July 20, 2014

MORE ON DAN MARKEL’S DEATH.

XENI JARDIN: Remembering the Apollo 11 moon landing, 45 years ago today.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 437.

CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS:

Hashtag feminism (e.g. #YesAllWomen) is a scourge. It brings out the worst in contemporary feminism: injustice-collecting, trauma-valorizing, male-bashing. It also encourages group think and vigilanteeism. Other than that, it’s fine. . . .

I only recently came to appreciate the limited power of logic, reason and evidence to change minds. Most of us, whether we know it or not, are driven by emotion and group loyalty. Cognitive scientists have long known about a phenomenon called “motivated reasoning”—we tend to use logic and reason, not to discover what we believe, but to confirm what we already think we know. Instead of changing our minds in the face of contradictory evidence, we are more likely to seize on rationalizations for what we already believe. I see this tendency in myself once in a while and try mightily to resist it.

Plus:

The Millennials have been cheated out of a serious education by their Baby Boomer teachers. Call it a generational swindle. Even the best and brightest among the 20-somethings have been shortchanged. Instead of great books, they wasted a lot of time with third-rate political tracts and courses with titles like “Women Writers of the Oklahoma Panhandle.” Instead of spending their college years debating and challenging received ideas, they had to cope with speech codes and identity politics. College educated young women in the U.S. are arguably the most fortunate people in history; yet many of them have drunk deeply from the gender feminist Kool-Aid. Girls at Yale, Haverford and Swarthmore see themselves as oppressed. That is madness. And madness can only last so long. So, I plan to continue writing books and articles, making my Factual Feminist videos and lecturing at as many campuses and laws schools as I can. American colleges have been described as islands of repression in a sea of freedom. I want to encourage rebellion among the islanders.

A little rebellion — maybe even more than a little — would be a good thing.

WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE, THE IRS? Stonewall: Russia reportedly helping rebels destroy crash evidence.

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWEETS pro-Hamas hashtag. I guess it’s nice that they’re not even trying to hide it anymore.

ANDREW MICHTA: Russia And Ukraine: Time To Take Sides.

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STILL WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO BRING BACK THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR: Christians flee Iraq’s Mosul after Islamists tell them: convert, pay or die.

WELL, GETTING RID OF COMMUNISM HELPED: Global Income Inequality Is Falling.

SPYING: Sites Like Travelocity Turning Over Full Credit Card Numbers, IP Addresses Of Users To Feds.

The 76 new pages of data, covering 2005 through 2013, show that CBP retains massive amounts of data on us when we travel internationally. My own PNRs include not just every mailing address, e-mail, and phone number I’ve ever used; some of them also contain:

The IP address that I used to buy the ticket
My credit card number (in full)
The language I used
Notes on my phone calls to airlines, even for something as minor as a seat change

The breadth of long-term data retention illustrates yet another way that the federal government enforces its post-September 11 “collect it all” mentality.

They’re really good at spying on us. But they can’t even stop a terrorist when the Russians warn us in advance and they send people to do an interview. Plus:

“Why isn’t the government complying with even the most basic cybersecurity standards?” Cate said. “Storing and transmitting credit card numbers without encryption has been found by the Federal Trade Commission to be so obviously dangerous as to be ‘unfair’ to the public. Why do transportation security officials not comply with even these most basic standards?”

Because they don’t have to. And nobody will lose his/her job over this, unless I miss my guess.

SAY, I THINK I LIKE THE CUT OF THIS FELLOW’S JIB: Arizona Congressional Candidate Throws “Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms” Fundraiser.

Republican Congressional hopeful Andrew Walter throws a fundraiser with a bang.

He held an event called Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms at the Scottsdale Gun Club Friday night.

Walter is a former Arizona State University quarterback now running for District 9 in the United States Congress.

“This fundraiser is definitely unique and that’s kind of what we were going for,” Walter said. “Politics don’t always have to be bland or dry.”

For a donation to the campaign of $250 to $1,000, supporters can shoot anything from a Glock to an automatic weapon.

“What’s more all-American than guns, cigars,” said supporter Allison Quinn. “What a great way to get people together, shoot some guns, smoke some cigars, and support the man that we want in Congress.”

Walter only took a quick break from the shooting to discuss politics.

“The price for food, the price for gas, college, health care — these are all going in the wrong direction,” he said. “And wages are either stagnant or down, so we need economic freedom and that’s really what my campaign is all about.”

The event wrapped up with cigars on the patio and drinks at a restaurant nearby.

Cute.

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Woman shoots boyfriend because he didn’t ejaculate enough. “Somehow, she’s out on bond — even though it’s the second time she’s shot one of her sexual partners, her husband back in 1991.”

When women shoot their boyfriends, it’s not domestic violence, it’s funny.

BYRON YORK: Progressives split over Arizona convention. “The division inside the progressive world could have serious consequences. Netroots Nation attracts the leading lights in the Democratic Party — this year’s meeting in Detroit featured Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In 2015 the party’s presidential race will be fully under way. With some key elements boycotting the Phoenix convention, will top Democrats attend or stay away? Their decisions could lead to charges that one candidate or the other, or one faction or the other, is insufficiently pure on immigration, an issue that many Democrats count as one of the party’s great strengths. The fight inside the progressive community could spill into Democratic politics at large, at just the wrong time.”

FREE SPEECH: Appeals Court Says Texas DMV Violated First Amendment. “Submitted in August 2009, the Texas Board initially voted to approve the specialty plate, but after fears circulated concerning the potentially offensive nature of the Confederate flag, a second vote was held and the plate was rejected. . . . Since Texas had not deemed all flag-bearing or war-commemorating plates impermissible, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the Board engaged in viewpoint discrimination by singling out the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ request for rejection.”

STEPHEN L. CARTER: Liberals Make ‘Profit’ a Dirty Word.

It’s been weeks since the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the contraception-mandate case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, but the pace of urgent fundraising appeals has barely slackened. Several times a day, another pops up in my e-mail inbox. Some are from politicians; some are from advocacy groups; some are from various organs of the Democratic Party.

So far, the number of e-mails accurately describing the decision is, as my physics professors used to say, arbitrarily close to zero. But there’s one underlying fact they all get right: the justices ruled in favor of a “for-profit” employer. This little hyphenated term appears in e-mail after e-mail, suggesting that it’s the for-profitness that creates the perniciousness.

Now, don’t worry. I’m not going to use this column to add to the flood of arguments about whether Hobby Lobby was rightly or wrongly decided. What interests me is why exactly fundraisers believe that including the term “for-profit” will raise the ire of their contributors.

The only reasonable interpretation is that the fundraisers believe — or believe that their targets believe — that there is something wrong with profit, that the proprietors of a for-profit firm are less admirable than those who run companies pursuing other goals. True, the various religious universities whose lawsuit challenging Obamacare’s contraception mandate will be before the Supreme Court next year certainly have their critics, but they somehow don’t manage to excite the same degree of disdain as a profit-making firm. And although the National Organization for Women gamely included the Little Sisters of the Poor in its list of the “Dirty 100” seeking exemptions from the mandate, all it garnered was for well-earned ridicule.

That’s why the fundraisers have been so careful to remind their targets that Hobby Lobby is a for-profit company. They are hinting that profit is different from other motivations. Less noble. Maybe even wicked.

Well, sure. A company that turns a profit is self-sufficient.

July 19, 2014

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: It’s Perfectly Legal To Photograph Buildings In Washington, DC But When Benny Johnson Did It He Was Harassed By Law Enforcement.

I think we should have a “photograph public buildings day” where everyone does just that. Starting with the 6 in DC where Johnson was hassled.

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DEPARTMENT OF PRE-CRIME: Police to doorstep sex crime suspects. “Police are to issue their first ever warnings to men they suspect of sex crimes but cannot find enough evidence against to prosecute. . . . The new scheme – called Persons of Interest – will be launched shortly as a pilot in one of Scotland’s 14 divisions. It will see officers visit such suspects and issue them with letters, but only on the authority of Ms Raphael or, in the future, another officer of her rank.”

JUSTICE: Transcript reveals shocking grand jury intimidation of witness. “They eventually browbeat Dockery into completely changing her story. She was then arrested for perjury. She couldn’t make bail. When she was released, she became the prosecution’s star witness. Brown was convicted and sentenced to death. According to the Chronicle’s Lisa Falkenberg, seven years later, a phone record showed up proving that Brown had called Dockery from her apartment on the morning of the murders, supporting his story — and hers, before she was pressured to change it. That important bit of exculpatory evidence was found in the garage of a Houston homicide detective. Brown is still waiting to learn if he’ll get a new trial. We don’t often get to see the transcripts of grand jury proceedings. Here again, the secrecy is supposed to be for the protection of the wrongly accused. And here again, that same secrecy not only makes the process less transparent, often to the detriment of justice, it can also be used as a weapon.”

MORE ON VASECTOMIES AND PROSTATE CANCER RISK.

EVEN THOUGH AMERICANS HAVE BEEN GETTING FATTER OVER THE SAME PERIOD: Stroke Rates Are Declining. “Researchers followed 14,357 people, ages 45 to 64 at the start of the study, from 1987 to 2011. After accounting for coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, statin use and other factors, they found that the incidence of stroke decreased by about 50 percent over the period of the study, and stroke deaths by about 40 percent.”

BREWING BEER with space yeast.

#YESALLWOMEN: Female teacher accused of using grade threat for sex. “A Stamford High School English teacher is accused of threatening to fail a student if he broke off their sexual relationship.”

PHOTOGRAPHERS’ RIGHTS: Lawsuit Filed To Force NYPD To Respect Citizens’ First Amendment Right To Record Police Officers.

Send ‘em a copy of Morgan Manning’s article. And remember that there’s also a due process right to record the police.

FUNNY, BUT ALL THESE LEFTY ENCLAVES THAT PRIZE DIVERSITY TEND TO WIND UP AS LILY-WHITE AS A HOWARD DEAN MEETUP: Feeling “Invisible,” Black Residents Leave Austin.

Related: Education is Producing a Nationwide Gentrification Effect. “The larger the share of a city’s workforce that’s made up of college graduates, the more expensive it is to live there.” And yet education is pushed as a cure for economic inequality.

PROPAGANDA: Russia caught editing Wikipedia entry about downed Malaysian airliner.

JUST SAW THIS VIA FACEBOOK: Dan Markel has died. Very sad.

UPDATE: Thousands of CDs and Vinyl Records With MP3s.

Also, Top Deals on School Supplies.

YOU BECOME “READY FOR HILLARY?” What Happens When An Amoeba “Eats” Your Brain?

THESE EMOTIONAL MACHINES: Three Questions for Robotics Inventor Cynthia Breazeal about Social Robots.

LEVI’S CEO ON HOW TO WASH YOUR JEANS: Don’t.

MY FAVORITE OF THE NEW HEALTHCARE BILLING CODES: Spacecraft collision injuring occupant, sequela..

A close second: “Other contact with cow, subsequent encounter.”

NEWS FROM THE CIVILIZED WORLD THAT WILL HORRIFY THE BARBARIANS: ‘Guns are Welcome’ signs posted at Maryville family restaurant.

IN THE MAIL: From Lee Child, Personal: A Jack Reacher Novel.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 435.

JOHN FUND: Democrats in 2014: The Obama Albatross.

WELL, WHY WOULD IT? ObamaCare Isn’t What’s Slowing Costs.

I think we can be pretty sure that public policy is not making the system more efficient, for two reasons. First, the decline started in the middle of the last decade, and there’s no plausible policy mechanism that would have caused cost growth to moderate just then. And second, the same broad trend shows up in pretty much every high-income country. No matter how smashing you think Obamacare was, it didn’t stabilize health-care spending in Switzerland.

It could be a matter of better practices in the industry. One piece of evidence for this: The cost growth seems to decline most steeply in English-speaking countries, which could reflect some sort of information dissemination.

And yet, I’m skeptical. Health care is not a competitive industry the way automobiles are. The British, Canadian and American systems do not much compete for patients; moreover, each is organized so differently that it’s hard to imagine all of them implementing the same productivity-enhancing measures at the same time.

Industrial diffusion is simply inherently slower than the trends we seem to be seeing — it’s not as if Toyota invents just-in-time production, and two weeks later, it’s in every factory at General Motors. This has to be especially true in health care, where competitive pressures are limited and heavy government involvement makes major change into a ponderous process.

Technological decline seems more plausible; see this Brookings Institution paper for the extended argument. Basically, health-care innovation is expensive, and for roughly the last decade, we’ve been doing less of it. As old innovations come off patent or are refined into cheaper and better versions, costs fall.

If you think health-care innovation is all useless me-too drugs, you should be pleased that we’re getting less of it. As it happens, I don’t think that’s the case, so while I’m pleased about the budget impact, I’m less pleased at the prospect of fewer new medical technologies.

Yes, and ObamaCare is likely to exacerbate that problem.

THE KEY WORD IS “ILLUSION:” Russia Has Become Dangerous Again: The illusion of a stable Europe died yesterday with the murdered passengers of MH17. Mitt Romney was mocked for pointing this out in 2012. Now it has become so obvious that David Frum is saying it.

COVERUP: The Hill: IRS: Lerner’s hard drive was wiped clean in 2011.

THE PUSHBACK IS BIPARTISAN: Zephyr Teachout Blasts Andrew Cuomo on Common Core. “The root problem with Common Core is that it is undemocratic. It is a scheme conceived and heavily promoted by a handful of distant and powerful actors. Here in New York, it was adopted with insufficient input from local teachers, parents, school boards or students, the very people whose lives it so profoundly affects.”

TO BE FAIR, THAT’S GETTING EASIER ALL THE TIME: DNC Chair Predicts Party Will Exceed Expectations in 2014.

STEVEN HAYWARD: Murraypalooza, or Why Liberals Are Panicking.

WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THAT COMING? The Economist: The more people are exposed to socialism, the worse they behave.

The game was simple enough. Each participant was asked to throw a die 40 times and record each roll on a piece of paper. A higher overall tally earned a bigger payoff. Before each roll, players had to commit themselves to write down the number that was on either the top or the bottom side of the die. However, they did not have to tell anyone which side they had chosen, which made it easy to cheat by rolling the die first and then pretending that they had selected the side with the highest number. If they picked the top and then rolled a two, for example, they would have an incentive to claim—falsely—that they had chosen the bottom, which would be a five.

Honest participants would be expected to roll ones, twos and threes as often as fours, fives and sixes. But that did not happen: the sheets handed in had a suspiciously large share of high numbers, suggesting many players had cheated.

After finishing the game, the players had to fill in a form that asked their age and the part of Germany where they had lived in different decades. The authors found that, on average, those who had East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in West Germany under capitalism. They also looked at how much time people had spent in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The longer the participants had been exposed to socialism, the greater the likelihood that they would claim improbable numbers of high rolls.

Pretty much everyone, actually.

JUSTICE: Inspector General’s Report Slams DOJ For Mishandling Its Investigation Of FBI Crime Lab Problems. Note that this problem was first noticed almost 20 years ago.

IRS SCANDAL UPDATE: Tea party groups’ suit against IRS moves forward.

STARTING WITH ETHANOL: “If we want to bring down the price of food relative to wages, we’d be better off looking at our agricultural policies than at our monetary policy.”

I agree. But that said, now that the government has repeatedly been caught cooking the books, it’s not fair to call people who accuse it of further book-cooking “cranks.” They may just be premature complainers. . . .

OOPS: Tom Steyer is having fundraising trouble for his global warming, anti-Keystone XL agenda. Lots of hype, not much actual support: He’s like the Wendy Davis of “climate change.”

Related: Obama Administration Hands Oil Industry A Big Win.

LIFE IN THE CAPITAL DISTRICT: “The Kerrys have tried to be gracious in a very condescending way.”

ROGER SIMON: Israel Must Destroy Hamas Tunnels – No Matter How Long It Takes.

July 18, 2014

HOW MINIMALLY-INVASIVE ROBOTIC SURGERY has revolutionized surgery.

IT’S COME TO THIS: TPM’s Josh Marshall: What’s Russian For The Tea Party? “Everything bad that happens in the world can be traced back to you, teahadists. And the more you deny it, the truer it gets.”

SMOKING GUN? Intercepted calls point finger at Russian separatists in jet downing.

HEH.

THOUGHTS ON THE CORRUPTION OF LANGUAGE: “As I was writing my rebuttal it suddenly fell on me that ‘Socially liberal’ doesn’t mean what it used to. It used to mean — well, in any case, it used to be plausibly interpretable as — wanting the government to be uninvolved in social matters. But to the extent that the Democrats represent social liberalism anymore, here’s what it means now.”

HEH.

JIM TREACHER OFFERS ADVICE FOR MARVEL COMICS.

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TAR AND FEATHERS IS AN APPROPRIATE REMEDY. HORSEWHIPPING THEM NAKED THROUGH THE STREETS FIRST SHOULD BE RESERVED FOR THE MOST SERIOUS OFFENDERS. Mommy Police With Real Handcuffs.

A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

I’m not interested in defending mothers who are under stress or are low-wage workers without a lot of great child-care options. I mean, fine, but these defenses should be unnecessary because what the heck are we doing arresting parents for things that were perfectly normal 30 years ago?

At the age of 9, I walked to school with a group of other 9-year-olds. Or by myself. Across the very busy streets of the Upper West Side, at a time when New York City really was very dangerous. Past housing projects. Around construction sites. My sister rode the subway to school at that age. My best friend got on the crosstown bus by herself in the first grade. Attrition rate among my classmates and myself: 0.

Leaving an infant in a car is extremely dangerous, and parents should take great care not to do so, including buying something like this. Leaving an 11-year-old alone in the car is no more dangerous than letting her go to the ladies’ room by herself. Infants die in cars because they can’t regulate their own body temperature very well, open the doors or windows, or get out of the car. If your 11-year-old doesn’t know how to open your car doors or has to be strapped in, then by all means, take them into the store with you. But if you are the parent of a normal, healthy child, then there’s no reason that he or she cannot be left by themselves for a few minutes.

To be clear: We have entrusted power to people who are intellectually and morally unfit. They should no longer be permitted to wield it.

Back in the 1990s I was on Tennessee’s Juvenile Justice Reform Commission. I remember the folks from DCS giving excuses as to why they weren’t providing kids in their custody with a legally-mandated education. They were shorthanded, they had transportation problems, the kids didn’t want to go. . . . All the same reasons, I noted, given by the parents from whom they had taken the kids for not sending them to school.

I liked being on that Commission because, as a tenured professor, I could state the obvious truths that the apparatchiks could not — though afterward they’d often thank me for doing it. But what these people need is something worse than a tongue-lashing.

JAMES POULOS: Welcome To The Pink Police State.

FOR TRANSOCEANIC FLIGHTS, are two engines enough?

I DOUBT THIS WAS INTENDED AS AN ANTI-PUTIN MOVE, BUT IT’S ONE OF THE BEST THINGS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION COULD DO TO HURT HIM: Hunt for oil and gas to begin off East Coast. “The Obama administration opened up the Atlantic to oil and gas exploration for the first time in nearly four decades on Friday. . . . It is a major step toward allowing future drilling in the Atlantic, which has remained off-limits for over 30 years.”

ANN ALTHOUSE SAYS WISCONSIN’S “DIVERSITY GRADING” PLAN ISN’T AS BAD AS IT SOUNDS. But I didn’t omit the word “apparently,” which is right in my post.

SPYING: NSA employees routinely pass around intercepted nude photos.

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BILL WHITTLE: Firewall: It Takes A Superhero.

VIDEO: Elizabeth Warren Flees From Question About Israeli Invasion of Gaza.

She had time to support the Export-Import Bank, though. Like a good crony-capitalist.

OUR SEMI-RETIRED PRESIDENT: Obama plays hooky during a perilous time.

ON THIS 45TH ANNIVERSARY, Rand Simberg Isn’t Exactly Nostalgic for Apollo.

WITH AMAZON LAUNCHING “KINDLE UNLIMITED,” its $9.99/month book subscription service, Virginia Postrel has some thoughts on Amazon going all Netflix on book publishers.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Wanna know what a cow looks like washed and blow dried?

IT’S COME TO THIS: Mexican Consulate Employee Busted Hauling 100 Pounds Of Cocaine Into United States.

YEAH, WELL, WHAT’S YOUR POINT? Angelina Jolie ‘hates’ President Barack Obama: ‘She thinks he is really a socialist in disguise.’ I guess it’s that an actress could see things in 2009 that other people are only now noticing.

“SMART DIPLOMACY:” Hillary: This Plane Thing Is Really Europe’s Problem.

Related: More Mush From The Wimp.

THE IMPORTANCE OF Pelvic Floor Exercises For Men.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Better Beer from Genetically Engineered Yeast.

HILLARY’S PROBLEM IS THAT SHE’S POLITICALLY CUNNING, BUT SHE’S NOT ACTUALLY ESPECIALLY BRIGHT: Hillary’s pollyanna foreign policy. “Each new crisis around the world, including the scab scraping problems in Ukraine following this week’s plane downing, seem to demonstrate that foreign policy will be a much bigger factor in the next presidential election than I’d once imagined. Americans will still focus on a host of domestic issues, but it’s impossible to ignore the deteriorating state of affairs around the globe and America’s place on that larger stage. This made it all the more curious to examine Hillary Clinton’s statements about American foreign policy given on, of all places, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Setting jokes aside for a moment, Stewart asked Hillary, what is our foreign policy anymore? Her answer was remarkable for its lack of depth.”

THE RISE OF GAY REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES.

SOMEBODY WILL TOP THIS BEFORE 2016, I PREDICT: Read the Puffiest Hillary Clinton Puff Piece of All Time.

IN THE MAIL: Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History.

Also, today only at Amazon: Up to 69% Off “The Mel Brooks Collection” on DVD and Blu-ray. I have this one. It’s good.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 435.

VIDEO: Joe Biden Admits That That Whole Hope-And-Change Thing Didn’t Happen.

CARBON TAX: TORN ASUNDER DOWNUNDER.

Australia just abolished its tax on carbon on a 39 to 32 vote. Prime Minister Tony Abbott campaigned on this repeal, and after two years of debate, he can now claim victory on the issue. . . .

The green agenda was toxic for the government that brought it in and materially contributed to Abbott’s victory. The biggest consequence for the green movement won’t be the relatively trivial amount of carbon emissions that repeal of the law entails; it’s the political shadow over the green agenda worldwide. The core green strategy is to tax and harass “bad” energy sources ranging from coal to oil and so forth, while showering subsidies on “good” energy technologies like solar and wind. This will drive investment away from “bad” (but relatively efficient) methods of energy generation to “good” (but inefficient and expensive) ones.

What the aborted Australian experiment with this system shows is that consumers really, really hate the higher energy bills that this approach involves. Very affluent voters may not notice the size of their energy bills, but the hard pressed middle and lower middle classes emphatically do. That (and the effects on job creation of higher taxes and energy prices) made opposition to the Australian green program a huge vote winner for Abbott’s party.

That suggests that the green agenda in developed countries worldwide is in deep trouble—that Europe isn’t a trendsetter but an outlier. And it suggests that Canada and the U.S., two other large energy producing economies whose politics and culture aren’t all that dissimilar from Australia’s, could be heading the same way. Without the energy titans of the English speaking world on board, the conventional global green program is DOA.

If you care about global warming, you’ll support fracking and nuclear power. If you don’t support fracking and nuclear power, you don’t really care about global warming, you’re just using it as an excuse.

#WARONWOMEN: Today in 1969, Mary Jo Kopechne died in Ted Kennedy’s car as he fled the scene.

NOW ON YOUTUBE: My interview with Katie Pavlich about her new book, Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women.

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RON CHRISTIE: An Open Letter to Attorney General Eric Holder: It’s Not About Race. “You are the first attorney general in the history of the United States to be held in contempt of Congress. This had nothing to do with your skin color, and everything to do with your failure to explain how the United States government provided guns to Mexican drug cartels that were eventually used to kill Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010. This story may have disappeared from the headlines, but many of your fellow citizens are still upset our federal government would ever give guns to foreign criminals. Compounding this tragic error, neither you nor anyone else in the administration has explained what happened the night Terry lost his life. All we really know is that he was at the wrong end of a gun you approved handing over to drug dealers.”

MIKE RAPPAPORT: Is Griswold v. Connecticut Consistent with the Original Meaning?

I wrote on this topic myself some years ago.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: “Diversity” Plan Involves Grading By Race And Ethnicity. “Professors, instead of just awarding the grade that each student earns, would apparently have to adjust them so that academically weaker, ‘underrepresented racial/ethnic’ students perform at the same level and receive the same grades as academically stronger students.”

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Hackers Steal Personal Information of US Security-Clearance Holders. “This is a big deal. If I were a government, trying to figure out who to target for blackmail, bribery, and other coercive tactics, this would be a nice database to have.”

ROLL CALL: U.S. Chamber Backs Justin Amash Primary Opponent. “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed GOP Rep. Justin Amash’s primary challenger in Michigan’s 3rd District. The group’s support could translate into television airtime for Brian Ellis, a former East Grand Rapids School Trustee, before the Aug. 5 primary. The primary has become one of this cycle’s top battles inside the GOP, with the party’s libertarian wing backing Amash and national business interests boosting Ellis.”

So the Chamber’s priorities are noted.

“LAW OF THE LAND:” The administration just took Obamacare away from the territories.

ED DRISCOLL: The Cut-And-Paste President. “See, that’s the problem when the president is utterly dependent on his speech writers and teleprompter programmer that he’ll relentlessly stick to the script on such a grim news day.”

Related: Video: Semi-retired president interrupts burger run to issue brief statement on plane being blown up.

GEE, WHAT COULD BE DIFFERENT ABOUT TEXAS? Houston: America’s Opportunity City.

Urban aesthetes on the ocean coasts tend to have a low opinion of the flat Texas landscape—and of Houston, in particular, which they see as a little slice of Hades: a hot, humid, and featureless expanse of flood-prone grassland, punctuated only by drab office towers and suburban tract houses. But Wolff and Hightower, major land developers on Houston’s outskirts for four decades, have a different outlook. “We may not have all the scenery of a place like California,” notes the 73-year-old Wolff, who is also part owner of the San Francisco Giants. “But growth makes up for a lot of imperfections.”

A host of newcomers—immigrants and transplants from around the United States—agree with that assessment. Its low cost of living and high rate of job growth have made Houston and its surrounding metro region attractive to young families. According to Pitney Bowes, Houston will enjoy the highest growth in new households of any major city between 2014 and 2017. A recent U.S. Council of Mayors study predicted that the American urban order will become increasingly Texan, with Houston and Dallas–Fort Worth both growing larger than Chicago by 2050.

I wonder why other parts of the country aren’t growing as fast. Just bad luck, I guess.

SMART DIPLOMACY: WaPo: Kerry flunks the laugh test on Iran.