January 20, 2018

JOE PAPPALARDO: 3 Things You Need to Know About Trump’s New National Defense Strategy.

IS ANYBODY SURPRISED BY THIS? Report: United Nations Rife With Sexual Harassment And Assault.

IN THE MAIL: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

Plus, fresh Gold Box and Lightning Deals. New deals every hour.


Read the whole thing.

ILLINOIS: Full, unedited, original FBI wiretaps of JB Pritzker and Rod Blagojevich.

‘IT WAS AN UNFORTUNATE ACCIDENT:’ Tom Petty’s family reveal he died of an overdose from a huge cocktail of pain medication — including Fentanyl and oxycodone — that he was taking for a broken hip.

But will we ever be given an explanation for the other tragedy that also dominated the news cycle that awful first Monday in October? Investigators still don’t know the motive behind the Las Vegas shooting.


Most days, it’s easy to forget that coastal California sits at the boundary of two tectonic plates—the Pacific and North American—which are slowly sliding by each other, creating the San Andreas complex of faults. It’s easy to forget that one strand, the Hayward Fault, runs the whole length of the East Bay, cutting under Berkeley and Oakland, just a mile from my house, and that there is a one-in-three chance that it will produce a devastating earthquake before I’m a senior citizen.

But then there are days like January 4, when a magnitude 4.4 quake struck. It hit in the evening, a couple hours after my wife and I had put the kids to bed. It was strong enough to make us wonder, for a few seconds, if this was the big one.

After it passed, we resolved to get another flashlight. My wife ordered MREs from a prepper site. A few days later, she sent me a map from the U.S. Geological Survey showing the epicenter of the earthquake. It was two blocks from our house.

Read the whole thing.


● Old and Busted: “A Big Lie: Newsweek Claims On Cover ‘We Are All Socialists Now.’”

● The New Hotness: Newsweek probe looking at alleged money laundering.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Police have to protect Trump supporters from mob at USC. Sadly, these days it’s cause for celebration when the police don’t just stand back and let the mob have its way.

OF SHITHOLES AND SECOND THOUGHTS: A former Peace Corps volunteer says based on her experience, Trump was right.

Earlier: After “Fire and Fury” and the “shithole” smear, Trump isn’t any less popular than before.

“CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL:” University of Alabama Student Expelled for Racist Instagram Rant.


HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Court denies college’s request to dismiss free speech case.

On Wednesday, California District Court rejected a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against Los Angeles Pierce College and the Los Angeles Community College District on the grounds of First Amendment violations.

Pierce College is a part of the largest community college district in the United States, the Los Angeles Community College District, yet it provides only .003 percent of its 426-acre campus to exercise free expression. In November 2016, Pierce College student and Young Americans for Liberty member Kevin Shaw was handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution when he was approached by a campus administrator and told he could not distribute literature outside of the free speech zone, a space of approximately 616 square feet. Shaw filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles Community College District with the help of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and co-counsel Arthur Willner, a partner at Leader & Berkon LLP, on March 28, 2017.

LA Pierce asked the court to dismiss the case on the grounds of their campus policy, but the court ruled that open spaces on LA Pierce’s campus are public forums, “regardless of Pierce’s regulations.” Thus, the policy regarding the free speech zone is moot.

The purpose of a university is to encourage free and open discourse and a healthy exchange of ideas. In a press release, FIRE Director of Litigation Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon said, “The campus is a college student’s public square. It’s their space to be engaged citizens. The public recognizes this. So do courts across the country. Now it’s time for LACCD to follow suit.”

Since the motion to dismiss was pre-discovery and was rejected, now the case will move into discovery and proceed forward.

Schools keep losing these cases. I think it’s clear enough now that officials shouldn’t enjoy qualified immunity.

WORKING FOR THE CLAMPDOWN: Blogger Working Against Iranian Dissidents Awarded Harvard Fellowship.


IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ANY SATIRIST TO COMPETE WITH REAL LIFE FOR ITS PURE ABSURDITY: Former FBI Director James Comey to teach ethical leadership class.

We have the worst elites in American history, to coin an Insta-phrase.

(Classical allusion in headline.)

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Employee Lawsuit Reveals Google as Intolerant Race Cult.

Just like Jim Crow of yesteryear, Google “formed opinions about and then treated Plaintiffs not based on their individual merits, but rather memberships in groups with assumed characteristics,” the complaint reads.

The complaint alleges that Google hires on the basis of race and sex, and punishes (and even fires) employees if they articulate political views that are not Leftist views. Worse, the complaint says that Google created company sanctioned blacklists, harassment committees, and even encouraged open vocal attacks on white males at company events.

Do you trust them with the Internet?

HOW PUBLIC UNIONS ENTHRALLED THE U.S.: Even labor-friendly Paris uses fewer workers than New York City, and for a fraction of the cost. American public unions pervert the process:

A new paper from Michael Lovenheim and Alexander Willen finds that “Using data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we demonstrate that collective bargaining law exposure leads to reductions in measured cognitive and non-cognitive skills among young adults, and these effects are larger for men.” In other words: If your teachers could collectively bargain, you got a worse education, and had worse life outcomes.

There are a number of mechanisms along which this could work. Unions might maximize wages at the expense of headcount, leading to too few teachers; they might bargain for work rules that eroded the quality of the teaching; they might protect ill-performing teachers; or they might inflate payrolls so much that other parts of the budget, such as textbooks, had to be cut back.

Of course, it’s only one study. But it is something we need to think about when we talk about the modern labor movement. The only thriving part of that movement right now is the government workforce. And they may be thriving at the expense of the rest of us.


TRUMPING THE ADMINISTRATIVE STATE: For Deregulators, It Was A Very Good Year.

WHO ARE YOU GOING TO BELIEVE? Luis Gutiérrez and Jorge Ramos, or The Associated Press and the US Army? In every interview when asked why the opposition to the wall, they say “it won’t work.” Really?

“Recent assaults by tactical teams on prototypes of President Donald Trump’s proposed wall with Mexico indicate their imposing heights should stop border crossers, a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the rigorous assessment told The Associated Press….Military special forces based in Florida and U.S. Customs and Border Protection special units spent three weeks trying to breach and scale the eight models in San Diego, using jackhammers, saws, torches and other tools and climbing devices…”

Ramos last night again on Tucker Carlson’s show trotted out the exact same “the wall is useless” line he’s been pushing for months. No sale.

January 19, 2018

IN THE WASHINGTON POST: I wasn’t a Trump supporter. I am now. “This may seem like an odd moment for saying so, but a year into the presidency of Donald Trump, I’m elated. Trump was not my first or even second choice for president, but a full two years ago I predicted he would win. I also predicted he’d be a progressive president, which explained why I was not among his supporters and why I am so pleased now.”

AT AMAZON, January Savings in Winter Sports.

WHAT FEMINISM HAS DONE TO RELATIONSHIPS, IN A NUTSHELL: “Couple this with the fact that as women get on average more educated there are fewer hypergamically-eligible males at every SES, and you have the jaws of a vicious vise. It’s especially hard on high-status women and low-status men. The main beneficiaries are high-status men, who often behave like entitled assholes because the new rules tilt the playing field in their favor even more than the old ones did. . . . I don’t have a fix for this problem. As you imply, if women were able to coordinate a retreat to withholding early sex they would regain some of their lost bargaining power, but I don’t see any realistic possibility of this today. The problem is that the refuseniks from such an agreement trying to form, and the defectors after it formed, would be rewarded with more sex with high-status men, which is exactly what every player on the female side is instinctively wired to want.”

I know I linked to this essay by Eric S. Raymond last night, but it was worth breaking this out.

HERE’S TONIGHT’S OPEN THREAD: Enjoy each other’s company.

IT’S LIKE 100% MEDIA NEGATIVITY IS ALREADY PRICED-IN: After “Fire and Fury” and the “shithole” smear, Trump isn’t any less popular than before. “He seems to be even a little more popular.”

As people see that they were lied to about the tax bill “only helping the rich,” he’s likely to gain traction against the press.

AT AMAZON, AmazonBasics AAA Rechargeable Batteries (12-Pack).

“GANG VIOLENCE.” Swedish PM does not rule out use of army to end gang violence. “Sweden will do whatever it takes, including sending in the army, to end a wave of gang violence that has seen a string of deadly shootings, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said in Wednesday. Sweden’s murder rate is relatively low in international terms, but gang violence has surged in recent years and Swedes are worried that the police are unable to cope.”

Weird that Sweden never had this problem until recently.

HISTORY: Fightin’ Iron: The Krag-Jørgensen Rifle.

NEW CIVILITY WATCH: Andrea Mitchell: Dems Must Get Deal ‘Written in Blood’ to Avoid Shutdown.

Earlier today: “CBS This Morning co-host John Dickerson on Friday touted Democratic talking points regarding a government shutdown. Talking to Senator Cory Gardner, Dickerson tried to explain away demanding a DACA fix in return for keeping the government open. He lectured the Republican: ‘Nothing focuses the mind like a hanging.’”


As Steve says, come and see the violence inherent in the leftism.

HE’S A MARINE, THEY KNOW HOW TO LEG IT: Mattis Was Late For A Speech, His Solution Will Make All Service Members Cheer. And somehow Mattis manages to look more badass in civvies than all those younger guys in uniform.

DISPATCHES FROM THE INTERSECTION OF THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE AND THE BATHROOM WARS: Oregon Parents Sue School District Over Transgender Bathrooms, Claiming Civil Rights Violations.

PROTECTING AGAINST frozen and stuck car doors.

AT AMAZON, save on Bestselling Game Downloads.

Plus, new offerings in Amazon Instant Video. Why be bored?

RAND PAUL’S ATTACKER PLEADS GUILTY TO FELONY. I’m not so sure I believe that it was lawncare related, but a felony plea is a felony plea.

ANNALS OF FEMINIST AUTOPHAGY: Neo-Neocon on Margaret Atwood: feminist vs. feminist.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Link was broken; should be working now.

ROLL LEFT AND DIE: NFL Playoffs Ratings Plunge by 23 Million. As Ace writes in response:

This year may be the first year I completely blow off the Super Bowl. Even if the Dreamy Tom Brady does start in it.

Maybe I also blew off last year’s game; I forget. I know one recent year I didn’t watch the first half, but tuned in for most of the second after I got the impression from social media and blog comments that it was a competitive game.

Anyway, not really feeling I’m missing anything. Looks like 23 million other people are not really missing anything along with me.

What about you guys? If you’ve stopped watching, what phase are you in? Are you in the phase I was in two years ago (watched some clips and recaps), last year (checked the paper occasionally, watched an occasional game digest on YouTube), or this year (only saw one football play by accident on Neil Cavuto)?

I click through the Super 70s Sports Twitter account and wonder how the NFL weathered a decade as tumultuous as that without a single anthem kneel. Why, it’s as if Pete Rozelle understood the average sports viewer just slightly better than Roger Goodell. Or as Iowahawk wrote:

Let us know your phase of NFL withdrawal (if any) in the comments.

THAT’S ALWAYS BEEN MY SUSPICION AS TO ITS TRUE PURPOSE: Could a Chinese Space Junk Laser Double as a Weapon?

CESSPITS OF MISOGYNY (CONT’D): Committee Calls for GAO Probe on ‘Pernicious Problem’ of Sexual Harassment in Science Community.


After raging through almost all of December, the so-called Thomas fire, California’s largest wildfire ever recorded, was finally contained on January 12.  While the worst is behind us (for now), the fact that last year’s wildfires so violently spun out of control puts the spotlight on the Golden State’s government and its lack of fire prevention measures.

The fires across the state caused unprecedented damage and loss of life.  Unsurprisingly, California governor Jerry Brown was quick to pin the blame on climate change for the forest fires’ ferocity and extraordinary longevity this season.  Whatever truth there may be to this, it would be a mistake to gloss over how misguided policies and regulations have hurt California’s ability to prevent and respond to fires.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), shrubs and live and dead vegetation are the most important factor in forest fires, being an easily ignitable fuel source that helps spread the flames quickly over vast distances.  For a dry and warm state prone to fires, regular clearing measures removing this vegetation should be common sense.  However, California has enacted several laws that heavily restrict such vital fire-preventing measures as logging, removal of dead trees, and clearing of dry underbrush.

As Jonah Goldberg noted today in his column titled “Does the California Model Really Work?”

Wealthy liberal Californians can be quite smug about how they can afford their strict land-use policies, draconian environmental regulations, and high taxes. And wealthy Californians can afford them — but poor Californians are paying the price.

Californians of all income levels had their lives disrupted, some tragically so, by December’s fires, but given that Jerry Brown has blamed them on the global warming boogieman, I doubt lefty Californians will be rethinking the destruction caused by their religious environmental beliefs. It’s tempting to quip sometimes you have to fry a few eggs to make an omelet, but to paraphrase Orwell, when does to California get to see the omelet?

(Via Small Dead Animals.)


CBS This Morning co-host John Dickerson on Friday touted Democratic talking points regarding a government shutdown. Talking to Senator Cory Gardner, Dickerson tried to explain away demanding a DACA fix in return for keeping the government open. He lectured the Republican: “Nothing focuses the mind like a hanging.”

Yes, Dickerson is paraphrasing Samuel Johnson, but murdering Republicans seems to be a recurring fantasy for the CBS anchorman:

Go for the Throat! Why if he wants to transform American politics, Obama must declare war on the Republican Party.

Headline, John Dickerson’s column at Slate, January 18, 2013.



● Rand Paul: Recovery after attack ‘was a living hell.’

Bernie Bro James T. Hodgkinson, Attempted Assassin Of Steve Scalise, Already Being Erased From History.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai canceled his appearance at CES because of death threats.

Terry McAuliffe says he’d punch Trump: ‘You’d have to pick him up off the floor.’

As Steve says, come and see the violence inherent in the leftism.


Please do it.

Here’s the thing – most of Trump supporters aren’t takers – they’re makers. They’re the people the government flunkies come to with their palms up whenever some bureaucrat wants to spend a zillion bucks studying LGBT issues among Antarctic penguins or funding the NPR’s X-rated reenactments of the Nativity. How sad are Trump’s supporters going to be if the deal is, “We don’t hand over citizenship to a bunch of people who shouldn’t be here and everyone they’re related to down to their 29th cousin three times removed, and in return, we make the government stop spending money.”

There is literally no Trump voter who will say, “Why, that’s a terrible deal! If that happens, we don’t give amnesty and we don’t spend money!”

Not one.

To the extent that a shut-down hurts some of the government’s few useful employees, like the members of our military, I eagerly look forward to Chuck n’ Nancy and the other circus freaks who make up the Democrat Capitol Crew explaining to the American people why they chose to make our men and women in uniform suffer so the Democrats can import some new ballot stuffers. “Support the troops unless we need to screw them over so we can ship in foreigners to vote for future Maryland Senator Chelsea Manning” seems like a flawed message, which is why I heartily encourage the Dems to try it out.

Kurt has a way of putting things.

Meanwhile Jim Treacher is panicking: A Government Shutdown Could Take Away Our Panda Cams!

OH, CANADA: Bonuses, performance pay for government executives rose in Trudeau’s 1st year.

Spending on bonuses and other performance pay for top federal government executives increased by more than double the rate of inflation in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first year in office, CBC News has learned.

The 3.2 per cent increase in spending for 2015-16, the most recent year available, was also more than twice the 1.25 per cent pay increases the government has negotiated with many of its public sector unions.

Spending on performance pay for top executives increased to $75 million from $72.6 million the year before with wide fluctuations in the percentage increases — or decreases — in many departments.

Trickle-up economics.

JONATHAN TURLEY: James Clapper’s perjury, and why DC made men don’t get charged for lying to Congress. In DC, perjury is not simply tolerated, it is rewarded. In a city of made men and women, nothing says loyalty quite as much as lying under oath.

“The problem is not that the perjury statute is never enforced. Rather it is enforced against people without allies in government.” (Bumped).

J. CHRISTIAN ADAMS: Employee Lawsuit Reveals Google As Intolerant Race Cult.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Horsepower Versus Torque: An Explainer.

WAR ON WOMEN UPDATE: Andrew Klavan: Democrats Play Women for Fools.

BLUE STATE BLUES: That New York Condo Just Got a Lot More Expensive. “Apartment buyers in New York are pausing to figure out how the new tax law will affect ownership costs.”

After four consecutive months of increases, the number of contracts signed in December declined both for new condo buildings and older co-ops and condos.

Overall the number of contracts signed in December, the month the tax overhaul was finalized, declined 12% from the same month in 2016, according to real-estate listing and data site UrbanDigs.com.

Brokers said it was too soon to tell whether the pullback is temporary or may be the beginning of a reassessment of the value of homeownership in light of higher after-tax ownership costs.

If New York is genuinely interested in affordable housing, they could start cutting taxes and regulations.

ENFORCING THE LAW WILL BE NOT BE TOLERATED: ‘We will prosecute’ employers who help immigration sweeps, California AG says.

YES, PROVIDED YOU’RE ALREADY WELL-OFF: Does the California Model Really Work?

There’s a new data point to inform the debate that hopefully will be more difficult to ignore: California is the poverty capital of America.

The Census Bureau has come up with a new and better way to measure poverty. The standard model doesn’t take into account all sorts of factors that matter in the real world — the overall cost of living, including food, housing prices, utilities, medical care, and taxes.

This is just common sense. The median household income in Mississippi is about $41,000 per year. In California it’s about $65,000. Does anyone doubt that $41,000 goes a lot further in Biloxi than in Los Angeles?

According to the standard poverty measure, Mississippi ranks first in the nation with a rate of 20.8 percent. California ranks 16th. The Census Bureau’s “Supplemental Poverty Measure” places California first in the nation with a poverty rate of 20.4, and Mississippi falls to fifth.

Wealthy liberal Californians can be quite smug about how they can afford their strict land-use policies, draconian environmental regulations, and high taxes. And wealthy Californians can afford them — but poor Californians are paying the price.

Trickle-up economics.

FAITH MOORE: The Lie of Modern Feminism Is Beginning to Bite Feminists in the Butt.


And despite many learned assurances to the contrary, too.

COMPETITION: Peeved by price gouging and shortages, hospitals will now make their own drugs.

NEWS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE: UT, Harvard, Penn Team Up on Major Materials Breakthrough. We have an excellent Materials Science program.

UGH: Spectre CPU patches can cause unwanted reboots, Intel warns.

THIS IS NOT A GREAT SALES JOB: Toxic Extract Used in Poison Arrows Could Be The Future of Male Contraception.

J. CHRISTIAN ADAMS: Employee Lawsuit Reveals Google As Intolerant Race Cult.

CHANGE IS COMING: Jordan B Peterson, Critical Theory, and the New Bourgeoisie.

HEADLINES FROM 2016: Jimmy Kimmel jumps the partisan shark.

For whatever reason, Kimmel on Wednesday night felt qualified to lecture a low-level Paul Ryan aide on Twitter about a short-term, stop-gap continuing resolution with an attached six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program but without permanent reform to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Or as Kimmel oversimplified, making kids “a bargaining chip.”

Altogether Kimmel got somewhere around fifty-thousand likes and retweets for his platitudes because apparently the public thinks it’s normal to get parliamentary analysis from comedians. But they got duped.

Whether Kimmel realizes it or not, the shutdown drama surrounding DACA and CHIP has nothing to do with sick kids or immigrant kids without papers. It has everything to do with politics. The statements and the subsequent silence of the senior Democrat senator from Ohio bear this out.

Shortly before Christmas last year, Sen. Sherrod Brown declared that CHIP reauthorization was “ready to go” and added that if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “put it on the floor today, it would pass. There is no excuse for this delay that is hurting families.” Less than a month later, that legislation is rolled up in the CR and waiting. Brown is conspicuously silent.

That’s what passes for comedy gold these days.

THIS IS NOTHING TO BE PROUD OF: Tennessee’s Haircut Cops Bust Barbers Who Lack High School Diplomas.

So we got some reform last year with legislation from State Sen. Mark Green (now running for Marsha Blackburn’s congressional seat) and Rep. Martin Daniel’s bill to make licensing boards justify their requirements. If it were up to me I’d get rid of them root and branch. But at the very least, these boards should have a majority of members who aren’t in the profession being protected from competition. Er, I mean, “regulated for the benefit of the public.” Okay, no, actually I was right the first time.

YOU DON’T SAY: The Media Has a Very Different Attitude Toward Donald Trump’s Health Than Hillary Clinton’s.

Devastating video put together by the Free Beacon’s Andrew Kugle, who tweeted, “I had 6 minutes of extra clips that I had to cut from this.”. I believe that’s known as riches of embarrassment.

Also at the link, video of MSNBC’s “incredibly defensive” coverage of Clinton’s campaign fainting spell.

BLUE STATE BLUES: People flocking to low-tax states could swing future elections.

The new 2017 Census estimates can be used to give us a year-over-year change from 2016 or, alternatively, estimates can be based on a longer-trend line. The data gives a nice summary of estimates for congressional seat changes after the 2020 Census.

The state with the largest downside risk appears to be Illinois, which will lose one congressional seat in 2020 and is in danger of being the only state in the U.S. to lose two seats.

Illinois suffered the largest net population loss of any state in the past year, and due to that loss, it was overtaken by Pennsylvania this year as the fifth-largest state in the country. Major tax increases passed in 2017 will certainly not help this downward economic spiral.

The 2017 Census estimates also contain some troubling news for the nation’s largest state, California. While the 2010 Census was the first in state history to not add an additional congressional seat, 2020 could be worse for the Golden State.

Some current projections show high-tax California is on the bubble to actually lose a congressional seat in 2020 — a shocking development for a state that gained seven seats between 1980 and 1990 alone.

For history buffs, it is possible that high-tax Rhode Island will lose one of its two congressional seats in 2020. That will be the first time since 1789 that Rhode Island only has one congressional seat.

Meanwhile, another state with extremely high tax burdens, New York, is set to lose yet another seat in 2020, the eighth census in a row that the Empire State has forfeited seats.

They’d rather rule over the ruins than reform.

IN THE MAIL: From David Drake, The Spark.

Plus, fresh Gold Box and Lightning Deals. New deals every hour. Your patronage is always appreciated!

THE ONLY WORSE POSSIBLE OUTCOME IS IF THEY SUCCEED: Merkel’s Coalition Partner: Failure of CDU, SPD Talks Will Be ‘Catastrophe’ for Germany.

ONE YEAR AGO TODAY, Hillary Clinton did not become President.

CLOCK ON CLINTONS TICKING DOWN UNDER, TOO: Former President Bill Clinton signed a $25 million Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian government in 2006 at a time when he apparently was not legally able to do so, according to Michael Smith, an Aussie investigative journalist and retired police detective.

During the formal ceremony announcing the MOU, Smith said “Clinton spoke as the decision-maker wholly responsible for the performance of the Clinton Foundation.  He held no such role and while he may have been confident in his ability to influence the board of the Clinton Foundation – his statements about control and establishment of the Clinton Foundation were false, misleading and had the effect of engendering unwarranted confidence in what turned out to be a false narrative concerning the foundation’s ability to deliver on its agreements.”

The MOU provided $25 million from Australian taxpayers and the foundation pledged to match that amount from its own funds for HIV/Aids projects in Papua New Guinea, China and Vietnam. Smith reportedly was asked to provide the FBI with evidence he’s accumulated over a multi-year effort about Clinton Foundation activities in the Pacific region and Asia, much of which appears to be extremely damning. More details at LifeZette.


WHY NOTHING WORKS: Even labor-friendly Paris uses fewer workers than New York City, and for a fraction of the cost. American public unions pervert the process.

Take a look at the cost schedule for American government services, and you are likely to walk away boggled. Who are all these people working for the government? Why are they getting paid so much? And why does it seem to take so many of them to get anything done?

Look, for example, at the recent construction of the Second Avenue subway line in New York City, recently highlighted by the New York Times as “the most expensive mile of subway track on earth.” The employees singled out in that article do not work for the city, but they might as well; it is a collection of consultants, contractors and union laborers who work largely on government infrastructure projects.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that my father used to be the head of the trade association for the contractors who do this sort of work in New York City; my views were formed by this perspective. The current head of that association is interviewed in the Times article.

I have a slightly different perspective on why everything costs so much, which is that in New York, there is a collision of all the things that conspire to drive up costs. Other places may have eminent domain trouble, or politically influential labor unions, or somewhat challenging geography, or laws that let community groups delay work, or multiple layers of government and government review that pile up costs, or high costs of living that drive wages through the roof, or dysfunctional government bidding processes. … New York has all of these things in something close to their terminal form. It’s actually sort of a miracle that anything ever gets built there, or that it costs less than “all the money in the world, plus 50 cents.”

But as the Times notes, both the cost of labor and the amount of labor that’s used contribute a great deal to those bloated bottom lines. Why does Paris, with its feisty unions, manage to use fewer workers than New York City, and get jobs done for a fraction of the cost?

Because New York unions are politically connected, and for various reasons, the American government is particularly vulnerable to capture by these sorts of interests, especially as regional partisanship hardens.

We should ban public-employee unions.

WINNING: Apple Gives Employees $2,500 Bonuses After New Tax Law.

The iPhone maker will begin issuing stock grants to most employees worldwide in the coming months, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The move comes on the same day Apple said it would bring back most of its cash from overseas and spend $30 billion in the U.S. over the next five years, funding an additional technical support campus, data centers and 20,000 new employees.

Apple confirmed the bonuses in response to a Bloomberg inquiry Wednesday. The Cupertino, California-based company joins a growing list of American businesses that have celebrated the introduction of corporate-friendly tax law with one-time bonuses for staff. AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp., JetBlue Airways Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. also said they were giving bonuses.

I can’t imagine many of the people in these boardrooms being exactly happy about making a Republican tax law look so good, but the economics of it are undeniable.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: Team Obama still hasn’t learned the lesson of 2016.

Never does [Samantha] Power give any indication that the policies and character of the administration she served for eight years might have had some role in the outcome of the election. Weak economic growth, capricious and stultifying and often-unconstitutional regulation, a rejection of military deterrence in favor of negotiation and accommodation with undemocratic great powers and their proxies, the removal of troops from Iraq and the supercilious reference to ISIS as the “JV team,” the constant tweaking and trolling of conservatives and Republicans to make them batty, and all enacted with an omnipresent and choking air of moral and intellectual superiority and pride—none of this factors in her analysis. So convinced is Power of the righteousness of her positions and stature and the inevitable course of History and Progress that Trump appears to her almost as an apparition, a figure from a different dimension, far removed from any universe in which she and her boss lived and acted. Another Obama mistake.

I don’t mean to single out Power. This distended mentality of merit and awesome lack of self-awareness was an Obama administration specialty.

Read the whole thing, needless to say.

REPORT: ‘Believe the victim’ mentality undermines justice.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Fusion GPS Unleashed, Shutdown Countdown and Much, Much More.

HOW ABOUT ON EARTH? Nuclear reactors the size of wastebaskets could power our Martian settlements.

B-52 ON GUAM: Good photo.

IF I WERE A GOP DONOR, I’D FUND A “WELCOME WAGON” EFFORT TO EXPLAIN TO THESE TRANSPLANTS WHY THEIR NEW STATES ARE DOING BETTER THAN THEIR OLD ONES: People flocking to low-tax states could swing future elections. It wouldn’t be hard to identify the movers, and reach out to them.


NANCY PELOSI: ‘We Must Fight Even Harder Against Trump’s Authoritarian Impulses Now That We’ve Voted To Enable Them.’

Not really — that headline is from The Onion. On the other hand, genuinely funny comedy always contains at least a germ of truth.

SOMEWHERE, ROGER AILES IS SMILING: Male Megyn Kelly staffer fired after reporting ‘toxic and demeaning’ work culture. “Kevin Bleyer was fired as a writer from ‘Megyn Kelly Today’ this week after complaining that Kelly’s two top execs, Jackie Levin and Christine Cataldi, were bullying lower level members of staff. He was fired even though Kelly has made fighting abuse her personal crusade. Plus, in the wake of Matt Lauer’s firing, NBC ordered all staff to report workplace bad behavior, supposedly without fear or reprisal.”

What kind of sucker would believe that, or that it applied to men?

CHANGE: The U.S. Air Force Is Quietly Cutting A-10s.

No doubt the A-10 is a great ground-pounder, but those airframes are getting old and expensive to maintain. Worse, they won’t be survivable in the surface-to-air missile-infested environment we’ll find against near-peer foes.

WHY NOT JUST USE THE NEW FEINSTEIN STANDARD AND RELEASE THEM AT WHIM? GOP Reps Demand Immediate Release of ‘Shocking,’ ‘Troubling’ Memo on FISA Abuses.

HERE WE GO AGAIN: Congress hurtles toward shutdown.

Though House Republicans voted Thursday night to keep the government open, the real drama is in the closely divided Senate, where it’s unclear what, if anything, can clear the chamber’s supermajority threshold. The Senate couldn’t even agree on holding a vote on Thursday night, adjourning after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spurned Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request to hold a vote and, assuming it failed, restart bipartisan negotiations on immigration and government spending levels.

Senators said they expected a vote on Friday, but had little idea what would come next.

“These are hard issues, there’s a lot of disagreement. Not just on substance but how to proceed to it. And everybody’s trying to gain leverage,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)., the No. 3 GOP leader.

The real sticking point is DACA, or as Mark Steyn put it last night, “the Democrats’ ever more explicit preference for illegal immigrants over American citizens.”

UH-HUH: Today Show Executive Producer Steps Down To Spend More Time With His Children. “Don Nash, the executive producer of NBC’s Today Show for the past five years, is stepping down to spend more time with his family. At least that’s what the official word inside NBC News is claiming is the reason. CNN suggests people inside NBC aren’t buying it.”

MICHAEL WALSH: Media Chickens of the Frankfurt School Have Come Home to Roost.

WHY ARE DEMOCRAT-RUN MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS SUCH CESSPITS OF MISOGYNY? Accusations Of ‘Frat House’ Behavior Trail ‘LA Times’ Publisher’s Career.

EYE IN THE SKY: Six Chinese Ships Covertly Aided North Korea. The U.S. Was Watching.

The effort identified the ships by name and tracked their movements. The ships either entered ports in North Korea and transported what U.S. officials concluded was illicit cargo to Russia and Vietnam or made ship-to-ship transfers at sea.

According to the U.S., which presented the information to a U.N. sanctions committee, the ships also made extensive maneuvers designed to disguise their violations of the U.N. sanctions. In August, the U.N. banned North Korean exports of coal, iron ore, lead and seafood, which have generated an estimated $1 billion a year in hard currency for North Korea.

A review by The Wall Street Journal of corporate records and shipping databases shows that the six vessels identified by the U.S. are owned or managed by Chinese companies or firms that are registered in Hong Kong and have shareholders who are Chinese nationals and have used addresses in mainland China.

In December, the U.S. asked the sanctions committee to formally designate the six ships as sanctions violators. China resisted that request but allowed four other vessels with no apparent links to Chinese companies to be blacklisted. The names of the four blacklisted ships were announced by the U.N., but the other six weren’t.

Let’s name names. And if China is so determined to kill nuclear non-proliferation in East Asia, perhaps it’s time we encouraged South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan to deploy nukes of their own.

Strictly for self-protection from local tyrants, of course, whom we do not have to name.

DISHWASHERS… YOU IS USING THEM WRONG: You could get a UTI from your dishwasher.  Unless your dishwasher is human, in which case you might still be doing it wrong, but it’s at least understandable.

SMOD NOT DROPPING IN, YET:  Skyscraper-sized asteroid will buzz Earth.