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AIR SAFETY: U.S. orders suspension of all flights to, from Venezuela.

THESE YOUNG MAOISTS SHOULD BE PUBLICLY SHAMED: Students demand ‘complete removal’ of professor even after the school cleared him of racist behavior.

Students at Virginia Commonwealth University are demanding the termination of a professor for allegedly racist behavior, even though the school conducted a full investigation that concluded the professor had not behaved in a racist manner.

The controversy surrounding Javier Tapia, an instructor in VCU’s art school, has been ongoing since last year. In the fall, Tapia called security on visiting professor Caitlin Cherry, who was eating breakfast in a faculty lounge at the time. Tapia told a security guard he believed that Cherry was a student. Cherry subsequently filed a racial discrimination complaint against Tapia; the school investigated it and determined that Tapia was not guilty of racial discrimination or bias.

Though it cleared him of the racial bias accusation, VCU suspended Tapia anyway, while also forbidding him from talking to any members of the VCU community. Tapia is currently suing the school over that suspension. Students have continued to protest Tapia’s affiliation with the university, demanding, for instance, that his tenure be revoked over the incident involving Cherry.

Now, one of the organizers of the ongoing protests is clarifying what the students seek from the university: Tapia’s “termination” from any role at the school.

“We’re asking for the complete removal/termination of Javier Tapia,” Angelica Credle, a student at the university, told The College Fix via email.



Accusation should mean punishment!
If the university started expelling students who behave badly, they’d develop a rapid appreciation for due process.

Plus:

Tapia “hinders our academic freedom in so many ways,” one activist said, claiming that his “syllabus is outdated” and that he “only teaches from a white western male perspective.”

“He is just not a good educator. The effect that he has on the mental and physical health of the people in this building is not acceptable,” she continued.

If you’re that fragile, you don’t belong in college, kid. Go home to your mommy.

TWITTER IS RUN BY LYING LIARS WHO SUCK: Twitter Suspends Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Parody Account for ‘Spammy Behavior,’ Which Seems Dubious.

UPDATE: Twitter suspends Jack Posobiec’s @MAGAphobia account for tracking violence against Trump supporters. “The latest incident is likely to fuel conservative ire at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who is accused of applying double standards when it comes to applying the platform’s rules to right-leaning accounts.”

Related (From Ed): Twitter temporarily suspends conservative activist David Horowitz. “The suspension, initially reported by OANN host Jack Posobiec, came the same day as Mr. Posobiec’s account devoted to documenting assaults on trump supporters, @MAGAphobia, was suspended.”

THEODORE DALRYMPLE: Every Pronoun Must Go.

The Scottish Maritime Museum, dedicated to the history of the country’s shipbuilding industry, has decided that it will no longer use the words she and her to refer to ships, but rather it and its. This is in response to feminists, who have defaced plaques referring to ships as she or her. This change would negate centuries of tradition, during which the words traditionally used on launching a ship, “May God bless all who sail in her,” carried no connotation of insult or deprecation—rather the reverse.

The Maritime Museum’s surrender is yet another instance of the craven surrender of British officialdom to the demands of a small but vociferous group of monomaniacs who make the imposition of their views the purpose of their lives. Museum authorities have argued that they must move with the times, and the prevention of vandalism is important, for economic reasons among others. Yet this rationale is something like awarding burglars a pension in an effort to prevent burglary.

When one of Orwell’s characters in 1984 said, “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words,” the novel’s author intended those words to be a warning, not a how-to guide.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: High School Suspends 2 Students for Posting Gun Range Photos on Snapchat, ACLU Files Suit. “Sharing our completely legal weekend activities on Snapchat should not result three days of in-school suspensions.” Nope, it’s an abuse of power for which the school officials should be shamed and punished.

SCHOOL DISCIPLINE MYSTERY?: Nope. A recent school discipline study looks at suspension/expulsion rates among various subgroups of Asian and Pacific Islander K-12 students in Washington State. To no one’s surprise, it finds the rates differ radically within the broad Asian/Pacific Islander category.

For example, it finds that ethnic Cambodian and Vietnamese students are suspended or expelled at rates 2 to 3 times that of ethnic Chinese students. The differences between Pacific Islander and Chinese students were even greater. Samoan students were suspended or expelled at more than 10 times the rate of Chinese students, and Guamanian/Chamorro students at almost 5 times the rate of Chinese students.

Does anyone believe that Washington State teachers are twice as biased against Samoan students as they are against Guamanian/Chamorro students? I doubt it. The real reasons for these differences are a good deal more complicated than that (and they are connected to differences in behavior).

We are not doing students any favors by blaming all this on teacher bias.  School discipline policy is not an issue that the nation can afford to screw up.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: High School Student Suspended for Posing With Pro-Trump MAGA Flag and Sweatshirt. “The school let her come back after 3 days, but kept the suspension on her record.”

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: California’s Rendezvous With Reality.

California’s progressive government seems clueless how to deal with these issues, given that solutions such as low-cost housing and strict enforcement of health codes are seen as either too expensive or politically incorrect.

In sum, California has no margin for error.

Spiraling entitlements, unwieldy pension costs, money wasted on high-speed rail, inadequate water storage and delivery, and lax immigration policies were formerly tolerable only because about 150,000 Californians paid huge but federally deductible state income taxes.

No more. Californians may have once derided the state’s 1 percent as selfish rich people. Now, they are praying that these heavily burdened taxpayers stay put and are willing to pay far more than what they had paid before.

That is the only way California can continue to spend money on projects that have not led to safe roads, plentiful water, good schools and safe streets.

A California reckoning is on the horizon, and it may not be pretty.

As H.L. Mencken said, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

And to prevent that fallout from eventually impacting states such as Nevada and Texas, as the middle class flee California, billionaire GOP contributors and libertarian-types like the Koch Brothers really need to get going on Glenn’s Welcome Wagon idea.

WHILE ELITE BRITS DIS CHURCHILL, ORDINARY BRITS DO THIS: Dream comes true for the man who honoured his heroes: Pensioner weeps as thousands join him to watch fly-past to honour WWII airmen whose memorial he tended for decades – and BBC presenter Dan Walker who helped organise event even cries too.

A pensioner broke down in tears today after his lifelong dream was realised when thousands joined him for a flypast in memory of ten Second World War heroes whose plane crashed as they tried to avoid him and his friends.

Huge crowds applauded and cheered for Tony Foulds, 82, in emotional scenes as they gathered at Endcliffe Park in Sheffield to watch the aircraft pay tribute to the American crew of the B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed Mi Amigo.

Mr Foulds was eight years old in February 1944 when he witnessed the fireball crash in the park 75 years ago – claiming the lives of ten US airmen – as the pilot tried to avoid him and his friends.

He has dedicated seven decades of his life to the memory of the airmen he never met, spending up to six days a week tending the memorial to them. Mr Foulds said: ‘It’s more than bravery, what they did. They saved me.’ . . . .

A crowd of thousands of people cheered following the flypast, with a clear day meaning the audience had a good view of the planes flying over.

Speaking earlier on BBC Breakfast, Mr Foulds told the crowds: ‘Thank you very much for coming, it’s lovely see you. I can’t wait to get among you.’

The programme also showed footage of Mr Foulds meeting the families of some of the airmen who lost their lives in the crash 75 years ago.

He said: ‘I never thought I would ever meet any of the families of this pilot and crew.’ The pensioner described them as ‘lovely, lovely people’.

And Mr Foulds told Charlie Stayt and Steph McGovern on BBC Breakfast today: ‘Thank you very much, I can’t believe it. Yorkshire people, this is what they’re like.’

Wish this had gotten some coverage here in the States; as far as I can tell it didn’t.

More here.

NEW YORK SUN: Our Constitutional Emergency:

In the constitutional confrontation over President Trump’s plan to use emergency powers to build a wall on our southern border, we’re keeping an eye out for the name of Jagdish Rai Chadha. He was the plaintiff in the case in which the Supreme Court read Congress the riot act for trying to interfere with a president’s emergency powers. The case echoes through the years.

At the moment, the President is being opposed by Speaker Pelosi, Senator Schumer, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, and every other Tom, Dick, and Harriet in the Democratic Party. Sixteen states have already gone to court. They’re complaining about what they call Mr. Trump’s “flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles engrained in the United States Constitution.”

This turns out to be exactly the principle with which the Justices clobbered Congress in INS v. Chadha. In that case, decided in 1983, the president used emergency powers to permit Mr. Chadha, a stateless person who had overstayed a student visa, to remain at America. The House of Representatives turned around and “vetoed” the suspension.

When it got to the Supreme Court, the Justices would have none of it. Congress, the justices concluded, doesn’t get to veto what a president does. Feature the parchment. The veto, as a power, is granted in the Constitution to only the president. He gets to use it against Congress. Nowhere does it say that the Congress gets a veto against the President.

When it comes to dealing with a president, the House can impeach the muskrat, the Senate can try him, Congress can refuse to appropriate money, it can declare war, it can grant a trademark. It can repeal a law. Veto, though, no. In the case of Mr. Chadha’s deportation, moreover, it was just the House of Representatives, acting alone, that tried to veto the president’s emergency action.

This hangs out there today, when we have a Senate controlled by the GOP and the House by the Democrats. “One-house legislative vetoes are invalid because they should be considered an exercise of legislative power, which makes them subject to the bicameralism and presentment requirements in Article I of the Constitution,” is the way the Justia Web site summarizes the case.

The business about presentment means that that if Congress were trying to legislate around a presidential emergency action, the president would get to sign off on it, just like any other act by Congress. This is one of the checks and balances to which everyone is always bowing and scraping. It looks like a problem Congress could face as she seeks to foil President Trump in respect of the Wall.

Indeed.

WHEN THE PARASITE BEGINS CONSUMING THE HOST: Illinois may tax private retirement funds to pay public worker pensions.

WHY IS IT THE FRESHMEN ALWAYS HAVE THE BEST IDEAS? Because they still remember life back home in the real world? In any case, freshmen GOP senators Mike Braun of Indiana and Rick Scott of Florida introduced a proposal Tuesday to end tax-funded congressional pensions.

“It’s time for term limits and it’s time to make those in D.C. realize that the era of career politicians is over. Americans should not have to foot the bill for generous salaries and pensions for members of Congress,” Scott said.

Both men promised not to accept tax-funded pensions when they leave Congress, an important both for their credibility and because they believe they have to grand-father all current members of the Senate and House for their proposal to have any chance of becoming law.

With that grand-father clause, things could get real interesting if the guy sitting in the Oval Office takes notice and starts tweeting about Braun-Scott. Go here for more.

BRAZIL: Jair Bolsonaro faces congressional test for radical reforms. “Brazil’s president attempts pension and tax overhauls that have eluded his predecessors.”

Since he took office on January 1 he has used decree powers to relax restrictions on gun ownership and to make it easier for government officials to deny access to information, previously guaranteed by a 2012 freedom of information law.

Mr Bolsonaro’s supporters say they will quickly push ahead with reforms.

“Our whole project is a liberal project,” said Luciano Bivar, president of Mr Bolsonaro’s party, the PSL. “We will push for an open market economy, all the liberal reforms, with a lot of force.”

Among Mr Bolsonaro’s electoral promises was a plan to do away with Brazil’s separate system of labour courts and another to simplify the country’s labyrinthine municipal, state and federal tax systems into single national rates of income and value added tax.

I like the cut of his jib.

WEIRD: Why the Illinois exodus? The rich get bashed, and off they go. “Like thousands of others, I tired of the one-party system, rising pension debt, no change to the current pension system, increasing property taxes (mine doubled), increasing crime and soft approach to criminals.”

Related: If you tax them, they will go. Especially if you bash them, too.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Telling a recently unemployed DNC-MSM operative with a byline “learn to code” runs the risk of a Twitter suspension.

Which seems odd — I don’t recall any suspensions when journalists advised coal miners to learn to code in 2017 and ’18:

 

ANALYSIS: FALSE. LA Teachers Strike: 73K Is Not Enough.

Let’s begin with the makeup of the school district: It boasts a $7.52 billion budget and more than 60,000 employees, including about 26,000 teachers, with the average annual salary being $73,000. While employment has gone up 16% since 2004, enrollment has dropped 10% in the same period.

According to the latest available data, California school funding surged by nearly 10% from 2015 to 2016. If you examine a five-year period (2011 to 2016), school funding in the state is up a whopping 26%. Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) has further proposed the “largest ever investment” in the LAUSD.

Plus, the district already offered LAUSD educators a pay raise of 3% this year and another 3% in 2020. It was rejected.

But the school district can’t afford another pay hike. Next year, LAUSD will have a $422 million budget deficit, mainly because employee pension and health care costs represent a great portion of the budget – they will account for more than half within 10 years. Overall, it has $5.1 billion more in liabilities than in assets and another $15 billion in unfunded health care benefit liabilities for retirees and current workers.

So if you want to know why teachers can’t get a pay raise, it’s because of teachers.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW. Watch Hyundai’s Bizarre Walking Car Concept Crawl Like a Lizard. “The legs, which have articulating hips, knees, and ankles, can be programmed to move in a variety of different ways. It starts off with stuff we’ve seen before—passive and active suspension modes—and then things get wild: In Reptilian walking mode, it moves like a lizard with the legs splayed out to the sides, while in Mammalian walking mode it’s more like a dog, with the legs articulating beneath the car’s body. An Omnidirectional walking mode combines both walking techniques to adapt to different kinds of terrain. The Elevate can also apparently do crazy things—again, theoretically—such as scale a five-foot vertical wall and step over a five-foot gap.”

SAME UNIVERSITY WHOSE FACULTY AND ADMINISTRATION LED ANGRY, DESTRUCTIVE MOBS AGAINST A FALSELY-ACCUSED FRATERNITY, WITHOUT FACING ANY CONSEQUENCES: A second year medical student has been suspended from the University of Virginia after questioning his professors during a lecture on microaggressions.

Kieran Bhattacharya was suspended from the University of Virginia after the institution alleged Bhattacharya became “unnecessarily antagonistic and disrespectful” during a lecture Bhattacharya says was titled “Microaggressions: Why Are They So Sensitive.”

Bhattacharya published audio recordings, both of the classroom incident that led to his suspension, and of the following disciplinary hearing that led to his suspension.

In the classroom recording, as the lecture concluded and students are allowed to ask questions at approximately 28 minutes in, Bhattacharya took the opportunity to raise several concerns with the professor. . . .

Bhattacharya says he was then summoned by the University of Virginia’s Academic Standards and Achievement Committee for punishment.

During the half hour long meeting, Bhattacharya repeatedly asked what about his behavior was incorrect, and how to remedy it. He was criticized for his decision to record the lecture, and repeatedly told that his “this aggressive, threatening behavior” must be changed.

After repeatedly asking for examples of his unprofessional behavior, one committee member suggested his decision to record the meeting as an example.

They know they’re talking nonsense, and they don’t want donors and taxpayers to realize just how bad things are. So they set out to silence a minority student who’s not buying it.

I recommend a scorched-earth lawsuit. And a Department of Education civil rights investigation.

REALCLEARINVESTIGATIONS: The Sheriff, the Sheriff’s Son, and the ‘Coward of Broward.’ “Parents of children gunned down in the Parkland school shooting in Florida last year have never understood two actions taken by Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel: his refusal to fire a campus-based deputy who failed to enter the school during the rampage that took 17 lives, and his continued defense of controversial Obama-era school policies that allowed the  accused shooter, Nikolas Cruz, to avoid arrest and a police record and thereby purchase the murder weapon. Some now think they have found the answer in a single incident that occurred in 2014. A police report shows that’s when Israel’s then-17-year-old son, Brett, was accused of participating in a sexual assault of a 14-year-old boy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas  High School. The case was investigated by Scot Peterson — the armed deputy who took cover while children and staff were shot last February. Using the Obama-era guidelines, Peterson’s recommendation helped his boss’s son receive just a three-day suspension.”

A FRIEND ASKED ME WHY I HAVEN’T POSTED ANYTHING YET ON LAST FRIDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION THAT IT IS RESCINDING THE NOTORIOUS OBAMA-ERA SCHOOL DISCIPLINE GUIDANCE: Well … I meant to. But I wanted first to take a moment or two to celebrate.

I suspect many teachers and principals are celebrating too. Polls showed the guidance, which applied disparate impact liability to school discipline, was unpopular with teachers.  Rescinding it will make their classrooms more orderly, and it will also ensure that  students—of all races—will be treated more fairly. When teachers and principals are in control of discipline, the decisions they make will be a lot more sensible than when distant bureaucrats are telling them what they have to do.

Doubtless there will be more pushback in the media about this. Even before the guidance was rescinded, the New York Times was already defending the Obama Administration’s policies by saying they were “adopted after strong evidence emerged that minority students were receiving more suspensions and tougher punishments than white students for the same or lesser offenses ….”

This actual evidence of discrimination is astonishingly thin. It’s true that African American students are disciplined more often than white students (and that white students are disciplined more often than Asian students). But upon thorough examination it turns out that the teachers who refer students for discipline are not flaming racists who make up out of thin air offenses by minority students. Rather, it’s a question of which students are misbehaving.

I have been working on getting this policy reversed for over eight years. (Yes, even before the rescinded guidance went into effect, the Obama Department of Education was going after schools whose policies led them to discipline African American students at disproportionate rates. I had the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights investigate.)

I’ve posted it before, but if you want to understand the issue, read The Department of Education’s Obama-Era Initiative on Racial Disparities in School Discipline: Wrong For Students and Teachers, Wrong on the Law .

MAKERS OUTDONE BY TAKERS: Swamp’s gold: 6 of 10 richest counties in America are DC suburbs, 10 of the top 20. “The area is not a manufacturing or Internet hub, and instead is the home of much of the federal government. . . . Federal workers in the Washington area earn an average of about $110,000 a year, about $25,000 more than the average federal salary. And that is before benefits like 40 days off, 18 percent retirement matching, and ample health care insurance choices are added in. Many households have two federal workers, and many more have former federal workers receiving a pension now working for federal contractors, “double-dipping,” so to speak.”

BLUE STATE BLUES: Some L.A. pensions are so huge they exceed IRS limits, costing taxpayers millions extra.

Dozens of retired Los Angeles employees are collecting such generous retirement pay that they exceed pension fund limits set by the Internal Revenue Service, saddling taxpayers with additional costs, a Times data analysis has found.

Their lavish pensions forced the city to establish an “Excess Benefit Plan” to pay what the pension system cannot legally cover, using money that could otherwise be tapped to fix sidewalks, fight homelessness or hire more cops.

In all, the little-known fund has paid $14.6 million to 110 retired employees since 2010, The Times’ analysis showed.

The list of recipients is dominated by former cops and firefighters whose million-dollar payouts from a separate retirement program drove their incomes well over the $220,000 annual limit the IRS allows pension funds to pay.

As I keep saying, if the middle class in this country ever fully realizes how badly they’ve been taken, and how little they’ve gotten in return, the reckoning is going to be fierce.

DRILL, BABY, DRILL: Mexico aims to boost crude output by 45 percent before 2025.

Speaking from Ciudad del Carmen, a Gulf coast city 50 miles (85 kilometers) from an oil field that sustained Mexican public finances for decades, Lopez Obrador said the goal is for Petroleos Mexicanos to raise crude output to 2.4 million barrels per day, from the current 1.65 million barrels per day.

“We are going to invest where we know there’s petroleum and where it costs us less to extract it,” he told a jubilant crowd of oil workers.

Lopez Obrador previously announced plans to invest 75 billion pesos ($3.65 billion) of savings from a government austerity program into Pemex.

The company has struggled to come up with funds in recent years amid mounting pension obligations, high tax rates, rampant fuel theft and inefficiencies.

If he were really serious, he’d push for privatizing Pemex.

“I NOW UNDERSTAND HOW NELSON MANDELA FELT:”

So what are we to make of my ban? The only sensible conclusion is that Twitter is run by a coterie of crypto-fascists. Needless to say, this bodes ill for the social justice movement. Like it or not, the successors to humanitarians such as Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi are now to be found on social media. One thinks immediately of Gary Lineker, Lily Allen, and that guy who played Mr Sulu on Star Trek.

Unfortunately, those who fight for the progressive cause are continually bombarded by alt-right trolls who like to engage in a form of harassment known as “debate.” Only a few days before my suspension, a misogynist referred to me as “shrill and humourless.”  As I was quick to point out, humour is a patriarchal construct. This is why it has been so gratifying to see the success of our current wave of feminist comedians, those brave women who are subverting the genre by ensuring that it doesn’t make anyone laugh.

Do not pity me. As a woman in a heteronormative patriarchal world I am accustomed to males like Jack Dorsey attempting to keep me silent. In my absence from Twitter, I took the opportunity to spend some time at a resort in Val d’Isère, where I could relax and contemplate my oppression. I even managed to write a book which I have entitled Woke: A Guide to Social Justice. I did want to call it My Struggle, but that title was already taken apparently.

It’s satire — or is it?

MERCY, MERCI: To quell unrest, France’s Macron speeds up tax cuts but vows no U-turn.

In his first national address following two weekends of France’s worst unrest for years, Macron sought to restore calm and struck a humble tone after accusations that his governing style and economic policies were fracturing the country.

But he refused to reinstate a wealth tax and to back down on his reform agenda, which he said would proceed in 2019 with overhauls of pensions, unemployment benefits and public expenditures.

“We will respond to the economic and social urgency with strong measures, by cutting taxes more rapidly, by keeping our spending under control, but not with U-turns,” Macron said in the 13-minute TV address from the Elysee Palace.

Getting no relief is the French middle class, which will have to continue paying for Macron’s schemes and these new benefits.

THAT’S KIND OF THE POINT: Protests Threaten Macron’s Campaign to Remake France.

The Macron government deployed the full weight of France’s security apparatus on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to contain a movement that authorities said mobilized 136,000 protesters. They included droves of rioters who waged pitched battles with police in the heart of the French capital and other major cities, lighting fires, smashing storefronts and leading to 135 injuries and more than 1,000 arrests.

The weekend violence left Mr. Macron cornered like at no other time in his presidency. Unable to control protesters through security measures, Mr. Macron is now facing calls to placate the masses by reversing course on his signature agenda: making France more economically competitive through sweeping changes to its labor market, taxes, public spending and pension system.

The 40-year-old former investment banker is scheduled to address the nation on Monday evening, officials said. Many French are calling for a shift in both policy and tone that discards the top-down leadership style that has marked his first year-and-a-half in office.

“Get the hell out of my way!” the wise man once said.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. California’s mismanaged high-speed rail project has gone on for long enough.

The CHSRA has also wasted large sums of money through poor management. Tillier has detailed how the Authority plans to spend billions to outfit Bay Area stations with unnecessary tunnels and viaducts, rather than making elementary improvements to operations. A state audit has shown that the CHSRA knowingly incurred massive additional cost risks by starting construction prematurely; desperate to show progress and to meet a deadline for federal funds, the CHSRA began construction in the Central Valley without buying all the land it needed, or even completing negotiations with the freight railroads whose rights-of-way it planned to use. The state auditor also criticized the CHSRA for hiring expensive consultants, over the objections of its former CEO, to do routine budgeting work.

Some of the worst revelations in the state auditor’s report concern basic failures of contract management. The CHSRA paid contractors without inspecting their work, and contract managers’ review of the quality and cost of finished products was often so shoddy that the auditor could not even conclude whether the CHSRA’s spending was justified. In one especially egregious case, in 2017, the CHSRA hired an external consultant to check the work of Parsons Brinckerhoff (now WSP USA), which had been paid $666 million for engineering consulting. The external consultant found that the CHSRA had not received finished work for 145 of 184 tasks that Parsons Brinckerhoff had called “complete.”

It seems clear that the CHSRA is too incompetent to manage a project of California HSR’s complexity.

Meanwhile, the state’s existing water and road infrastructure is a shambles, and Sacramento still has no plan for dealing with a trillion-dollar underfunded pension crisis.

IF IT MOVES, TAX IT: Prominent Chicago mayoral candidate suggests a commuter tax.

On Fox 32’s Flannery Fired Up on Sunday, Bill Daley promised a plan to fix the pension debacle soon. Well, part of his plan came out yesterday during a speech to the venerable City Club of Chicago. Daley is open to a commuter tax.

Time for some history. Businesses and residents were fleeing Detroit in the 1950s and the early 1960s. The solution, Jerome Cavanaugh, the Motor City’s liberal mayor reasoned, was a municipal income tax and a commuter tax. The version of the decline and fall of Detroit you are familiar with is that the deadly 1967 riots fostered the city’s collapse. While it surely hastened it, the seeds of Detroit’s failure, which culminated in the historic 2013 bankruptcy, was planted by Cavanaugh’s income and commuter taxes. Even today Eight Mile Road, the northern border of Detroit, is the demarcation line for poverty and prosperity.

To be fair, Daley is not suggesting a Chicago income tax and he favors amending the pension clause–great idea–in the state constitution that forbids cutting pension benefits.

But if Daley’s commuter tax becomes law, look for the 14-lane Dan Ryan Expressway to be one of the thoroughfares out of Chicago for a multitude of residents and businesses.

If this tax ever comes to pass, there will be an immediate cry for discounts or rebates for people who drive the “right” kind of vehicles into the city.

TWITTER RESTORES JESSE KELLY’S ACCOUNT, CLAIMS SUSPENSION WAS TEMPORARY: “So how did the account go from permanently suspended to temporarily suspended overnight? Well, as you can see above, it probably helped that a Senator and a Senator-elect weighed in on this.”

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): So do I go back to Twitter and take a victory lap, or stay deactivated?

JACK SHAFER: The Conservative Revolt Against Twitter. “Wake me up when this sad little uprising is over.”

“Twitter’s gone crazy banning people on the right, so I’ve deactivated my Twitter account,” he wrote in his Instapundit blog on Sunday night. Calling Twitter “the most socially destructive of the various platforms,” Reynolds accused the “crappy SJW types” – social justice warriors – who run it of breaking promises to users and stifling free speech. “So I decided to suspend them, as they are suspending others,” Reynold wrote.

Seeing as we don’t yet know why Twitter banned Kelly, there is some murk to the dispute. But no matter what the underlying cause, the ban gives conservatives cause to believe that Twitter has singled them out for eviction. Earlier this month, Twitter gave the permanent boot to Laura Loomer, a conservative writer and agent provocateur. Other conservatives or far-right figures Twitter has banned or suspended include Roger Stone, Chuck Johnson, “Sabo,” Milo Yiannopoulos, James Allsup, Richard Spencer, David Duke, “Baked Alaska,” Robert Stacy McCain, Candace Owens, David Clarke, Gavin McInnes and James Woods. In an August piece in the Federalist, Kelly predicted that the banishment of Alex Jones from Facebook presaged the de-conservatization of social media. “They just knew Jones was the weak member of the herd. They could pick him off as a test run. Next they’re coming for you,” Kelly wrote.

Kelly’s slippery slope argument sounds ominous, but how much truth is there to it? My Twitter experience account would say otherwise.

Here’s a question Shafer should have asked early on, and which might have resulted in a much different piece: Why don’t we know why Twitter banned Kelly?

Or as Ben Domenech wrote last night in a multipart tweet:

Jack Shafer’s piece unintentionally illustrates why his suggestion for conservatives on Twitter utterly misses the point.

Shafer suggests conservatives ought to “Drive Twitter insane by playing by their rules, expressing yourself right up to the boundary-line of the company’s standards in a way that will invite inspection and self-criticism of those standards.” That is exactly what Jesse Kelly did! We know that because in the two years since he was verified he received not a single suspension or even a warning. Jesse Kelly engaged in iconoclasm and teased without threatening people or violating any rules. If he had, Twitter would’ve gone after him for it. Instead, his lack of a clear violation clearly caused frustration – so at the end of the day, they just pulled the plug on him, permanently, without justifying it under any rule or citing any activity whatsoever.

That is because of something Shafer either doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to acknowledge: that for Twitter, there are no rules.

My take is that Shafer was in such a hurry to condemn Glenn’s self-removal from Twitter as “sad,” that he missed the real story.

Or if you’d like an even shorter take on Shafer’s latest for Politico: Fake news.

THERE IS NO LAW THAT ALLOWS THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO CONTROL ALL POLICIES OF LOCAL SCHOOLS: And yet they manage to exercise control by making everything into a race or sex discrimination issue. During the course of what became an 8-year investigation, Wake County Schools lowered their use of suspensions to mollify the Department of Education. Now Wake County Schools have officially agreed to stick with that lower use of suspensions to get federal investigators off their backs. Is that good disciplinary policy? Maybe, maybe not. But it is supposed to be up to Wake County schools to decide that, not the Department of Education. Instead, the Department of Education claims the right bully schools about any policy that has a disparate impact based on race, color, national origin or sex (all the while knowing full well that all policies have a disparate impact on some protected group). See The Department of Education’s Obama-Era Initiative on Racial Disparities in School Discipline: Wrong for Students and Teachers, Wrong on the Law.

SPOILER: THEY’RE FLEEING. The only options for Illinois millennials: fight or flight.

Dowling calls for Illinois millennials to get engaged. Kudos to him for the wake up call.

But the question of what exactly Dowling wants millennials to fight for remains. He doesn’t make clear whether he favors passing the tough reforms like a constitutional amendment so the state can restructure not-yet-earned pension benefits, or just more tax schemes and the pension “fixes” Pritzker is considering. (More on Pritzker’s progressive tax scheme and his potential pension fixes here, here and here.)

If Dowling favors more taxes and “fixes”, he’ll need to revisit his opinion piece – especially the line where he says, “We are the ones that will shoulder the $129 billion for the foreseeable future.” Dowling wrongly assumes Illinois millennials will stick around to pay the higher tax bills and face the cuts in services. But millennials are highly educated and an extremely tech-savvy generation. They don’t have to stay in Illinois to find their future.

The data already tells us they aren’t.

Illinois has lost a net of 107,000 millennials and their dependents to other states across the nation since 2012, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

It’s a stunning number.

Yes, but hardly shocking. Illinois has probably already entered a fiscal death spiral, and the state will go broke in the two ways made famous by Ernest Hemingway.

NEW CIVILITY WATCH: Democrat Party Official Says Republicans Should Be Brought “to The Guillotines.”

A member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party was suspended after saying Republicans should be brought “to the guillotines” after the November midterm elections.

William Davis, who is the spokesman for the party in Minnesota, commented in a Facebook post: “11.7 — bring them to the guillotines.” Party executive director Corey Day said Davis deleted the post and party spokeswoman Charlene Briner said Davis’s suspension started Monday with no pay for one week, according to The Associated Press.

So much for “Minnesota Nice,” about which Wikipedia assures me that “The tradition of social progressivism in Minnesota politics has been linked to the Minnesota Nice culture.”

INNOCENCE IS NO DEFENSE: Two Students Hooked Up. It Was Clearly Consensual. He Still Spent $12,000 Defending Himself.

The email from the Title IX compliance officer went into great detail about the seriousness of James’s situation. He would be investigated in accordance with the university’s sexual assault and sexual violence policies, as well as the student code, which covers physical assault, threats of violence, and conduct that threatens health and safety. A finding of responsibility could result in suspension, or even expulsion.

But the email was short on details of the alleged misconduct. According to the Title IX office, a female student, Becky, had complained that James touched her “on her breasts and buttocks over and under her clothing without her consent.” (I am using pseudonyms for both James and Becky.)

James knew Becky. They had been classmates in a drama class, and, very briefly, friends. On the evening of October 20, 2017, they had met up with some other friends to play music. Eventually finding themselves alone in Becky’s dorm room, they kissed for a few minutes—and engaged in some light sexual touching—before other students interrupted them.

In James’s view, the encounter had not only been fully consensual, it was also mutual: Becky bore just as much responsibility for initiating it as James. And, as Becky would later make clear to the investigator, she had also touched him sexually—she explicitly described her own actions in her official statement.

If women can’t be accountable for their own actions, then what?

CHANGE? Californians To Try To Kill High-Speed Rail Project By Referendum.

The debates over repealing the gas tax and the floundering bullet train have a significant intersection. As the Times reports, state representatives have recently suggested that some funds from the new gas taxes may eventually need to go into funding the rail project. None of these proposals are sitting well with the groups who feel that they’ve been overly taxed already with little to show for it. The total cost of the high-speed rail project had already doubled yet again from the 2013 projection of $33B to $77B. The completion date has already been stretched out to 2033 and nobody knows how high the total cost could go by then.

At the same time, the state needs an estimated $177B over the next ten years to try to bring their roads and bridges up to some reasonable measure of safety and repair. California’s state government currently has no idea where that money is going to come from unless they go back to the well yet again and raise taxes even more. This appears to be prompting some fiscal sanity among a growing number of residents who are pushing back against their liberal stronghold leadership.

To say nothing of California’s public pension crisis.

SOMETHING FOR MY SHOPPING LIST: The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 Has an Incredible Adaptive Suspension System. “E-Active Body Control does away with conventional anti-roll bars, allowing each wheel to move totally independently. Mercedes isn’t alone here—the McLaren 720S is another recent vehicle that eschews anti-roll bars. The Mercedes system uses electronically adjustable dampers augmented by air springs to control body motion. Essentially, this allows the spring rate, damper stiffness and ride height to be adjusted independently, in real-time, at each corner.”

MAYBE MY SCHOOLTEACHER GRANDMOTHER WASN’T SO STUPID AFTER ALL: A Georgia charter school is seeking parental permission to using paddling as a punishment for schoolchildren. And many parents are granting it.

School discipline has changed since the 1970s, when, as a result of a number of public interest lawsuits, it became legally risky to keep students after school without explicit parental permission. This pleased teachers, who weren’t keen on working late with unruly students anyway.

Instead, in-school or more commonly out-of-schools suspensions became the norm. Two problems: First, suspended students lose instructional time. Second, many of them like to be suspended.

What’s really needed is a punishment that is quick and unpleasant, thus allowing misbehaving students to get right back to their studies—like an old-fashioned paddling.

In the meantime, whether it works out or not, I’m happy to see a school attempt to set it own discipline policy. The federal government has managed to impose its preferred discipline policy on most of the rest of them.

NO GUNS AT SAN DIEGO COUNTY’S MOST POPULAR GUN SHOWS?: According the San Diego Union Tribune, the Del Mar Fairgrounds Board of Directors voted 8 to1 to suspend the popular gun shows until a “policy is developed that could include a complete ban on the possession of any firearms or ammunition.…”

“We’re not doing our kids any service if we continue this,” said Director Lisa Barkett, before voting for the suspension….

“Essentially, it’s a ban of the gun show,” said Wendy Hauffen, executive administrator of the San Diego County Gun Owners, after the decision. “You can’t have gun show with no guns.”

Next for Del Mar Fairgrounds:  No horses at the horse races.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS: The Hill Interview: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey explains what got Alex Jones suspended.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey isn’t sure if the timeout given to Alex Jones will convince the right-wing conspiracy theorist to “reconsider” his social media behavior.

But Dorsey, in an interview with The Hill the morning after his company handed down a seven-day suspension to Jones, says its enforcement actions are intended to promote better behavior from its users.

“We’re always trying to cultivate more of a learning mindset and help guide people back towards healthier behaviors and healthier public conversation,” the 41-year-old co-founder of Twitter said.

Related: Twitter awards Sarah Jeong a blue checkmark, and as spotted today at Small Dead Animals, suspends “Tesla Whistleblower Following Tweets About His Former Employer.”

UH OH: DNC Gives Statement On Keith Ellison Allegations; Ex-Official Calls For Suspension.

MORE DEPLATFORMING: Twitter Shuts Down Accounts of Vice Co-Founder Gavin McInnes, Proud Boys Ahead of ‘Unite the Right’ Rally. “Twitter’s suspension of McInnes and the Proud Boys also comes as the company is under fire for not suspending the accounts of far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars media outlet even after Apple and Facebook banned Jones from their platforms.”

AND AGAIN: “Last night, Twitter suspended Candace Owens, who has 663,000 Twitter followers, for 12 hours on account of an unspecified violation of the platform’s terms and conditions. Maybe it was because Candace tweeted this criticism of Sarah Jeong:”

Owens posted a series of tweets simply reversing the colors in Jeong’s multiyear jeremiad against whites. “There was no way Twitter could sustain the suspension, in view of the hateful trash that is constantly tweeted by leftists like Jeong. But some low-level employee evidently vented his or her hostility toward conservatism by arbitrarily suspending Owens.”

That does seem to be the ongoing pattern — unexpectedly.

UPDATE: The Daily Caller quotes Owens herself:

“The thing is, I wouldn’t have minded if I was locked out, because I actually agree with Twitter that that language is inappropriate,” Owens said.

“My point in tweeting that and replacing the word with black and Jewish yesterday was to show how different that mentality is when you see it in that context and you see talking about Jewish people and predisposed to burning under the sun or black people saying they should live underground,” she said.

“It’s horrifically racist, but somehow we’ve gotten to a point in society where it’s OK to say the exact same thing about white people, and that’s problematic.”

It’s been brewing for a very long time. As an American Thinker columnist notes, “Let’s all thank Sarah Jeong for showing us what liberals think of white people.”

CHINESE MILITARY VETERANS COMPLAIN:

Grievances over military pensions and perceived poor treatment of veterans have been a long-running issue, and have at times led to organized protests.

More than 1,000 veterans also demonstrated outside Defence Ministry headquarters in Beijing in 2016, and reports of protests in parts of the country surface every few months.

Demobilized soldiers who protested have included some who fought against Vietnam in 1979 — China’s last major foreign military engagement — and complained about problems with their pensions.

Until now the protests have received little notice.

THE MOST PREDICTABLE CRISIS EVER: The Pension Hole for U.S. Cities and States Is the Size of Japan’s Economy. “Many retirement funds could face insolvency unless governments increase taxes, divert funds or persuade workers to relinquish money they are owed.”

In Kentucky, a major pension plan covering state employees had about 16% of what it needs to fulfill earlier promises, according to the Public Plans Database, which tracks state and local pension funds, based on 2017 fiscal year figures. A fund covering Chicago municipal employees had less than 30% of what it needed in that fiscal year, according to the same database. New Jersey’s pension system for state workers is so underfunded it could run out of money in 12 years, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts study.

When the math no longer works the result is Central Falls, R.I., a city of 19,359. Today, retired police and firefighters are wrestling with the consequences of agreeing to cut their monthly pension checks by as much as 55% when the town was working to escape insolvency. The fiscal situation of the city, which filed for bankruptcy in 2011, has improved, but the retirees aren’t getting their full pensions back.

“It’s not only a financial thing,” said 73-year-old former Central Falls firefighter Paul Grenon, who retired from the department after a falling wall punctured his lung, broke his back and five ribs, and left him unable to climb ladders. “It really gets you sick mentally and physically to go through something like this. It’s a betrayal, as far as I’m concerned.”

But Medicare for All will totally work.

WHEN ANTI-MALE STEREOTYPING COMBINES WITH DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION: This autistic student asked for a ‘fist bump’ and a selfie. He got two Title IX investigations.

A “fist bump” and a selfie may have ended Marcus Knight’s educational career right as it started.

The student, who has autism, cerebral palsy and a shunt to relieve fluid pressure on his brain, was not allowed to defend himself against allegations in two Title IX investigations this past fall, his mother told The College Fix.

Aurora Knight has raised more than half of the money to cover legal fees through a GoFundMe campaign as she challenges the sexual-misconduct findings on her son’s record.

Though Saddleback College lifted Marcus’s suspension a day before a hearing last month, it has thus far refused to remove the findings from his record, Aurora wrote in an update to the campaign Wednesday.

Her son (below) has limited expressive language capabilities and cannot negotiate social situations as easily as others, she told The College Fix.

Though he receives academic accommodations for his disabilities, he was not offered accommodations in the Title IX process, Aurora wrote in an email.

I think the Department Of Education should investigate.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Pensions devour school budgets, flatten teacher pay.

AND NOW IT’S KATHLEEN McKINLEY’S TURN IN THE PENALTY BOX TWITTER RESERVES FOR MEDIA CONSERVATIVES. “Yes, her tweets are visible, but she’s unable to tweet. Last time she tried to tweet, they added 3 hours to her suspension.”

Last week, Twitter dispatched Jim Treacher there. And speaking of Treacher, at the PJM mothership today, he writes, “Remain Calm, All Is Well (Unless You Want to Watch ‘Animal House’):”

When you see generation after generation of humorless scolds wagging their fingers at you like this, it might make you want to give up. You might say: “What the hell we s’posed to do, ya moron?” But you can fight back. There’s only one thing to do when some busybody like this tries to tell you what to do and how to think:

Point at them and laugh.

I guess that’s two things. Forget it, I’m rolling.

He is, and Senator Blutarsky has approved his message, so read the whole thing.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Pensions devour school budgets, flatten teacher pay.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS:

● Shot:

The NYPD used a $3 million counterterrorism plane to shuttle Mayor Bill de Blasio back and forth from his Canada vacation to the Big Apple for an event Thursday, The Post has learned.

Hizzoner, who is in Quebec on a weeklong respite, briefly flew back to the Bronx for a memorial for slain Detective Miosotis Familia.

“NYPD is transporting him in their plane,” de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips told The Post.

“Their plane” is a Cessna 208 Caravan that cost roughly $3 million and was picked up by the department in 2017, sources said.

The high-tech aircraft is outfitted with special sensors that can detect at a distance radioactive material used to make “dirty bombs.”

Police sources questioned the use of a special plane for mayoral transportation.

“It is very unusual to go on an international flight to go pick up the mayor,” one source said.

De Blasio used a $3M counterterrorism plane to zip home from vacation, the New York Post, Thursday.

● Chaser:

A week after a brutal snowstorm froze New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered a one-two punch Wednesday in the name of climate change, announcing he will seek billions in damages from five major oil-and-gas companies while moving to divest from fossil fuels.

“It’s time for them to start paying for the damage they have done,” Mr. de Blasio said at a press conference at the Manhattan Youth Center. “It’s time for Big Oil to take responsibility for the devastation they have wrought.”

The two-front attack was promptly pilloried by industry groups as a cynical political stunt, even as it put New York City at the forefront of the environmental movement’s campaign to recruit local governments as allies in the climate change fight.

Flanked by municipal leaders and top climate activists, the Democratic mayor said his goal is to divest the $189 billion public-pension funds from fossil fuels by 2022, which he said would make New York the first major U.S. city to do so.

Mr. de Blasio also announced that the city has filed a lawsuit against five top energy producers, blaming the companies for greenhouse-gas emissions that he said have produced disasters such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“I remember those days after Sandy in the Lower East Side. I remember how desperate it was. I remember how much fear and confusion there was,” said Mr. de Blasio. “And this was a tragedy that was wrought by the actions of the fossil-fuel companies. Let’s be clear: That’s where it came from.”

New York City mayor seeks billions from oil companies, blames them for climate change, the Washington Times, January 10.

● Hangover: NYC will pay you big bucks for ratting out idling trucks, buses.

—The New York Post, yesterday.

If he actually believed global warming is that existential a crisis, shouldn’t at the very least De Blasio fly commercial, as well as keeping the amount of his personal transportation down to a bare minimum? I don’t want to hear another goddamn word about Glenn Reynolds’ carbon footprint ever again.

HERE’S A DOLLAR, BUY A CLUE: The Columbia Journalism Review pushed a piece today that says “Facebook and Twitter still trying to convince conservatives they aren’t biased.” The story goes on to say that the social media and data business giants are “bending over backwards”:

“That accusation keeps coming up, and both Facebook and Twitter seem almost desperate to prove it’s not the case, to the point where they keep meeting with conservative groups and Trump supporters in an attempt to show good faith. This process is fraught with complications, however, since a) it’s not clear right-wing critics actually have a case for making such a claim, and b) bending over backwards to prove they aren’t biased has blown up in Facebook’s face in the not-so-distant past, and in the process arguably made the situation worse.”

IMHO, this is utter rubbish, in fact misses what’s really going on. Nowhere does either Facebook, Google or the CJR ask about other practices many Instapundit readers have experienced: unfounded removal of “offensive” material; shadow-banning;  or account suspension (known as “Facebook jail”).

Until Facebook, Twitter and the media who write about them stop and address what’s going on, the companies are going to plunge into a death spiral, and the media critics who fail to see shadow-banning as a real problem (or even know about it) are going to become less and less trusted or relevant.

It’s as if the Titanic were taking on water and the Captain is boasting about how nice the table settings look.

CHANGE: Supreme Court Rules For Trump In Travel Ban Case.

Here’s the text of the opinion. And note this from the majority opinion:

Finally, the dissent invokes Korematsu v. United States, 323 U. S. 214 (1944). Whatever rhetorical advantage the dissent may see in doing so, Korematsu has nothing to do with this case. The forcible relocation of U. S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority. But it is wholly inapt to liken that morally repugnant order to a facially neutral policy denying certain foreign nationals the privilege of admission. See post, at 26–28. The entry suspension is an act that is well within executive authority and could have been taken by any other President—the only question is evaluating the actions of this particular President in promulgating an otherwise valid Proclamation. The dissent’s reference to Korematsu, however, affords this Court the opportunity to make express what is already obvious: Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and—to be clear—“has no place in law under the Constitution.” 323 U. S., at 248 (Jackson, J., dissenting).

Ouch. I believe this is also a formal overruling of Korematsu, since it’s signed by 5 justices. Note that FDR’s action is properly characterized here as racist.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: As student appeals suspension over hearsay, University of Denver engages in damage control. “If Addison Puffer may be suspended because some people said that other people said that she said offensive things, then students at DU have no free speech rights at all.”

Cost of attending the University of Denver, where you can be suspended because some people said that other people said that you said “offensive things:” $65,376 per year.

AT SYRACUSE, TRUTH IS FAR LESS IMPORTANT THAN POLITICS: In the Washington Post, Syracuse law professor Greg Germain points out that the supposedly bigoted and racist language used by members of a fraternity suspended after video of a satirical roast got out was, uh, satirical:

A diverse group of 15 students (white, African American, Hispanic, Jewish, Muslim, Christian) who were pledging an engineering fraternity were asked to do a roast of the fraternity members for their joint amusement. The skits were crude: masturbation jokes; a politically conservative member was made to be an alt-right bigot who formed a competing fraternity to spread racism; a skit about sexually assaulting a fraternity member who was so controlled by his girlfriend that he could not move (patterned after a viral Brandon Rogers YouTube video). They were making fun of themselves and each other in outlandish ways using very crude language.

And Syracuse knew this perfectly well before it ruined these would-be engineers’ educational plans (and perhaps careers) for nothing. Take this example, from the affidavit of a black student that was filed in the suspended students’ lawsuit against Syracuse:

7. The second skit, entitled “The Trilogies of Tri Kappa,” was based on a satirical fraternity headed by a racist who was trying to integrate members of his “once great” fraternity to “his newly formed white empire.” This imaginary fraternity known as Tri Kappa was the “main enemy” of Theta Tau. This story was intended to lampoon one Chapter member who was a known supporter of President Trump and a political conservative.

8. The main character in the story was presented by the new member portraying him as a red neck, “back woods” figure, who forced his pledges to undergo an “anointing” by taking an oath to “always have hate in [his] heart” for “niggers,” “spics” and the “fuckin’ kikes.” The new member portraying the “pledge” taking the oath in the skit was Jewish. It was evident to everyone in attendance who knew the individuals involved and referenced in the story how ridiculous and satirical it was for one member to be portrayed as a rabid racist in our Chapter which had twenty eight members with racial, ethnic and religious minority backgrounds, including me and other African American and Hispanic members. Although I did not participate in this skit, I observed it and laughed along with everyone else because it was exaggerated satire showing the ignorance and absurdity of actual racists.

To be clear, not only did Syracuse punish these students for “offensive” speech despite promising them free speech (which is wrong), it stripped them of their educations for allegedly saying the exact opposite of what they were saying (which is both wrong and cruel). If you’d like to exercise your right to free speech and let Syracuse know your opinion about the situation, I know the students would appreciate the support.

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE, AND NOT ANY DROP TO DO THE DISHES: Yes, California Has Effectively Banned Showering And Doing Laundry On The Same Day.

Additionally, “The problem also threatens the state’s enormous and important agricultural industry, which is where most of the state’s water goes:”

Droughts are nothing new in California, especially in the desert south, but the increasing inability to deal with them is.

California wastes enormous sums of money on a bullet train to nowhere and other excessive spending priorities, but it has neglected to strengthen its water management infrastructure, leaving it susceptible to shortages and rationing.

As Joel Kotkin, fellow in urban studies at Chapman University, explained in a 2015 interview with Reason, the problem goes beyond water.

“The water situation in California is pretty bad,” he said. “You have to understand that we haven’t built any new infrastructure for the last 20 years. This, by the way, is not unique to water. It’s roads, it’s schools, it’s an unwillingness to invest in the future because we spend all our money in government paying the pensions of employees.”

And through this crisis, California has spent enormous resources to protect the delta smelt, a 3-inch fish that appears to be going extinct despite enormously wasteful environmental projects.

“To protect smelt from water pumps, government regulators have flushed 1.4 trillion gallons of water into the San Francisco Bay since 2008,” according to a 2015 report in The Wall Street Journal. “That would have been enough to sustain 6.4 million Californians for six years. Yet a survey of young adult smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta last fall yielded just eight fish, the lowest level since 1967.”

P.J. O’Rourke once wrote that “You can’t get good Chinese takeout in China and Cuban cigars are rationed in Cuba. That’s all you need to know about communism.” And in socialist California, you can’t get sufficient water in a state that butts up against an entire ocean of the stuff.

MAKE THEM PAY: Canadian author and professor Steven Galloway just received $167,000 in damages after he was falsely accused of sexual assault following an affair with a student. The university publicly announced his suspension, violating his privacy, and a group of Canadian authors – including “Handmaid’s Tale” author Margaret Atwood – signed a letter calling for due process for the professor.

Of course, the damage to his reputation has already been done.

CAMPUS’ WAR ON FREE SPEECH CLAIMS 16 STUDENT VICTIMS: Have you ever attended, participated in, or, like millions of Americans, watched a “roast” on TV? Maybe even found it funny? Well, you loathsome degenerate, you had better stay far, far away from Syracuse University, which suspended 16 students for 1 to 2 years(!) for roasting their fraternity brothers – in private, and with zero complaints filed by the roast-ees – after someone posted out-of-context video on Facebook several weeks later. What the students said sounds bad. But the more you look into this situation, the worse Syracuse looks, and the angrier you will get. If you’d like to help these students out by expressing your own thoughts to Syracuse (which literally has the First Amendment written in giant letters on the side of a building, for crying out loud), FIRE has made it easy.

ILLINOIS IS BETTER OFF BANKRUPT: “The best hope for a failed state such as Illinois is to let the state go bankrupt.”

The State of Illinois incurred deficits reaching nearly $15 billion in 2017, and those deficits are projected to double to $30 billion in 2018. Illinois has also accumulated hundreds of billions in unfunded liabilities in public sector pension and health-care plans. This has exposed local jurisdictions to the risk of default or bankruptcy. In response, Illinois has issued large bailouts, further weakening the finances of the state’s government. The courts have exacerbated this problem by ruling the Illinois Constitution mandates state bailouts for public sector pension and health plans.

Fiscal rules in Illinois have been ineffective in constraining deficits and debt. Illinois, like 48 other states, has a balanced budget provision in its state constitution. But, in recent years, the state legislature has failed to pass a budget at all — let alone one that would balance revenues and expenditures.

In April 2018, a constitutional amendment to cap the rate of growth in spending at the rate of growth in the state economy was introduced in Illinois’ legislature. A majority of Illinois state legislators have yet to show support for such a fiscal rule.

Of course they haven’t, because they’re expecting another bailout.

IN CALIFORNIA, THE “JUNGLE” IS PREDICTABLE:

Yet as they consolidate control, California Democrats must face some profound contradictions, as the Marxists would say. The gentry—tech oligarchs, real estate speculators, and venture capitalists—stand comfortably with the left on symbolic race, gender, and environmental issues. But these party bankrollers could be hard-pressed if they face the prospect of higher taxes to pay for a state single-payer health-care system, massive housing subsidies, and Governor Brown’s choo-choo, not to mention the state’s ever-soaring pension costs. As Amazon is learning in Seattle, progressive politicos have figured out where to find the biggest piles of cash. Aggressive taxation of tech companies is already becoming a trend in Silicon Valley.

A stronger, motivated grass-roots Left could constitute the greatest immediate challenge to Governor Newsom. Many Californians, particularly millennials and minorities, face a lack of high-wage jobs, soaring rents, and essentially insurmountable barriers to homeownership. A majority of Californians, according to some surveys, express dissatisfaction with the state’s bifurcated economy. The disappearance of upward mobility makes these voters susceptible to embracing such things as rent control, higher minimum wages, free college, and free health care. They will support ever higher taxes on businesses and on generally white, affluent Californians. The call for new spending will become more problematic once the state comes back to earth from its Silicon Valley and real-estate inflation highs, which for now keep the operating budget in the black.

At some point, Newsom and the Democratic nomenklatura will have to deal with pervasive conditions of diminished opportunity, racial polarization, and fiscal weakness. When these realities eventually impinge, the state’s progressive rulers may find themselves on the defensive, and—if confronted with a plausible opposition—vulnerable, at long last.

Read the whole thing.

YOU CAN’T BLAME THE ECONOMY ANY MORE: U.S. Fertility Rate Fell to a Record Low, for a Second Straight Year.

Some actuarial thoughts here.

I wonder whether there’s something else at play here: could there be an emerging split, with a rising percent of Americans believing that the work of raising the next generation is all well and good, but reserved for other, more willing people? After all, once getting married and starting a family is no longer the “normal” thing to do in one’s twenties, once women start to view a baby as a “capstone” following career success, as a recent Atlantic article suggested, once, indeed, having children becomes a choice one must make, it becomes all the clearer that this is a choice which requires not just financial sacrifice, but sacrifice of free time that may have become particularly valued for pursuing a hobby or working extra hours for advancement’s sake. And recall, again, that the considerably greater drops in births among ethnic minorities, from much-higher-than-whites to only-a-little-bit-higher, suggests that even this narrative isn’t quite right, and raises questions of fertility rates by family income that are much harder to pin down and make for much more uncomfortable discussions.

But (if I haven’t already exhausted your patience with my charts) here’s the bottom line: it already is the case that declining birth rates will affect Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, un(der)funded public pensions, and the like. How an aging population will affect a country’s economic vitality and ability to innovate is a source of much hand-wringing. But if there is a widening economic and social/cultural gap between families and non-families, this will also impact how we allocate resources, and lead to further disputes about that allocation, that will make figuring the whole thing out much harder.

Indeed. And I had some related thoughts here.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Dentists, soldiers mix cocktails to leave crisis-hit Venezuela.

Valentina Maggi, 22, studied graphic design and dreams of illustrating children’s stories, but has followed in friends’ footsteps to learn how to mix cocktails at the National Bartender Academy.

“I have many friends who have left the country and have told me to do this type of course because when you get there, you have more work options,” she said in a room with a long table where she had just completed her final test: a Gin Fizz made from gin, lemon, sugar and soda water.

At the academy, 6,000 students are expected to graduate this year – up from 4,500 a couple of years ago.

With Maggi were a 60-year-old retired military officer and a 52-year-old former Supreme Court prosecutor, both hoping to land work at bars in the United States and Argentina respectively.

Asking not to disclose his name for fear of reprisal, the former soldier said his monthly pension of some $5 at the black market exchange rate, left nothing for food after paying for his two sons’ schools.

Plus: Exodus of Venezuelans Overwhelms Northern Brazil.

Flashback: Bernie Sanders Says “American Dream More Apt to Happen in Venezuela.”

AS A WISE ILLINOIS COMMUNITY ORGANIZER ONCE SAID, GET IN THEIR FACES, AND PUNCH BACK TWICE AS HARD: An Illinois State University student is suing his school because even though they found him not responsible for sexual assault, a premature suspension effectively punished him.

NEW YORK TIMES CALLS THE TRUTH “FAR-RIGHT CONSPIRACY PROGRAMMING.” Leil Leibovitz in The Tablet:

On Saturday, Nellie Bowles, a technology reporter for The New York Times, wrote a piece about Campbell Brown, the former news anchor recently hired by Facebook to help the social media giant improve its relationship with the news media. One obvious problem is Facebook’s contribution to the dissemination of fake news, which Brown is now fighting. How? Let the Paper of Record tell you all about it.

“Ms. Brown,” wrote Bowles, “wants to use Facebook’s existing Watch product — a service introduced in 2017 as a premium product with more curation that has nonetheless been flooded with far-right conspiracy programming like ‘Palestinians Pay $400 million Pensions For Terrorist Families.’”

As those of us who are in the reality based community know, the Palestinian Authority’s financial support of terrorists and their families is very, very far from a conspiracy, far-right or otherwise. Reading Bowles’s report, for example, Lahav Harkov, the Knesset reporter for The Jerusalem Post, took to Twitter to share some of her meticulous reporting on the Palestinian pay-for-slay program with Bowles: Read the real news, and you’ll learn that, in 2017, the PA doled out more than $347 million to families of terrorists who had murdered Jews, increasing the amount to $403 million this year.

BECAUSE IT DIDN’T EMBARRASS SOMEONE THE PRESS HATES: I really don’t get why people are “shocked” that Judge Wood allowed an attorney (yes, he’s a pal of mine) to make an unscheduled appearance to argue for court access. I’ve done it at least twice, one of those times arguing successfully for the Bankruptcy Court to unseal records in the 2008 Lehman bankruptcy case.

But that was only a $600 billion matter affecting tens of thousands of pensioners and investors, not anything important like learning that a half-wit TV host was represented by a half-wit lawyer.

MOVIES, HISTORY AND SOMETIMES THE TRUTH: My column this week from The Daily Caller.

If we’re willing to accept historical movies as somewhat fictionalized, there is value in the chance that such a film might spark a deeper and more academic interest in the subject matter. I must confess though, I can’t but help be reminded of Dan Rather’s “fake but true” approach to journalism that led to his firing from CBS, where falsities are used to propagate an unproven truth. The difference of course is that movies require some degree of suspension of our disbelief. Documentaries and news are no place for fictionalization.

**Bumped up from early morning**

SURPRISE! STUDENTS WHO MISBEHAVE A LOT GET DISCIPLINED MORE OFTEN THAN OTHER STUDENTS: It’s really stunning when one hears of school districts getting in trouble because they discipline disabled students at higher rates than non-disabled students. The problem is that we DEFINE students who chronically misbehave as “disabled.” So, of course, they get disciplined more often than non-disabled students. How could they not? Teachers have to maintain order in the classroom if any learning is to take place.  The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a briefing on this and other discipline-related topics recently. It had a certain Alice-in-Wonderland feel to it.

For my law review article of the racial aspects of the topic, read The Department of Education’s Obama-Era Initiative on Racial Disparities in School Discipline: Wrong for Students and Teachers, Wrong on the Law.

THAT NEW CAR SMELLS: Tesla idling Model 3 shows Musk unable to make fixes.

The hiatus is another setback for the first model Musk has tried to mass-manufacture. In addition to trying to bring electric vehicles to the mainstream, the chief executive officer had sought to build a competitive advantage over established automakers by installing more robots to quickly produce vehicles. Last week, he acknowledged “excessive” automation at Tesla was a mistake.

“Traditional automakers adjust bottlenecks on the fly during a launch,” Dave Sullivan, an analyst at AutoPacific Inc., said in an email. “This is totally out of the ordinary.”

“Shutting down for days on end during ramp is far from normal,” Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labor and economics group at the Center for Automotive Research, wrote in an email.

Eventually, the 400,000-plus people who put $1,000 deposits down on the Model 3 are going to want to take delivery of their cars — or of refund checks.

CARL CANNON: Special Prosecutorial Abuse.

We’re supposed to be reassured that the FBI agents who raided the offices and home of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael A. Cohen, were, in Cohen’s words, “courteous” and “respectful.”

The president’s attorney was understandably grateful that the agents didn’t replicate the FBI’s tactics at the home of Paul Manafort, Trump’s onetime campaign manager. Busting in before dawn, guns drawn, with a “no knock” warrant while Manafort and his wife were in bed, the agents frisked Mrs. Manafort while she was still in her nightclothes.

Perhaps Cohen thinks if he sounds reasonable, he can appease Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who ordered Manafort’s arrest, or his other federal prosecutors behind this raid. Or maybe Cohen simply developed the quickest case of Stockholm syndrome in history. Whatever his reasons, a line has been violated. The government is going after lawyers now, as part of an investigation that feels as though policy differences and partisan politics have been criminalized.

Since the day Trump entered political life, liberals, Democratic activists, and media pundits have issued ominous warnings about the coming authoritarianism. When Trump shocked his critics by winning the presidency, this alarm became a crescendo. The “f” word was bandied about: Fascism, we were admonished, was in our future if we didn’t “resist” this presidency.

The resistance has taken many forms: marches and school walkouts; myriad lawsuits against the president; the refusal by Senate Democrats to vote in favor of administration Cabinet nominees; sustained attacks on those appointees who were confirmed; national ad campaigns demanding impeachment; showy resignations from career foreign service officers; leaks of national security information by Obama administration officials; and the suspension of journalistic objectivity by entire news organizations.

It’s as if these people don’t believe in democracy.

Plus:

The Palmer Raids, as they were known, begat the ACLU. I grew up in a family where that organization was respected and where Gene Debs was a household name. My mother once described Debs to me matter-of-factly as a political prisoner. Today’s ACLU doesn’t defend Donald Trump from prosecutorial overreach. It’s now a partisan organization unconcerned with due process. On its website, you’ll be met with a solicitation: “Donate monthly to fight Trump’s attacks on people’s rights.”

Okay, but what about the FBI’s attacks on Trump’s right to legal counsel — and, by implication, the rights of the rest of us? Because if they can do it to his lawyer, they can do it to yours. Do the ends justify the means? Or do we live by rule of law? Choose one.

Oh, the ACLU has chosen.

CUE THE PENSION TSUNAMI: Harvey, the first domino in Illinois: Data shows 400 other pensions funds could trigger garnishment.

THE SPIRIT OF RESISTANCE LIVES, EVEN IN TODAY’S BRITAIN: An ‘infuriated’ vigilante has filmed himself tearing down the shrine erected in memory of a burglar killed by a homeowner he was trying to rob calling the flowers, cards and balloons ‘trash’. You know who else was trash? The burglar. And his parents should be ashamed — and shamed — for raising a “career criminal” who broke into old people’s homes and assaulted them.

THE TEACHERS ARE REVOLTING.

Like most non-government workers, I’ve gone years at a time without a raise. For the same reason, I have been laid-off due to a bad economy. A pension? As if. Yet I never picketed my various employers, stopped showing up to work, or demanded that my overtaxed neighbors pony up cash.

I’m sure that teachers believe they’re underpaid; pretty much everyone thinks they’re underpaid. But they should remember that the vast majority of taxpayers also are struggling and have been for a long time. These strikes aren’t harming politicians, but kids and their parents. And the last thing an angry parent wants to do is to give more money to people making their lives miserable.

Meanwhile, all the teachers are showing up at my kids’ charter schools here in Arizona. I expect that a lot of new students will be joining them in the fall.

Time to press school choice.

UPDATE: U.S. education spending tops global list, study shows.. The system keeps demanding more resources, when what we need is a different system.

OH TO BE IN ENGLAND: London pensioner, 78, is arrested on suspicion of murder after ‘stabbing armed burglar, 38, to death in a struggle in his kitchen’ when two intruders woke him as he slept next to his wife.

Shades of the vignettes Mark Steyn described in his June 2000 American Spectator column, “In the Absence of Guns:”

No wonder, even as they’re being pounded senseless, many British crime victims are worrying about potential liability. A few months ago, Shirley Best, owner of the Rolander Fashion boutique whose clients include the daughter of the Princess Royal, was ironing some garments when two youths broke in. They pressed the hot iron into her side and stole her watch, leaving her badly burnt. “I was frightened to defend myself,” said Miss Best. “I thought if I did anything I would be arrested.”

And who can blame her? Shortly before the attack, she’d been reading about Tony Martin, a Norfolk farmer whose home had been broken into and who had responded by shooting and killing the teenage burglar. He was charged with murder. In April, he was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment–for defending himself against a career criminal in an area where the police are far away and reluctant to have their sleep disturbed. In the British Commonwealth, the approach to policing is summed up by the motto of Her Majesty’s most glamorous constabulary: The Mounties always get their man–i.e., leave it to us. But these days in the British police, when they can’t get their man, they’ll get you instead: Frankly, that’s a lot easier, as poor Mr. Martin discovered.

More here:

Between the introduction of pistol permits in 1903 and the banning of handguns after the Dunblane massacre in 1996, Britain has had a century of incremental gun control–“sensible measures that all reasonable people can agree on.” And what’s the result? Even when you factor in America’s nutcake jurisdictions with the crackhead mayors, the overall crime rate in England and Wales is higher than in all 50 states, even though over there they have more policemen per capita than in the U.S., on vastly higher rates of pay installing more video surveillance cameras than anywhere else in the Western world.

Steyn’s column is a pretty good sneak preview where America could be headed if the Parkland kids have their way.

(Found via Dana Loesch.)

THE PROBLEM WITH PENSION FUNDING IS THAT POLITICIANS LIKE TO STEAL IT: Why Public Pension Pre-Funding Matters (An Explainer).. “And this is the story that’s repeated over and over again. Pensions are made more generous — with high accrual rates, low retirement eligibility ages, generous cost of living provisions — as a means of providing more generous compensation to state and local employees, without actually needing to pay anything from the current year’s budget. Costs are deferred until well after current legislators have themselves retired.”

JONATHAN TURLEY: The curious case of Andrew McCabe’s legal defense fund.

The Justice Department recently indicted four “fraudsters” in New York who raised more than $125,000 through a bogus “wounded warrior” charity to benefit themselves rather than to help veterans. It is a recurring problem for people who watch those constant commercials showing trembling dogs in wire cages or heartbreaking kids with cleft lips. Most charities fund legitimate, desperately needed programs but often are harmed by an unscrupulous few.

One recent campaign has attracted huge donations based on dubious claims – and it comes from within the Justice Department itself. The cause is Andrew McCabe, and both the timing and the pitch are strikingly premature. Former FBI Deputy Director McCabe’s GoFundMe page for a “legal defense fund” appeared after he was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Originally asking for only $150,000, the campaign continued to adjust its goal upward and, in a matter of a few days, surpassed half a million dollars. That is equivalent to more than a decade of McCabe’s expected pension. . . .

It was curious to many that McCabe would so quickly embrace a GoFundMe site before he was “referred” for criminal investigation, let alone charged with any crime. (The inspector general could refer his case for possible criminal charges but, historically, Justice Department officials have avoided such referrals.) However, McCabe clearly did not want to wait for the release of the inspector general report on his conduct before soliciting donations.

In fact, a member of Congress has indicated that McCabe was accused of lying not once but four times about leaking information to the media on the Clinton investigation: lying to FBI Director James Comey, lying to the office of professional responsibility, and lying twice under oath to the inspector general. That is hardly the stuff for a late-night pitch for just a $19.95 monthly donation to support a self-wounded FBI man.

What also is striking is that McCabe has used the same defense as Michael Flynn, who took a plea for a single false statement to investigators. Flynn, however, was given the choice between a plea and prison. There was no pension involved.

The Deep State takes care of its own. And I’d like to see who’s donated to that GoFundMe.

IT’S THE SPENDING, STUPID: Why Are States So Strapped for Cash? There Are Two Big Reasons. “The proportion of state and local tax revenues dedicated to Medicaid and public pensions is the highest since the 1960s.”

And of course there wasn’t even any Medicaid until the 1960s.

More:

The only speaker standing between state budget officers and the opening cocktail hour at a Washington conference was the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. What he said left no one in a celebratory mood.

Medicaid costs, said then-Secretary Michael Leavitt, were projected to grow so fast that within 10 years they would “crowd out virtually every other category of spending.” State spending on higher education, infrastructure and safety, he predicted, would all get squeezed.

Nearly 10 years after that October 2008 speech, Mr. Leavitt’s prediction—part of HHS’s first-ever annual projection of Medicaid’s costs—is looking prescient.

As state and local officials prepare their next budgets, many are finding that spending decisions have already been made for them by two must-fund line items that barely mattered when baby boomers such as Mr. Leavitt were growing up: Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled, and public-employee health and retirement costs.

Some of us have been sounding this warning since long before 2008, but lawmakers have kicked the entitlement reform can about as far as it can go, leaving us with nothing but the cold comfort of Stein’s Law.

JONATHAN TURLEY: “Confused and Distracted”: McCabe Uses Flynn Defense Against False Statement Allegation.

Two officials are accused of misleading statements in interviews. One is bled financially to the point that he must sell his house and then forced into a criminal plea. The other gets a delay in his pension. Both were very very busy people, but only one is looking at prison.

It’s almost like the Deep State protects its friends and punishes its enemies or something.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Students’ visit to gun range ‘none of your damn business,’ parents say.

Angered by word of the disciplining of two Lacey High School students for a gun-related social media post, 200 parents, community members and other supporters of the Second Amendment on Monday let the Board of Education know they don’t want the district trampling on their rights or meddling in their home lives.

“You guys are reaching into our private life, the private life of our children,” said one parent, Lewis Fiordimondo, who has twins in pre-kindergarten and a daughter at the high school. “It’s not your place. It’s not the school’s place.”

Another dad, Frank Horvath, whose son is a senior at Lacey High, put things in blunter terms.

“It’s none of your damn business what our children do outside of school,” Horvath told the seven board members toward the end of a four-hour meeting, most of it occupied by speaker after speaker venting anger and frustration at school officials largely unable to respond due to confidentiality rules.

The unusually large turnout for Monday night’s board meeting in the high school auditorium was prompted by a five-day in-school suspension of two senior boys after one of them posted a photo of themselves with guns at a local shooting range, away from school property and not during school hours.

Punch back twice as hard.

VIDEO: Dem Rep Thanks Andrea Mitchell For Advice To Hire McCabe.

More:

Despite the allegations of severe misconduct, Democrats and members of the media have fretted over McCabe’s lost pension. Mitchell, who hosts a show on MSNBC, offered “friendly member[s] of Congress” a strategy for McCabe to collect his check anyway.

“One suggestion from a McCabe supporter: if a friendly member of Congress hired him for a week he could possibly qualify for pension benefits by extending his service the extra days,” Mitchell helpfully tweeted.

Democratic lawmakers took the hint and started offering McCabe jobs en masse.

If it weren’t obvious that they all got the idea from Mitchell, Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan specifically thanked Mitchell on Monday’s edition of “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”

“Well, it’s your tweet, Andrea. It was your tweet that started all this,” Pocan said. “I just want you to know. We saw your tweet over the weekend and that’s what gave us the idea. So, thank you.”

“Well, that’s interesting to note,” Mitchell said modestly. “Thank you very much, congressman.”

Joe Simonson adds, “We tried finding out if an anchor or reporter offering advice to politicians is a violation of NBC’s policies, but they wouldn’t respond.”

That’s none of your business, prole.

THE TWO MILLION DOLLAR DEM: More Dems offer to hire McCabe.

More Democratic lawmakers are coming forward with offers to hire former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe after he was fired Friday, just two days before he was eligible for his pension.

Democratic Reps. Seth Moulton (Mass.), Jamie Raskin (Md.) and Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.) have all made job offers on Twitter. The lawmakers are extending the offers in an attempt to help McCabe to qualify for his benefits.

Outrageous.

GREAT MOMENTS IN OBJECTIVE DISPASSIONATE MEDIA: Andrea Mitchell Suggests How Andrew McCabe Can Save His Pension.

Just think of Andrea as a Democratic operative with a chyron and it all makes sense.

REALCLEARINVESTIGATIONS: The Bigger Battle Behind McCabe’s Secret, Potential $1.9M FBI Pension.

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has left the bureau under a cloud, but for him there’s a silver lining: his federal pension, which could provide him a lifetime payout of $1.9 million.

Yet taxpayers will never know for certain how big a pension McCabe gets, nor can they learn about pensions due any other federal employee, including members of Congress. The Office of Personnel Management keeps that information secret, exempting it even from freedom of information requests.

Adam Andrzejewski, president of the watchdog group Open the Books, said opening pension records to public scrutiny is “the next phase of the transparency revolution.”

“Citizens should not have to have a search warrant to see how their money is being spent,” Andrzejewski said. Besides, he added, “You can’t reform what you can’t see.”

Various organizations have tried for decades to force the personnel office to cough up the numbers. The National Taxpayers Union sought access to congressional pension data in 1993. In both 2013 and 2016, Andrzejewski tried again to get the pension data. The OPM declined, citing a 1989 federal appeals court ruling that releasing the names and addresses of federal annuitants “would result in a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy.”

Government watchdogs say this secrecy is troubling for many reasons.

If they don’t want you to know, it’s because they don’t think you’d be happy if you did.

UH-OH, JEFF SESSIONS MAY BE TRAPPED ON THE HORNS OF A FRIDAY DILEMMA: He’s got to decide by tomorrow whether to fire a key figure in the FBI scandal and deprive him of a lucrative federal pension. But wait, there’s more, so very much more. Did I mention there’s still yet more to this one?

A MEASURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY: College student charged with falsely reporting sexual assault.

A Clemson University student who claims she was sexually assaulted at an off-campus fraternity party was arrested for lying about the attack, authorities in South Carolina said.

Sarah Katherine Campbell, 18, of Herndon, Virginia, was booked Wednesday on one charge of filing a false police report in connection with the alleged assault at the Delta Chi frat house in Seneca on Jan. 27, according to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.

Her arrest came after investigators found evidence suggesting that the sexual encounter between Campbell and a man at the fraternity house was consensual and that Campbell “had not been truthful in the information” she gave to police, according to Jimmy Watt, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.

She says she wasn’t lying. But it’s nice to see people charged with false accusations, and their names used in the press.

But note that this doesn’t stop the collective punishment of the innocent:

All fraternity activities were suspended by Clemson’s Interfraternity Council one day after the alleged assault. The governing body for the university’s 20 fraternities said at the time that the step was being taken to ensure that members were held to a “higher standard,” according to a statement posted on its website.

“Therefore, we are suspending all social events at fraternity houses effective immediately,” the statement continued. “This suspension will be effective until necessary measures are taken.”

In a letter to its members late Thursday, IFC officials referenced the Jan. 27 incident that led to the suspension and announced new procedures at Greek events, including the requirement of university IDs for entrance at all social functions, mandatory guest lists and wristbands, as well as a minimum of three security guards at all events.

“We believe that the procedures established will provide a safer environment for guests and members to socialize,” IFC president Landon Flowers wrote in a statement obtained by The Post. “We recognize that these procedures call for a culture change, and we look forward to your support in making that change.”

Sad.

TAKING SIDES: Colleges: Suspensions for protesting guns won’t hurt admission chances.

WEIRD, ALL THE EXPERTS TOLD ME THAT THE TAX BILL WOULD ONLY BENEFIT A HANDFUL OF BILLIONAIRES: Smucker’s Announces $1000 Tax Cut Bonuses for Employees, $20M Added to Employee Pensions.

(Classical reference in headline.)

MEGAN MCARDLE: Sorry, Blue States: You Can’t Fix the Tax Bill.

It’s an unhappy time to be a high-income professional in a blue state — or their governor. The new tax law, which caps the deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000, amounts to a roughly one-third increase in their effective state-and-local tax rate. That will be an ugly hit to the pocketbook.

They will fiercely resist any attempt to raise taxes further, bad news for mayors and governors who are often facing big pension holes that are eventually going to need to be filled with taxpayer money. Worse still, they will probably put pressure on said politicians to lower taxes. And some of them may start shopping for residences in lower-tax locales, taking their valuable, taxable incomes with them if they go.

Small wonder that officials in high-tax states are desperate to find some way to undo what congressional Republicans have wrought. A number of proposals have been floated in the last month, all of them interesting, none of them likely to work very well. . . .

The defenders of the new law will probably say “We’re not going after people for their political associations; we’re trying to curtail the subsidy to high-tax states.” And Dorf thinks that argument is likely to prevail.

Jonathan Adler, who teaches law at Case Western, was even more pungent, and succinct. While we don’t know what form the complaint will eventually take, since the states haven’t yet drafted it, “What we have seen [so far] would suggest that there is some sort of constitutional right to a SALT deduction. To state the claim is to refute it.”

Which won’t stop Cuomo et al. from making it.

SPARE THE ROD AND…: The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has just released a study (PDF link) on the effect of Obama-era suspension policies required by the Department of Education that coerced school districts into enacting softer discipline policies. Surprise, surprise – the policies had a negative impact on test scores in Wisconsin public schools.

FIGHT AGAINST “FAKE NEWS” FRAUGHT WITH FAKERY: Our intellectual betters in the EU, including France, Ireland, Germany and England have been passing or flirting with all sorts of laws criminalizing “fake news.” Industry giants Facebook, Twitter and Google have consistently failed at sorting out “fake news” and more often than not, simply add an ideological filter skewed against conservative-leaning speech as if that would fix the problem. I, for one, think the “problem” is greatly exaggerated.

But to heck with what I think. As free-speech advocacy group Article 19 points out, “neither states nor business are getting it right on ‘fake news’ and free expression”:

“The notion of ‘fake news’ is too vague to prevent subjective and arbitrary interpretation, whether in legislation or the rules of online platforms. “Fake news” laws can be (and frequently are under some regimes) used to suppress media freedom and jail journalists, but it would not be much reassurance to have private entities like the tech giants making these assessments instead. Such efforts can lead to undue censorship as a result of flawed algorithms and ill-thought out assessments of what can be considered “true” – not to mention that these businesses may be subject to the influence of non-democratic governments in certain countries where they operate.”

Just last week the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that two Jordanian journalists were arrested for violating that nation’s Press Law, which criminalizes “false information.” In the US, as in Jordan, there is a reflexive impulse of government actors to decry news they don’t like or that may be factually incorrect without proof of malicious motive as “fake” or “false.”

The proof of the problem with these kinds of laws is concrete. In early January, pressured by the new German “fake news” law, Twitter blocked the account of German satirical magazine Titanic after it posted tweets that parodied a far-right politician.  The German Federation of Journalists, which has criticized the law since it was first proposed last year, told CNN said that the suspension of Titanic was exactly the kind of censorship the group has warned about for months. Eurocrats countered by saying that “rules covering hate speech and illegal content on digital platforms [are] in line with those already imposed on print media.” Justice minister Heiko Maas said that “freedom of expression is not a license to commit crimes.” When a bureaucrat can’t tell the difference between “hate speech” and humor that actually lampoons “hate speech,” you know trouble is inevitable. (Not that the Germans are famous for their sense of humor anyway).

Worse yet, even The New York Times has admitted that the impact of the fake news propagated in social media may have been wildly exaggerated. While “fake news” is on the never-ending and always evolving list of reasons that Ms. Clinton lost an election she had thought was sewn up, it is emerging that these fake news stories and memes didn’t change votes, but rather reinforced the bubbles and bias of those who had already made up their minds.

Here’s a crazy idea: how about treating the polity as capable of thinking for themselves and embracing the “marketplace of ideas“? In the words of the great Nat Hentoff: “Let the asses bray.”

**Shameless Self-Promotion: I’ll be speaking on the keynote panel “Fake News Eats the World: Protecting Speech, Evaluating Truth & Validating our Decisions” at the Legaltech 2018 Conference in New York City on Thursday, January 31, 2018

 

I BELIEVE THAT: Senior Democratic Senate staffer reportedly brushes off anti-Semitism: ‘We do not care about anti-Semitism in this office.’

Writing for the Jewish News Service, Sarah Stern offered a staunch defense of Marcus’ record. In her Tuesday article, Stern reported that a senior Democratic Senate committee staffer made a bizarre statement while they were discussing Marcus’ nomination. From Stern’s account:

…while I was recently talking about Marcus with a senior policy adviser to the Democratic ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the adviser interrupted me with the response, ‘We do not care about anti-Semitism in this office.’

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is the ranking Democrat on the upper chamber’s HELP committee. That one of her senior policy advisers would flatly tell a pro-Israel advocate the office does not care about anti-Semitism seems almost unbelievably absurd.

Oh, it’s not as unbelievable as all that.

AT MOST, THEY SHOULD EARN MICROSUSPENSIONS: Ole Miss won’t rule out microaggression-related suspensions: The outgoing general counsel at Ole Miss recently suggested that the school can “punish” students for “a single offensive remark.” You’d expect more sense from Ole Miss, but then there’s the problem with insecure Red State schools trying too hard to be PC.

APRES MOI, LE DELUGE: Pensions will be ‘on the chopping block’ in next recession, Jerry Brown says.

WOW: Saudi Arabia arrests 11 princes who protested suspension of government payments.

Crown Prince bin Salman is not screwing around.

MICHAEL BARONE: The 2010s look more like Trump’s ideal America than Obama’s.

Who are the big population gainers? Some small units: the District of Columbia at 15 percent (big government, gentrification), North Dakota at 12 percent (fracking, which liberals failed to stop), Utah at 12 percent (1950s-style high birth rates).

Those with the largest impact, however, are Texas at 13 percent and Florida at 12 percent. Together, their population increase was 5.3 million, nearly one-third of the national total. Why? No state income taxes, light-touch regulation, and the resulting private sector booms. Immigration? Not so much this decade, with their 1.6 million immigrants outnumbered 2-1 by 3.5 migrants from other states.

Three states actually lost population. Two are small and easily explainable. West Virginia, minus 2 percent: Obama’s war on coal. Vermont, minus 1 percent. Woodstock-era migrants — Bernie Sanders, Howard Dean — liberalized the state’s culture and politics. But with high taxes and stringent environmental bans, no one is following.

The third loser is Illinois, minus 0.3 percent. It takes some doing to get people to flee one of mankind’s greatest artifacts, Chicago. But Michael Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House for all but two years since 1982, has proved up to it.

High and rising taxes, to pay for hugely underfunded public pensions, have done the trick. Net domestic outmigration from Illinois in 2010-17 was 642,000, more than any other state but New York’s 1,022,000.

The nexus between high taxation and domestic outflow is plain when you look at percentages. . . .

All of which suggests a counterintuitive hypothesis: The patterns of internal and immigrant migration of 2010-17 looks less like Barack Obama’s ideal America and more like Donald Trump’s.

The flight from high-tax to low-tax states, diminished by higher-skill immigration, the fracking boom in North Dakota, and the decline in hip Vermont: You might even say Trump started winning even when Obama was still in office.

The Dems will be pivoting from “demographics ensure our victory” to “it wasn’t Hillary’s fault, the demographics were against her!”

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: A BIG, BEAUTIFUL TRUMP 2018 ISSUE: CIVIL SERVICE REFORM.

President Trump is on the hunt for a 2018 issue—a strong follow-up to his tax-cut victory that will motivate voters and gain bipartisan support. Democrats are pushing for an infrastructure bill, inviting the president to spend with them. House GOP leaders are mulling entitlement reform—a noble goal, if unlikely in a midterm cycle.

Fortunately for the president, there’s a better idea out there that’s already a Trump theme. It’s also a sure winner with the public, so Republicans ought to be able to pressure Democrats to join.

Let 2018 be the year of civil-service reform—a root-and-branch overhaul of the government itself. Call it Operation Drain the Swamp.

When Candidate Trump first referred to “the swamp,” he was talking about the bog of Beltway lobbyists and “establishment” politicians. But President Trump’s first year in office has revealed that the real swamp is the unchecked power of those who actually run Washington: the two million members of the federal bureaucracy. That civil-servant corps was turbocharged by the Obama administration’s rule-making binge, and it now has more power—and more media enablers—than ever. We live in an administrative state, run by a left-leaning, self-interested governing class that is actively hostile to any president with a deregulatory or reform agenda.

It’s Lois Lerner, the IRS official who used her powers to silence conservative nonprofits. It’s the “anonymous” officials who leak national-security secrets daily. It’s the General Services Administration officials who turned over Trump transition emails to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the absence of a warrant. It’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Leandra English, who tried to stage an agency coup. It’s the EPA’s “Scientific Integrity Official” who has taken it upon herself to investigate whether Scott Pruitt is fit to serve in the office to which he was duly appointed. It’s the thousands of staffers across the federal government who continue to pump out reports on global warming and banking regulations that undermine administration policy.

More broadly, it is a federal workforce whose pay and benefits are completely out of whack with the private sector. A 2011 American Enterprise Institute study found federal employees receive wages 14% higher than what similar workers in the private sector earn. Factor in benefits and the compensation premium leaps to 61%. Nice, huh?

These huge payouts are the result of automatic increases, bonuses, seniority rules and gold-plated pensions that are all but extinct in the private sector. The federal workforce is also shielded by rules that make it practically impossible to fire or discipline bad employees, to relocate talent, or to reassign duties. These protections embolden bureaucrats to violate rules. Why was Ms. Lerner allowed to retire with full benefits? Because denying them would have cost far more—and required years of effort.

It’s been nearly 40 years since the last civil-service overhaul. Trump appointees are doing valiant work to shift the bureaucracy by canceling programs and using buyouts to cut staff. White House Counsel Don McGahn —a veteran at battling the federal career elite—is recruiting a generation of judicial nominees who are experts in administrative law. And Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, tapped another administrative-law genius, Neomi Rao, to head the deregulatory effort.

Even so, Trump officials spend most of their days fighting rearguard actions against their own employees when they should be implementing the president’s broad vision across the executive branch. Since congressional Republicans refuse to slash agencies, the least they can do is make oversight a priority.

The slashing is good, too. Plus: “If Democrats insist on engaging in class warfare, Republicans should take on the governing class. Washington is now home to a bureaucratic elite, fantastically paid and protected, divorced from economic reality, and self-invested in thwarting conservative policy efforts. Let’s drain the swamp, or at least make it smaller.”

JOEL KOTKIN: In the new year, worry-free California has a lot to worry about.

Propped up by media idolatry, California is moving from denial to delusion. Case in point: A recent AP story claimed that the state “flush with cash from an expanding economy” would consider spending an additional billion dollars on health care for the undocumented, as well as a raft of new subsidies for housing and the working poor.

All this wishful thinking and noble intentions ignores a slowing state economy, and a structural deficit, keyed largely to state worker pensions, that may now be headed towards a trillion dollars. Perhaps the widely celebrated, although poorly distributed “good times” of the past few years, have clouded Sacramento’s judgement.

Jerry Brown, repeatedly lionized in the national press, finally leaves office after next year, he will likely leave his successor both a totally out of control legislature and looming fiscal crisis. Brown’s replacement will also have to deal with a state that, according to the Social Science Research Council, suffers the greatest income inequality in the nation and the third worst economic environment for middle class families. Worse yet — upwards of one-third of the state population subsists near or in poverty.

It’s clear that period of tech-driven rapid growth is coming to an end. In the most recent quarter, BEA reports, California’s GDP growth ranked a meager 35th in the nation; just last year the state’s growth was twice the national average and among the highest in the nation.

Two factors are driving this turnabout — the fading of Silicon Valley’s boom and a hyper-inflated real estate market. After soaring for year, the tech economy has slowed dramatically. The San Jose Mercury recently reported that even as the country overall enjoyed strong job gains, the Bay Area lost 4,700 jobs in the last quarter, at least 1000 in the tech sector.

California has suffered from other tech busts before but this time there’s no suitable alternative — such as manufacturing or homebuilding — to create new source of high wage jobs. Overall blue collar jobs have declined for a decade; the state has lost a net 160,000 manufacturing jobs. In 2015-2016, sadly, near minimum wage jobs for almost two-thirds of the state’s net growth.

The unending housing crisis

California’s other primary driver has been escalating property prices.

It’s not a pretty picture.