February 23, 2015

WELL, THAT SEEMS ABOUT RIGHT: National Security Expert: U.S. Foreign Policy Leaders ‘Have Lost The Ability To Think.’

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: New York Fed: The Growing Student Loan Crisis.

BYRON YORK: Why Are Americans Confused About Obama’s Religion?

But when it comes to confusion, or wrong information, about Obama’s religion, Scott Walker is far from alone. Polls have long shown many Americans know little about the president’s faith.

In June, 2012, Gallup asked, “Do you happen to know the religious faith of Barack Obama?” Forty-four percent said they did not know, while 36 percent said he is a Christian, 11 percent said he is a Muslim, and eight percent said he has no religion. The “don’t know” group included 36 percent of Democrats. (A larger number of Republicans, 47 percent, said they didn’t know Obama’s religion, as did 46 percent of independents.)

In August, 2010, a Pew poll made news when it found that 18 percent of those surveyed believed Obama is a Muslim. But just as notably, 43 percent of respondents in that survey told Pew they didn’t know Obama’s religion. Among those who said they didn’t know were 41 percent of Democrats.

One notable suggestion in the Pew survey was that in Obama’s first couple of years in office, as Americans became more familiar with him as president, they became less sure of his religious faith. In March 2009, shortly after Obama entered the White House, 34 percent said they did not know his religion, while 48 percent identified him as a Christian. By August 2010, the number of Americans who said they did not know Obama’s religion had grown to 43 percent, while the number who identified him as Christian fell to 34 percent. The trend was true not just of the president’s political opponents but of his supporters as well. “Even among Democrats, fewer than half (46 percent) now identify his religion as Christian, down from 55 percent last year,” Pew wrote in 2010.

In June 2012, Pew asked the question again and found that 36 percent — still more than one-third of Americans — did not know Obama’s faith, while 45 percent identified him as a Christian. (The poll, taken during the 2012 presidential campaign, found that more people — 51 percent — correctly identified Mitt Romney as a Mormon than the 45 percent who said Obama is a Christian.)

The polls are anywhere from two to four years old. There hasn’t been much research on the topic recently, so it’s possible views have changed in one direction or the other.

Whenever the issue pops up, Obama’s most ardent supporters are quick to blame conservative media for misperceptions about Obama’s religion. But it’s possible something in Obama’s public presentation of himself has also created confusion among a significant number of Americans about his religion. The fact is, Obama’s religious roots and development have always been a complicated story.

As with everything about him, there’s no there there, just a series of convenient projections on fog, like the monster in a Scooby Doo episode.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Taxpayer-Funded U. Wisconsin Chancellor Spends Her Days Lobbying Alumni Against Scott Walker.

JOHN FUND: The Rudy Gotcha Game: The Double Standard For “Perceived Thought Crime.”

THE HILL: President Obama’s cyber pitch misses mark in Silicon Valley. “The Obama administration is stumbling in its cybersecurity message to Silicon Valley, according to tech executives and a former White House official. The White House recently made a big show of going to Stanford University for a major cybersecurity summit. While much of the administration’s message was well-received by the tech community, some wondered why the platform wasn’t used to better explain Obama’s stance on encryption and privacy, the divisive issues causing strain between D.C. and Palo Alto.”

WELL, YES: Campus sex assaults should be handled by police. When universities handle them, they’re too soft on the guilty, and too hard on the innocent.

SO MUCH FOR THE MEMORY HOLE: New media won’t let MSM forget: Hillary fed the ‘Obama’s a Muslim’ rumors in 2008.

IT’S NOT RACE, IT’S NOT SEX, the tech world’s real discrimination problem is age.

They don’t prepare you for this in college or admit it in job interviews. The harsh reality is that if you are middle-aged, write computer code for a living, and earn a six-figure salary, you’re headed for the unemployment lines. Your market value declines as you age and it becomes harder and harder to get a job.

I know this post will provoke anger, outrage, and denial. But, sadly, this is the way things are in the tech world. It’s an “up or out” profession — like the military. And it’s as competitive as professional sports. Engineers need to be prepared.

This is not openly discussed, because employers could be accused of age discrimination. But research, such as that completed by University of California, Berkeley, professors Clair Brown and Greg Linden shows that even those with masters degrees and Ph.Ds have reason to worry.

I hope that President Walker will have the Civil Rights Division look into this.

IT’S GOOD TO BE THE QUEEN: NYT’s Clinton Reporter on Paid Speeches: Clintons Would Say ‘It’s Expensive to Be a Clinton.’ “This reflection of the Clinton’s mindset caused panelist Joe Klein to burst into laughter.”

ANN ALTHOUSE, RESPONDING TO DANA MILBANK: Non-Wisconsinites, I need to explain something about Scott Walker to you that you are missing. “Those of you who think that he’s a neophyte, that he hasn’t yet learned how to step up to answering a question. You don’t get it. You are a neophyte. You haven’t yet learned how to step up to understanding Scott Walker. . . . Implicit in that is: That’s not Wisconsin style. Get used to it, coasties.”

UPDATE: More from Althouse: “Scott Walker feeling the heat” — says Politico, but how does Politico know what Scott Walker feels? “Maybe MSM are feeling the heat as the kind of questions that used to generate heat aren’t heating things up like they used to. They’ve been hoping to have some fun watching Republicans self-incinerate, after all these years dutifully admiring the cool character they call ‘No Drama Obama.’”

Related: “Notice how Democrats have not asserted that Obama actually loves America. Instead, they assert we’re racist for doubting he does.”

February 22, 2015

DAVID BERNSTEIN: Why Eric Posner Is Wrong About Speech Codes.

See, the problem with arguing that 18-22 year olds are too immature to handle free speech is twofold: First, it calls into question whether they’re mature enough to assume six-figure debt, and second, it converts prestigious Higher Education into an extension of high school, grades 13-16. Who’ll pay $60,000+ per year for high school?

Plus, the corruption behind it all: “To elaborate slightly, speech codes (and crackdowns on sexual behavior) are for the most part not demanded by students or faculty, but by administrators (sometimes in cahoots with a small faction of radical students) who have a symbiotic relationship with federal regulators that implicitly or explicitly encourage such crackdowns using the excuse of largely legally irrelevant civil rights laws. The feds get more control over the schools, bigger budgets, and satisfy particular political constituencies that support their existence and expansion. The internal university bureaucracies likewise get more control over campus life, bigger budgets, and, importantly, carte blanche to use vague, ill-defined rules to destroy academic careers for reasons ranging from ideological to venal.”

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: President Franklin Delano Obama Addresses the Threat of 1930s Violent Extremism.

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ED DRISCOLL: Obama is Most Certainly Made of the Wright Stuff. Jeremiah Wright, that is.

THOMAS LIFSON: Rudy Giuliani And The One-Way Taboo. “Democrats are free to impugn their opponents’ decency and patriotism while Republicans never are allowed to do so. . . . The reason why the taboo against criticizing the love of country applies only to Democrats is because the question cuts too close to home for them, and they control the media enforcers of the taboo.”

Democrats use “civility” as a shield because they know that conservatives care about civility, while Democrats don’t. Thus, reproached for incivility, Republicans will retreat, while Dems will say “screw you, I’m stickin’ it to the man.”

RICHARD FERNANDEZ ON BARACK OBAMA: A QUESTION OF PERSONALITY:

When Giuliani told an audience ”I do not believe – and I know this is a horrible thing to say – but I do not believe that the President loves America,” he was inadvertently doing more than criticizing a president; he was in a manner of speaking, committing treason. The unprecedented firestorm of opprobrium that greeted Giuliani suggested that he had somehow hit a switch. It was like pushing an ordinary button in the wall and watching the skyscrapers out the window suddenly crumble in dust down into the ground.

What Giuliani had done was undermine Obama’s legitimacy. Because so much of Obama’s “power” comes from his special-ness that to question his patriotism is to strike at the basis for his governance. It was, as in a monarchy, tantamount to rebellion. The reason that similar remarks by Obama about George Bush’s patriotism evoked simple shrugs was because Bush was just an ordinary president, the latest in a line of politicians to occupy the office since George Washington.

But Obama is different. One cannot understand, for example, the vituperation vented by Dana Milbank at Scott Walker, calling him out for “cowardice”, arguing for his “disqualification” (yes those are the words) for the simple act of refusing to publicly repudiate Giuliani’s words about the president, unless one grasps this essential fact. Obama is different. The Obama phenomenon is founded so completely on his legend that to attack the legend is to undermine the very foundations of the tower on which he stands.

But this is not the first time the Obama myth has been directly impugned. The first major political figure to accidentally touch the Third Rail was Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has become an extraordinary hate object in the press, not because of any views he may hold on policy, but because Netanyahu had the temerity to disrespect Obama. Netanyahu must have been astonished by the charge of electricity that gave back on him.

Disrespect America, even attack it if you want, and you will not receive a tenth such voltage as did Netanyahu.

Obama is the New Class Idol, the embodiment of all the nomenklatura’s hopes and dreams — not so much for America, as for itself. Point out that he has feet — and ankles, and thighs, and torso, and head — of clay, and you threaten the whole feedlot.

JAY CARUSO: The Media: When You Attack Obama, You’re Attacking Them. “In Obama they see themselves. What he wants to carry out is what they want and they are going to do what they can to make sure these last two years he gets to do just that, the consequences be damned. So whether it is going after Rudy Giuliani or going after a Congressional staffer for a slight against the Obama daughters, the media is going to be out to defend Obama at all costs. That’s what the palace guard does.”

MY USA TODAY COLUMN FOR TOMORROW: Unpatriotic voters elect unpatriotic leaders.

With references to Robert Frank’s Passions Within Reason: The Strategic Role Of The Emotions, and also to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

HEH:

The narrative is we have a chance to elect the first woman as president of the United States, something I think we should have done a long time ago.

I just don’t think it should be Hillary Clinton. There’s a lot of other women I can think of in the Republican Party who would be a much better alternative to that and some day will be. But if it’s a narrative like that, I think we run into trouble. If we shift the narrative, and I think, Hillary Clinton, you even saw with this story, with her book tour, the statements about her and Bill being broke when they came out of the White House. …You see the size of the fees she’s asking universities and colleges to pay, when you look at some of the other things, when she talks about not having driven a car in all those years, I get why that’s true, but it’s why I like to get on my Harley Davidson… every once in a while to drive myself and not have someone else do it for me. I just think those are all things that penetrate this out of touch persona. And to me to win I think the argument has got to be change it from a narrative of two personalities to Hillary Clinton represents Washington.

Said Scott Walker, on the important question of how the GOP candidate plans — or is willing to say he plans — to defeat the presumptive Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

WOMEN WHO COMPLAIN ARE FEMINISTS, MEN WHO COMPLAIN ARE WHINERS: Why don’t dads complain about parenthood like moms do?

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Middle School math teacher, 30, charged with having sex with her 15-year-old student allegedly ‘pulled him from classes during school hours.’ “Police say that Connors began an inappropriate relationship with the boy in January that began with kissing and later led to fondling. As the relationship progressed Connors and her student allegedly began having sex during school hours in classrooms. Connors is said to have used administrative powers to have the boy removed from his classes so that the two could rendezvous.”

THE MORE DANGEROUS THE WORLD LOOKS BECAUSE OF OBAMA’S FECKLESSNESS, THE MORE LIKELY THE ANSWER IS TO BE “YES.” After Barack Obama’s celebrity presidency is America ready for a hard man in the White House?

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WELL, WE DID THE SECOND AMENDMENT LAST YEAR, SO. . . . Tennessee Law Review to host Third Amendment symposium.

ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS: From Cheekies nightclub in Staines to fighting ISIS in Iraq: British bouncer sells his home and joins Christian militia. “Speaking to MailOnline, Mr Locks revealed that he made his decision to relocate to Iraq last August after watching the news reports about the plight of Yazidis on Mount Sinjar. . . . When asked whether he was motivated by religion, Locks said he wasn’t religious but had no problem fighting for a group with strong Christian values. He said: ‘I had no specific wishes to join a specific group. I just wanted to help people out here. Any society which kills people, cuts people’s heads off needs to be challenged.’ . . . Mr Locks explained how he joined Dwekh Nawsha after speaking to Brett, a 28-year-old former US veteran who was the group’s first foreign fighter. The American’s honestly and approachable manner appealed to Mr Locks, who liked the openness of the group as well as its stringent recruitment process of only recruiting veterans or people with valued skills like construction.”

DUDE, I’M ALREADY DOING MY BEST: It’s official: Americans should drink more coffee.

VIDEO: Jerusalem Mayor Takes Down Knife-Wielding Terrorist.

THIS SEEMS LIKE A POOR TACTIC: Cabs Strike In Chicago Against Uber; Uber Drivers Presumably Report Uptick In Business. Next: Burger King goes on strike against McDonald’s.

IN THE MAIL: Edited by Marjorie Sandor, The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 654.

IT’S LIKE HOLLYWOOD AND THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY ARE JOINED AT THE HIP OR SOMETHING: Dems cash in with Oscar noms. “Democrats are the biggest winners when it comes to raking in political donations from Academy Award nominees. Some of the Oscars’ most famous contenders — including this year’s hopefuls Reese Witherspoon, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo, Bradley Cooper, and Meryl Streep — are delivering big bucks for the left.”

JAMES LILEKS BRAVELY FACES AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE:

If blogs are dying I suppose I shall go with them, he said, using “shall” to put you in mind of someone tossing a scarf over his shoulder and facing the bracing wind. There’s been a few stories here and there about the expiration of the form, occasioned perhaps by Andrew Sullivan stepping away, and noting how everything is going Social and Sharable. I’ve thought of adding social buttons to the bottom of the post again, but it would make more sense to add them to individual pages so people could share links to whatever caught their fancy. There are thousands of pages.

So no.

Am I worried about time and trends passing me by? Not at all. This has always been just what it is since the very first entry, and while it’s expanded in length and subject, I am not going to convert it to a series of sharable snacks for Facebook feeds. Perhaps that’s unwise. But I hate Facebook and have no desire to spend any time there, so tailoring the Bleat or lileks.com for Zuckerberg’s dull blue borg cube would be like spending a lot of time and money getting fitted for clothes I don’t like so I can blend in amongst people I don’t know in a country I don’t like. . . .

Anyway: it worries me a little that “blogs are dying,” because if so we lose the idea of a place where people speak their piece, as oppose to speak in pieces.

While most blogs weren’t deathless examples of great writing, there was the opportunity for individualism, and you don’t get that from a Pinterest page. You don’t get it from a feed of things snipped and reblogged and pinned and shoveled into The Feed. The web turns into bushels of confetti shoveled into a jet engine, and while something does emerge out the other end, it’s usually made impressive by its velocity and volume, not the shape it makes.

Nothing really dies on the Internet. New layers just fall on top of it, like the veils of Azlaroc.

ED DRISCOLL: So, About The Man in the High Castle.

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JUAN WILLIAMS: America’s Most Influential Thinker on Race: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s insights are reshaping law and policy for the better.

Justice Thomas, who has been on the court nearly a quarter-century, remains a polarizing figure—loved by conservatives and loathed by liberals. But his “free”-thinking legal opinions are opening new roads for the American political debate on racial justice.

His opinions are rooted in the premise that the 14th Amendment—guaranteeing equal rights for all—cannot mean different things for different people. As he wrote in Fisher v. University of Texas (2013), he is opposed to “perpetual racial tinkering” by judges to fix racial imbalance and inequality at schools and the workplace. Yet he never contends racism has gone away. The fact that a 2001 article in Time magazine about him was headlined “Uncle Tom Justice” reminds us that racism stubbornly persists.

His only current rival in the race debate is President Obama. At moments of racial controversy the nation’s first black president has used his national pulpit to give voice to black fear that racial stereotyping led to tragedy. But that is as far as he is willing to go. His attorney general, Eric Holder , has gone further by calling Americans “cowards” when it comes to discussing race. And some critics have chastised him even for that.

Justice Thomas, meanwhile, is reshaping the law and government policy on race by virtue of the power of his opinions from the bench. Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American on the Supreme Court, stood up as a voice insisting on rights for black people. Justice Thomas, the second black man on the court, takes a different tack. He stands up for individual rights as a sure blanket of legal protection for everyone, including minorities.

An idea so crazy it just might work!

REMAIN CALM. ALL IS WELL! Top-secret military warning on Ebola biological weapon terror threat.

Scientists at the top-secret military research unit at Porton Down, Wiltshire, have been assessing the potential use of Ebola as a bioterrorism weapon, according to confidential documents.

A three-page memo, marked ‘UK secret UK eyes only’, reveals that the unit, where chemical, radiological and biological threats are analysed, was tasked with evaluating whether terrorist organisations such as al-Qaida and Islamic State (Isis) could use the deadly virus to attack western targets.

The heavily redacted document, which has been released under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that the unit was asked last October to provide “guidance on the feasibility and potential impact of a non-state actor exploiting the Ebola outbreak in west Africa for bioterrorism”.

It goes on to explain that non-state actor threat assessments are “provided by the joint terrorism analysis centre”, while threats to “UK deployed forces are provided by defence intelligence”. The memo outlines three possible scenarios under which terrorists might seek to exploit the Ebola outbreak, which so far has killed more than 9,000 people in the three most affected countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The first scenario outlined is completely redacted, illustrating the acute sensitivity about the issue.

But bloggers, etc., who worried about this last fall were paranoid wackos.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Americans are having more trouble paying off their student debt than their houses.

February 21, 2015

WHY THEY HATE US: “We don’t need Western ideology and gay parades.”

REPORTED BY JAKE TAPPER, NO LESS: Hillary Clinton Says Obama Muslim Rumor Not True “As Far As I Know.”

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IT’S FUN ON TWITTER RIGHT NOW, watching journos who’ve been pushing negative spin on the Rudy Giuliani and Scott Walker stories trying to grasp why they’re being so roundly mocked — including by many right-leaning journos who ordinarily would extend professional courtesy.

UPDATE: Lots of interesting stuff in the comments, including this:

This election cycle, we’re taking the fight directly to the Leftist media machine. Making it personal. No more ‘reasonable proportionate escalation’…we’re going directly to ’11′. Punch them straight in the nose, folks. Their weaknesses are clear: (a) they know they sold themselves out over DreamBoy BO, (b) they are cowards and lazy. Prepare for the fight, my friends…this is the big one.

Yeah, that’s kind of the spirit I’m seeing. After her performance in the 2012 debates, Candy Crowley should have been rendered radioactive and unemployable even at CNN; certainly a reporter who treated a Dem similarly would have been in big career trouble. I think a lot of people learned from that, and are angry.

NOW THAT’S JUST SAD: You Had One Job, Lenovo: And it didn’t involve sneaking malicious adware onto your customers’ computers. “When Lenovo preinstalled Superfish adware on its laptops, it betrayed its customers and sold out their security. It did it for no good reason, and it may not even have known what it was doing. I’m not sure which is scarier. The various news reports of this catastrophe don’t quite convey the sheer horror and disbelief with which any technically minded person is now reacting to Lenovo’s screw-up. Security researcher Marc Rogers wrote that it’s ‘quite possibly the single worst thing I have seen a manufacturer do to its customer base. … I cannot overstate how evil this is.’ He’s right. The Lenovo Superfish security hole is really, really bad.”

Silly Lenovo. They’re not supposed to put annoying commercial adware on their computers. They’re supposed to install undetectable Chinese government spyware on their computers.

MARK STEYN ON OBAMA: “If he were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?”

Plus: “I opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security on the basic Thatcherite principle that if you create a government bureaucracy in order to deal with a problem you’ll never be rid of the problem. But I underestimated the creativity of our rulers: The DHS was set up because 19 Muslims flew planes into skyscrapers and killed thousands of people. Thirteen years later, the head of the DHS thinks his department’s priority should be to ‘give voice to the plight of Muslims’ who have the misfortune to live in America.”

At the very least, it’s the pure instantiation of Conquest’s Third Law: “The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.”

SO LEFTY SOCIAL-JUSTICE WARRIOR TYPES WILL BE BOYCOTTING SUPANOVA BECAUSE ADAM BALDWIN WILL BE THERE. Sounds like a win-win.

THAT’S BECAUSE CREATING IT WAS AN IDIOTIC IDEA, AND IT SHOULD BE ABOLISHED: DHS tackles endless morale problems with seemingly endless studies. “Many DHS employees have said in the annual government ‘viewpoint’ survey of federal employees that their senior leaders are ineffective; that the department discourages innovation, and that promotions and raises are not based on merit. Others have described in interviews how a stifling bureaucracy and relentless congressional criticism makes DHS an exhausting, even infuriating, place to work.”

Well, here’s what I wrote when Pres. Bush proposed creating the DHS. I was right, and that’s no surprise.

WHEN, AS A CHILD, I IMAGINED THE 21ST CENTURY, I DIDN’T IMAGINE BLASPHEMY TRIALS: French Icon Brigitte Bardot on Trial Again for Blasphemy Against Muslims.

MOE LANE: How Debbie Wasserman Schultz Taught the Left To Be Utter Cynics. “Apparently DWS was preparing to accuse Obama of being antiSemitic if he replaced her as DNC chair.”

OBAMA IS THE PATRON SAINT OF THE NEW CLASS, SO WHEN YOU ATTACK HIM, YOU’RE ATTACKING THEM: Rudy Giuliani Causes Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin to Spontaneously Combust. “After watching the brain of Dana Milbank of the Washington Post similarly explode like a character in Scanners, Jazz Shaw of Hot Air writes, ‘Milbank should at least be honest enough to wear a ‘Ready for Hillary’ t-shirt when he goes to work every day if this is how the upcoming election analysis is going to be handled.’”

HEH: The Week in Pictures: Harfing Biden Edition.

SOCIAL SANCTIONS, RANGING FROM SHUNNING TO TAR-AND-FEATHERS, ARE AN APPROPRIATE RESPONSE TO THIS SORT OF BEHAVIOR: All over America, people have put small “give one, take one” book exchanges in front of their homes. Then they were told to tear them down. “Alas, a subset of Americans are determined to regulate every last aspect of community life. Due to selection bias, they are overrepresented among local politicians and bureaucrats. And so they have power, despite their small-mindedness, inflexibility, and lack of common sense so extreme that they’ve taken to cracking down on Little Free Libraries, of all things.”

If doing so becomes painful and unrewarding, they will stop.

I PREDICT THE FIRST MONEY-MAKING APPLICATIONS WILL INVOLVE PORN: Gadgets Are Getting Better at Fooling Your Sense of Touch.

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TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): N.J. teacher had sex with 6 students ages 14, 15: prosecutor. “A New Jersey teacher took advantage of six different students ages 14 and 15, having sex with them at school and in her car, for more than a year, prosecutors say. Among the damning evidence is video of 35-year-old Nicole DuFault – the single mother of two young children – performing oral sex on one of the boys while another victim was nearby, according to prosecutors, who levied 40 counts of aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child against the former Columbia High School teacher.”

I blame America’s pervasive culture of female sexual entitlement.

YOU’RE NOT REALLY EXTINCT IF YOU STILL HAVE DESCENDANTS: A New Theory on How Neanderthal DNA Spread in Asia.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Newsweek: With demand slumping and costs soaring, is legal education heading for disaster? Well, the folks at Newsweek know something about collapsing business models. . . .

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: British Prostitutes Are Helping Disabled People Have Sex. “Sometimes I have to lift people out of a wheelchair, undress them before we can do anything, and then dress them and put them back in the wheelchair once we’re done. It can be pretty difficult and tiring.”

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 653.

OBAMA’S LEGACY: The Economy’s Worst 8-Year Run in 62 Years.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Practicality vs. Utopia.

Our political culture’s faith in education as a ritual that brings prosperity raining down from the heavens is positively religious in its intensity. Obviously a good education is enormously important to career success, as well as good citizenship and personal fulfillment, but we ended up viewing education as an expensive blended fuel to be poured into the engines of life – the more of it people get, and the more expensive it is, the further they’ll go.

The American people were long ago bludgeoned out of demanding value for their education dollars, to the point where college is now a hugely expensive remedial education for all the subjects high school and grade school didn’t teach well – a point that will be driven home all the more forcefully if President Obama’s fantasy of “free” community college comes true. “Free” community college would amount to a couple more years of high school, protracting adolescence and making those hyper-expensive advanced degrees even more of a class signifier. Instead of turning high school into a six-year affair, we should be asking very tough questions of our highly-compensated educational bureaucracy about why our kids aren’t emerging from the public school system with the well-rounded education they need to make solid practical decisions about the next steps in their lives.

Another aspect of ritualized utopianism is our loss of respect for vocational education and the “dirty jobs” celebrated by TV host Mike Rowe, who campaigns for young people to investigate skilled trade work. There are solid careers out there in trades where employers perpetually complain about a shortage of hard-working, eager apprentices, even in times of chronic high unemployment.

There’s too much magical thinking. “The belief in credentials over competence has profoundly failed America over the past few years, costing us an ocean of money and inflicting terrific damage upon the fabric of our society.” Yes. But, as I keep saying, our political class values credentials over competence because they are better provided with the former than with the latter.

ULTIMATELY, ED MORRISSEY IS BEHIND THIS AMAZING TRANSITION: When Did Canada Get So Badass?

No, really, he is.

UPDATE: Austin Bay on Canada’s Badass Military History. Plus: “In my experience — in terms of individual, quality personnel — only Australian troops match Canadians on a one-for-one basis.”

WENDY KAMINER: The Progressive Ideas Behind The Lack Of Free Speech On Campus. “These days, when students talk about threats to their safety and demand access to “safe spaces,” they’re often talking about the threat of unwelcome speech and demanding protection from the emotional disturbances sparked by unsettling ideas. It’s not just rape that some women on campus fear: It’s discussions of rape. . . . I remember the first time, in the early ’90s, that I heard a Harvard student describe herself as oppressed, as a woman of color. She hadn’t been systematically deprived of fundamental rights and liberties. After all, she’d been admitted to Harvard. But she had been offended and unsettled by certain attitudes and remarks. Did she have good reason to take offense? That was an irrelevant question. Popular therapeutic culture defined verbal ‘assaults’ and other forms of discrimination by the subjective, emotional responses of self-proclaimed victims.”

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ASHE SCHOW: Bipartisan group calls for Education Dept. reform regarding campus sexual assault.

Department of Education regulations forcing colleges and universities to create pseudo-court systems to handle campus sexual assault are interfering with schools’ core mission to educate, according to a bipartisan report from a task force for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The report was designed to offer solutions for easing regulatory burdens on colleges, which have exploded in recent years.

“Over time, oversight of higher education by the Department of Education has expanded and evolved in ways that undermine the ability of colleges and universities to serve students and accomplish their missions,” the report said. “The compliance problem is exacerbated by the sheer volume of mandates — approximately 2,000 pages of text — and the reality that the Department of Education issues official guidance to amend or clarify its rules at a rate of more than one document per work day.” . . .

Regulations relating to Title IX, the report says, have only been formally implemented three times: in 1975, 2000 and 2006. But since then, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which oversees Title IX compliance, has been creating new regulations stemming from the infamous 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter regarding campus sexual assaults.

“While OCR strenuously maintains that the letter does not add requirements to applicable law, the reality is that these standards impose serious additional responsibilities and break new policy ground,” the report said.

These new requirements are for colleges and universities to adjudicate accusations of sexual assault — a separate justice system that has been labeled a “kangaroo court” — which has led to lawsuits from both accusers and the accused that the system is biased.

Well, because it is, and it’s designed to be.

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Rudy Is Right: Barack Obama doesn’t even like America.

Questions about patriotism and love of country are, according to our self-appointed referees, out of bounds, déclassé, boob bait for bubbas, etc. Those are questions that we are not allowed to ask in polite society. Why? Because polite society does not want to hear the answers.

Does Barack Obama like America? The people around him certainly seem to have their reservations. Michelle Obama said — twice, at separate campaign events — that her husband’s ascending to the presidency meant that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” She was in her mid 40s at the time, her “adult lifetime” having spanned decades during which she could not be “really proud” of her country. Barack Obama spent years in the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church as the churchman fulminated: “God Damn America!” The Reverend Wright’s infamous “God Damn America!” sermon charges the country with a litany of abuses: slavery, mistreatment of the Indians, “treating citizens as less than human,” etc.

A less raving version of the same indictment can be found in the president’s own speeches and books. His social circle includes such figures as Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn, who expressed their love of country by participating in a murderous terrorist campaign against it. Does Barack Obama love his country? Call me a rube for saying so, but it’s a fair question.

Though it’s one that our media folks might have done a better job exploring in 2008.

But here’s why Democrats, and their media protectors, are so unhappy with this question with regard to Obama in particular: It turns 2008 on its head. Obama’s appeal in 2008 lay in no small part in xenophilia: We’re so open-minded, we’re not just electing a President with a Muslim-sounding name, we’re electing a President with the same name as our most recent wartime foe! It let people feel enlightened, and progressive.

But all those differences that seemed so appealing can quickly flip into grounds for suspicion, especially when the object is behaving suspiciously. After all, if — like me — you believe in evolution, you might think that xenophobia, as such a well-established human trait, must have had beneficial functions: Maybe the xenos couldn’t be trusted, or even expected, to have the polity’s best interests at heart. Maybe, when people start getting worried about the polity’s future, those novel characteristics that once seemed so appealing now seem threatening. So while there’s a general reason the establishment wants to take the patriotism question off the table — patriotism is unsophisticated, and so limiting — there’s also a specific reason, which is that it’s something Obama’s vulnerable on right now, and it’s something the establishment can’t afford to cast Obama loose on, for reasons internal to its coalition.

But of course, the more they attack Giuliani on this, the more attention they draw to it. And even those who are, at first, repelled by Giuliani’s argument may find doubts lingering, and perhaps even growing, as they look at Obama’s presidency in a new light. . . .

And what are those reasons internal to the coalition? Williamson explains:

There is a personality type common among the Left’s partisans, and it has a name: Holden Caulfield. He is adolescent, perpetually disappointed, and ever on the lookout for phoniness and hypocrisy. His is the sort of personality inclined to believe in his heart the declaration that “behind every great fortune there is a great crime.” (He also believes that this is a quotation from Honoré de Balzac, whose works he has not read, when it fact it comes from Richard O’Connor’s The Oil Barons: Men of Greed and Grandeur.) He believes with Elizabeth Warren that the economy is a rigged game based on exploitation and deceit rather than on innovation, productivity, and competition. He believes with Barack Obama that the only reason (e.g.) Staples does not pay its part-time associates more or schedule them for more hours is so that it can pad its executive pay and protect its “billions” in annual profits.

(He believes that Staples, whose financials he has not read, makes “billions,” when in fact it does no such thing.) Say an admiring word about Steve Jobs and he’ll swear that there are four-year-olds working 169 hours a week in Chinese sweatshops producing iPods at the point of a bayonet. He believes that most people get into Harvard and Yale because they have influential parents (that’s the University of Texas, unfortunately), that rich Americans mostly inherit their money (in reality, about 15 percent of their assets are inherited, less than for middle-class families), that the U.S. goes to war abroad to enrich contractors at home, and that the entire history of Latin America must be understood through the prism of the United Fruit Company’s maneuverings in 1954.

Give Holden Caulfield a television show and you’ve got Chris Hayes.

Barack Obama has a great, big, heaping dose of Holden Caulfield in him. That and chutzpah: When as a candidate he was in trouble because of his association with the racist lunacy of the Reverend Wright, he responded by giving the American public at large a lecture on racism and its culpability therein, while his minions began proclaiming that the only reason to oppose this politician with the racist associates was — presto-change-o! — racism.

Yep. Read the whole thing.

THOUGHTS ON EUROPE AND THE FAILURE OF MULTICULTURALISM. “Thirty years ago, many Europeans saw multiculturalism – the embrace of an inclusive, diverse society – as an answer to Europe’s social problems. Today, a growing number consider it to be a cause of them. That perception has led some mainstream politicians, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to publicly denounce multiculturalism and speak out against its dangers. . . . As a political tool, multiculturalism has functioned as not merely a response to diversity but also a means of constraining it. And that insight reveals a paradox. Multicultural policies accept as a given that societies are diverse, yet they implicitly assume that such diversity ends at the edges of minority communities. They seek to institutionalize diversity by putting people into ethnic and cultural boxes – into a singular, homogeneous Muslim community, for example – and defining their needs and rights accordingly. Such policies, in other words, have helped create the very divisions they were meant to manage.”

IT’S ALWAYS NICE TO MAKE TWITCHY: Rachel Maddow plays ‘female senators are better’ gender card; Instapundit folds her hand with one question.

Meanwhile, Maddow is supposed to be the smart one at MSNBC, and she’s playing the “girls rule, boys drool” card? Well, I guess being smarter than Al Sharpton or Ronan Farrow isn’t setting a high bar.

February 20, 2015

ED DRISCOLL: Oh, That Return of the Primitive. “Do Islamic terrorists and the doomsday fringe of the global warming cult have something in common?”

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YEAH, WELL, I THINK AMERICANS SHOULD IGNORE OBAMA’S PRONOUNCEMENTS WHEN IT’S IMPORTANT, TOO: Rasmussen: Plurality of Democrats think Obama should be able to ignore court rulings if it’s “important.” Quit paying taxes, obey only the laws you agree with, and punish anyone who tries to tell you otherwise. Goose, meet gander.

FLASHBACK: When Barack Obama Called George W. Bush “Unpatriotic.”

DO TELL: New Dietary Guidelines: The Real Bad Egg Is Sugar. “A nutrition advisory panel that helps shape the country’s official dietary guidelines eased some of its previous restrictions on fat and cholesterol on Thursday and recommended sharp new limits on the amount of added sugar that Americans should consume.”

This is, of course, what we’ve been hearing from Gary Taubes for years.

Plus, note that the new guidelines are still politicized: “The advisory panel included the vegetarian diet as an example of what it called a healthy eating pattern, noting that a plant-based diet is also more sustainable, with less of an impact on the environment. But critics questioned whether the guidelines might overstep the mandate to focus on health and nutrition.”

Also: “Since the 1980s, Americans over all have been eating more grains, produce, cereals and vegetable oils, while generally lowering their intake of red meat, whole milk and eggs, Ms. Hite said, and yet the population is fatter and sicker than ever.”

I’M NOT ACTUALLY SURE THE PROBLEM IS OVERLY-RIGID MASCULINITY: Britain’s Male Suicide Rate Highest Since 2001.

USING EXERCISE AND DIET TO PRODUCE mother-daughter hotness.

ERIC HOLDER WANTS AN HONEST CONVERSATION ABOUT RACE. PAUL RAHE TAKES UP THE CHALLENGE: What Do the Ten Most Dangerous Cities in America Have in Common?

Early on in his tenure, Eric Holder called for a national conversation about race and he described us as “a nation of cowards.” Although I doubt very much whether he in particular could stomach a genuinely frank conversation on this subject, I do believe that he is right that we as a people are afraid to speak up — and I regard this as a serious defect, for it prevents our even thinking about how we might address a grave problem.

The truth is simple and sad. While violent crime is by no means restricted to inner-city African-American neighborhoods, it is more prevalent there than anywhere else.

We have been treated in the last couple of years to astonishing nonsense concerning the “rape culture” that is supposedly pervasive on America’s campuses — when the statistics based on crimes reported to the police suggest that rape is exceedingly rare at our universities and exceedingly common in inner-city black neighborhoods. If our President and his Attorney General really cared about the mistreatment of women, these neighborhoods would be their focus.

If we were to have an honest national conversation on race or, for that matter, on rape, we would have to attend to the near collapse of the black family, to the fact that only 17% of African-American teenagers aged 15 to 17 live in a family where both parents are present, and to the impact this has on the likelihood that young black men will turn to crime. If Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were victimized, it was not by the likes of George Zimmerman or Darren Wilson. It was by their parents who did not stay together and keep their sons on the straight and narrow.

This really is a serious problem — and it is much more of a problem for ordinary African-Americans than it is for white men such as myself. For by and large black people are the ones who are victimized. They live in the dangerous neighborhoods. They are the ones threatened by violent crime. They are the ones most apt to be raped.

One would think that, with a black President and a black Attorney General, we would be witnessing an attempt to think through this problem and to deal with it. But, in the last six years, neither Barack Obama nor Eric Holder has said a word on the subject.

Sorry, wrong narrative. Also, you’re a racist for mentioning this.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: What to do if a frozen pipe bursts in your home.

Tip: Make sure you know where your gas and water shutoff valves are now, before you need to. And have a shutoff tool — I have this one — in an easy to locate place.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: W&L Law School Permanently Reduces 1L Class to 100 (Down 47% From 2012), Eliminates 6 Faculty and 6 Staff Positions, Cuts or Freezes All Faculty Salaries, and Invades Corpus of Endowment.

That last is the big news. Dipping into capital, as the famous preppy joke has it, is the one unforgivable sin. . . .

SO MY BROTHER DUG OUT THIS OLD TRACK from a band we had in the early 1990s, The Backsliders, a cover of Spirit’s I Got A Line On You. This was recorded on a Yamaha 4-track cassette deck, with some bouncing, by me, and I only sort of knew what I was doing back then, but it turned out okay. Better than I remembered, actually.

Here’s the original version. We certainly did it with fewer people and less visible chest hair.

PALACE GUARD: The media rushes to defend Obama’s honor from Rudy Giuliani. Their sensitivity on this topic tells you that it’s effective.

Also, that they’re racists.

JOURNALISM: PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year of 2014 falls apart only two months later. George Will should get a written apology. But he won’t, because the “fact checkers” at Politifact are hacks.

JOURNALISM: Guardian ‘changed Iraq article to avoid offending Apple.’ Plus:

The Telegraph also understands that there are concerns within The Guardian about funded journalism on its website.

It confirmed that it is in discussions with the European Climate Foundation “regarding the funding of journalism projects”. The foundation lobbies for climate and energy policies to reduce emissions.

The Guardian is facing further questions over a section of its website sponsored by the Go Ultra Low Group, a group of vehicle manufacturers promoting low-emission vehicles.

The section includes 11 articles devoted to the benefits of low-emission cars, including one entitled “miles of smiles” and another “driving into tomorrow, today”.

At no point do the sections or the article disclose that the content has been sponsored by the Go Ultra Low Group, a £2.5 million campaign supported by seven international car manufacturers.

I wish US media reported on each other this way.

WASHINGTON POST: A very good demonstration of how not to elevate the political debate with Rudy Giuliani, courtesy of Rep. Steve Cohen.

Two things: First, you never look to Cohen to elevate any debate. Second, his version of the 3/5 compromise is, as is common with constitutional/historical illiterates, exactly backward. It was the slaveholders who wanted slaves to count the same as a white person (because that would have gotten them more seats in Congress) and the anti-slavery people who didn’t want slaves to be counted for purposes of Congressional representation at all, since they were, you know, slaves.

I always tell my Constitutional Law students that whenever anyone trots out this “the Framers thought a black person was only worth 3/5 as much as a white person” trope, they can safely disregard whatever else that person says about the Constitution, since it’s a classic hallmark of lazy-thinking ignorance.

Meanwhile, judging by the foaming-at-the-mouth response from Democrats, Giuliani’s remarks hit a nerve. They did so because Obama has given people plenty of reason to doubt how he feels about America — at least, America as it actually is — and because Giuliani’s remarks represent the end of people treating Obama with kid gloves. In this, Giuliani’s remarks are comparable to Jonathan Chait’s It’s Okay To Hate George W. Bush piece, a signal that opened up the floodgates of liberal negativity toward Bush.

SPYING: SIM card makers hacked by NSA and GCHQ leaving cell networks wide open.

ASHE SCHOW: Reimagining Bill Clinton’s Accusers In Today’s Society. Would a President Clinton in 2020 get away with her 1990s victim-blaming?

In the 1990s, with her husband’s political career on the line, Hillary Clinton and other supporters engaged in one of the most famous and well-orchestrated victim-blaming campaigns in recent history.

Would she and the Clinton machine get away with it today?

In today’s society, women who make sexual assault allegations are supposed to be believed outright. Men accused are considered guilty until proven innocent. In this environment, would a Hillary Clinton presidency be able to handle a Bill Clinton allegation the way it was handled nearly two decades ago?

For powerful Dems, the old rules still obtain.

WHAT TOUCHSCREENS LOOKED LIKE in 1982.

JIM TREACHER: If You Know About Marie Harf’s Bumbling, You Don’t Rely On Network News. “State Dept. Rush Chair Marie Harf has had a tough week. She’s spent the last few days blaming Islamic terrorism on a lack of good-paying jobs, explaining why you’re too dumb to understand why that’s true, and then going home to eat raw cookie dough straight out of the tube. Okay, that last part may or may not be true. But the poor kid sure deserves some comfort. Fortunately for her, the big three networks have got her back!”

IN THE MAIL: From Larry Correia, Monster Hunter Nemesis.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 652.

MICKEY KAUS: If there are two pro-amnesty nominees — especially if they are Jeb and Hillary — isn’t that a recipe for a third-party candidacy (which would probably threaten the GOP more than the Democrats)? Have the Republican donors backing Bush taken that into account? Plus: “As alert reader J. notes, the share of Americans who want more immigration has been holding steady — at 7%. Yet that 7% has captured the leadership of, not one party but both parties?”

MEGAN MCARDLE: Learning About Education the Hard Way.

Another possibility is that “Undergraduates are central to our mission” is a kind of polite public fiction within the university community, the sort of thing that everyone believes ought to be true but often isn’t, like “America is a great melting pot.” And I think there is some evidence of that. Consider, for example, the way faculty are hired and retained.

One of my favorite professors at the University of Pennsylvania, a truly gifted and amazing teacher, failed to get tenure the year I was a senior. After a grassroots campaign by his adoring students, the department reconsidered and gave him an extra year, after which he again failed to get tenure, and he went off to the West. I eventually got to ask someone else in the department why he’d been let go, and the answer was simple: His scholarly work was not impressive enough. So arguably the best and most beloved teacher in the department, the one whose class I have carried with me lo these 20 years and more, wasn’t good enough to teach undergraduates at Penn because he wasn’t publishing enough groundbreaking research.

Does that sound like an institution where educating undergraduates is central to the mission? Not really. Or at least: It is not central to the mission of the faculty, because if it were central, it would carry more weight in deciding who to hire and retain. Most of the professors I know who are trying to get tenure seem to spend a lot of time worrying about getting enough publications in the right journals, and comparatively little time worrying about whether their teaching skills are good enough to get them that golden ticket.

Compared to other institutions, university departments barely attempt to evaluate a professor’s skill at educating undergraduates — they do not, for example, spend much time supervising classrooms or trying to figure out how much the undergraduates have learned. Yes, they often look at student evaluations, but those are arguably better for measuring whether the teacher is good-looking or an easy grader than they are at measuring whether the students are, y’know, being educated.

So to people outside, teaching undergraduates seems like a nice thing that the faculty would like to do, or at least persuade someone else to do, rather than an overriding priority. Individual professors may consider this central to their own mission, but the faculty as a body don’t seem to focus on it much.

Indeed.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Hillary Clinton’s ties to corporate donors, lobbyists while secretary of state scrutinized.

MICHAEL BARONE: Barack Obama’s ‘reckless disregard’ of the law. “Reckless disregard. It’s a phrase in legal writing that means ‘gross negligence without concern for danger to others.’ And it’s a phrase that characterizes much of the attitude toward law of an administration headed by a man sometimes described as a constitutional scholar.”

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