Tuesday, April 22, 2014

(11:47 PM)

TEXAS TO BLM: Molon Labe.

(11:19 PM)

TAXES ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: IRS agents who didn’t pay their taxes get $1 million in bonuses.

(11:08 PM)

CHARLTON HESTON tried to warn us.

(11:00 PM)

AT AMAZON, Top Deals on Jewelry.

Also, up to 70% off on Men’s Shoes.

(10:55 PM)

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Toss Out Abusive College Administrators.

(10:21 PM)

THE CURRENCY OF HEROISM IS BEING DEBASED: The U.S.S. Gabby Giffords. Coming soon: The U.S.S. Trayvon Martin.

(10:06 PM)

WAR ON MEN: Laid-off Male Workers Lose 1.0 to 1.5 Years In Life Expectancy.

(10:00 PM)

CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL STAR WARS DAY with deals on Star Wars items. Hey, as holidays go, it’s not any faker than Cinco de Mayo.

Plus, up to 50% off on Women’s Dresses.

(09:44 PM)

HANNA ROSIN DEMONSTRATES what feminist “rape culture” looks like. What do you mean, “victim?” He got attention from “pretty girls!”

(09:03 PM)

DAVE KOPEL ON Second Amendment Symposia at the Tennessee Law Review, past and future.

UPDATE: Link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry!

(08:02 PM)

THIS WILL CERTAINLY ENHANCE NYU’S ABILITY TO RECRUIT STUDENTS AND FACULTY: Law School Trustee’s Company Chills Critical Speech With Subpoena For Students’ Personal Emails. I’m pretty sure that I’d side with him vs. the SEIU, but this seems rather extreme.

(06:26 PM)

ISN’T THIS, YOU KNOW, ILLEGAL? Viagra-Laced Ice Cream. “Created by self-proclaimed “edible inventor” Charlie Harry Francis, ‘arousal,’ a new blue-colored ice cream, might mean you never have to pop those little blue pills again. Francis was asked to create a Viagra-laced ice cream for a party for one of his A-list celebrity clients, according to his aptly named blog, ‘Lick Me I’m Delicious.’ Each scoop of the champagne-flavored ice cream contains 25 mg of the well-known male enhancement drug — the same amount in the lowest dose of the drug.”

Oh, who am I kidding? Laws are for the little people, not for celebrities and their chefs.

(06:08 PM)


Whether or not Krugman’s scholarship and teaching ability warrant such a superior salary is certainly worthy of debate, but the real issue for most commentators is not how much CUNY will pay Krugman, but how little they are asking him to do. CUNY is essentially offering him what used to be called a sinecure. Like ecclesiastical appointments “without the care of souls,” the terms of Krugman’s contract require him to do almost nothing his first year and then teach just one graduate seminar each year for as long as he would like to stay at CUNY. This required teaching in the second year is less than half of the usual course load for most distinguished professors at the Graduate Center, some of whom teach three classes per year and advise several dissertations at a time. Whether Krugman will advise or sit on any dissertation committees remains to be seen.

It is clear from his acceptance email however, that he is interested in doing as little work as possible.

So, kind of like his columns, then.

(05:05 PM)

SOLAR POWER SATELLITES: A Visual Introduction. With solar power satellites and a hydrogen economy driven by electrolyzed seawater, you’d have a very environmentally friendly energy setup. That’s why so many environmentalists are loudly supporting space-based solar, I guess. . . .

(04:20 PM)

OVER AT LARRY CORREIA’S MONSTER HUNTER NATION, a charitable event to help out an SF writer in trouble.

(04:01 PM)

BIG DATA, and the limits of social engineering.

(02:59 PM)

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Toss Out Abusive College Administrators.

(02:45 PM)

MARK RIPPETOE: Why You Should Not Be Running: Long, slow, distance exercise has no business being the standard advice for better health. I do intervals running stairs, but that’s not what he’s talking about. That said, when I was doing a lot of cardio (for me) ten years ago — 45 minutes with heart rate above 140 — my resting pulse was 51. It’s now around 60.

(02:41 PM)

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: If you cosign your kid’s student loan, it may go into default when you die, even if it’s paid-up.

(02:30 PM)

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Physicists suppress ‘stiction’ force that bedevils microscale machinery.

(02:05 PM)

IN RELATED NEWS, U.S. FACEBOOK SITE UNDER COMPLETE CONTROL OF OBAMA ALLIES: Russian Facebook site under ‘complete control’ of Putin allies, says ex-CEO.

(02:00 PM)

WHAT IT TELLS ME IS THAT WE’RE NOT READY FOR ELECTRONIC VOTING, OR THE “INTERNET OF THINGS” JUST YET: How Heartbleed transformed HTTPS security into the stuff of absurdist theater.

(01:52 PM)

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): The American Middle Class Is No Longer The World’s Richest.

It’s as if it’s been targeted by a coalition of the richest and the poorest.

(01:30 PM)

GREEN-CAR ENTHUSIASTS WORRY: Is Tesla Motors becoming a Republican darling?

(01:28 PM)

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Virginia Postrel: “Free Speech Zones,” And Other College Lies. My USA Today column, which will be out later today, sounds a similar note.

(01:27 PM)


(01:22 PM)

JOURNALISM: Media Matters’ relationship with mainstream media in focus after Sharyl Attkisson’s accusations.

(01:14 PM)


(01:00 PM)

21ST CENTURY DOMESTICITY: I Automated My Apartment—And It Kind of Creeped Me Out. “Last summer a hacker used a blackout command to successfully break in to a set of Hue bulbs. The consequences were hardly catastrophic—the lights shut off. But the possibilities are disturbing. One night I forgot to set my app to Good Night mode, which would have cut my security camera, before I went to sleep. I awoke to 17 texts: “There is motion in the Bedroom and photos have been taken at Alexis’s Apartment.” I scrolled through shots of myself in bed, sleeping.”

(12:54 PM)

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Professor: Republicans are ‘Racist, Misogynist, Money-Grubbing People.’ . . . If GOP Wins Universities Will Close.

Well, they’ll close either way, actually. But clowns like this are accelerating the decline by undermining their value. A six-figure cost to attend a center of left-wing agitprop and not much else is a poor deal.

(12:50 PM)

A TRIUMPH OF ENVIRONMENTALISM OVER ENVIRONMENTALISTS: The Pacific’s Salmon Are Back — Thank Human Ingenuity. “This year, the number of salmon caught in the northeast Pacific more than quadrupled, going from 50 million to 226 million. In the Fraser River, which only once before in history had a salmon run greater than 25 million fish (about 45 million in 2010), the number of salmon increased to 72 million.”

You’d think that environmentalists would be happy, unless you’d read Bob Zubrin’s book.

(12:44 PM)

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: How the revolving door lets Hollywood shape Obama’s trade agenda. “The revolving door between industry groups and the Obama administration’s trade shop has been busy lately. Earlier this month, we learned that assistant US Trade Representative Stan McCoy has accepted a new job with the Motion Picture Association of Europe, Middle East, and Africa, a Hollywood lobbying group. The announcement came a few weeks after the Obama administration announced it was naming a former software industry lobbyist to be deputy U.S. trade representative.” Yet another argument for imposing my Revolving-Door Surtax.

(12:41 PM)

JESSE WALKER: Four Great Myths Of The McCarthy Era.

The great radical myth of the Red Scare is that it was nothing but a scare—that the Americans accused of being Russian agents were virtually all innocent. (It’s hard to maintain that position now that the Venona files have been released and some of the left’s biggest causes célèbres have come crumbling down—at this point even Julius Rosenberg’s children have acknowledged that he was a spy—but some folks still hold onto the dream.) The great conservative myth of the period, meanwhile, is that the espionage justified the witch-hunts. People like Ann Coulter and M. Stanton Evans have taken to declaring that McCarthy was right without acknowledging that the bulk of his accusations were false, and that this was true of many other red-hunters too. And then there’s the great liberal myth of the period: the idea that the libs of the day managed to plot a course between the Soviet apologists and the paranoid hysterics, striking a delicate balance between protecting the country’s liberties and protecting its security. In fact, the Red Scare, like the Cold War itself, had liberal fingerprints all over it. . . . Speaking of Kennedy: His brother Bobby, later a liberal heartthrob, was a counsel for the McCarthy committee, and McCarthy was godfather to Bobby’s first child.

If you don’t like the history you’ve got, just rewrite it!

(12:11 PM)

RICHARD EPSTEIN: Obamacare: Debate Over? High enrollments offer no assurance that this plan will work. A lot of those “enrollments” — in Georgia, half of them — remain unpaid.

(11:00 AM)

IN THE MAIL: From Lynne Cheney, James Madison: A Life Reconsidered.

Also, today only at Amazon: Titanfall, $36.99 (38% off).

(10:55 AM)

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: UNC Fake-Classes Whistleblower Resigns After Meeting With Chancellor. “Willingham confirmed her imminent departure after an hour-long meeting with Carol Folt, the university’s chancellor. UNC described the encounter as ‘productive,’ but Willingham indicated it had been acrimonious.” From the Chancellor’s perspective, she got rid of a troublemaker. That’s productive enough to be worth a little acrimony.

(10:47 AM)

HEY, KIDS: TRY GOING TO A REAL COLLEGE WITH A REAL PRESIDENT NEXT TIME. An open letter to the students of Azusa Pacific University. “Azusa Pacific’s administration wants to protect you from earnest and nerdy old guys who have opinions that some of your faculty do not share. Ask if this is why you’re getting a college education.”

(10:43 AM)

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 348.

(10:41 AM)

IT’S COME TO THIS: A gun control law that even the Massachusetts attorney general’s office thinks is unconstitutional (as applied in two cases).

(10:40 AM)

SUPREME COURT upholds state power to ban affirmative action.

(10:30 AM)


Via Outside the Beltway, I see that Men’s Journal has a lengthy article on what it takes to be a male movie star these days. The short answer: 3 to 4 percent body fat, an incredibly carved six-pack and lovingly sculpted musculature. Because that combination does not normally occur in nature, the long answer involves nutritionists, traveling weight trainers, and more-than-occasional injections of testosterone and human growth hormone.

In other words, a Hollywood star is not so much an actor, or a body. It is a nearly starving body that has been stripped of almost all its naturally occurring subcutaneous fat, then artificially bolstered with various supplements and medical technology to make it look like a statue rather than a famine victim.

Nanotechnology will take care of that, eventually, at which point, not being difficult and rare, the look will go out of style. Meanwhile, I’m reminded of this article from back when Salon didn’t suck.

(10:09 AM)

“NEOLIBERALISM WORKS:” Mickey Kaus reminds us that Welfare Reform succeeded.

(10:00 AM)

HEH: Man’s White Male Privilege Squandered On Job At Best Buy.

(09:00 AM)

AT AMAZON, IT’S the Kindle Daily Deals.

Also, 50% off on Office Supplies.

(08:47 AM)

DANIEL SHUCHMAN: Thomas Piketty Revives Marx for the 21st Century: An 80% tax rate on incomes above $500,000 is not meant to bring in money for education or benefits, but ‘to put an end to such incomes.’ As Megan McArdle noted a while back, the threshold for “earning too much” is just above what a two-earner journalist or academic couple can plausibly make.

(08:39 AM)

AT SCOTUSBLOG, a preview of the Aereo case.

Meanwhile, it’s very lame that the Supreme Court has lifted ScotusBlog’s press credentials. It’s the first place I go for Supreme Court news. I mean, Linda Greenhouse got credentials, for goodness’ sake.

(08:35 AM)

IRS SCANDAL UPDATE: IRS revokes group’s tax exemption over anti-Clinton statements. More battlespace preparation. Somebody should round up statements from OFA and Media Matters and send them to the IRS. . . .

(08:30 AM)

JAMES TARANTO: Purdy Grievances: Scenes from the class struggle in the faculty lounge.

In an essay for the Daily Beast, Purdy, now a law professor at Duke, brings us up to date on his life: “Born and raised in West Virginia, way out in the country, I tested and wrote my way into elite schools, and now I teach at one. I’m surrounded by very smart people who work very hard, and get rewarded.”

That doesn’t sound so bad. But he writes to inform us that America is still in Trouble. His piece is titled “We Need More Class Traitors: Solving America’s Meritocracy Problem.”

Purdy endorses French economist Thomas Piketty’s argument “that Americans are intoxicated by ‘meritocratic extremism’–an impulse to pick ‘winners’ and reward them enormously.” Piketty is the author of a new book, “Capital in the 21st Century,” that has drawn rave reviews from left-liberal scholars and commentators fixated on “income inequality” as the ultimate social ill.

The most revealing aspect of Purdy’s analysis is his classification of meritocracy into two different “generations.” “First-generation meritocracy pivoted on tests like the SAT,” he explains. “It channeled high scorers into elite schools and positions. . . . The iconic beneficiary of this meritocracy was the Iowa farm kid or child of segregated Charlotte who was plucked up and admitted to Harvard.”

Purdy disapproves much more strongly of “second-generation meritocracy, which has been accelerating since the 1980s.” This is the meritocracy of the commercial marketplace. “The idea is that money follows quality, so those who attract money must be the best: they must deserve it. Any other test looks spurious: if you’re smart, why aren’t you rich?”

Well, “rich” is a relative term. If you’re a successful first-generation meritocrat like Purdy, chances are you enjoy a solidly upper-middle-class income and lifestyle. He acknowledges as much: “I’m grateful for the way first-generation meritocracy put me in a place to be writing this essay.”

Yet that question “if you’re smart, why aren’t you rich?” seems to carry quite a sting.

All the talk about inequality is basically journalists and academics wondering why they don’t make as much money as the lawyers and investment bankers they went to school with.

(08:13 AM)

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGE STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Moving in with parents becomes more common for the middle-aged: The number of Californians 50 to 64 who live in their parents’ homes has surged in recent years, reflecting the grim economic aftermath of the Great Recession. Wait, I thought we were in the sunny uplands of the Obama Recovery. . . .

(08:00 AM)

ASHE SCHOW: The ‘Twitter gap’ is one Democrats don’t want to talk about. “Democrats are supposed to be the party that all the young, hip people are crazy about. But when it comes to Twitter, Democrats have actually fallen behind Republicans in several important metrics.”

(07:38 AM)

HIGHER EDUCATION UPDATE: U. of Colorado Violated Faculty Rights in Philosophy Dept. Scandal, AAUP Says.

(07:30 AM)

I CAN’T PREDICT THE FUTURE, BUT I CAN TAKE A HINT: The Hill: Obama taps veteran of Clinton investigations for chief counsel.

President Obama on Monday said he has selected W. Neil Eggleston to become chief counsel, adding the expertise of a veteran attorney who was involved in some of the most heated legal battles of the Clinton administration.

Eggleston, a white-collar defender who is now at Kirkland & Ellis, will replace departing White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler in mid-May.

“Neil brings extraordinary expertise, credentials, and experience, to our team,” Obama said in a statement. “He has a passion for public service, is renowned for his conscientiousness and foresight, and I look forward to working closely with him in the coming years.”

Eggleston worked as a White House lawyer under Clinton, handling politically explosive issues like the Whitewater controversy, and later represented the former president during the investigation into the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Lawyering up.

UPDATE: From the comments: “The term ‘war time consigliere’ springs to mind.”

(07:13 AM)

WELL, FOREIGN RELATIONS ARE A SPECIALTY OF HIS: Roll Call: Sen. Menendez Not Staying Quiet On Foreign Relations.

(07:00 AM)


Monday, April 21, 2014

(11:35 PM)

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: The case for killing law school. Or at least making it shorter. I don’t know, I found the notion that law professors are overpaid to be absurd. In fact, it is definitionally impossible for me to be overpaid.

(11:11 PM)

TWEET OF THE DAY: “The fastest Americans alive today include Meb Keflezighi and Democrats running away from ObamaCare!!!”

(11:00 PM)

AT AMAZON, Outlet Deals in Patio, Lawn & Garden.

Also, Spring Savings in Grills & Outdoor Cooking. If nothing else, you probably need new grill tools.

(10:29 PM)

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Moody’s Downgrades Vermont Law School’s Bonds to Junk Status.

(09:52 PM)

HE’S NOT ASHAMED OF WHAT HE DID: Unlike Clinton (and, I suspect, Obama) George W. Bush Liberal About Disclosing White House Records.

(09:40 PM)

ED DRISCOLL INTERVIEWS JAMES DELINGPOLE, on Delingpole’s The Little Green Book of Eco-Fascism: The Left’s Plan to Frighten Your Kids, Drive Up Energy Costs, and Hike Your Taxes.

(09:25 PM)


(09:03 PM)


In 2005, researchers led by Jeffrey Gordon at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, reported that the gut microbiota of leptin-deficient mice contains about 50% fewer Bacteroidetes and 50% more Firmicutes, each a major group of bacteria, compared with normal mice3. “This was the first direct evidence that there were differences in the microbial communities between lean and obese mammals,” says Robin Knight, a computational biologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who collaborated on the study.

The following year, researchers in Gordon’s lab identified the same pattern in humans: obese individuals have fewer Bacteroidetes and more Firmicutes than lean people. Moreover, the proportion of Bacteroidetes increases when individuals lose weight4. In fact, shifts in the balance of these two types of bacteria crop up again and again in research into the gut microbiota, diet and obesity.

Read the whole thing.

(09:00 PM)

AT AMAZON, coupons galore in Vitamins & Dietary Supplements.

Also, up to 80% off on clothing. For men, women & kids.

(08:03 PM)


(06:36 PM)

RALPH BENKO: In The “War On Youth” The Youth Strike Back.

(06:27 PM)

THE JOYS OF WORKING at a standup desk.

There’s always a FitDesk. Or a treadmill desk.

(06:05 PM)

THE FAILURE OF DESEGREGATION, as covered by The New Yorker, and by Stacy McCain.

(05:03 PM)

IT’S RARE ENOUGH TO BE NEWSWORTHY, APPARENTLY: Finally, Someone Acts Like An Adult: District Attorney Drops Charges Against Bullied Teen Who Recorded His Tormentors.

(04:02 PM)

THESE EMOTIONAL MACHINES: Americans optimistic about flying cars, not so much about robot caregivers.

(02:30 PM)

YA THINK? Draining reservoir after urination incident shows tenuous grasp of science; Portland throws out 38 million gallons of water after someone peed in it. The world has been taken over by chuckleheads.

(02:00 PM)

I WONDER IF WE HAVEN’T BEEN TAKING MARITIME SAFETY FOR GRANTED: In the South Korean Ferry Disaster, Eerie Echoes of Costa Concordia. “Ship safety experts argued that many more lives could have been saved if the crew had responded more quickly, and expressed shock at the apparent incompetence displayed by those manning the ferry.”

(01:51 PM)

DAVID GREGORY’S PROBLEM IN ONE SENTENCE: “He has no idea how smarmy and patronizing that sounds.”

(01:30 PM)

WHEN FEMALE STATUS COMPETITION RUNS WILD: The tyranny of the organic mommy mafia. It doesn’t matter that the science isn’t there, because it’s not about science or health.

(01:26 PM)

MICHAEL TOTTEN: Vladimir Putin’s Next Move.

(01:23 PM)

ROGER KIMBALL: More on “President Asterisk.”

(01:00 PM)

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Repairing Organs With NanoParticle Glue.

(12:22 PM)

SHAKEDOWN: GAO report: White House directly involved in Enroll America fundraising. “Until now, outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was the only official known to have solicited financial support for Enroll America, a nonprofit that promoted enrollment for the Affordable Care Act. But a Government Accountability Office report released Monday detailed not only the secretary’s involvement but that of a White House adviser.”

Sounds like someone was trying to cover it up, too.

(11:00 AM)

IN THE MAIL: From Brian Lamb, Sundays at Eight: 25 Years of Stories from C-SPAN’’S Q&A and Booknotes.

Plus, today only: Jawbone MINI JAMBOX Bluetooth Speaker, $106.99 (41% off).

And, also today only: Garmin nüvi 2597LMT 5-Inch Bluetooth Portable Vehicle GPS with Lifetime Maps and Traffic, $134.99 (33% off).

(10:53 AM)

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 347.

(10:36 AM)

SECOND AMENDMENT UPDATE: Judge: Out-of-state pot rap can’t stop gun ownership. “A federal judge yesterday ruled that two Bay State men — previously convicted of marijuana possession in other states — could not be denied the right to have guns in their homes for self-defense purposes based on their prior drug crimes. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns ruled that Michael Wesson of Salisbury and Thomas Woods of Natick have a Second Amendment right to own firearms despite being convicted of possessing weed in the past. Sterns said the portion of the Massachusetts Gun Control Act that disqualifies gun applicants who had previously been convicted of possessing a controlled substance was unconstitutional, as applied to the two men.” Judge Stearns is a Clinton appointee.

I wonder if he read my Second Amendment Penumbras piece.

(10:30 AM)

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Chicago Startup Invests Directly in Students.

One idea for dealing with the student debt problem that has been kicking around for the past few years is “equity-based financing.” It’s a system in which people “invest” in college students, helping them pay for their tuition in return for a percentage of their future earnings. The idea sounds good on paper in other ways: markets funding certain degrees could end up being a powerful signal as to which programs are worth their sticker prices.

But the idea has remained largely untried. Until now. Enter Educational Equity, Inc., a Chicago startup that is dipping its toes in the water. As the company’s founder said in an interview with Forbes, he prefers to focus on a narrow range of degrees with steady returns and students who have demonstrated commitment in their previous endeavors.

It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out.

(10:22 AM)

NOW THEY TELL US: National Journal: Obama Handles Russia Like Republicans: Overpromise, Under-Deliver and Write Off; Democratic ally says of Obama: ‘He’s just not a natural leader.’

(10:00 AM)

ED DRISCOLL: Punks, Meet The Godfather.

(09:00 AM)

AT AMAZON, 59% off on Leave It To Beaver, the complete series. On DVD. And there are a lot of them.

Also, shop Mother’s Day gifts in Home & Kitchen. Everybody likes kitchen stuff.

(08:53 AM)


There’s a persistent tension between the limits of the data he presents and the grandiosity of the conclusions he draws. At times this borders on schizophrenia. In introducing each set of data, he’s all caution and modesty, as he should be, because measurement problems arise at every stage. Almost in the next paragraph, he states a conclusion that goes beyond what the data would support even if it were unimpeachable.

This tendency is apparent all through the book, but most marked at the end, when he sums up his findings about “the central contradiction of capitalism.”

When people start talking about contradictions of capitalism, I can’t help but think that the biggest contradiction is how many people have gotten rich spouting warmed-over failed economic doctrines from the 19th Century.

(08:49 AM)

BASICALLY, THEY’RE TOOLS: Sharyl Attkisson: CBS News too “ideologically entrenched” to air stories critical of the Obama administration.

(08:46 AM)

SOME DEMOCRATS LEFT TWISTING IN THE WIND: Roll Call: Good Friday News Dump Riles Keystone Supporters on the Hill.

(08:43 AM)

WHY NOT BOTH? Legalize Prostitution or Marijuana? Puerto Rico Is Looking for Ideas to Solve Debt Crisis.

(08:39 AM)

I’M SHOCKED, SHOCKED TO READ THIS: The Black Book of Tom Steyer: Allegations of fraud plague hedge fund of Democratic super-donor.

(08:37 AM)

CHANGE: Fracking foes cringe as unions back drilling boom.

(08:35 AM)

WELL, THAT MAKES SENSE: Texas Model of Low Taxes and Low Regulations May Lure Sriracha Maker East.

(08:32 AM)

HOW CONVENIENT: With Keystone XL’s delay, another controversial issue hits pause before the midterms. Maybe we should have just delayed Obama’s entire presidency until after he left office.

(08:30 AM)

JOEL KOTKIN: Stop favoring investors, speculators over middle class.

I, like most members of the middle class, particularly in California, just paid a tax bill that seemed less like my fair share than a shakedown by the Mafia. Increasingly, for people who run small businesses or earn a decent income, the tax bite is becoming ever more like in Europe, with total bills in high-tax states like ours reaching upward of 40 percent. It’s like paying the bill for a big dinner without eating the food – we get hammered like Swedes but without the free education, health care and other benefits of a more conventional welfare state.

Most galling is that, while the middle class has endured ever-higher taxes, those who have benefited most from the Bernanke-Obama “recovery” continue to get the biggest tax breaks. This is largely the investor class, who have been able to reap the benefits of the stock-market boom and, in some areas, including coastal California, the steep rise in real estate prices.

Of course, the rich and corporations have all sorts of ways to avoid taxation – like offshore accounts – but the real class divider is capital gains. Today, long-term capital gains are taxed at the federal level at a maximum 20 percent, while the small-business owner, writer, consultant or professional, if they do relatively well, are stuck with income tax rates up to 39.6 percent, approaching twice that level.

Overall, you don’t have to be super-rich to be hit. The portion of the tax burden absorbed by the top 20 percent of earners has grown – a California family with an income of $150,000 would qualify – from 65 percent to 90 percent. Even worse off are younger families, which generally have less to invest and have been stuck with a tepid job market; from 2007-10, households of people under age 40 have seen their net worth drop, while older Americans have now recovered most of their losses from the economic downturn.

You know what else helps investors and speculators but not the middle class? Open borders. Plus:

[I]ronically, one wonders where the class warriors of the Left are on this. They have become increasingly bold (or honest) in stating that we should continue raising taxes on the middle and upper-middle classes, as a recent New Republic piece suggests, but seem less than vehement about equalizing taxes on capital gains and other income.

This may have something to do with the shift in backing for “progressive” causes coming from the very people – Wall Street traders, venture capitalists and tech executives – who benefit most from the capital gains scam. The confluence of big money and populist rhetoric is epitomized by New York’s powerful senior senator, Charles Schumer, who has made a career of both raising money from Wall Street financiers and defending preferential treatment for their outsized profits. Their growing power over the party of ever-expanding government leaves only one place to finance Democrats’ ambitious plans – the middle and upper-middle classes.

I don’t hold all that much hope that reform will be pushed by most Republicans either, since they for far longer have been the party of accumulated wealth. But, as far as I can see, it is mainly conservatives, such as retiring Congressman Dave Camp, who seem ready to embrace the notion that taxes should be equalized between income and investment within the context of a flatter revenue system.

While we’re at it, can we repeal the Hollywood Tax Cuts?

(08:28 AM)

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Texas Leads the Way on Higher-Ed Accountability.

Related: Texas’s ‘Impossible’ $10K Degree Marches On.

(08:16 AM)

THIS IS COOL: “British Pathé, the U.K. newsreel archive company, has uploaded its entire 100-year collection of 85,000 historic films in high resolution to YouTube.”

(08:13 AM)

TRANSLATION: John Paul Stevens Joins The Campaign To Get Ruth Bader Ginsburg To Retire Before The Election.

(08:09 AM)

PETER WOOD ON climate change and “consensus.”

(08:00 AM)

THE RISE OF “MEDICAL HOMELESSNESS” UNDER OBAMACARE: ConsumerWatch: Some Covered California Patients Say They Can’t See A Doctor. Thus illustrating the difference between “coverage” and “care.”

(07:59 AM)

JOHN FUND ON HARRY REID, ET AL.: The Increasing Desperation of Democrats: Slanders and lies may be part of a deliberate strategy to drive up turnout in November.

Increasingly, journalists who cover the White House are concluding that the smears are part of a conscious strategy to distract voters from Obamacare, the sluggish economy, and foreign-policy reverses; the attacks are intended, the thinking goes, to drive up resentment and hence turnout among the Democratic base.

Major Garrett, the CBS White House correspondent, has talked with White House aides who confirm that the administration is working from the theory of “stray voltage,” as developed by former White House senior adviser David Plouffe. “The theory goes like this,” Garrett wrote. “Controversy sparks attention, attention provokes conversation, and conversation embeds previously unknown or marginalized ideas in the public consciousness,”

Deliberately misstating information about key issues in order to keep certain issues before the public is often a premeditated strategy. “The tactic represents one more step in the embrace of cynicism that has characterized President Obama’s journey in office,” John Dickerson wrote at Slate. “Facts, schmacts. As long as people are talking about an issue where my party has an advantage with voters, it’s good.”

Frank James of NPR is another mainstream journalist who has concluded that the use of incendiary rhetoric is part of an electoral strategy.

If mainstream journalists have noticed, will they play along, or call them out?

(07:41 AM)

HOW’S THAT “SMART DIPLOMACY” WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Ukraine threatens to undermine Obama’s delayed Asia ‘pivot.’ I’m pretty sure this isn’t an accident, either. At least, you know the Chinese are happy about the way Vladimir is keeping attention pinned on Eastern Europe.