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I’M SO OLD, I CAN REMEMBER WHEN THE CAMP OF THE SAINTS WAS JUST A NOVEL: ‘It’s A Human Right’ — Mexican Presidential Candidate Calls For Mass Exodus To America.

QUESTION ASKED: Why Does a Nation of 320 Million Need Millions of More Immigrants?

I’m so old, I remember when the left was still obsessed with zero population growth.

I’M SO OLD, I CAN REMEMBER WHEN BILLIONAIRES SPENDING TO INFLUENCE ELECTIONS WERE A THREAT TO DEMOCRACY: Michael Bloomberg Will Spend $80 Million on the Midterms. His Goal: Flip the House for the Democrats.

JOHN KASS: Obama’s silky lie and FBI bias in the Clinton investigation.

Of all the silky lies being told in Washington over the findings of the FBI’s inspector general on the biased culture of those investigating Hillary Clinton’s email server, one lie seems to be ignored:

It’s the silky lie told by then-President Barack Obama.

It may have set the tone for the smarmy intrigue detailed in the FBI inspector general’s damning 500-page report on the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

And Washington is revealed once again as our modern Versailles, a place of courtiers and lickspittles who’d use the Ministry of Justice to serve their ambitions.

Obama told his silky lie when his chosen successor was Hillary Clinton.

Clinton had endangered top secret information by using an unsecured, home-brew email server when she was U.S. secretary of state. Any other American who dared risk top government secrets on a basement server would have faced federal prosecution and prison.

Obama’s lie was told in 2015, when Obama was asked by CBS’ Bill Plante when he learned Mrs. Clinton had used an unsecured email server.

“The same time everybody else learned it, through news reports,” Obama said. He was so silky that you couldn’t even hear his tongue rustling along his teeth.

He waxed on about how his administration was all about “transparency.”

But Obama did not learn about Clinton’s home-brew server like “everybody else.”

According to the inspector general’s report, Obama was in fact one of 13 top government officials communicating with Clinton on her private email server, even as Clinton’s server was targeted by foreign intelligence services.

According to the IG report, before former (and fired) FBI Director James Comey took it upon himself to publicly criticize Clinton (and exonerate her from a criminal charge), a draft of his public address was heavily edited.

It was edited for Hillary Clinton’s benefit, to buttress the case that what she did wasn’t prosecutable.

But Comey’s comments were also edited to protect someone else. The IG report discusses a key paragraph in Comey’s statement summarizing the FBI’s thinking that “hostile actors” had accessed Clinton’s server.

The paragraph, the report said, “referenced Clinton’s use of her private email for an exchange with then President Obama while in the territory of a foreign adversary. This reference was later changed to ‘another senior government official,’ and ultimately was omitted.”

Obama cut his political teeth in Chicago. And Chicago Democrats are asking taxpayers to help build a great Temple of Love and Fealty to honor that “senior government official.”

And they’ll honor him by name.

Just chew on this apiece: How could Hillary Clinton ever be prosecuted without implicating Obama, who emailed her using a pseudonym?

Obama might have been portrayed as a victim of her use of a private server. She used that server to hide her dealings with the controversial Clinton Foundation from congressional inquiry. She should have been prosecuted.

But then, two things would have happened.

Her campaign would have fallen apart immediately, and along with it, Obama’s legacy.

The Obama White House, the senior pro-Obama bosses of the FBI and just about all the political suits thought Clinton would be our next president.

And who wants to anger the next ruler? Careers were at stake, promotions, perks, power, just as it was back in the day, in old Versailles.

I’m beginning to suspect that Versailles was less corrupt.

Related: “Elites Value Mellifluous Illegality over Crass Lawfulness.”

BRIE LARSON MAKES A SMALL CONTRIBUTION TO THE TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN: In a piece titled, “Brie Larson Promises ‘I Do Not Hate White Dudes,’ But Laments Lack of Inclusion Among Film Critics,” the future Captain Marvel, age 28, is quoted as saying:

“I do not need a 70-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work for him about ‘[A] Wrinkle in Time.’ It wasn’t made for him. I want to know what it meant to women of color, to biracial women, to teen women of color, to teens that are biracial.”

“And while this is very woke of Ms. Larson,” Sonny Bunch writes in response at the Washington Free Beacon, “I sense two issues with her theory of criticism. The first is that she doesn’t actually have to read old white men to find out A Wrinkle in Time is not particularly good; there are plenty of women and minorities who are happy to fill her in on that fact.” Bunch links to a screenshot full of female, black and Hispanic reviewers who didn’t give thumbs up to A Wrinkle in Time, adding: 

But there’s a bigger, more troubling issue with Larson’s line of thinking: the presumption that certain people are more prone to appreciating specific works of art because they fit into some broader category of gender or race or whatever. As Jessica Ritchey noted in Mel Magazine after an Internet gadfly suggested Vertigo is only considered a good movie because “lol white men amirite,” this is kind of gross:

One of the most exhausting aspects of our current cultural moment are the “ugh, only straight white men like this” takes that completely erase the voices of female critics, critics of color and fans who don’t fit neatly into binaries of who “should” like/dislike something. It’s part of a larger and much more pernicious problem — mistaking pop-culture consumption for moral worth as opposed to, you know, how we carry ourselves every day; how we treat other people; and how we support (or don’t) the causes that matter to us. Instead, we equate what someone watches on Netflix as the mark of a good/bad person.

Art is complicated; art is messy; art doesn’t fit into neat little boxes. Sure, A Wrinkle in Time got hammered. But Moonlight is a film about a gay black man that was nigh-on unanimously praised by the straight-white-male critical corps. Girls Trip is a film about black women that clocked in at 90 percent fresh. Black Panther? 97 percent approval rating. I’m not sure a more diverse array of voices would actually change that much when it comes to a bad film’s reception, at least in the extremely reductive sense of a film’s RT score.

In her response to Larson, Amy Alkon tweets, “Age-ist, sexist, racist thinking is now so chic. Guess what: I have read @TerryTeachout‘s insights for decades and appreciated the hell out of his insights. He’s a white dude. Whatever. It’s the insights I come for, not the skin color or age.”

Brendan O’Neill of Spiked wrote in his FaceBook page last year that, “It’s becoming so clear now why the war of words between SJWs and the new white nationalists is so intense. It isn’t because they have huge ideological differences — it’s because they have so much in common.”

And as Glenn noted last year:

If you divide America along racial/ethnic lines, eventually the largest racial/ethnic group will start to think of itself as a racial/ethnic group and act accordingly. But in the meantime, it’s a good living for [Ta-Nehisi] Coates, and I guess an okay one for [alt-right founder Richard] Spencer.

And if you want more Trump, well, Coates will help you get more Trump, and a lot more effectively than Spencer ever has. Right after the election, John Podhoretz tweeted, “Liberals spent 40 years disaggregating [the] U.S., until finally the largest cohort in the country chose to vote as though it were an ethnic group.” That’s where “whiteness”-as-original-sin gets you. But hey, like I said, it’s a good living for some people.

Larson’s Captain Marvel movie, distributed by the ever-woke Walt Disney Studios, opens in March of 2019. I wonder how many identity politics-themed bon mots Larson will be tossing to interviewers during its run up.

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Golden Arches in North Korea?

Just a coincidence, I’m sure, but didn’t the Moscow McDonalds mark the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union?

SCOTUSBLOG SYMPOSIUM: Masterpiece Cakeshop — not as narrow as may first appear.

What the Supreme Court said was different but may ultimately come to nearly the same place. The court said that the inconsistent treatment of Phillips and the protected bakers showed hostility towards Phillips’ religious faith. Colorado had violated its duty “not to base laws or regulations on hostility to a religion or a religious viewpoint.” The state must “proceed in a manner neutral toward and tolerant of Phillips’ religious beliefs.” The commission had been “neither tolerant nor respectful”; it had proceeded on the basis of “a negative normative ‘evaluation of the particular justification’ for his objection” (quoting Lukumi).

There is a practical holding and an ideal holding here. The practical holding is that the unequal treatment of Phillips and the protected bakers is evidence of unconstitutional hostility. Conscientious objectors embroiled in litigation will have to send testers to smoke out uneven enforcement of anti-discrimination law. We expect that states are unwilling to require socially liberal vendors to produce goods with conservative religious messages they find offensive or against their conscience. If that is so, then those states cannot require religiously conservative vendors to produce goods in violation of their conscience.

The Supreme Court has announced a powerful ideal. Even when a law has no explicit exceptions, hostile enforcement is unconstitutional. Single-issue agencies that enforce state civil-rights laws must approach claims to religious exemptions with tolerance and respect. And this is apparently an absolute rule; the court does not consider whether hostility might be justified by some state interest, compelling or otherwise.

But a requirement of tolerance and respect, or even the avoidance of hostility, is difficult to enforce. The opponents of religious exemptions will now start doing the sorts of things done by many other government officials resisting constitutional mandates. They will seek doctrinal and rhetorical manipulations to cloak their hostility to the constitutional right, and their unequal treatment of objectors they agree with and objectors they don’t.

Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission will have to do a better job of hiding its hostility from now on, but I’m not sure they have it in them.

JIM TREACHER: The Final Act of ‘The Final Year’ Is the Best Comedy of 2018.

After the first hour or so, I was about ready to demand my 99 cents back. Jeff Bezos may be made of money, but I’m not.

But then, in the blink of an eye, the entire tone of the film changed. In an instant, it became much, much less difficult to watch. Suddenly, all the arrogance and pomposity of the previous 72 minutes was worth it. Suddenly, I was laughing out loud and clapping.

Why?

November 8, 2016.

You may have seen the following meme-worthy moment from the film, in which the documentarians stick a camera in Ben Rhodes’ face after he’s just gotten the final election results. We see his every twitch and nuance as he haltingly expresses his feelings about being so completely wrong.*

SPOILER: It is wonderful.

As George C. Scott’s Patton famously warned at the conclusion of the movie, “For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph — a tumultuous parade…Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot, or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”

In the last 50 years, that person has been the documentary filmmaker, as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Chuck Berry all discovered the hard way. Or as Kyle Smith wrote in his review of The September Issue, the 2009 look back at Vogue and the sneering pomposity of its editor, Anna Wintour just before the dead tree publishing industry hit the big iceberg, the magic of the documentary is simple: “Convince somebody that you’re going to make them a big-screen star, then let them hang themselves.” Except that with The Final Year, both its stars and its director were absolutely certain how their movie was going to end. But in the end, Ben Rhodes built an echo chamber too far.

I’M OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER WHEN MAKING FUN OF OUR PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER WOULD RUIN YOUR LIFE.

The morning after the uneventful pardoning, my news feed began blowing up with stories about a GOP hill staffer named Elizabeth Lauten, who worked for a backbencher congressman. She decided to criticize the Obama daughters on her Facebook page. Lauten attacked their fashion choices, writing in part, “Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar.”

Her post made the media world go apoplectic. It began a 72 hour outrage cycle. Lauten was called racist, bigoted and insensitive. The cultural zeitgeist would not be satisfied unless it received due punishment for the crime. Lauten was of course fired, even though she apologized the same day.

Her political career was ruined forever.

As I wrote at the time, “In a city where image is everything, this is about the worst thing that can happen to a person. To this day, Lauten has found it impossible to get re-hired in the public sector. The media got its scalp and the precedent was set: Do not attack a President’s children.”

Since then, the cultural paradigm has shifted.

Judging by CNN’s Brian Stelter, I’m not sure what the problem is:

Has it come this? I’m sorry, I thought this was America — are we not allowed to say “feckless” anymore? The “scooplet” is also a nice touch, since Stelter is being fed information by an affiliated network so that he can aid  in their PR cleanup effort.

IT’S NOT YOU: THEY HAVE BECOME UNHINGED. “Democrat compares budget process to rape, NC to North Korea.” It’s a few days old, but worth noting.

Democratic state Rep. Mickey Michaux of Durham is declining to apologize for comments he made during a press conference on Tuesday, when he expressed his anger over how the state budget is being crafted…”Today we have seen a rape of this budget,” Michaux said Tuesday. “And I’m having problems right now trying to reconcile whether I’m in North Carolina or North Korea.”

I’m surprised he didn’t work the Holocaust in there. The best part…wait for it, wait for it…Michaux, the third African-American elected to the N.C. General Assembly, is serving his 43rd year in office.

DISPATCHES FROM THE NEW CIVILITY. Samantha Bee: Ivanka Trump certainly is a feckless c*nt.

But she’ll get a pass, of course. As Allahpundit writes:

Bee is “in the family,” to borrow a memorable phrase from liberal paterfamilias Jeffrey Goldberg. But Rutz is right that Kimmel or Colbert or any male host who’s also “in the family” would have taken some heat for saying this. It wouldn’t have been a firing offense a la Roseanne’s racist joke and an apology would have been duly offered, probably in the course of blaming Trump for letting their temper momentarily cloud their good judgment. (“It’s just this war and that lying son of a bitch Johnson!”) Family can always be forgiven but there are times when they need “correction.”

Even Bee probably would have had to apologize, though, if she had leveled this at a left-wing woman, as hard to imagine as that is. If she’d called Jill Stein a see-you-next-Tuesday for pulling key votes from Hillary in the Rust Belt, some perfunctory remorse might need to be arranged. The reason Bee dropped the C-bomb, which is rare even on pay TV, is because all the stars had aligned here and she knew it — she’s in the family, she’s a woman, the policy she’s describing is deeply loathed by Democrats, and her target was not just a woman affiliated with the right but Trump’s favorite child/advisor. Given a chance to utter one of the few remaining taboo words on television with impunity, knowing the sweet, sweet clapter it would produce, how could she resist?

As the Washington Examiner noted last year, after Bee described a young Democrat recovering from cancer as having “Nazi hair,” because he happened to have attended CPAC:

In January, just weeks before then-President-elect Trump was sworn into office, Bee made a call for decency.

“We’re facing a new reality after the election. These next four years are going to require a broad coalition of straight-up decency,” Bee said in a freewheeling interview with the New York Times.

“And we’re going to need to be able to talk to people who would normally feel alienated by my show,” she added.

Sounds like a good plan. When does she start?

When the next president has a (D) after his or her name.

Related: “Tonight, Bee is scheduled to receive an award from the Television Academy for ‘advancing social change.’ Were it not for double standards…”

Increasingly, I’m convinced that we’re living in the Matrix — and the robots hired Tom Wolfe to write the source code.

NEWS YOU CAN USE? How to hear (and delete) every conversation your Amazon Alexa has recorded.

First, open the Alexa app on your smart device. Tap the hamburger icon on the top left side of the screen to open the menu options. Click on the Settings menu, then find History.

Here, you’ll be able to browse all the commands you’ve ever asked of Alexa, from timers to music requests to general internet queries. You can also sort the results by date. Sometimes you may even see just a line item that says “Alexa,” for those times you may have mentioned the assistant’s name but didn’t mean to actually use it.

You may notice a few instances where the Alexa app notes a “text not available.” Click on this and you can listen to a recording of what you or someone in your household said that prompted the Echo to listen to your current conversation. In the case of our Weekend Editor, Andrew Liptak, his Echo device recorded a snippet of his mother-in-law teasing his son, saying “Alexa is going to take over your house.” In the app, Alexa concluded that the audio was not intended for the assistant, and the speaker did not return a response.

If you are uncomfortable having any particular recording in your Alexa history, you can delete it on an individual basis, or go to the Amazon’s Manage Your Content and Devices page to wipe it entirely. The company, of course, cautions that doing so “may degrade your Alexa experience.”

If I’m reading this correctly: Amazon has made it Easy for Alexa to record you, and a hassle for you to delete; and threatens reduced functionality if you do.

I’M IN FAVOR OF THIS TOO: The left turns up the heat to break up Facebook.

Related: Social Media As Social Disease.

I’M SO OLD, I CAN REMEMBER WHEN EVEN SUGGESTING THAT THEY MIGHT BE SPYING ON TRUMP WAS CRAZED CONSPIRACY-THEORY STUFF: Talk of unproven FBI ‘plant’ in Trump campaign circulates among Republicans.

MORE PEOPLE NEED TO SHOOT: Shooting an ‘assault weapon’ helped me understand the gun debate.

The gun in my hands could be made illegal if the Delaware General Assembly passes Senate Bill 163 — the “assault weapons ban” that has become the most fiercely-contested legislation of this session. It would be a felony to buy, sell or transfer it — even to own it, unless you could prove you bought it before the ban took effect.

This particular gun is owned by Jim Bowman, president of the Delaware Rifle and Pistol Club outside Wilmington. He and another club leader, Roger Boyce, graciously invited me to come shoot so I could get a better understanding of why gun owners like them oppose SB 163.

The gun is fitted with an electronic sight, so, even as a relative novice, it doesn’t take long before I’m rapidly cycling between five different targets, the bullets chewing big holes in the orange circles.

There is a trance-like feeling to concentrating utterly on a target, focusing on the minute muscle movements that separate a hit from a miss. I can quickly understand the appeal of sport-shooting.

More profoundly, holding this firearm is immensely empowering. I understand how it would give its owner a sense of strength in protecting himself and his family.

Yep.

THIS IS #RESIST? TRUMP HATERS LOVE INSTAGRAM PIC SHOWING AYATOLLAH READING MICHAEL WOLFF’S FIRE AND FURY.“I’m so glad that so many of you find the Instagram post of a dictator who imprisons, tortures, and kills innocent people to be hilarious because you hate Trump so much. Perhaps I would have a sense of humor if this were Macron or Merkel — but get a grip…it’s not.”

Shades of the efforts by those who hated President Bush to rehabilitate the reputation of Saddam Hussein.

WALL STREET JOURNAL: About That FBI ‘Source:’ Did the Bureau engage in outright spying against the 2016 Trump campaign?

The Department of Justice lost its latest battle with Congress Thursday when it allowed House Intelligence Committee members to view classified documents about a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Even without official confirmation of that source’s name, the news so far holds some stunning implications.

Among them is that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s request for details on this secret source was “wholly appropriate,” “completely within the scope” of the committee’s long-running FBI investigation, and “something that probably should have been answered a while ago.” Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it.

House investigators nonetheless sniffed out a name, and Mr. Nunes in recent weeks issued a letter and a subpoena demanding more details. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s response was to double down—accusing the House of “extortion” and delivering a speech in which he claimed that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” is a constitutional “duty.” Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall. And it even began spinning that daddy of all superspook arguments—that revealing any detail about this particular asset could result in “loss of human lives.”

This is desperation, and it strongly suggests that whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI.

The bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting. It would also be a major escalation from the electronic surveillance we already knew about, which was bad enough. Obama political appointees rampantly “unmasked” Trump campaign officials to monitor their conversations, while the FBI played dirty with its surveillance warrant against Carter Page, failing to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that its supporting information came from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now we find it may have also been rolling out human intelligence, John Le Carré style, to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

Which would lead to another big question for the FBI: When? The bureau has been doggedly sticking with its story that a tip in July 2016 about the drunken ramblings of George Papadopoulos launched its counterintelligence probe. Still, the players in this affair—the FBI, former Director Jim Comey, the Steele dossier authors—have been suspiciously vague on the key moments leading up to that launch date. When precisely was the Steele dossier delivered to the FBI? When precisely did the Papadopoulos information come in?

And to the point, when precisely was this human source operating? Because if it was prior to that infamous Papadopoulos tip, then the FBI isn’t being straight.

I don’t think the FBI is being straight. I’m speculating, of course, but I think it’s going to turn out that they were spying on Trump from surprisingly early on, and that they didn’t expect him to win, and that when he did win, the Russian “collusion” thing was hyped up as a smokescreen.

Flashback, March 2017: “Hypothesis: The spying-on-Trump thing is worse than we even imagine, and once it was clear Hillary had lost and it would inevitably come out, the Trump/Russia collusion talking point was created as a distraction.”

Plus: “But if they thought Hillary was sure to win, why bother spying on Trump? A sinister reason: To prosecute him — for something, anything they could discover — after he lost, so as to properly cow Hillary’s opposition. That might be true, but on the other hand, LBJ spied on Goldwater when his win was assured, and Nixon did the same vs. McGovern. Why would unthreatened incumbents spy on opponents they expect to lose? Maybe they do it for the same reason a dog licks himself: Because he can.”

Still just a hypothesis, but one that seems increasingly likely to be true. And if it is, the sinister reason also seems more likely to be true.

More: “Glenn Simpson, founder of the Fusion GPS research firm that hired former British agent Christopher Steele, told investigators that the FBI had shared the existence of ‘a human source from inside the Trump Organization’ in a September 2016 meeting with Steele.” (Bumped).

ENDORSED: Drinking Tequila? Ditch the Lime and Salt.

According to our guide, the whole lime and salt thing was invented back when people were drinking some pretty rough tequilas where you needed that lime/salt combo to make the drink remotely palatable.

Today, tequila has gotten a lot more refined, so that salt and lime combo isn’t really necessary. That said, if you’re going for an aged tequila like a Reposado or Añejo, then the perfect fruit to pair with it isn’t a lime, but a grapefruit. And instead of salt, sprinkle a little cinnamon on the fruit.

I’m not sold on the cinnamon, but I’ll try grapefruit with almost anything.

#METOO: Jeff Bezos dreams of a world with a trillion people living in space.

Bezos’ vision of a civilization that lives both in space and on Earth has been evolving for almost his whole life.

“First of all, of course, I’m interested in space, because I’m passionate about it. I’ve been studying it and thinking about it since I was a 5-year-old boy,” says Bezos. “But that is not why I’m pursuing this work.”

Bezos — who is currently worth $130 billion, according to Forbes — says if humanity does not become multiplanetary, eventually it will stagnate.

“I’m pursuing this work, because I believe if we don’t, we will eventually end up with a civilization of stasis, which I find very demoralizing. I don’t want my great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren to live in a civilization of stasis. We all enjoy a dynamic civilization of growth and change,” says Bezos.

Billionaire tech entrepreneur and SpaceX boss Elon Musk is also inspired by a future of getting to space. “Fundamentally, the future is vastly more exciting and interesting if we are a space faring civilization and multi planetary species than if we are not,” Musk has said.

I agree entirely, and I’m glad this generation of tycoons feels the same way.

NEED TO? I’M NOT EVEN SURE WE’RE ALLOWED TO: Hardeep Singh: We Need To Talk About Muslim Anti-Semitism.

Speaking at a conference on anti-Semitism in Israel last month, the UK’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, said something that would not normally be uttered among liberal interfaith circles in Britain: ‘The threat to Judaism and Jews from the world of Islam is one which can only be cured from within the world of Islam. And the leaders of Islam have to take a stand.’

It is very rare for British Jewish leaders or groups to draw attention to anti-Semitism among certain Muslims. But Islamists do seem to have a special antipathy towards all things Jewish – starting with Israel. And this is increasingly becoming a problem among British Muslims more generally.
To their credit, some Jewish organisations have attempted to confront the problem of anti-Semitism among Muslims. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism’s 2016 report, British Muslims and Anti-Semitism, surveyed the attitudes of non-Muslims and Muslims and found that anti-Semitic views among Muslims were ‘considerably and dangerously’ more prevalent than among the general public. ‘On every single count’, the report noted, ‘British Muslims were more likely by far than the general population to hold deeply anti-Semitic views. It is clear that many British Muslims reserve a special hatred for Jews, rating Jews much less favourably than people of other religions or no religion, yet astonishingly British Muslims do not recognise anti-Semitism as a major problem.’

Well, it’s not — for them.

SO CAN WE CALL THIS A STUNNING DIPLOMATIC BREAKTHROUGH FOR TRUMP/POMPEO? North and South Korea Set Bold Goals: A Final Peace and No Nuclear Arms.

Of course not. Only Democrats have those.

UPDATE: Maybe I’m too cynical. Even Trump-Hater James Fallows is having this reaction:

WE’VE WON, AND NOW WE’RE ASSHOLES: Jaron Lanier On The State Of The Tech Industry.

We used to be kind of rebels, like, if you go back to the origins of Silicon Valley culture, there were these big traditional companies like IBM that seemed to be impenetrable fortresses. And we had to create our own world. To us, we were the underdogs and we had to struggle. And we’ve won. I mean, we have just totally won. We run everything. We are the conduit of everything else happening in the world. We’ve disrupted absolutely everything. Politics, finance, education, media, relationships — family relationships, romantic relationships — we’ve put ourselves in the middle of everything, we’ve absolutely won. But we don’t act like it.

We have no sense of balance or modesty or graciousness having won. We’re still acting as if we’re in trouble and we have to defend ourselves, which is preposterous. And so in doing that we really kind of turn into assholes, you know?

Plus:

One of the problems is that we’ve isolated ourselves through extreme wealth and success. Before, we might’ve been isolated because we were nerdy insurgents. But now we’ve found a new method to isolate ourselves, where we’re just so successful and so different from so many other people that our circumstances are different. And we have less in common with all the people whose lives we’ve disrupted. I’m just really struck by that. I’m struck with just how much better off we are financially, and I don’t like the feeling of it.

Personally, I would give up a lot of the wealth and elite status that we have in order to just live in a friendly, more connected world where it would be easier to move about and not feel like everything else is insecure and falling apart. People in the tech world, they’re all doing great, they all feel secure. I mean they might worry about a nuclear attack or something, but their personal lives are really secure.

And then when you move out of the tech world, everybody’s struggling. It’s a very strange thing.

Related: Was Social Media A Mistake?

Plus: Social Media As Social Disease.

Also: Data Misuse and the Weaponization of Emotion.

And: Silicon Valley has gone from liberating to creepy. Next stop, government regulation. “Silicon Valley seemed to have gone from the hammer-wielding woman in that famous ‘1984’ Apple commercial, to the Big Brother figure up on the screen in that famous ‘1984’ Apple commercial.”

I think Jaron Lanier is right that what we’re facing today is “Digital Maoism.”

UPDATE: I went back and read this piece on Lanier that I did for the WSJ in 2010, and in retrospect I think I may not have given him enough credit:

Predictably, Mr. Lanier’s Web 2.0 critique has stirred a furious online backlash—which has only helped to buttress his argument. When Slate.com ran an unsympathetic pre-publication review of “You Are Not a Gadget,” the geek discussion site Slashdot.com ran a brief summary of the review with a link. Hundreds of comments soon adhered to the Slashdot summary, most of them negative. Finally, one frustrated commenter wrote: “The irony here is that this thread is a perfect example of what Lanier’s been talking about. A group of people with self-reinforcing attitudes making pronouncements based not on the actual book, but on a review of the book. Actually, I bet most of these ‘opinions’—since who can be bothered to read an entire review, let alone the book—aren’t even informed by reading the review. I’m sure there are lots of valid criticisms to the book, but Lanier has you all dead to rights as far as the intellectual seriousness of this ‘debate’ goes.” Score one for Mr. Lanier’s warning about the demise of considered thought and the rising tyranny of first-impression reactions to complex ideas.

But what Mr. Lanier is missing is the sheer fun of a lot of social-media interaction and the way it has brought non-geeks into the computer world. As I look at the social Web that he finds sterile and overly corporatized, I see Tea Party activists, “caveman diet” enthusiasts and model-rocketry devotees—among countless others—coming together and finding ways to collaborate, organize and socialize as never before. I see individuals and small groups acquiring creative power and the sort of organizational reach that only large companies or governments once had. Ordinary Americans are experiencing the same kind of buzz and excitement that used to be known only to the “digerati” elite in the halcyon days of the early 1990s.

Mr. Lanier is nostalgic for that era and its homemade Web pages, the personalized outposts that have largely been replaced by the more standardized formats of Facebook and MySpace. The aesthetics of these newer options might be less than refined, but tens of millions of people are able to express themselves in ways that were unimaginable even a decade ago. And let’s face it: Those personal Web pages of the 1990s are hardly worth reviving. It’ll be fine with me if I never see another blinking banner towed across the screen by a clip-art biplane.

Like a remote beach that has been discovered by the masses, the Internet is no longer the pristine preserve of the well-off few. But what it now lacks in exclusivity it has more than made up for in ease of access. And for all the problems that Mr. Lanier rightly worries about, the trend seems to be toward a Web of ever more striving human activity. Indeed, we are not gadgets. I’m scoring that a win.

I mean, you can still make that argument, but not as convincingly. And maybe he was ahead of me because he had a better idea of what Facebook, et al., had in mind.

OUCH: Colorado High Court Rules Veteran Congressman Can’t Appear On Ballot. “Ruling says Doug Lamborn used nonstate resident to gather some signatures needed to get on ballot, which isn’t permitted under state law.”

In its decision, the state’s high court ruled that Mr. Lamborn used a non-Colorado resident to gather some of 1,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot, which isn’t permitted under state statute. That left Mr. Lamborn short of the required threshold to get on the Colorado ballot, the court ruled.

Mr. Lamborn’s campaign vowed to appeal the ruling.

“We are disappointed by the outcome and believe it was wrongly decided,” said Dan Bayens, a spokesman for the Lamborn campaign. “We are immediately bringing an action in federal court to overturn the part of Colorado law that deprives voters who have petitioned to have Congressman Lamborn on the ballot of their constitutional rights.”

I’m reminded of former Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, who lost his safe seat from Michigan after “grossly incompetent staff work” left him without enough signatures to get on the primary ballot in 2012.

SILICON VALLEY NEEDS ANTITRUST BREAKUPS, AND CLOSER CIVIL RIGHTS SCRUTINY: Harmeet Dhillon: Silicon Valley ‘Actively Trying to Blacklist’ Conservatives ‘Through Some Hiring Engines.’

Related: Cutting ‘Old Heads’ at IBM: As it scrambled to compete in the internet world, the once-dominant tech company cut tens of thousands of U.S. workers, hitting its most senior employees hardest and flouting rules against age bias. I’m not sure which is more pervasive and under-remarked in the tech world — age discrimination, or discrimination against non-lefties.

WHAT A WASTE: Dick’s Sporting Goods to destroy all unsold assault-style weapons.

I’m starting to warm up to the phrase “assault-style,” since it’s a tacit admission that the rifles only look like assault weapons.

BYRON YORK: On James Comey and what the FBI thought about Michael Flynn.

In his ABC interview, fired FBI Director James Comey was asked about reports that he told Congress, in March 2017, that the FBI agents who interviewed Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn did not think Flynn had lied to them — even though Flynn, several months later, pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI.

Did Comey tell lawmakers that? Here is the exchange between Comey and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS: There’s been some reporting that — at —at — at one point you told the Congress that the agents who interviewed Mike Flynn didn’t believe that he had lied.

COMEY: Yeah, I saw that. And that — I don’t know where that’s coming from. That — unless I’m — I — I — said something that people misunderstood, I don’t remember even intending to say that. So my recollection is I never said that to anybody.

Comey’s statement directly contradicts this report, by me, from Feb. 12.

He’s not trustworthy.

GOVERNMENT IS JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR THE THINGS WE CHOOSE TO DO TOGETHER: “A Jacksonville city inspector walked into a Cedar Hills Estate business to issue a warning citation over the display of military flags and employees said she insulted a customer who turned out to be a military veteran. Surveillance video captured city inspector Melinda Power getting in the face of the customer at Jaguar Power Sports on Blanding Boulevard. Employees told News4Jax on Monday that she was so disruptive and disrespectful to the veteran, they asked her to leave.”

Plus:

“She says, ‘What did you do for this country?’ He says, ‘I took three bullets to the leg. I almost lost my life for this country. I’m retired. I’m a veteran.’ She gets in his face this close and says, ‘You did nothing for this country,'” store employee Katie Klasse said.

Hillary voter, I’m guessing. But maybe Bernie or Jill.

MORE BAD PRESS FOR JAMES COMEY: Reading the Comey interview transcript, I get a “Cat Person” vibe. “I feel as though I’m reading a #MeToo story told by a young woman. Why didn’t he say ‘I thought…’ like a plain-spoken adult? It’s like the inside of his head is an environment with moods and wisps of cognition. He’s invited into a private space, he has his trepidations, but other people will be there, and he’s hoping he won’t be alone with the man. . . . I feel like I’m reading about a 20-year-old female fictional character. Is this what the inside of Comey’s head looks like or is this some psychological narrative concocted, with ghostwriting help, for the American reading public?”

When we find out who the ghostwriter was, we’ll probably know.

Plus: “What seems odd to me is how awkward and passive Comey is. Even in Comey’s own telling, he seems inert: he’s waiting to follow instructions and trying to please a man he feels no connection to. Comey doesn’t come across here as the embodiment of FBI tradition and integrity. He seems like a man hoping to hold onto his job and unsure how to make that happen, hoping to be told what to do. He’s so wary, and I assume Trump did not like him or trust him.” I can’t imagine why.

THERE’S NO CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENT FOR OFFICEHOLDERS NOT TO BE INTRUSIVE DUMBASSES: A Bunch of Senators Just Showed They Have No Idea How Facebook Works. They Want to Regulate It Anyway.

Sen. Roy Blunt, (R–Mo.), for instance, didn’t seem to understand that Facebook lacks a means of accessing information from other apps unless users specifically opt in. The same was true of Sen. Roger Wicker (R–Miss.), who needed a lot of clarification on how Facebook Messenger interacts with cellular service. Zuckerberg had to carefully explain to Sen. Brian Schatz (D–Hawaii) that WhatsApp is encrypted, and Facebook can’t read, let alone monetize, the information people exchange using that service. Zuckerberg had to explain to multiple senators, including Dean Heller (R–Nev.), that Facebook doesn’t technically sell its data: The ad companies don’t get to see the raw information.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D–Vt.) brought along a poster on which his office had printed out images of various Facebook pages. Leahy asked whether these were Russian propaganda groups. “Senator, are you asking about those specifically?” Zuckerberg asked. He of course had no way of knowing what was going on with those specific pages, just from looking at pictures of them. “I’m not familiar with those pieces of content,” Zuckerberg finally conceded.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.) offered this metaphor to explain Facebook’s recent troubles: “the way I explain it to my constituents is that if someone breaks into my apartment with a crowbar and takes my stuff, it’s just like if the manager gave them the keys.” But that metaphor doesn’t quite work—Facebook didn’t willfully assist in a crime. Meanwhile, Sen. Debbie Fischer (R–Neb.) didn’t understand, at a fundamental level, that if you’re using Facebook, you have agreed to let Facebook know a lot of information about you.

Like Congress, Facebook is creepy and overbearing, but unlike Congress it can be uninstalled with ease.

IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING: Central Bank of Iran blames Telegram app for currency fluctuation.

The governor of the Central Bank of Iran Valiollah Seif has said that lack of trust, social media (including the Telegram messaging app) as well as the UAE and Saudi Arabia are the reasons behind the weakening national currency, rial.

“We are not in the ordinary situation and our enemies are continuing to plot,” Valiollah Seif told Iranian parliament on Tuesday.

Iranian rial hit an all-time low against the US dollar on Monday and fell to 6,460 by afternoon on the unregulated currency market.

“The country is in a balanced situation and these crises which are created by our enemies in the social media should not make us worry,” he added.

The governor further blamed the social media for publicizing the market news and prices.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that decades of economic mismanagement by the Mullahs’ regime might have a little something to do with the country’s woes.

HMM: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg backs out of ABC News interview after she is told George Stephanopoulos will not be asking the questions.

To be clear, that’s “former” Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos.

And I’m so old, I can remember when Sandberg was hired to be Facebook’s “grownup.”

HMM: The Department of Homeland Security has detected rogue devices that foreign spies and criminals could be using to track people’s calls and texts in DC.

In a March 26 letter to Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that last year it identified suspected unauthorized cell-site simulators in the nation’s capital. The agency said it had not determined the type of devices in use or who might have been operating them. Nor did it say how many it detected or where.

The agency’s response, obtained by The Associated Press from Wyden’s office, suggests little has been done about such equipment, known popularly as Stingrays after a brand common among US police departments. The Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the nation’s airwaves, formed a task force on the subject four years ago, but it never produced a report and no longer meets regularly.

The devices work by tricking mobile devices into locking onto them instead of legitimate cell towers, revealing the exact location of a particular cellphone. More sophisticated versions can eavesdrop on calls by forcing phones to step down to older, unencrypted 2G wireless technology. Some attempt to plant malware.

They can cost anywhere from $1,000 to about $200,000. They are commonly the size of a briefcase; some are as small as a cellphone. They can be placed in a car next to a government building. The most powerful can be deployed in low-flying aircraft.

Thousands of members of the military, the NSA, the CIA, the FBI and the rest of the national-security apparatus live and work in the Washington area. The surveillance-savvy among them encrypt their phone and data communications and employ electronic countermeasures. But unsuspecting citizens could fall prey.

Given their track record, I’m not so convinced that our intelligence agency people are actually so tech-savvy.

WAR ON BOYS: Why raising my son made me question what female empowerment is doing to boys.

It recently occurred to me, however, that if I had a daughter I might be more concerned with passing on different messages.

Just as my own mother repeatedly told me throughout my youth, I would be advising my daughter of the importance of being independent, becoming educated, earning her own money and not relying on anyone. I would be encouraging her to be strong.

But I’m not teaching my son any of those sorts of things. Why? I suppose I’ve always thought it was a given that males will grow up to be strong and independent, self-sufficient and confident, no matter what messages they receive in childhood. . . .

While we’re all happy to talk about our desire for ‘strong women’ in society these days, I’m ashamed to admit that I somehow feel disconcerted to hear someone discuss a ‘strong man’.

Because, if I’m honest, when hearing the words ‘strong man’ I subconsciously think of negative connotations — things like misogyny or bullying. But when I hear the words ‘strong woman’, I think of victory over oppression.

So engrained has this divide become that any display of male strength seems almost discouraged. And when I imagine Fin growing up, that doesn’t sit well with me.

Well, it’s nice to see at least a glimmer of awareness.

Totally, completely, unrelated: Sarah Vine: Women are going off sex because the modern man has lost that raw, masculine edge in this #MeToo world of ours…which doesn’t make for much fun in the bedroom.

Sorry, Ladies: Not everyone can be as hypermasculine as me.

Related: Why Millennial Women Are Dating Older Men.

WE DON’T NEED NO THOUGHT CONTROL: Seventh-Grade Assignment: Write Letters to Lawmakers Begging for Gun Control.

“I looked at it, and I told my son, ‘No, you’re not doing that assignment,’” Lee said. “Then I emailed his teacher the next day and told him that my son would not be writing that.”

Blue Lives reports that the teacher agreed to exempt Lee’s son from the assignment without penalty. According to Lee, there were other parents in the class who had issues with the homework, but they didn’t find out about it until after their children had already turned it in.

It’s not clear whether the teacher intended to actually mail the letters — but the truth is, it doesn’t really matter. Either way, this homework was straight-up propaganda, and it has absolutely no place in our schools. It was obviously the right decision for the teacher to have excused Lee’s son from the work, but propaganda should never have been given as a homework assignment in the first place.

I’m going to ask my sixth-grader — and budding target shooter — what he’d do in this situation.

21st CENTURY HEADLINES: Moment 61-year-old limo driver blasts himself off the ground on a homemade rocket at 325mph to prove that the earth is ‘shaped liked a Frisbee’ — before coming back down to Earth with a bang.

‘Do I believe the Earth is shaped like a Frisbee? I believe it is,’ he said. ‘Do I know for sure? No. That’s why I want to go up in space.’

That’s his project for down the road. He wants to build a ‘Rockoon,’ a rocket that is carried into the atmosphere by a gas-filled balloon, then separated from the balloon and lit. This rocket would take Hughes about 68 miles up.

* * * * * * * *

‘My story really is incredible,’ Hughes said. ‘It’s got a bunch of story lines – the garage-built thing. I’m an older guy. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, plus the Flat Earth.

The problem is it brings out all the nuts also, people questioning everything. It’s the downside of all this.’

His future plans are simple: Fill out the paperwork to run for governor.

‘This is no joke,’ Hughes said. ‘I want to do it.’

A debate between ‘Mad’ Mike Hughes and Jerry Brown, dubbed “Gov. Moonbeam” way back in 1976 by Mike Royko, would be awesome to watch.

How do we Nestle’s or the Rothchilds to sponsor it…?

GAY COUPLE FACES DEATH THREATS FOR BACKING TRUMP:

To unpack this, let’s start with Cody Moore and Dewey Lainhart. On. Oct. 21, Jason Bellini, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, posted a video interview he conducted with the gay couple at a Trump for President rally in the swing state of Ohio. Recently engaged, the guys said they planned to vote for Trump, primarily on the issues of trade and jobs. Lainhart, 31, a steelworker, said: “I’m tired of the bulls— government. … It’s time for a change. Trump’s the man for it.”

Bellini’s video quickly went viral in the LGBT community. Moore and Lainhart were called out on Facebook as “idiots” and “rednecks”; they were even compared to Jews who supported Hitler. One commenter urged “two bricks directly into their faces,” and the couple told Bellini they’d been getting death threats. Lainhart’s response to those threats: “It doesn’t concern me. I look over my back because I do carry (a gun), because I love the Second Amendment.”

Most visible of all of Trump’s gay supporters has been Republican Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who endorsed Trump at the GOP convention this summer. Two weeks ago, Thiel doubled down on Trump, saying he planned to donate $1.25 million to his campaign. Thiel has also been tarred and feathered online, called everything from “a traitor and a disgusting pig” to “an atrocity” and just plain “pathetic.”

It’s obvious that Thiel’s stratospheric socioeconomic status is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Moore and Lainhart’s working-class wages, but they have this in common: Other issues – jobs and immigration, for example – clearly trump their identity as gay men. And many in the LGBT community don’t seem to know how to respond to that in anything but the most venomous of terms.

Yep. It’s pathetic.

I’VE THOUGHT OF DOING THIS, BUT I’VE NEVER GOTTEN AROUND TO IT: Free Divers Defy The Limits of Science, And We’re Beginning to Understand How. I wouldn’t try the absurd 700 foot stuff, but I was talking to a free diver on Cayman when they had a competition going, and he told me he could train me to do 150 feet in a day. But I’ve never gotten around to it.

I’m probably better off with a tank of Nitrox on my back anyway.

RICH LOWRY: Don’t Bork Gina Haspel.

Haspel is connected in the press to the Zubaydah interrogations, although the CIA hasn’t confirmed her participation in the oversight of any particular detainee and insists much of the reporting about her work in this period is erroneous. Again, the Mitchell book suggests a man, not a woman, was in charge at the time. A New York Times report places her at the site in Thailand in question beginning in 2003, when Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding in 2002.

But let’s consider Zubaydah’s case. He was not a detainee who had nothing to tell us, as he is often portrayed by critics of the CIA. Shortly after his capture, he identified Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and provided information about the so-called Dirty Bomb plot. In the run-up to the use of harsh interrogations techniques, according to the 2014 Senate Intelligence report on the interrogation program, “Abu Zubaydah provided information on Al-Qa’ida activities, plans, capabilities, and relationships,” in addition to information on “its leadership structure, including personalities, decision-making processes, training and tactics.”

The enhanced interrogations were brutal. Zubaydah was struck, placed in stress positions, confined in small boxes and repeatedly waterboarded. During one session, he became unresponsive, until he received medical care. By any standard, this was extreme and right up to the legal line.

The CIA didn’t learn of any planned attack in the U.S.; it did became confident that he wasn’t holding back any information about one. From his capture to his transfer to the Department of Defense on Sept. 5, 2006, there were 766 intelligence reports based on information from Zubaydah.

I’m not sure why the Left hates Haspel more: Because she’s a potential First Woman to [Blank] but not a Democrat, or because she’s an effective intelligence officer.

Update: And let’s not forget that the Thailand story has been debunked — not that that will change any minds on the Left.

AN OFFER TO DUKE UNIVERSITY HISTORIAN NANCY MACLEAN: I’m not exactly holding my breath waiting for her to take me up on this offer, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

CLAUDIA ROSETT: Little Rocket Man’s Great Big Summit Scam.

This plan is now being widely hailed as a historic step forward; a triumph for Trump’s campaign of coralling Pyongyang with “maximum pressure.” It’s historic all right, but there’s an enormous hazard that it’s a step right into the same old North Korean trap.

North Korea has a record of deceit that includes not only the series of broken nuclear deals over the past 24 years, but the surprise invasion of South Korea way back in 1950, with which Kim Jong’s grandfather, founding tyrant Kim Il Sung, triggered the 1950-53 Korean War. The totalitarian character of the regime itself — a system built on brute force, threats and lies — ought to warn us that Kim’s goal in proposing a summit is not to surrender to maximum pressure, but to deflate it, via assorted diplomatic stunts. All the better for Kim to regroup and carry on with North Korea’s predatory projects, global rackets and nuclear missile program. (Forget the idea that Kim might be suddenly looking to repent his murderous ways and scrap his totalitarian system; odds are, his own gotesquely abused citizenry would seize the chance to kill him.)

Already, with this plan for a summit, Kim is gaming the mighty United States. For an American president to agree to a sitdown with North Korea’s tyrant is not a coup for the U.S., it’s a concession. When the elected leader of the Free World sits down with a totalitarian dictator to bargain as equals, it dignifies the dictator, not the democrat.

Read the whole thing, but given that Kim has put much on the table (even if he doesn’t mean it) and Trump hasn’t, for now I’m more sanguine on the talks than Claudia is.

I’M ALL EARS: The Case for a 21st-Century Battleship.

Stealth is one way to keep from getting hit, and the United States leads the way in the development of stealthy destroyers. But stealth defeats the purpose of a FONOP, which is to be seen. An old-fashioned battleship is a ship to be seen—and in a big way. But there’s no need for the Navy to build an old-fashioned battleship in the twenty-first century when it can build a new-fashioned battleship instead.

A contemporary battleship would combine advanced armor materials with automated damage control to produce a ship that is virtually unsinkable. Its offensive armaments might be mission-specific, but its key attribute would be survivability. It would be a ship that could be put in harm’s way in the reasonable expectation of coming home in one piece.

This “battleship of the future” could solve the challenge posed by China’s emerging anti-access / area denial (A2/AD) strategy for excluding the United States from the western Pacific. China is rapidly expanding and improving its networks of onshore, offshore, undersea, and space-based sensors to the extent that it will soon be able to see everything that moves between the Chinese mainland and the first island chain formed by Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, and the Philippines. And improvements in precision weaponry will increasingly mean that China will be able to hit anything it can see.

I was only half-joking a few years ago when I suggested stripping down our museum-ship Iowa-class battleships down to the hull, dropping in a few A1B nuclear reactors, and festooning the new deck with lasers and railguns.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Sick Venezuelans flee to Colombia in mounting refugee crisis.

An 18-year-old woman rubbed her swollen belly after fleeing with her infant daughter when the wounds from her C-section began to ooze pus. A young man whose femur had torn through his skin in a motorcycle crash needed antibiotics for an infection. An elderly retiree with a swollen foot arrived after taking a 20-hour bus ride from Caracas because doctors there told his family the only treatment they could offer was amputation — without anesthesia or antibiotics.

“If you want to sign, sign. But we are not responsible for the life of your father,” Teresa Tobar, 36, quoted the doctors in Venezuela as telling her when they handed over the papers to authorize her father’s surgery.

As Venezuela’s economic crisis worsens, rising numbers are fleeing in a burgeoning refugee crisis that is drawing alarm across Latin America. Independent groups estimate that as many as 3 million to 4 million Venezuelans have abandoned their homeland in recent years, with several hundred thousand departing in 2017 alone.

Socialism means caring for the poor and sick, I’m told.

I’M SO OLD I CAN REMEMBER WHEN DEMOCRATS CARED ABOUT MINORITY RIGHTS: Colorado Governor ‘Can Count on One Hand’ Teachers Who’ve Wanted to be Armed.

A FRIEND OF MINE TOLD ME HE’S STARTING WEIGHT TRAINING FOR THE FIRST TIME, AND I’M KINDA JEALOUS. You never make the gains you make in the first year of seriously lifting. I sent him this: Who Wants To Be A Novice? You Do.

In the comments, someone’s worried that he’ll follow a “silly BS program.” No, he’s following this one.

I’M NOT SAYING IT WAS ALIENS, BUT IT WAS ALIENS: Freaky Theory Offers Totally New Explanation of the Moon’s Origin.

Their theory involves an entirely new type of astronomical object called a synestia (no, not synesthesia, that’s something entirely different). The word is an amalgam of “syn”, meaning “together,” and “Hestia,” the Greek goddess of architecture. The idea was first proposed in 2017 by Stewart and Simon Lock of Harvard University, a co-author of the new study.

A synestia happens when young, planet-sized objects smash into each other, creating a rapidly spinning mass of molten and vaporized rock. Significant portions of this volatile cloud orbits around itself, and it puffs out into an object that looks like a gigantic donut floating in space. A synestia only lasts about 100 to 200 years, shrinking quickly as it loses heat. The rock vapor first condenses into a liquid, and then into a molten planet.

“A synestia is an astronomical body that exceeds the rotation limit of a planet,” Stewart told Gizmodo. “Synestias are created by the high energy and high angular momentum of a giant impact.”

According to this latest research, the Moon may have formed within the Earth-synestia. Following a collision and the formation of the synestia, a “seed” formed within it from chunks of molten rock. As the Earth-synestia began to shrink, vaporized silicate rock began to rain onto the proto-Moon. Eventually, the Moon emerged as a discrete celestial object, trailing its own atmosphere of rock vapor.

Related? A 4G network is headed to the moon.

HMM: Senate Key Race alert: Texas is no longer Solid Republican.

Beto O’Rourke versus Ted Cruz:

The Democratic underdog from El Paso outraised the first-term Republican senator and former presidential candidate by $1.5 million — $2.3 million to $800,000 — from the beginning of 2018 through mid-February. That impressive fundraising haul comes after O’Rourke also outpaced Cruz in the closing quarter of 2017, $2.4 million to $1.8 million.

Cruz still holds a clear advantage in the race. When it comes to cash on hand, Cruz leads O’Rourke by a little more than $1 million.

The Republican also has recent Texas electoral history on his side. Democrats haven’t won a statewide election there since Bob Bullock’s re-election as lieutenant governor in 1994. The last Democrat elected to the US Senate from Texas? Lloyd Bentsen in 1988.

O’Rourke is hoping to end the Democratic skid by running a different kind of campaign, embracing his punk rock roots. He’s been traveling from one event to another in a car with aides, listening to Spotify and sharing it all with the world via Facebook and Twitter. O’Rourke has already visited 223 of the state’s 254 counties, including some deep red turf.

Remember Wendy Davis and her “iconic” tennis shoes — and her huge loss to Greg Abbott anyway? O’Rourke seems to be running a hip campaign, but I’m not sure there’s as much to this story as CNN’s headline implies.

SOMETIMES WE OVERINCARCERATE, SOMETIMES WE UNDERINCARCERATE: How Did the Parkland Shooter Slip Through the Cracks? Broward County’s effort to fight the “school-to-prison-pipeline” may have helped Nikolas Cruz stay under law enforcement’s radar. I’m not so much sure it was a case of being under the radar, as a case of the radar operator being told not to see anything.

LIKE, YESTERDAY: Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel Needs To Resign For Incompetence.

In the days since the shooting, as allegations of incompetence and misconduct stacked up, Sheriff Israel has shown absolutely no willingness to accept any responsibility for the gross failures of his department. Yesterday, in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN, Israel was asked about how his department dropped the ball. His shocking response was the playful old quip, “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts…” Even Tapper, who hosted the town hall and is a former gun control spokesman, seemed shocked. He reminded the sheriff that they were talking about an incident that left 17 people dead.

But that response, as horrible as it was, wasn’t even the height of Israel’s bizarre hubris yesterday. He also claimed he has provided “excellent leadership” to the department. Not only is his assessment of his own leadership delusional, it’s dangerous. Israel assures us that independent investigators will look into the actions of his department and assess what went wrong. But given his own assessment, that he did a bang-up job, how can anyone have confidence that he will implement any changes that investigators may recommend?

Had Israel responded to the shocking and obvious failures of his department by admitting very bad mistakes were made by himself and others, had he acknowledged those mistakes and promised to do all in his power to do a better job, then maybe continuing his tenure as sheriff could be a reasonable option. As it stands, his refusal to do so makes it clear to any reasonable person that he has absolutely no business being the sheriff of anything, let alone one of the largest police departments in the country.

After Waco, Janet Reno at least paid lip service to accountability, stating that “I made the decision. I’m accountable. The buck stops with me,” before dodging any actual accountability. Israel is too smug to observe decency even in the breach.

I’M GLAD PERSIAN JEWS DID MORE THAN BAKE COOKIES: The Jewish holiday of Purim starts next Wednesday. According to the Book of Esther, the evil Haman persuaded the Persian king to allow him to murder the Jews of the Persian empire, with the Jews not allowed to defend themselves. Thanks to the heroic intervention of Mordechai and Esther, the King issued a new order permitting self-defense, and the Jews slew seventy-five thousand of those who had planned to kill them.

The actual Purim story apparently didn’t make much of an impression on one young woman, the daughter of a liberal Congressman, who is organizing people to sell traditional Purim cookies called Hamantaschen to raise money for gun control: “I think it’s a holiday that within the Jewish world, at least within more liberal Jewish circles, people take a lot of messages of social justice from, so I think with that in mind it made sense to use it,” she said.

It’s both sad and infuriating to see a three thousand year old religious tradition consistently reduced to “supports whatever the SJW cause of the moment is.” Raise money for gun control if that’s what floats your boat, but leave Purim out of it, ok?

THE ABOLITION OF BRITAIN, PART 1,237,323: Church of England vicar is caught on video ‘inhaling from a crack pipe and discussing prostitutes as he says ‘I’m a very happy man.”

To be fair, I’m told by reliable sources that cocaine is a helluva drug.

(Classical reference in headline.)

AMERICAN TROOPS IN EUROPE MUST ADJUST TO “THE CHANGING CHARACTER OF WAR”: I’m not sure war’s fundamental “character” has changed much in the last 30,000 years, but I believe General Scaparrotti is referring to innovative technologies and new tactical and operational wrinkles. He’s also preparing for full-spectrum combat (to include mechanized combat) against a near-peer adversary. And in eastern Europe who might that near peer be?

A new cyber center, intended to bolster defenses against Russian intrusions and misinformation campaigns, also will be formed at Scaparrotti’s NATO headquarters in Mons, Belgium.

The moves coincide with a push by the U.S. to rejuvenate EUCOM into a warfighting headquarters capable of commanding troops in a crisis. Military officials have said such high-end command and control skills languished during the post-Cold War era, but EUCOM has sought to bring them back.

EUCOM war games now focus on confronting a “peer competitors” and sophisticated military threats that weren’t a priority during the previous 15 years, when military attention was on counterinsurgency campaigns in the Middle East.

“We had to reorganize some of our staff to be able to work in this environment,” Scaparrotti said. “We’ve done that. We’ve tested ourselves.”

In Russia, Scaparrotti said he sees a military that also is evolving. Moscow’s interventions in Ukraine and Syria have been a “testing ground” for regular Russian forces. Meanwhile, Russia’s military buildup in Kaliningrad, a fortified enclave with sophisticated Iskander missiles, also is an area of concern, Scaparrotti said.

Article’s worth the read.

SPRING TRAINING IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER: So check out Sports Illustrated’s 10 best players in major league baseball.

Mike Trout of the Angels is number 1, Jose Altuve of the Astros is number 2. Even though I’m an Astros fan, I’m good with that. The Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt is number 10 — good choice. The article includes a look a numbers 11 to 100 as well. 11 through 20 are darn good, too. But is Mariner great Nelson Cruz really number 46? Looks low to me, though he is 37. (SI admits its rating system is squishy. But this article is worth the read.)

SPENDING: House holds 5:30 am vote to end brief shutdown, sends spending bill to Trump.

The House early Friday morning passed a bipartisan bill to keep the government open, several hours into a partial government closure and despite division within both parties over the legislation.

Dozens of Republicans and Democrats voted against the bill, which provides government funding until March 23 and sets a marker for federal spending levels for the next two years. The legislation also suspends the nation’s borrowing limit for one year, and provides nearly $90 billion in disaster relief for states and territories devastated by recent wildfires and hurricanes.

Despite the opposition from Republicans opposed to new spending, and Democrats who wanted to include an immigration deal that doesn’t exist, the bipartisan support supplied enough votes to ensure House passage.

Most Democrats added some drama by not voting until the very end, but more than 70 of them ultimately joined the GOP majority to support the bill. In the final vote, 67 Republicans rejected the bill, which passed 240-186.

I’m not happy.

STEVEN GREENHUT: A Progressive Experiment That’s Doomed to Fail. “Formerly bankrupt Stockton teams up with foundation to see what happens when some residents are given a ‘universal basic income’.”

Mayor Michael Tubbs, an enthusiastic 27-year-old Democrat, has shown a keen interest in trying “new” things in the city. Last summer, for instance, he proposed paying people not to commit gun crimes, and now he’s working with some Bay Area entrepreneurs who are providing the funds to give some families $500 a month with no restrictions on how they spend the cash.

The Economic Security Project is backing the Stockton Experiment, based on its belief that “cash is an effective way” to rebuild the middle class and fight poverty. “Automation, globalization, and financialization are changing the nature of work, and these shifts require us to rethink how to create economic opportunity for all,” the group explains on its website.

Some conservatives have actually pitched a guaranteed-income concept. The thinking, advanced by Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, is to “replace the ragbag of specific welfare programs with a single comprehensive program of income supplements in cash  —  a negative income tax.” Such an idea, he added, “provides comprehensive reform which would do more efficiently and humanely what our present welfare system does so inefficiently and inhumanely.”

This is one of those cases where the concept makes a certain amount of sense in the philosophical realm, while being borderline crazy in the real world.

My inclination is to side with Friedman. If we must have a welfare state — and it seems politically that we must — it makes sense to make it as lean as possible. That said, I’m not sure the government of Stockton is competent enough to make anything work, sensible or not.

Either way, Stockton’s experiment might provide useful lessons about bad government, improved welfare, or both.

I have more on this over at Hot Mic.

GREAT AGAIN: US sells oil to the Middle East as surging domestic production puts America on pace to rival Russia and Saudi as world’s top energy producer.

In 2013, the US shipped just over 100,000 barrels a day.

This past November, American firms exported 1.53 million barrels a day.

The US now exports up to 1.7 million barrels per day of crude, and this year will have the capacity to export 3.8 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas.

Terminals conceived for importing liquefied natural gas have now been overhauled to allow exports.
Surging shale production is poised to push US oil output to more than 10 million barrels per day – toppling a record set in 1970 and crossing a threshold few could have imagined even a decade ago.

And this new record, expected within days, likely won’t last long.

I’m so old, I can remember when Barack Obama told us we couldn’t “drill our way out of” our energy problems.

HEATHER MAC DONALD ON #MEDIOCRITYTOO: The coming mania for inclusion will erode standards of merit and excellence.

I’m old enough to remember when gender was considered by the left to be merely a bourgeois social construct. And to know that our standards of merit and excellence have been eroding for quite some time. When William Goldman said “Every Oscar night you look back and realize that last year was the worst year in the history of Hollywood,” he had no idea how bad things could get in all of the arts.

THERE’S SOMETHING ROTTEN IN ROME: ‘China is the best implementer of Catholic social doctrine,’ says Vatican bishop.

Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, praised the Communist state as “extraordinary”, saying: “You do not have shantytowns, you do not have drugs, young people do not take drugs”. Instead, there is a “positive national conscience”.

The bishop told the Spanish-language edition of Vatican Insider that in China “the economy does not dominate politics, as happens in the United States, something Americans themselves would say.”

Bishop Sánchez Sorondo said that China was implementing Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ better than many other countries and praised it for defending Paris Climate Accord. “In that, it is assuming a moral leadership that others have abandoned”, he added.

He accused US president Donald Trump of being “manipulated” by global oil firms, and said that, as opposed to those who follow “liberal thought”, the Chinese are working for the greater good of the planet.

I’m not Catholic, but most of the Catholic laypersons I know have been worried about this Vatican for a while now.

UGH: Nursing homes sedate residents with dementia by misusing antipsychotic drugs, report finds.

Children complained about parents who were robbed of their personalities and turned into zombies. Residents remembered slurring their words and being unable to think or stay awake. Former administrators admitted doling out drugs without having appropriate diagnoses, securing informed consent or divulging risks.

The 157-page report, released Monday, estimates that each week more than 179,000 people living in US nursing facilities are given antipsychotic medications, even though they don’t have the approved psychiatric diagnoses — like schizophrenia — to warrant use of the drugs. Most of these residents are older and have dementia, and researchers say the antipsychotic medications are administered as a cost-effective “chemical restraint” to suppress behaviors and ease the load on overwhelmed staff.

I’m not sure there are any humane treatments for certain dementia-related behaviors, even without the (likely permanent) understaffing of nursing homes. Although the field might be promising for builders of lifelike “carebots” to fill in for overworked humans without threatening the patients.

I’M EXPECTING AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: Landmines left behind by the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign might soon start detonating—on Democrats.

Obama concealed his sharp-edged, Chicago-style machine politics under the rhetorical cover of progressivism. He was protected by a press corps that first enlisted in his administration and then fought to stop Donald Trump. But now that Obama is out of office, his ability to intimidate is much diminished. This past week, a 2005 picture of a beaming Obama next to a bright-eyed Louis Farrakhan surfaced, after having been held back for more than a decade at the behest of a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who had been tried for corruption by Obama’s Justice Department after he refused to toe the party line about the “peace-loving” mullahs of Iran, has now seen the charges against him dropped. Z Street, a hawkish nonprofit supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in Israel, had been tied up with IRS matters since 2009; it has just been released from its legal chains. Democrats are holding to the line that the prophet of hope and change ran a pure administration, virtually free of scandal. But the memo is probably just the beginning; we’re likely to see many more revelations come out.

Obama isn’t directly mentioned in the memo. But he’s nonetheless implicated through his appointees’ apparent efforts to clear Hillary Clinton in her State Department email scandal while undermining her opponent, Trump, through the veneer of legality provided by FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Security Act) warrants, justified solely by the so-called Steele Dossier. The dossier was paid for by Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee; it was created by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, who despised Trump, and the “research” firm Fusion GPS. The FISA Court, supervised by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, was never told about the unverified dossier’s origins.

I had been assured by the highest authorities that the Obama Administration was amazingly scandal-free.

HILLARY CLINTON’S 1,500 WORD NEWS DUMP: “I’m not even mad. I’m impressed. It takes some guts to publish a 1,500-word Facebook post 20 minutes before the State of the Union explaining why you, Hillary Clinton, feminist hero, didn’t fire a dude for sexually harassing one of your young female staffers despite the fact that everyone in your campaign told you to get rid of him ASAP.”

2018 GRAMMYS HAD THE LOWEST RATINGS EVER AS AWARD SHOW TURNS POLITICAL:

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the CBS telecast was down a staggering 21% from 2017 — potentially an all time low.

This mirrors the slide in NFL ratings that several surveys have attributed to players’ decisions to kneel during games.

“Virtue signaling is tricky business, especially for an entertainment world trying to be holier-than-thou,” Nick Gillespie writes at Reason, wondering why “Grammys Have Time for Hillary Clinton, But Not Lorde, To Perform?

Let’s assume that the Grammys, like the Olympics, the Oscars, the NFL, and other 20th-century televised institutions, no longer command attention and interest the way they used to. It’s less because of politicization and more simply because audiences have more and more freedom to go elsewhere. (In the case of the Olympics, the loss of audience is precisely because of de-politicization: the end of the Cold War robbed every archery and ski jump contest of specifically political interest.) The more important question for me is whether consumers of art, culture, sports, and entertainment are more or less able to access the fare we want. To borrow the pretzel logic of multiple Grammy-winning band Steely Dan, any major dude with half a heart will tell you, my friend, any minor world that breaks apart falls together again. Music has never been more accessible and varied than it is today. While the “rock star” archetype may well be dead as a meaningful cultural touchstone, there’s more stuff to listen to in any possible genre you can imagine. If the Grammys and boring old fare like it must die for entertainment to live, well, that’s the sort of grave I’m happy to dance on.

* * * * * * * *

Which isn’t to say that the Grammys didn’t go out of its way to bother the majority of Americans who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. For a show that didn’t make time for popular (and political!) artist Lorde to perform despite her being up for the prestigious “album of the year” award, the Grammys still found time to run an explicitly anti–Donald Trump sketch featuring Hillary Clinton reading from Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. Because when you’ve got a roomful of musical talent, what you really want to see is a failed politician who spent a good amount of her time in power railing against pop culture.

As with most of broadcast television, the Grammys have been heading slowly south in the ratings for ages. Their recent hyper-politicization aligns perfectly with Robert Tracinski’s theory regarding the hard left bias of the network late night TV hosts – it’s the best way for the Grammys, and the network that hosts it, to keep what’s left of a inexorably shrinking audience.

SCIENCE: Cuckolding can be positive for some couples, study says.

According to a recent study by David Ley, Justin Lehmiller and the writer Dan Savage, acting on cuckolding fantasies can be a largely positive experience for many couples, and hardly a sign of weakness.

References to cuckolding appear in literature as early as the 13th century, usually in the form of male characters who fear that their child has been sired by another man during an act of infidelity. Today, however, cuckolding has become fetishized into a powerful sexual fantasy for some men, who get aroused by the idea of their romantic partner engaging in sexual activity with someone else. Women also share this fantasy, but less so than men.

“This fantasy has been around as long as marriage and sexuality,” said Ley, whose book “Insatiable Wives” addresses cuckolding in heterosexual couples. “But we’re hearing more and more about it these days, and more people are rejecting the social stigma against this fantasy.”

If nothing else, “I’m screwing your wife, and it’s for your own good” does seem like the ultimate Alpha play.

I’M SO OLD I CAN REMEMBER WHEN PAYING HIGHER TAXES WAS PATRIOTIC: Pelosi Tries to Extend $137,000 Tax Break for Two of Her Multi-Million-Dollar Homes.

NO. WAY. Here’s A Crazy Theory: Maybe Americans Just Want A Rational Immigration Policy.

David Harsanyi:

Logically speaking, Democrats can’t simultaneously contend that the borders are already secure and argue we have an obligation to legalize 800,000 illegal immigrant children and another 11 (or whatever it is) million illegal immigrants. How did they get here? How will the dynamic change in the future? All the arguments now in play for DACA will be in play a decade from now. Do we do this every decade?

Now Mitch McConnell has promised to allow an up-or-down vote on DACA in early February that ensures the immigration debate will consume Washington for the next few weeks. It seems there’s already consensus forming among analysts that this is a loser for Republicans. But maybe the lesson of the shutdown is that DACA, and the debate surrounding illegal immigrants in general, isn’t as simple or as powerful as Democrats imagine. Maybe the shutdown’s lesson is that Trump can hold out for a wall and other concessions on chain migration and enforcement in exchange for an easier path towards legalization for those already here. Maybe the lesson is that a deal is available.

Because if the wall is just a silly, ineffective, useless prop then certainly it would make sense for Democrats to accede to its creation to help legalize the Dreamers and create a more rational and ethical immigration policy. If they don’t, cynical people might start to get the impression that Democrats are far more interested in creating millions of new Democrats than they are in creating a lawful and rational process that respects the sovereignty of their nation.

I guess I’m a cynical person then.

GOOD LORD: German nurse charged with 97 more murders at hospitals.

The new indictment against Niels Hoegel was expected after officials said in November that he may have killed more than 100 patients in total. He worked at a clinic in Oldenburg from 1999 to 2002 and in nearby Delmenhorst from 2003 to 2005.

Hoegel was convicted in 2015 of two murders and two attempted murders in Delmenhorst and was given a life sentence.

During his trial, Hoegel had said he intentionally brought about cardiac crises in about 90 patients in Delmenhorst because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them. He later told investigators that he also killed patients in Oldenburg.

Those statements prompted investigators to carry out toxicological examinations on dozens of other patients who died at the hospitals, leading to the new charges.

It wasn’t immediately clear when a new trial at the state court in Oldenburg might start. Additional convictions could affect Hoegel’s possibility of parole, but there are no consecutive sentences in Germany. In general, people serving life sentences are considered for parole after 15 years.

There’s probably something to be said against Europe’s soft-on-crime attitude, but I’m not certain there’s any deterring a killer like Hoegel.

YES, IT DOES: Elizabeth Warren’s Native American problem goes beyond politics.

There’s a ghost haunting Elizabeth Warren as she ramps up for a possible 2020 presidential bid and a reelection campaign in Massachusetts this year: her enduring and undocumented claims of Native American ancestry.

Warren says now, as she has from the first days of her public life, that she based her assertions on family lore, on her reasonable trust in what she was told about her ancestry as a child.

“I know who I am,” she said in a recent interview with the Globe.

But that self-awareness may not be enough, as her political ambitions blossom. She’s taken flak from the right for years as a “fake Indian,” including taunts from President Trump, who derisively calls her “Pocahontas.’’ That clamor from the right will only grow with her increasing prominence.

And, more telling, there’s also discomfort on the left and among some tribal leaders and activists that Warren has a political blind spot when it comes to the murkiness surrounding her story of her heritage, which blew up as an issue in her victorious 2012 Massachusetts Senate race. In recent months, Daily Show host Trevor Noah mocked her for claiming Native American ancestry and the liberal website ThinkProgress published a scathing criticism of her by a Cherokee activist who said she should apologize.

I’m entirely willing to believe that she originally thought she was part Cherokee — lots of families think they have some sort of American Indian ancestry, and many (perhaps most) are wrong. But her real crime wasn’t in being wrong, it was in doubling down and refusing to admit the possibility of error once people questioned her. That character is neither appealing, nor good for a presidential candidate. Much less a president.

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.

DISPATCHES FROM THE HOUSE OF STEPHANOPOULOS: Surprise! Matthew Dowd of ABC News outs the agenda-driven media.

I’m so old, I remember when old media at least still pretended to be objective.

ANDREW KLAVAN: “Nothing scandalizes a leftist like the truth.” Plus: “So, when it comes to the Great Shithole Controversy of 2018, my feeling is: I do not care, not even a little. I’m sorry that it takes someone like Trump to break the spell of silence the Left is forever weaving around us. I wish a man like Ronald Reagan would come along and accomplish the same thing with more wit and grace. But that was another culture.”

I’m amused when people who’ve spent 50 years declaring the very concept of decency repressive and outdated suddenly start with the “have you no decency?” shtick. When Joseph Welch used that phrase, it was pretty much Peak Decency, or as we’re now told, a horrible regressive time of racism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia.

BY THE NUMBERS: Eugene Volokh dug deep into that “Nearly 40 Percent of Sex Offenders in Oregon Prisons Are Illegal Aliens” and writes:

Steve: Sorry to trouble you about this [No trouble at all! -S], but I’m not sure the statistic adds up. I looked at the linked-to Paula Bolyard item, https://pjmedia.com/trending/one-fifteen-oregon-prisoners-criminal-alien-nearly-half-convicted-sex-crimes/, and then in turn to the original source, https://docfnc.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/oregon-department-of-corrections-criminal-alien-report-december-2017/, and here’s what I found:

(1) The original source is writing not about illegal aliens, but about “criminal aliens.” I assume this is the same “criminal alien” as that described in 8 U.S.C. sec. 1252(a)(2)(C) — an alien, whether or not legally present, who is removable because he has committed a certain kind of crime. See Freeman v. Holder (8th Cir. 2010), https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=17372653859303192596, elaborating on this definition.

(2) The original source does report that 476 of Oregon prisoners were criminal aliens committed rape, sodomy, or sex abuse. But that is out of a total of 3738 total prisoners who committed those crimes; the ratio is about 12.7%, not the 39.32% that the PJMedia source reports.

By the way, it appears that the percentage of all Oregon inmates who are criminal aliens (6.6%) is quite close to the percentage of all Oregonians who are aliens (7%, see https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/distribution-by-citizenship-status/), though the percentage of Oregon inmate sex offenders who are criminal aliens does seem higher than that (though not by as much as the Bolyard item reports).

Paula has of course corrected the original story, although nearly 13% still seems high for the Pacific Northwest. More to come on this one, I’m afraid. But in the meantime, a big thanks to Eugene.

BREAKING: STRANGE WEATHER IS STRANGE. US cold snap was a freak of nature, quick analysis finds.

Consider this cold comfort: A quick study of the brutal American cold snap found that the Arctic blast really wasn’t global warming but a freak of nature.

Frigid weather like the two-week cold spell that began around Christmas is 15 times rarer than it was a century ago, according to a team of international scientists who does real-time analyses to see if extreme weather events are natural or more likely to happen because of climate change.

The cold snap that gripped the East Coast and Midwest region was a rarity that bucks the warming trend, said researcher Claudia Tebaldi of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the private organization Climate Central.

I’m so old, I can remember when climate change was going to cause more extreme weather events.

MAMMOTH SMUG STORM THREATENS SAN FRANCISCO:

● Shot: Why Liberals Need to Look Down on Conservatives.

● Chaser: When I say “Trump is my fourth Hitler,” it’s only because I’m too young to remember Goldwater.

Goldwater was Godwinized by no less than CBS’s Daniel Schorr and Walter Cronkite.

● Hangover: Delete your account: Jimmy Kimmel writer cries sexism after being called out for attacking 3rd-grade teacher. Tweet in question was deleted, but I’m pretty sure it’s this:

As Fred Siegel wrote in his 2014 book, The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class, “The best short credo of liberalism came from the pen of the once canonical left-wing literary historian Vernon Parrington in the late 1920s. ‘Rid society of the dictatorship of the middle class,’ Parrington insisted, referring to both democracy and capitalism, ‘and the artist and the scientist will erect in America a civilization that may become, what civilization was in earlier days, a thing to be respected.’”

And that credo, now internalized after a century of “Progressivism” is what drives the media to rage an increasingly angry war with its customers.

(Classical allusion in headline.)

SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP: Cameron’s ‘bromance’ with Obama a myth, claims ex-adviser Steve Hilton. “Ex-PM thought Obama was narcissistic, says Steve Hilton while lambasting Fire and Fury book’s claims about Trump.”

Do tell:

Steve Hilton, one of Cameron’s closest advisers before the pair fell out over immigration and Brexit last year, made the comments during the latest instalment of his show, The Next Revolution, on Fox News.

Discussing Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury, Hilton said any claims by elitists and the establishment that Donald Trump was mentally unfit for the presidency came second to Trump’s promotion of a pro-worker, populist agenda on immigration, infrastructure, trade and the fight against China.

He went on to emphasise the shortcomings of Trump’s predecessors, adding: “My old boss, former British prime minister David Cameron, thought Obama was one of the most narcissistic, self-absorbed people he’d ever dealt with.

“Obama never listened to anyone, always thought he was smarter than every expert in the room, and treated every meeting as an opportunity to lecture everyone else. This led to real-world disasters, like Syria and the rise of Isis.”

But the real world did not matter to the elites, Hilton said. “For them, it’s all about style and tone, not substance and results. Donald Trump offends the elites aesthetically, like a piece of art that’s not to their taste.

When you allow taste to trump policy — and I’m addressing Bill Kristol directly here — you’ve elevated mere snobbery to a governing philosophy.

And you should expect the deplorables to respond accordingly.

WHEN YOU’VE LOST BERNIE — OH, WAIT: Sanders: Questions about Trump’s mental health ‘absolutely outrageous.’

I’m just confused: Is Trump an evil Hitleresque mastermind who colluded with Russia — just like Hitler colluded with Russia! — or is he a demented old man who didn’t even want to win the election and was surprised when he did?

Time for a reboot of that Phil Hartman split-personality Reagan sketch, I guess.

ALLIGATOR TEARS: France24 reviews French attitudes on free speech three years after the Islamic terror attack on Charlie Hebdo’s journalists in which 12 people — including a policewoman — were murdered. One resident parrots the new liberal fascism, anti-free speech line that turns the very concept of free expression on its head:

“I’m not fond of Charlie Hebdo, neither its form nor its function (…) They are targeting the Muslims and, if we talk about freedom, I feel they are criticizing the Muslims’ freedom to believe,” Brunacci told FRANCE 24.

This logic is so very strange. How does mocking or challenging something reduce another’s ability to “believe” something, let alone raise their own voice? What’s even stranger yet is that French President Emmanuel Macron, a strong proponent of censorship, (See, liberal fascism, supra) is planning to attend a ceremony honoring the fallen. This is either cluelessness, hypocrisy, or a bizarre display of a lack of self-consciousness. Perhaps it’s that “intersectionalism” I keep hearing about, where core human rights principles are subjugated by political correctness. In either case, he’ll be weeping alligator’s tears.

I… I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO SAY:  You Can Now Pump The Gas Yourself In Oregon’s Rural Places, And People’s Reactions Take Stupidity To Another Level.  My very favorite is the person wondering about gas station attendants losing their jobs, as if there were no other jobs they could take.  I mean, I’m sure we’ve all seen the vast hordes of displaced gas station attendants begging by the side of the highway in other states.  In fact, considering how long it’s been since other states had gas station attendants, they are now generational displaced gas station attendants.   That’s their only genetic capability.  They were maximally optimized by evolution to pump gas, and now that the jobs don’t exist, they just stand there, forlornly, grandad, dad, grandchild, in their faded overalls with names over the pockets, holding up cardboard signs that say “please, give!”  Will no one think of the plight of those who are no longer paid for pumping gas?   Their livelihood and dignity is gone forever and they shall multiply, a purposeless and desperate tribe upon the Earth, longing only for a return of the glory days when people couldn’t pump their own gas.  (Why, yes, that is a dent on my forehead, and it matches the one on my desk, because if I pound enough maybe the stupidity will stop bothering me.)

THANK YOU: I wanted to abuse a little privilege of indulgence and publicly thank Glenn Reynolds and the Instateam for letting me contribute to the dialogue here from time to time. I’d also like to thank all the people commenting on my posts, which I submit to spur intelligent discussion on media and free speech issues, and the occasional chuckle. Some of you have me down as the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky while others place me somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan…so I figure I’m doing it correctly. So please, hit the tip jar at right so Instapundit can prosper. Happy New Year, all!

I’M SHOCKED, SHOCKED TO HEAR THAT PUTIN MIGHT HAVE DOUBLE-CROSSED SOMEONE: Iran Charges Russia With Selling Out its Air Defense Secrets to Israel: The Islamic Republic says Russia sold codes to Israel that neutralize its air defenses.

If true, this bodes poorly for the Iranian government, not only because Putin fleeced them, but because he assesses their situation as one in which he can fleece them with impunity. Alternatively, the Israelis figured it out on their own but successfully duped the Iranians into blaming Putin, which doesn’t make the Iranians look good either.

WALL STREET JOURNAL: The ‘Stupidity’ of Donald Trump: He’s had far more success than Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jesse Ventura.

This time one year ago, the assumption dominating political coverage was that the only people more stupid than Donald Trump were the deplorables who elected him.

Since then, of course, President-elect Trump has become President Trump. Over his 11 months in office, he has put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and four times as many judges on the appellate courts as Barack Obama did his first year; recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; withdrawn from the Paris climate accord; adopted a more resolute policy on Afghanistan than the one he’d campaigned on; rolled back the mandate forcing Catholic nuns, among others, to provide employees with contraception and abortifacients; signed legislation to open up drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; initiated a bold, deregulatory assault on the administrative state—and topped it all off with the first major overhaul of the tax code in more than 30 years.

And yet that Mr. Trump is a very stupid man remains the assumption dominating his press coverage.

Let this columnist confess: He did not see Mr. Trump’s achievements coming, at least at first.

Plus:

In Mr. Trump’s case, critics equate lowbrow tastes (e.g., well-done steaks covered in ketchup) as confirmation of a lack of brainpower. It can make for great sport. But starting out with the assumption that the president you are covering is a boob can prove debilitating to clear judgment.

Quick show of hands: How many of those in the press who continue to dismiss Mr. Trump as stupid publicly asserted he could never win the 2016 election—or would never get anyone decent to work for him in the unlikely miracle he did get elected?

The Trump presidency may still go poof for any number of reasons—if the promised economic growth doesn’t materialize, if the public concludes that his inability to ignore slights on Twitter is getting the best of his presidency, or if Democrats manage to leverage his low approval ratings and polarizing personality into a recapture of the House and Senate this coming November. And yes, it’s possible to regard Mr. Trump’s presidency as not worth the price.

But stupid? Perhaps the best advice for anti-Trumpers comes from one of their own, a Vermont Democrat named Jason Lorber. Way back in April, in an article for the Burlington Free Press, the retired state politician wrote that “while it may be good for a chuckle, calling or even thinking someone else stupid is virtually guaranteed to give them the last laugh.”

Is that not what Mr. Trump is now enjoying at the close of his first year?

And yet, you read stuff like this piece by Walter Shapiro, who should know better, saying that “The 45th president combines the temperament of an authoritarian with the competence of Elmer Fudd hunting rabbits.” But I’m not sure it’s Trump who’s playing Fudd here.

UNITED APOLOGIZES TO PASSENGER BOOTED FOR CONGRESSWOMAN:

[Sheila Jackson Lee D-TX], meanwhile, claims she did nothing wrong.

“I asked for nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary and received nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary,” she said in a statement this weekend.

“But in the spirit of this season and out of the sincerity of my heart, if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this, I am kind enough to simply say sorry.”

She’s “kind enough” to “simply” say she’s sorry to the DC teacher she smeared as a racist on the weekend before Christmas:

“Since this was not any fault of mine, the way the individual continued to act appeared to be, upon reflection, because I was an African American woman, seemingly an easy target along with the African American flight attendant who was very, very nice,” Jackson Lee said in the statement. “This saddens me, especially at this time of year given all of the things we have to work on to help people. But in the spirit of this season and out of the sincerity of my heart, if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this, I am kind enough to simply say sorry.”

Simon said Jackson Lee’s statement accused her of racism, adding: “I had no idea who was in my seat when I complained at the gate that my seat had been given to someone else,” she said. “There is no way you can see who is in a seat from inside the terminal.”

Flashback to a 2002 Weekly Standard article on “Sheila Jackson Lee, Limousine Liberal,” which contains multiple examples of her abusing airlines and accusing anyone who doesn’t treat her as a queen (“You don’t understand. I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen.”) as racist:

Continental managers, however, feared reprisal and saw little they could do. “After medicine, airlines are the most heavily regulated industry in the United States,” says a lobbyist for a Texas-based carrier. “Every airline feels they have to kiss up to Congress; they always feel their livelihood is in Congress’s hands.” But in February 1998, things finally came to a head. On a flight home to Houston, Jackson Lee became enraged when flight attendants failed to produce the seafood special she liked. “Don’t you know who I am?” she reportedly thundered. “I’m Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Where is my seafood meal? I know it was ordered!”

That outburst prompted a phone call to Jackson Lee from Rebecca Cox, vice president of Continental’s government affairs office in Washington and the wife of California Republican Chris Cox. The message? Straighten up and fly right, or don’t fly with us. Cox did not return calls seeking comment, but a member of Jackson Lee’s staff who fielded the call remembered Cox saying, “[Jackson Lee] screamed at the top of her lungs at least a minute. She embarrassed the flight attendants and the passengers in first class. And she embarrassed herself.” Cox then joked, “We have already given her the Delta Airlines schedule.” Jackson Lee got back on board with Continental, but not for long. In May 1999, as Continental flight 1961 prepared to leave Reagan National Airport in Washington, Jackson Lee became flustered when she couldn’t find her purse.

Thinking she had left it in the boarding area, she went back to search for it. Meanwhile, the plane pulled away from the gate. Moments later, her purse was found onboard. According to aviation lobbyists at the time, Jackson Lee demanded that she be let back on the flight. Airline employees explained that FAA rules prohibit planes from returning to the gate once they’ve taxied away, but Jackson Lee was unconvinced. She accused the gate staff of racism and demanded to see their supervisor, who was a black woman. Her purse, meanwhile, was unceremoniously dropped out of the cockpit window and ferried back to her.

A year earlier, at a March 2, 1998, reenactment of the march on Selma, an irate Jackson Lee called her scheduler in D.C. demanding to know why she hadn’t been given a ride to the event by the organizer, as a white colleague had been. According to the aide–who quit after just a month and a half on the job–Jackson Lee shrieked, “You don’t understand. I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen.” It will come as no surprise to learn that Jackson Lee is regarded as one of the most difficult members of Congress for whom to work.

Jackson Lee’s issues involving travel and racism also extend into the final frontier:

During a 1997 visit to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, Jackson Lee, who was then serving on the House Science Committee and on the Subcommittee that oversees U.S. space policy, asked a guide whether the Mars Pathfinder would be able to show an image of “the flag the astronauts planted there before.” When it was subsequently pointed out that the flag to which she was referring was in fact the one that Neil Armstrong had planted on the Moon—not Mars—in 1969, Jackson Lee complained that she was being mocked by bigots. “You thought you could have fun with a black woman member of the Science Committee,” her then-chief-of-staff wrote angrily in a letter to the editor.

How bad have Jackson Lee’s gaffes been over the years? Even the left-leaning Daily Beast has goofed on  her worst moments: The Constitution Is 400 Years Old and More Pearls From Sheila Jackson Lee.

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

UPDATE: Jean-Marie Simon tweeted last night that “United has NOT apologized to me. On Dec. 23, a low level employee at call center said he was sorry on phone. Voucher I received was United’s idea of compensation for cancelling my flight and given it to Ms. Jackson Lee… SFC + NYP articles claim ‘apology’ from United and $500 as apology wrong. United phone agent apologized, no apology from corporate United. $500 voucher was from exasperated gate agent who originally offered $300 and gave me ultimatum to take the $500 or have plane leave w/o me.”

HEALTH: Older Adults’ Forgetfulness Tied To Faulty Brain Rhythms In Sleep.

During deep sleep, older people have less coordination between two brain waves that are important to saving new memories, a team reports in the journal Neuron.

“It’s like a drummer that’s perhaps just one beat off the rhythm,” says Matt Walker, one of the paper’s authors and a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. “The aging brain just doesn’t seem to be able to synchronize its brain waves effectively.”

The finding appears to answer a long-standing question about how aging can affect memory even in people who do not have Alzheimer’s or some other brain disease.

“This is the first paper that actually found a cellular mechanism that might be affected during aging and therefore be responsible for a lack of memory consolidation during sleep,” says Julie Seibt, a lecturer in sleep and plasticity at the University of Surrey in the U.K. Seibt was not involved in the new study.

I started taking tryptophan and melatonin a few weeks ago, and have been sleeping better than I have in years. Now I’m wondering if doing so can help prevent or forestall this de-syncronization.

LORD OF THE RINGS DIRECTOR PETER JACKSON: YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE THE WEINSTEINS BLACKBALLED ASHLEY JUDD AND MIRA SORVINO.

What makes this even more compelling is the relative stature of both women in the entertainment industry. Judd’s mother and sister had risen to the top of the country charts before her Hollywood career had taken off; Sorvino’s father Paul is a popular actor who appeared in classic films such as Goodfellas. Sorvino herself had won an Oscar and a Golden Globe two years before this took place for Mighty Aphrodite. If Weinstein could derail their careers with a smear campaign, how many other actresses and whistleblowers of lesser stature got blackballed out of the industry?

The pull-quote making the rounds from Jackson’s interview with Stuff is “My experience, when Miramax controlled the Lord of the Rings (before New Line took over production of the film), was of Weinstein and his brother behaving like second-rate Mafia bullies.”

Second-rate Mafia bullies? Shades of the circa 2000 incident the late David Carr described in New York magazine:

“You know what? It’s good that I’m the fucking sheriff of this fucking lawless piece-of-shit town.” Weinstein said that to Andrew Goldman, then a reporter for the New York Observer, when he took him out of a party in a headlock last November after there was a tussle for Goldman’s tape recorder and someone got knocked in the head. Weinstein deputized himself and insisted that Goldman apologize. His hubris would be hilarious if he weren’t able to back it up. Several paparazzi got pictures of the tussle, but Goldman bet me at the time that they would never see print.

I mailed him his dollar a week later. I’d talk to Goldman about it, except he now works for Talk magazine, which is half-owned by Miramax.

I’m pretty sure that David Chase didn’t create Tony Soprano to be a how-to guide for career advancement. Though as with Mad Men, I wonder how many of the incidents shown in that series were inspired by Hollywood itself.

SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE: Female Democrat Congressional Candidate Drops Out of Race After Sexual Harassment Accusation Surfaces.

Andrea Ramsey, a Democratic candidate for Congress, will drop out of the race after the Kansas City Star asked her about accusations in a 2005 lawsuit that she sexually harassed and retaliated against a male subordinate who said he had rejected her advances.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the case told The Star that the man reached a settlement with LabOne, the company where Ramsey was executive vice president of human resources. Court documents show that the man, Gary Funkhouser, and LabOne agreed to dismiss the case permanently after mediation in 2006.

Ramsey, a 56-year-old retired business executive from Leawood, was one of the Democratic candidates vying to challenge Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in 2018 in Kansas’ 3rd District.

She was running with the endorsement of Emily’s List, a liberal women’s group that has raised more than a half-million dollars to help female candidates who support abortion rights.

Ramsey will drop out on Friday, her campaign said.

I’m sure there are more cases out there. Maybe men will finally feel safe coming forward.

I’VE WRITTEN SEVERAL TIMES ABOUT ZAEVION DOBSON, the heroic teenager who was killed shielding 3 girls from gunfire. Today, his killers were convicted. I’m glad that justice was done, though it won’t bring him back. The judge in the case is one of my former students, which makes me feel old.

THIS WHOLE MUELLER PROBE IS DISGRACEFULLY PARTISAN AND INCESTUOUS: Wife of demoted DOJ official worked for firm behind anti-Trump dossier. “A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump ‘dossier’ had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official’s wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.”

Related: ‘Journalism for rent’: Inside the secretive firm behind the Trump dossier.. “The small firm has been under intense public scrutiny for producing the 35-page document known as the Trump dossier. Senior executives summoned to testify before Congress in October invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and the firm is resisting a congressional subpoena for bank records that would reveal who has paid for its services.” The records would also reveal what journalists it was paying.

But wait, there’s more:

The firm has played an unseen role in stories that dominated headlines in recent years.

In the years before it produced the dossier, records show, Fusion worked to blunt aggressive reporting on the medical-device company Theranos, which was later found to have problems with its novel blood-testing technology. It was also hired to ward off scrutiny of the nutritional supplement company Herbalife, which ultimately paid $200 million to distributors to settle claims by regulators.

In another case, the firm sought to expose what it called “slimy dealings” by a competitor of a San Francisco museum proposed by filmmaker and “Star Wars” director George Lucas. And it dug up information about domestic disputes involving a former mayor of Beverly Hills, Calif., as part of an investigation into a proposed real estate development that the mayor supported. . . .

“I call it journalism for rent,” Simpson, 53, said in August of last year at the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival and Symposium in the District, where he described Fusion’s work on a panel titled, “Investigations With an Agenda.” . . .

Fusion insists that the firm does not engage in public relations work or advertise its media connections to prospective clients. But Fusion executives have interceded with former colleagues in media when their clients came under scrutiny, records and interviews show. . . . He was candid about the money involved. Explaining why he left journalism, he joked: “We don’t use the word ‘sold out.’ We use the word ‘cashed in.’ ”

I’m sure there’s nothing slimy going on here at all.

I’M SO OLD I CAN REMEMBER WHEN YEMEN WAS THE MUCH-TOUTED SHOWPIECE OF OBAMA’S ANTI-TERROR DIPLOMACY: The catastrophe in Yemen.

Related: Yemen, Not Syria or Iraq, Is Obama’s Worst Foreign Policy Mistake.. I dunno, what about Libya? There are so many choices . . .

CHANGE: The Rebirth of America’s Pro-Natalist Movement: Activists on the right and left want policies that will reverse the country’s baby bust. But the broader culture—and Congress—don’t seem to care.

America needs more babies.

That’s what policymakers seem to have decided, from the White House to Capitol Hill. Congress spent November considering the Child Tax Credit, a measure that reduces the federal income taxes owed by families with kids. The Senate and the House both voted to raise the credit in their recent tax bills, which will soon be reconciled. Meanwhile, two Democratic senators, Michael Bennet and Sherrod Brown, proposed their own version of an increase. And led by Ivanka Trump, the Trump administration has been softly pushing a child-care tax deduction and federal paid-maternity-leave program.

These programs have been sold as ways to support struggling middle-class families, but they also address another issue: declining birth rates. Government data suggests the U.S. has experienced drops in fertility across multiple measures in recent years. Even Hispanic Americans, who have had high fertility rates compared to other ethnic groups in recent decades, are starting to have fewer babies. Lyman Stone, an economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture who blogs about fertility in his spare time, called this year’s downward fertility trend “the great baby bust of 2017.”

These are the seeds of a nascent pro-natalist movement, a revived push to organize American public policy around childbearing. While putatively pro-family or pro-child policymaking has a long history in the U.S., the latest push has a new face. It’s more Gen X than Baby Boom. It’s pro-working mom. And it upends typical left-right political valences: Measures like the Child Tax Credit find surprising bipartisan support in Congress. Over the last year or so, the window of possibility for pro-natalist policies has widened.

Read the whole thing. I’m beginning to think it was a mistake to listen to Paul Ehrlich.

QUESTION ASKED AND ANSWERED:

● Shot: Is hugging still okay? In the wake of Weinstein sexual assault accusations, men ask: What is acceptable to women and society now?

—AP, Monday.

● Chaser: Librarian: To fight microaggressions, hug a person of color.

Campus Reform, today.

● Hangover: ‘I don’t like men’: Lawmaker brings meeting to a halt after male colleague touches his arm:

While debating a land-use bill at a committee meeting on Tuesday night, Pennsylvania state Rep. Matt Bradford laid his hand — for just a moment — on the left forearm of the colleague sitting next to him.

That colleague was conservative Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who interrupted Bradford mid-sentence with a personal bit of information.

“Look, I’m a heterosexual. I have a wife, I love my wife, I don’t like men — as you might. But stop touching me all the time,” Metcalfe told Bradford, who then began laughing.

Several other members of the committee, which Metcalfe chairs, giggled and smirked.

“Keep your hands to yourself,” said Metcalfe, a Republican from Butler County. “If you want to touch somebody, you have people on your side of the aisle who might like it.

“I don’t.”

—The Washington Post, today.

STEPHEN GUTOWSKI: NRA Blasts Misleading Claims Made About Gun Background Check Bill Ahead of House Vote.

Despite what appears in the bill’s text, Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, described it as establishing “a gun control super-database” and “expanding the Brady-NICS gun owner registry.”

“Weak Republicans always push gun control laws under the guise of ‘enforcing the laws we have,’ but only end up pushing the Democrat agenda, giving gun owners more reasons to worry,” he said.

Meanwhile an alert from Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America (GOA), claimed Fix NICS “would require that the rolls of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and ObamaCare be trolled for recipients with PTSD, ADHD, or Alzheimer’s—that is, people who have had guardians appointed,” the group’s legislative council said it was not arguing the bill would create new categories of prohibited people. Instead, he said, the bill’s attempt to gather all of the records required under current law, which dates back nearly a decade, is the problem.

“No, we are not arguing that ‘Fix NICS’ adds new categories,” Michael Hammond, general counsel for GOA, told the Free Beacon. “But we are arguing that 18 U.S.C. 922(g), as interpreted by the 2007 NICS Improvement Amendments Act and its regulations at 27 CFR 478.11, is so potentially broad, that, if every eligible name were submitted to NICS, as the bill proposes, the result would be the submission of a large number of names of otherwise law-abiding Americans.”

More to come, I’m sure.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21st CENTURY, YOU KNOW: ‘The Woebot will see you now’ — the rise of chatbot therapy.

My therapist wanted to explain a few things during our first online session:

“I’m going to check in with you at random times. If  you can’t respond straight away, don’t sweat it. Just come back to me when  you’re ready. I’ll check in daily.”

“Daily?” I asked.

“Yup! It shouldn’t take longer than a couple minutes. Can you handle that?

“Yes, I can,” I answered.

There was a little more back-and-forth, all via Messenger, then this statement from my therapist:

“This might surprise you, but . . . I am a robot.”

It wasn’t a surprise, of course. I’d downloaded “Woebot,” a chatbot recently created by researchers, and it was trying to establish our therapeutic relationship.

The article ends with a reference to the mother of them all – Eliza; I’m old enough to have had extended conversations with “her” back in the late 1970s. I don’t think the Woebot is ready to pass the Turing Test yet, but it sounds like psychological chat apps have made a fair amount of progress since.

TAX CHANGES: “If this is wrong, I’d like to see the NYT refute it.”

I think — I don’t know — that the NYT is expressing concern about taxpayers who itemize and have a big state-and-local tax deduction. I’m one of those taxpayers, but I used an on-line calculator that showed that my household would save around $1000 a year under the GOP plan. And we pay over $17,000 a year in property taxes alone. The new standard deduction is that big. So it looks as though there are a lot of people who currently itemize, who’ll just be better off taking the standard deduction. Then there are the many many people — the majority of taxpayers — who are already taking the standard deduction and who’ll get a much larger standard deduction. Why isn’t the NYT happy for these people? I suspect — again, I haven’t figured it out — that the NYT is looking at all the people who just don’t owe much income tax. Once you’ve got your taxable income down to nothing, it doesn’t matter how much more you could have deducted. So those people get nothing out of the bigger standard deduction.

My sympathy when people who aren’t paying taxes fail to participate in a tax cut aimed at those who do pay is very limited.

ED MORRISSEY: CBS News’ headaches may just have started with Charlie Rose rather than ending with him.

More:

Erin Gee worked for seventeen years at the network and claims that a systemic environment of abuse got so bad that one boss told her to sleep with an editor after complaining about his work.

According to Gee, Klug later followed up with a query to another male boss to see whether he had slept with his female subordinates, specifically Gee. Gee got demoted to the weekends after filing a formal complaint in 2015, according to the lawsuit, after being told that the network would investigate the issue. Klug, also a former director of the network’s flagship news program 60 Minutes, got a promotion not long afterward.

However, the Daily Mail notes that Gee’s complaint didn’t get too far with the EEOC, which prompted the lawsuit. CBS News denies the allegations.

The Rose case may make this a little more difficult to sustain.

The infotainment industry has been getting away with — even nurturing — all kinds of sexual manipulation and predation, while lecturing ordinary, non-predatory Americans about how awful they are.

Even after all these weeks of horrific revelations, the Democrat-Media complex seems to think they can offer up a few public sacrifices and circle the wagons around the rest. But I’m not convinced it’s going to work this time, given the scope and nature of allegations.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, PECULATION EDITION: Another Evergreen State Employee Quits, Alleging Illegal Use Of Taxpayer Money.

Michael Radelich, who worked as a learning resource specialist and a record keeper at the school’s writing center for 14 years, said that the center used financial aid money meant for students to hire non-student employees, reported The College Fix.

The school told Sandra Yannone, director of the writing center and Radelich’s boss, that she must dedicate no less than 90 percent of the center’s budget each year to student salaries, alleged Radelich. But the writing center spent only 27 percent of its budget on that item for the 2016-2017 school year, according to documents Radelich gave to The College Fix.

I’d borrow Sara’s shocked face, but I’m afraid of wearing it out.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS:

● Shot: The View’s Host Joy Behar: “I am being told by God to save this country.”

Right Wing News, Saturday.

● Chaser:

While Behar was raised Catholic, she now identifies as agnostic. She jokingly said she lost her faith when she “went to the Commie school Queens College.” She told Father Edward Beck on an ABC News “Focus on Faith” interview: “I’m sustained by my family, my life, my brain. But I don’t believe there’s an afterlife.” (March 17, 2011). In the same interview, she said: “I never gave her [my daughter] any religion, because I felt that I was brainwashed. . . . This is what I didn’t want my daughter to have. So that’s why I didn’t want her to go to Catholic school or learn any of that.”

“I’m pathetically pragmatic. . . . I don’t believe that there’s a higher power that created human beings.”

—Joy Behar in an interview with Father Edward Beck on ABC News, “Focus on Faith,” March 17, 2011.

As found at the Freedom from Religion Foundation Website.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Africans are being sold at Libyan slave markets. Thanks, Hillary Clinton. “It’s surprising the extent to which Clinton has gotten a pass for this debacle, which represents a humanitarian and strategic failure of the first order. (And, of course the damage is still compounding: How likely is North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear weapons, after seeing the worthlessness of U.S. promises made to Gadhafi?) . . . Back in the 2012 presidential campaign, former vice president Joe Biden told a group of African Americans that the GOP was going to ‘put you all back in chains.’ But it turned out that it was Clinton’s policies that led to black people being sold. As some ponder another Hillary Clinton run in 2020, that’s worth pointing out.”

On Twitter I’m being told that the Libya invasion was over 5 years ago and Hillary isn’t President now, so shut up. But given that we’re still living with the consequences, and she’s still relitigating the election, I think it’s worth noting just what a foreign policy disaster she was as Secretary of State, and would have been as President.

I’M SO OLD, I MISS THE GOOD OLD DAYS WHEN NEW YORK TIMES REPORTERS WERE MERELY APOLOGISTS FOR STALIN:  NYTimes: Ok to sexualize children for the cause of genderqueer.

I’M SO OLD I CAN REMEMBER WHEN THE NY TIMES RIDICULED NANCY REAGAN FOR ASKING AN ASTROLOGER’S ADVICE:  Why Is the New York Times Taking Astrology Seriously?

I’M SO OLD CAN REMEMBER WHEN SUSAN SARANDON ADORED THE CLINTONS:  Susan Sarandon says Hillary Clinton is ‘very dangerous’.

I’M SO OLD, I CAN REMEMBER WHEN HE WAS HITLER: Is Donald Trump, of All Presidents, Devolving Power Back to the Legislative Branch? “President Trump has proved to be a full-spectrum deregulator. His administration has been punctilious about the institutional prerogatives of Congress and the courts. Today there is a serious prospect of restoring the constitutional status quo ante and reversing what seemed to be an inexorable regulatory expansion.”

More from Josh Blackman: Is Trump Restoring Separation of Powers?

AND IN CASE YOU WONDERED, YEP, DEMOCRATS ARE STILL ACTING INSANE:  Newsweek: Charles Manson = Donald Trump.  I’m thinking when Newsweek sold for $1 it was wildly overpriced.