TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 1209. It’s sad to see so many tax professors defending Koskinen, and telling that the defense they muster is so mealy-mouthed.

HILLARY AND HUMA PORTRAYING THEMSELVES AS BATTLERS FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS? C’MON. Roger Simon: The Huma-Weiner Scandal Is More Than Just Casual ‘Sext.’

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WITH HIS MIGHTY PHONE AND PEN: Obama Will Sign Climate Accord Without Congressional Approval.

Father knows best.

BLUE STATE BLUES: Why California Can’t Build More Housing.

The State of California (and the San Francisco Bay Area in particular) has become ground zero for the housing affordability crisis besetting major metropolitan areas across the country, eating up incomes, driving up inequality, and slowing economic growth. Governor Jerry Brown, who seems to recognize the threat that a dwindling housing stock poses to his state’s ongoing vitality, proposed a bold piece of legislation that would streamline the development process and sidestep onerous local stumbling blocks to new construction and in the process slow the meteoric rise in rents.

But now Brown’s bill seems to be dead in the water, due in large part to resistance from an unlikely interest group. . . .

This episode is a tragically characteristic of the blue model’s tendency toward self-contradiction—in this case, pitting unions against the poor and middle-class. The most sustainable way to make housing affordable to low and modest-income people is to relax rent-seeking regulations that block new construction for the sake of protecting the real estate values of property owners. But labor unions—which ostensibly stand for working class interests—will not stand for new construction unless it is accompanied by carve-outs and cronyist regulations that artificially boost their compensation.

So despite the best of intentions, the California blue coalition has proven once again unable to deliver smart, broadly appealing, pro-middle class policy, forced instead of concede to one of the many powerful special interests that makes up its vast and increasingly incoherent political base.

I’m not sure the intentions are all that great.

WELL, GOOD: Egypt Cracks Down On Female Genital Mutilation.

Awful as Egypt’s military junta can be, it’s still a huge step up from the Muslim Brotherhood, which offered to mutilate girls for a “nominal fee as part of their community services.”

QUESTION ASKED: How Can You Love Guns Knowing They Kill So Many People?

ANTISOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook Purges Journalists, Immediately Promotes a Fake Story for 8 Hours.

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HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: San Diego Welcomes 192 1Ls, Down 26% From Last Year’s 261 (42% From 2010’s 330).

If only there had been some sort of warning given.

WELL, THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG FOR AN ANSWER.

Shot: What would media say about naked Hillary statues?

—The Hill, August 19th, 2016.

Chaser: “Nearly Naked Hillary Clinton Portrayed as the ‘Beast’ in Hollywood Street Art,” the Hollywood Reporter, err, reports:

About 20 posters featuring an unflattering image of the Democratic nominee for president were hung Monday morning in the area by Sabo, a conservative street artist known for creating fake ads and traffic signs and affixing them illegally to bus stops and light poles in the dead of night.

His latest work is largely an anti-abortion statement, though it touches on feminism and alleged scandals involving the Clinton Foundation. And, with the number “6-6-6” tattooed around her neck, the rendering insinuates she may be Satan, or at least a devil worshipper.

An image of Saul Alinsky, the writer of Rules for Radicals who was allegedly a mentor of Clinton’s, is tattooed on one arm and $100 bills are on the other. There’s also a skeletal fetus about to be cut by scissors, a wire hanger, a vulture and the slogan “no bras, no masters.” (See the images below; the black bars were added by The Hollywood Reporter.)

I love the “alleged” and “allegedly” – that’s ever-so adorable, THR. The queen must be protected!

Here’s a safe for work image of the illustration Sabo created; click over if you’d like to see Hillary in all her tattooed glory, with the military-grade exoskeleton temporarily removed.

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HE WHO CONTROLS THE PAST CONTROLS THE FUTURE: Turkey sets conditions for German access to Incirlik.

Turkey says German MPs can visit the airbase if the Berlin government stops trying to distort Turkish history. German politicians have been blocked from touring the facility, where their own military is stationed.

Turkish Foreign Minster Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the Ankara government would allow a German delegation to visit the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey “if Germany takes the necessary steps.”

But his comments, following a meeting with his Dutch counterpart Bert Koenders in Ankara Monday, didn’t specify what concrete steps Turkey would want taken.

Cavusoglu added that those who try to “manipulate” Turkish history “in an unfair manner,” would not receive permission to visit the facility, where German troops, six German surveillance jets, and a refueling tanker are part of the US-led coalition fighting “Islamic State” (IS) militants.

Ankara is trying to force Germany to whitewash the 1915 Armenian Genocide from its history books.

HILLARY CLINTON HAS BEEN ‘FINDING HER VOICE’ SINCE 1993.

Not her socialist ideology, which has been largely fixed in place for most of her adult life, but how to best sell it. (Read: lie about it.)

NEXT YOU’LL BE TELLING ME IT WAS JUST A NOW-DISCARDED CAMPAIGN TALKING POINT: Let Them Drink Lead: So whatever happened to Hillary’s primary season Flint Initiative?

WAR ON COLLEGE MEN: School found accuser’s claims ‘meritless,’ still punishes the accused.

The University of Chicago may have won some points by refusing to adopt “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” for incoming freshmen, but its foray into social-justice activism still needs some work. Namely, its treatment of those accused of sexual assault.

A male student, identified in court documents as John Doe, is suing UC after it found an accuser’s claims “meritless,” yet continued to punish and investigate him. Doe says in his lawsuit that UC removed him from a physics lab where he worked with his accuser even after her complaint was found meritless.

The school also rejected Doe’s Title IX complaint claiming his accuser’s friend retaliated against him, in violation of school policy. The school also adjudicated a second complaint from the accuser, even though she had already proven herself to be untrustworthy, and failed to acknowledge how her second complaint was also in violation of the anti-retaliation policy.

The lawsuit alleges that the original accusations against Doe from his accuser were proven false through her “own public writings, which UC possesses.”

UC appeared to be, for some reason, hell bent on punishing Doe, to the point that when adjudicating the accuser’s second complaint, it used its 2015 student manual to hold Doe accountable for conduct that occurred in 2013.

“It was impossible for John Doe to know whether his consensual physical encounters with Jane Doe in 2013 might violate subsequently created stringent mandates in UC’s 2015 Manual,” Doe’s lawsuit said.

Doe believes the school is using the updated manual “because it contains provisions less favorable to male students.”

Cost for your son to attend the University of Chicago for one year: $66,765.

It’s amazing how much higher education is accelerating its own decline.

PRESIDENT ASH CARTER: Turkey and Syrian Kurdish forces ‘should stop fighting’

“We have called upon Turkey … to stay focused on the fight against ISIL and not to engage Syrian Defence Forces (SDF), and we have had a number of contacts over the last several days,” Carter said.

“We have called on both sides to not fight with one another, to continue to focus the fight on ISIL … That is the basis of our cooperation with both of them – specifically not to engage.”

The SDF is a group of fighters formed to fight against ISIL and is led by the YPG.

Turkey said on Monday it would continue to target the YPG if it failed to retreat east of the Euphrates River.

ISIS is a problem for Ankara, but the Kurds are the enemy.

HUMA ABEDIN DOES WHAT HILLARY NEVER COULD.

THIS LOCAL NEWS ANCHOR FROM INDIA DEFINITELY SHOULD’VE CHECKED HER T-SHIRT BEFORE GOING ON AIR: “Maybe we’re just being old fashioned, but ‘shut the f*** up’ is probably not the kind of message you want to send to the viewers at home.”

No worse than Newsweek bureau chief Ginny Carroll (and thus an employee of the Washington Post) wearing a “YEAH, I’M IN THE MEDIA — SCREW YOU” button to the 1992 Republican convention and then defending it shortly thereafter on C-SPAN.

Apparently, old media telling their audiences to shut the f*** up is a sentiment that transcends all languages.

(Via Maggie’s Farm.)

THE HILL: White House defends vetting process for Syrian refugees.

The White House on Monday defended the Obama administration’s decision and vetting process for admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States.

“This administration did succeed in meeting this goal: a significant ramping up of the number of Syrian refugees to the United States. And we were able to do all of that without cutting any corners when it comes to security,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday.

“And significant screening was put in place to ensure that these individuals don’t pose an undue threat to our national security.”

The Obama administration will hit its goal of bringing in 10,000 Syrian refugees on Monday, clearing the self-imposed benchmark more than a month before its deadline.

The milestone comes amid heightened opposition to allowing Syrian refugees into the country from congressional Republicans and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Earnest defended the administration’s vetting process on Monday when asked how the administration would reassure people concerned that a potentially radicalized person could get into the country. The reporter who asked the question used the term “extreme vetting.”

“I think that was a term that might have been used by somebody who doesn’t currently work in the U.S. government,” Earnest responded.

“I’ll stop there.”

In an Aug. 15 speech, Trump proposed creating a system of “extreme vetting” to ensure that the country allows in only “those who share our values and respect our people.”

On Monday, Earnest said the vetting process typically takes “quite a bit of time.”

They take longer to “vet” documents for FOIA requests.

BYE-BYE CHARLES! THE WORST OF OSGOOD’S OUTBURSTS.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Clinton’s Economic Plan Will Lead Us Over a Cliff.

One of the dumbest statements in modern times was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s declaration that “the best way to stimulate the economy” is through food stamps and unemployment insurance.

This economic mumbo jumbo defies basic common sense and helps explain why we still have more than 40 million Americans on food stamps — evidently, the more that get free food, the more prosperous we become. This is the crux of the continuing curse of Keynesian economics, which says that the more the government spends, the more the economy grows. A dollar of government spending leads to as much as two dollars of additional economic output, according to Professor Pelosi.

Hillary Clinton is apparently one of Mrs. Pelosi’s A students. The entire Clinton recovery agenda is to spend $1 trillion more on government public works programs, free day care and college education, and expanded entitlements. She would raise investment and personal income tax rates (paid by many small businesses) to finance all of this.

Hillary has been parading around a study by economist Mark Zandi of Moodys, which claims that this fairy dust will mean happy days are here again. He claims millions of new jobs and billions in added output. But Mr. Zandi has been one of the wrongest economists in America for the past decade.

If we could spend our way to prosperity, then the last 16 years — when the federal debt nearly quadrupled — would be looked back on much more fondly.

ATHLETES AND CONCUSSIONS: Keep playing or come out? This article discusses a comparative study of the recovery times of high school football players who suffered concussions in contact sports.

High school athletes who kept playing in the minutes after a concussion took nearly twice as long to recover as those who left the game immediately after the head trauma, a new study shows…The sample included 35 athletes who were removed from games right after getting a concussion and compared their symptoms and recovery to 34 athletes who kept playing in the game or match after taking a hit. The study found that players who stayed in the game after head trauma took an average of 44 days to recover. By comparison, athletes who left a game immediately after signs of concussion took only an average of 22 days to recover. While there were no meaningful differences in recovery time among girls or boys, and no differences by sport, that may be because of the size of the study. Researchers say that while the sample size was small and involved just one clinic, the results clearly highlight the importance of physical and cognitive rest promptly following concussion.

Additional point: “The study authors acknowledged that their data did not show whether the athletes who kept playing following concussion suffered additional head impacts or simply continued physical exertion.”

THAT MEANS IT’S WORKING: ObamaCare coverage options disappearing across country, report finds.

The Kaiser Family Foundation study found that overall, 31 percent of counties will have just a single insurance option within the Affordable Care Act exchanges. That’s up from 7 percent this year — and underscores a problem many analysts have been warning about for years.

Further, about six in 10 counties could have two or fewer marketplace insurers in 2017, with the “bulk of the increase in single-insurer counties” the result of UnitedHealth Group’s exit, the study, released Sunday, reveals.

Indeed, six years after ObamaCare was signed into law, America’s major medical insurers, concerned about their own bottom line, have started to pull the plug on a variety of services and options available to consumers. Citing major losses, the top five insurers – Humana, Anthem, Aetna, UnitedHealth Group, and Blue Cross Blue Shield – have threatened to pull out of the exchanges and have selectively started to do so in many counties.

In other words, by next year nearly a third of American counties will already be on virtual single-payer.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Hillary Clinton’s use of BleachBit avoided ‘money trail’ in email destruction.

GANGSTER GOVERNMENT: Union Admits ‘Blacklist’ Rule Gives Them New ‘Leverage’ Against Companies.

When President Barack Obama signed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order it was couched as promoting “safe, healthy, fair, and effective workplaces.”

Under the order, and the new final regulations and guidance issued August 25, federal contractors must disclose mere allegations of federal labor violations, potentially locking them out of federal contracts without giving them a chance to challenge the charges.

But improving workplace safety or insuring compliance with the 14 laws and executive orders wasn’t the real motivation for the E.O.

If you pull back the curtain it is clear the order has nothing to do with improving federal contracting and everything to do with giving unions more tools for them to use against employers.

One of the key objections the U.S. Chamber has made all along about the president’s Executive Order is that it would hand the administration’s friends in the organized labor movement a powerful new tool for harassing and pressuring employers into rolling over to their demands.

It’s almost as though Barack Obama has turned the Federal government into a giant shakedown operation.

August 29, 2016

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HMM: Rocky Mountain High: The Secret Ingredient In Colorado Law School’s ‘Remarkable Recent Popularity’? “For the record, the University of Colorado is #7 on Princeton Review’s ‘Reefer Madness’ ranking of the best colleges for students who love to smoke marijuana.”

ROGER SIMON: RIP JOE HICKS—GREAT MAN OF HIS TIMES. “Joe was one of the most interesting guys I had the pleasure of working with at PJ Media and PJTV, where he was the host of The Hicks File. He had a fascinating history. A man of his times, he had been a Black Panther in his youth, but shifted right as he grew older, suffering the brickbats you might expect from old comrades even though he served as Greater Los Angeles director of Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Council.”

I enjoyed The Hicks File immensely and featured its audio on PJM’s Sirius-XM radio show as often as possible; and later was very happy to have met Joe in person one or two times while visiting the PJM mothership in Los Angeles. RIP, Joe Hicks, 75.

WAR ON COLLEGE MEN: ‘Toxic environment’ for sons accused of campus sex offenses turns mothers into militants. “There’s a sense of powerlessness, and it’s an accurate sense of powerlessness particularly at private schools. People have no idea how few rights you have, especially at private universities. … And they think ‘they can really do this? They can ruin my child’s future and there’s nothing we can do about it.’ It’s extremely isolating.”

JUSTICE: Ohio raises alcohol limit for beer this week.

In three days, you’ll have more choices if you like to drink beer brewed locally. It’s good news for breweries like Hoppin’ Frog Brewery & Tasting Room here in Akron.

In May, the legislature lifted Ohio’s 12 percent cap on beer brewed here. And this Wednesday, breweries can begin serving it to the public.

Lawmakers say the move levels the playing field and makes Ohio even more attractive to smaller breweries.

Maybe I’ve been too hard on Governor John Kasich, who signed the bill into law last spring.

SO “STEM” IS BEING TURNED INTO “STEAM.” What does “STEAM” stand for? Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. What’s the difference between “Arts” and the others? “Arts” don’t require math. Science, Technology, Engineering and, of course, Math, all require math. This makes me suspicious.

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YOU’RE NOT AGAINST EVOLUTION, ARE YOU? The Anthropocene epoch could inaugurate even more marvellous eras of evolution.

CONTACT? Alien Hunters Spot Freaky Radio Signal Coming From Nearby Star.

Looking at the signal, the researchers say that if it came from a multi-directional, isotropic radio beacon, it would have to be produced by a Kardashev Type II civilization, i.e. an alien civilization that has tapped into nearly 100 percent of its host star’s energy potential. If the signal was targeted directly at our solar system, then it would be of a power available to a Kardashev Type I civilization, i.e. an alien civilization capable of exploiting nearly all of its home planet’s energy potential.

Another possibility, of course, is that the signal is a natural anomaly, such as background noise. French astronomer Jean Schneider is considering the possibility that HD164595 is amplifying a background radio source through a process known as gravitational microlensing.

To move forward, scientists will need to confirm the quality and integrity of this signal and rule out other possibilities.

I hope they’re not transmitting a cookbook.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Can American Colleges Be Fixed?

The number of full-time faculty in the California State University system increased slightly between 1975 and 2008, from 11,614 to 12,019, while the number of administrators nearly quadrupled during the same period, from 3,800 to 12,183.

In short, American colleges are suffering from administrative bloat, which increases every year at the hand of career managers who value standardization and procedures above all else, and who already put a great deal of trust in technology and market solutions. If the relative reduction in the number of full-time faculty per students over the past 30 years did not lead to a more efficient and affordable college education, it’s unclear how further reducing it could.

Do tell.

SORRY, INSUFFICIENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRAFT: Taiwan’s Social Safety Net Is the Street Market. “With a GDP per capita about half US levels — between Spain and Portugal — Taiwan has a tiny welfare state paired with regulations that are both light and lightly enforced. Result? An explosion in commerce, and apparently near-zero homelessness. Walk anywhere in a Taiwanese city and the streets are alive, all day and all night, with a rotating cast of pop-up businesses that employ mainly low-skill labor while making life a joy for consumers.”

Hey, if they’re not beggars, they’ll be harder to please.

PROGRESS? Cows the world over rejoice, pineapple leather is now a thing.

While in the Philippines, [Carmen Hijosa] discovered the traditional fabric Piña (meaning ‘pineapple’ in Spanish), made of stripped and woven pineapple leaves.

This inspired Hijosa to explore the possibilities of the natural product. After some experimentation, she discovered she could use the fibres from the leaves to create a non-woven textile, similar to the method of making felt, and developed Piñatex, a leather-like fibre created as a by-product of the pineapple harvest.

As far as a substitute for leather goes, Piñatex beats pleather by a country mile.

Based on tests by the International Standards Organisation, Piñatex meets international standards for strength, colour fastness, water, abrasion and cigarette-burn resistance, and flexibility.

To be fair, most anything is an improvement over pleather.

JOIN FIRE IN SAYING “THANK YOU” TO UCHICAGO FOR TAKING A STAND FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM – As Glenn posted about last week, the University of Chicago (UChicago) recently made waves when it sent a back-to-school letter to incoming students telling them not to expect “intellectual ‘safe spaces’” when they arrive on campus.

We at FIRE agree with UChicago that higher education should first and foremost be a marketplace of ideas. If you agree, you can join FIRE in saying “Thank You” to UChicago for taking this important stand.

MICHAEL WALSH: Brace Yourself, Bridget: ‘Single-Payer’ Health Care Is On Its Way.

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I’M NOT SAYING THAT IT’S ALIENS. BUT IT’S ALIENS. ‘Strong signal’ stirs interest in hunt for alien life.

21ST CENTURY HEADLINES: UAV Blasted With .20 Gauge Shotgun.

The Faquier Times reports that shooter is Jennifer Youngman. One of her neighbors in the rural county near the nation’s capital is actor Robert Duvall, who bought the property next to Youngman’s several years ago.

Youngman told the paper that she had been sitting on the front porch of her home cleaning a .410 gauge and the .20 gauge shotguns in mid-June when she noticed a black Range Rover SUV pull up in front of Duvall’s property, set up a card table, and launch the aircraft. Youngman said the cows were being disturbed from the aircraft. Then, she said, the aircraft got going a little too fast, the wind caught it, and it “went over my airspace,” Youngman said. That’s when she brought the .20 gauge into play, and the drone did not win that contest.

She said the men yelled at her, but when she threatened to call police, they got back in their vehicle and left.

Youngman said her only regret is that there are still drone parts in her pasture that have caused two flat tires on her tractor.

Don’t try this at home — at least not with a .410.

THE INSTA-WIFE: Should I Check Non-Binary? There’s a hexadecimal joke in here somewhere, but I don’t have the heart to make it.

THIS YEAR JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER AND BETTER: RIP the great Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka, The Producers and Blazing Saddles star, who passes away at age 83.

THAT’S NOT CREEPY AT ALL: James Lileks videotapes and interviews a wannabe Bane at this year’s Minnesota State Fair.

MY PAPER ON MILITARY COUPS is getting more timely by leaps and bounds:

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Well, the military swears an oath to the Constitution, which justifies ignoring unconstitutional orders. But so long as a President meets the Constitution’s requirements for age, residency, etc. there’s no such thing as an unconstitutional President. Announcing — or even determining — that you wouldn’t follow orders from a particular person holding the office, rather than that you wouldn’t follow illegal or unconstitutional orders, really is a sort of coup. It’s certainly not a fulfillment of an oath to uphold the Constitution.

By the way, my coups paper is still #1 on SSRN, and I guess it’s easy to see why.

PRICE DISCRIMINATION ON STEROIDS: Maurice Stucke and Ariel Ezrachi: The Rise of Behavioural Discrimination.

I REMEMBER MINE: Everyone Remembers Their First Bike.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Mass evacuation at LAX caused by Zorro! Actor on way home from audition dressed as masked hero with plastic sword is arrested amid reports of an ‘active shooter’ grounding flights. “Video emerged Sunday night of the moment the he was approached by armed cops and can be heard shouting: ‘It’s a plastic sword’ as they surrounded him with their guns drawn.”

Here’s to being free and flying high — though not out of LAX:

GOSH, I HOPE SO!

One of the great advantages to working at home is never having to watch any actual workplace improvement videos.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Iowa Professor Fears Fuzzy Hawkeye Mascot Could ‘Traumatize’ Delicate Students.

If you can be “traumatized” by a man running around the sidelines of a football game in a stinky polypropylene mascot head, you’re not mentally well enough to be in college.

01 Jan. 2016: Iowa Hawkeyes mascot Harky on the field during the Rose Bowl game played against the Stanford Cardinal played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. (Photo By John Cordes/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

Jan. 1 2016: Iowa Hawkeyes mascot Harky on the field during the Rose Bowl game played against the Stanford Cardinal played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. (Photo By John Cordes/Icon Sportswire, via AP Images.)

THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING, THEY’LL PROBABLY BE USED TO MAKE YOU LOVE BIG BROTHER: Mind-controlled nanobots could release drugs inside your brain.

THE TRUE STORY OF DR ZHIVAGO’S LARA.

IT’S ABOUT TIME: New smartphone batteries lasting twice as long will hit the market next year. Though the geniuses who design smartphones will probably just use this as an excuse to make the phones slightly thinner, but with the same inadequate battery life as now.

I’M SORRY DAVE, I CAN’T ALLOW YOU TO DO THAT: The Nature of Evil in Computer RPGs.

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THE FOUNDERS MEET Brand X.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: A Guide To Legal Lock-Picking.

NO. WAY. Tens of millions of dollars disguised as ‘consumer relief’ are going to liberal political groups.

The administration’s multiyear campaign against the banking industry has quietly steered money to organizations and politicians who are working to ensure liberal policy and political victories at every level of government. The conduit for this funding is the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group, a coalition of federal and state regulators and prosecutors created in 2012 to “identify, investigate, and prosecute instances of wrongdoing” in the residential mortgage-backed securities market. In conjunction with the Justice Department, the RMBS Working Group has reached multibillion-dollar settlements with essentially every major bank in America.

The most recent came in April when the Justice Department announced a $5.1 billion settlement with Goldman Sachs. In February Morgan Stanley agreed to a $3.2 billion settlement. Previous targets were Citigroup ($7 billion), J.P. Morgan Chase ($13 billion), and Bank of America, which in 2014 reached the largest civil settlement in American history at $16.65 billion. Smaller deals with other banks have also been announced.

Combined, the banks must divert well over $11 billion into “consumer relief,” which is supposed to benefit homeowners harmed during the Great Recession. Yet it is unknown how much, if any, of the banks’ settlement money will find its way to individual homeowners. Instead, a substantial portion is allocated to private, nonprofit organizations drawn from a federally approved list. Some groups on the list—Catholic Charities, for instance—are relatively nonpolitical. Others—La Raza, the National Urban League, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and more—are anything but.

It’s almost as though the Obama Administration had turned the Federal government into a giant shakedown operation.

BREAKING: Anthony Weiner Is out as a Columnist for the Daily News.

He was ever in?

GOOD LORD: Illegal Immigrant Crashes Bus Full of Louisiana Flood Volunteers, Kills Two.

HAWAII, THE FINAL FRONTIER: Mock Mars Explorers Emerge from Habitat to End Year of Isolation in Hawaii.

The crew exited the domed habitat for the first time in 12 months without wearing space suits, and were greeted by family, friends, the mission scientists and team members who supported them through the year, and members of the media.

“There’s no place like Earth. It is a little bit like the tornado returning to Kansas,” said Sheyna E. Gifford, chief medical and safety office and crew journalist. “All of a sudden I click my heels three times and stepped several inches, and 100 million miles later [I’m back on Earth].”

Andrzej Stewart, chief engineering officer, said he felt “mixed emotions” about leaving the habitat.

“I’m a military brat, I grew up with my dad in the Air Force, and where you live becomes home after a while and I’m going to miss the place,” he said.

I’d be interviewing future candidates from the Navy’s submarine force. They’re trained to work complex equipment under adverse conditions in close quarters for months at a time.

REPORT: HUMILIATED HUMA FINALLY DUMPS SEXTING WEINER. Hillary’s top aide separates from her husband just hours after he sent an admirer a photo of his crotch while their four-year-old son slept beside him, according to the London Daily Mail.

Not surprisingly, Drudge is having plenty of fun linking to the story, depicting Hillary and Huma in matching togs and the headline, “SHE’S HAD ENOUGH WEINER. HUMA CHOOSES HILLARY.”

Heh, indeed.™

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 1208.

SHOCK: KAEPERNICK ENDORSES TRUMP, DEMANDS REPUBLICAN MAYOR IN SAN FRANCISCO.

At least, that’s how I’m reading this AP headline: “Kaepernick Will Sit Through Anthem Until There’s Change,” given that Hillary is running as Obama’s third term, and San Francisco, which has recently been struck with allegations of racism in its police department, hasn’t had a Republican mayor since about the time the Beatles arrived in America. Otherwise he’s just engaging in kabuki, a sort of one-man version of Occupy Wall Street, which never raised much of a ruckus over President Goldman Sachs during their protests.

So, just how much change would you like, Mr. Kaepernick?

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IT WASN’T A FAILED COUP; IT’S A SUCCESSFUL PURGE: Erdogan Goes Full Autocrat, Press Freedom Extinct in Turkey.

BUT OF COURSE THEY DO. CNN attacks Associated Press report on Hillary’s Clinton Foundation meetings:

Keep in mind, Byers is blasting the AP for putting out a misleading tweet which didn’t give readers a clear understanding of what the story actually said. And yet here he is not giving his own readers a clear understanding of what the the Post’s Fact-Checker said. It’s the same mistake. Byers continues:

Vox’s Matthew Yglesias was more direct: “The AP’s big exposé on Hillary meeting with Clinton Foundation donors is a mess,” his headline read.

And that’s all the evidence Byers offers that the AP botched its report, one link to a progressive news site. Even the expert Byers quoted earlier in the piece says Yglesias is overplaying his hand:

Boardman argued that the story itself “was not nearly so flawed as Yglesias and others have charged.”

Byers deserves credit for including the quote undercutting Vox in his piece but, looking at the material he assembled for this story, the entire piece could just as easily have been framed as ‘the AP botched a tweet but not the underlying report.’ It’s what the journalism dean told him. It’s what the Post’s Fact-Checker seemed to say. I understand reporters often don’t write their own headlines but then they probably don’t write their own tweets either. The headline of Byers’ piece is every bit as bad as the AP tweet he is blasting for inaccuracy.

And CNN’s young successor to Howard Kurtz is playing palace guard as well: Stelter Attacks AP for Exposing Clinton Foundation Donor Access to State Department.

As with creating “The Wright-Free Zone” to keep Obama afloat in 2008 and Candy Crowley sabotaging Mitt Romney during his debate with Obama four years later, this is simply what the propaganda wing of Time-Warner-CNN-HBO does for their party during every election year.

HMMM: Iran Arrests Person Linked to Negotiations on Nuclear Deal.

The disclosure, reported in the state news media, appeared to be the latest sign of the Iranian leadership’s frustration over the agreement, which has failed so far to yield the significant economic benefits for the country that its advocates had promised. Iranian officials have blamed the United States for that problem.

Despite the relaxations of many sanctions under the accord, which took effect in January, Iran faces enormous obstacles in attracting new investments and moving its own money through the global financial system.

It isn’t as though Iran’s mullahs regime was known for its economic prowess even before the nuclear sanctions were imposed.

WEALTH AND POVERTY:

Even if worried progressives are right that the poorest of the poor are doing worse since welfare reform, that doesn’t settle the question. A life of work offers cumulative benefits: You gain good work habits and experience, which enables you to earn more money in the future, and sets an example of self-reliance for your children to follow. The experience of welfare reform suggests that welfare was enabling people to make a rational short-term decision — welfare benefits are better than working an entry-level job — that was a disastrous long-term decision, because the longer you go without working, the harder it is to get your foot on the first rung of that vocational ladder, and the less time you have to enjoy any cumulative benefits.

A government policy that helps people with bad long-term decision-making was probably not “the greatest good for the greatest number.” On the other hand, making the badly off even worse off doesn’t sound like great policy either. Which problem you think is more important is a value judgment, not an empirical question.

But what if we don’t have to choose? Scott Winship of the Manhattan Institute has just released a paper arguing that “Children — in particular, those in single-mother families — are significantly less likely to be poor today than they were before welfare reform.” How can he come to such a radically different conclusion from other authors? Because official measures of poverty aren’t very good.

Well, to be fair, they aren’t meant to be, really.

RETIRED MARINE GENERAL JAMES MATTIS: US Influence ‘At Lowest In 40 Years’

Mattis offered the example of World War II to back his point. He noted that Americans watched Germany overrun France and bomb Britain, while Japan invaded China, yet they felt it was not a U.S. problem.

“The result was we were attacked [at Pearl Harbor],” said Mattis. “Then, like it or not, they had to get engaged.”

The general said winning the war was not the end of America’s role, pointing to the Marshall Plan and creation of the United Nations, which helped repair the diplomatic relations and broken economies of both allies and former enemies.

“That had never been done before,” Mattis said. “We created the Marshall Plan, three years after Nazis were burning Jews. We offered them locomotives, rail lines, anything to help get their economies going again. That’s the greatest generation. The point is, it’s more than just fighting battles.”

Like Europe in World War II, Mattis explained that issues in the Middle East cannot simply be “contained in the Middle East.”

“We know that intellectually, but there’s a tendency to want to put a pillow over our heads.”

America’s activist postwar foreign policy has hardly been perfect, but up until recent years it was a much smarter strategy than our near-isolationism during the interwar period.

WINSTON SMITH, CALL YOUR OFFICE: CNN, The Hill attempt to shield Hillary Clinton from her former KKK ‘mentor.’

Just think of them as Democrat operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense. CNN in particular can always be counted on dispatching a Democrat’s awkward allegiance with an openly racist longtime mentor into the memory hole during an election year.

CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: Gun ownership rises to 44% of all homes.

It’s good to see so many Americans exercising their constitutionally protected rights.

ROGER SIMON: Will the Clinton Foundation Mark the Fall of Our Republic?

We’ve witnessed the decline. Is the fall of our constitutional republic next?

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LIKE BARACK OBAMA AND RACE, SHE’LL MAKE IT WORSE THAN IT’S BEEN IN 50 YEARS: Could a President Hillary Clinton erase sexism? Young Americans say no.

THE MASKIROVKA COMES OFF: Russia putting central bank and ministries go on war footing.

As part of Putin’s plan to check the readiness of the armed forces, the Central bank and the vital ministries of industry and trade, will switch to war-time operation, Radio Svoboda reports Aug. 29.

The readiness of the ministry of communications and military-industrial complex in the south of Russia to repair and supply weapons will also be checked.

It isn’t often appreciated, but banks and networking systems are just as much a part of modern war as armored vehicles and fighter jets.

LEADERSHIP: Hillary Clinton had the chance to make gay rights history. She refused.

JOEL KOTKIN: How the Middle Class Lost the Election. “Middle-class rage has dominated this election, but ultimately 2016 seems destined to produce not a populist victory but the triumph of oligarchy. . . . Middle-class revulsion with the political mainstream has been driven by slow economic growth, stagnant wages, a dysfunctional education system, and, for smaller businesses, a tightening regulatory regime. Homeownership is now at a nearly half-century low. New business start-ups, for the first time in three decades, are not keeping up with the number of deaths. Both stats reveal a real decline in aspiration. Most Americans, in a stunning reversal of past trends, see a worse future for their offspring than themselves. Who can blame them? Middle-class breadwinners and working-class wage-earners now suffer from deteriorating health and shorter lifespans.”

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BYRON YORK: Obamacare is failing. Why isn’t Donald Trump talking about it?

THAT MEANS IT’S WORKING: Even Left-Leaning Econ Writers Are Impoverished by Obamacare.

We’re Hiring Economics Writers,” says the headline of a post at the web site FiveThirtyEight.

Good for them.

Then they write:

“This is a part-time staff position (up to 29 hours per week) and does not offer benefits.”

Any idea why they chose 29 hours?

Answer: Obamacare.

Unexpectedly.

GREAT MOMENTS IN PROJECTION AND CHUTZPAH: Former Obama campaign manager diagnoses Trump on air as ‘psychopath:’

David Plouffe, who managed Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and later served as a senior adviser in his administration, on Sunday diagnosed Donald Trump during an NBC interview as “a psychopath running for president.”

The assessment prompted a startled response from Chuck Todd, the host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” who questioned Plouffe’s qualifications to make a psychiatric diagnosis of a major-party presidential nominee on television.

Plouffe defended his opinion by pointing to what he said are the hallmark symptoms of psychosis.

“Well, listen, grandiose notion of self-worth, pathological lying, lack of empathy and remorse,” he said.

Says the man whose candidate in 2008 preened in front of styrofoam Roman columns, uttered such portentous phrases as “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal” – merely because he had won the Democratic nomination in June – and “My job this morning is to be so persuasive . . . that a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Barack.”

And once in office promised over 36 times, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan,” and during his political career flipped, flopped, and flipped again on gay marriage.

And then there’s Obama and the Middle East.

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WAGES OF “SMART DIPLOMACY:” Legendary General James Mattis Warns US Influence ‘At Lowest In 40 Years.’

WELL, OBAMA SUCCESSFULLY TARRED BILL AND HILLARY AS RACIST DURING THE 2008 PRIMARY, SO NOW IT’S HER TURN TO PLAY THAT CARD: Mike Pence: Clinton’s ‘racial attacks’ an ‘act of desperation.’

HE’S LIKE BILL CLINTON’S MINI-ME: Anthony Weiner Caught Sexting Again.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: DNC Chair Completely Dodges Questions About State Department Links to Clinton Foundation.

“Based on what I’ve seen, I understand that there’s a new round of fresh eyes looking at more emails that might be released,” Brazile said on ABC This Week. “I’ve been dealing with another situation involving emails that were leaked. Private information that has been put out—”

“Let’s stick with the foundation,” host Martha Raddatz said.

“Well, I’ve got to stick with what I know,” Brazile said, laughing. “I’m not an official at the State Department.”

“I know, but answer that question,” Raddatz said. “Do you have a problem with that co-mingling?”

Co-mingling is a feature, not a bug.

YEMEN REBELS FIRE BALLISTIC MISSILES AT SAUDI ARABIA: The missiles are battlefield missiles the rebels captured from Yemen government stocks.

Excerpt:

The Saudis know they are vulnerable to one of those rebel ballistic missiles hitting a major oil facility. That would be a major blow to Arab resolve because this is the threat Iran has long posed. The American and Israeli firms that supply anti-missile systems have told senior Arab leaders that there is always a small chance a missile will get through. During the current campaign Saudi Patriot anti-missile systems have intercepted all rebel ballistic missiles aimed at important (lots of people or oil facilities) targets.

Also:

Two years of fighting between Shia rebels and the elected Yemeni government is believed to have cost Yemen over $14 billion in economic losses, over 6,500 dead and driven nearly three million people from their homes.

Read the whole thing.

UH OH: FBI says foreign hackers penetrated state election systems. Remember, you don’t have to swing an election. You can do more damage by undermining confidence in the results in key precincts and states, then letting partisans fight about it.

Happily, there’s a solution. But is there time to implement it?

BLUE STATE UPDATE: Massachusetts AG Maura Healey shoots Dems 
in foot with gun grab.

In July, Healey announced a ban on so-called “copycat” assault weapon models. The so-called “Massachusetts legal” guns were modified to comply with the state assault weapons ban — with no collapsible stocks, high-capacity magazines or other banned features — but they still look like the AR-15 and AK-47, and Healey said that is impermissible. Other semi-automatic rifles that perform the same, but don’t have a military appearance, are still legally sold in Massachusetts gun shops.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle blasted Healey’s move as a confusing overreach meant to pump up Healey’s political profile.

Related: Rolling rally protests AG Maura Healey’s ‘abuse of authority’ on 2nd Amendment. Punch back twice as hard, as a famous man says.

I’M NOT SAYING IT WAS COMMUNISTS, BUT IT WAS COMMUNISTS: The secret history of the EU, written on an Italian prison island, reveals why the project is doomed.

We were coyly told that the little island of Ventotene off Naples was where, in 1941, a prisoner of Mussolini’s had written the visionary manifesto that looked forward to building, after the war, a “United States of Europe”. What somehow got omitted was that Altiero Spinelli was a Communist (the Today programme merely described him on air as a “Fascist prisoner”, although, lest this be misunderstood, that was edited out of their online report).

We were not told that Spinelli’s Ventotene Manifesto proposed that his future government of Europe should be quietly assembled by its supporters over many years; and that only when all its pieces were in place would those supporters summon a convention to draw up a “Constitution for Europe”, which would finally reveal to the European people just what they had been up to.

What we were also not told – and this is seemingly one of the best-kept secrets of the whole story – is that many years later, when Spinelli was elected as a Communist MEP in 1979, he became the second most influential person, after Jean Monnet, in shaping “Europe” as we know it today.

Read the whole thing.

DNC CHAIR ON WIKILEAKS: WE’RE ‘VICTIMS OF A CYBER CRIME LED BY THUGS’ [VIDEO].

Who exposed that in reality, we’re a criminal organization masquerading as a political party, as Michael Walsh would say.

Besides, I’m old enough to remember when the left positively loved it when sensitive political secrets were leaked. Not to mention as Daniel Flynn wrote last month, “Democrats liked secret-stealing Russians so much better when they called themselves Communists.”

FOUR STATES WITH MASSIVE OBAMACARE COST INCREASES: The article discusses four states (Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky and Georgia) where approximately one in four people “covered with Obamacare plans or other individual market plans will see sizable price increases.” Get this: “More Obamacare rate increases will trickle out over the next few weeks, with the healthcare law’s fourth enrollment season set to begin Nov. 1.” This is an election issue — or it should be. A loud election issue. “If you like your doctor you can keep your…well, never mind.”

ANALYSIS: TRUE. David Plouffe: There are ‘legitimate questions’ about the Clinton Foundation.

Here’s the answer to those questions: It’s a money-laundry and an influence-peddling operation.

CARLOS DANGER STRIKES AGAIN: Anthony Weiner sexted busty brunette while his son was in bed with him, a story that’s catnip to the New York Post, which of course ran the front page headline “Pop Goes the Weiner.”

Reminder: Bill Clinton presided over the wedding of Weiner and Huma Abedin; Hillary Clinton has been quoted as saying, “I have one daughter. But if I had a second daughter, it would be Huma.”