult to use, and that often interfere with quality care rather than enhance it.”
SO, IT’S BASICALLY THE HUNTER BIDEN STORY, THEN: Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong.
Speaking of which, I’d really like to see some investigative journalism into how Hunter Biden got his military commission.
TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Sterling woman faces felony charges for sex crimes against children.
NEWS YOU CAN USE: Viagra Can Be Good For Your Heart, Too. That’s not really a shock, since it actually started out as a heart drug.
I DON’T KNOW WHY, BUT I FOUND THIS AMUSING: “Surprisingly good for a freeze dried breakfast.”
Though this is a bit sad: “Even my wife who likes nothing that I do said it was good.”
CHANGE: After biosafety lapses, US halts funding for work modifying virus targets. “Prompted by several recent biosafety lapses (including the discovery of old smallpox samples at the National Institutes of Health), the government will temporarily stop funding for these projects. During the pause, the government will organize a “deliberative process” that will consider the value of the research and the appropriate safety precautions that will need to be followed if it’s done. The review will be run by a combination of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and the National Academies of Science. The funding pause will apply to any projects that can allow viruses like the flu, MERS, and SARS to either add mammals to the list of species they can infect, or to increase their virulence following infection.”
REPORT: Doctor details life in Ebola-torn Liberia. “It’s sort of a paradox. You no longer see people dying in the streets. I haven’t seen a single dead body in the streets. The riots have calmed down. There isn’t the panic there was at the beginning, but the cases continue to rise. The paradox is that everything on the surface feels normal, but in the neighborhoods this infection is still blazing away and people are still dying of it. . . . Some of the government officials I’ve met with just seem terribly depressed, because they feel responsible for these deaths.”
Related: Ebola Patient Contacts Emerge From Monitoring. “The top administrator for Dallas County said Saturday it’s a ‘critical weekend’ in the Ebola containment effort as the first people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan after he became ill begin emerging from a 21-day monitoring period.”
JONATHAN LAST: Ebola: Six Reasons To Panic. “Despite the fact that Duncan was a lone man under scrupulous, first-world care, with the eyes of the entire nation on him, his R0 was 2, just like that of your average Liberian Ebola victim. One carrier; two infections. He passed the virus to nurse Pham and to another hospital worker, Amber Joy Vinson, who flew from Cleveland to Dallas with a low-grade fever before being diagnosed.”
Plus: “At a deeper level, the Ebola outbreak is a crisis not for Obama and his administration, but for elite institutions. Because once more they have been exposed as either corrupt, incompetent, or both.” And that’s the most panic-inducing part.
IN THE MAIL: From Erik Prince, Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror.
Plus, today only at Amazon: Yamaha RX-A830 7.2-Channel Network AVENTAGE Home Theater Receiver, $449.95 (50% off).
And, also today only: Up to 80% off Select New & Popular Apps.
CRY HAVOC, AND LET SLIP THE LAWYERS OF WAR:
David Woods, the HuffPo’s military correspondent, cites it as a “good-faith effort” to uphold “American values.” But nobody is suggesting that this is necessary because American troops routinely violate the norms of civilized warfare. Instead, this seems to be an effort to sanitize something that is inherently messy (“War is heck”). This is a classic peacenik proposition: the whole world can be tamed, and not only that, so too can the means by which it is tamed.
The overlawyering of our armed forces is not new—it has been growing steadily since the post-Vietnam era. It’s part of a general trend to officialize and bureaucratize American life. Ask any doctor how much time she spends filling out paperwork.
The proliferation of legalese and formalism in American institutions generally is one of the forces undermining our national spirit and slowing our economic growth. But it’s particularly nasty and dangerous when it comes to the business of war. Our politicians keep heaping new burdens on the armed forces, sending them on muddled missions with impossible orders, forcing them to jump through various hoops for the sake of political correctness, and hampering them at every turn with threats of prosecution by bloodless bureaucrats who’ve never known or seen war.
Accountability is important, but increasingly in our society accountability is for the little people. The powerful and the well connected hire lawyers; the ordinary person gets monitored by them. We don’t have policy malpractice lawyers investigating the geniuses who invaded Libya and abandoned Iraq, but the poor kids trying to carry out the crazy orders that come down from on high will get dinged if they put a foot wrong. No doubt there are some lawyers checking to see that those 3,000 Americans sent into the Ebola hot zone don’t break any rules—but there aren’t any lawyers and there isn’t any law to make sure that the people who sent them there knew or really even cared what they were doing.
Yeah, for that we need to bring back tar and feathers.
SO I GUESS WE SHOULD GET READY FOR TWO WEEKS OF NONSTOP RACE-BAITING: Memo: “Crushing Democratic Losses” If Blacks Don’t Turn Out In Big Numbers.
UPDATE: Tom Maguire emails:
Is Obama likely to support an Ebola travel ban from West Africa two weeks before the election, thereby stepping on the “racist Republican haters” message? Is our new political fixer Ebola Czar going to give that advice?
He will have more flexibility after the election.
In so many ways.
IT’S COME TO THIS: Male strippers on Ebola-infected nurse’s flight pretty appalled by CDC’s irresponsibility. “The experience of these men speaks to the CDC’s larger problems in gaining trust with the American people to fight an Ebola outbreak. The agency, whose approval numbers are falling precipitously, has routinely made assurances that were later proven untrue, failed to be as proactive as Axl and Taylor, and made moves so obviously reckless that humble, normal Americans look at the agency’s conduct and quite rationally conclude it’s not to be trusted. This is not panic or the result of some political campaign to undermine the CDC. This is self-inflicted. For instance, the CDC told Vinson, who has been exposed to Ebola and had a slight fever, that she could jump on a plane to the Midwest. It also failed to anticipate the need to monitor a nurse who may have handled an Ebola patient’s samples. That nurse is now isolated in her cabin on a cruise ship, which are of course infamous hotbeds for contagious disease outbreaks. Vinson, for her part, asked the CDC if she should fly and made a mistake in trusting their advice. Axl and Taylor aren’t making the same mistake, and many Americans will be inclined to be wary as well. Again, that reaction is a direct result of the CDC’s actions in handling Ebola.”
HE DOESN’T MISS A LOT: Limbaugh Pounces After CDC Chief Says Ebola Flight Ban Would Be Pointless Since Illegals Can Cross Border Anyway. “Do you know what he just said there? …. He just threw amnesty overboard! He, he, he just threw amnesty under the bus. He just threw Obama’s precious open borders under the bus. He says if we try to eliminate travel, then they’re going to come here illegally — acknowledging there are others already doing that!”
FCC COMMISSIONER AJIT PAI: The government wants to study ‘social pollution’ on Twitter.
Named “Truthy,” after a term coined by TV host Stephen Colbert, the project claims to use a “sophisticated combination of text and data mining, social network analysis, and complex network models” to distinguish between memes that arise in an “organic manner” and those that are manipulated into being.
But there’s much more to the story. Focusing in particular on political speech, Truthy keeps track of which Twitter accounts are using hashtags such as #teaparty and #dems. It estimates users’ “partisanship.” It invites feedback on whether specific Twitter users, such as the Drudge Report, are “truthy” or “spamming.” And it evaluates whether accounts are expressing “positive” or “negative” sentiments toward other users or memes.
The Truthy team says this research could be used to “mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate.”
Hmm. A government-funded initiative is going to “assist in the preservation of open debate” by monitoring social media for “subversive propaganda” and combating what it considers to be “the diffusion of false and misleading ideas”? The concept seems to have come straight out of a George Orwell novel.
The NSF has already poured nearly $1 million into Truthy. To what end? Why is the federal government spending so much money on the study of your Twitter habits?
Some possible hints as to Truthy’s real motives emerge in a 2012 paper by the project’s leaders, in which they wrote ominously of a “highly-active, densely-interconnected constituency of right-leaning users using [Twitter] to further their political views.”
You should read his disaster novel, Lightning Fall.
GOVERNMENT IS JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR THE THINGS WE CHOOSE TO DO TOGETHER: How the feds block Ebola cures.
We have technology to potentially control Ebola and other viral outbreaks today. But the federal bureaucracy refuses to catch up with 21st-century science.
For example, diagnostic startup Nanobiosym has an iPhone-sized device that can accurately detect Ebola and other infectious diseases in less than an hour.
Two other companies, Synthetic Genomics and Novartis, have the capacity to create synthetic vaccine viruses for influenza and other infectious diseases in only four days. Both firms can also share data about outbreaks instantaneously and make real-time, geographically specific diagnosis and vaccine production possible.
These companies could start producing Ebola vaccine/treatments tomorrow — except that the Food and Drug Administration’s insistence on randomized studies and endless demands for more data means firms have to spend millions on paperwork instead of producing medicines.
And for every small company drained by such tactics, many others conclude it’s not even worth trying.
These advances aren’t available because the FDA is using 19th-century science to decide which medical technologies should be used in the 21st century. . . . Part of the problem: FDA scientists receive no reward for approving breakthroughs, but suffer public anger if but one person dies because a drug is misused. The price we pay for this culture of caution rises every day.
October 18, 2014
STACY MCCAIN lays down an old-fashioned Fisking. For a moment, it was 2002 again!
BETTER PLANNING COULD HAVE AVOIDED THIS: Coast Guard Gets Blood Samples From Health Care Worker Quarantined on Ship. “A Coast Guard helicopter met a cruise ship in the Caribbean today to collect a blood sample today from the Dallas health care worker who handled clinical specimens from an Ebola-infected patient and is on board the boat, which is scheduled to dock Sunday morning. The lab worker remained on the boat, the Carnival Magic, according to a statement from Carnival.”
And by “better planning,” I mean pretty much any planning at all.
EBOLA’S GREATEST THREAT: A Third World Pandemic. I dunno, the third-world countries like Nigeria seem to have a better handle on things than we do. . . .
HUNTER BIDEN QUESTIONS: “a) Why was a 40+ year-old man allowed to enlist and b) why was a 40+ year-old man doing coke?” Answers: a) Joe Biden’s son, and b) Joe Biden’s son.
But I would like to see some investigative journalism into how he got a waiver that’s usually limited to people with critical skills that he did not possess.
FREE SPEECH: Court allows First Amendment claim based on alleged professor retaliation for paper ‘harshly critical of … lesbianism.’ “The Court questions whether a university can have a legitimate pedagogical interest in inviting students to engage in ‘incendiary’ and provocative speech on a topic and then punishing a student because he or she did just that. Simply because Plaintiff expressed views about homosexuality that some people may deem offensive does not deprive her views of First Amendment protection. Plaintiff has made out a plausible case that Hinkley ostracized her because of Hinkley’s personal disagreement with Plaintiff’s ideology, and not for a legitimate pedagogical purpose.”
BOBBY JINDAL PUTS THE BOOT IN.
Stage 1 of Obama Crisis Management: Don’t worry, I got this.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) October 18, 2014
Stage 2 of Obama Crisis Management: I'm so mad.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) October 18, 2014
Stage 3 of Obama Crisis Management: More money will fix it.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) October 18, 2014
Stage 4 of Obama Crisis Management: Republicans are obstructing.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) October 18, 2014
Apparently we’re at Stage Two right now.
MORE ON benzodiazepines and dementia.
The study participants were individuals over 66 years of age. Those who took low-dose benzodiazepines, or who took only occasional high dosages, did not have their Alzheimer’s risk increase for the five years they were studied after having been initiated on these agents. In contrast, those who frequently took long-acting benzodiazepines, who frequently took high doses, or who took any such drugs regularly over several months, suffered a more disturbing fate: Specifically, those who took the cumulative equivalent of daily doses for three to six months over a five-year period were roughly 32% more likely than those who took no benzodiazepines to develop Alzheimer’s. And those who took the cumulative equivalent of a full daily dose for more than six months were 84% more likely to do so.
It is already acknowledged by the thought leaders in the medical community that benzodiazepines are not meant for long-term use, and should not be taken steadily for more than three months. But a glance at the refill patterns of most patients reveals that these drugs are used on a chronic basis, for years and years.
Yes, they’re for acute, not chronic anxiety. But the meds for chronic anxiety aren’t nearly as good.
RON FOURNIER: The Ebola Czar Has No Clothes. “We shouldn’t need an Ebola czar. The president needs to do his job better.”
DAMON LINKER: Ebola and America’s epic institutional fail. When you have the worst political class in your history — and we do — your institutions don’t fare especially well.
Related: Aid group leader: Africa’s Ebola standards higher than CDC’s. “U.S. standards for protecting healthcare workers from Ebola are weaker than those widely used in West Africa, according to the leader of a group treating victims of the virus in Liberia.”
Plus, today only at Amazon: Klipsch Image S4i Rugged In-Ear Headphones, $38.99 (61% off).
And, also today only: Betsey Johnson Women’s Seven-Pack Color Me Crazy Crew Socks, $24.50 (51% off).
WELL, THAT’S BEEN THE HISTORY OF EVERY SIMILAR PROGRAM, AS NOTED HERE: How Much Will Obamacare Cost? Bet on ‘More Than Expected.’ “In 1967, Congress estimated that the nation’s single-payer system for the elderly, Medicare, would cost $12 billion in 1990. The actual price tag was $110 billion, for an error ratio on 9.17:1.”
The benchmark for American crude, called the West Texas Intermediate (WTI), fell below $80 per barrel for the first time in more than two years in trading today before staging a small rally. Similarly, Brent crude, Europe’s benchmark, traded below $83 per barrel, a four-year low, before seeing a slight rebound on what Reuters explains to be “technical buying ahead of options expiry for U.S. crude oil and contract expiry for Brent crude.”
But temporary rebound notwithstanding, there’s no denying that this is a bear market for crude oil. Brent prices have dropped by more than 28 percent since June, while WTI has tumbled nearly 25 percent in that same time period. Weak demand has collided with an oversupplied market, partly due to Libyan supplies coming back online after protracted disruptions, and, of course, in part due to booming supplies out of the suddenly shale-rich America.
The question on everyone’s minds is, where is OPEC? The cartel of petrostates has colluded in the past to cut production to keep prices artificially high, yet the organization’s largest producer and, historically, the one most likely to take the lead on these cuts—Saudi Arabia—has cut prices, not production, in recent weeks. . . .
There has been some speculation that the Saudis may be looking to abdicate their role as OPEC’s (and therefore the world’s) de facto swing supplier, banking on the fact that U.S. shale producers, the new kids on the block, will soon have to cut production because fracking will cease to be profitable. America’s unconventional oil drilling tends to be more expensive; the IEA recently announced that at $80 per barrel, 96 percent of shale drilling would still be profitable, but if WTI prices were to dip much lower, the shale boom would hit a considerable hurdle.
We’re not there yet, and in fact the price of oil today exists in a kind of sweet spot: high enough to continue to incentivize U.S. fracking, but low enough to benefit American consumers (average gas prices in the U.S. are at their lowest level since 2011) and stymie some of America’s geopolitical opponents. Russia, for example, needs oil to trade above $100 per barrel to balance its budget.
The Saudi strategy isn’t unlike a game of chicken. The Saudi breakeven price hovers around $93 per barrel, and while it can afford to operate in the red to gain market share for now, it may not be able to do so in the long term. Banking on American shale production cuts may be a bigger gamble than the Saudis expect, too: it will take some time for the market to shift and fracking to draw down, even if prices continue to plunge.
And U.S. shale has a final trump card: innovation. Though fracked wells have steep decline rates, drillers continue to optimize rigs and maximize output while minimizing costs.
Under a Reynolds Administration, I’d respond to this “chicken” game by opening up federal lands to exploration and drilling.
UPDATE: Some support for a Reynolds 2016 campaign in the comments. Hmm. What would my slogan be? How about An Inexperienced Law-Professor President Got Us Into This Mess, And It’ll Take An Inexperienced Law-Professor President To Get Us Out!