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Should Pregnant Women Who Smoke Be Fined for Endangering Their Children?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

Know someone who’s smoking while pregnant? They need to see this video made by Dr. Nadja Reissland, of Durham University. In it she shows that unborn babies of mothers who smoke may have delayed development of their central nervous systems.

Many people believe that abortion should be illegal — at least after a certain period — because it means killing an innocent life. Well, how about physically abusing one? Shouldn’t that be illegal, too? After all, you aren’t allowed to beat your born child until she has brain damage either. How’s this any different?

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VIDEO: Would You Enroll in Preschool for Adults?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The Wall Street Journal is covering the latest trend in rejuveniling among the Millennial set: preschool for adults, where “play is serious business.” Six adults pay anywhere from $300 to $1000 to crowd into a Brooklyn duplex on Tuesday nights from 7 – 10 p.m. and participate in everything from nap time to envisioning themselves as superheroes.

Student Amanda Devereux detailed her reasons for enrolling in the Pre-K at Cosmo:

The self-help and goal-setting aspects were new, but welcome. I can use all the help I can get in making it to the gym, even if it means creating a superhero to get me there. I’m looking forward to seeing whether the preschool experience changes me over the next month, and I’m excited to see where Miss Joni and Miss CanCan take us on our class field trip. Mostly though, I’m excited about the snacks.

Is this latest trend in seeking eternal youth another glorified self-help program, or a sign that our traditional cultural institutions aren’t filled with hope and change? Is there a solution to be found in regressive creativity, or is this just another attempt at blissful ignorance? If you enrolled in preschool today, what would you learn?

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You’ll Be Shocked to See What They Are Paying Babysitters These Days

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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According to the Care.com 2015 Babysitter Survey, the national average babysitter rate is $13.44 per hour, up 28% from the 2009 rate of $10.50. This is significantly higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and higher than the nation-leading $9.50 per hour that the District of Columbia mandates.

Care.com, which bills itself as the “world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care,” surveyed 1000 of their members and combined that with their own internal data to determine the going rate, which varied from a high of $16.55 in San Francisco, to a low of $11.31 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Katie Bugbee, senior managing editor and global parenting expert at Care.com, said, “It’s a babysitter’s market where sitters can not only determine their hourly rate, but they can also expect an annual raise and even a tip.”

Apparently, it wasn’t a babysitter’s market when I used to charge $1.00 per hour (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth). In addition to babysitting, I always tidied up the house and washed any dishes that were left in the sink. The only hope for making more than ten bucks for an evening’s work was if the dad who drove me home opened his wallet and realized that he didn’t have anything smaller than a ten-dollar bill.

Two questions for our readers today:

1) How much do you pay your babysitters?

2) How much did you charge when you were a babysitter?

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Watch What Happens When 3 Muslim Spokesmen Are Asked About Islam’s Death Penalty for Apostasy

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by Robert Spencer

A recent episode of the BBC program The Big Questions was anomalous: instead of pumping out more of the usual fog of obfuscation and denial regarding the aspects of Islamic law incompatible with Western standards of human rights and human dignity — as do most BBC shows — it actually featured an honest discussion of Islam’s death penalty for apostasy.

Or it would have, that is, if the Muslim spokesmen on the show had been remotely honest about that penalty. Instead, they offered an instructive case study in how Islamic supremacists deal with uncomfortable aspects of Islam when speaking with infidels.

Despite denials from Muslims in the West, Islam’s death penalty for those who leave the faith is abundantly established.

The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law according to all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence. This is still the position of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, both Sunni and Shi’ite.

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the most renowned and prominent Muslim cleric in the world, has stated:

The Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished, yet they differ as to determining the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them. The majority of them, including the four main schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi`i, and Hanbali) as well as the other four schools of jurisprudence (the four Shiite schools of Az-Zaidiyyah, Al-Ithna-`ashriyyah, Al-Ja`fariyyah, and Az-Zaheriyyah) agree that apostates must be executed.

There is only disagreement over whether the law applies only to men, or to women also — some authorities hold that apostate women should not be killed, but only imprisoned in their houses until death.

The BBC program begins with ex-Muslim Amal Farah of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) and several Muslim spokesmen discussing Islamic law’s death penalty for apostasy. Farah, despite her affiliation with CEMB — which is often more concerned with smearing and demonizing genuine critics of jihad terror and Islamic supremacism than with actually defending apostates from Islam — is the one sane and rational voice in the discussion.

The Muslim spokesmen, by contrast, practice various forms of evasion and deflection, claiming victim status repeatedly. Abdullah al-Andalusi of the ironically named Muslim Debate Initiative is the worst, ascribing Islam’s death penalty for apostasy to “Victorian translations,” claiming that it is only a law in “post-colonial secular states,” and pouting that the BBC is conducting an “Inquisition court.” Note also how he dodges the question of whether or not he condemns the words of UK imam Haitham al-Haddad, who has defended the death penalty for apostasy.

After that, Usama Hasan, author of The Way of the Prophet: A Selection of Hadith, comes across as honest and forthright, but in reality, his obfuscation is just more sophisticated than al-Andalusi’s. He claims that the apostasy law is a product of the early Muslim states, never mentioning what the author of a hadith collection should know and undoubtedly does know: that according to a hadith, Muhammad said:

Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him (Bukhari 9.84.57).

This distinction is important, because if the death penalty for apostasy comes from the early Muslim states, it can be changed, but if it comes from Muhammad, the supreme example of conduct for Muslims (cf. Qur’an 33:21), it can’t.

Finally there is Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, who claims that “we believe in religious freedom. People are free to leave Islam.” Then he is exposed as having branded as a “defamer of the prophet” the professional moderate Maajid Nawaz for tweeting a Muhammad cartoon — a term that carries the death penalty in Pakistan. He backpedals here, while insisting that he was right to “defend” Muhammad.

The yawning absence here is that of a Muslim voice who will simply acknowledge that Islam has a death penalty for apostasy and say that it has to be reconsidered and reformed. There are no such voices. Instead, it’s the same as always: claims of victimization, deflection, blaming of the infidels, claims of hatred for Muslims — the usual responses we have seen thousands of times from Muslims in response to critics of jihad terror.

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NFL Star Retires at 24, Leaves Millions on the Table. Why?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano
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San Francisco linebacker Chris Borland packed it in after one season.

The cash and fame, he claimed, weren’t worth the risk of retiring with a scrambled brain.

To be fair, we know a lifetime of being battered in sport can be debilitating. Famed Dallas Cowboy running back Tony Dorsett in a recent interview. acknowledged he suffers from memory, loss, depression and dementia—tied to years of head-banging in college and the NFL.

And, it is not just football. In 1984, Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson, which could have resulted from the shots to the head during his long boxing career.

On the other hand, players like Paul Hornung, the “Golden Boy” of Coach Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers is still going strong at age 79. Here he is speaking in a recent interview with Fox News host Greta van Susteren.

In truth, while scientists know a lot more about what goes on inside the head than they did just a few years ago, they can’t predict with certainty how every brain handles taking a beating.

So what is an athlete to do—pursue their passion or play it safe?

And this isn’t just a dilemma for sports stars. Every Marine and soldier who goes in harm’s way has to worry about brain injury in combat—from the concussive effects of explosions to the stress of military service. They don’t have the luxury of taking a big bonus and then calling it quits. What are they to do?

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VIDEO: What’s More Sexist, Meghan Trainor Singing to Her Future Husband, or JCPenney’s Butt-Firming Jeans for Teens?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

You have to admit the retro stylings of YouTube star Meghan Trainor make for some catchy little tunes. But in her latest video, Dear Future Husband, the siren dons pinup-wear while scrubbing the floor of a 50′s kitchen and warning her husband he’d better compliment her every day and buy her jewelry. Contemporary feminists are in an uproar over the classic imagery, but does Trainor have a better grip on the inherent power of her sexuality than the teenage girls who feel the need to buy “butt-enhancing jeans” at JCPenney?

The national department store catalog includes:

The “YMI Wanna Betta Butt Skinny Jeggings” boasts: “With a slight lift and shift and contouring seams, our wanna betta butt skinny jeggings hug you in just the right places to give you a firmer, more flattering look.”

Rewind Smoothie Super Stretch Booty Buddy Skinny Jeans” features “rear-end-enhancing structure” designed to “augment your jean collection — and your backside” and comes in an acid wash finish.

Penney’s isn’t alone. Several online stores including Modaxpress, Hourglass Angel, and even Amazon offer butt enhancing denim to a teenage crowd. Where’s the feminist outrage over a wardrobe enhancement specifically targeted to those vulnerable teen girls suffering all those dreaded body-image issues? Perhaps they’re too busy in Trainor’s kitchen arguing over who gets to make the pie.

 

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Ballplayer’s Harrowing Escape From Cuba

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox has to pinch himself almost every day just to make sure he isn’t dreaming. Less than two years ago, his home was Cuba where life was much different. He rode to the games in a horse drawn buggy because even with his elevated status as a player for the national team, he couldn’t afford a car.

He grew up in a small wooden house — three generations of Abreus crowded together. There was never enough to eat. His father worked 12 hour days as a construction worker. But it was not a miserable existence, as young Jose thrived within the bosom of his family.

His love for baseball was matched only by his eye-popping talent. And by the time he reached adulthood, he was tearing up the Cuban professional league and performing wondrous feats in international competitions.

It was his belief that he could make it in the Major Leagues that eventually drove him to gather most of his family together and set off in a small boat for freedom.

He doesn’t talk about the journey much. But he opened up a little to Chicago Magazine in an excellent profile:

They left in the middle of the night, entrusting their fate to a tiny boat, its two motors, and the ink-black sea. For 12 hours, they pressed on. Through darkness, then dawn, then scorching daylight. Through 15-foot waves. And through the paths of trawlers and other ships that could cut their own 20-foot vessel in two.

Six of them huddled close atop a roiling ocean under an angry sky. But it was the hulking man in the middle who held them all together. Jose Abreu led his family—his fiancée, Yusmary; his parents; his sister and her husband—in prayers as the boat bucked and kicked beneath them. “It was dangerous,” he says. “The waves were high, but the Lord was at our side. God gave us the chance to reach our destination.”

It was the most important night of Abreu’s life, but one he has never talked about publicly before. That journey in August 2013 took him from his native Cuba to Haiti and, ultimately, to Chicago and big-league baseball. After signing with the White Sox, Abreu took the majors by storm in 2014, slamming 36 home runs, hitting .317, and posting a major-league-leading .581 slugging percentage—one of the best inaugural seasons ever. He was the runaway winner of the American League Rookie of the Year Award and a contender for Most Valuable Player. Even the men who bought the defecting player’s services for a team-record $68 million were surprised. “We thought he’d do well,” says White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams. “But I’d be lying to you if I said I thought he’d end up having the year he had.”

And what a year it was. He defied the expectations of critics, while endearing himself to White Sox fans. They said his bat was too slow, that he had a bad swing, that he wasn’t good enough to play in the field. His gaudy numbers proved them wrong.

But according to Adrian Nieto, Abreu’s closest friend and teammate, all of that was in doubt during the trip across the Atlantic  to Haiti. There were several moments where Abreu feared for his life:

“Jose was scared for his life in that little boat,” says Sox backup catcher Adrian Nieto, a fellow Cuban immigrant and Abreu’s best buddy on the team. “Everybody was freaking out. At times, he was doubting himself. He had to pump himself up, saying, ‘Let’s go. You got to be the one to take charge here and be mentally strong to get everyone through this.’ He told me many times: ‘If it’s everybody’s life or mine, I’m going to make sure my parents and my sister live before I do.’ Which is crazy for someone to tell you, that they’d put someone else in front of themselves. But that’s how he is.”

Now that the rest of his family has joined him in America, Abreu is setting expectations for his on field performance even higher. But that’s what the great ones do. They expect a lot from themselves and demand it from others. Abreu is a winner, and the White Sox are hoping that attitude rubs off on the rest of the team.

He certainly proved himself in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean when the elements threatened tragedy. After that, hitting a curve ball must seem pretty easy.

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March Madness: The Rich Get Richer

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Almost all of the Sweet Sixteen teams that will square off for the chance to make the Final Four in the NCAA basketball tourney later this week are programs from major conferences — many of them legendary teams with legendary coaches.

But there are a couple of surprises. Eight seed North Carolina State bumped off top seed Villanova in the East Region. The Wildcats were the only number one seed to fall last weekend. Seventh seeded Wichita State handled #2 Kansas, #6 Xavier ended #14 Georgia State’s dreams and #7 Michigan State shocked #2 Virginia. The Spartans, coached by Tom Izzo, have made the Sweet Sixteen 13 times in the last 20 years.

The lowest seeded team left in the tournament is #11 UCLA. Given the excellence of their program over the years, this isn’t as surprising as it should be. The Bruins had several bad losses this season — including an embarrassing 83-44 shellacking by #1 Kentucky. But UCLA got lucky when #14 UAB upset #3 Iowa State in the opening round and the Bruins eked out a one point win over #6 SMU. The UAB-UCLA game was no contest and the Bruins find themselves in the top 16.

Gonzaga from the West Coast Conference and Wichita State from the Missouri Valley Conference are the only Mid-Major teams to make it through. Atlantic Coast Conference teams went 11-1 with 5 of their 6 entries remaining. The Pac-12 has three teams left, and no other conference has more than two.

What this points to is that the programs that spend the most, have the best facilities, and possess the history that attracts blue chip recruits will continue to thrive at the highest level while the rest fight over scraps.

ESPN:

The names involved read like a who’s who of the past decade — or the past several — in college basketball. Kentucky. Duke. North Carolina. Michigan State. Louisville. Arizona. Wisconsin. Gonzaga. UCLA.

The coaches are a pack of Hall of Famers: Mike Krzyzewski, he of the 1,000-plus wins. Roy Williams, now tied with Dean Smith for all-time tournament wins. Rick Pitino, unparallelled defensive genius. Bo Ryan, synonymous with death and taxes.

Mark Few, who never misses a tournament. Lon Kruger, the only man to take four different programs this deep in the tournament. Sean Miller, the best coach yet to reach the Final Four. Bob Huggins, avatar for windbreaker-clad realism.

Izzo, who is Izzo.

And then there is John Calipari. Kentucky’s coach is not only a messaging savant whose unprecedented salesmanship has netted him an unfathomable wealth of talent, but also a deft molder of parts into wholes. In five full seasons at Kentucky, Calipari has not only sent several full NBA rosters worth of talent to the next level; he has also netted three Final Fours, two national title appearances and one national title. His current team is 36-0 and chasing history. And everyone else is chasing them.

The oddsmakers are still picking Kentucky as the overwhelming favorite to come out of the East Region, and Gonzaga is a heavy favorite to come out of the South Region. Otherwise, it’s even money between Oklahoma and Louisville in the East and Arizona and Wisconsin in the West.

If there’s one game you won’t want to miss, it’s #1 Wisconsin vs. #4 North Carolina on Thursday. Wisconsin, the power team while UNC is long and tall with excellent athletes. The contrasting styles should make for a hugely entertaining game.

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Guess Which Decapitated Simpsons Character Is Now Our Siberian Husky’s Favorite Chew Toy

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Dave Swindle

We picked up a new toy for Maura #SiberianHusky over the weekend: a decapitated Marge Simpson head… She loves it…

A photo posted by Thoth, Ma'at & Husky Familiar (@thothandmaatmarried) on

So is it feminist to have a Marge Simpson chew toy or a sign of sexism? I’m not sure any more… Do I need to put a “trigger warning”?

The #SiberianHusky #maura her morning nap. Like a hobbit, I suppose… Close-up of guarding her new toy.

A photo posted by Thoth, Ma'at & Husky Familiar (@thothandmaatmarried) on

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Marge and the #SiberianHusky guard the den….

A photo posted by Thoth, Ma'at & Husky Familiar (@thothandmaatmarried) on

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Maura Hearts Marge! Music: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll with @L0M0TIF.app #SiberianHusky #theSimpsons #cute #cutedog

A video posted by Thoth, Ma'at & Husky Familiar (@thothandmaatmarried) on

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Ok, now #maura #SiberianHusky is impressing me with her devotion to new toy…

A photo posted by Thoth, Ma'at & Husky Familiar (@thothandmaatmarried) on

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Men Who Don’t Pay

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Ying Ma

We live in a society where lots of men do not pay. Not only do they fail to pay for the women with whom they go on a date, they increasingly do not even pay for themselves.

The men afflicted with this syndrome tend to be young, and are usually under the age of forty. Those who suffer most severely tend to be products of the nation’s top universities or respectable urban workplaces—where political correctness and leftwing ideology regularly trample over concepts such as chivalry and honor. At these institutions, the worst thing that could happen is to be perceived as racist, sexist or homophobic. Being a weasel that does not pay is not considered a source of embarrassment.

The occurrences of such male wussiness in modern society are too numerous to detail, but just a few examples can shed light on the nature and extent of this trend.

Example 1. A Stanford Law student in his mid-twenties declined to take his date to dinner, claiming that he had been “eating too much lately.” Just the evening before, he met her at a dinner party at her apartment, where he was not at all deterred from eating the food that was available in abundance for free. He does not hail from a poor family, but on his date, he shelled out only $2.50 for an ice cream cone for the lady and then quickly got to the point: to secure what young men usually want from women.

Example 2. A 35-year-old captain in the Air Force met his date for happy hour at a sports bar. His date ordered a beer at the bar before they sat down at a nearby table. Later in the evening, when the waitress presented the check, he studied it intently and asked his date if she had already paid for her own drink. She said no, and reached for her wallet. He insisted, “I got it.” As it turned out, her beer, which cost no more than $5, was not even included on the check. He was a graduate of Columbia University who eagerly defended President Barack Obama and compared his nine years of service in the Air Force to indentured servitude.

Example 3. A man in his late thirties met a lady for a drink at a crowded establishment in New York’s Nolita district. She arrived early and bought a drink at the bar. When the man arrived, he, too, ordered a drink, and suggested relocating to the restaurant’s outdoor patio. The lady suggested he settle his tab first. He shrugged, said, “[the staff] will find us,” and walked outside. The busy bartenders did not notice that their customer had left and never bothered to look for him outside, and the man never paid. At the time, he served in a senior position at the Department of Commerce.

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VIDEO: Feminism Needs This Disney Princess Power

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Lily James and Kenneth Branagh provided truly thoughtful, eloquent answers to the question of how Disney’s newest Cinderella embodies the reinvention of the princess in a 21st century feminist light.

Contrary to popular culture’s interpretation of sex as power through the crowning of figures like Queen Bey, the star and director of Cinderella each proffer the concept of a feminism that draws its power from a woman’s spirit rather than her body. It is Cinderella’s graceful attitude and her desire to treat others with goodness that is the source of both her beauty and ultimately her power as a woman.

The real question is, in a world full of Dunhams and Kardashians, is feminism ready to go spiritual to find the purpose it so desperately needs?

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7 Lessons Learned Watching People Ahead of Me in Court

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Michael T. Hamilton

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I contested a speeding ticket last week, and I’m at least 40 percent sure I won.

In an effort to drive up that estimate, I have been taking inventory of the countless intangibles I gained from the experience—wisdom gleaned, insights uncovered, dark arts of the law illumined—and am proud to pronounce myself the undisputed envy of anyone who hasn’t been to court lately. To mollify your jealousy, and maybe to toss a rope to my fellow accused (you could be next!), here are seven lessons I plundered from my (alleged) blunder.

1. The Opposition Is an Expert (and a Person).

When the genuinely kind prosecutor cringes at your declining her plea offer, you have chosen poorly. Consider the incident of the optimistic young lady sitting behind me. Like me, she had arrived early (though not as early) and had vicariously watched the pre-session dramaturgy unfold around our compatriots.

First, Madame Prosecutor, separated by a varnished oaken bar, quietly approaches the accused. In hushed tones, with a cadence faintly rising, as though half-declaring, half questioning, she relays a charge. The accused meekly nods. Then the prosecutor’s eyes reach into Everyman’s—your—file and, softened by the mercy found there, return to your pitiful face to offer you less than you want, but more than you deserve, in exchange for your guilty plea. Suddenly the tedious argument you’ve been saving for this moment turns to sand, like your courage. You accept what the gods have meted, and you begin persuading yourself that resistance was folly, what a great deal you got, and that it’s really so much better this way. . . .

I lived the same sequence five times before starring in it. The young lady after me, though, must have thought me spineless (or else a real criminal). When the prosecutor offered to toss one of three charges against her, she doubled down on her case of he-said/she-said. The prosecutor, thrown off-kilter by her effrontery, revised her offer, promising to drop two of the charges. Take it! Take it! we in the gallery silently screamed.

But it was not to be. I admired the youth’s pluck in throwing this, too, to the dogs—the way I admire Hector for answering Achilles’ bellicose taunts, right before he is slaughtered. As the accused returned to her seat, genuine pity swept over the prosecutor’s face, the last mercy the girl would receive.

2. The Gideon Rule Exists for a Reason.

As I studied Madame’s visage, I was transported to the scene of a favorite U.S. Supreme Court case I used to teach: Gideon v. Wainwright (1963). Convicted of petty larceny after poorly representing himself, Clarence Earl Gideon, who could afford no lawyer, petitioned SCOTUS on the grounds that his Sixth Amendment right to counsel had been violated. In the Court’s opinion, Justice Hugo Black argued that the government’s hiring of prosecutors is the strongest indication that “lawyers in criminal court cases are necessities, not luxuries.” Hence, “if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.” Gideon prevailed at his retrial.

What this means for folks like me, who freely choose to represent themselves, is that even educated laymen are probably fairly ignorant of how to leverage the law in open court against an expert opponent. My case rested on four reasons to doubt the accuracy of my speeding ticket. Nevertheless, thanks to Justice Black, I little trusted myself to beat the rap as a layman. After all, the Gideon Rule exists for a reason.

3. Lawyers > Suits > Lunch.

One thing more about defendants with lawyers: they are served first. If you can’t afford a lawyer, buy a suit. If you can’t afford a suit, cancel the day’s appointments and bring K-rations to share, because you’ll be there all day. When one timid defendant asked counsel why he was still standing up, I overheard him whisper that as long as he stood fidgeting near the bar, the court would think him in a hurry and frontload his case.

Shrewd, Mr. Mason, very shrewd.

Wearing a suit myself, I was initially mistaken by the bailiff for a lawyer, then was queued first in line behind lawyered-up defendants. (The distinction loses glitz when read in print.)

4. To Whom It May Concern: Hydrate.

If you, like a pair sitting to my right, enter the courthouse to self-administer a drug test, drink (water) before you pass through security. All will “go” faster for you than it did for the fair-haired innocents who asked for a water bottle and were politely refused. Next subject, please.

5. Ask for the Red-and-Blue Light Special.

Have yourself a bit of a financial situation? Mention it for her Honor’s consideration. In the first 45 minutes of court, I witnessed forgiveness of fines in the aggregate of $3,000 and jail-time suspensions of more than two years. These concessions almost always followed the judge’s query about the accused’s state of employment.

(In one Walter Mitty-esque moment, I imagined her ordering me to the bench to tell her more about my editing company. After marveling at my fancy business card, she called a recess and summoned the prosecutor and me to chambers, where we sipped Johnny Walker Blue and joked at the bailiff’s expense.)

6. Prepare for a Pyrrhic Victory.

“If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.” – General Pyrrhus of Epirus

If you took a deal, then you practically won. Now pay up. For anyone hoping to follow my upright example of (allegedly) speeding and then arguing about it, wait until I explain my twisted calculus. Had I simply written a check when I was cited, the cost of driving 54 mph in a 40 mph zone would have been $145. But I contested this, hoping for an outright dismissal at no charge (which I’ve enjoyed once before). When no dismissal came, I spliced hands with the prosecutor. The judge blessed the swap of my 54/40 “point violation,” and my dignity, for a 44/40 “no-point violation,” slashing my fine to $50. To this she added $120 in court fees and $10 for the prosecutor’s lunch, bringing my total to $180—a full $35 more than the uncontested ticket.

But even that was good news. Statistics say that had the point violation stuck, my insurance premiums would have increased 16 to 20 percent and stayed there for one to six years. By contesting, I “saved” between $120 and $990.

7. Do What You Know You Should.

Victory is mine. May I never see another like it.

As my wife gently reminds me whenever I brag of my spoils, I would have saved a chunk of change (and time) by getting my head out of the clouds and slowing the heck down. That, I’m afraid, is the unspinnable truth. And although my saying it plays right into the court’s hands: lesson learned. At least, until next time.

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image illustration via shutterstock / 

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Study Proves Men Who Are Nice to Women Are Sexist & Evil

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Spencer Klavan

Every now and then, if you can forget about the catastrophic damage that radical feminism has inflicted upon women across the world, it’s nice to just take a step back and laugh uproariously at the whole imbecilic thing. No, seriously: it really is just one hilarious absurdity after another.

That is, if you ignore the fact that feminists have fought spiritedly against the development of anti-rape technology, encouraged women to degrade themselves physically and emotionally at every possible opportunity, and relentlessly hounded any woman who dares to disagree with radical dogma. Let’s put all that aside for a minute and enjoy the incessant torrent of hostility and illogic that is radical feminism’s latest contribution to world discourse.

I’m talking about the recent “study” conducted at Northeastern University by Judith Hall and Jin Goh, which claims to prove that men who exhibit chivalrous behavior are probably “benevolent sexists.” “Benevolent sexism is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing that perpetuates support for gender inequality among women,” explains Hall. In other words, if a man holds the door for you or picks up the tab on your first date, watch out!! You can be certain he’s secretly plotting all the while to perpetuate the patriarchy and enslave you in domestic bliss. He might even tell you he thinks you look nice in that dress! The nerve!

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Here’s how the study worked (and oh, man, this really is rich). Men were given a survey designed to detect signs of “hostile sexism” and “benevolent sexism.” As a public service for the general edification of our readership, I’ll print some warning signs of hostile sexism here. Hostile sexists “love topless calendars.” They “leave the housework to their wives.” And horror of horrors, they even “ban women from sports clubs”! That’s right, these slack-jawed toads actually enjoy looking at women’s breasts! They have the gall to conduct their home lives in a manner of their choosing agreed upon between them and their spouses! And they hate women so much, they don’t even want to be forced to beat them at basketball or wrestle them to the ground! Perhaps worst of all, these reprehensibly hostile sexists “say most women interpret innocent remarks as sexism.” Where on earth did they get that idea?!

But even more insidious are the “benevolent sexists.” These brainwashed sociopaths probably don’t even know they’re sexists — that’s how steeped in sin they are. Benevolent sexists are those who “hold doors open for women,” “call women ‘love’ or ‘dear,’” and “offer women their jacket if they look cold.” That’s right, there are actually some neanderthals out there who are so mired in patriarchal slime that they not only exhibit a healthy sexual response towards women, but even treat women respectfully and address them with terms of endearment. Truly, there is no justice in this world.

So, the intellectual giants at Northeastern kicked off their genius undertaking by classifying the entire gamut of normal male behavior and sexuality as sexism. Hall and Goh based their definitions on a paper that literally lists “heterosexuality” as one cause of sexism. The study then showed that “benevolent sexists” were guilty of such abhorrent behavior as smiling often, waiting patiently, and behaving warmly. Naturally, the conclusion drawn was that men who smile at women, extend patience towards them, and treat them kindly are probably also sexist.

Let’s just review, for our own entertainment, what the study actually proved. First, it defined kindly behavior towards women as sexist. It then used this definition to prove that men who admitted to behaving kindly towards women were sexist. QED, the study affirmed, kind men are more likely to be sexist.

Here, in other words, is the logic of this study, conducted at a major research institution in the United States of America which receives hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition from promising high school graduates each year:

Nice men are sexist, and therefore nice men are sexist.

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of my manic and giddy laughter as I choke back the tears I’m trying not to cry for the lost dignity of American academia.

Let us be clear for just one moment. Academic authority comes with a responsibility to tell the truth. Engineering a study that characterizes the male sexual response as filthy and violent from the word go is therefore a drastically irresponsible thing to do. It encourages boys and men to react to their own psyches with self-loathing and shame. The reassuringly erudite tone in which this study publishes its laughable “findings” only makes them more deceitful and damaging.

AoYBtij

Let’s also not forget that this is a fallen world in which women are quite genuinely vulnerable to unconscionable oppression and unspeakable violence. Around the world, women are raped, mutilated, and treated like property. Western chivalry is one of the few cultural systems ever, in history, to make principles of respect and gentility towards women an expected commonplace of male behavior. Things like holding open doors and picking up the bill are the product of a centuries-long effort to condemn and prevent the mistreatment of women wholesale. Trying to dismantle that system in the process of fighting an imaginary wage gap is as insane as it will eventually be disastrous.

But hey, if we discount those facts for a second, the whole thing is really, really funny. I mean, it takes a special kind of idiocy to try to obliterate the civilization that allowed you to conduct your asinine studies in the first place. If you see Dr. Hall around, go ahead and thank her from me for adding a little bit of comic relief to this farcical horror show known as progressivism. But whatever you do, don’t hold the door open for her. You sexist pig.

*****

image illustrations via here and here, and shutterstock / 

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How to Know That You’re Racist

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

whitepeople20n-1-web

The above photo shows a sign of mysterious origin that has been used to deface a number of businesses in Austin, Texas. The New York Daily News readily identifies the signs as racist, and city officials were quick to disown them:

“This is an appalling and offensive display of ignorance in our city,” [Austin Mayor Steve] Adler said in a statement. “Austin condemns this type of hurtful behavior. Our city is a place where respect for all people is a part of our spirit and soul. We will keep it that way.”

Certainly, it would be racist for businesses to discriminate against customers for no other reason than skin color. Yet, when we flip the script, we can find countless examples of non-whites discriminating against whites for the same reason.

This article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune casually reports on an effort to recruit more “teachers of color” in pursuit of “racial diversity.” It’s said that students learn better if they “share the same background and identities” as their teachers.

Is that really the message we want to teach the next generation, that you need to be around people that look like you in order to learn well? Isn’t that as segregationist and racist a sentiment as any ever expressed?

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Why Israel Is Ground Zero In the War Between Good and Evil

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

We Jews squabble enough when it comes to religion, but when it comes to Israel the gloves are off. Nothing is a greater testament to this than the vehement rhetoric coming from the Jewish Left in the wake of Netanyahu and the Right’s landslide victory in this past week’s elections in Israel. Whether it was Peter Beinart calling on the Obama Administration to “punish – yes, punish – the Israeli government” the virulent musings of Max Blumenthal, the anti-Israel Jewish Left came out in full condemnation, not just of Netanyahu, but of Israel at large.

The Forward jumped on the “Bibi is racist” bandwagon, reprinting Jeffrey Goldberg’s Tweet-condemnation of the slanderous tale embraced by Obama and his minions. If you are Jewish and have friends on the Left, I guarantee it didn’t take you longer than 10 minutes after Bibi claimed victory to get at least one Facebook post or Tweet claiming “he stole the election like Bush.” My PJ colleague Ron Radosh wisely diagnosed both the Obama Administration and the mainstream media as having Bibi Derangement Syndrome (BDS). And unfortunately, we Jews are not immune.

This BDS, with all its sound and fury, has not brought the diaspora one ounce closer to understanding or relating to their Israeli counterparts. In fact, with the Obama Administration trumpeting the effort to turn Israel into another Ferguson, the dual loyalty accusations will be held over Jewish American heads, both Left and Right, now more than ever. But we Jews don’t see that. All we see is Obama versus Bibi, Left versus Right, “hope and change” versus “despair” and whatever other hot air blown into an otherwise lifeless, meaningless campaign. From the comforts of a “two legs good, four legs better” America we don’t have to force ourselves to look behind V15′s green curtain, let alone consider that Israeli Jews may have very good reasons for having opinions that differ from our own.

When I had the wonderful opportunity to march in New York City’s Israel Day Parade a few years back, I did so under the banner of an openly progressive Labor Zionist summer camp. My husband, a third generation member, had worked his way up from camper, to counselor, to business manager. Now as an alum he was excited to show me, his then-girlfriend, what he loved about his summers and give me the chance to revel in my Zionist pride. He’d worked the camp too long not to see past the politics, but had too many fond memories to be jaded by a lack of logic. In the end we were there to celebrate Israel, celebrate our freedom, and have fun with friends.

Or so I thought, until more than one angry parade-goer spat at me. “You are evil! You anti-Zionist pig! You’re killing us! You Leftists are killing Israel!” How were a group of teens and twenty-somethings, most of whom had been to Israel, many of whom were either pursuing or had obtained citizenship, and some of whom had or were serving in the IDF possibly killing Israel? These kids weren’t doing anything more than holding a contrary political opinion, yet that was enough to accuse them of being murderers. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “isn’t that what the Left is always accusing us of doing?”

I smiled at the crowd and wished them love through their gritted teeth and rage. Only two days earlier I’d been called a “conservative pig” by another camp alum who would later growl at me repeatedly, “You need to change your politics.” I came wanting to celebrate Israel. I wound up embroiled in a hot, angry mess.

Israel awakens our passions as Jews because Israel is a reminder of our responsibilities to God and to one another. If Israel fails, Holocaust awaits. No one but a Jew could understand the weight of that burden. Yet, instead of recognizing that we, Left and Right, are motivated by these same concerns and fears we allow the real haters of Israel to craft our opinions about one another. Suddenly everyone is an Obama, a Beinart, a Blumenthal. Anger morphs into rage and crafts summer camp teens into the next generation of hardened, bigoted, miserable adults, some of whom will then be motivated to become the next Beinart or Blumenthal in our midst.

King David writes in the Psalms, “be angry, but do not sin. Meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still.”

We’ve never lost Israel to an outside force before first disparaging each other to the point of destruction. I walked away from that parade choosing to shed my ideas of Left and Right and see the political battle for what it truly is: A fight between good and evil. My job, then, is to focus on what God commands me to do: act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him without fear. I’m here to help sustain a great nation, not destroy it. It is time my fellow Zionists, Left and Right, see past the propaganda and agree to do the same.

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These Amazing Photos Prove Antarctica Is The Most Beautiful Place On Earth

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

Day 5 - Penguin Sex - Shack Shack

Professional HDR (High Definition Resolution) photographer Trey Ratcliff just posted this amazing photo, accompanied by the following text, on Google Plus:

This is the first in a series of photos I’ll post from the hut of the famous polar explorer Ernest Shackleton. I can’t believe we actually got to go inside and explore it… we flew in a chopper out to this remote location… how people lived in here, in the middle of Antarctica for so long is truly a wonder!

Here’s another photo, this time of the Howard Glacier:

Day 10 - Glacier

And that’s not all. Check out this amazing photo of a mighty ice mountain and another glacier:

Day 13 - Sunny Valley - The Mighty Peaks

Day 13 - Sunny Valley - Megalith-Recovered

These are the trails made by penguins when they slide on their bellies and use their flippers to turn right or left. How awesome is that?

Day 13 - Sunny Valley - Penguin Slide

And lastly, Mount Erebus, the southernmost active volcano on Antarctica, which only has two active volcanos. Erebus is always covered in snow:

Day 17 - Randy - Mt Ara

You’ve got to follow Trey on Google+. He’s a famous photographer many – myself included – consider one of the best HDR photographers in the world.

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How the Catholic Core Defends the Church’s Positions on the Family

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 - by Pierre Comtois

Following troubling signals from the Vatican as well as remarks from Pope Francis himself over the months since his accession to office, a growing chorus of voices has risen registering concern regarding the Catholic Church’s position on social issues including the structure of the family, divorce, and sexuality.

Bringing things to a head was a midterm report released from last year’s Synod on the family in which more conciliatory language was used in relation to homosexuality, cohabiting couples, and allowing divorced and remarried couples to receive communion.

Language in the report was received in different ways according to the values of those doing the listening. In liberal circles, it was hailed as a sign that the Catholic Church was finally breaking down and accepting the new normal of the sexual revolution, while among the Catholic base, it was received with considerable dismay.

In fact, many received the language in the report as a potentially suicidal surrender to the forces of political correctness that have swept the world, infiltrating every institution, and thus beginning to wear away at the foundations of Western Civilization itself. It was read with considerable alarm by many who had comforted themselves with the idea that the Church, with its settled dogma and teachings of Jesus, would be immune to the movement’s secularist ideology. The wording of the report, however, seemed to indicate otherwise.

“The very disturbing midterm relatio, which I have openly said was not a relatio or report but a manifesto, served to wake up the Synod Fathers to an agenda that was at work which touches upon the truth about marriage,” warned Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, in an interview for the Wanderer.

Wasting little time following the release of the midterm report, Burke talked of pushback from more traditional elements in the Synod.

“In the period between the midterm report and the final relatio, (sub-committees) worked very diligently to try to repair the serious damage done by the midterm relatio,” said Burke, “and much progress was made.”

“We’re not giving in to the secular agenda,” Cardinal George Pell  said in an interview for the Catholic News Service. “We’re not collapsing in a heap. We’ve got no intention of following those radical elements in all the Christian churches, according to the Catholic churches in one or two countries, and going out of business.”

Even with such assurances, the concerns of the faithful were hardly mollified with the news from Synod organizer Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri that Pope Francis had indeed read the midterm report before it was released to the public. That Pope Francis had read it indicated, at least, the pope’s agreement with its conciliatory message.

As a result, a resistance movement of sorts has arisen with individual groups and organizations mobilizing over the months since last October’s Synod to present a united front against the foot in the door — or the camel’s nose in the tent (pick your cliché) — that could end up some day resulting in wholesale acceptance of the new status quo.

Among such outfits is the Italian based organization Filiale Supplica, an umbrella group composed of pro-family groups and lay Catholic leaders that has gathered tens of thousands of signatures (including that of former U.S. presidential candidate Rick Santorum) for a petition addressed to the pope urging him to reaffirm “categorically the Catholic teaching that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics cannot receive holy Communion and that homosexual unions are contrary to divine and natural laws.”

Other groups that have voiced similar concerns include the Voice of the Family and the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.

In addition to such grassroots efforts to influence the direction of the conversation, there have also been a number of insiders including Burke, such as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Muller; prefect for Divine Worship, Cardinal Robert Sarah; and Cardinal George Pell, who have openly criticized any watering down of the Church’s teachings fearing a “domino effect” that would eventually lead to the often unrecognizably Christian doctrines of many mainline Protestant churches.

“The secret for all Catholic vitality is fidelity to the teachings of Christ and to the tradition of the church,” said Pell, a member of the Council of Cardinals that advises Pope Francis on church governance.

“The Church cannot change her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and the grave sinfulness of sexual relations outside the matrimonial union and the grave sinfulness of homosexual acts,” said Burke. “The laity needs to nourish themselves with the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium on marriage, with the teaching that is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They must also give witness to it in their everyday dealings, not only with other Catholics but with people who are not of the Catholic Faith, to make it clear that the Church is not changing her teaching; indeed, that she cannot.”

On the other hand, Cardinal Walter Kasper, emeritus president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, dismissed the concerns of conservatives as tantamount to believing that the foundation of the Church was built on sand and could collapse like a house of cards if any of its tenets were challenged.

“I think they fear a domino effect, if you change one point all would collapse,” surmised Kasper in an interview for America magazine. “That’s their fear. This is all linked to ideology, an ideological understanding of the Gospel that the Gospel is like a penal code.”

Fueling the fears of many, Kasper himself had been asked by the pope to speak before the College of Cardinals early in 2014 and to raise these very topics.

That speech exposed a clear divide among Church leaders on hot-button social issues: those who sought to make peace with the new moral relativism and those who believed any deviation from the teachings of Christ would inevitably lead down the road to error and irrelevance.

One doesn’t have to look far for examples of such a fate. Just look to the many Protestant churches, even those of fundamentalist or evangelical persuasions. Denial of the Eucharist, female ordination, same-sex marriages, divorce and remarriage — to name a few of the deviations from the original Catholic brand of Christianity — have forced many conscientious Christians to spend less and less time as members with any single congregation and instead to “church hop,” hoping to find that church that still adheres uncategorically to Jesus’ teachings.

Such churches are getting harder and harder to find. And as some believe, impossible to find, especially should the Catholic Church loosen its faithfulness to the depository of tradition and the teachings of Christ. If that happens, human beings would be cast upon a sea of uncertainty without assurance that what they believe is not only in fact true, but the manner in which God wants them to live their lives — lives that should be lived in preparation for spending eternity with Him.

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The Real Problem with American Coffee Isn’t the Beans, but the Culture

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

I’m far more of a wine connoisseur than a coffee drinker. Years ago I cut back to half decaf in order to cut back on migraines and stomach trouble. The hi-test sludge my editor prefers could never cross my lips for fear of bodily damage. The one thing I associate with brutal American coffee is brutal American stress: the need to meet a deadline, please a boss, do more, say more, be more with vim and vigor. Just as any alcoholic uses cheap trash, downing brutally burnt beans has become a lousy, albeit necessary way to get a much-needed fix. And that’s where we get coffee wrong in America.

Tel Aviv is littered with cafes and kiosks serving Euro-style coffee. I never got the hang of what to order to balance out my pathetically minimum caffeine requirement, but at Cafe Nachmani I not only learned how to order the right tasting brew, I learned how to enjoy it. I’ve never seen a windowsill in Starbucks lined with art magazines. Not Cosmo or People, literal professional art magazines you’d see in big city galleries and be afraid to touch. The Barnes & Noble cafes are filled with geeks on their laptops, chugging down brew in order to use the free WiFi. At Cafe Nachmani, patrons sipped on cappuccinos and the Israeli favorite, espresso, while lingering over literary mags heavier than half the books lining our chain’s clearance aisle.

Tel Avivans work like mad in a city that never sleeps. They’ve just learned how to enjoy a frenetic pace better than we ever could. It’s amazing how much more you enjoy life when you view it as a pleasure to be lived instead of an obligation to be fueled through.To better answer the question of what you’re drinking, you need to start with why you’re drinking it.

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The Case Against Freedom, Part II: Booms and Busts

Saturday, March 21st, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

monopoly-house

Robert Kuttner, professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School and senior fellow of the think tank Demos, believes that libertarians suffer from a delusion. He claims that the market is incompetent to price certain problems, and must be tightly controlled by government to prevent excess and abuse. In a piece written for The American Prospect, where he serves as co-founder and co-editor, Kuttner touches upon three examples which he believes demonstrate market failure.

The first is catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, which Kuttner offers as an example of negative externality. We addressed such externalities in part one of this series.

The second example Kuttner provides takes us back to 2008:

The other great catastrophe of our time is the financial collapse. Supposedly self-regulating markets could not discern that the securities created by financial engineers were toxic. Markets were not competent to adjust prices accordingly. The details of the bonds were opaque; they were designed to enrich middlemen; the securities were subject to investor herd-instincts; and their prices were prone to crash once a wave of panic-selling hit. Only government could provide regulations against fraudulent or deceptive financial products, as it did to good effect until the regulatory process became corrupted beginning in the 1970s. Deregulation arguably created small efficiencies by steering capital to suitable uses—but any such gains were obliterated many times over by the more than $10 trillion of GDP lost in the 2008 crash.

Kuttner makes a legitimate point, if only coincidentally, when he asserts that government ought to respond to fraud. However, by making that point, he implies that fraud and deception are integral to the market.

Fraud is not a function of the market. It does not belong in an intellectually honest critique of the market. No one aside from the most strident anarchists believe that fraud should go unanswered by government. Therefore, to attack fraud as a function of the market is to attack a strawman.

Kuttner may be conflating “deception” with ignorance. While government properly ought to respond with retaliatory force against fraud, recognizing fraud as a form of compulsion against the innocent, government has no role in protecting consumers from their own ignorance. If I fail to do my due diligence, if I sign on the dotted line or click “I accept” without reading the terms of an agreement or understanding a product or service, the fault lays with me. Failure to act rationally does not make one a victim.

The herd instinct which Kuttner cites as a negative is actually a key mechanism by which the market regulates economic activity. The power of the market is specialization, otherwise known as the division of labor. We each become experts in our chosen field, and rely upon the expertise of others, benefiting through mutual exchange in ways that none of us could accomplish living alone on an island.

Everyday, in a thousand different ways, we defer to the expertise of others. We defer to the engineers of our vehicles regarding their safety and operational integrity. We defer to the vendor at a lunch counter regarding the preparation of our food. We defer to our cellular company regarding the means by which our electronic communication occurs.

Even so, unlike animals, our “herd instinct” is not mindless. We evaluate the trustworthiness of a brand, a company, an individual. We consider track records. We examine history. We seek the advice of others. Then, we make our own decision.

In this way, we each individually act as regulators of the market, providing as many checks and balances as there are individual consumers – far more than government ever could – each motivated by something far more potent than a nebulous “common good.” We’re moved by self-interest.

Kuttner completely ignores the role that government regulation and mandates played in incentivizing the creation of toxic assets. His critique of the market only works in an environment where self-interest is skewed by moral hazard. When those who engage in risky behavior are not bound by the consequences of failure, when they can push those consequences off onto someone else, then they will not reign that behavior in.

That’s what caused the financial collapse, not a lack of government regulation, but a lack of market regulation caused by government. Kuttner unwittingly confesses this by citing a corrupted regulatory process. What he’s referencing is regulatory capture, a phenomenon whereby the entities which are to be regulated gain control of the regulatory apparatus.

Regulatory capture is only possible through government. It only works under compulsion. It would never last, if it manifest at all, in a free market. Without force, without the monopolization of regulation by government, no one can control the hundreds of thousands of checks and balances which react against bad actors – namely consumers.

The housing bubble doesn’t inflate in the first place without government housing initiatives. Sub-prime mortgages and derivative financial instruments based on them don’t manifest without government guarantees. Government created the 2008 financial collapse, not the market.

Kuttner continues:

A third grotesque case of market failure is the income distribution. In the period between about 1935 and 1980, America became steadily more equal. This just happened to be the period of our most sustained economic growth. In that era, more than two-thirds of all the income gains were captured by the bottom 90 percent, and the bottom half actually gained income at a slightly higher rate than the top half. By contrast, in the period between 1997 and 2012, the top 10 percent captured more than 100 percent of all the income gains. The bottom 90 percent lost an average of nearly $3,000 per household. The reason for this drastic disjuncture is that in the earlier period, public policy anchored in a solid popular politics kept the market in check. Strong labor institutions made sure working families captured their share of productivity gains. Regulations limited monopolies. Government played a far more direct role in the economy via public investment, which in turn stimulated innovation. The financial part of the economy was well controlled. All of this meant more income for the middle and the bottom and less rapacity at the top.

Kuttner here completely abandons historic reality. Government activism in the market has skyrocketed in the 21st century.

Government activism actually widens income distribution by protecting favored interests from the market forces which would otherwise keep them in check. Again referencing regulatory capture, the entities best positioned to benefit from government activism are those with the most resources to spend on lobbying and campaigning. This is why a growing mass of the non-partisan disillusioned regard both Republicans and Democrats as tools of corporate interests. We don’t fix that by limiting corporate interests. We fix that by limiting the government which corporate interests seek to buy.

That said, there’s a much more fundamental point to be made here. The premise which Kuttner takes for granted is that income inequality is a problem on its face. He doesn’t bother to tell us why. We’re just expected to know that income inequality is bad. This “knowledge” isn’t based on any rational argument, which is why Kuttner and so many others in his position fail to provide one. Rather, the notion of income inequality as a problem arises solely from an emotion – envy.

What does it matter to me whether you make more money? How am I deprived by your success? What claim do I hold to your wealth? On what basis should we ever, under any circumstances, concern ourselves with the distribution of that which is earned by others?

The only scenario wherein income distribution becomes a moral issue is one where income is distributed by illegitimate means. Income distributed by crime, by theft, by fraud – by compulsion. As an institution of force, government stands uniquely poised to distribute income illegitimately. Indeed, no criminal organization known to man has wielded force to seize wealth from those who earn it better than government.

Outside that context, in a hypothetical free market, the only means by which one can obtain income is through the production of value. In that scenario, one’s income becomes an accurate measure of the value they have produced. Since different people produce different degrees of value, their income will differ accordingly. As long as one’s income has been earned through production and trade, its size should not matter to anyone else. It’s nobody’s business. It has no effect upon the life of anyone else whatsoever, aside from providing the wealthy individual with the means to invest in even more production – providing jobs and opportunity for others.

As we continue in our breakdown of Kuttner’s “libertarian delusion,” we’ll consider his reverence for government regulation and so-called public goods. He takes a run at the “you didn’t build that” argument. Check back soon.

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The Secret Reason Over 40 Million Americans Guess the March Madness

Saturday, March 21st, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano

Forty million Americans will fill out brackets predicting the winners and losers in the annual NCAA basketball tournament. What’s that tell you about the USA? Hint: It has surprisingly little to do with how we feel about shooting hoops.

Of course, whenever 40 million Americans do anything, that really says something.

Forty million of us use online dating services. No surprise. When was the last time you ran into a married couple who met in a bar? Americans hook up online.

Over 40 million Americans have unpaid medical bills. Well, we kind of suspected the White House was overhyping. Obamacare is just not cutting it.

Forty million Americans still smoke. Guess a lot of us still have a death wish.

And 40 million of us fill out the brackets all the way from the NCAA qualifiers through the Final Four. But why?

We know there are not 40 million die-hard fans of the hardwood. After, only 20 million watched the championship game last year. So what do they have in common with the other half? Answer: the love of competition.

Americans are instinctively competitive. That’s a good survival skill for any nation. Competition is the essence of understanding and prevailing in war.

General George “Blood and Guts” Patton understood Americans. “All real Americans love the sting of battle,” he growled in a motivational speech to the troops during World War II. “When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers. … Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser,” he concluded. “Americans play to win all the time.”

Patton used sports analogies a good deal because they provided an apt metaphor for the essential characteristic of war. Like sport, war is a competition between two determined foes, a contest of action and counteraction that delivers winners and losers—not just points for participating.

Competition is about making choices and applying resources. Because of that, the side with the most resources doesn’t always win.

Americans get that. When pondering the brackets, they realize that just picking the team with the better record or the better statistics doesn’t guarantee a win in any particular match-up, much less a string of victories throughout the tournament. In any game, on any given day, it’s how the players compete that matters. That’s why seasoned bracket pickers typically predict a few upsets in the early David vs Goliath rounds of the NCAA tournament.

Of course when Patton talked about the American warrior, he liked to boast that the play-to-win mentality was why “Americans have not and never will lose a war.” Well, we have lost wars since then. Remember Vietnam? But was that conflict lost because Americans became poor warriors or because American warriors were poorly led?

Americans don’t love war, but they understand you have to compete—and compete well—to win.

When leaders fight wars badly, they start losing the confidence of the American people and they start arguing Americans are sick of war. That’s a lot easier than recognizing and admitting that they are simply bad war leaders.

Americans know the difference between a competitor and someone just going through the motions. That’s the real lesson of March Madness.

 

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This Traditional Turkish Coffee Beats The Heck Out Of Some Weak Italian Cappuccino Everytime

Saturday, March 21st, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

No Dave, Italian coffee definitely isn’t the best coffee in the world. That cappuccino you show looks like the same one you can get anywhere in Europe. There’s nothing even remotely special about it.

Want to see what real coffee is supposed to look like? Well, just take a look at this wonderful Turkish coffee I drank earlier today. Now that’s the kind of boost you need in the morning.

No Dave, THIS is what real coffee looks like

A photo posted by Michael van der Galien (@michaelvandergalien) on

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Editor’s Note: Tweet or Instagram pics of your morning beverages to @DaveSwindle on Twitter or @DaveSwindlePJM on Instagram to be featured as we continue the search for the ultimate caffeinated wake-up.

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This Cappuccino From An Italian Instagram Acquaintance Looks Much Tastier Than Our American Motor Oil

Saturday, March 21st, 2015 - by Dave Swindle

My very first cappuccino ♥

A photo posted by Arianna Bonardi (@the_blair_witch) on

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Who Needs Michelle Obama’s Healthy Diet? 104-Year-Old Woman Drinks 3 Dr. Peppers a Day

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

A woman in Fort Worth, Texas, is celebrating her 104th birthday and she proudly told reporters this week that despite her doctors’ admonitions, she has been drinking three Dr. Pepper sodas a day for 30 years.

“People try to give me a coffee for breakfast,” Elizabeth Sullivan said, “but I’d rather have a Dr. Pepper.”

“I started drinking about 40 years ago — three a day — and every doctor that sees me says ‘It’ll kill you’ but they die and I don’t, so there must be a mistake somewhere.”

Elizabeth is living proof that the doctors — and the food police in the White House — don’t always know best. Many people manage to live long and productive lives even when they don’t subsist on a diet of twigs and acorns.

“I’m feeling good! I’m glad I’m still here and I’m glad I’m not in a rest home,” Sullivan told reporters. “I’m glad I can read books and watch TV and have people come by to say hello.”

I raise my can of Dr. Pepper to you tonight, Mrs. Sullivan! Wishing you a Happy Birthday and many blessings in the coming year!

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VIDEO: On This International Day of Happiness, Just Shut Up & Dance

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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