February 22, 2017

GOING, GOING, GONE:  Top 11 [How do you pick? – ed.  With difficulty- Sarah] crazy anti-trump rants from Shia Labeouf.

AND SPEAKING OF COMMITTEES: Sense and Sensitivity.

IN THE EMAIL FROM JOSEPH CALDARA: Bob and the Cyber-Llama.

HE HAS A POINT: Though honestly, I’ve had my pms marked as spam while talking about my cats’ antics.  It’s faceplant.  BUT if they’re following twitter and empowering a committee of the perpetually offended to control content… maybe it’s time we looked elsewhere.  Sinking ships and all that. Big Tech Is Not Your Friend.

AND I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO SEES THE DANGER: The Media Strikes Back: Milo, Lies, and Videotape.

I THOUGHT THE RIGHT WAS DONE WITH THE CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD: It was a beautiful dream. If They Take Milo down, You’re Next.

February 21, 2017

ONE NIGHT IN STOCKHOLM: Overnight Riots In Predominantly Immigrant Stockholm Suburb.

Ann Althouse asks: “What if Trump’s TV is some freaky Twilight-Zone thing and he can see the future?

Plus, from a friend on Facebook:

One day in Sweden makes the press corps grumble
They thought that Trump was caught in fantasy
One day in Sweden and the migrants rumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I see Stockholm Syndrome sliding next to me.

Really, quite good. Right up there with One Night In Buckhead.

AT AMAZON, big savings on DVDs. Or, if you can’t wait, Amazon Instant Video.

Plus, save in Arts, Crafts, and Sewing.

WAIT, EVEN WITH PRIME MINISTER ZOOLANDER? Poll: Majority of Canadians distrust government.

NOW UP TO #5 ON AMAZON: H.R. McMaster’s Dereliction Of Duty.

CHANGE: As They Dig Deeper Into Parenting, Fathers Seek Community, Support. It’s been a while, but when the Insta-Daughter was little, as a hands-on dad I felt a degree of . . . well, not quite hostility, but certainly not support from all the moms at playgrounds, dance class, etc.

AT AMAZON, save on bestsellers in Automotive.

Plus, spring deals in Home and Garden.

HMM: Many Physicians, Nurses Want Pain Removed as Fifth Vital Sign. So physicians were undertreating pain, the government and insurance companies got involved, now there’s concern that they’re overtreating pain.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How to pair beer with Girl Scout cookies.

HUGH HEWITT: Fire Obama’s ‘Deep State’ Sleeper Cells Yesterday.

Faster than yesterday, please.

YES. WHY SUBSIDIZE AMERICA’S OBESITY AND DIABETES EPIDEMICS? Food stamps and sweets: Should they be kept apart?

The debate aligns two sides that may not appear to have much in common: critics on the right of government overspending and public health advocates. Debate about how food-stamp benefits are spent was sparked by a November report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which found that households receiving SNAP benefits used 20 cents of every dollar to buy soda, candy, desserts and other unhealthy foods.

“Almost half of added sugars consumed by the U.S. population come from sweetened beverages,” said Angela Rachidi, research fellow in poverty studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, during testimony at the House committee hearing. “This is why it is so alarming that such a notable percentage of food/beverage purchases in American households are for sweetened beverages.”

She added, “Supporting such purchases, especially at levels suggested in the data, directly contradicts the stated goals of the program,” which say the money should be used for “improved levels of nutrition among low-income households.”

I’ve been reading Gary Taubes’ The Case Against Sugar, and, well, he makes a pretty strong case. And if nanny-staters want to ban Big Gulps for people who are spending their own money, I don’t see how you can oppose limits on what people buy with taxpayers’ money.

CHARLIE MARTIN: We’re Doomed! More Awful Media Coverage of a Radiation Incident.

SPEED KILLS, AND SO DOES INEXPERIENCE: That “Supercar Experience” Could Be More Dangerous than You Think.

FAITH: Ultra-Orthodox Israelis Struggle Against New Draft Law.

MISTER, WE COULD USE A MAN LIKE HERBERT MCMASTER: Trump’s pick is known for saying superiors “want criticism”

Want it or not, they always need it.

QUESTION ASKED: Was ‘Weird Al’ the real star all along?

Yankovic has sold millions of albums, played 1,616 shows and outlasted so many of the stars he once spoofed. His most recent album, 2014’s “Mandatory Fun,” featured parodies of Iggy Azalea, Lorde and Pharrell Williams, a polka medley and his usual smattering of original songs. The album hit No. 1. At 57, he’s now readying a complete set of his 14 studio recordings, plus an album of bonus tracks. “Squeeze Box,” on sale through a PledgeMusic drive until the end of February, will naturally come in an accordion-shaped box. “Comedy recording and funny songs go back to the earliest days of the record industry,” says Barry Hansen, better known as Dr. Demento, the radio host who introduced Yankovic to the public 40 years ago. “But Al is unique. There’s nothing like him in the history of funny music.”

For Chris Hardwick — the comedian who created the Nerdist empire and hosts two game shows, [email protected] and “The Wall” — Yankovic is more than a musical success story. He’s a triumph for all the oddballs and outsiders.

I still remember all the words to “I Lost On Jeopardy,” but couldn’t tell you anything about the original Greg Kihn song other than the name.

MY INVITATION MUST HAVE BEEN LOST IN THE MAIL: Mercedes-Benz is letting 20 customers drive an electric semi truck for a year. Then again, who wants to clutter up the gently-curved drives of Stately InstaPundit Manor with a semi truck?

CHILDHOOD’S END: These Dolls Were Classified as ‘Hidden Espionage Devices’ in One Country. “Regulators in Germany have decided that when it comes to devices that can be used for spying, especially on children and their parents, that being “connected” is not a good thing. My Friend Cayla is a doll that recently became popular, but those who have purchased it are being asked to destroy it.”

REMAIN CALM! ALL IS WELL! Rioting erupts in immigrant-dominated Swedish suburb.

STAGES OF ELECTRONICS: Cellphones as a fifth-order elaboration of Maxwell’s theory. “As I pass the zombielike figures on the street, oblivious to anything but their cellphone screens, I wonder how many of them know that the most fundamental advances enabling their addictions came not from Nokia, Apple, Google, Samsung, or LG. These companies’ innovations are certainly admirable, but they amount only to adding a few fancy upper floors to a magnificent edifice whose foundations were laid by Maxwell 152 years ago and whose structure depends on decades-old advances that made it possible to build electronics devices ever smaller.”

LET’S GET ON THAT: Endless nuclear power can be found in the seas.

The best way to get uranium out of salt water is to dip plastic fibers coated with an organic chemical called amidoxime into seawater. The uranyl ions stick to the amidoxime, and can later be extracted and refined into uranium fuel. The key to its practicality is how quickly ions can be capture, how much sticks and how often the fibers can be reused.

The Stanford team came up with a conductive hybrid carbon and amidoxime fiber prototype that’s better in all three of those areas. By sending electric pulses down the fiber, it was able to absorb up to nine times as much uranyl as previous fibers without becoming saturated. Over an 11-hour test at Half Moon Bay, the team captured three times as much uranium and the fibers had thrice the lifespan of standard amidoxime.

In 2012, a Japanese team estimated that their seawater extraction technique, using previous tech, could be developed for about $300 per kilogram. That was about three times the commercial price at that point, but right now, the price is around half of that. “We have a lot of work to do still, but these are big steps toward practicality,” said the paper’s co-author, Li Cui. “For much of this century, some fraction of our electricity will need to come from sources that we can turn on and off. I believe nuclear power should be part of that mix.”

Anyone serious about cutting carbon emissions has to be serious about nuclear power.

WAIT, AZTECS ATE AT CHIPOTLE? New Evidence Links the Collapse of Aztec Society to a Deadly Salmonella Outbreak.

ALTERNATE HISTORY:

It’s a little funny and a lot sad.

(Hat tip, Paul Barbehenn.)

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE:  College Writing Center Declares American Grammar A ‘Racist,’ ‘Unjust Language Structure.’

In-state tuition to the University of Washington, Tacoma is 11k. Out of state tuition is 33k. Parents and students, choose where to spend your money wisely.

WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS: Canned Bacon Grease. (Bumped. Because bacon.)

YA THINK? Former Clinton Adviser: Democratic Party’s ‘Technocratic Speak’ Turning Off Voters

Technocratic speak — talking down to the proles — is one way the Left maintains the proper pecking order. Giving that up won’t be easy, or sincere.

IT’S A STOPGAP UNTIL THE SOMA COMES OUT: When Retirement Comes With A Daily Dose Of Cannabis.

SAITH THE MAN-GOD: ‘EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED.’ “Ross Douthat is correct: if you don’t like the Christian Right, wait till you see the Post-Christian Right. To that I would add: look at the Post-Christian Left. You cannot deny the God-Man and replace him with the Man-God with impunity,” Rod Dreher writes.

Read the whole thing.

WELL, YES: Trump isn’t really campaigning earlier than other recent presidents. He’s just more upfront about it.

The “permanent campaign” was invented by (or maybe “for”) Bill Clinton a quarter century ago, and for better or worse it’s now a permanent part of our political landscape.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Everything You Need To Know About Fuel.

MARK ELLIS: Build the Wall, But Realize That We’ll Still Need Seasonal Agricultural Workers.

True, but an official guest-worker program would be much more orderly than today’s mess — and considering the 21st Century’s issues with terror and infectious disease, probably a bit safer as well.

AND THE LEFT HAS BEEN WALLOWING IN RADICAL CHIC EVER SINCE: Fifty Years of Bonnie and Clyde.

WHAT’S FUNNY IS, YALE’S BIG SELLING POINT IS . . . EXCLUSIVITY AND PRIVILEGE: Yale Bans Secret Society From Meeting Space Over ‘Exclusivity’ and ‘Privilege.’

But let’s run with this. I think we need legislation requiring the Ivy League to admit students by lottery, in the name of abolishing exclusivity and privilege. Or maybe we should just abolish the Ivy League. Because inequality!

FLY THE OVERLY FRIENDLY SKIES: Pilot Removed From United Airlines Flight, Had Boarded The Plane Out Of Uniform.

The Associated Press reports that the female pilot, who was not named, was not in uniform when boarding the plane recently, according to a spokesman for the airline. The spokesman said that another pilot was brought in to complete the flight, which was delayed for almost two hours.

The spokesman confirmed that the pilot was shown in videos posted to several social media sites talking to passengers over the aircraft intercom. Persons identifying themselves as passengers on the flight said that the woman appeared to be unstable, and was talking about the election, divorce and other matters.

Clearly not the right time for her to be piloting an airplane, or much of anything else.

BELIEVE IT WHEN YOU SEE IT: Russia’s Rostec to co-develop 5th-gen fighter with UAE.

Russia defense heavyweight Rostec will partner with the UAE Ministry of Defence to co-develop a fifth-generation light combat fighter, company CEO Sergey Chemezov said at IDEX in Abu Dhabi Monday.

Development, which is based upon its MiG-29 twin-engine fighter aircraft, will kick off in 2018, and will take an estimated seven to eight years, Chemezov said during a media briefing with journalists. He elaborated in an exclusive one-on-one interview with Defense News.

“That’s not fast, because it takes quite a long period of time to develop,” he said speaking through a translator. “We anticipate local production here in the Arab Emirates, for the needs of Emirates. And of course [we expect development to support the needs of] the neighboring countries.”

The prospect of building a fully modern, fifth-generation jet on top of a fourth-generation platform which first flew in 1977 seems dubious at best. Russia’s current effort at building a stealth fighter, Sukhoi’s PAK-FA, has proven so troublesome that Russia’s partners in India nearly dropped out of the program, and Russia herself now plans to field only a few of the jets.

DUDE, WHERE’S MY TWEET? Twitter Is Now ‘Ghost’ Deleting Offensive Tweets.

Last week we discovered Twitter was punishing accounts for using “offensive” language by removing account features for 12 hours. Now it appears they are “ghost” deleting Tweets they deem offensive.

When a Tweet is ghost deleted, the person who wrote the Tweet still sees it and does not know it is technically deleted. But everyone else trying to find the Tweet cannot see it, and even if you manually enter the Tweet’s URL, it will bring you to a page that says it was deleted.

This was first discovered by John Sweeney at SuperNerdLand whose offensive tweet was ghost deleted by Twitter.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey owes it to his shareholders to explain how ghost-deleting is going to bring back user growth.

CLOSE YOUR EYES: ‘Not My President’ Protesters Pepper-Sprayed, Arrested in Portland.

Just yesterday I was wondering how long the anti-Trump “resistance” could keep it cranked up to 11, and even the Portland part of yesterday’s nationwide demonstration was pretty small.

SNOWFALLS ARE NOW JUST A THING OF THE PAST:

Shot: California Braces for Unending Drought

—The New York Times, May 10, 2016.

Chaser: S.F. rainfall has now exceeded normal for a full season: Here are the numbers.

—The San Francisco Chronicle, today.

As the Wattsupwiththat.com eco-blog noted last week:

Remember all those predictions of a “permanent drought” in California? Those were examples of why three decades of climate alarmism has not convinced the American people to take severe measures to fight anthropogenic climate change: alarmists exaggerate the science, and are proven wrong — repeatedly. When will the Left learn that doomster lies do not work?

We’re only a month into her administration, but I’m sure President Hillary will help her fellow leftists dial the doomsday talk back a bit.

(Classical reference in headline.)

D.C. MCALLISTER: Obama’s Incompetence And Chaos Far Eclipsed What’s Coming From Team Trump.

Even the Washington Post had to admit all was not well in Obama world when they reported that the White House wasn’t ready for conflicts over policy: “President Obama’s advisers acknowledged Tuesday that they were unprepared for the intraparty rift that occurred over the fate of a proposed public health insurance program, a firestorm that has left the White House searching for a way to reclaim the initiative on the president’s top legislative priority.”

Jay Cost of RealClearPolitics was “stunned” that Obama “would be caught off guard by this,” adding that his “lack of foresight” was “absolutely inexcusable.” “How could they not have anticipated this?” Cost asked. “How could they possibly have been surprised that the left and right flanks of the party would not see eye to eye?”

Seems like things haven’t changed that much, at least rhetorically. “But Trump is worse!” many might claim. Yet that isn’t true at all. What’s worse is the way it’s being reported and repeated. The claims of incompetence are rushing like a torrent from every direction and with such hysteria that you’d think the chaos of Armageddon was upon us.

Read the whole thing, which goes a long way towards proving that institutional memory doesn’t exist where it isn’t wanted.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. The Real Division in American Life Isn’t About Trump.

The basic division in American politics today is not over the merits of President Trump. Many of those who voted for him believed that he lacked the moral grounding and gravitas that great Presidents must ultimately draw on. The division is between those who think that before Trump, things were going just fine and the American elite was doing an excellent job, and those who blame the rise of Trump on the failures and blindness of the so-called “meritocratic elite” who, they would argue, have been running the country into the ground.

In foreign policy, the United States has had two failed presidencies in a row. Our grand strategy of domesticating China into the world order by offering it an unprecedented opportunity to grow rich through low-wage manufacturing exports has hurt American workers without democratizing or reconciling China. Presidents Bush and Obama thought that the democratization of the Middle East would and could solve the terrorism problem—and so did their degreed and esteemed advisers and the commentariat.

Domestically, our leadership elite has watched passively as infrastructure decays, state and local pension systems accumulate unsustainable debt loads, the national debt inexorably climbs, and the social capital of the nation erodes.

There was no sign from the Clinton campaign that anybody understood that the nation’s path was unsustainable. The Clinton campaign was about “more of the same.”

The jury’s out on Trump’s solutions but at least he recognized that there was a problem.

YOU CAN BE SURE THE INVESTIGATION WILL PROCEED FAST & FURIOUSLY: Facing sexism charges, Uber says Eric Holder will investigate.

Full background here.

INDEPENDENT CINEMAS IN THE US TO SHOW 1984 AS TRUMP PROTEST:

“Orwell’s novel begins with the sentence, ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,'” reads a statment on the project’s website. “Less than one month into the new presidential administration, theater owners collectively believe the clock is already striking thirteen. Orwell’s portrait of a government that manufactures their own facts, demands total obedience, and demonizes foreign enemies, has never been timelier.”

“The endeavor encourages theaters to take a stand for our most basic values: freedom of speech, respect for our fellow human beings, and the simple truth that there are no such things as ‘alternative facts’.

Well, other than the fact that Orwell was predicting how Communism and its degradation of language would eventually engulf the UK (and just offscreen, America). Speaking of which, ctrl-f on the above article for “Ingsoc” brings up zero results. Oh, and by the way, haven’t we bern here before? I think we’ve been here before.

THE SOCIALIST STATE DEFEATS DECADENT WESTERN OBESITY! Venezuelans lost 19 lbs. on average over past year due to lack of food.

WHY ARE DEMOCRAT-DOMINATED COMPANIES SUCH CESSPITS OF MISOGYNY? Uber Described as ‘Sexist,”Chaotic’ Hell Hole By Former Employee.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Trump And The Crisis Of The Meritocracy.

A lot of Americans resent the meritocrats’ insulation from what’s happening elsewhere, especially as America’s unfortunate record over the past couple of decades, whether in economics, in politics, or in foreign policy, doesn’t suggest that the “meritocracy” is overflowing with, you know, actual merit.

In the United States, the result has been Trump. In Britain, the result was Brexit. In both cases, the allegedly elite — who are supposed to be cool, considered, and above the vulgar passions of the masses — went more or less crazy. From conspiracy theories (it was the Russians!) to bizarre escape fantasies (A Brexit vote redo! A military coup to oust Trump!) the cognitive elite suddenly didn’t seem especially elite, or for that matter particularly cognitive.

In fact, while America was losing wars abroad and jobs at home, elites seemed focused on things that were, well, faintly ridiculous. As Richard Fernandez tweeted: “The elites lost their mojo by becoming absurd. It happened on the road between cultural appropriation and transgender bathrooms.” It was fatal: “People believe from instinct. The Roman gods became ridiculous when the Roman emperors did. PC is the equivalent of Caligula’s horse.”

Well, one end of the horse, anyway.

FLASHBACK: America’s New Mandarins: The paths to power and success are narrowing. So is the worldview of the powerful.

The Chinese imperial bureaucracy was immensely powerful. Entrance was theoretically open to anyone, from any walk of society—as long as they could pass a very tough examination. The number of passes was tightly restricted to keep the bureaucracy at optimal size.

Passing the tests and becoming a “scholar official” was a ticket to a very good, very secure life. And there is something to like about a system like this … especially if you happen to be good at exams. Of course, once you gave the imperial bureaucracy a lot of power, and made entrance into said bureaucracy conditional on passing a tough exam, what you have is … a country run by people who think that being good at exams is the most important thing on earth. Sound familiar?

The people who pass these sorts of admissions tests are very clever. But they’re also, as time goes on, increasingly narrow. The way to pass a series of highly competitive exams is to focus every fiber of your being on learning what the authorities want, and giving it to them. . . .

That system produced many benefits, but some of those benefits were also costs. A single elite taking a single exam means a single way of thinking:

The examination system also served to maintain cultural unity and consensus on basic values. The uniformity of the content of the examinations meant that the local elite and ambitious would-be elite all across China were being indoctrinated with the same values.

All elites are good at rationalizing their eliteness, whether it’s meritocracy or “the divine right of kings.” The problem is the mandarin elite has some good arguments. They really are very bright and hardworking. It’s just that they’re also prone to be conformist, risk averse, obedient, and good at echoing the opinions of authority, because that is what this sort of examination system selects for.

The even greater danger is that they become more and more removed from the people they are supposed to serve. Since I moved to Washington, I have had series of extraordinary conversations with Washington journalists and policy analysts, in which I remark upon some perfectly ordinary facet of working-class, or even business-class life, only to have this revelation met with amazement.

Yep. Plus: “In fact, I think that to some extent, the current political wars are a culture war not between social liberals and social conservatives, but between the values of the mandarin system and the values of those who compete in the very different culture of ordinary businesses–ones outside glamour industries like tech or design.”

And:

Almost none of the kids I meet in Washington these days even had boring menial high-school jobs working in a drugstore or waiting tables; they were doing “enriching” internships or academic programs. And thus the separation of the mandarin class grows ever more complete.

I’m hinting at the final problem, which is that this ostensibly meritocratic system increasingly selects from those with enough wealth and connections to first, understand the system, and second, prepare the right credentials to enter it—as I believe it also did in Imperial China.

And like all elites, they believe that they not only rule because they can, but because they should. Even many quite left-wing folks do not fundamentally question the idea that the world should be run by highly verbal people who test well and turn their work in on time.

Those are virtues, but they are not the only virtues. And one problem with the Mandarin system is the culture of entitlement, and contempt for the “back row kids,” that it fosters.

HEADLINES FROM 2005: Venezuela Is a Ticking Time Bomb.

Mismanagement of the economy has created a humanitarian disaster beyond comprehension. The capital city of Caracas is now the most dangerous non-war zone in the world, with 120 murders for every 100,000 residents. Venezuelans live in fear knowing they are more likely to be kidnapped in their own country than are the citizens of Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.

To combat the epidemic of food scarcity, the government put the military in charge of the country’s food management and distribution systems. Yet that only seems to make matters worse. The AP recently reported that the military is taking advantage of the country’s food shortages by profiting from food trafficking.

The deteriorating conditions in health care show just how serious the crisis is. Chronic shortages of medicine have rendered hospitals essentially useless. The World Health Organization estimates that there are shortages for 75 percent of necessary medications and medical supplies such as antibiotics, vaccines, and scalpels.

Blackouts resulting from a crumbling energy infrastructure are a daily occurrence. The death of newborns has become a common phenomenon, with one doctor saying “the death of a baby is our daily bread.” Infectious diseases once kept under control have surged. Cases of diphtheria and malaria are re-emerging, and the number of Zika infections is estimated to be “nearly 700,000,” according to a Venezuelan health organization.

For a country as ruthlessly collectivized as Venezuela, the question of collapse is a matter of when, not if.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Trump Just Hired the Army’s Smartest Officer.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster’s Dereliction of Duty is one of the two best histories of Vietnam I’ve read, and his performance as a Captain at the 1991 Battle of 73 Easting in Iraq is the stuff of legend.

LEGACY: Graph” How Much Debt Did Each President Leave The Country? Well, in this sense, Newsweek’s comparison of Barack Obama and FDR works.

CHARLIE MARTIN: ‘Trump Trance’? Media Sure It ‘Heard’ Sweden Comment Trump Never Said.

NO: You can now transfer money internationally through Facebook.

The money transfer startup TransferWise has launched a new chatbot that enables Facebook (FB, Tech30) users to move funds abroad using the social platform’s Messenger service.

The bot can be used to move money between the U.S., Canada, Australia and the European Union. It will also notify users via an alert when their regularly used currencies hit favorable rates.

Facebook users were previously able to transfer money within the U.S., but not between accounts in foreign countries.

Messenger is the creepy front-end of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s creepy vision of the future.

REPORT: Trump’s revised travel ban will target same seven countries. “President Trump’s revised immigration order will reportedly include the same countries targeted in the president’s initial order, which barred refugees and people from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the U.S., the Associated Press reported. The president’s new order though will not include people who already have a visa to travel to the U.S. It will exempt people who hold green cards and who are dual citizens of the U.S. and one of the targeted countries. The new order will also no longer tell authorities to specifically single out and reject Syrian refugees.”

NOW WHAT? In Syria, Turkey Finds Itself Boxed In.

After months of halting and costly progress, the Turkish military and allied Syrian rebels are in a good position to take the Syrian city of al-Bab from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). With the capture of al-Bab, Turkey will have accomplished the clearly defined goals of its “Operation Euphrates Shield” intervention in northern Aleppo governorate: driving ISIL from the Turkish border and blocking hostile Kurdish forces from linking their territory to Turkey’s south.

But after al-Bab, Euphrates Shield has nowhere to go, and, if Turkey’s gains are to be sustainable, its forces may be unable to leave. With Euphrates Shield, Turkey may have thrown itself into a Syrian quagmire. It has no clear exit strategy and only a poor set of options for escalation. Turkey seems committed to an indefinite but precarious occupation of a piece of northern Aleppo governorate that, perversely, may further weaken Syria’s political and territorial integrity and strengthen Turkey’s adversaries.

Getting in is the easy part.

AFTER AN APPARENTLY BOGUS CLAIM OF A “THREAT:” Creighton Dean Lifts Law Prof’s Suspension After Faculty Threaten Vote Of No Confidence. University administrators like to characterize any strong disagreement as a “threat” in order to marginalize critics. I don’t know that that’s what happened here, but it sure sounds like it.

RESPONDING TO FUTURE BENGHAZIS: The article discusses the Pentagon’s quick response forces for dealing with future attacks on U.S. diplomatic and security facilities.

FLASHBACK: Barack Obama’s Press Freedom Legacy. “As journalists often note, the Obama administration has prosecuted more leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all former presidents combined.”

GO FIGURE:

BRAZILIAN CORRUPTION SCANDAL INVESTIGATION GOES INTERNATIONAL: It’s going to get even more interesting.

A vast corruption scheme that started in Brazil but morphed into a giant international scandal is about to spread even further, a top prosecutor warned on Monday.

Brazil-based Odebrecht, one of the region’s biggest construction companies, was at the heart of a scheme to bribe Brazilian state oil giant Petrobras in exchange for inflated contracts.

Odebrecht also systematically bribed politicians, mostly in Brazil but also in other countries, even running a department to keep track of the bribery.

Odebrecht admitted to paying $788 million in bribes across 12 countries and agreed with the US Justice Department to pay a $3.5 billion fine, a world record in foreign corruption cases.

Some background from 2016.

GOOD OPTICS: France’s Le Pen cancels meet with Lebanon grand mufti over headscarf.

Le Pen, among the frontrunners for the presidency, is using a two-day visit to Lebanon to bolster her foreign policy credentials nine weeks from the April 23 first round, and may be partly targeting potential Franco-Lebanese votes.

Many Lebanese fled to France, Lebanon’s former colonial power, during their country’s 1975-1990 civil war and became French citizens.

After meeting Christian President Michel Aoun – her first public handshake with a head of state – and Sunni Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Monday, she had been scheduled to meet the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian

He heads the Dar al-Fatwa, the top religious authority for Sunni Muslims in the multireligious country.

“I met the grand mufti of Al-Azhar,” she told reporters, referring to a visit in 2015 to Cairo’s 1,000-year-old center of Islamic learning. “The highest Sunni authority didn’t have this requirement, but it doesn’t matter.

“You can pass on my respects to the grand mufti, but I will not cover myself up,” she said.

The whole thing feels about as spontaneous as kabuki, but will likely play well with French voters.

ANNALS OF FAKE NEWS: When President Obama’s National Security Advisor Lied, The Media Laughed.

THE LATEST SNIT-FIT: Trump’s Enemies: Cancel Presidents Day ‘For the Next Four Years’! How childish and pathetic.

RESIST WE MUCH: ‘Not My Presidents Day’ rallies bring thousands to the streets.

I’m so old, I can remember when “Not My President” was racist.

EIGHT YEARS AGO ON INSTAPUNDIT:

WALL STREET JOURNAL: J. Edgar Moyers. “Memories are short in Washington, and Mr. Moyers has gone on to promote himself as a political moralist, routinely sermonizing about what he claims are abuses of power by his ideological enemies.” There are so many stories like this — hatchetmen rewarded for their service by becoming revered “thinkers” in the media — that it’s really hard to take the “have you no decency” routine seriously any more.

The story is about Bill Moyers asking the FBI to investigate two men who were “suspected as having homosexual tendencies.”

February 20, 2017

AT AMAZON, shop the Home Improvement Outlet.

Plus, deals in Safety and Security.

INSTAPUNDIT READERS WEIGH IN ON TRUMP’S H.R. MCMASTER PICK FOR NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Reader T.J. Linzy writes:

I served with HR McMaster in 2/2 ACR in the first gulf war. He was the E Troop commander; I was a F Troop platoon leader. For your readers who may not know him very well, I would like them to know that this long time Instapundit reader thinks this might be President Trump’s best appointment yet.

HR is is highly intelligent, courageous, and one of the best human beings I have ever known. His integrity, wide-ranging knowledge, and willingness to take the fight to the enemy will dove-tail perfectly with GEN Mattis, IMHO.

Our old, famed unit, the 2d Cavalry (known as the Ghosts of Patton’s Army in WWII), has produced several USA leaders recently, including Mike Powell (Colin Powell’s son and ex-FCC chairman), Doug Lute, US Rep to NATO, and Mike Pompeo, current CIA Director. All were Lieutenants, Captains or Majors in 2CAV in the late 80s and early 90s.

Plus, from another reader:

With President Trump selecting LTG HR McMaster to be the next National Security Advisor, we will no doubt be hearing a lot about the Battle of 73 Easting in the Gulf War. Captain McMaster was in the middle of what may be “the last great tank battle” when his Troop and one other destroyed a brigade of Iraqi tanks. History channel featured it in their series “Greatest Tank Battles” and it is a must watch; I imagine they will replay it soon because of this appointment.

I wanted to add a couple thoughts as I served under him and while I didn’t interact much with him personally, it was clear that McMaster may be the smartest man I have ever met – I went to an “elite” northeast academy and an Ivy – and nobody I know can hold a candle to his ability to learn every side and nuance of almost every conflict around the globe. While at Fort Benning, I was selected by my commander to head up the International Military Student Office where roughly 1000 foreign officers and non-commissioned officers from nearly 100 allied nations attend US Army courses. McMaster was the commanding general at the time of the Maneuver Center of Excellence (combined Infantry and Armor schools) and since it was a somewhat sensitive posting, I had to meet him personally. He was very knowledgeable of what my job would entail and made sure I understood, but he also knew about my entire career up to that point; this is impressive as he had hundreds of captains under him, but not exactly rare as it is a common characteristic of leaders effective enough to make flag rank.

What impressed me the most about him was his interaction with the international students. One of the courses that the international students attended was the captains’ career course and I had 7 cycles of 25-30 students in each ranging in rank from Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel. At the end of each class, MG McMaster would have a lunch with them where he would open the floor to any and all questions. These students came from every part of the world, and McMaster was able to answer nearly every question with stunning detail and understanding of the entire geopolitical ramifications behind each situation. In fact, only once did I every hear him say “I am not entirely familiar with that situation…” if I remember correctly, it revolved around a (relatively) new narcotics conflict in Suriname, but he then still answered the question by being able to draw upon knowledge he had in narcotics trafficking conflicts in other parts of South America, and the overall political climate in Suriname. The most challenging questions came from the Pakistanis of the class and while they sometimes became heated, he would approach the student after and speak personally to ensure that while they may not like what he said, they understood that he felt he had to answer them honestly – there was never hard feelings and always mutual respect from both him and the student. Every single student I spoke to afterward was blown away by how McMaster addressed their question and appreciated how much he understood about the problems in their home countries.

These Q&A sessions were scheduled for an hour and almost always went much longer as he was willing and eager to interact with those students whom he told would be “the future leaders of our allies” Imagine being a Lieutenant from a small nation being given this kid of respect and deference by a 2-star general of the US Army! These lunches were not mandatory but he did them anyway because the foreign students sent to study in the US are those officers whose nations predict will be their future senior leaders, quite possibly even some heads of state; McMaster understood to his core that the impressions he made then would affect US foreign relations 10, 20, 30 years into the future.

McMaster is a speed reader and I believe he also has a photographic memory. He was able to have an expansive grasp of the political ramifications on almost every live conflict in the world and it wasn’t even his job at the time to know them – his job was to train Infantry and Armor officers, but he knew that adding this aspect to his own education and the educations of those studying under him would make them better. This man is a perfect fit for the job of NSA and hopefully he will not meet the same resistance that so many current appointees encounter.

TJ Buttrick, CPT, US Army (retired)

And I don’t want to share details without permission, but a former student of mine who served with McMaster was saying similar things on Facebook.

ACE ON MILO: “I would say an important additional dimension here is that if they can do it to him, they can do it to you too. And they seem to be really doing it.” Lena Dunham writes a book where she reminisces about abusing her baby sister and it’s no big deal. Milo talks about being abused, says it wasn’t that bad, and Simon & Schuster cancels his contract. Double standards indeed.

Meanwhile, he should self-publish. He’ll make a lot more money, and, really, you can’t rely on lefty platforms. They’ll cut you loose in a second.

AND THEY KEEP TELLING US THAT TRUMP’S CRAZY: ‘Trump Trance’? Media Sure It ‘Heard’ Sweden Comment Trump Never Said.

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: For Generation Z, ‘Live Chilling’ Replaces Hanging Out in Person: Teens are finding their friends via video chat, in apps such as Houseparty, Fam and Kik. “It isn’t just that teens have phones, and that the infrastructure required to handle multiple simultaneous video streams is more accessible to developers than ever. It is also that teens aren’t getting out to socialize in real life like they once did. . . . To a large extent, all these technologies have been an adaptation to teens’ inability to access one another in person, says Jan Odiaga, assistant professor at Rush University College of Nursing in Chicago, who studies how technology influences activity levels in young people. The situation is worse than ever because of packed schedules, helicopter parenting and the decline of walkable neighborhoods.”

GEE, I WONDER WHY MEN AREN’T EXCITED ABOUT GETTING MARRIED THESE DAYS? Campbell’s Knows.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Trump And The Crisis Of The Meritocracy.

Donald Trump has been president for a month now, and it’s been months more since he was elected. But the division over him, and his presidency, hasn’t settled down. If anything, it’s gotten worse. But why?

I don’t think it’s Trump’s policies, which seem to be more popular than he is. And though many of his pronouncements are portrayed as extreme, his statements on, say, immigration seem eerily like what former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were saying not all that long ago. So why all the anger over Trump?

As I’ve pondered this, I’ve gone back to Tyler Cowen’s statement: “Occasionally the real force behind a political ideology is the subconsciously held desire that a certain group of people should not be allowed to rise in relative status.”

I think that a lot of the elite hatred for Trump, and for his supporters, stems from just such a sentiment.

Do I have to tell you to read the whole thing? Do I?

NEWS YOU CAN USE: All the Guns John Wick Shoots in Chapter 2.

JUST NBC THE AMNESIA! KATY TUR CAN’T RECALL OBAMA’S 2012 ‘FLEXIBILITY’ HOT MIC TO RUSSIANS.

And thus NBC comes full circle — Sharpton and Brian Williams invent fake news, and Tur conveniently forgets the real thing.

Just think of the network’s “news” division as being largely staffed by Democrat operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense.

FLASHBACK: NBC’s Tom Brokaw conveniently forgetting Obama’s worldview on the eve of the 2008 election:

KURT SCHLICHTER: President Trump Has Been Far Too Nice To The Mainstream Media.

REPORT: SIMON & SCHUSTER IS CANCELING MILO’S BOOK DEAL.

Plus related thoughts from Ace of Spades.

CLOSED CIRCUIT TV FOOTAGE OF KIM JONG NAM’S ASSASSINATION?: CNN says that the footage “appears” to record the assassination. The date, time and location support that conclusion. This clip first aired on Japanese television. Kim Jong Nam is the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Kim Jong Nam definitely suffered an Un-seemly death.

LEMONADE: H. R. McMaster is the new National Security Adviser. Trump already has General Mattis on his team, as SecDef. In McMaster, the President has another stellar military officer with a superb intellect and an earned reputation for out-of-the-box conceptualization.

I still don’t think we know the whole story about LTG Mike Flynn. I don’t know what transpired between Flynn and VP Pence. But the Administration has responded to the perceived political difficulties by finding a first-rate replacement.

AUTOMATION: The robot that takes your job should pay taxes, says Bill Gates

In a recent interview with Quartz, Gates said that a robot tax could finance jobs taking care of elderly people or working with kids in schools, for which needs are unmet and to which humans are particularly well suited. He argues that governments must oversee such programs rather than relying on businesses, in order to redirect the jobs to help people with lower incomes. The idea is not totally theoretical: EU lawmakers considered a proposal to tax robot owners to pay for training for workers who lose their jobs, though on Feb. 16 the legislators ultimately rejected it.

“You ought to be willing to raise the tax level and even slow down the speed” of automation, Gates argues. That’s because the technology and business cases for replacing humans in a wide range of jobs are arriving simultaneously, and it’s important to be able to manage that displacement. “You cross the threshold of job replacement of certain activities all sort of at once,” Gates says, citing warehouse work and driving as some of the job categories that in the next 20 years will have robots doing them.

I wonder what Gates would think of punitive taxes on, say, office productivity software which helped to eliminate so many inefficient office jobs.

PHOTO: Knoxville, 1905. Thanks to reader Howard Isaacs for the link.

TRUMP ANNOUNCES LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER AS HIS NEW NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER.

Related: H.R. McMaster: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.

JUST A WHIFF WILL SEND LEFTISTS RUNNING FOR THEIR SAFE SPACES: Trump “Success” Deodorant and Cologne for men.

CHRISTIAN TOTO: 5 Great Jack Nicholson Movies (After He Hit 50).

I was disappointed not to see The Departed on there, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere — and Nicholson’s after-50 credits is a rich vein to mine.

AT AMAZON, books on Health, Fitness, and Dieting.

Plus, deals on Bedding. Sleep fresh!

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Trump And The Crisis Of The Meritocracy.

HANG UP AND DRIVE: Smartphone Addicts Behind the Wheel Drive Car Insurance Rates Higher.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the largest U.S. auto insurer by market share, said 36% of the people it surveyed in 2015 admitted to texting while driving, and 29% said they access the internet, compared with 31% and 13%, respectively, in 2009.

State Farm’s survey found that 52% of respondents in 2011 owned a smartphone, and 88% owned one in 2015.

The connection between phones and collisions surfaced in insurers’ earnings. Fourth-quarter underwriting results for personal auto insurance worsened at Travelers Cos., Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., and Horace Mann Educators Corp., and all three said distracted driving was partly to blame. The three companies insure millions of vehicles across the U.S.

“Distracted driving was always there, but it just intensified as more applications for the smartphones became available,” said Bill Caldwell, executive vice president of property and casualty at Horace Mann, in a recent interview. The insurer expects to raise rates 8% this year, on top of average 6.5% increases in 2016.

Ouch.

FACE, MEET PALM: New Campaign Seeks to End Use of Black Targets at Gun Ranges.

21ST CENTURY PROBLEMS: Lawyers could be the next profession to be replaced by computers. I find this super depressing. Can you imagine a world without lawyers?