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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.”


“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…?


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.”


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,, and then in turn to the original source,, 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),, 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, 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.


● 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.


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.


[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.


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.


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.


● 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.


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.


● 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 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.

I’M SO OLD, I CAN REMEMBER WHEN APPLE’S SLOGAN WAS “THINK DIFFERENT:” “Apple fires Diversity Chief for suggesting that intellectual diversity is important too. Wrongthink has no place in Silicon Valley.”

CHANGE: Apple’s Diversity Chief Is Leaving After Only 6 Months.

She had irked some critics in May when she commented during a conference, “There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.” Her comments were seen by some as insensitive to people of color, women, and members of the LGBT community, who have long faced an uphill battle in the workplace.

Denise Young Smith later apologized for her comments, saying that they “were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it.”

“For that, I’m sorry,” she said in a staff email. “More importantly, I want to assure you Apple’s view and our dedication to diversity has not changed.”

Her sin was being honest that there’s more to diversity than skin color or sexual orientation.

UPDATE (From Ed): I’m so old, I can remember when Apple’s marketing slogan was “Think Different.”

CHANGE? Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe makes first public appearance since ‘coup.’

Zimbabwe’s beleaguered President Robert Mugabe attended a graduation ceremony at a university in the capital Harare on Friday, his first public appearance since he was put under house arrest by the army late Tuesday.

The 93-year-old wore a graduation gown and cap for the event at the Zimbabwe Open University. He announced the ceremony’s opening to applause, but did not make a speech.

It came as the country’s army said it has made “significant progress” in their “operation” after seizing control of state television and the capital’s airport during an apparent coup earlier this week. Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, refused to stand down during a meeting with military officials Thursday, AFP reported.

AND: Mugabe exit plan talks deadlocked.

Insiders said Mugabe, who is holed up at his house with his wife Grace and his family, and close allies Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere and their families, agreed during the delicate talks at State House in Harare yesterday that he could step down as Zanu PF leader at his party’s congress next month and as head of state and government when his current term of office expires by mid next year.

“Mugabe is agreed to go in principle. As a general plan, although the details are not yet established, he has agreed to step down as Zanu PF leader next month and president next year, but he does not want to be removed from office outside the constitution and law framework,” one source said.

“However, the military and its political allies want him to go now; they want him to resign and reinstate (fired Vice-President Emmerson) Mnangagwa and also allow him to become acting president, and then follow the party and government processes leading to an eventual takeover.

“So for now he is going nowhere; he is staying put even at the risk of military escalation and a complete takeover.

The dilemma for the military is to stage a fully-fledged coup and remove Mugabe, but then suffer the consequences of global condemnation, sanctions and isolation which might collapse the country – achieving the very opposite of what they say they want to do. For Mugabe the risk is removal through a coup, harm and humiliation.”

Mustn’t upset the international community when removing the vile dictator, dear.

MEANWHILE: Breaking: Mugabe too old & must go – All Zanu PF provinces.

In a dramatic twist of events, all the ten Zanu PF provinces have passed a vote of no confidence on President Robert Mugabe, and declared the 93 year-old leader – who has been in office for 37 years – too old and incapacitated to lead both Zanu PF and government.

After that, I’m not sure it means much what the international community thinks.

THE FINAL FRONTIER: Scientists found a new Earth-sized planet nearby… and it might be habitable.

Known as Ross 128b, the newly discovered planet orbits a life-friendly red dwarf star that is an estimated seven billion years old.

Red dwarfs are the most common stars in the galaxy, making up about 70 percent of all known stars, and tend to hold water-friendly planets in their orbit. What this means is these planets are likely to have an atmosphere and possibly support life.

Ross 128b has a few things going for it that make it a much better candidate to support human life. For one, it has a consistent wobble in its rotation. It also orbits an older star that has probably settled down somewhat. A computer simulation also suggests it might have built up clouds to keep water from evaporating on its surface, giving it a better chance at hosting an atmosphere that could support life.

I’m wary of computer simulations of worlds we’ve never been to when we can’t yet get this one right.

ONLY POLICE SHOULD BE ARMED: Detroit police officers fight each other in undercover op gone wrong.

Sources say it started when two special ops officers from the 12th Precinct were operating a “push off” on Andover near Seven Mile. That is when two undercover officers pretend to be dope dealers, waiting for eager customers to approach, and then arrest potential buyers and seize their vehicles.

But this time, instead of customers, special ops officers from the 11th Precinct showed up. Not realizing they were fellow officers, they ordered the other undercover officers to the ground.

FOX 2 is told the rest of the special ops team from the 12th Precinct showed up, and officers began raiding a house in the 19300 block of Andover. But instead of fighting crime, officers from both precincts began fighting with each other.

Sources say guns were drawn and punches were thrown while the homeowner stood and watched.

The department’s top cops were notified along with Internal Affairs. Each officer involved is now under investigation as the department tried to determine what went wrong.

I’m having a hard time working up any sympathy for undercover cops engaged in a sting operations aimed at using asset forfeiture to seize citizens’ cars.


Foresight Institute’s Vision Weekend, Dec 2-3, SF

The Vision Weekend is a gathering dedicated to taking stock of the most compelling ideas of today, turn them into coherent visions for a better future, and get to work on them.

Saturday: Keynote panels @ Gray Area. Industry leaders deliver food for thought during panels, followed by private Q&A tables with your favorite speaker.
Sunday: Strategy sessions @ Laundry. What vision do you want to contribute to our future? Pick your topic, or apply to host a strategy session. Be bold – Sunday is off the record.

Panels include:
Long-term thinking: So Much To Do, So Little Time
Blockchains: Master Key to Unlock The Future?
Longevity: Reaching Escape Velocity for Life-Extension
Intelligence 2.0: The Brain As Next Frontier?

Speakers include:
Joon Yun, Founder of Palo Alto Longevity Prize
Sonia Arrison, Author of 100 Plus
Tom Kalil, Senior Advisor to the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Group
David Eagleman, Host & Producer of The Brain with David Eagleman
Aubrey De Grey, President of SENS Research Foundation
Max More, President of Alcor
Zooko Wilcox, Founder of ZCash
Mark S. Miller, Senior Fellow at Foresight Institute
Will Marshall, Co-Founder & CEO, Planet Labs
Kevin Perrott, Founder & CEO, Aging Research Network
Melanie Swan, Founder of Institute for Blockchain Studies
Matt Bell, Co-Founder of Matterport
Randal Koene, Founder of NeuraLink

Check out the event website for more speakers, program, or buy your ticket. Share the event with your friends on Facebook.

You may apply the code “INSTAPUNDIT” for a 50% discount when purchasing your Vision Weekend ticket. (This is a Foresight member-only event, so if you’re not a member already, join when registering.)

What past participants say:
“It was an exhilarating experience to be with a large group of people who have sophisticated, enlightened, and thoughtful ideas about the future” – Ray Kurzweil
“A milestone in our journey to better understand our future” – Robin Hanson
“Had a great time and was exposed to fascinating ideas, and, more importantly, fascinating sources of ideas” – Vernor Vinge

I used to be on the Foresight Board of Directors, and I’m still on the advisory board. If you’re interested in this stuff, you’re sure to have a good time.

I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS HASN’T BEEN IN ALL THE PAPERS — OH, I SLAY MYSELF. The Curious Case of the Black Male Escort Found Dead Inside a Wealthy Democratic Donor’s Home.

On July 27, 2017, 26-year-old Gemmel Moore was found in the bathroom of a West Hollywood, Calif., apartment belonging to Ed Buck, 62. Moore was young, black and poor. Buck was white, wealthy and powerful.

That’s all we know.

Moore’s family is searching for answers. Buck has not spoken publicly about the incident. Police have not charged anyone with a crime, even though multiple reports have surfaced that Buck had a predilection for young, black men. Even after a number of young, black male sex workers have stepped forward with apparent photographic evidence that Buck was one of their clients. Even after each one of those men separately told the same story: Not only did Buck have a fetish for black men, but he was known in West Hollywood’s gay community as someone paying top dollar for the company of 20-something black escorts …

But only after injecting them with drugs.

I’m sure it’s all very innocent.

Entirely unrelated: American tech billionaire who gagged press over hotel rape claim is named.

“Pishevar, a Democratic donor, was also a supporter of a movement for California to secede from the U.S.”

JOHN KASICH: It’s time for lawmakers to get into a room and figure out some sort of solution on gun control.

I’m so old, I can still remember when Kasich presented himself as a libertarian-leaning Republican. Although to be fair, these days that does seem like an awfully long time ago.


It is hard not to notice that this bill is designed to spread benefits among Trump supporters, particularly the Republican donor class, while laying most of the costs on a single group of people: six-figure professionals living in blue states, a group known as the HENRYs (High Earning, Not Rich Yet). One can make a principled justification for levying high taxes on the rich, who can most easily spare the money. One can make a principled justification for taxing everyone equally, share and share alike. But what is the principle by which almost all of the pain of this tax bill should be borne by affluent, but not rich, people who happen to live on the coasts? Other than “we don’t like them.” …

But while cui bono should not be the only consideration, it always is at least one. Republicans are trying to sell this tax package as a fairer reform that will make things better for all Americans. If that is what they are actually trying to do, then they should probably not offer something so obviously shaped as a shiv for Donald Trump’s political enemies. If not out of principle, then out of naked self-interest. However astonishing their current disarray, Democrats are going to be back in power someday. And if Republicans weaponized the tax code in this fashion, Democrats are likely to pick up this crudely crafted weapon and turn it on its creator.

First, I doubt very much that the GOP has started the tax-weaponization process, leaving aside the longstanding weaponization of the IRS by Democrats.

But it’s also the case that the people who are being “targeted” are people who generally support higher taxes and government power. This is a teaching moment:

There’s an old joke about a boy who complains to his mother that his little sister keeps pulling his hair.

“Oh,” responds the mother, “she doesn’t know that it hurts.”

A few minutes later, the mother hears the girl scream and runs into the other room. “She knows now,” the boy explains.

You know?

Meanwhile, Greg Mankiw has some suggestions for improving Trump’s tax plan that I’m mostly okay with, and I think Trump might be too. “Mr. Trump is right that the current system is in desperate need of repair and that sensible reform could simplify our lives, promote economic growth and benefit all Americans. But I fear that what he is offering, while attractive in some ways, is not bold enough to get the job done.” I don’t favor Mankiw’s final proposal, but Trump — and many Trump voters — might.

SUMANTRA MEITRA: Europe’s Imperial Dilemma.

The British exit and the Spanish crackdown are both a direct consequence of the EU shaping up as an empire, without having the requisite will or capability to manage order across the continent or control the backlash resulting from its idealist and incoherent policies. Undermining state sovereignty has only empowered differing forces within EU. The culturally Catholic conservative Central Europeans, for example, are opposed to Brussels and Berlin meddling in their domestic affairs with unchecked migration or energy deals with the United States. Britain, on the other hand, left the EU due simply to a rational fear of Germany’s Angela Merkel opening the whole of Europe to millions of migrants. Now, ethnic groups like the Catalans have decided if they are going to be ruled by Brussels anyway, why bother listening to the middle man in Madrid? Also, there’s no logical coherence in the policy of EU supporting humanitarian interventions in Libya, and self-determination of other ethnic groups like the Kurds and Irish, while simultaneously and hypocritically opposing Catalonian independence.

A great Machiavellian paradox now tests Europe. It is too diverse, differing in language and culture, and never united before other than through forced imperium, to be bound together in the way the EU has envisioned. An empire, or its modern jargon-oriented equivalent, ultimately cannot be sustained, or defended without using brute force. After all, Westphalian nation-states came into existence as the old empires faded. That led to imperial colonial powers, which then ruled the world for centuries, before being dismantled by other regional nationalists. The last empire to fall was the Soviet Union, which kept the Warsaw pact countries under their power not by the strength of Marxist ideology, but by sheer military force. As soon as Soviet economic power collapsed, so too did the strength of their military, resulting in an opening for a nationalist tide. If the EU tries to morph into a full empire, the result would be more nationalistic backlash and chaos—to say nothing of heightened wariness and tensions with the United States, the UK, and Russia. If the EU doesn’t act like an empire, the regional ethnic groups will rebel against their national states.

And that’s the dilemma for humanity’s greatest liberal utopian project.

“Utopia” of course means “no where,” and I’m afraid “liberal” in this case is the modern, illiberal meaning of the word. But this is a solid, big-picture peace — highly recommended.

WELL, OKAY: Biden on 2020: “I’m not going to decide not to run.”

Maybe by then this whole sexual harassment thing will have died down. Flashback: Biden Swims Naked, Upsetting Female Secret Service Agents:

“Agents say that, whether at the vice president’s residence or at his home in Delaware, Biden has a habit of swimming in his pool nude,” Kessler writes in the book – due for release Aug. 5.

“Female Secret Service agents find that offensive,” he writes.

“Biden likes to be revered as everyday Joe,” an unnamed agent told Kessler. “But the reality is no agents want to go on his detail because Biden makes agents’ lives so tough.”

Plus: Washington Post: What Are We Going To Do About Creepy Uncle Joe Biden?

And: ‘Creepy Veep’ Joe Biden ‘nuzzles’ wife of colleague and claims he is friends with lots of Somali cab drivers.

Also: Joe Biden’s Woman-Touching Habit.

Related: Talking Points Memo: Why Does Creepy Uncle Joe Biden Get A Pass From Liberals?


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DEREGULATION: EPA plans to repeal emission standards for truck components.

Unlike some Obama-era regulations, the rule, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, has been widely embraced by the trucking industry.

The rule applies the standards now used for heavy-duty trucks to new truck components called gliders and trailers. A glider, or body, is the front of a truck, including the cab, which fits over the engine. Trailers are the storage components that make up most of the length of a truck.

Currently, trucking companies can install an outdated engine into a new truck body and avoid regulations that would apply to an entirely new truck. Engine manufacturers and public health advocates are in favor of closing that loophole and applying pollution controls uniformly. Heavy-duty trucks have faced tighter emissions standards since 2004, though they have become more stringent over time, thereby widening the gap between new ones and truck bodies that contain older engines.

On Sept. 11, executives from three major heavy-truck and engine manufacturers — Volvo Group North America, Cummins and Navistar — wrote Pruitt urging him not to reopen the rule.

I’m shocked, shocked to find that engine manufacturers oppose re-purposing older engines.

NOTHING TO SEE HERE, MOVE ALONG: The Hill: Bill Clinton sought State’s permission to meet with Russian nuclear official during Obama uranium decision.

As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom — which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show.

“In the context of a possible trip to Russia at the end of June, WJC is being asked to see the business/government folks below. Would State have concerns about WJC seeing any of these folks,” Clinton Foundation foreign policy adviser Amitabh Desai wrote the State Department on May 14, 2010, using the former president’s initials and forwarding the list of names to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s team.

The email went to two of Hillary Clinton’s most senior advisers, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills.

And it sounds like even they were dubious:

Current and former Clinton aides told The Hill that the list of proposed business executives the former president planned to meet raised some sensitivities after Bill Clinton’s speaker bureau got the invite for the lucrative speech.

Hillary Clinton had just returned from Moscow and there were concerns about the appearance of her husband meeting with officials so soon after.

In addition, two of the Russians on the former president’s list had pending business that would be intersecting with State.

On a related note, a reader emails:

You know…when Hillary “fell on stairs” and “broke her toe” and then cancelled all the remaining interviews, I DID wonder if she was going into hiding b/c a story was about to break. Seems the uranium deal story is it. Yet she’s still being protected. I’m actually surprised at that. Figured if the DNC was really tired of her, they’d let it rip.

Yeah, the press hasn’t stopped covering for her the way it stopped covering for Harvey Weinstein. But I think that’s mostly because covering for her on this is a necessary part of covering for Obama.

UPDATE: And on that last note, see this from Andrew McCarthy. “The Uranium One scandal is not only, or even principally, a Clinton scandal. It is an Obama-administration scandal.”

MICHAEL BARONE: “Administration lawyers made complex, sophisticated arguments that Obama’s clearly illegal actions were actually legal. I’m a graduate of Yale Law School; I know how this is done. Many Americans suspect that condescending elite law school graduates are contemptuous of them and their naive belief that words mean what they say. My experience is that those suspicions are well-founded. “

MORE ON JIMMY KIMMEL ON LOSING REPUBLICAN VIEWERS: “I probably wouldn’t want to have a conversation with them anyway.”

We’ll get to Kimmel in a moment, but to understand how we got to this point, let’s flashback to the hypothesis that Robert Tracinski explored a week ago at the Federalist, in a column titled,“Why Late Night Hosts Like Jimmy Kimmel Are Suddenly So Political.” After discussing how DVRs, streaming and YouTube are fracturing their audiences, he concluded:

So the late-night shows are in a much fiercer competition for eyeballs than ever before, and I suspect the politicization is a response to that—a desperate way of getting in the news, of getting noticed, of securing the loyalty of a particular demographic. This is also my theory about the big entertainment awards shows like the Oscars and the Emmys. If the big, broad, general audience you used to have is gone, and deep down you think it’s never coming back, then why not make a harder bid for the loyalty of the smaller audience you’ve got left? In a time when the entertainment industry is (or thinks it is) a one-party state with no dissenters, you had better echo that politics back to your base.

What were once cultural institutions with a broad, bipartisan audience are becoming niche players with a narrow fan base. They no longer view partisan politics as a dangerous move that will shrink their audience. Instead, they’re using partisan politics as a lure to secure the loyalty of their audience, or what is left of it. Not that it’s going to work over the long term, because people who want to have their biases confirmed will just watch the five-minute YouTube clip Chris Cillizza links to the next day.

Tracinski’s theory dovetails perfectly with the above quoted tweet yesterday from the Washington Examiner: “Jimmy Kimmel on losing Republican viewers: ‘I probably wouldn’t want to have a conversation with them anyway.’” The article it links to goes on to note:

Critics like conservative commentator Ben Shapiro have slammed Kimmel for parading as a “moral arbiter.”

“I’m not. I mean, I agree with him. I’m nobody’s moral arbiter,” Kimmel told CBS. “You don’t have to watch the show. You don’t have to listen to what I say.”

A defiant Kimmel added that he doesn’t say “I don’t mind” because he preferred “everyone with a television to watch the show.”

“But if they’re so turned off by my opinion on healthcare and gun violence then, I don’t know, I probably wouldn’t want to have a conversation with them anyway,” he continued. “Not good riddance, but riddance.”

To paraphrase a legendary fictitious newscaster, you stay classy, Jimmy.

Kimmel is afraid to “have a conversation on healthcare and gun violence” because since 2001, the current Democratic Party purity test (just scroll through the Insta-archives on the topic) requires that Inner Party members make no contact with the lumpenproletariat, lest the bad think rub off. Kimmel runs the risk of learning about a topic and having his mind changed, and he and Disney and the DNC certainly can’t have that. And by echoing the party line, Kimmel keeps his base of remaining leftwing viewers, and his bosses pumped up as well.

As Salena Zito, who actually gets up from her desk and goes out to talk to everyday Americans — even icky flyover country Republicans despised by Hollywood! — and somehow survives the process tweets in response, “Narrow-minded commentary by [Kimmel.] Most Americans are willing to converse with someone who sees world differently than themselves.” But apparently, Democrats are done “having a conversation,” and are simply biding their time until they’re back in power to impose their will on us.

DONNA KARAN WILL BE WALKING BACK THIS HEADLINE IN 3…2…1…: “EXCLUSIVE: Fashion designer Donna Karan comes to Harvey Weinstein’s DEFENSE suggesting his victims may have been ‘asking for it’ by the way they dress calling the shamed mogul and his wife ‘wonderful people,’” screams the London Daily Mail’s homepage tonight:

She told a reporter: ‘I think we have to look at ourselves. Obviously, the treatment of women all over the world is something that has always had to be identified. Certainly in the country of Haiti where I work, in Africa, in the developing world, it’s been a hard time for women.

‘To see it here in our own country is very difficult, but I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?

‘And what are we throwing out to our children today about how to dance and how to perform and what to wear? How much should they show?

I’m not sure those are questions a couturier to the (very leftwing) stars should be asking publicly if she wants to keep those commission checks flowing in.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, since crazy pills seem to be abundance on the left, the ordinarily sane, often quite readable center-left Jewish-themed Website Tablet went Stormfront so slowly, I hardly even noticed: “The Specifically Jewy Perviness of Harvey Weinstein,” screams their headline today. Screenshot here, in case it changes.

As Jon Gabriel tweets, “Damn. I’m a Finn and I’m offended.”

(There are no italics in twitter, but I’m pretty sure Jon’s OK with my adding them here.)

HAPPILY, I’M HEALTHIER THAN MY DAD AND GRANDDADS WERE AT MY AGE: Middle-age Americans in 2017 are less healthy than prior generations: Study.

As Americans in their 50s move toward retirement age, many are in worse overall health than their peers in prior generations, researchers warn.

“We found that younger cohorts are facing more burdensome health issues, even as they have to wait until an older age to retire, so they will have to do so in poorer health,” said study author Robert Schoeni. He’s an economist and demographer at the University of Michigan.

Americans born in 1960 or later must wait until age 67 to collect their full Social Security benefit. People born before that were able to collect sooner.

Schoeni and his colleagues analyzed data collected over decades by the U.S. National Institute on Aging and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They found that a higher percentage of Americans now in their 50s rated their own health as just fair or poor, compared with what older Americans said about their own health at a similar age.

Also, middle-aged Americans today say they suffer from a higher rate of memory and thinking problems, versus prior generations of 50-year-olds.

But I suspect that these self-reports are driven as much by expectations as by actual change. Prior generations expected to feel worse as they got older, and also expected people not to complain about it too much. Note that people’s actual physical abilities didn’t get worse.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Debt Alone Won’t Crush Puerto Rico. Depopulation Is the Curse.

“They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street,” Donald Trump told Geraldo Rivera. “We’re going to have to wipe that out. That’s going to have to be — you know, you can say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is, you can wave goodbye to that.”

Bond markets didn’t appreciate the verbal wave. The territory’s bonds, already weak from the pounding of Hurricane Maria, fell another 31 percent. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney hastened to say the president didn’t mean what he said. “I wouldn’t take it word for word with that,” he said demurely. Nor should you; as debt expert Cate Long told CNN Money, “Trump does not have the ability to wave a magic wand and wipe out the debt.”

Yet the fact remains that Puerto Rico is not going to be able to pay all of its debts. Prior to the hurricane, the territory had $73 billion in outstanding debt, and a population of 3.4 million people. That’s approximately $21,500 for every man, woman and child on the island – just about enough to buy each of them a brand new Mini Cooper, provided that they don’t insist on the sport package or the heated seats. . . .

And why was the government borrowing so much? For one thing, because the government doesn’t work very well. The operations of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, for example, defy belief: It essentially gave unlimited free power to municipalities and government-owned entities, which used it to do things like operate skating rinks in the tropics. Everywhere you look, you see signs of a government struggling to perform basic tasks: collect taxes, maintain the infrastructure, improve the health system. In the jargon of development economists, the island lacks “state capacity”: It is simply unable to exert the amount of power over its operations that we on the mainland mostly take for granted.

But you can’t entirely blame the Puerto Rican government for the state of the underlying economy, which is what had plunged the island into a bankruptcy crisis even before the hurricane. For that you have to look to the federal government, which eliminated a tax break that had given companies incentives to locate in Puerto Rico, and then oversaw a financial crisis that sent them into an even deeper spiral. We also made sure that a relatively poor island was forced to adopt the federal minimum wage, which was too high for the local labor market. That has contributed to the 11.5 percent unemployment rate. And Puerto Rico uses the U.S. dollar, leaving it unable to adjust monetary policy to overcome economic stagnation.

None of those things will change just because we wipe out the bondholders. And the bondholders are not Puerto Rico’s only creditors; it has an unfunded pension liability of roughly $50 billion. Covering the current liability will consume more 20 percent of the budget.

That figure will only grow, because the biggest problem of all is Puerto Rico’s rapid demographic decline. There has long been a steady migration from Puerto Rico to the mainland. By 2008, there were more Puerto Ricans in the rest of the U.S. than there were in Puerto Rico. But the economic crisis has accelerated that flow to staggering levels.

So I’m guessing that if Steve Bannon were still around, he’d be encouraging Trump to do things that would make Puerto Rico so attractive that not only would people want to stay there, but expat Puerto Ricans would want to return, since most of them vote Democrat, and Puerto Rico doesn’t have any electoral votes. Which would be good for Puerto Rico, and also for Trump. In Bannon’s absence, I’m not sure there’s anyone in the White House who thinks that way.

THIS IS A SOMEWHAT MISLEADING HEADLINE: Explosive possessed by Stephen Paddock may have been used in NYC bombing.

The lede makes a bit more sense:

An explosive compound like the one found in Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock’s car and home is believed to have been used last year in an alleged terrorist bombing in New York City.

Authorities say they recovered an undisclosed amount of the compound known as Tannerite from Paddock’s home in Mesquite and 50 pounds from his car parked at Mandalay Bay, where he used firearms to mow down concertgoers at the adjacent Route 91 Harvest festival on Sunday.

Police have not said why the 64-year-old Paddock possessed Tannerite, which is unregulated and legally used by marksmen to create targets that emit a small cloud of smoke when they are struck. Authorities also found ammonium nitrate, another ingredient that can be used to build bombs, in his vehicle at the site of the shooting.

Yes, as the Las Vegas Review-Journal article goes on to note, Tannerite was used by an Afghan immigrant in a Chelsea district bombing last year in Manhattan that injured 31. It was also used by this guy a decade ago who created a viral video of his Appple G4 blowing up a decade ago in the early days of YouTube:

So very unlikely an ISIS connection based on that alone, but that isn’t stopping their Twitter account from quadrupling down on their claims. However, at this point, as Rita Katz of the Insite on Terrorism Website writes, “Regardless of Paddock’s motivations, his attack in Las Vegas was a tragic act of evil. But ISIS has come too far to walk back its claims for the Las Vegas attack. Unless it wants its future claims to be dismissed, it will need to provide what it did for flight KGL9268 and other events: proof.”

And more puzzling early details emerge, via NBC:

The investigators are puzzled by two discoveries: First, a charger was found that does not match any of the cellphones that belonged to the gunman, Stephen Paddock.

And second: Garage records show that during a period when Paddock’s car left the hotel garage, one of his key cards was used to get into his room.

There are several possible explanations for these anomalies, the investigators say, but they want to get to the bottom of it.

They are also examining his finances. IRS records show that Paddock was a successful gambler, earning at least $5 million in 2015. Some of that could be from other investments, but most of it was from gambling, officials say.

On Wednesday, Mark Steyn spoke with Tucker Carlson about how, in an era of endless social media,  weirdly blank Paddock’s Internet profile is. There’s video of the interview at Mark’s Website, to which he adds:

Whether or not he sat at gaming tables regularly, a thought occurred to me during the Sheriff’s press conference that this man’s “weirdly blank” public profile (as I put it) is closer to something like a contract killer than a mentally disturbed guy who suddenly snaps. I’m not saying this particular accountant is literally the eponymous accountant of Ben Affleck’s recent movie, but there is a level of efficiency and organization here that separates Sunday night’s carnage from almost all other single-shooter attacks.

So as the days go by this seems less and less like a lone wacko who suddenly cracks up.

Today, Steyn adds:

It is also interesting to note that Stephen Paddock apparently cased the “Life is Beautiful” concert in Las Vegas, headlined by the rapper Chance. The victims at that event would have been very different from those at the country music festival, and the press coverage would have been, too: Democrats would have stampeded down the “white supremacy” track rather than “gun control”. One senses that the killer, in his cold calculations, was aware, for whatever reason, of all these factors.

True, but as Allahpundit notes, the type of venue may have played a larger factor. “My theory for why he might have passed on an attack on the Life Is Beautiful festival was the sheer sprawl of the event, which spread out over 18 blocks. People might have been able to flee in all directions fairly quickly…It’s not the *event* that was key to his decision to attack, perhaps, but the site from which he staged it.”


Like state dinners and presidential vacations, private-jet travel comes at an expense that might be shocking to ordinary taxpaying Americans but really amounts to approximately nothing in the greater scheme of federal spending, which is dominated by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and national defense. All of the corporate-jet travel undertaken by all federal officials, including the president, doesn’t add up to a day’s spending on Social Security.

But it does offend some Americans’ sense of propriety, and Americans aren’t entirely wrong to be offended. From the success of Mark Leibovich’s This Town and Angelo Codevilla’s The Ruling Class to the election of Donald J. Trump as president of these United States, there is a sense that what really is sticking in the great American craw is not so much a dispute over policy differences — you don’t go to Donald Trump for policy insights — but resentment over the entitlement and arrogance of something Americans long told ourselves we did not have: our ruling class.


UPDATE: From the comments:

Milton Friedman explains:

“I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.”

Firing Price helped to change the political climate of opinion.


AXIS OF EVIL: Iran’s New Ballistic Missile Looks a Lot Like a Modified North Korean One.

Needless to say, the demonstration of the Khorramshahr has added a certain weight to calls in the United States to pull out of or otherwise reconsider the future of the JCPOA. Critics of pulling out of the arrangement say that it could only hasten Iran’s development of both newer and more advanced ballistic missiles, as well as a nuclear weapon.

However, Khorramshahr may prompt additional concerns that Iran may already be working along both of these lines with help from North Korea and other allies. Observers were quick to point out that the missile shares a number of similarities, especially in its apparent engine configuration, with the North Korean BM-25 Musudan, also known as the Hwasong-10.

Iran claims that the new missile is an entirely domestic effort, but it makes similar statements about almost every weapon system it unveils, even those that are clearly derived from foreign designs. Its existing Shahab-3 medium range ballistic missiles are a known derivative of North Korea’s earlier Hwasong-7.

I’m so old I can remember when suggesting that Iran and North Korea cooperated as a terror axis was the punchline to unfunny jokes told by comedians and network news reporters.


Astonishingly, the 2016 Clinton campaign conducted no state polls in the final three weeks of the general election and relied primarily on data analytics to project turnout and the state vote. They paid little attention to qualitative focus groups or feedback from the field, and their brief daily analytics poll didn’t measure which candidate was defining the election or getting people engaged.

The models from the data analytics team led by Elan Kriegel got the Iowa and Michigan primaries badly wrong, with huge consequences for the race. Why were they not then fired? Campaign manager Robbie Mook and the analytics team argued, according to Shattered, that the Sanders vote grew “organically”—turnout was unexpectedly high and new registrants broke against Clinton. Why was that a surprise?

Campaign chair John Podesta wanted to fire Mook, but Clinton stood by him. She rightly admired previous campaigns in which big data and technology were big winners, yet in 2008 it was the candidate and his appeal more than the technical wizardry that pushed Obama over the top. David Axelrod told me that analytics adds a “great field-goal kicker”—no substitute for a strategy and compelling message.

* * * * * * *


Clinton and the campaign acted as if “demographics is destiny” and that a “rainbow coalition” was bound to govern. Yes, there is a growing “Rising American Electorate,” but Page Gardner and I wrote at the outset of this election, you must give people a compelling reason to vote and I have demonstrated for my entire career that a candidate must target white working-class voters too.

I’m sure if the campaign had gone with the “Because It’s Her Turn” slogan that would totally sold the deal.