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MEGAN MCARDLE: Get Congress Back To Legislating, Not Just Budgeting.

Megan McArdle: You told me recently that many of our current problems in the legislative process stem from the budget process enacted in the early 1970s, which is now breaking down under a new political reality. What happened to the budget process in the 1970s?

Yuval Levin: I think that’s the right place to start, because it will help us see what isn’t working. I’m a believer in the Chesterton’s Fence approach to public problems. When something isn’t working, don’t just think about how it needs to change but think about why it is the way it is.

The 1974 budget process was developed in response to a specific set of problems, basically revolving around the frustration of a Democratic Congress at being constantly outmaneuvered by a Republican president in the budget process

The main problem was the practice of “impoundment” by which the Nixon administration just refused to spend money on things it disagreed with even after Congress appropriated money. The ’74 act ended that practice. But Congress decided to also rebalance the budget process in general to empower Congress. Their sense was that the president won budget battles because he had a disciplined, organized, professional budget bureaucracy serving him, while Congress was disorganized and undisciplined. They wanted a process that would make Congress function a little more like an executive when it came to budgeting.

So the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Act created a new budget process. It was a huge step forward for Congress, which had always been in a position of disadvantage against the president — who since the 1920s had had professional economists running a budget agency. When Congress needed budget projections, it had to ask the White House, and could never really trust the White House, especially with a president of the opposite party. The ’74 Act changed that.

And then things went south.

THE OBAMAS’ BRIEF LOVE AFFAIR WITH AMERICA CONCLUDES:

Shot: “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country, because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”

Michelle Obama, February, 2008.

Chaser:

“So I think it signals to the world that the United States is not serious about protecting our planet. Now, I don’t know what other way to interpret a decision that I think could be as dramatically negatively impactful as that decision. And what it means is the rest of the world will move forward without us and the United States has always been that beacon of hope, the leader, the world leader, that’s why we’re called the world leader and we’re basically abdicating that role, so that’s disappointing to me,” she added.

Valerie Jarrett, as quoted by PJM’s Nicholas Ballasy today.

Hangover:

In the speech that made his name in 2004, Illinois state senator Barack Obama jubilantly told the Democratic National Convention in Boston, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America, there’s the United States of America.” On April 24, 2017, reflecting on the earlier speech, Obama said, “That was aspirational,” to widespread laughs. He added, “Honestly it’s not true when it comes to our politics.”

—Kyle Smith, “Obama’s Book of Balderdash,” his review of We Are the Change We Seek: The Speeches of Barack Obama, edited by Obama sycophants E. J. Dionne Jr. and Joy-Ann Reid, National Review, June 12th issue. (Subscription required.)

LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE: Police groped 900 Georgia students in intimate areas during warrantless drug search, lawsuit claims.

The human rights group, Southern Center for Human Rights, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the students against the Worth County sheriff over an April 14 incident when 40 officers came into the school with no advance notice, KTLA-TV reported.

According to the lawsuit, the officers put the school on lockdown for four hours, during which they ordered students out of the classrooms and into the hallways. Students were allegedly then forced to stand spread eagle against the lockers while officers conducted intimate searches of male and female students, including touching the breast and genital areas, KTLA reported.

The lawsuit mentions one girl in particular, using only her initials K.A., who was searched by Deputy Brandi Whiddon. The lawsuit goes into disturbing detail about how in-depth Whiddon’s search of K.A. was.

And:

In a telephone interview with WALB, Worthy County Sheriff Jeff Hobby said that the warrantless searches were legal because school administrators were present when it occurred.

It was not clarified whether or not school administrators present had agreed to the searches, however, interim Worth County Superintendent Lawrence Walters denied that the deputies had the approval to conduct the search from school administrators, nor does he condone the actions of the deputies.

“Under no circumstances did we approve touching any students,” Walters told WALB.

According to Walters, Hobby had told him in March that a search of the school was going to be conducted after spring break.

“We did not give permission but they didn’t ask for permission, he just said, the sheriff, that he was going to do it after spring break,” Walters said.

Terrible move by the sheriff’s department if true, but if Walters hadn’t given permission for the search, why did he allow it to go forward?

THIS IS CNN: Human-brain eating CNN host declares Trump “piece of shit [who] is not just an embarrassment to America and a stain on the presidency. He’s an embarrassment to humankind.” As P.J. Gladnick writes at NewsBusters, “Reza Aslan, the human brain-eating CNN host of Believer expressed not the slightest hint of sympathy for the victims of the June 3 terror attacks in London on Twitter. Instead, he was solely animated by intense hatred of President Donald Trump to the extent that he cursed him out as you can see in the following tweet: ‘This piece of shit is not just an embarrassment to America and a stain on the presidency. He’s an embarrassment to humankind.’”

The 21st century isn’t really working out the way I had hoped, as the Insta-professor would say. But Aslan’s meltdown is another reminder, that as Victor Davis Hanson recently noted, “progressive” media and Democrats have formed an anti-Trump “Fusion Party:”

The media brag that they now more or less run the Democratic agenda. Univision’s Jorge Ramos (whose daughter worked for the Hillary Clinton campaign) recently thundered:

Our position, I think, has to be much more aggressive. And we should not expect the Democrats to do that job. It is our job. If we don’t question the president, if we don’t question his lies, if we don’t do it, who is going to do it? It’s an uncomfortable position.

In other words, Ramos confessed that the Democratic party apparently has neither new ideas nor a political agenda that would win over the public, and thus self-appointed journalistic grandees like him would have to step forward and lead the anti-Trump opposition as they shape the news.

Fellow panelist and CNN’s media correspondent Brian Stelter answered Ramos, “You’re almost saying we’re a stand-in for the Democrats.” Thereby, Stelter inadvertently confirmed Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon’s widely criticized but prescient assertion that the media are in fact “the opposition party” — and should be treated as such.

Gosh Brian, why would anyone think the media, not least of which CNN, is a stand-in for the Democratic Party?

DEADLY DUO: The U.S. Air Force is Trying to Link Together Stealth F-22s and F-15s.

The new pod—which can connect via Link 16, Common Data Link and Wideband Global SATCOM satellites—allows the fourth-generation jets to plug into the fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter and to ground stations using the fifth-generation jets’ own network. While the Raptor has its own proprietary Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL), the F-22 does not have the ability to transmit on the standard Link-16 network—though it can receive data. The Talon HATE allows the F-15 to connect with the Raptor’s IFDL network.

“This aerial network is a giant leap forward in tactical fighter capability with real-time connectivity and expanded information sharing,” said Paul Geery, vice president of Boeing’s Phantom Works Mission Solutions and the company’s Talon HATE program manager. “We are now demonstrating secure datalink connections between F-15Cs and F-22s in a way that integrates information for the pilot into a common operating picture.”

The key to the Talon HATE system is that it can share information between the F-22, F-15C and other platforms in real time. Right now, F-22 and F-15C pilots—who are the Air Force’s air superiority team—are forced to share data via voice communication over encrypted radio. The process, while effective, is inefficient. Real time machine-to-machine data transfers would allow the Air Force’s two key air dominance platforms to seamlessly share their data—and perhaps more importantly—share targeting information. Thus, a F-15C could use its AIM-120 AMRAAMs to engage a target that is being spotted far ahead by a stealthy F-22—without forcing the Raptor to use its expend its limited payload of missiles.

Networking is the ultimate force multiplier, and perhaps a good enough reason not to retire the F-15 just yet.

DAVID HARSANYI: Comey Didn’t Sink Hillary. Hillary Sank Hillary.

Clinton’s counterfactual tale about the infamous “Comey letter” has been a security blanket for many Democrats. But, as luck would have it, the FBI director was testifying in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee today, and he reminded us of some factors that Clinton ignored. That’s because even if we concede that Comey’s letter to Congress helped sink Clinton, Hillary deserved that letter, and the FBI director had no choice but to send it.

In essence, what many Democrats have been arguing for the past six months is that Comey should have actively buried evidence that was pertinent to an ongoing congressional investigation — one that, incidentally, had turned up plenty of potential wrongdoing — because it might hurt their preferred candidate’s chances.

On Tuesday, Comey, in fact, confirmed that the FBI had learned that classified emails were forwarded from Clinton’s email account by Clinton aide Huma Abedin to her husband Anthony Weiner so he could print them out. (This appears to be illegal, but perhaps all those immunity deals Comey was handing out came in handy.) Her computer, like other servers and laptops that Hillary’s staff tried to dispose of, hide, clean, and whatnot, were supposed to have been in the hands of the FBI.

It’s worth pointing out that everything in the Comey letter was almost surely going to leak anyway. Not only because of its connection to the Hillary investigation, but because this “fella Anthony Weiner,” as Comey referred to him today, had access to classified information. That may not have made things any better for Hillary, but it certainly would have made the FBI look like it was actively protecting a candidate — which is undoubtedly why Comey said it was potentially “catastrophic.”

The fact is that Comey’s superiors at the Justice Department did actively protect Hillary Clinton as best they could, as Charlie Martin posited yesterday:

Comey knew that the Justice Department was no way going to indict Hillary. The “intent” excuse was just that — an excuse (18 USC 793(f) again.) At the same time, he could not bring himself to let a multiple felon be elected President.

There’s no way of knowing what Comey’s thinking really was, but Charlie’s theory goes a long way towards explaining Comey’s erratic behavior.

The best thing for the Democrats would have been not to use the DNC to stack the deck against Bernie Sanders, and not to use Justice to “hack” the election for Clinton — but it seems they just couldn’t help themselves.

And for once, a Clinton was hoist on her own petard.

I REMEMBER WHEN PEOPLE WERE PREDICTING THAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WOULD GO THE WAY OF THE WHIGS: Exit the Dems, Stage Left:

This week the Draft Bernie for a People’s Party got a rather high-profile devotee in Harvard professor Cornel West, who used an op-ed in The Guardian to announce his imminent departure from the Democratic Party.

“We must admit that the Democratic Party has failed us, and we have to move on,” he wrote. “Where? To what?”

The People’s Party, he added, “builds on the ruins of a dying Democratic Party and creates new constituencies in this moment of transition and liquidation.”

West, a professor of The Practice of Public Philosophy, did a fair amount of public philosophizing about the 2016 election, insisting that it was one “which Democrats lost more than Republicans won” in large part because the party “put forward a Wall Street-connected and openly militaristic candidate with little charisma.”

Ouch! It’s enough to make you feel sorry for poor Hillary. And apparently the current darling of Democratic progressives, Massachusetts’ Sen. Elizabeth Warren, just won’t do.

“Only the ubiquitous and virtuous Bernie remains true to the idea of fundamental transformation of the party — and even he admits that seeking first-class seats on the Titanic is self-deceptive and self-destructive,” West wrote.

As for issues, well, the movement wants single-payer health care, is opposed to fracking, opposed to TPP (just like Donald Trump) and West in particular is “opposed to Israeli occupation” (it’s unclear whether that means simply the West Bank).

And, of course, there is the matter of age. Sure, Bernie’s a robust 75 today, but that would make him 79 in 2020. Guess there’s no expiration date on lefties.

Old people with old ideas, running as the party of youth.

TWO STEPS FORWARD… China Eyes Tighter Sanctions on N. Korea, but Limits Remain.

Analysts in China say the government is already doing all it can to keep the North in check. China cut coal imports from North Korea earlier this year and has been tightening financial flows to the North.

Lu Chao, a North Korea scholar at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences in northeast China says all Chinese banks have stopped banking with their North Korean counterparts.

“China has imposed the harshest sanctions ever against North Korea, the effect of which may take some time to kick in, but they will be effective,” Lu says.

Over the past week, the price of gasoline has surged in North Korea and some suspect Beijing is behind the price hike.

It is not clear what caused the spike. Some analysts say North Korea could be stockpiling gas for fear that imports could soon be banned. Others say that when tensions rise, the military gets priority.

North Korea’s military always has priority.

MATT TAIBBI: It still isn’t Hillary’s fault.

Shattered is sourced almost entirely to figures inside the Clinton campaign who were and are deeply loyal to Clinton. Yet those sources tell of a campaign that spent nearly two years paralyzed by simple existential questions: Why are we running? What do we stand for?

If you’re wondering what might be the point of rehashing this now, the responsibility for opposing Donald Trump going forward still rests with the (mostly anonymous) voices described in this book.

What Allen and Parnes captured in Shattered was a far more revealing portrait of the Democratic Party intelligentsia than, say, the WikiLeaks dumps. And while the book is profoundly unflattering to Hillary Clinton, the problem it describes really has nothing to do with Secretary Clinton.

The real protagonist of this book is a Washington political establishment that has lost the ability to explain itself or its motives to people outside the Beltway.

First it was Russians, then it was misogynists specifically, then it was men generally, and now Hillary’s loss is the fault of the “Washington political establishment.”

Of which Clinton was, I suppose, never, ever a member.

HOW CAN WE MISS HIM IF HE WON’T GO AWAY? Obama fingerprints at DNC?

Former President Obama’s White House political director is informally providing strategic advice to leaders at the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

David Simas, who is now CEO of the Obama Foundation, is close with DNC Chairman Tom Perez and has been in regular contact with Sam Cornale, a top adviser to Perez.

A source who has been involved in the transition said Simas has provided strategic advice on hiring decisions.

The new chairman has asked for resignation letters from most DNC staff as he begins the process of building his own team, although so far the DNC has only unveiled its communications team.

The talks with one of Obama’s most prominent political aides underscore the delicate line walked by the DNC as it charts a way forward after a divisive presidential primary battle last year.

Any conversations between Perez and political figures who are viewed as being part of the establishment can be greeted with suspicion by liberal Democrats, who want to see the DNC stocked with progressives after the organization tilted the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton and against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last year during the presidential campaign.

Perez, Obama’s Labor secretary, was seen as the former president’s favored candidate in the race for the chairmanship earlier this year. Progressives were disappointed when he defeated Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who ran with the support of Sanders.

It’s Obama’s personal party.

RAYMOND LOEWY WEEPS: Great moments in graphic design — It Took Three People Two Months to Create Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Logo.

Contrast that with how quickly Trump came up with “Make America Great Again:”

Trump told the Post that he first thought of it after the Republican loss in the 2012 presidential election. Republicans were surprised at the loss, having thought their nominee Mitt Romney could have beat President Barack Obama, and Trump was considering how he could brand a run for president as a revival of the party and the country.

“As soon as the loss took place, I said, ‘I’ll tell you what, assuming I’m in a good position, assuming all of the things that you have to assume, which are many, I’m going to run next time,'” he told the Post. “And I sat back and I said, ‘What would be a good expression? And I said, let’s do this.'”

Trump outlined his thought process to the Post: “I said, ‘We’ll make America great.’ And I had started off ‘We Will Make America Great.’ That was my first idea, but I didn’t like it. And then all of a sudden it was going to be ‘Make America Great.’ But that didn’t work because that was a slight to America because that means it was never great before. And it has been great before.”

He continued: “So I said, ‘Make America Great Again.’ I said, ‘That is so good.’ I wrote it down. I went to my lawyers. I have a lot of lawyers in-house. We have many lawyers. I have got guys that handle this stuff. I said, ‘See if you can have this registered and trademarked.'”

One of the designers of the Hillary H-logo was Michael Bierut, who was featured in the (actually really fascinating) film Helvetica, released in 2007 to celebrate the ubiquitous font’s 50th anniversary. When I wrote a long post on the movie in 2010, I dubbed it “Liberal Fascism: The Font,” due to how seamlessly the Helvetica font unites the world of business and government into a seamless corporatist whole.

Bierut is quoted by the Washington Free Beacon today as being quite proud of the Helvetica-derived logo he created for Hillary, and apparently quite astonished that “The majority of the reviews were negative:”

He didn’t know his logo had been chosen by Clinton, however, until he saw it in Clinton’s official launch video in April.

“What we had been working on in secret was suddenly public,” Bierut wrote. “It was really happening.”

The majority of the reviews were negative, which was difficult for Bierut to deal with, but he was told by the campaign to “adopt a no-comment policy about the logo.”

Though he was unable to defend the logo publicly, he believes that “the world noticed” how great it actually was as the campaign went on and its versatility became known.

Bierut also thought that Donald Trump’s visual campaign was awful—”Bad typography; amateurish design; haphazard, inconsistent, downright ugly communications”—and that gave him added confidence as he settled into the Clinton campaign’s election night victory party in New York City.

“It was going to be the most thrilling night of my life,” Bierut wrote. “As I walked the darkening streets of midtown Manhattan toward Jacob Javits Convention Center, from blocks away I could glimpse an enormous image on the JumboTron over its main entrance, a forward-pointing arrow superimposed on a letter H.”

The night, of course, did not go as planned.

Heh.™ In the Helvetica movie, there’s a clip of Bierut that to date as received 94,000 views on YouTube, as it neatly summarizes both the film and its subject matter’s history, which is quite a double-edged sword:

The pre-war socialist modernists of Weimar Germany’s Bauhaus and Holland’s De Stijl produced some genuinely impressive graphic design and architecture, but as with political correctness, another prewar German product that flourished in America after WWII, by the 1960s, architects and designers were trapped by the soul-crushing limitations of its rules: only Mies van der Rohe steel and glass boxes were considered acceptable architectural designs, and only Helvetica-based logos were considered acceptable graphic design, destroying much Americana and great design in their wake.

See also: New York’s Penn Station.

Just as Pauline Kael infamously described Nixon voters as “outside my ken,” no wonder Bierut couldn’t imagine being defeated by “Bad typography; amateurish design; haphazard, inconsistent, downright ugly communications” – everything terrible except a slogan that genuinely resonated with the American people exhausted after eight years of Obama and dreading another four of the same.

And speaking of graphic design and Obama, lest you think I’m reflexively bashing the left, compare Hillary’s soulless H with the iconography of the 2008 Obama campaign. The Obama “O” logo’s brilliant graphic design – the sun rising, the red, white and blue “Morning in America” symbolism all inside Obama’s namesake initial — leaves Hillary’s clunky H in the dust, as PJM’s own Bill Whittle explained in 2009:

ROLL CALL: Are Trump and McConnell Preparing the Next SCOTUS Pick?

Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing is still underway, but President Donald Trump may have laid the groundwork for his next Supreme Court pick Monday night in the Bluegrass State.

As Trump was on stage for a campaign-style rally at Freedom Hall, members of the Kentucky press corps were reporting that the president intends to nominate Judge Amul Thapar to fill an appellate seat for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The White House made it official on Tuesday.

Thapar is currently a federal district judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky, based in Lexington, and is a favorite of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Confirmed toward the end of the George W. Bush administration, he was the first district judge of South Asian descent.

“Throughout his already impressive career of public service, Amul has shown an incredible intellect and an unshakable dedication to the law. He has earned the respect of his colleagues, and I know that he will bring to the 6th Circuit the same wisdom, fairness, and ability that he has shown on the District Court,” McConnell said in a statement. “President Trump made an outstanding choice and I look forward to the Senate’s confirmation of Judge Thapar.”

The 47-year-old Thapar is a former federal prosecutor who served in D.C., Ohio and Kentucky. He was the U.S. attorney for Kentucky’s Eastern District before becoming a federal judge there.

A nomination to a higher court would be no surprise. He appeared on the short list of 21 judges that the Trump campaign finalized in September as potential replacements for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Trump ultimately selected Gorsuch, who also appeared on the list.

Thapar was identified by the National Law Journal as a potential Trump Supreme Court choice who could bring greater diversity to the high court.

Why would the Democrats oppose the first Asian Supreme Court Justice? Do they hate Asian-Americans that much?

LET’S GO TO THE MALL: Wall Street Has Found Its Next Big Short in U.S. Credit Market.

It’s no secret many mall complexes have been struggling for years as Americans do more of their shopping online. But now, they’re catching the eye of hedge-fund types who think some may soon buckle under their debts, much the way many homeowners did nearly a decade ago.

Like the run-up to the housing debacle, a small but growing group of firms are positioning to profit from a collapse that could spur a wave of defaults. Their target: securities backed not by subprime mortgages, but by loans taken out by beleaguered mall and shopping center operators. With bad news piling up for anchor chains like Macy’s and J.C. Penney, bearish bets against commercial mortgage-backed securities are growing.

In recent weeks, firms such as Alder Hill Management — an outfit started by protégés of hedge-fund billionaire David Tepper — have ramped up wagers against the bonds, which have held up far better than the shares of beaten-down retailers. By one measure, short positions on two of the riskiest slices of CMBS surged to $5.3 billion last month — a 50 percent jump from a year ago.

Last summer I found myself across the street from the Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs for the first time in years, and the Dillard’s-end parking lot was cracked and in the process of being overgrown with weeds. Bricks-and-mortar retail hasn’t improved its position since then, so it’s difficult to see a path forward for that property — or many others just like it — which doesn’t include default.

GOOD NEWS ON TITLE IX (REALLY): Could the law banning sexual discrimination actually mean what it says — and apply even if the victim is male? ? K.C. Johnson, co-author of The Campus Rape Frenzy, says a court ruling against Amherst is the best legal news in years for  male college students. It involves the outrageous case on the opening page of the book about a student named Michael Cheng (a pseudonym to protect his identity). While he was “blacked out” drunk, a non-drunk female student performed oral sex on him. Two years later, after becoming involved with anti-rape activists, she rewrote history and accused him of sexual assault. Amherst expelled Cheng, refusing to consider strong evidence (including the woman’s texts after the event) exonerating him.  If anyone was a victim of sexual assault, it was Cheng, but the frenzy on Amherst’s campus required a male scapegoat.

Cheng sued Amherst, arguing that Amherst had violated Title IX by discriminating against men. Amherst tried to get the case dismissed by arguing that Title IX didn’t apply, but a federal judge in Massachusetts ruled against the college. The judge, Mark Mastroianni, noted that Amherst realized the woman had initiated sex while Cheng was incapable of consenting, yet the college “did not take even minimal steps to determine whether Doe should have been viewed as a victim.” The judge allowed the suit to go forward because there is a “a sufficient basis for Doe to proceed with a Title IX deliberate indifference claim.”

Johnson and his co-author, Stuart Taylor Jr, have tracking the rape frenzy since the Duke lacrosse case. Their superb book debunks the myth of a rape epidemic and tells the horror stories of men convicted in the kangaroo courts mandated by the infamous “Dear Colleague” letter from a bureaucrat at the federal Department of Education. Dozens of them have sued, with mixed results so far, but Johnson says the Massachusetts ruling is an encouraging development:

To me, this is the most significant district court decision since the ‘Dear Colleague letter,’ because of the facts of the case: Cheng is not only innocent, but it’s at least plausible that his accuser victimized him, with the college ignoring it. So if Amherst had won the motion to dismiss, it would be hard to imagine any set of facts that would ensure a defeat for a college. The judge is an Obama appointee who, it seems to me, was disinclined to rule for the accused student but had no choice. He wasn’t looking for legal precedents to help Cheng. But even under the more limited precedents he cited, he couldn’t come up with a way to decide for Amherst. The Title IX section of the ruling was very broad, and puts Amherst in a tough position.

Good.

KINDA, SORTA, EVENTUALLY: Uber says it will stop using Greyball to evade authorities.

“We are expressly prohibiting its use to target action by local regulators going forward,” Sullivan said.

The tool seeks about a dozen data points on a new user in a specific market, like whether the Uber app is opened repeatedly in or around municipal offices, which credit card is linked to the account, and any publicly available information about the new user on social media. If the data suggests the new user is a regulator in a market where Uber is not permitted, the company will present that user false information about where Uber rides are, showing ghost cars or no cars in the area.

Uber said on Friday that Greyball wasn’t just targeting regulators—it used the tool to prevent riders who might aim “to physically harm drivers,” as well as prevent dispatching rides to competitors who might try to disrupt service. Uber also affirmed that it used Greyball to shut down “opponents who collude with officials on secret ‘stings’ meant to entrap drivers.”

But now Uber is walking back on that last use case for Greyball. Sullivan told the BBC this week that “it would take some time” to enforce the company’s new prohibition on using Greyball to blackball regulators, although the tool will still be used to root out other users that might try to violate Uber’s terms of service.

From the sound of this, Uber drivers will remain just a corporate wink and a nod away from using Greyball to avoid police stings.

THIS IS WHY THEY THOUGHT THE TEA PARTY WAS ASTROTURF. BECAUSE THAT’S HOW THEY OPERATE. ‘Indivisible,’ With Ties to George Soros, Sows Division Against Trump, GOP Lawmakers. “Democrats who used to work on Capitol Hill are helping to disrupt Republican lawmakers’ town hall meetings across the country through a nationwide effort to oppose and ‘resist’ President Donald Trump’s agenda.”

And nothing says “authentic grassroots movement” like this pedigree:

Ezra Levin, a former staffer for Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, and his wife, Leah Greenberg, are the president and vice president of the Indivisible Guide’s board, respectively.

Levin is also associate director of the Corporation for Enterprise Development, an anti-poverty nonprofit. Melissa Bradley, who sits on that group’s board, previously worked for Green for All, a group founded by liberal commentator and former Obama administration official Van Jones. She was appointed as a Soros Justice Fellow through the Open Society Foundations, which Soros founded.

Greenberg previously worked for Humanity United, which is funded by Soros’ Open Society Institute.

The secretary of Indivisible Guide, Angel Padilla, works for the National Immigration Law Center, which is funded by Soros through his Open Society Foundations. And treasurer Matt Traidi is the research team director for the Service Employees International Union, a major donor to and endorser of Democrat politicians, Capital Research Center notes.

As authentic as the Coffee Party, the Brownbaggers, The Other 95%, A New Way Forward, and the One Nation Movement.

QUESTION ASKED: Did Trump and Abe just launch a new chapter in U.S.-Japan relations?

Trump’s meeting with Abe struck a different chord. After their Washington meeting last week, the two leaders issued a joint statement to reaffirm their “unshakeable alliance.” Trump also displayed his affection for Abe during a joint news conference, stating, “I shook hands, but I grabbed him and hugged him because that’s the way we feel. We have a very, very good bond — very, very good chemistry.” And responding to North Korea’s missile test early Sunday, Trump stood by Abe and declared that the United States was behind “our great ally, 100 percent.”

Abe, a calm and collected politician, has been intentional and strategic in his outreach to the new U.S. president. Shortly after the November election, Abe met with the president-elect at Trump Towers to “build trust” and seek clarification on the future of the U.S.-Japan alliance.

During his campaign, Trump called Japan a currency manipulator and accused Japan of free-riding on the U.S. security regime in Asia. And the decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership came as a blow to Abe, in particular. The trade pact would have linked the United States with Japan and 10 other nations, and Abe had invested significant political capital to move the agreement forward.

Despite these hurdles, the Trump-Abe relationship seems to be on sound footing.

Trump’s election posturing on Japan seems to have been just that — posturing. The same may be proving true of his pre-swearing-in statements which nearly threatened the NATO alliance.

That aside, Trump and Abe seem to be not so much launching “a new chapter in U.S.-Japan relations,” but instead returning to the postwar norm after an eight-year interregnum.

KURT EICHENWALD: Neil Gorsuch Is Supremely Qualified, and Must Not Be Confirmed.

Gorsuch, unfortunately, must be sacrificed on the altar of obscene partisanship erected by the Republicans in recent years. Temper tantrums designed to undermine the Constitution for naked political purposes cannot be rewarded. Our government cannot survive the short-term games-playing that has replaced fidelity to the intent of the Founding Fathers’ work in forming this once-great nation.

This goes back to the unconscionable decision of Republicans who refused to consider any nominee put forward by President Barack Obama following the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Obama nominated Merrick Garland, another eminently qualified candidate who served as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second most important court in the nation. But in a decision that will go down as one of the greatest abuses of the Constitution in this nation’s history, the Senate’s Republican majority, under the leadership of their unprincipled majority leader, Mitch McConnell, declared they would not give Garland hearings, would not examine his qualifications and would not take a vote.

Instead, they made up a rule: A nominee for the Supreme Court can be considered for only three-quarters of any president’s term. In the fourth year, confirmations have to wait until after the election. And so the Supreme Court has been hobbled for coming up on one year—and, because the confirmation hearings will inevitably drag on, for months more to come.

It’s called “the Biden rule,” Kurt. Named after its author, Democrat Senator Joe Biden. You might have heard of him. He was Democrat President Barack Obama’s Democrat Vice President for the last eight years. Anyway, Joe came up with the Biden Rule in 1992 when the Democrats controlled the Senate, to stop Republican President Bush from naming a conservative to the court during the last quarter of his Administration. Some might have considered that a partisan act.

And a Republican-controlled Senate seems, shall we say, somewhat unlikely to tip the ideological balance of the Senate leftward, Kurt, when they have been armed with a weapon of pure partisanship — the nuclear option — forged by Democrat Harry Reid. You might have heard of him, too. Reid once used Senate trickery to pass ObamaCare over the strenuous objections of 41 Republican Senators — including a brand-new Republican Senator sent there by the people of Massachusetts, Kurt, for the express purpose of stopping Reid’s partisan antics. But Reid was a wily devil and overturned a couple centuries of Senate rules and traditions to pass the most partisan major legislation since… ever, maybe.

So if the GOP installs Neil Gorsuch — who earned his previous position with the vote of every single Senate Democrat — without a single Democrat vote, it will be thanks to the normalization of hyperpartisanship… by Democrats.

It might not be a very tasty sandwich, Kurt, but it’s Biden and Reid’s recipe.

TRUMP AND THE PRESS: So yesterday I was on the BBC talking about Trump, the press, and what’s going on. Here’s a bit of an expansion.

First, the thing to understand is that, as I’ve said before, one of the changes going on with Trump generally is the renegotiation of various post-World War II institutional arrangements. One of those is the institutional arrangement involving the press and the White House. For decades, the press got special status because it was seen as both powerful, and institutionally responsible. (And, of course, allied with the Democrats who were mostly in charge of setting up those postwar institutional arrangements). Now those things have changed. If the press were powerful, it would have beaten Trump. If it were responsible, it wouldn’t be running away with fake news whenever it sees a chance to run something damaging to Trump. And, of course, there’s no alliance between Trump and the media, as there was with Obama.

So things will change. The press’s “insider” status — which it cherishes — is going to fade. (This is producing waves of status anxiety, as are many other Trump-induced institutional changes). And, having abandoned, quite openly, any pretense of objectivity and neutrality in the election, the press is going to be treated as an enemy by the Trump Administration until further notice.

In fact, Trump’s basically gaslighting them. Knowing how much they hate him, he’s constantly provoking them to go over the top. Sean Spicer’s crowd-size remarks are all about making them seem petty and negative. (And, possibly, teeing up crowd-size comparisons at next week’s March For Life, which the press normally ignores but which Trump will probably force them to cover).

Trump knows that the press isn’t trusted very much, and that the less it’s trusted, the less it can hurt him. So he’s prodding reporters to do things that will make them less trusted, and they’re constantly taking the bait. They’re taking the bait because they think he’s dumb, and impulsive, and lacking self-control — but he’s the one causing them to act in ways that are dumb and impulsive, and demonstrate lack of self-control. As Richard Fernandez writes on Facebook, they think he’s dumb because they think he has lousy taste, but there are a lot of scarily competent guys out there in the world who like white and gold furniture. And, I should note, Trump has more media experience than probably 99% of the people covering him. (As Obama operative Ben Rhodes gloated with regard to selling a dishonest story on the Iran deal, the average reporter the Obama White House dealt with “is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns.” In Rhodes’ words, “they literally know nothing.”)

The counter-move for the press isn’t to double down on anti-Trump messaging. The counter-move is to bolster its own trustworthiness by acting more neutral and sober, and by being more trustworthy. If the news media actually focused on reporting facts accurately and straightforwardly, on leaving opinion to the pundits, and on giving Trump a clearly fair shake, then Trump’s tactics wouldn’t work, and any actual dirt they found on him would do actual damage. He’s betting on the press being insufficiently mature and self-controlled to manage that. So far, his bet is paying off.

That’s too bad. If we had a better press, we’d be much better off as a nation. But we don’t.

SCOTT JENNINGS: Obama Should Give Back His Nobel: Tired of saluting those who serve, the president slapped them in the face on the way out the door.

The last major decision of President Barack Obama was to commute the sentence of a traitor whose most recent accomplishment since giving battlefield secrets to Osama bin Laden was undergoing a taxpayer-funded sex change transition. It was a fitting end to a failed presidency that leaves President-elect Donald Trump mess after mess to clean up on the world stage. . . .

Manning helped our enemies by leaking sensitive information to a foreign organization. Period. He was arrested, confessed, and subsequently sentenced to 35 years in a military prison. His actions put America at risk and endangered the lives of “foreigners in dangerous countries who were identified as having helped American troops or diplomats,” according to The New York Times.

Afghans, Syrians, and Iraqis — brave people who continue to live in treacherous places — were put in extreme danger by Manning. These people helped America with the understanding that their actions would be kept secret. Because of Manning, their lives and the lives of their families are forever in peril. In future battles, when our military is looking for allies among local populations, who will trust that America can keep their secrets or can guarantee their safety?

Somewhere along the way, his days of trying to destroy America safely behind him, Brad decided he was Chelsea and demanded the government pay for his conversion from man to woman. And we did, as taxpayers ponied up $50,000 for a traitor to receive everything from “counseling to hormone therapy, and…gender reassignment surgery”.

Fast forward to Tuesday, when Manning’s strange tale ended with Obama commuting his sentence over the objection of Defense Secretary Ash Carter. A “former intelligence official described being ‘shocked’ to learn of Obama’s decision, adding that the ‘entire intelligence community is deflated by this inexplicable use of executive power.’ The official said the move was ‘deeply hypocritical given Obama’s denunciation of WikiLeaks’ role in the hacking of the (Democratic National Committee),’” a CNN report said.

He came in like a messiah, he’s leaving like a bum.

ADRIANA COHEN ON THE DEMOCRATS’ ELECTION-DENIAL:

Since Donald Trump’s unexpected victory, Democrats have been trying to delegitimize his historic upset.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who sent shock waves through the media echo chamber this weekend when he said in an NBC interview, “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president. I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.” Former Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon went on CNN Friday to chime in as well. . . .

I’ll tell you real reasons Clinton lost. In addition to failing to campaign in key battleground states, she lacked an inspiring message. Hillary thought she could win by (A) riding Obama’s coattails and (B) attacking Trump.

Never mind that she alienated voters with her “Pay to Play” family foundation, her Wall Street ties or her failure to maintain national security by insisting on doing government business on a private email server — all to dodge public scrutiny. After the lies she told from “I didn’t send or receive any classified emails,” to blaming a video for the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, voters got skittish.

Add to it skyrocketing Obamacare premiums and her goose was cooked — quite apart from any alleged hacking.

Remember, Vladimir Putin didn’t announce Obamacare costs were going up double digits on average in 2017 — the Health and Human Services Department did — right before the election.

But no matter, Dems are still trying to delegitimize Trump’s victory. Can you imagine if GOP members of Congress called Obama’s presidency in 2008 or 2012 illegitimate? They would’ve been called racist. If Clinton won this election and Republicans said her presidency wasn’t legitimate, they’d be called sexist. It would be the War on Women all over again.

Yep. And I don’t think this is playing very well, but I also don’t think it’s so much a planned strategy as something they just can’t help. But Joe Manchin understands that this is playing badly with swing voters:

Georgia Rep. John Lewis’ comments about President-elect Trump were “uncalled for,” Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said Sunday.

“I’ve got the utmost respect for Congressman Lewis. He’s an icon, if you will,” Manchin told CBS’ John Dickerson. “I just think that was uncalled for. I just wish that rhetoric would tone down from both back and forth.”

Lewis had said last week he doesn’t view Trump as a “legitimate” president, nor does he look forward to working with the president-elect once he enters office.

The “bickering going on back and forth” between Lewis and Trump makes the U.S. look weaker to its allies, Manchin said.

Related: Don Surber: When Atlanta’s High Crime Rate Is Acceptable To The Journal-Constitution. When treating it as a problem might help Trump, of course.

Plus: The Left Hates Trump Because His Victory Was A Cultural One, Not Just A Political One:

The left is used to losing political battles. They scream and cry over these but they don’t truly panic, because they know that as long as they maintain their hammerlock on the culture, Republicans can’t really change anything.

Blue Team Progressivism is a church, offering you moral superiority and a path to spiritual enlightenment. As a church it’s got a lot going for it. It runs religious programming on television, all day every day. Every modern primetime program is like a left-wing Andy Griffith show, reinforcing lessons of inclusion, tolerance, feminism, and anti-racism.

Watching a 90-pound Sci-Fi heroine beat up a room full of giant evil men is as satisfying to the left as John Wayne westerns were for the right.

The Blue Church controls the HR department, so even if you don’t go to church, you have to act like a loyal churchgoer in every way that matters while you’re on the clock. And off the clock, on any kind of public social media platform.

Jon Stewart and John Oliver are basically TV preachers. Watching them gives the same sense of quiet superiority your grandma gets from watching The 700 Club. The messages are constantly reinforced, providing that lovely dopamine hit, like an angel’s voice whispering, “You’re right, you’re better, you’re winning.”

Hollywood award shows are like church talent shows – the skits and jokes aren’t really funny, but it’s fun to look at the pretty girls, and you’re all on the same team. . . .

For the first time in decades, voters explicitly rejected the Blue Church, defying hours of daily cultural programming, years of indoctrination from the schools, and dozens of explicit warnings from HR.

We’ve been trained since childhood to obey the pretty people on TV, but for the first time in decades, that didn’t work.

Donald Trump won because flyover America wants their culture back, and Blue Team has not been rejected like that before.

The younger ones have grown up in an environment where Blue Faith assumptions cannot even be questioned, except anonymously by the bad kids on Twitter.

But now the bad kids are getting bolder, posting funny memes that make you laugh even though John Oliver would not approve, like passing crude dirty pictures under the table in Sunday School.

Meryl Streep is panicking because for the first time voters have rejected HER, and everything her faith has taught her to believe.

I think there’s a lot to that.

PETER SAVODNIK: The Secret Source of Putin’s Evil.

Dostoevsky foresaw Russia destroying itself with the clandestine, or not so clandestine, support of the West. The clearest illustration of this self-destruction comes in The Brothers Karamazov. The novel, the longest whodunit ever written, revolves around the murder of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov. One of Karamazov’s three legitimate sons, Mitya, is accused and found guilty of the murder. But the real murderer is Karamazov’s mentally challenged, bastard son, Smerdyakov—and the real murderer behind Smerdyakov (the zakashik, or orderer) is Ivan, the most successful and Westernized of the Karamazov brothers. It is Ivan, full of his newfangled Western ideas, who tears apart his family (and, metaphorically, Russia), and it is the last remaining legitimate Karamazov son, Lyosha, who is left to rebuild it. Not incidentally, Lyosha is the youngest, most religious, and most self-effacing of the Karamazov clan. The way forward is actually the way backward—all the way to the ancient, Russian sobornost, the spiritual community that, in the Slavophile mind, used to bind Russia together. This, all these years later, is Putin’s Russia.

The Soviet perplex, viewed through a Karamazov prism, is not the cause of post-Soviet Russia’s woes but the effect of the same calamity that still bedevils Russia: the identity crisis bequeathed to it by its original Westernizer, Peter. Russia spent the 1990s devouring itself—selling off its biggest oil assets, handing over its elections to the C.I.A., allowing NATO to encroach upon its borders—and, only under Putin, has it retaken possession of itself.

Putin is playing a very long game — going back three centuries.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Hacking Democratic Rules Isn’t Good Government.

Before the election, the Senate’s refusal to hold a vote on the appointment of Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, seemed destined to be a footnote in history. Hillary Clinton would win the election, a different and even more liberal nominee would be put forward (quite possibly to a Democratic-controlled Senate), and after decades of conservative dominance, the Supreme Court would once again tilt leftward.

Trump’s surprise election upset this. Particularly, it upset progressive activists, who thought that Antonin Scalia’s death in office had finally given them a chance at a more activist liberal judiciary. Having written the lede on the way to the ballpark, some of them were not quite ready to tear up their story and start over.

Enter the procedural hacks. What if Democrats went and confirmed Garland anyway?

You may be a bit confused. Republicans hold the majority in this Senate. They will also control the next Senate. How are Democrats supposed to bring the thing to the floor for a vote, much less get enough votes to actually confirm him?

That’s a very good question! The answer some progressives have come up with is that there will be a nanosecond gap between when the outgoing senators leave office, and the new ones are sworn in. During that gap, there will be more Democrats left than Republicans. So the idea is to call that smaller body into session, vote on the nomination, and voila! — a new Supreme Court justice. Alternatively, President Obama could use that gap to make a recess appointment.

Sure. Harry Reid’s breaking the filibuster is going to work out great for them. Why not throw all the other norms out the window, too! Make it all about raw power! Trump won’t be able to handle that!

STEPHEN L. CARTER: ‘Rogue One’ Doesn’t Solve Sci Fi’s Big Problem.

When I left the theater after seeing “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” my first thought was: What about the Bothans? . . .

The good guys have stolen the secret architectural plans to the Death Star and must analyze them swiftly to find a flaw before it arrives and pulverizes their planet. And how exactly were the plans stolen? Rebel leader Mon Mothma tells us: “Many Bothans died to bring us this information.”

And the audience thinks, “I don’t know what a Bothan is, but they sure sound heroic.” But there is no further mention of the species, in that film or any others in the franchise. And, definitely, no sight of one.

OK. Fast-forward to now. “Rogue One” is a prequel to the movie now known as “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.” It tells the story of how the good guys got the plans to destroy the first Death Star. The tale is cleverly set up and quite engaging. There’s only one problem: no Bothans. Except for a single droid, everybody who matters in the heist is human.

Humans find humans more interesting. I suspect that Bothans feel the same way about Bothans. Though Ed Driscoll was unmoved by these particular humans: “About a third of the way through Rogue One, I came to my first conclusion about the movie, and I suspect I’m not alone: I don’t care about these characters.” Plus:

Why does any of this matter? Because the other conceit of the expanded universe is that the galaxy far, far away is full of all manner of intelligent life. But the Empire practices pure speciesism. All the posts of any importance are reserved for humans.

In the expanded universe, we are meant to see this as an obvious injustice. Speciesism is a trope for racism. The Empire practices segregation. That’s one of the reasons we are supposed to root against it. (The Empire would never have hired Yoda.) The Rebellion is integrated, humans and other species working together to throw off the oppression. That’s why we’re supposed to root for it.

But in “Rogue One,” the two sides are, on this point, indistinguishable. We see nonhumans among the good guys, but we never really get to meet them. You don’t have to be a sci-fi fan to see why the omission matters. There’s a symbolism at work here.

Well, Hollywood is basically the Empire in practice, but the Rebel Alliance in terms of self-image.

UPDATE (from Steve). As I posted in the comments section:

Bothans did not steal the original Death Star plans, and Mon Mothma wasn’t even in Star Wars: A New Hope. Also, it’s never made clear if Bothans are a non-human race, or humans from a planet called Botha.

“Many Bothans died” bringing the Rebel Alliance the news that “the Emperor himself” was on board the second Death Star during Return of the Jedi. The Emperor allowed that information to escape, killing some Bothans for plausibility one assumes, in order to set a trap for the Rebels — which would make for a great spy movie set in the Star Wars universe.

CYBER SECURITY: Russian hack almost brought the U.S. military to its knees.

Then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey was alerted to the attack by an early-morning phone call from the Director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Mike Rogers.

Now retired, Dempsey told CBS News in an exclusive interview that the attack was proceeding at an alarming speed. Within an hour, hackers had seized control of the unclassified e-mail system used by the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, the organization of some 3,500 military officers and civilians who work for the Chairman.

In that time, the hackers seized the computer credentials of Dempsey and hundreds of other senior officers — the passwords and electronic signatures they used to sign on to the network. The only way to stop the attack was to take the network down.

The attack, which officials now blame on Russia, began with 30,000 e-mails sent to a West Coast university. Of those 30,000, four were forwarded to members of the Joint Staff and one was opened — allowing the hackers in. Since it was an unclassified network, the attack had no real intelligence value.

It was not spying, but a full-on assault whose only apparent purpose was to cause damage and force the Pentagon to replace both hardware and software, which took about two weeks to accomplish.

Moscow has got to cut this out, and at this point maybe only a massive counterattack on Russian systems would get that message across.

JOURNALISM: DUD: Kurt Eichenwald’s secret scoop accusing Trump of amphetamine use? Backfired. Horribly.

Related: Holy Cow: This journo’s flashback account about Kurt Eichenwald is ‘eye-opening.’

Then there’s Julia Ioffe’s Donald/Ivanka incest tweet, which reportedly has the Trump folks freezing out her new employer, The Atlantic.

Related: The People Running The Media Are The Problem. Well, they sure as hell aren’t the solution.

By the way, I had Tucker Carlson on DVR last night but I fast-forwarded through most of the Eichenwald bit, because I knew it was going to be bloody. But then they joined Trump’s Pennsylvania rally in progress, and I watched the speech. He’s still hammering the press for dishonesty, and who can blame him, really, after stuff like this? I also noticed a pretty diverse crowd, and even a lot of “Women For Trump” signs and even one “LGBT Hispanic For Trump.”

MICHAEL WARREN: GOP’s game plan for undoing Obamacare.

It didn’t take long for Republican leadership in both houses of Congress to get over the shock of winning the election last month and start gaming out a repeal plan. The details remain under discussion, but House speaker Paul Ryan, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (who is working closely with Ryan and McConnell on repeal) are already coalescing around a rough legislative framework. The plan might be summed up as: repeal, delay, replace. More precisely, Republicans plan to repeal most of the law, delay the implementation of most of that repeal for at least two years—and figure out what to replace it with in the interim.

It’s a legislative strategy adopted largely from the Heritage Foundation’s recommendations. The think tank’s health care experts Nina Owcharenko and Edmund F. Haislmaier authored a brief in November that advocated a four-step process that begins: “Maximize the reconciliation process for repeal.” According to Mitch McConnell, this will come in the form of an “Obamacare repeal resolution” on January 3, the first day of the new Congress.

Why start here and not a straightforward repeal bill? While such a repeal could pass the House of Representatives with a party-line vote, the small majority Republicans hold in the Senate (likely 52 to the Democrats’ 48) means there’s no supermajority of 60 to override an almost-certain Democratic filibuster. So the GOP plans to repeal Obamacare the same way Democrats passed it: through budget reconciliation, because Senate rules limit debate (and thereby avoid the filibuster threat) on budget legislation.

This process, however, also limits what Republicans can repeal.

Read the whole thing, although it did leave me with one nagging question: ObamaCare was passed in its entirety via reconciliation, so I don’t understand why it can’t be repealed in its entirety via reconciliation.

I’M NOT SAYING IT’S MICROWAVES… BUT IT’S MICROWAVES: Move over, fracking. There’s a new technology in town.

As strange as it sounds, producers are experimenting with ways to zap previously unextractable oil resources with microwaves, which has the potential to kick-start an even bigger energy revolution than fracking — and appease environmentalists while they’re at it. This is potentially “a whole shift in the paradigm,” says Peter Kearl, co-founder and CTO of Qmast, a Colorado-based company pioneering the use of the microwave tech. Some marquee names are betting on the play: Oil giants BP and ConocoPhillips are pouring resources into developing similar extraction techniques, which can be far less water- and energy-intensive than fracking.

If producers can find a way to microwave oil shales in the Green River Formation, which sprawls across Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, the nation’s recoverable reserves could soar and energy independence could become more than an election slogan. Even with existing methods — strip-mining the shale and then cooking it, or injecting steam to cook the rock underground (hydraulic fracturing is useless here) — the formation contains enough oil to last the U.S. 165 years at current rates of consumption. Microwave extraction could goose those numbers even higher.

Peak oil would seem to still be some ways off.

SCOTT ADAMS: “The only people who will think Trump is a racist going forward are people who haven’t read this article. If you find someone like that, send them the link. This piece is a brilliant service to the country. Breathtaking.”

Excerpt:

Back in October 2015, I wrote that the picture of Trump as “the white power candidate” and “the first openly white supremacist candidate to have a shot at the Presidency in the modern era” was overblown. I said that “the media narrative that Trump is doing some kind of special appeal-to-white-voters voodoo is unsupported by any polling data”, and predicted that:

If Trump were the Republican nominee, he could probably count on equal or greater support from minorities as Romney or McCain before him.

Now the votes are in, and Trump got greater support from minorities than Romney or McCain before him. You can read the Washington Post article, Trump Got More Votes From People Of Color Than Romney Did, or look at the raw data (source).

Trump made gains among blacks. He made gains among Latinos. He made gains among Asians. The only major racial group where he didn’t get a gain of greater than 5% was white people. I want to repeat that: the group where Trump’s message resonated least over what we would predict from a generic Republican was the white population. . . .

I stick to my thesis from October 2015. There is no evidence that Donald Trump is more racist than any past Republican candidate (or any other 70 year old white guy, for that matter). All this stuff about how he’s “the candidate of the KKK” and “the vanguard of a new white supremacist movement” is made up. It’s a catastrophic distraction from the dozens of other undeniable problems with Trump that could have convinced voters to abandon him. That it came to dominate the election cycle should be considered a horrifying indictment of our political discourse, in the same way that it would be a horrifying indictment of our political discourse if the entire Republican campaign had been based around the theory that Hillary Clinton was a secret Satanist. Yes, calling Romney a racist was crying wolf. But you are still crying wolf.

I avoided pushing this point any more since last October because I didn’t want to look like I was supporting Trump, or accidentally convince anyone else to support Trump. But since we’re past the point where that matters anymore, I want to present my case. . . .

First, I want to go over Donald Trump’s official, explicit campaign message. Yes, it’s possible for candidates’ secret feelings to differ from their explicit messages, but the things they say every single day and put on their website and include in their speeches are still worth going over to see what image they want to project.

Trump’s official message has been the same vague feel-good pro-diversity rhetoric as any other politician.

Read the whole thing.

JOURNALISM: Ira Stoll: The Borking of Bannon — or Why Trump’s Breitbart Pick Bests the New York Times’ Arthur Sulzberger.

The effort by the Times to depict Mr. Bannon as the second coming of Adolph Hitler and David Duke initially struck me as odd. I say that primarily because when my book JFK, Conservative came out, Mr. Bannon had me on his radio show. He was gracious, friendly and supportive. He’d clearly read the book, which has plenty of material about Kennedy and Israel and the Soviet Jews, and which doesn’t exactly leave it a mystery where I am coming from on those issues. I assume he realized I was Jewish from my biography indicating past work for the Forward and the Jerusalem Post.

In the past few days, additional testimony and information has emerged. Ben Shapiro, a critic of Breitbart‘s who left the site with some acrimony, nevertheless wrote: “I have no evidence that Bannon’s a racist or that he’s an anti-Semite; the Huffington Post’s blaring headline ‘WHITE NATIONALIST IN THE WHITE HOUSE’ is overstated, at the very least.” No mention of that in the New York Times.

As David Bernstein has pointed out, the Breitbart site also includes totally philosemitic and innocuous content, such as this story headlined: “1000 Attend Giant Shabbat Dinner in Tel Aviv for Global Shabbat Project.” No mention of that in the New York Times.

It’s interesting, too, that the New York Times that is so suddenly on newfound hair-trigger alert for antisemitism would publish, in the same issue as all the paranoid coverage of Mr. Bannon, an article headlined: “76 Experts Urge Donald Trump to Keep Iran Deal.” Among these “experts” are Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, whose view of the “Israel lobby” was endorsed by David Duke, and whose book and Harvard Kennedy School paper were widely condemned by Jewish groups for trafficking in long-discredited and harmful stereotypes of Jewish influence. Yet the Times news article doesn’t even mention their involvement, let alone their sordid history. It’s a double standard — almost enough to make one think that what the Times is worried about isn’t antisemitism, but Republicans in the White House.

To be fair, that’s always what they’re worried about. But getting this kind of pushback — in The Algemeiner, no less — is a pretty brutal blow.

NOW REMEMBER TWO WEEKS AGO THE SMART GUYS WERE TALKING ABOUT HOW PRESIDENT HILLARY COULD PARDON HERSELF: I linked to this Fox News report yesterday but it’s worth a bump. The Democrat propagandists are pleading for comity and healing, which translates as let her get away with it. Sorry. Hillary and her gang committed felonies. This NRO article from July by Andrew McCarthy discusses non-Hillary prosecutions. McCarthy focuses on military personnel confronting allegations similar to those leveled against Hillary. Her crimes, his words. They were the choice in the election. And elections have consequences.

SOME PRETTY GOOD ADVICE FOR UPSET DEMOCRATS FROM CRACKED:

2. Half of America did not, in fact, just reveal themselves to be closet Nazis.

My family back home aren’t Nazis. Neither are their neighbors. This is the last thing many of you want to hear at the moment, and that’s fine — feel free to bookmark this and read it a few months from now. But you can see the numbers for yourself, if you go issue by issue. Shit, at least three Trump states just voted to legalize marijuana, maybe more by time you read this. This is not your grandfather’s GOP. This is something different.

The truth is, most of Trump’s voters voted for him despite the fact that he said/believes awful things, not because of it. That in no way excuses it, but I have to admit I’ve spent eight years quietly tuning out news stories about drone strikes blowing up weddings in Afghanistan. I still couldn’t point to Yemen on a map. We form blind spots for our side, because there’s something larger at stake. In their case, it’s a belief that the system is fundamentally broken and that Hillary Clinton would have been more of the same. Trump rode a wave of support from people who’ve spent the last eight years watching terrifying nightly news reports about ISIS and mass shootings and riots. They look out their front door and see painkiller addicts and closed factories. They believe that nobody in Washington gives a shit about them, mainly because that’s 100-percent correct.

That pressure was building and building all around us, and we kept ignoring it. We media types were baffled when Trump won his first primary, and then his second, and then his third. We desperately tried to figure out how the system had failed. We were bemused when he won the nomination, then when he continued to hang around in the polls, we had approximately the same reaction one would have to seeing an invisible dagger floating across the room, aimed right at our fucking face. “How is this happening?!?”

Stop being baffled. Understand why it happened. Do the opposite of panic. Work through the problem.

Related: Trump won because college-educated Americans are out of touch: Higher education is isolated, insular and liberal. Average voters aren’t.

The most important divide in this election was not between whites and non-whites. It was between those who are often referred to as “educated” voters and those who are described as “working class” voters.

The reality is that six in 10 Americans do not have a college degree, and they elected Donald Trump. College-educated people didn’t just fail to see this coming — they have struggled to display even a rudimentary understanding of the worldviews of those who voted for Trump. This is an indictment of the monolithic, insulated political culture in the vast majority our colleges and universities. . . .

Sometimes the college-educated find themselves so unable to understand a particular working-class point of view that they will respond to those perspectives with shocking condescension. Recall that President Obama, in the midst of the 2012 election cycle, suggested that job losses were the reason working-class voters were bitterly clinging “to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” The religious themselves, meanwhile, likely do not chalk their faith up to unhappy economic prospects, and they probably find it hard to connect with politicians who seem to assume such.

Thus today’s college graduates are formed by a campus culture that leaves them unable to understand people with unfamiliar or heterodox views on guns, abortion, religion, marriage, gender and privilege. And that same culture leads such educated people to either label those with whom they disagree as bad people or reduce their stated views on these issues as actually being about something else, as in Obama’s case. Most college grads in this culture are simply never forced to engage with or seriously consider professors or texts which could provide a genuine, compelling alternative view.

For decades now, U.S. colleges and universities have quite rightly been trying to become more diverse when it comes to race and gender. But this election highlights the fact that our institutions of higher education should use similar methods to cultivate philosophical, theological and political diversity.

A bunch of InstaPundit readers who are students or faculty at various universities have been forwarding me emails about dealing with the “shock” “fear” and “dismay” that people on their campuses are supposed to be feeling. These emails generally either come from, or are copied to, the school’s “Office of Diversity and Inclusion” or some such. Yet the notion that a candidate supported by a big electoral majority is somehow beyond the pale — so much so that merely contemplating the election results is psychological trauma — is itself a slap in the face at the notion of diversity and, of course, a way of excluding the (many) students at these institutions who supported Trump from the university community. This should be a wakeup call for higher education, but I predict that the snooze button will be hit again.

“SO, ABOUT LAST NIGHT …” In his column at the Washington Post, Sonny Bunch of the conservative Washington Free Beacon writes:

There’s something to be said for the idea that Trump rode a wave of white resentment into the White House. But this is, at best, a half-truth. I’ll discuss the demographics in a moment; for now, let’s focus on the resentment. “Family Guy”‘s Seth MacFarlane made the totally reasonable point that “the Left expended so much energy over the last several years being outraged over verbal missteps, accidental innuendo, ‘tasteless tweets’ … in the name of clickbait, that when the REAL threat to equality emerged, we’d cried wolf too many times to be heard.”

This is a variation on the “But he fights!” defense/critique of Donald Trump. He gives voice to people who have spent the social media age watching viral outrage after viral outrage consume news cycles and destroy lives, to people who look at the silliness on college campuses and recoil at the thought of giving such institutions tens of thousands of dollars to fill their children’s heads with nonsense ideas. As Robby Soave noted at Reason, “Trump won because he convinced a great number of Americans that he would destroy political correctness.”

* * * * * * * *

Twitter created a series of impenetrable bubbles this cycle, and bubbles of this sort are not healthy for members of the media. They’re not healthy for anyone, really, but they’re doubly unhealthy for those of us who would dare to think they can or should shape the national narrative. If Democrats’ takeaway from last night is “the people of this country are filled with hatred,” as my own bubble suggests it might be, they will learn no lessons and gain no weapons with which to combat Trump and his successors going forward.

I don’t know if it’s fair to say that it was Twitter that created those impenetrable bubbles, or if it was simply one of the many platforms available to amplify and broadcast them.

During the 1960 presidential election, at the height of mass-media, mass-production, and the concomitant federal government shaped by the socialist New Deal, Nixon and Kennedy shared remarkably similar midcentury centrist views on most issues, from civil rights to the role of religion in America to the Cold War. But virtually every election since has seen pitched battles between two diametrically opposed worldviews: the radical chic anger of the McGovernites versus Nixon’s Great Society-esque foreign and domestic policies. Jimmy Carter’s big government malaise versus Reagan’s Goldwater-inspired conservatism. Al Gore’s radical environmentalism as religion versus George W. Bush’s Compassionate Conservatism. Etc., etc.

Until now. This election offered a plethora of worldviews slugging it out: a Northeast Corridor-based overculture that believes a radical chic-inspired failed community organizer and failed health care reformer in a bespoke suit is the second coming of God. And that his designated successor, whom they previously denigrated as a reactionary racist, whose biggest achievement was making a hash of the Middle East while pointlessly racking up nearly a million air miles (all the while railing against “climate change”) deserves to be president simply because of her gender.

Their reality was opposed by the alternate media bubble created by Trump’s most loyal media supporters, such as Dilbert creator Scott Adams, an increasingly surreal Drudge Report, and a Breitbart.com that would likely be unrecognizable by its late founder.

Their reality in turn was opposed by the #NeverTrump crowd at the Weekly Standard and National Review. Who at times arguably seemed more angry with Trump himself and his mixed legacy in business than his Democratic opponent.

Ultimately though, the reality that prevailed was that of Trump’s working class base of supporters. Who tried to send a message to Washington in 2009 with the surprise election of Scott Brown to block Obamacare. And when that failed to stop the Democrats, tried to send a message in 2010 by sweeping a wave of Republicans into the House to block its implementation. And when that failed to stop the Democrats (and its rollout turned out to the debacle that everyone on the right insisted it would be) sent a wave that recaptured the Senate. A group that’s angry at being called homophobic bigots and racists. Angry at a never-ending war in Iraq after victory was in-hand. Angry at a stagnant economy. Angry over possibly the biggest lie told repeatedly by an American president: “If you like your plan you can keep your plan,” only to discover no, you can’t – and if you want any health insurance at all, you might need a second mortgage to cover the premiums.

Is Trump a perfect messenger for such anger? Of course not. But like Bill Clinton in 1992 and Obama in 2008, he showed up to play, mentally decided that he had more star power and cable media savvy than his opponents in his party’s primary, and rode a populist message to success. I hope he can deliver on some of his promises, but the fact that he won’t begin his administration by launching a culture war against half the nation, as both Obama and Clinton did, will give us all room to breathe.

EVEN BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN ISN’T IMMUNE FROM CONQUEST’S FIRST LAW OF POLITICS:

Springteen’s experiences in his early bands taught him he preferred total control, and he formed his own backing band for his little hit-making factory, a nifty, tight, hard-rocking outfit that eventually evolved into The E Street Band. But make no mistake, the band served and continues to serve at the Boss’ pleasure, what Springsteen refers to as “the real world.” In other words, Bruce Springsteen is not only a heavily guarded and protected brand but a thriving corporation overseen by its chief executive officer’s steel fist.

An example: One day I had one of my musicians come to me and explain he would need more money if he were to continue doing his work. I told him if he could find a more highly paid musician at his job in the world, I would gladly up his percentage. I also told him I could spare him the time to search. All he had to do was walk into the bathroom, close the door and walk over and take a look in the mirror. There he’d find the highest-paid musician in the world at his post. I told him, ‘That’s how it works in the real world.’ He then looked straight at me and, without a trace of irony, asked, ‘What do we have to do with the real world?’ At the moment I knew I had sheltered some of my colleagues perhaps a bit too much.

The Boss also pared down the E Street Band to record his solo album, “Tunnel of Love,” believing that’s what the songs he was performing at the time required. While he ultimately toured with the entire band to support the album, he disbanded them entirely afterwards, recording and touring with a different collective for his twin albums of the 1990s, “Human Touch” and “Lucky Town.”

Ten years later, he’d reform the group for several successful recordings and tours, but rest assured the E Street Band members were left to their own financial devices when the Boss shuttered (albeit temporarily) the music factory. Some of them thrived, others not so much.

Corporate Rock for Blue-Collar Americans

What would Woody Guthrie say about all this? And how is this different from the closed factories and laid-off workers Springsteen’s songs depict? Aren’t the economic realities behind such events also “how it works in the real world”? Of course it is.

This disconnect between corporate America and corporate rock is hardly surprising when Springsteen names Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” Henry Steele Commager, and Guthrie as major influences on his lyrics and worldview from 1980s “The River” forward. The curse of progressivism is that it is consistently inconsistent in perceptions of how not only the economic but also the artistic world works. You may want to reconcile these two “real worlds” the next time you record another “Nebraska” or “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” Mr. CEO.

Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

AS ALWAYS, SOONER OR LATER, REAL LIFE IMITATES THE EARLIER, FUNNIER SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE:

Emily Litella: What’s all this fuss I’ve been hearing about the 1976 presidential erection? Now, I know they erected a monument for Mr. Lincoln and President Washington, but that’s because they’re DEAD! Hopefully, the 1976 President won’t be DEAD! So he won’t NEED an erection! If Americans are going to spend money to erect anything, why don’t we tear down those nasty slums and erect luxury high rises for poor people and senior citizens! Not for presidents who can afford to pay for their OWN erections!

Chevy Chase: Miss Litella —

Emily Litella: I can’t believe the way things are turning out in this country — what?

Chevy Chase: I’m sorry. That’s election. The editorial was about the presidential election, not the presidential erection. Election.

Emily Litella: Oh, that’s very different.

—Weekend Update, from the April 17th, 1976 episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by President Ford’s press secretary, Ron Nessen. As one of the writers later admitted, the entire staff knew that “The President’s watching. Let’s make him cringe and squirm,” by crafting one of the series’ raunchiest episodes, particularly those segments that Nessen didn’t appear in.

Flash-forward to today: CNN Sitting On ‘Obama ERECTION’ Video … Since 2008? Debra Heine asks at PJM:

A newly emerged video from the 2008 presidential campaign appears to show that the current president of the United States might be even lewder than Donald Trump.

And Trump only talked about being lewd. Looks like Obama actually did it.

Further, liberal media bias is at the center of this controversy, too.

NBC sat on the video of Trump and Billy Bush until such a time that it could aid a Democratic opponent of Trump — NBC refused to release the video when it could have helped Republican Ted Cruz.

Well, this new video — of Senator Obama, running for president in 2008, apparently flaunting his ERECTION in front of a plane full of FEMALE reporters — was shot by a CNN camera.

CNN has kept this video private all these years — a video that might have changed U.S. history to favor Republicans.

Click over for video of the err, whole package.

CNN-created the Orwellian Wright-Free Zone memory hole in service to Obama that year as well. Besides the L.A. Times’ still-buried tape of Obama with the PLO-championing Rashid Khalidi, I wonder what else will eventually surface now that it can no longer do our semi-retired president any harm at the ballot box?

I GOT THE BLUES: Rolling Stones Announce New Blues Cover Album ‘Blue & Lonesome’

The 12 tracks, recorded in three days at London’s British Grove Studios, all cover songs by classic bluesmen, including Howlin’ Wolf (“Commit a Crime”), Little Walter (“I Gotta Go”) and Jimmy Reed (“Little Rain”). Eric Clapton guests on the group’s cover of Little Johnny Taylor’s “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” and Otis Rush’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby.” The album doubles as a nod to the band’s formative years, when the band would play covers by their favorite blues artists.

Keith Richards told Rolling Stone in September that the group had been recording in London, cutting several songs in a rapid period. “It was fun – always is,” he said. At the time, he claimed the album would contain “a lot of Chicago blues.”

The band’s last studio album, 2005’s A Bigger Bang, was a big disappointment, but I’m looking forward to this one.

SHOT: Time-Warner CNN-HBO Spokesman Bill Maher Jokes About Hinckley Shooting Trump Since Polls Are Tight.

Chaser:

Back in 1997 I made a prediction in my book The Dilbert Future that seems to be coming true. It stated:

In the future, the media will kill famous people to generate news that people will care about. The Dilbert Future (May 1997)

Three months later, the media chased Princess Di into a tunnel and created a dangerous situation that killed her but was terrific for television news ratings. The media didn’t plot to kill anyone, but they created a situation that made it likely someone important would die because of the way their business model works. That was the basis for my prediction.

Fast-forward to today and we see the media priming the public to try to kill Trump, or at least create some photogenic mayhem at a public event. Again, no one is sitting in a room plotting Trump’s death, but – let’s be honest – at least half of the media believes Trump is the next Hitler, and a Hitler assassination would be morally justified. Also great for ratings. The media would not be charged with any crime for triggering some nut to act. There would be no smoking gun. No guilt. No repercussions. Just better ratings and bonuses all around.

Scott Adams, March 13th, 2016.

Related: HBO’s parent company is one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest donors.

WILL DEMOCRATS END THEIR FILIBUSTER? Congress returns for brief, election-year session with Zika funding, avoiding shutdown topping its list.

Flashback: The Hill: Senate Democrats block Zika agreement ahead of recess.

Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked a deal providing funding for the fight against the Zika virus, virtually guaranteeing that Congress won’t get legislation to President Obama’s desk this month.

In a 52-48 vote, the Senate fell eight votes short of moving past a procedural hurdle against the House-Senate conference report on a military and veterans spending bill, which includes $1.1 billion to fund the Zika virus research.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) broke with his party and backed moving forward with the deal. GOP Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voted against the Zika deal. McConnell’s “no” vote allows him to bring the measure back up for another vote.

The vote leaves the current fight over the Zika virus at a standstill with days left before the July 4th recess.

The Dem line now is that the GOP is holding things up — by not doing what the Dem minority wants. It never goes that way when the parties are reversed. . . .

JOHAN NORBERG: Why can’t we see that we’re living in a golden age? If you look at all the data, it’s clear there’s never been a better time to be alive.

If you think that there has never been a better time to be alive — that humanity has never been safer, healthier, more prosperous or less unequal — then you’re in the minority. But that is what the evidence incontrovertibly shows. Poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, child labour and infant mortality are falling faster than at any other time in human history. The risk of being caught up in a war, subjected to a dictatorship or of dying in a natural disaster is smaller than ever. The golden age is now.

We’re hardwired not to believe this. We’ve evolved to be suspicious and fretful: fear and worry are tools for survival. The hunters and gatherers who survived sudden storms and predators were the ones who had a tendency to scan the horizon for new threats, rather than sit back and enjoy the view. They passed their stress genes on to us. That is why we find stories about things going wrong far more interesting than stories about things going right. It’s why bad news sells, and newspapers are full of it.

Books that say the world is doomed sell rather well, too. I have just attempted the opposite. I’ve written a book called Progress, about humanity’s triumphs. It is written partly as a warning: when we don’t see the progress we have made, we begin to search for scapegoats for the problems that remain. Sometimes, in the past and perhaps today, we have been too quick to try our luck with demagogues who offer simple solutions to make our nations great again — whether by nationalising the economy, blocking imports or throwing out immigrants. If we think we don’t have anything to lose in doing so, it’s because our memories are faulty.

Look at 1828, when The Spectator was first published. Most people in Britain then lived in what is now regarded as extreme poverty. Life was nasty (people still threw their waste out of the window), brutish (corpses were still displayed on gibbets) and short (30 years on average). But even then things had been improving. The first iteration of The Spectator, in 1711, was published in a Britain whose people subsisted on average on fewer calories than the average child gets today in sub-Saharan Africa.

Karl Marx thought that capitalism inevitably made the rich richer and the poor poorer. By the time Marx died, however, the average Englishman was three times richer than at the time of his birth 65 years earlier — never before had the population experienced anything like it.

Fast forward to 1981. Then, almost nine in ten Chinese lived in extreme poverty; now just one in ten do. Then, just half of the world’s population had access to safe water. Now, 91 per cent do. On average, that means that 285,000 more people have gained access to safe water every day for the past 25 years.

Related: Richard Fernandez:

The question isn’t whether the state is irrelevant but whether it is less important than formerly or whether it is significant in a different way. Certainly Lou Dobbs’ question “why would anyone vote for a FBI certified liar who’s refused to hold a press conference for 258 days?” can only be met by supposing an indifference or resignation over political outcomes. One possible explanation for this comes from a Reason Magazine citing a Pew poll that “millennial support for the Libertarian Party nominee is damn near astonishing.” It’s not hard to see in this a suggestion that government become less important in the 21st century than it was in the 20th.

The idea of the state as the “locomotive of history” is relatively recent. George Orwell’s 1984 saw state resting on the pillars of police power, a command economy and the ability to rewrite the Narrative. The most important of these was the ability to rewrite the factual record. In fact 1984’s protagonist was employed full time to rewrite newspaper articles. In Orwell’s view the mutability of the past was the foundation of tyranny. “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” To ensure this the Ministry of Truth was honeycombed with Memory Holes into which any inconvenient fact could be dropped and be disappeared.

But just to illustrate how things have changed for the State we now know that Orwell was wrong. The mathematically dominant method for recording transactions, whether they involve the transfer of financial assets, intellectual property, health records or any type of information is probably going to be the blockchain. It has three important properties. First the entire record can be reproduced by anyone from a Genesis cryptographic starting point such that all records will have the same signature if and only if they are the same. Second, no part of the record can be altered without regenerating the entire block chain from the the branch. Third, it is impossible to rewrite the block chain without incurring enormous real costs in electricity and computing power, as guaranteed by the laws of thermodynamics.

The first property means that blockchain by nature is a public ledger. The second ensures the database can only be falsified in its entirety from the point of change. The third makes it prohibitively expensive to do so. Readers of Ray Bradbury’s The Sound of Thunder will recognize these attributes. From his story we learn you can’t change the past without altering everything; that by crushing a butterfly in the Jurassic we alter not one item in the record but create a whole alternate history.

The possibility of a immutable record is revolutionary in itself.

Well, stay tuned. I think that one of the reasons why people are pessimistic is that it is now much harder to escape the realization that all the Top Men (and Women) are really pretty incompetent. So believing that maybe they don’t matter as much is grounds for optimism.

FILE IT AWAY: “Remember in the olden days when the campaigns didn’t really start until after Labor Day and pundits told us not to pay attention to anything that happened before then?,” Betsy Newmark asks. “That changed when opponents succeeded in defining candidates with advertising in the summer. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth did that with Kerry and Obama did that with Romney in 2012. So now, in August, we can basically see how the campaign is going to be going forward. Barring some black swan sort of event, we’re looking at a Trump loss with the possibility of losing some of the states that McCain and Romney won. It only makes sense for the GOP to focus on keeping the House and Senate and the state legislatures and governorships.”

PEGGY NOONAN ON HOW GLOBAL ELITES HAVE MORE LOYALTY TO EACH OTHER THAN TO THE CITIZENS THEY CONTROL:

In Manhattan, my little island off the continent, I see the children of the global business elite marry each other and settle in London or New York or Mumbai. They send their children to the same schools and are alert to all class markers. And those elites, of Mumbai and Manhattan, do not often identify with, or see a connection to or an obligation toward, the rough, struggling people who live at the bottom in their countries. In fact, they fear them, and often devise ways, when home, of not having their wealth and worldly success fully noticed.

Affluence detaches, power adds distance to experience. I don’t have it fully right in my mind but something big is happening here with this division between the leaders and the led. It is very much a feature of our age. But it is odd that our elites have abandoned or are abandoning the idea that they belong to a country, that they have ties that bring responsibilities, that they should feel loyalty to their people or, at the very least, a grounded respect.

I close with a story that I haven’t seen in the mainstream press. This week the Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson reported that recent Syrian refugees being resettled in Virginia, were sent to the state’s poorest communities. Data from the State Department showed that almost all Virginia’s refugees since October “have been placed in towns with lower incomes and higher poverty rates, hours away from the wealthy suburbs outside of Washington, D.C.” Of 121 refugees, 112 were placed in communities at least 100 miles from the nation’s capital. The suburban counties of Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington—among the wealthiest in the nation, and home to high concentrations of those who create, and populate, government and the media—have received only nine refugees.

Some of the detachment isn’t unconscious. Some of it is sheer and clever self-protection. At least on some level they can take care of their own.

Oh, they take care of their own, all right.

Flashback:

Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they’re living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they’re going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley’s off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, “I got mine, you get yours.”

You’re a lobbyist or a senator or a cabinet chief, you’re an editor at a paper or a green-room schmoozer, you’re a doctor or lawyer or Indian chief, and you’re making your life a little fortress. That’s what I think a lot of the elites are up to.

If the wheels come off, it won’t be enough.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

Calvin Coolidge, Address at the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 5, 1926.

Or to put it another way:

rcl_fireworks_7-3-16-1

Rough Creek Lodge (site of December’s Bullets & Bourbon) in Glen Rose, Texas last night.

THE ABA CARTEL: Rule of Lawyers.

It’s probably true that in some parts of the country, wealthy lawyers have monopolized the elite social networks that are helpful for launching successful Congressional campaigns. But it’s also not obvious that making more money available to non-lawyers, in and of itself, would solve this problem. The empirical evidence that higher expenditures actually increase a candidate’s chances of winning a Congressional race is still equivocal at best.

Here’s a more straightforward solution—one that would be good policy even if it doesn’t usher hundreds more working people into the Senate and House: Let’s rein in the American Bar Association cartel and introduce more competition into the legal services sector.

Lawyers at big firms are able to command extraordinary rates (24 year-old associates now make $180,000) not because their talents are so extraordinarily rare, but because, as Clifford Winston and Quentin Karpilow have argued in the American Economic Review, the ABA has created a protectionist racket that shuts competitors out of the market and blocks the technological innovation that has brought prices down for services in so many other sectors. For example, even routine paperwork that could easily be performed at lower cost by less-credentialed workers must be carried out by lawyers in many states. And firms not owned by ABA-approved lawyers are prohibited from selling any legal services in the United States, even if they hired lawyers to do the relevant work.

Eliminating some of these gratuitous barriers to entry in the legal services market would likely ameliorate inequality in two ways: First, it would make legal services cheaper and more accessible to people who can’t afford them. Second, by rolling back the ABA’s rent-seeking and making the market more fair, it would rein in the financial and political power held by high-flyers at Big Law. In other words, we can weaken the rule of lawyers while strengthening the rule of law.

If you’d like more detail on what that might look like, you should read not one, but two books by my colleague Ben Barton: Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession, and The Lawyer-Judge Bias in the American Legal System. They address both the problems with excessive lawyer influence, and the promise of new technologies to expand access to the law. And both address the baleful role of the ABA in making things worse.

JOHN SCHINDLER: Britain’s leaving is a big deal for the European Union, but not for Britain’s security—or America’s.

The reality is that Britain’s close ties with foreign security services will be unaffected by Brexit in any serious or long-term way. In intelligence terms, the EU hardly matters at all. It has lots of liaison jobs, no end of meetings on intelligence sharing, plus endless retreats for spy agency higher-ups—but the hard work, day in and day out, of intelligence cooperation is still largely a bilateral matter. No matter what happens with Brexit, London’s secret ties with key partners in Paris, Berlin and beyond will continue, no matter what pundits and politicos say.

Above all the Special Relationship in intelligence among Britain, America and our Anglosphere partners will go forward, as it has for more than three-quarters of a century. It began in the bleak summer of 1940, just after the fall of France to Nazi Germany, when London stood virtually alone against Berlin. American intelligence offered its precious code-breaking secrets to Britain, and our new friends quickly began their sharing their closely guarded secrets too. Soon Canada, Australia and New Zealand joined in, and together the five Anglosphere countries forged an intelligence partnership to defeat Germany and Japan like the world had never seen.

That Special Relationship continued after the war, being formalized in the late 1940s in a series of secret spy agreements. Called Five Eyes to the present day, it began with signals intelligence but soon spread across intelligence disciplines. Together, the Five Eyes countries waged and won the Cold War, and their joint work against terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and regional aggression is as robust as it ever was.

Brexit seems more likely to improve Britain’s security situation than anything else.

BOY, ABC SURE GOES OUT OF ITS WAY TO OBSCURE THE SOURCE OF THIS PROBLEM: Risk of FGM Increasing for Women in the U.S., says CDC.

ARE HOUSE GOP LEADERS SUBVERTING THE IRS IMPEACHMENT EFFORT? There was a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee this week to consider whether to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. After all, Koskinen misled – out in the real world, that is pronounced “lied” – to Congress about Lois Lerner’s email.

Rep. Jim Jordan, the indefatigable Ohio Republican leading the impeachment effort, has determinedly made the case at every opportunity before colleagues and the American people via the media. Even so, it increasingly appears that House GOP leaders are balking at the idea of actually doing something consequential – rather than merely symbolic – on behalf of the constitutional integrity of Congress.

Take Thursday’s judicial panel hearing, for example. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, said he favors censure of Koskinen, even as Judiciary panel chief Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, conspicuously refused to call the hearing by anything involving the word “impeach.”

Chaffetz told Katie Watson of the Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group, who covered the hearing, that he believes Goodlatte favors censure and that he views it as a step in the impeachment process. That apparently is supposed to satisfy Jordan and others who think the time to act is obviously now, not later.

“Right now, the rights of the legislative branch are being trampled on,” Jordan told TheDCNF. “And one of the best ways we can reassert that is by moving forward.”

ALMOST FAMOUS, ALMOST BROKE: HOW DOES A JAZZ MUSICIAN MAKE IT IN NEW YORK NOW?

“One of my pet peeves,” says Rio Sakairi, the artistic director of the Jazz Gallery, the forward-thinking not-for-profit space, “is when organizations say, ‘Jazz: America’s greatest art form.’ My reaction is always like, ‘Are you saying this because you don’t want people to listen to it?’ Because that sounds really goofy and not very attractive….I’m thinking, ‘Why are you putting out this really goofy, douche-y image of jazz?’ I’m puzzled by that.”

You shouldn’t be — jazz has been in audience rejection mode since elitist bebop killed popular swing bands dead in their tracks, thus unintentionally launching populist and easy to dance to rock and roll in the 1950s, as Mark Gauvreau Judge has written:

Suddenly, jazz was Art. Gone were the days when 5,000 people would fill the Savoy Ballroom to lindy hop to the sunny sounds of Ella Fitzgerald or Count Basie. Bebop was impossible to dance to, which was fine with the alienated musicians in Eisenhower’s America. (You can bet this era will be well represented by beatnik [Ken] Burns.) Even bebop’s own founders weren’t safe from the ideological putsch: when Bird himself made an album of pop standards with a band backed up by a string section, he was labeled a sellout. Then Elvis, to simplify matters greatly, reinvented swing for a new generation, and the Beatles arrived with sacks of great new melodies, and jazz was over as a popular music. Remarkably, beboppers and their fans still blame the drop-off on American racism. Miles once called pop music “white music,” and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in a documentary about the Blue Note label, offers that “whites couldn’t appreciate anything that came from black culture.” Yet whites were as responsible as blacks for making stars of Ella, Basie, and other black swing artists. Only two kinds of music were allowed on the radio following the news of FDR’s death: classical and Duke Ellington.

Ellington, like Armstrong, wasn’t too wild about bebop or its offshoots, hard bop and free jazz. In his 1998 book of essays, Always in Pursuit, the unflinching critic Stanley Crouch tells a funny story about Ellington that sums up the problems jazz has had finding an audience since the bebop revolution: in the 60s, bassist Charles Mingus suggested to Ellington that they make an “avant-garde” record together, employing some of the chaotic elements then popular in the free-jazz movement. Ellington replied that he had no desire to take jazz that far back.

Today, you can see Wynton Marsalis playing mid-60s-era cool jazz in freeze-dried form at Lincoln Center. Or as Mick Jagger quipped when he inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, “Jean Cocteau said that Americans are funny people: first you shock them, then they put you in a museum.” As with rock and roll and old media’s Newseum, which John Podhoretz accurately dubbed “The News Mausoleum,” once a genre builds a museum for itself, it’s effectively over as a creative form.

OH TO BE IN ENGLAND: Mob of migrants chants “F*ck the UK” while trying to storm way onto ferries headed to…Britain.

Shades of the Trump protestors flashing “Make America Mexico Again” banners and hats in California, Arizona and Texas. I’m old enough to remember when immigrants looked forward to their new lands when moving – or at least didn’t trash them while assimilating.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Clemson’s Fake Hate Crime Story Gets Worse:

An email exchange between top Clemson officials suggests that the administration welcomed the opportunity to use the now infamous “banana banner” incident to push a progressive agenda.

On Monday, April 11, a bunch of bananas was found hanging from a banner mounted on campus honoring the history of African Americans at Clemson, resulting in on-campus protests and a sit-in that lead to the arrest of five students.

According to emails released by Clemson under the Freedom of Information Act that were obtained by Campus Reform, key players involved in the incident seemingly regarded its racial undertones as an occasion to suffocate conservative sentiments out of the administration.

Last week, in response to a separate FOIA request, Clemson released emails sent by top administrators in the immediate aftermath of the incident, one of which seemed to suggest that school officials believed that the students who hung the bananas were not racially motivated.

“Two students came forward and told they had done bananas,” Vice President for Student Affairs Almeda Jacks wrote in an email to other administrators on the evening of April 11. “Their claim is [that] they had no idea of pole or banner,” she explained, adding, “nobody will believe that tho [sic] our folks think true.”

In a more recent correspondence between Altheia Richardson, executive director of Clemson’s Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center, and Professor Todd May, who apparently has been trying with little success to move conservative administrators away from their “party line,” the two seem to hint at the potential leverage the incident could afford in future conversations with school leaders.

Some Clemson students, who were verbally intimidated at a protest after the incident, commented on the exchange and offered their own theories on its significance.

“From what I read, it seems like Altheia was warning those two professors [another professor was copied to the exchange but did not participate] not to assume that Clements and Almeda were unprogressive,” student Miller Hall, member of a free speech activist group known as “We Roar,” told Campus Reform, saying it is likely that Richardson was “convincing them that they could get them to cooperate with the progressive agenda.”

Zach Talley, another WeRoar member who also serves as editor-in-chief of The Tiger Town Observer, explained that May has in fact been trying for years to infiltrate the administration with his liberal ideologies, but has been repeatedly stonewalled by a reluctant president.

“He has been for years and years and years pushing a liberal agenda,” Talley remarked. “May is the brain behind the operation, and he tries to accomplish his liberal agenda through minorities on campus because he is a straight white male.”

Notably, one of the student protesters involved in April’s sit-in is the son a top administrator at Clemson, Alesia Smith, who later recused herself from leading the investigation into the banana banner incident due to a conflict of interest. The date of her recusal is noted as April 14, which is in the middle of the date range for records released in the latest Freedom of Information Act response, yet while the dump does include emails from other administrators concerning the university’s conflict of interest policy, no mention of her recusal is included in the release.

I imagine the South Carolina legislature will look into this.

WHAT POST-COMMUNISM HATH WROUGHT: In the new issue of City Journal, Fred Siegel writes:

Shortly after the collapse of Communism, the Nobel-winning novelist Doris Lessing took to the pages of the New York Times to warn that “while we have seen the apparent death of Communism, ways of thinking that were either born under Communism or strengthened by Communism still govern our lives.” She had been a Communist in her youth, and from that experience she learned how the ideology “debased language and, with language, thought.” Lessing was more prescient than she knew. Even as Communist political correctness was thrown back on its heels for a time in the former Soviet empire, it was defying gravity in Europe and America. Indeed, in the United States, our constitutional republic based on limited government had already begun to give way to an expansive bureaucratic liberal regime built on court-constructed interest-group “rights.”

* * * * * * * *

Like Communism, the democratic culture of the present day “produces large numbers of lumpen-intellectuals.” There is no shortage of people who ecstatically become involved in tracking disloyalty and fostering a new orthodoxy in which accusation replaces argument. And as under Communism, America’s social-justice warriors, particularly on campuses, are relentlessly in search of “casual remarks taken as evidence of systematic failings.” Communism’s once never-ending fight to ferret out “capitalist roaders” has been succeeded in the voluntary soft Stalinism of academia by a never-ending fight against an increasingly elusive enemy.

In America, Legutko notes, young people have shifted from the “pursuit of happiness,” which required delayed satisfaction with a plan as to how to move forward, to the momentary pursuit of pleasure. Their pursuits, as with “hooking up” in college, have become increasingly episodic. The upshot, he believes, is that divorce and abortion have become the outstanding achievements of the new political/cultural system. And in this regard, Legutko notes wryly, “Communism was far ahead of the liberal West.”

Related:

Being a grinning fool who jumps up and down on a sofa proclaiming his passion for the world is not enough. Passion demands suffering. Freely accepted suffering. And the endurance of that freely accepted suffering until the end. If you cannot deal with that side of passion, you are not truly passionate. Of course, most people opt out of passion when they begin to suffer. It’s understandable, especially in our pleasure-pumped world. In fact, it’s perfectly reasonable; after all, reason is the nemesis of passion. Say your marriage has become dull or boring and efforts to bring the passion, the desire, and enthusiasm back have gone nowhere. Reason will tell you to call a divorce lawyer and find your happiness elsewhere whereas passion will demand you stay and endure. The same goes for writing or anything for that matter. Real passion starts where suffering starts. Be strong enough to endure and you will understand the meaning of passion. The mystery will be solved; the hidden truth, revealed.

—Mark Judge, quoting Francis Berger, in “We Don’t Need Grit. We Need a Better Understanding of Passion,” at Acculturated.

HMM: Mitch McConnell: Trump Is Underestimated.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) predicted Tuesday that Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, will be more competitive in November than many political analysts expect.

McConnell told reporters he is buoyed by a new Quinnipiac poll showing Trump within a few points of Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, three crucial battlegrounds.

“It looks to me like at the beginning of the race, Florida and Pennsylvania and Ohio look pretty competitive,” he said.

The Quinnipiac survey, conducted from April 27 to May 8, showed Trump leading Clinton by four points in Ohio, and trailing the former first lady by only one point in Florida and Pennsylvania.

McConnell told reporters at the end of last year that he saw it as extremely important the eventual GOP nominee for president be able to win in such so-called purple states. At the time, his comments were interpreted as indicating a preference for more mainstream candidates such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

McConnell said he is looking forward to meeting with Trump Thursday morning at the National Senatorial Campaign Committee, near the Capitol.

“I think most of my members believe he’s won the nomination the old fashioned way, he got more votes than anybody else and we respect the voices of the Republican primary voters across the country and we’ll sit down and talk about the way forward,” he said.

He declined, however, to say what specific points he would bring up with the candidate.

When things suck economically — and they do, and ordinary people know it’s worse than the official happy-face story — old fashioned Democratic populist messages sell, and that’s what Trump’s selling.

MEET THE MIDDLETONS: James Lileks devotes a new section of his sprawling Website to an industrial film Westinghouse created in 1939 to advertise its contributions to the World’s Fair in New York. We mentioned last week how immediately after WWII, General Motors promoted Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom — and then in the decades to follow forget all of Hayek’s lessons on its own road to serfdom as Obama’s Government Motors.

Lileks’ new section is subtitled “Or, Go Peddle that Bolshie Booshwah Elsewhere, Pal,” as astonishingly, one of the supporting characters in Westinghouse’s film is played by a bow-tie wearing ferret-faced sneering actor who denounces all of the advancements in science made possible by capitalism, democracy, and free enterprise. (He’s there as the token bad guy to have his comments swatted away by the all-American family he accompanies to the Fair.) One of the pages of Lileks’ site features a large photo of Westinghouse’s site at the World’s Fair contrasting the technological achievements of the first four decades of the 20th century with, as the large sign on the wall of the exhibition reads “YESTERDAY: A WORLD WITHOUT ELECTRICITY.”

Flash-forward to 2007, when on the road to creating conditions favorable for the election of a Democrat the following year, the anchor of the evening news of the network Westinghouse acquired in the previous decade likened global warming skeptics to Holocaust deniers. That same year, the network owned by General Electric, another powerhouse at the 1939 World’s Fair, actively promoted a world without electricity; turning all the lights off in its studio (other than sponsor Toyota’s large sign of course) during a Sunday Night Football game and advising Americans to do the same. The cable network that GE owned at the time featured an anchor who said on the air in 2010, “Liberals amuse me. I am a socialist. I live to the extreme left, the extreme left of you mere liberals, okay?”

Someone like that was the designated cartoon heavy at the 1939 World’s Fair; today, TV shows are built around him. Not to mention presidential candidacies. The 1939 World’s Fair promised a world fundamentally transformed, and after WWII, that transformation certainly arrived. But so did its myriad critics, eager to revolt against the masses — and hard.

HERE’S WHY GOVERNMENT HOUSING VOUCHERS CAUSE MORE POVERTY, NOT LESS: Question – Which program does the federal government spend more on each year, public housing vouchers or welfare checks? If you said the former, you must know the Manhattan Institute’s Howard Husock. What he knows about public housing is more valuable than the work of the 10 smartest people on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s bloated payroll.

“Its incentives are completely skewed,” Husock, vice president for policy research and director of the Social Entrepreneurship Initiative at Manhattan, told The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group’s Katie Watson.

“You’ve ‘hit the lottery’ and you’re set for life. Not only do you hit the lottery and you can sit back and have a housing unit for life, but, remember, your deal is you pay 30 percent of your income in rent, but what it means is for every additional dollar you earn, you pay an addition 30 cents in rent,” he said.

The voucher concept is grounded in common sense, but it somehow got corrupted when HUD applied it to the public housing arena. Husock explains in straightforward terms why the way HUD does vouchers ends up encouraging the very traits most likely to produce poverty in an individual’s life.

NEVER LET IT BE SAID THAT BERNIE SANDERS DOESN’T TAKE RECYCLING SERIOUSLY! Bernie: Create a Tea Party off the Left Within the Democratic Party Now.

Well, other than Occupy Wall Street, and their predecessors, including, as Glenn noted in 2011, “the Coffee Party, the Brownbaggers, The Other 95%, A New Way Forward, [and] the One Nation Movement,” it’s an idea that — much like Bernie’s underlying socialism — is an idea that’s sure to work this time!

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS:

Shot:

She supported Huey Newton and the Black Panthers in the early 1970s, stating “Revolution is an act of love; we are the children of revolution, born to be rebels. It runs in our blood.” She called the Black Panthers “our revolutionary vanguard … we must support them with love, money, propaganda and risk.”[34] She has been involved in the feminist movement since the 1970s, which dovetails with her activism in support of civil rights.

Jane Fonda’s Wikipedia page.

Chaser:

Fonda’s affinity for communism served as a backdrop for her intense anti-Vietnam War activities. By 1970 she was telling American college students: “If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist. . . . I, a socialist, think that we should strive toward a socialist society, all the way to communism.” The dual villains of Southeast Asian conflicts were, in her view, “U.S. imperialism” and “a white man’s racist aggression.”

—Fonda’s page at David Horowitz’s Discover the Networks who’s who database of the far left.

Hangover:

However, Fonda also predicted violence if Clinton secures the Democratic nomination and goes on to beat the Republican presidential nominee in the general election. The main reason for that vehemence, the actress says, will be the fact that she is a woman.

“Every time women move forward, there is going to be problems,” Fonda insisted. “So one of the things we have to do is help men understand why they are so threatened, and change the way we view masculinity. We have a toxic masculinity and that’s what needs to be addressed.”

—”Jane Fonda: ‘There Will Be Violence’ if Clinton is Elected President in November,” the Blaze, yesterday.

Funny, I’m old enough to remember when the “toxic masculinity” trope was leveled by Hollywood dowagers against Hillary’s supporters, not Bernie Sander’s. (Given that the vast majority of political violence emanates from the left, as Fonda well knows and once encouraged, that’s the group that she’s smearing, no?) Speaking of which, why would the poster child for radical chic suddenly start denouncing violence?

THE MINIMUM WAGE CON: UNIONS SEEK RULES FOR YOU, EXEMPTIONS FOR THEMSELVES.

As it turns out, this practice is not uncommon. The WSJ reported last year that at least six municipalities have created special minimum wage carveouts for unions. The logic is straightforward: Kill non-unionized jobs, add more workers to the union rolls, and extract higher fees for union bosses. It’s not a minimum wage hike the labor movement is after, exactly: It’s a penalty on non-union employers, and a payout for modern-day Jimmy Hoffas. Expect unions in California and New York, which recently enacted statewide $15 minimums, to start lobbying legislators for their own sweetheart deals in the near future.

Of course, one can be charitable and note that these measures are backed, in many cases, by well-meaning people trying desperately to keep private sector unions viable in an age of globalization and rapid technological change. But that is no excuse for the kind of craven crony capitalism that’s now underway. If union leaders are going to ask for exemptions to their own laws, the least they can do is drop the pretense that a $15 minimum is a human right, and instead admit that they are in it—at least in part—to increase their own wealth and political power. But then, that would pour cold water on what they have managed to pitch to voters as a righteous moral crusade.

All their “righteous moral crusades” are self-serving con jobs.

BOSTON GLOBE PLAYS THE ONION: Offers Fake Sunday Front Page Mocking President Trump. “Can anyone imagine the outrage that liberal media pundits would have had if say, The New York Post or The Washington Times had created a fake page predicting that President Obama would force people off the insurance they wanted to keep, and food stamp use would soar by 70 percent? Imagine those complaints and transfer them to this: A serious newspaper doesn’t satirize the news. It leaves it to The Onion.”

In a 1974 episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show on CBS, Mary, working late one night with Rhoda goading her on, writes a joke obit for Minneapolis’ oldest man – and Ted reads their obit on the air when, of course, the man dies soon afterwards. Lou threatens to suspend Mary, reminding her that “the news is sacred.” (Mind you that the real-life anchorman of CBS during this period Godwinned Barry Goldwater, lied about America losing the Tet Offensive and ran eco-crank stories about “global cooling.”)

Flash-forward to the 21st century, when any pretense that “the news is sacred” has long gone out the window, as the MSM are all but official Democratic Party operatives with bylines.   In September of 2004, Cronkite’s successor Dan Rather lied about George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard record, and fellow anchormen Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings eagerly defended him in the last month of the presidential election. In 2005, the DNC-MSM invented the wildest lies about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina even though, as Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile finally confessed in a 2013 column at CNN “Bush came through on Katrina.”

In 2008, the media lied endlessly about Obama, creating “The Wright-Free Zone” to airbrush away his racist mentor, and simultaneously comparing a failed community organizer turned Chicago machine hack to Lincoln, FDR, JFK – and God Himself. In 2012 Candy Crowley played blocking back to run interference on Obama’s behalf in his debate against Mitt Romney, and the entire MSM conspired to pretend that that Romney’s perfectly defensible 47 percent remark was somehow the end of the world. So no one should be surprised to see the Boston Globe, owned until 2013 by the New York Times, which invented the phrase “fake but accurate” in 2004 running fake news as a front page headline.

“Flashback: When Globe ran fake rape pics, smeared US troops, weaseled on apology,” Glenn tweeted yesterday, linking to this May of 2004 Insta-post.

Related: “Before Predicting the Future, Take a Closer Look at the Present,” the satiric People’s Cube Photoshop blog advises the Globe.

OUT: YOU’RE FIRED! IN: YOU’RE HIRED! Trump offers job to woman at DC news conference.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, during a news conference in Washington on Monday, offered a job to a woman who said she was survivor of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Trump called the woman forward and asked her about her experience after she asked whether his new hotel in the District of Columbia would hire veterans.

“Here’s what I’m going to do, stand right over here,” he said to the woman.

“If we can make a good deal in the salary, she’s going to probably have a job.”

When asked why he decided to take the risk to promise a job to someone he did not know, Trump said that he “felt good about her.”

“I have a gut instinct. We are allowed to have that,” he said as the woman smiled and teared up.

Well, that’s nice. She’s black, by the way.

WELL, GOOD: No hearing for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, McConnell says.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday shot down the idea of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland getting a hearing.

McConnell insisted in a floor speech that the vacancy should be filled by the next president.

“The next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country, so of course the American people should have a say in the court’s direction,” he said.

“The Senate will continue to observe the ‘Biden Rule’ so the American people have a voice in this momentous decision. The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next president may also nominate somebody very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in filling this vacancy.”

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stood by McConnell’s decision.

“This has never been about who the nominee is. It is about a basic principle. Under our Constitution, the president has every right to make this nomination, and the Senate has every right not to confirm a nominee.

“I fully support Leader McConnell and Chairman [Chuck] Grassley’s [R-Iowa] decision not to move forward with the confirmation process. We should let the American people decide the direction of the court.”

Caving on this would wreck the party. McConnell seems to realize that.

SCOTT ADAMS: The Media Are Trying To Get Donald Trump Killed:

Back in 1997 I made a prediction in my book The Dilbert Future that seems to be coming true. It stated:

In the future, the media will kill famous people to generate news that people will care about. – The Dilbert Future (May 1997)

Three months later, the media chased Princess Di into a tunnel and created a dangerous situation that killed her but was terrific for television news ratings. The media didn’t plot to kill anyone, but they created a situation that made it likely someone important would die because of the way their business model works. That was the basis for my prediction.

Fast-forward to today and we see the media priming the public to try to kill Trump, or at least create some photogenic mayhem at a public event. Again, no one is sitting in a room plotting Trump’s death, but – let’s be honest – at least half of the media believes Trump is the next Hitler, and a Hitler assassination would be morally justified. Also great for ratings. The media would not be charged with any crime for triggering some nut to act. There would be no smoking gun. No guilt. No repercussions. Just better ratings and bonuses all around. . . .

I could go on, but you see how easy this is. The mainstream media can either portray Trump as Hitler or non-Hitler. So far, they have chosen (subconsciously I assume) the Hitler analogy all the way.

Sadly plausible.

OH, TO BE IN ENGLAND: “Rotherham gang sentenced to 102 years in prison for abusing young girls,” John Sexton writes today at Hot Air. Note this detail: “According to the 2014 report, one reason police utterly failed to protect so many young girls was the ‘politically inconvenient truth’ that most the victims in Rotherham were white while most of the perpetrators were Pakistani men.”

As Sexton adds, “the perpetrators in Rotherham seemed to operate with impunity even when face to face with police.” And while the Rotherham perpetrators used race and Islam to their advantage in PC-obsessed England, as Jonah Goldberg notes today, England’s Jimmy Savile used celebrity and power:

A hugely popular DJ and TV personality in the United Kingdom for decades, Savile lived a double life as a child molester and rapist. He abused older victims as well. His victims, many of whom were patients in hospitals, ranged from five to 75 years old. As a major fundraiser for hospitals, he had free rein to prey on boys and girls. He assaulted one ten-year-old boy with a broken arm while he was waiting on a gurney for an X-ray. He assaulted teenagers recovering from surgery in bed.

All in all, at several hospitals and at nearly every division of the BBC where he worked, he raped or abused dozens of children — boys and girls — and scores of teenagers and adults.

Savile also reportedly did things to corpses best left unsaid.

He was so popular and so powerful, many victims felt comfortable coming forward only after Savile died in 2011 at the age of 84, to that point regarded as an esteemed member of the community. Sir Jimmy was even a knight.

The BBC has just published a nearly 800-page report detailing its complicity in Savile’s crimes. I haven’t read the whole thing, nor do I have much desire to. The main takeaway, however, is that the BBC shares blame for turning a blind eye owing to its “culture of deference” to celebrities. There was ample evidence that Savile was up to no good, but few were willing to say anything.

Let’s discuss the culture of deference.

Read the whole thing. (Perhaps as with Gloria Steinem in the earlier post, the photo of a young Savile burning a hole into the camera atop Jonah’s article should also merit a trigger warning.)

UPDATE: ‘Atmosphere of fear’ at BBC allowed Jimmy Savile to commit sex crimes, report finds.

THE HILL: Obama to meet McConnell, Grassley to discuss Supreme Court vacancy.

President Obama will convene a long-anticipated meeting at the White House next Tuesday with top Republican senators to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) will both attend, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday.

The spokesman said the meeting was arranged “after a number of conversations, some more awkward than others.”

“Ulimately, the president is going to fulfill his duty and it will be up to the Senate to decide if they’re going to fulfill theirs,” Earnest said of the leaders’ handling of the nomination process.

Well, the Senate can “fulfill its duty” by refusing to vote, of course, as Earnest and Obama (probably) know. And my advice to McConnell and Grassley is to do just that. But if you’re looking for a reasonable “advice and consent” compromise, there’s always this:

I propose that the Senate put together its own list of candidates for each Supreme Court vacancy, and forward that list to the President. This list would constitute the “advice” portion of the Senate’s constitutional role. The President could then do one of two things-she could select a nominee from the list, who would be presumed competent based on the Senate’s earlier screening and would be given approval according to some sort of accelerated procedure (much as in “fast track” trade legislation), or she could select someone not on the list, in which case the confirmation process would take place as usual.

Under this process both sides would be encouraged not to be too political in their selections: if the Senate loaded its list with ideologues, the President would ignore it, forcing the Senate to undergo the traditional confirmation process. On the other hand, the President also would be encouraged to avoid ideologues and give the Senate’s list serious consideration, and to select from it so long as its candidates were reasonable, in order to escape the agonies of the full-blown Senate confirmation process as it has become. Furthermore, if the President did not select from the list, there would be a basis for comparison, as people (and Senators) could decide whether the President’s candidate met the same standards as the members of the Senate’s list.

And the proposal dates back to the first Bush Administration, so nobody can accuse it of current-day partisanship.

QUESTION ASKED AND ANSWERED:

Donald Trump is running against pluralism. Bernie Sanders shows zero interest in entrepreneurship and says the Wall Street banks that provide capital to risk-takers are involved in “fraud,” and Ted Cruz speaks of our government in the same way as the anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist, who says we should shrink government “to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” (Am I a bad person if I hope that when Norquist slips in that bathtub and has to call 911, no one answers?)

The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman today, in an article titled, “Who Are We?”

Well Tom, I’d say you’re a vile limousine leftist misanthrope, since your admission today is a par with your writing in 2000: “Yup, I gotta confess, that now-famous picture of a U.S. marshal in Miami pointing an automatic weapon toward Donato Dalrymple and ordering him in the name of the U.S. government to turn over Elian Gonzalez warmed my heart.”

Not at all surprising, particularly since in 2009, you added:

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.

Since, as Friedman is asking today “Who Are We?”, Jonah Goldberg’s response to Friedman’s 2009 column also helps to answer his existential query: “Thomas Friedman is a Liberal Fascist:”

I cannot begin to tell you how this is exactly the argument that was made by American fans of Mussolini in the 1920s. It is exactly the argument that was made in defense of Stalin and Lenin before him (it’s the argument that idiotic, dictator-envying leftists make in defense of Castro and Chavez today). It was the argument made by George Bernard Shaw who yearned for a strong progressive autocracy under a Mussolini, a Hitler or a Stalin (he wasn’t picky in this regard). This is the argument for an “economic dictatorship” pushed by Stuart Chase and the New Dealers. It’s the dream of Herbert Croly and a great many of the Progressives.

But what happens when that one-party autocracy decides to just impose a law that no one should live in a house this big? That such an estate simply isn’t a part of “who we are?”

THEIR POLICIES DON’T BEAR DETAILED ANALYSIS: Sanders and Clinton Get Substantive. That’s Where They Go Wrong.

In previous debates, we got bogged down in the need for a new Glass-Steagall. Since the old Glass-Steagall hadn’t actually gone away, and no specific aspects of the theoretical new one were described, this had the ethereal, almost theological flavor of monks discussing how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. To put it in math-esque terms: The possible set of policies included in the phrase “new Glass-Steagall” was so large as to include nearly all possible outcomes, good and bad.

Last night, on the other hand, Clinton decided to stop mucking about with vague promises to bring Wall Street to heel. Instead, she claimed that she was a financial regulator of rare foresight and rarer steely will, hated and feared by the denizens of New York’s financial district. Presumably we are supposed to see that $675,000 she was paid by Goldman Sachs to make three speeches less as a warm gesture between close friends, than as the bags of gold left outside the city gates for the Visigoth king who is threatening to sack the place.

“But what I want people to know,” said Clinton, “is I went to Wall Street before the crash. I was the one saying you’re going to wreck the economy because of these shenanigans with mortgages. I called to end the carried interest loophole that hedge fund managers enjoy. I proposed changes in CEO compensation.”

Finally, specifics! And yet — this was a somewhat surprising claim. Those of us who were writing about financial regulation in 2007 do not recall Hillary Clinton as a fiery crusader against the financial industry. We remember her as being — like all New York senators — rather friendly to the place.

So I went looking for the support for this remarkable statement. Politifact rated a similar statement as true, based on some speeches she gave in 2007, and a plan she put forward in 2008. It is hard, however, to read this collection as a “warning that Wall Street is going to wreck the economy.” It would be more properly termed “Grousing about consumers who can’t afford their bubblicious subprime mortgages,” and vague remarks about transparency and oversight.

Well, Politifact.

YEAH, THEY’RE ALSO PRETTY MUCH DEFYING OBAMA: Lone Star Shale Producers Defy OPEC.

For a state that prides itself on being “bigger” in every sense of the word, Texas is managing to handle smaller oil profit margins awfully well, as a number of producers in the state’s two shale basins are keeping output up despite plunging prices. . . .

And even as some producers find ways to turn a profit with today’s profits, many in the industry that have seen their margins erased are nevertheless still busy pursuing a forward-looking strategy: drilling but not yet fracking wells. This approach essentially lines up projects to bring online the minute prices rise high enough to justify them. This so-called “fracklog” is a widespread phenomenon, and it’s growing. For Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world’s petrostates, that’s a terrifying prospect, because it means what if and when we see the global glut erased and prices start trending back upwards, these new American supplies will flood the market and bring those prices right back down again.

And while producers amass this fracklog, plenty of companies are innovating ways to keep output up despite the fact that America’s oil benchmark is currently lingering below $32 per barrel. The shale boom isn’t done yet.

The Frackers are doing more to save Western civilization than pretty much anyone else. Certainly more than the Obama Administration or the EU.

OBAMA TO PROPOSE UNDERMINING OBAMACARE?: Yep, you read that right. The Washington Examiner is reporting that President Obama’s budget proposal is expected to include a narrowing of Obamacare’s so-called “Cadillac tax” of 40 percent on benefits-rich health insurance plans.

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jason Furman and chief economist Matthew Fiedler wrote that the budget, to be published next week, will propose raising the threshold for the cost of plans affected by the tax.

The change, they wrote, will prevent the tax from “creating unintended burdens for firms located in areas where health care is particularly expensive.”

The Cadillac tax was made law as part of the funding for Obamacare. It is also intended to slow the growth in health care costs created by the existing incentives in the tax code. . . .

While the tax is popular among economists, it is opposed by unions that have bargained for costly expensive plans as well as by business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Congress and is generally viewed unfavorably in Congress. Congress voted in December to delay the imposition of the 40 percent excise tax from 2018 to 2020.

No one ever thought the Cadillac tax was politically sustainable, long-term, precisely because of the vigorous opposition by unions, who give so generously to Democrats every election cycle.  So it was always a “fake” revenue raiser for Obamacare. The problem, however, is that the Cadillac tax is one of the largest revenue sources within Obamacare–an estimated $108 billion over a ten-year period.

When you narrow, or eliminate, this revenue source, suddenly Obamacare becomes much more expensive than the rosy “deficit reducing” bill of goods sold to the American people. As Obama told the American people in his address to a Joint Session of Congress on health care in September 2009:

And here’s what you need to know.  First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future.  (Applause.)  I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period.  And to prove that I’m serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don’t materialize. . . .

Now, add it all up, and the plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years — less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and less than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans that Congress passed at the beginning of the previous administration.  (Applause.)  Now, most of these costs will be paid for with money already being spent — but spent badly — in the existing health care system.  The plan will not add to our deficit.

Of course, this promise–that Obamacare would not add to the deficit–was completely false. But when you begin to narrow or repeal Obamacare’s major revenue-raising provisions such as the Cadillac tax, the deficit problem grows even worse.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m certainly not advocating for keeping the Cadillac tax, or any other provision of Obamacare. The whole thing was a massive, ill-considered jumble from day one, and it should never have been rammed through Congress via reconciliation. We are all now literally paying the price of such a raw political maneuver.

But when the namesake of Obamacare begins to propose repealing/narrowing the most significant revenue generating provisions of his own (only) major legislative achievement, you know something is seriously rotten in the state of Denmark. Obama is (predictably) throwing a bone to the Democrats’ union constituency, but it only emphasizes how Obamacare was and still remains, at its core, nothing but a stinky pile of crony capitalist payoffs to every single affected sector of economy. Even Obamacare’s Cadillac tax “punishment” of high-value union health plans turned out to be a ruse.

TEN YEARS LATER, ESPN To Air Documentary On Duke Lacrosse Rape Hoax:

It has been nearly 10 years since a group of Duke lacrosse players hosted a party that would end up getting them accused of gang-raping a stripper. On the 10th anniversary, ESPN will air a documentary about the case.

The accusation centered around Crystal Mangum, who in a bid to avoid being detained for intoxication, told police that members of the Duke lacrosse team had raped her at a party. Her accusations snowballed, and with his election coming up, District Attorney Mike Nifong pressured her to identify the alleged rapists. One of the men she identified wasn’t even at the party at the time the rape was supposed to have occurred. Mangum’s story also changed several times. (She was never punished for her false accusation, although later she was convicted of a separate murder and is currently in prison.)

But the case went forward anyway. Duke University administrators and professors maligned the lacrosse players as racists and rapists, since Mangum is African-American. The lacrosse season was cancelled, and the team’s coach was forced to resign before the students even had their day in court.

The travesty of the case eventually led to Nifong’s disbarment for “dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.” The accused students sued, but as is often the case for falsely accused young men, they received no monetary compensation.

Two writers who helped expose the fraud were history professor K.C. Johnson and Stuart Taylor, who co-wrote a book on the case. Johnson was interviewed for the ESPN documentary, and told the Washington Examiner that to this day, he is still amazed by the “utter lack of accountability.”

“Ten years out, we as a society have learned nothing about the importance of due process in sexual assault allegations. (Indeed, the situation now is much worse than it was in 2006),” Johnson wrote in an email. “The leadership at Duke that so botched the case remains in place; the faculty who rushed to judgment remain firmly entrenched; and the key figures in the media, especially the New York Times, that so badly failed in covering Duke continue to fail in covering this issue.”

Taylor, too, brought up the lack of accountability for anyone involved in the case (with the exception of Nifong), and explained how the school and the media worked to frame these students even as the case began to fall apart.

It’s as if universities are fomenting — quite deliberately — hostile educational environments for male students.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON: A depressing campaign, and an election we need.

To put this in context, during the entire slog of the 2012 election, neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney sustained a brand as unfavorable as Clinton or Trump. John McCain, John Kerry and George W. Bush all enjoyed “favorables” of over 50 percent during their presidential campaigns, even though two out of the three were ultimately never elected president.

Today, only one out of four Americans think the country is on the right track. Americans continue to express deep economic anxiety, and the president’s job approval remains low, with particular disapproval for handling of foreign policy.

Given this complete rejection of the status quo, it is astonishing that there’s a chance that voters will be presented with this depressing choice: Hillary Clinton, — symbolic of dynastic elite, entrenched interests, corporate America and politics-as-usual — or someone radical like Trump, whose vision of forward progress is distinctly backward looking, as if to reclaim a bygone era by hitting rewind.

But taking America back to a different time isn’t possible, even if we wanted it to be.

Republicans may pine for the Reagan 1980s, while Democrats pine for the New Deal 1930s. But the makeup of America and the evolution of our economy means that neither is in the cards for us, nor should they be. The pace of demographic and technological change reshaping America means it is impossible to recreate the halcyon days of our own preferred ideological movements.

This sounds like a nice way of saying that we’re screwed.

G.E.: HEY, WE DIDN’T THINK OUR INCESSANT CRIES FOR BIGGER GOVERNMENT AND MORE REGULATION WOULD EVER IMPACT US! Will Connecticut’s High-Tax, Union-Friendly Policies Turn Out GE’s Lights?

You may remember a 2014 Gallup poll that had Connecticut as the new Dodge City, the place that half the residents wanted to get out of. Well, many are leaving, eroding the tax base. And the next may be Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric.

Headquartered in Connecticut since 1974, GE is evaluating whether to stay or leave after being hit with a big tax increase. A decision is expected next month.

Companies and people are leaving the state because taxes have been jacked up steeply in recent years under the one-party rule of Democrats. Further hikes are inevitable, given looming budget deficits, driven primarily by escalating annual contributions to the state’s overgenerous and seriously underfunded public-sector employee pension fund and unfunded health care obligations.

The Yankee Institute, a policy think tank in Hartford, just published “$60 a Second,” a study documenting a $3.8 billion erosion in the individual income tax base from 2011 to 2013 as emigrants took more out of the state than immigrants brought in.

Throughout its history, GE has been tireless champion of bigger and bigger government. As Jonah Goldberg wrote in 2008’s Liberal Fascism:

A year before FDR took office, [Gerard Swope, then-president of GE] published his modestly titled The Swope Plan. His idea was that the government would agree to suspend antitrust laws so that industries could collude in order to adjust “production to consumption.” Industry would “no longer operate in independent units, but as a whole, according to rules laid out by a trade association…the whole supervised by some federal agency like the Federal Trade Commission.” Under Swopism, as many in and out of government called it, the state would remove the uncertainty for the big-business man so that he could “go forward decisively instead of fearsomely.”

The aforementioned Jeffrey Immelt served as Obama’s “Jobs” “Czar” during his first term. Until GE divested itself of NBC in 2013, it owned MSNBC, which served as a megaphone to espouse this corporatist worldview every day; in recent years, CNBC has also championed the Gleichschaltung, hence the surprise by some when the seemingly pro-business channel attacked small-government-espousing GOP presidential candidates with hammer and tongs during its infamous recent Republican primary debate.

Funny though, when it’s time to pay for bigger and bigger government, GE takes Conquest’s First Law of Politics — “Everyone is conservative about what he knows best” — rather seriously.

As for GE being surprised at having to pay more taxes and suffer more business-unfriendly regulation, well, that’s usually how it works out, as GE is discovering the hard way. Or as the Libertarian Party noted at the height of MSNBC-approved Occupy Wall Street:

libertarian_ows_ad_7-23-12

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION BEFORE SCOTUS AGAIN: Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the second round of litigation in Fisher v. University of Texas.  As Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog explains:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has twice upheld the Texas policy — once before the Supreme Court examined it in 2013, and once on the orders the Court gave it in that decision.  Each time, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the program makes only limited use of race, and serves the university’s interest in a racially and culturally diverse student body in a way that obeys Supreme Court mandates.

In this second time around, Fisher has put forward both a quite modest claim, and a more ambitious — even momentous — claim.

The simpler challenge is that the Fifth Circuit disobeyed the Supreme Court’s 2013 order to reconsider the Texas policy using a rigorous “strict scrutiny” approach.  The majority in the two-to-one ruling, the new petition argued, gave the university a pass, allowing it to control the defense of the admissions program on the university’s terms, without the majority boring deeply into the actual use of race. . . .

The case may well turn on the narrow meaning of just how strict “strict scrutiny” really is, in the context of race-conscious affirmative action programs. Fisher’s more interesting substantive claim is that UT-Austin’s affirmative action program cannot survive “true” strict scrutiny because it is not “narrowly tailored” to further the “compelling” government interest in diversity.

More specifically, she asserts that the State of Texas’s “Top Ten Percent Law”–which grants automatic admission to UT-Austin to anyone graduating in the top ten percent of their high school class–is sufficient, alone, to further the University’s goal of achieving racial diversity. But UT-Austin does not stop there; it also additionally considers race as a “plus factor” in its decision whether to admit students who do not graduate in the top ten percent of their class. Is this additional, race-conscious admissions program truly “necessary” to further the university’s interest in having a racially diverse class, or is the race-neutral Top Ten Percent Law sufficient to achieve such racial diversity?

According to Denniston’s post-oral argument analysis:

The case, it would appear, now comes down to three options: kill affirmative action nationwide as an experiment that can’t be made to work, kill just the way it is done at the Texas flagship university because it can’t be defended, or give the university one more chance to prove the need for its policy. . . .

There was no doubt on Wednesday that there are three and probably four Justices who have grown deeply skeptical, if not hostile, to affirmative action in general.  That would include, for sure, Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas.  (Although Thomas did not ask any questions today, his views on the issue are well known.).  A fourth could be Chief Justice John J. Roberts, Jr., who openly fretted about whether the time would ever come when race would no longer be used in affirmative action on college campuses.  He noted that, twelve years ago, the Court had predicted that there would be no need to use race in college admissions within twenty-five years, but about half of that time is now gone.

Equally, there was no doubt that there are three Justices clearly on the university’s side — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who would have upheld the plan two years ago and was the lone dissenter in that ruling, and Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

As Justice Kagan has recused herself from the case (due to her past involvement in the Solicitor General’s office), the deciding fifth vote–to prevent a 4-4 tie (which would effectively affirm the Fifth Circuit’s opinion)–is once again Justice Anthony Kennedy, who held his cards close during oral argument.

JEB SHOULD PROBABLY WITHDRAW. I DON’T SEE HOW IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN FOR HIM. Bush supporters pick up the pieces after disappointing debate.

eb Bush’s supporters are struggling to explain the candidate’s listless debate performance, as baffled investors ponder the way forward.

Top fundraisers and donors aren’t setting their hair on fire just yet, but in interviews on Thursday, they said they were frustrated and puzzled by Bush’s wilting act under the bright lights at the debate on Wednesday night.

“It’s frustrating for those of us who are supporters of his, those of us who know him,” said one of Bush’s largest donors. “I mean, I’ve seen in these meetings with the smaller groups, he’s unbelievable. It’s just sort of weird.”
Bush was outmaneuvered by his former protégé and whiffed on softballs that his rivals clobbered.

The former Florida governor tepidly followed a debate moderator’s lead in attacking Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for missing votes in the Senate. The moment was a long time in the making, and could have announced Bush’s reemergence as an authoritative voice in the race while diminishing his chief rival for the establishment mantle.

Instead, Rubio won the encounter.

“The only reason you’re saying this is because we’re running for the same position and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you,” Rubio said, earning big applause from the crowd.

Bush didn’t have a comeback and he never really recovered.

Jeb, like Hillary, thinks he’s entitled to the nomination and doesn’t really seem to want to work for it. Unlike Hillary, though, he didn’t successfully clear the field of rivals before things started.

A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL?: Ben Domenech, “This Boehner-Obama Deal is Getting Worse All the Time.

That deal, keep in mind, is an inherent lie – it includes cuts that will never happen, along the lines of an NFL contract with 50 million socked away in an unguaranteed final year for appearances.

“Nearly half of those offsets (including new revenues) are not realized until 2025—the last year of the budget window. Between this Boehner-Obama deal and the Ryan-Murray spending agreement of 2013 (the last time Congress revisited the discretionary spending caps), Congress has increased spending by a total of 143 billion dollars before 2021 (the period covered by the Budget Control Act) paid for with 98 billion in savings not realized until after 2021.”

Even worse, there’s no reason this deal had to happen. The Boehner-Obama deal is a disaster for Republicans. It’s a classic spend more now and promise to spend less in the future deal with virtually nothing good in it. No shutdown was imminent, nor was any real default, and 61 percent of Americans were opposed to a debt limit hike or wanted it tied to spending cuts. So of course the White House wants to slam it through. Of course, John Boehner promised that there would be no more backroom deals, and that you’d get at least three days of a public bill before voting – a shame that he would literally violate his Pledge to America on the way out the door. . . .

It was a useful talking point to say that the Budget Caps were John Boehner’s legacy, even though we all know he was extremely reluctant to put them forward. But busting the caps to this degree with no real pay-fors, when you’re not up against a government shutdown or a default, is now his legacy and the legacy of his tenure: a period of total surrender by Republican leadership on fiscal issues. Voting for this deal says that you are in favor of bigger government and more spending. There is no getting around that.

Nope–no getting around that. No wonder the GOP base is so angry with the “leaders” of its own party, who have repeatedly failed to stand on principle out of “fear” of political reprisal. How ironic.

THE HILL: GOP backs away from House debt-limit vote.

House Republicans are backing away from a tentative plan to vote Friday on raising the debt limit with a package of conservative reforms, leaving them without a clear path forward ahead of the looming Nov. 3 deadline.

The conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC) had authored a proposal that would hike the debt limit into 2017, impose a freeze on new regulations, ban the Senate from filibustering spending bills after October and prevent either chamber from adjourning in September if they haven’t finished work on appropriations bills.

But GOP aides indicated Thursday that the bill is now unlikely to hit the floor this week. The RSC is comprised of about 170 members, which is short of the 218 votes needed to pass legislation.
One source said GOP centrists were objecting to a show-vote measure they believed had little chance of success, given opposition to the plan in the Senate.

With the RSC plan now on the shelf, it’s unclear what the House’s next move will be on the debt limit, with less than two weeks to go until the Treasury Department says the nation faces a potential default.

Either use it for leverage or give Obama a clean one and fight him elsewhere. Er, somewhere.

SHE’S ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY: Jazz Shaw: Hillary’s gun confiscation proposal is going to backfire in a big way. “Before moving on to the latest news on this story, it’s worth noting (particularly for Hillary Clinton’s campaign office) that the immediate results of the Australian gun grab were pretty much the opposite of what was advertised.”

Plus:

As AP already noted, this is a winning strategy for Clinton in the primary because her base has largely been sold on the idea of things like expanded background checks at the federal level and a national gun registry. (!) How they will react to actual gun confiscation from law abiding owners remains to be seen. But when it comes to the general election, Clinton has a serious storm brewing on the horizon. Regarding a ban on all semi-automatic weapons, including handguns, the public has been consistent in their response for decades. As of last year there was 73% opposition to such a ban, and 63% said that a home was safer if there was a gun in the house.

Those numbers don’t shift when there is a mass shooting. They never do in any significant way. So with all that in mind, I think we need to encourage Hillary to pick up this flag and run with it. In fact, I’m going to go on record as supporting Hillary to be the nominee for the Democrats next year. This is just what the Democrats need and I look forward to her explaining her gun confiscation plans to the public when she debates the eventual GOP nominee.

That ship is going to sink so fast it will make the Titanic look like a sure bet to make it to New York.

Seems likely.

SO, THAT DIDN’T WORK OUT WELL:

Thousands of conservatives and even some moderates have complained during my more than three-year term that The Post is too liberal; many have stopped subscribing, including more than 900 in the past four weeks.

It pains me to see lost subscribers and revenue, especially when newspapers are shrinking. Conservative complaints can be wrong: The mainstream media were not to blame for John McCain’s loss; Barack Obama’s more effective campaign and the financial crisis were.

But some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo.

—The late Deborah Howell, the Washington Post’s then-ombudswoman, admitting on Sunday, November 16, 2008 just how badly her paper was in the tank to elect Mr. Obama.

Flash-forward to today: “Washington Post Reporter ‘Convicted’ of Espionage By Our Best Pals in Iran.”

—Headline, Ace of Spades today.

As Betsy Newmark adds, “This is what happens when a presidential administration doesn’t prioritize the lives of American citizens. With all that negotiating for a year with Iran, we couldn’t have made his release a condition of talking? Nope, because Obama wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of his dream of a deal.” And in their hatred of President Bush, the media were not prepared to properly vet Mr. Obama in 2008. As even CNN admitted by the end of November 2008, Americans “are putting a lot of faith in a man they barely know.”

The eight year experiment with the Obama administration will be a cautionary tale on multiple levels concerning America’s socialist elite and their palace guard stenographers. It will be debated for many years to come — no matter how badly the president and his acolytes leave America — and increasingly the Middle East — “fundamentally transformed.”

WELL, THAT’S BECAUSE THEY SHOULDN’T: Another op-ed suggests colleges shouldn’t handle campus sexual assault.

It seems at least once a week an opinion piece is published urging legislators, the media and anyone who will listen to stop giving in to the idea that campus sexual assault is at crisis levels and that the only way to fix the problem is to create pseudo-courts that eviscerate due process rights.

The most recent example comes from the Courier-Journal, the main newspaper in Louisville, Ky., and is written by attorney and blogger Bridget Bush. Bush argues that these campus kangaroo courts are not the right venue for accusations of sexual assault (a felony).

“Sexual assault, when it really occurs, is a crime. It should be investigated by professional law enforcement, not campus police. It should be prosecuted by actual prosecutors — not college administrators,” Bush wrote. “Expulsion from college is not a sufficient punishment for rape: jail is. To the contrary, merely expelling a true perpetrator just sets him free to rape non-students.”

Bush included a story about a friend’s daughter, who was (wrongly) accused of sexual assault. These cases almost always involve a woman accusing a man, but in this case, a woman accused another woman.

The woman’s parents hired an attorney, as every student who is accused of sexual assault in college should do. (Sadly, many students can’t afford to do this, and are at a disadvantage while the accuser has an entire school administration office in her defense free of charge.) The attorney was not allowed to represent her during the campus hearing. She was allowed only to accompany her client as an “adviser” but not make objections or cross-examine the accuser or witnesses.

The accused woman was lucky in that witnesses came forward to dispute the claims from the accuser, and she was found not responsible. Her college degree was not disrupted (though the degrees of many male accused students who are found not responsible are disrupted) and she graduated on time. Perhaps because the accused student was a woman, and this entire “epidemic” is predicated on the “war on women” narrative that women are victims while men are perpetrated, she received leniency.

Perhaps.

PETER EGAN: How I Became an Accidental Miata Enthusiast. It’s easy to forget just how revolutionary (or maybe counterrevolutionary) the Miata was when it first appeared amid a rather depressing car market. And it’s improved with time. Plus, it’s always fun to read Peter Egan:

“Why are you selling it?” I asked.

“I’d like a newer model,” he said. “I’ve been dating a woman who says she won’t ride in a car without a passenger-side airbag.”

I stared into space and tried to wrap my mind around that caveat. When Barb and I were dating in college, I courted her in a Triumph TR3 that had military-surplus lap belts bolted to a lacy sheet of rust we called “the floor.” My idea of safety was to use big washers on the seatbelt anchors. Women were made of sterner stuff in those days. At least those who survived were.

Read the whole thing. I remember the Insta-Wife test driving a Miata a few months after her heart attack. It was a nice day, the top was down, and when she got onto the road she put the pedal down, it zipped forward, and she let out the first full-throated joyful laughter I’d heard from her since before. I’ll always be grateful to Mazda for that moment.

WHO KNEW THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY WAS SUCH A FEVER SWAMP HOTBED OF RACISM, SEXISM, AND HOMOPHOBIA? An Insta-reader forwards this Publisher’s Weekly-distributed survey, which was sent via the following email:

Dear *****
As part of our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive work force, Publishers Weekly will be participating in the industry-wide Diversity Baseline Survey. This survey will examine several facets of staff diversity within the publishing industry including race, gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities. We hope this survey will give the publishing industry a better understanding of staff makeup and help all of us focus and improve our efforts to increase diversity. Adding more diversity to publishing’s ranks is a goal PW fully supports. To help move the process forward I hope you can spend a few minutes to take part in the following survey.

The link below will take you to a short 5-minute survey. This survey is being administered by Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen at St. Catherine University in Minnesota, and your individual answers to this survey will remain completely anonymous. Only the researchers handling this study at St. Catherine University will have access to full survey responses. Publisher’s Weekly will see their own numbers, but only in aggregate.

Please fill out the survey by September 30, 2015.

The survey is here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7QY2K6T

The survey itself begins by claiming:

Publishing suffers from a major diversity problem. It is obvious that the vast majority of books published are by white authors and about white characters. The majority of the staff behind the scenes, which includes publishers’ employees, and reviewers, are white. For decades there has been overwhelming agreement in the industry that there should be more diversity at all levels and in all areas of the book world, but even with greater awareness, the problem never seems to go away. Is this problem too big to solve?The answer is, we have no idea how big the problem is. While there is now data available about diversity among books published, there is still no data available about diversity among publishing staff and reviewers.

As in any business, when you have a problem you must understand it before you can solve it. Our goal with the Diversity Baseline Survey is to establish a baseline that shows where we are now. To learn more go here.

A Word About Privacy: Your individual answers to this survey will remain completely anonymous. Only the researchers handling this study at St. Catherine University will have access to full survey responses. Publisher’s Weekly will see their own numbers, but only in aggregate.
If you have any other questions contact, Jason Low, [email protected] Otherwise, let us begin.

Things get even more…interesting...here:

publishers_weekly_survey_9-15-15-1

Gosh — who knew there were so many choices? Or perhaps, there aren’t enough! It’s all so highly, highly problematic.

By the way, does increasing diversity apply to all industries? Instead of reflexively recruiting giants, it’s high time that the NBA forward a team, or the NFL an offensive line, that consisted of men the size of Woody Allen, Paul Simon, Wallace Shawn, and Peter Dinklage. Perhaps throw in Linda Hunt as well, for extra-added diversity.

UPDATE: As another Insta-reader mentioned to me via Twitter, “‘Publishing suffers from a major diversity problem,’ and ‘we have no idea how big the problem is’ are contradictory statements–prima facie proof of expectation bias.”

SOME THOUGHTS ON JUDGE COLLYER’S OPINION ON THE HOUSE LAWSUIT: As I reported yesterday, federal district judge Rosemary Collyer defied the predictions of numerous pundits by ruling that the House of Representatives’ lawsuit against the Obama Administration–challenging various rules implementing Obamacare–may move forward to the merits. Now that I’ve had some time to digest Judge Collyer’s opinion, I will offer a few observations.

First, as someone who has been deeply involved in this issue, I do believe Judge Collyer’s opinion is good news. While it has always been the case that this lawsuit will take years to fully resolve–possibly even until after President Obama leaves office–those who criticize the lawsuit for this ineluctable reality misunderstand what the lawsuit is about. It is not about President Obama, as an individual, but about the constitutional obligation of the President to “faithfully execute” the laws, and his related obligation not to spend money that Congress has not appropriated. Pursuing litigation to clarify the importance of these constitutional obligations is important, regardless of when such clarification comes.

A judicial determination that a President lacks power to unilaterally rewrite unambiguous laws or appropriate money is important as a matter of constitutional principle, and will prevent future presidents from behaving in similarly unconstitutional ways.

Second, while Judge Collyer fully embraces the notion that Congress, as an institution, has standing to vindicate an injury to its constitutional prerogatives, she oddly (and in my opinion, inconsistently) concludes that the House’s claims relating to President Obama’s abuse of Congress’s appropriations power may move forward, but not its claims relating to his abuse of Congress’s legislative power. This is an artificial and unsustainable bifurcation.

Specifically, Judge Collyer concludes that “[d]espite its formulation as a constitutional claim, the Employer-Mandate Theory is fundamentally a statutory argument” that is no more than a complaint that the “Executive Branch is misinterpreting a statute . . . .” Because the employer-mandate claim is “merely” a claim that the President has “misinterpreted” a statute, Collyer asserts that “other litigants” are “free to sue” over such mere misinterpretation.

But this overlooks the fact that all federal courts–including the Seventh and Eleventh Circuits– that have considered such private-party lawsuits challenging the Administrations “mere” misinterpretation of the Obamacare employer mandate have been unable to pursue such claims, due to their own lack of standing. More importantly, if the House’s appropriations claim is sufficient to establish standing because, in Judge Collyer’s words, of Congress’s “unique role in the appropriations process prescribed by the Constitution,” then its employer-mandate claim should also be sufficient because of Congress’s “unique role” in the legislative process, and the President’s unique constitutional duty to take care that the laws passed by Congress are “faithfully” executed.

While I dispute Judge Collyer’s artificial bifurcation of the House’s appropriations-related claim as “constitutional” and its employer mandate-related claim as “statutory,” I give her much credit for recognizing that the legislative branch is not an institutional orphan, incapable of vindicating its constitutional prerogatives. To hold otherwise would be to allow the President to eviscerate the separation of powers.

Third, I also give Judge Collyer credit for rejecting the specious argument that the House lawsuit was a “political question” that is not justiciable by courts. The political question doctrine is invoked only in those rare situations when there are no ascertainable standards by which the judiciary can resolve an issue, which appears to have been textually committed by the Constitution’s text to the sole discretion of one of the two political branches (Congress or the Executive).

The PQD doctrine is not invoked merely because a constitutional question has important political ramifications–most constitutional questions do (think gay marriage, abortion, or any lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of any presidential act).  As Judge Collyer noted, the House’s constitutional claims against the President present “pure questions of constitutional interpretation” for which there are ample, “familiar judicial techniques [] available to construe the meaning . . . .” She correctly noted that, since Marbury v. Madison (1803), the federal courts have been both willing and able to “say what the law is,” even in separation of powers’ disputes among Congress and President.

A SCHOOL’S RATIONALE FOR BANNING SUPERHERO LUNCHBOXES COULDN’T BE MORE MORALLY CONFUSED, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If you know anything about superheroes, the underlying morality is pretty much everything. Supervillains use their powers for evil ends. Superheroes use theirs to protect the vulnerable and uphold the good. Teaching kids that there’s no difference between the two is the very opposite of moral education.

It reminds me of William F. Buckley’s famous retort to those who claimed there was no moral distinction between the United States and the Soviet Union. If you have one man who pushes old ladies in front of oncoming buses, Buckley explained, and you have another man who pushes old ladies out of the way of oncoming buses, it simply will not do to describe them both as the sorts of men who push old ladies around.

A country, and a civilization, that actively chooses to render such distinctions meaningless has lost the confidence to sustain itself.

There’s an added irony here. Around the time little Laura’s school was cracking down on Wonder Woman lunchboxes, two women, Kristen Griest and Shaye Haver, passed the Army Ranger training course for the first time. The news was hailed across the country as a huge step forward for women.

Are these women role models or not? Are they heroes? Or should they be condemned for their willingness to use violence when necessary? Maybe Laura should get a Griest and Haver lunchbox and find out.

If there’s an upside, today’s kids are learning vital lessons in how political correctness works, and how it enables the Outer Party members serving in the Educational-Industrial Complex to toil without thinking. (Gentlemen, you can’t think independently here, this is a school system!) If today’s trends continue, little Laura will really have her eyes open when she arrives for freshman* orientation in college.

*If colleges of the future still use that highly problematic word, of course…

IT ALWAYS DOES: Printing Money Goes Haywire in Venezuela.

Part of the answer is that in the early days, inflating does make the government a little more money, and the point at which it starts to lose money is also the point at which the freight train is traveling 120 miles an hour, and it has a choice between slamming on the brakes and killing everyone instantly or waiting to hurtle over the cliff. Embezzlers and accounting frauds often start this way — they fudge things just a little to cover a temporary shortfall. Only the underlying problem doesn’t go away, and they need to fudge even more the next quarter to cover up both the gap they have now and the gap they covered up last quarter. They tend to be uncovered when the gap is so big that it can no longer be fudged. This is what happened to Bernie Madoff when the market collapsed.

The larger answer is that this is the end game of Chavismo. For about a decade, some sectors of the left hoped that Hugo Chavez represented an alternative to the neoliberal consensus on economic policy. Every time I wrote that Chavez was in fact direly mismanaging the economy, diverting investment funds that were needed to maintain oil output into social spending, I knew that I could look forward to receiving angry e-mails and comments accusing me of trying to sabotage his achievements for the benefit of my corporatist paymaster. And in fairness (though without minimizing his appalling authoritarianism), those policies undoubtedly did improve the lives of some incredibly poor people.

The problem was that the money he was using was, essentially, the nation’s seed corn. Venezuelan crude oil is relatively expensive to extract and refine and required a high level of investment just to keep production level. As long as oil prices were booming, this policy wasn’t too costly because the increase offset production losses. But this suffered from the same acceleration problem that we discussed earlier: The more production fell, the more the country needed prices to rise to offset it. Between 1996 and 2001, Venezuela was producing more than 3 million barrels a day. It is now producing about 2.7 million barrels a day. In real terms, the price of a barrel of oil is barely higher than it was in August 2000, but Venezuela is producing something like 700,000 fewer barrels each day. Policies that looked great on the way up — more revenue and more social spending — became disastrous on the way down as the population was hit with the double whammy of lower production and lower prices.

This was predictable. Indeed, many people predicted it, including me, though I was just channeling smarter and better-informed people, not displaying any particular sagacity. But the Venezuelan government either didn’t listen to the predictions or didn’t believe them. Now falling oil prices are crushing government revenues at exactly the time the country most needs money to help the people who are suffering great misery as the oil cash drains out of their economy. In the beginning, printing money may have looked like the best of a lot of bad options. By the time it became clear that the country was not fudging its way out of a temporary hole, but making a bad situation worse, it was committed to a course that is extremely painful to reverse.

Sooner or later, you always run out of other people’s money. On the other hand, this compassionate egalitarianism has made Hugo Chavez’s daughter a billionaire.

SHARK SANDWICH: “2016: The Coming Train Wreck,” as spotted by “Comrade” Robert Kuttner (as Mickey Kaus likes to call him) at the Huffington Post, mixing his metaphors in Dan Aykroyd’s Super-Bass-O-Matic ’76 blender as he flails about to warn his fellow lefties of the danger on the horizon:

And a self-declared socialist [curiously, Kuttner sounds like he doesn’t mean that as a compliment — Ed] could defeat her in Iowa and New Hampshire. Even as she tacks left to excite the base, there is no way she can out-Sanders Sanders.

If she could just vault over the rest of the pack and claim the nomination, as she hoped when she declared her candidacy, Hillary Clinton might still be a strong nominee. But that’s not going to happen. As best, the fight for eventual nomination will be a long slog, with Clinton in the role of piñata.

As sharks are drawn to blood in the water, Hillary’s miseries are attracting other candidates. The latest is Joe Biden.

There is much that is admirable in Biden; but if anyone will be a weaker candidate than a wounded Clinton, it has to be Biden.

The man will be 74 years old on Election Day. That’s five years older than Ronald Reagan was at the time of his first election, and Reagan’s age was a liability in the campaign. Clinton, like Reagan will be 69 — youthful next to Biden.

Worse, Biden has proven himself on two occasions, 1988 and 2008, to be a dreadful presidential candidate. He has been a competent vice president, but that is no reason to think that he will be a more effective candidate now than in his previous outings. But he could well draw off enough of the anybody-but-Hillary support to make the nomination quest even more of an ordeal.

And if Biden gets in, others may. Well-placed sources say John Kerry is tempted. He’s been a surprisingly good secretary of state. But he blew a very winnable election in 2004. Like Biden, he’s a better public official than a candidate.*

Can you imagine the geriatric Democratic field? Sanders and Biden at 74, maybe Kerry at 73, and the young sprite of the pack, Hillary Clinton at 69. Jesus wept!

Gosh, how did that happen? As Jeff Greenfield warned last week at the Politico, “Barack Obama will leave his party in its worst shape since the Great Depression—even if Hillary wins.” And the Huffington Post went all in to nominate him in 2008.

Speaking of which, going forward, why would anyone want to vote for a woman whom the Huffington Post described as a stone cold racist in 2008, along with her core Democrat supporters?

* Kuttner really is a vicious man, isn’t he?

(Via James Taranto and Iowahawk who add, “If someone offers you the role of piñata in a hard slog, beware of sharks.” “Especially when you’re a shark slog piñata in a coming train wreck.”)

DEMOCRATS AND THE ISLAND OF MISFIT TOYS: The Democrats are increasingly looking like a political Island of Misfit Toys, where nothing is “quite right,” and everyone is just a little “off.”

An increasing number of the Island’s occupants–evidenced by progressive activists Rachel Dolezal and Shaun King–outwardly appear black, though they are genetically white. Some of them are genetically one gender, but believe they are another “inside.

Still others espouse respect for choice and “women’s rights”, yet oppose GOP lawmakers’ attempt to make birth control pills over-the-counter, support brutal, murderous late-term abortions (that kill female babies, too), oppose attempts to educate women about alternatives to abortion, and want to force people who oppose abortion–including female health care providers and taxpayers–to provide/pay for abortion against their conscience. They also routinely demean female pundits and politicians on the opposite side of the aisle, calling them *itch, *unt, whore, twat, etc.  If you’re going to go around making “women’s rights” one of the defining planks in your political platform and fighting an imagined “war on women,” you might want to start supporting and respecting all women, including those that disagree with you.

Democrats uniformly proclaim fidelity to “diversity,” tolerance, and cry out against even “micro” aggressions against other individuals. But they have no tolerance whatsoever for diverse ideas, particularly when they emanate from minorities who wander away from the Democrats’ plantation. Black conservatives, for example, routinely are the subjects of macro-aggression by being labeled  “Uncle Toms” and “Oreos.”

Today’s Democrats are like the Jack-in-the-box on the Island of Misfit Toys: they appear to be a Jack-in-the-box (and maybe they really want to be), but they’re really a messed up Charlie-in-the-box, and that’s just not the same.

Now, if only we had an Island where we could send them, so they could think for awhile and (hopefully) become more self-aware before they’re ready to be re-integrated into society.

NO NEED TO “WONDER,” SHE’S NOT: CNN National Security Analyst Unloads On Hillary Over Email Scandal: ‘I Wonder Whether She Is Capable Of Being President.’  Former CIA operative and CNN national security analyst Bob Baer, whom the Daily Caller describes as “not known for being a political partisan,” had this to say about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to send and receive classified matter while Secretary of State:

“If this was on her server and it got into her smart phone, there’s a big problem there,” Baer said during an appearance on CNN International Saturday, noting that the sensitivity of the information reportedly found on Clinton’s private server was likely more secret than what Edward Snowden pilfered.

“Seriously, if I had sent a document like this over the open Internet I’d get fired the same day, escorted to the door and gone for good — and probably charged with mishandling classified information,” Baer said.

“If this in fact were on her hand held [phone] — was sent to her or she forwarded it in any way — I wonder whether she is capable of being president,” he added.

“If” it were on her phone? Of course these emails were on Clinton’s phone–her initial, lame excuse for using a private email server rather than the secured, State Department server, was that she didn’t want the horrible inconvenience of carrying two different phones for her official versus personal emails.  Any ordinary government employee would already be wearing an orange jumpsuit in federal prison by now. Clinton’s cavalier actions evince a reckless disregard for top secret U.S. national security information. She is utterly unfit to be President, and no “ifs” or other qualifiers are required. Simply put. anyone who supports her candidacy after this revelation is more interested in protecting the Democratic party than American national security.

ASHE SCHOW: One year in, ‘yes-means-yes’ policies begin to fall apart.

One recent ruling, limited in scope but broad in its potential ramifications, addressed the yes-means-yes policies head-on. Judge Carol McCoy addressed two of the biggest concerns shared by opponents of yes-means-yes — the burden of proof being shifted onto the accused, and the nearly impossible task of proving such consent was obtained.

McCoy overturned a University of Tennessee-Chattanooga ruling that a student accused of sexual assault failed to prove he did obtain consent. Of course, such proof could not be obtained, as there are very few ways — and even fewer legal ways — to provide such proof.

“Absent the tape recording of a verbal consent or other independent means to demonstrate that consent was given, the ability of an accused to prove the complaining party’s consent strains credulity and is illusory,” McCoy wrote.

To be fair, there is nothing in yes-means-yes — sometimes known as affirmative consent — policies that require schools to shift the burden of proof onto accused students. But in practice, that’s what happens, just as it did at UTC. As McCoy pointed out, accused students “must overcome the presumption inherent in the charge that the violation has been established.” Simply denying the allegation is seen as “insufficient.” The accused then becomes responsible for proving “the converse of what is taken as true and credible, i.e., the complainant’s statement that no consent was given.”

And he — it is almost always a he — must do so without witnesses or video of the event. That’s a high bar for an accused student, who is often blindsided by the accusation weeks, months or even years after the encounter happened. . . .

Yes-means-yes policies require both parties to obtain consent from each other in order to engage in sexual activity. But in practice, the accusing student is absolved from obtaining consent once the accusation is made, which retroactively puts the onus on the accused to have obtained consent.

The adoption of one-sided policies, aimed almost exclusively at males, is itself sex discrimination and creates a hostile environment for male students. Sadly, my own institution is moving down that path. And, weirdly, it’s doing so despite legal concerns about its approach:

Richter is expecting a challenge to this definition of consent from several courts.

“We had some indication from around the country that this is going to be not looked upon kindly by courts.We know of two court cases at least that are saying, ‘That’s ridiculous,’ ” Richter said.

Despite that, Richter and the university are standing firm by the definition.

“They (the courts) don’t deal with university students on a regular basis. These are very complex situations, so it’s going to be difficult and these things will be challenged. We felt, at the UT community, that this was the best way to move forward with a different way of thinking about these issues,” Richter said.

I suppose Ben Rose will be happy, anyway.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: WANT TO SEE REAL “INCOME INEQUALITY?” LOOK AT CALIFORNIA HIGHER EDUCATION:

The UC Regents approved 3 percent raises for 15 of the University of California’s highest-paid executives. The new pay scale for the five UC chancellors are: $772,500 for UC San Francisco’s Samuel Hawgood; $516,446 for UC Berkeley’s Nicholas Dirks; $441,334 for UCLA’s Gene Block; $436,120 for UC San Diego’s Pradeep Khosla; and $424,360 for UC Davis’ Linda Katehi, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Also included in the raises were $231,750 for Anne Shaw, chief of staff for the UC regents, to $991,942 for Mark Laret, chief executive of UC San Francisco’s medical center. Many of them had salaries well above $400,000 before the new increase.

These are public employees who also can look forward to rich pensions and lifetime health care in retirement… unless the system goes broke. But that’s another story. These people will live as millionaires in retirement, courtesy of the taxpayers. A $770,000 annual retirement for 30 years is $23 million. Is anyone really worth $23 million in retirement for something they did not build themselves?

Others on the UC pay raise list include the UC system’s chief investment officer, Jagdeep Bachher, whose salary now will be $633,450; UC’s general counsel, Charles Robinson, $441,334; and UC Davis’ medical center chief executive, Ann Madden Rice, $848,720.

Kevin Sabo, board chairman of the UC Student Association, denounced the pay raises as “shameful” and said the raises would hurt future lobbying efforts in Sacramento to boost state funds for UC. He’s right, but no one is listening. They really don’t care.

Academics assume that capitalists are callous exploiters of those who work for them, because the people that academics work for really are that way. . . .

THE ATTEMPTED COUP BEGINS: Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) files a motion to oust House Speaker John Boehner.

Mr. Meadows, North Carolina Republican, filed a motion to “vacate the chair,” which could force a no-confidence vote by the full chamber and result in the removal of Mr. Boehner as speaker.

In the resolution, Mr. Meadows says Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, “has endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent.”

He also says the speaker has limited debate, pushed legislation to the brink to compel votes in a state of crisis and moved to “punish Members who vote according to their conscience” instead of how he wants.

According to a report in Politico:

Meadows, however, didn’t go as far as he could have. A motion to vacate the chair — last attempted roughly a century ago — is typically considered a privileged resolution. In that format, the House would hold a vote within two legislative days. Meadows, however, chose not to offer it in that form, which he said was a sign that he wanted a discussion. . . .

“It’s really more about trying to have a conversation about making this place work,” Meadows said.

Meadows and the House Freedom Caucus he co-founded has been at loggerheads with House leadership over numerous issues for months now. The GOP leadership has never been very welcoming of the party’s tea party members, preferring instead to vilify them and treat them as enemies. The question going forward is rather simple: Does the GOP leadership prefer to play in insider’s political game of D.C. business-as-usual (with a few skirmishes for show), or is it willing to listen to the outside-the-beltway voters, who are demanding bolder, genuine change? Has the GOP leadership heard, and does it even respect, its own base anymore?

TRUMP: THE CASE FOR DESPAIRING — ABOUT AMERICA, writes John Podhoretz:

And while happy talk (some of which I’ve indulged in myself) may dismiss Trump as this year’s flash-in-the-pan like the 2012 Republican also-rans, right now he’s more likely a version of Ross Perot in 1992 — the man who got Bill Clinton elected. Perot managed to convince people he was only in it to talk about the deficit and the national debt when it was probably more the case he was running out of a long-standing personal animus toward George H.W. Bush and a desire to deny him the presidency based on an imagined slight. Trump doesn’t even have a real issue to bring in Democrats and Republicans dissatisfied with their choices. Trump is Trump’s issue.

These are unhappy times in the United States, and unhappy times generate unhappy political outcomes. Last week I made the case for despair following the Iran deal. I know people always want commentary that offers a path forward, a way out of trouble, a hope for something better. Sometimes, though, you just have to sit back and despair at the condition of things, and maybe from the despair some new wisdom may emerge.

Despair? You’re soaking in it: “Twitter to get much worse [today] with Daily Beast’s story of Donald Trump rape allegation.”

I wonder who dialed up the hit piece on Trump?

THE SUPER BOWL OF SUPERHOLES: This past weekend, Donald Trump dominated the headlines for his assholish attack on John McCain’s war record. But back in the late 1990s, as Mark Steyn notes in a new article, the DNC-MSM were more than happy to blackout coverage of the asshole side of John McCain, because he was their kind of asshole – a Republican who, the vast majority of the time, bashed fellow Republicans. Flash-forward a decade and a half:

Trump’s right: This country treats its veterans appallingly, far worse than most other civilized societies, consigning far too many to food stamps and entrapping them in a third-class health-care system. A New Hampshire neighbor of mine, a Vietnam vet exposed to Agent Orange and thus given cancer as a war-losing bonus, just received the usual letter from the VA telling him his benefits were being cut. Oddly enough, he loathes McCain and is gung-ho for Trump. Do you want to bet he’s in a minority down at the Legion? John McCain doesn’t embody the grand variety and diversity of America’s warriors; John McCain embodies John McCain: That’s it. So, when the Republican establishment spends two news cycles huffing about the amour propre of a wealthy career politician, they’re only reinforcing Trump’s critique: that the GOP is a party of “losers” and “failures” obsessed with peripheral trivia nobody else cares about, while ignoring everything that’s killing your future.

Finally, re that “asshole” business, I should add that I don’t mean it as a criticism. Personally, I’d like it if Calvin Coolidge were on the ticket, or indeed the Marquess of Salisbury. But they’ve decided to sit out Campaign 2016, so one must take what one can get. And a citizenry that votes for an asshole is less deluded than one that votes for a messiah. Thus, voting for, say, Silvio Berlusconi (a kind of wealthier mini-Trump, and yet the third longest serving prime minister in Italian history, after Mussolini and Giolitti) is less psychologically unhealthy than voting for Barack Obama. And, come to that, less damaging to republican virtue than voting for the previous guy’s wife or brother.

Read the whole thing.

And then check out John Nolte of Big Journalism, who notes the folly of GOP consultants, like McCain himself last week, attacking and belittling Trump’s supporters. As Nolte writes, “There are all kinds of good arguments to convince a Republican to turn away from Trump. But when the delivery system is a smug, condescending dickishness, we’ve already lost.”

See also: Election of 1992.

POINTS AND FIGURES: Disrupting Government With The DeBlasio Feature.

I have been watching Uber blow up governments all across the world. In France, taxi drivers didn’t like their cartel being upset, and became violent towards Uber cars and drivers. In St. Louis, Ed Domain was almost killed in a taxi cab that had no insurance. He is exposing the taxi cartel for exactly what it is. In NYC, Mayor De Blasio wants to put a cap on Uber growth. Amazingly, even the left wing NY Times disagrees with the Mayor.

Uber took matters into it’s own hands by creating the “De Blasio feature” on it’s app. I think they can take it further and win by utilizing the Phone2Action app that Jeb Ory developed. Jeb is a friend of mine. We met through the University of Illinois entrepreneurial program.

I began reading a book a friend gave me, Freedom From Fear. It’s a historical recounting of the FDR administration. Interesting reading to me from a number of perspectives. For example, FDR used the fireside chat as his medium of expression because at the time all the media outlets were run by conservatives. Of course, today the exact opposite is true-so as a conservative candidate I need to be creative using the internet to get my message out. . . .

When FDR instituted his new programs, he didn’t get rid of many of the old agrarian rules that existed. As we move forward into a new age, it’s important that policy makers get rid of all the old agrarian rules, and most of the industrialized regulations that don’t fit with the way the future economy works. Unfortunately, most regulators and political candidates are stuck in the mud. Like Mayor De Blasio, and candidate Clinton who skewered the gig economy, they are tied to the way things used to be. They are out of touch. It’s important to remember these regulations are not natural laws of man. They are artificial and were written in a time where many of the things we are discovering and innovating around weren’t feasible, or even dreamed about. . . .

Tech initially toppled major corporations. Motorola and Kodak are shells of themselves. Now, technology has the opportunity to eliminate wide swaths of government and all the cronies, cartels, employees and economic imbalances that come with them. As a society, we shouldn’t fight that. We should embrace it. Automation of government will make things cheaper for taxpayers. Elimination of old fashioned out of step government will make things better for society.

Yes, but it will be resisted by those who understand that freedom offers insufficient opportunities for graft.

UNDERSTANDING TYRANNY AND TERROR: FROM THE FRENCH REVOLUTION TO MODERN ISLAMISM, as explored by Waller R. Newell in a recent article at the Heritage Foundation:

Millenarian revolutions seem to be more violent in societies where the claim of pre-modern tradition and authority is still very strong. The values of the Enlightenment begin to erode the power of pre-modern authority before managing to establish individual liberties and self-government firmly, leading to nostalgia for the mythical memory of a “lost” communal wholeness before the benefits of the modern age have been fully experienced. This trend also began in the French Revolution.

The Glorious and American Revolutions took place in societies where the values of economic self-interest, religious tolerance, and self-government had already become widely influential. In France, by contrast, when the revolution broke out, it faced fierce opposition from an aristocratic and ecclesiastical establishment that was still extremely powerful and deeply hostile to the entire modern era. That old order could only be blasted away by the political equivalent of dynamite.

This combustible moment of a stalled or only partially successful conversion to Enlightenment values that produces the longing for a “lost” community of the past, requiring massive violence in order to reverse the still very limited gains of the modern age while seeking a purer community of the primordial origins, is a recurrent trend throughout the great revolutions that were to come in Russia, China, Cambodia, and Iran. The way forward is the way back behind the modern age of the rights of the individual to the communal bliss of the origins.

As Virginia Postrel mentioned to Brian Lamb on C-Span’s Booknotes program in 1999 when discussing The Future and its Enemies, Los Angeles’ many Cambodian refugees who arrived starting in the mid-1970s, “were escaping from a static utopia. The Khmer Rouge sought to start over at year zero, and to sort of create the kind of society that very civilized, humane greens write about as though it were an ideal. I mean, people who would never consider genocide. But I argue that if you want to know what that would take, look at Cambodia–to empty the cities and turn everyone into peasants again. Even in a less developed country, let alone in someplace like the United States, that these sort of static utopian fantasies are just that.”

But a frequently recurring fantasy among totalitarians.

NO APOLOGY NECESSARY:  Greg Jones at The Federalist: “Sorry, Everyone, America Isn’t That Racist.”

It’s called “proof by example,” and it happens all the time. We take one event and point to it as evidence of a trend or, even worse, a universal fact—a dog attacked my child, therefore all dogs are vicious and should be put down. Despite its popularity, particularly in political debate, proof by example is a logical fallacy. But logic is officially an endangered species in today’s hyperpartisan political environment.

Recent events nationwide, particularly the cold-blooded murder of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, at the hands of a revoltingly racist white supremacist, have propelled this faulty reasoning to new heights. Dangerous ones, in fact: the conversation surrounding race in America has rapidly evolved into a hyperbolic echo chamber into which today’s pundits, politicians, and professors repeatedly shout their false narrative. . . .

The most serious accusation, however, was lobbed from what has become the most ridiculously reactionary arena in all of American cultural and political life: academia. In response to the Charleston slayings, Occidental College Professor Caroline Heldman labeled America a “white supremacist society.” You hear that? Constant racism; America is a sewer; we are all white supremacists. Apparently the America of 2015 is identical to the America of 1860.

News to me, and if I had to guess to 99 percent of the other 300-plus million Americans that peacefully coexist with members of all races day in and day out. Unless, of course, I am so lucky as to “exist in a vacuum” of peace and tranquility light years beyond what most Americans experience. Judging from my neighborhood, and a few commonly ignored statistics, I highly doubt it.

America is a lot of things; racist isn’t one of them.

Consider, for example, that in 1958 a mere 4 percent of Americans approved of interracial marriage. By 2013, that number had grown to 87 percent. In 2012 these once-taboo unions hit an all-time high. . . . In fact, just a little more than two years ago The Washington Post, the same paper that featured Robinson’s editorial, found that America was in fact among the least-racist nations in the world.Ku Klux Klan membership has shrunk drastically from millions a century ago to fewer than 5,000 today. . . .

Most of us interact with people of numerous races daily without conflict or incident. Our friends, and even spouses, have skin colors different than ours, as do our teachers, doctors, and nurses. That’s because proof by example isn’t reality, and the actions of one man or three cops do not define a society of more than 300 million.

The heightened liberal/progressive cry of “racism!” has caused me to start disregarding the appellation. It’s now just background noise that I tune out, rather than taking seriously. Perhaps more significantly, it has started to make me look at blacks with trepidation and less comfort, because now I wonder if they always think such bad things about me regardless of how I behave toward them. I am even beginning to look at old friends and colleagues differently, because I wonder if they think of me as “white,” and “privileged,” rather than just a person who has faced struggles just like everyone else.  That’s not progress, folks; it’s regression.

Thanks so much for all the racial healing, President Obama. You have really used the “first black President” title to help heal past wounds and move this country forward to a happier, more unified place.

HOW ART BECAME IRRELEVANT: In the new issue of Commentary, Michael J. Lewis explores how modern art largely drained passion and life out of the art world, particularly in the postwar era:

After World War II and the introduction of the atom bomb, it seemed pointless to try to preserve the confused traditions of a civilization that had brought the world to the ledge of oblivion. Instead, the artists came to believe they had to dispense with the entire accumulated storehouse of artistic memory and the history of the benighted West in order to begin anew.

The 1950s painter Barnett Newman summarized this line of thought pretentiously but accurately:

We are freeing ourselves of the impediments of memory, association, nostalgia, legend, myth, or what have you, that have been the devices of western European painting. Instead of making “cathedrals” out of Christ, man, or “life,” we are making it out of ourselves, out of our own feelings.

To which James Lileks responds:

Which is the difference between adults and adolescents. The primary feeling, of course, would be anger (at war, at hypocrisy, at whatever faults in Western Civ consumed the artist at the moment) and sentimental longing, a forward-facing nostalgia, for the Utopia that would result from burning down the accumulated storehouse. (After it had been looted, of course, and the more interesting pieces put up on their mantles.)

How did the atom bomb make the artists think it was pointless to preserve the traditions? Because their use would do away with things, I suppose, but the end result was a culture pre-exhausted for your convenience, one that had assumed the end was nigh and spent its time making grotesque faces in the mirror. It would have been just as potent a response — more so — if they had embraced the positive history of Western Civ and exalted its possibilities, but they were a joyless lot, and the joyless feel judged in the presence of beauty.

Read the whole thing.

HOW DOES IT FEEEEEEEELLLLL? Mark Steyn on Bob Dylan:

When he emerged in the early Sixties, he was supposedly a drifter who had spent years on the backroads of America picking up folk songs from wrinkly old-timers, and who provoked Robert Shelton of The New York Times to rhapsodize about “the rude beauty of a Southern field hand musing in melody on his porch.” Actually, he’d toiled instead at the University of Minnesota – a Jewish college boy, son of an appliance store manager. The folk songs he knew had been picked up not from any real live folk, but from the records of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Ramblin’ Jack had rambled over from Brooklyn, dropping his own Jewish name – Elliott Adnopoz – en route. “There was not another sonofabitch in the country that could sing until Bob Dylan came along,” pronounced Ramblin’ Jack, with a pithiness that belies his sobriquet. “Everybody else was singing like a damned faggot.” It’s one of the more modest claims made on Dylan’s behalf.

His first album was composed almost entirely of traditional material. But by the second he was singing his own compositions, pioneering the musical oxymoron of the era, the “original folk song”: No longer did a folk song have to be something of indeterminate origin sung by generations of inbred mountain men after a couple of jiggers of moonshine and a bunk-up with their sisters. Now a “folk song” could be “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” or “The Times They Are A- Changin'”. I’m reminded of that episode of, appropriately enough, “The Golden Girls”, when Estelle Getty comes rushing in shouting, “The hurricane’s a-comin’! The hurricane’s a-comin’!”

“Ma!” Bea Arthur scolds her. “A-comin’?”

With Dylan, the songwriting styles they were a-regressin’, the slyly seductive archaisms and harmonica obbligato designed to evoke the integrity of American popular music before the Tin Pan Alley hucksters took over.

“Without Bob the Beatles wouldn’t have made Sergeant Pepper, the Beach Boys wouldn’t have made Pet Sounds,” said Bruce Springsteen. “U2 wouldn’t have done ‘Pride in the Name of Love’,” he continued, warming to his theme. “The Count Five would not have done ‘Psychotic Reaction’. There never would have been a group named the Electric Prunes.”

But why hold all that against him? If rock lyrics wound up as clogged and bloated as Dylan’s pericardial sac, that’s hardly his fault. Bob, for his part, has doggedly pursued his quest to turn back the clock. He’s on the new Sopranos soundtrack CD, singing Dean Martin’s “Return To Me”, complete with chorus in Italian. Just the latest reinvention: Bob Dino, suburban crooner.

When I began my obsession with rock as a kid in the 1970s, my father had literally thousands of big band records, including LPs, 78s and ultra-rare shellac “transcriptions” of radio recordings (from when AM radio meant Glenn Miller, not Rush Limbaugh), reel-to-reel tapes and cassettes of the big bands stored in the finished basement of our suburban home. With the oldest material I was listening being from the middle of the previous decade, it seemed so bizarre at the time to think he was listening to music that was recorded prior to World War II, stuff that was 30 or 40 years old. It sounded so alien, melodies, chord progressions and sentiments trapped from behind the pre-rock Berlin Wall of pop culture.

Earlier this month when I was on the East Coast, I stopped by the house of the other guitarist in my college-era rock band. We played drums and bass in his basement home recording studio behind his son (named Dylan), now 17, as he and his girlfriend harmonized beautifully on Beatles tunes such as “Dear Prudence” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” He’s a high-tech kid; we discussed various Photoshop applications, video making on Adobe After Effects, and multitrack recording on Apple’s Garage Band app.

But if it seemed strange to me as a teenager to hear my old man’s tunes from 30 years ago, how is it that kids today think nothing of listening to music from a half century ago? It’s fascinating that even as audio and video production technology advances ever-forward, the Internet has completely fractured mass culture, and the pre-Internet icons such as the Beatles, Dylan and the Stones, and at the movies, Batman, Superman, the Marvel Comics gang, Star Wars, Star Trek and James Bond continue to hold sway. How else can Hollywood and what’s left of the major record labels continue to reliably sell to large audiences? But how long will pop culture remain so freeze-dried?

THAT WAS FAST — THE ERA OF BIG PROGRESSIVISM IS OVER: In July of 2007 during a CNN/YouTube-sponsored Democrat presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was asked, “how would you define the word ‘liberal’? And would you use this word to describe yourself?” She responded, “I prefer the word ‘progressive,’ which has a real American meaning, going back to the progressive era at the beginning of the 20th century.”

Flash-forward eight years, and Dana Milbank of the Washington Post now claims, “Liberal is no longer a dirty word:”

Since the 1988 presidential campaign, when George H.W. Bush and Lee Atwater turned “Massachusetts liberal” into an epithet, the label has been tainted — so much so that many liberals abandoned it for “progressive.”

But new polling shows a significant increase in the number of Americans who describe themselves as liberal and the number of Americans taking liberal positions on issues. Gallup has found the percentage of Americans calling themselves social liberals has equaled the percentage of social conservatives for the first time since pollsters began asking the question in 1999 (when 39 percent identified as conservative and 21 percent as liberal). Democrats are more likely to call themselves liberal and Republicans are less likely to embrace the “conservative” description, opting instead for moderate.

As Jazz Shaw writes in response at Hot Air:

To see what a mixed bag this is in terms of definitions you need to wind the calendar back quite a ways. The emergence of a widely accepted definition of classical liberalism is found back in the 19th century and it was highlighted in the works of authors such as John Locke and Adam Smith and Thomas Hobbes. There was certainly a flavor of hey, do your own thing, baby to the movement, but it was grounded in the idea that your thing should be taking place in a well defined and suitably defended country. Beyond that, the classical liberal actually wanted government to stay out of your way as long as you weren’t hurting anyone else. (Sound familiar?) Hobbes wrote at length about the idea that one of the key functions of government was to protect us from each other. His fellow classical liberal authors believed strongly in the free market and the idea that the individual should be free to work for the highest paying employer and that competition was good. Most of these ideas are foreign concepts to modern liberals and would quickly send them to the fainting couch.

Of course “Progressivism” prior to World War II did have “a real American meaning” as Hillary said, though it’s probably one she’d much prefer forgotten: it stood for big government statism, racialism, and eugenics. As Fred Siegel of the Manhattan Institute wrote in The Revolt Against the Masses, his history of 20th century leftism, it became such a reviled word during World War I as a result of the Wilson administration’s crackdown on free speech (and to a lesser extent due to his rampant racism), self-described progressives resorted in the early 1920s to stealing the L-word away from classical liberals and appropriating for themselves. It seems a similar reaction to “Progressivism” as a result of the two terms of the Obama administration is forcing Milbank and other “Progressives” to revert back yet again to calling themselves liberals.

Rinse and repeat, apparently endlessly.

DISPARATE IMPACT STRIKES AGAIN: A federal judge in New York, Kimba Wood (a Reagan appointee), has thrown out New York’s teacher exam as racially discriminatory under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The reason? Black and Hispanic applicants had passage rates only 54 to 75 percent that of white applicants. The exam, called LAST-2, was administered from 2004 to 2012. According to the New York Times:

“Instead of beginning with ascertaining the job tasks of New York teachers, the two LAST examinations began with the premise that all New York teachers should be required to demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts.”

Joshua Sohn, a partner at the firm Mishcon de Reya, who represents the prospective teachers in the case, echoed the that sentiment.

“They started with the conclusion, without any support, that this is what you actually needed to know to be an effective teacher,” Mr. Sohn said.

With this ruling, the LAST-2 meets the same fate of the LAST-1, an earlier version of the test, given from 1993 to 2004, that was also found to be discriminatory. . . .

Neither version of the exams is still in use in New York. Instead the state administers a new test called the Academic Literacy Skills Test, or the ALST, along with a slate of other assessments. The fate of the ALST, however, was recently called into question as well. This spring, Judge Wood began questioning whether that test, too, was racially discriminatory. A hearing is scheduled on the issue for later this month.

So having a well-rounded understanding of liberal arts is no longer  a reasonable indicia of a qualified teacher any longer.  But if  a well-rounded education isn’t an appropriate assessment of teacher qualification, what is? Breathing? Holding a (worthless) degree? Counting to 100? How far we have come–which just goes to show that the progressive motto “forward” isn’t always a positive thing for society. No wonder public schools generally are such cesspits of ennui and incompetence.

The outcome of this case illustrates the problem inherent in disparate impact theory, in which a plaintiff alleging discrimination is allowed to win under the statute without any proof of intentional discrimination.  So long as the action taken–in this case, an employment test–has a disparate statistical impact on a protected class (such as race), the burden will shift to the defendant. At that point, of course, the incentive to settle is strong, and shifting the burden of proof is often the death knell of the challenged practice.

The bottom line is that disparate impact theory allows many, many innocuous practices to be labeled as “discriminatory” merely because they “impact” races at a different rate. As I’ve pointed out before, this is a horrible way to run a diverse society, as the races do not participate in the same activities at the same rate, nor do they generally perform the same on standardized tests, as the recent racial discrimination lawsuit by Asian-Americans against Harvard University shows.

DIET COKE GIRL A FAKE?: Gateway Pundit reports that Tahera Ahmad, the Muslim activist who recently cried religious discrimination against United Airlines has been called a “liar” by a commenter at FlyerTalk who says she was a witness to the ordeal:

She [Ahmad] ordered a coke zero and a hot green tea with a Splenda. The flight attendant handed her a full diet coke with a cup on top and then told her that the green tea would take a few minutes and she would get it to her ASAP. The lady said very rudely and condescending to the FA that she ordered a coke zero and basically pushed the soda back to the flight attendant. The FA said she was sorry and attempted to find a coke zero for her (which she did not have many of) and told her that she could only give her a portion of the can not the full can. This is when the lady in question started to freak out and told the FA “What do you think I will use this as a weapon?! Why can’t I have the whole can? I think you are discriminating against me. I need your name….” The lady just kept yelling to her “I need your name… I am being discriminated against.” This is when a few passengers told her to calm down and one guy told her to “shut her mouth and she is being ridiculous over a can of coke”. No one ever said anything anti-Muslim to her at all. . . . This person is a liar plain and simple and is just pulling the discrimination card.

The commenter was anonymous, so there’s no way (yet) to confirm whether he/she was actually a witness to the event. But it does raise questions that should be explored as to whether this was all just a publicity stunt. The question is: With Muslim activists being so aggressive, will any of the witnesses be willing to publicly come forward and tell their story, or will they be intimidated into silence?

United has fired the flight attendant. I hope she sues them.

THIS SHOULD BOOST GOP TURNOUT IN 2016: Administration preps new gun regulations.

The Justice Department plans to move forward this year with more than a dozen new gun-related regulations, according to list of rules the agency has proposed to enact before the end of the Obama administration.

The regulations range from new restrictions on high-powered pistols to gun storage requirements. Chief among them is a renewed effort to keep guns out of the hands of people who are mentally unstable or have been convicted of domestic abuse.

Gun safety advocates have been calling for such reforms since the Sandy Hook school shooting nearly three years ago in Newtown, Conn. They say keeping guns away from dangerous people is of primary importance.

I think Americans should show just as much respect for the law as President Obama has.

RICHARD BRADLEY — WHO FIRST SMELLED A RAT IN THAT ROLLING STONE STORY — HAS A POST-MORTEM: In the End, It’s All About Rape Culture—or the Lack Thereof.

Again, in the spirt of full disclosure, there is one thing that bugs me about the reference to me in the report, the acknowledgment of my “early if speculative” blog posting calling Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s article into question. I’ve encountered this theme—that I was “speculating”—repeatedly since I wrote my blog, and it frustrates me. By framing what I wrote as speculation, a number of mainstream publications, such as the Times and the New Yorker, feel free to ignore my blog when detailing how Erdely’s story was dismantled by press critics.

The supposition that I was “speculating” misses the larger point of what I wrote;the foundation of my argument was not “a hunch,” but basic professionalism. Any decent editor who is honest with him or herself would tell you the same: Even if Jackie’s story turned out to be true, it still shouldn’t have been published as it was reported and written. Will Dana should have sent it back to the editor and writer with a note saying: “You don’t have this story. Go back and do your jobs.” It was not “speculative” to say that the story should not have been published without further reporting; it was Journalism 101, the kind of thing that they teach (I assume) in the first couple weeks at Columbia Journalism School. And I didn’t have to have access to all the fact-checker’s notes and interview transcripts to know that; any reader with some small degree of journalism experience could know that—and, frankly, should have.

My suspicion that Jackie’s story was not true was based on the idea that if it were, Rolling Stone would have shown us the reporting to back it up. Since Rolling Stone did not, one had to conclude that the evidence to support Jackie did not exist.

That’s not speculation, that’s observation. Plus:

With a story this sensitive, good libel lawyers—and I assume Rolling Stone has very good lawyers—are, or should be, very much in the mix. On sensitive stories, they become something akin to editors with a law degree. You simply could not publish such an accusatory article without having it very heavily lawyered; there is, or ought to be, a lot of discussion between the editor-in-chief and the magazine’s libel lawyer(s). That Rolling Stone won’t disclose their lawyers’ advice suggests that the magazine did not take it, or did the least amount possible to satisfy legal concerns. After all, if the lawyers argued that the magazine had done excellent work and was on safe ground publishing the story, disclosing that information would likely have discouraged any potential lawsuits—like the one Phi Psi is now pursuing against the magazine.

In other words: It’s highly likely that Rolling Stone had a prepublication warning that this story had significant problems—and published the story anyway. Because they knew it was a sexy story, and they were willing to take the risk.

Oops. That’s “reckless disregard.” Plus, sheer bigotry:

Sabrin Rubin Erdely started with a thesis and went in search of someone—and some place—that fit her thesis. She found Jackie and the University of Virginia. But, she admits, if she had discovered that Jackie was a liar, it wouldn’t have caused her to question her thesis. (To which the only response is, if that doesn’t cause you to question your thesis, what would?) Instead, she’d just go find another person who would better conform to what she already wanted to write.

And if that person proved to be a fraud as well, she’d find another…and another…

I am not a lawyer, so I don’t know if Phi Psi has a strong case against Erdely and Rolling Stone. But if the famed “actual malice” test—you are intending to defame someone—is relevant, it seems to me that Erdely has just given the fraternity some explicit evidence of such malice. Even if her “victim” was a liar, Erdely has no doubt: Frat boys are rapists.

19th Century lynch mobs were equally certain about black men. Also:

I have seen a lot of published fretting—not just in Erdely’s statement—about whether this fiasco will discourage victims of rape from going public. This sentiment, which I have seen far more of than I have seen empathy for the people Erdely falsely accused of rape, strikes me as odd. A horrific story of rape, which, following its publication in a national magazine, had an enormous impact, is discovered to be a fraud. And the response is: Well, we should all worry about the potential impact on rape victims’ ability to come forward to speak the truth.

I have a different take: Let’s agree that if you don’t lie and claim that you were gang-raped as part of a fraternity initation ritual, you’ll be treated with respect. And if people treat you disrespectfully based simply on past frauds, then shame on them.

But in the meantime, let’s remember that the only known victims of this story are members of the Phi Psi fraternity, fraternity members in general and the University of Virginia. These individuals and institutions suffered in tangible ways; you might even say that some of the fraternity members were “traumatized.” The argument that the people we should worry about first are rape victims could actually—if I may borrow a phrase from Sabrina Rubin Erdely—re-traumatize them.

But they don’t count because in Erdely’s world they’re the Evil Other. Like black men in the 19th century South.

And, finally: “Sabrina Rubin Erdely is not just a horrible reporter, she is a deeply dishonest one. According to the Coll report, two sources in the story publicly claimed that they did not say that Erdely attributes to them.”

MORE ON THAT TEXAS HIGHER-ED SCANDAL: UT and Legislature Just Keep Digging That Wallace Hall Hole Deeper for Themselves.

From the very beginning, top Texas legislators and key officials at the University of Texas have offered only one response to revelations of wrongdoing brought forward by UT System Regent Wallace Hall of Dallas — absolute denial, backed up by a yee-haw hog-hunting bloodlust for Hall’s scalp. The more they do it, the deeper they dig.

In the last few days, the corrupt practices discovered by Hall — funny money at the law school, secret backdoor admissions for relatives of legislators, bogus accounting of endowment funds and more — have spurred a cascade of negative external consequences for UT.

Plaintiffs in the longstanding Abigail Fisher reverse discrimination litigation this week filed a new writ in the U.S. Supreme Court charging that the university’s system for achieving racial diversity “is a sham,” citing evidence first discovered by Hall and confirmed in subsequent investigations.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni in Washington yesterday issued a blistering condemnation of efforts we told you about here Monday by a state senator who wants to pass a law against university trustees asking too many questions. Citing the Enron debacle, the council warns that putting directors in blindfolds and handcuffs is exactly the wrong way to go in seeking institutional responsibility.

No shit.

Just in case somebody thought there was anything “conservative” about Amarillo Republican state Senator Kel Seliger’s attempt to hog-tie university trustees and regents, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank in Austin, weighed in yesterday: Thomas K. Lindsay, director of the foundations’ Center for Higher Education, wrote an open letter to Seliger explaining to him the concept of fiduciary responsibility.

That’s a notion that more university trustees need to be familiarized with.