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

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

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

ROGER SIMON: Disneyland Pyongyang? Can Trump Co-Opt Kim?

This speaks to what Trump is attempting.  A creature of popular culture himself, he knows its allure and how to utilize it.  Whether he will succeed is anybody’s guess, but it is a different way of dealing in international diplomacy and more than worth trying. Perhaps he should bring along a bag of Big Macs and some fries to the negotiation.

Okay, maybe not, but the underpinnings of all this are not new.  Those of us old enough to remember recall the subversive nature of American culture during Soviet times,  clandestine jazz concerts in Moscow boîtes, hidden screenings of certain movies, samizdat publication of forbidden novels, etc. Everybody wanted it, even, apparently, General Secretary Andropov.

Read the whole thing. Maybe Trump should simply invite Kim Jong-un to visit the Safeway in Houston.

BOBBY KENNEDY, FIFTY YEARS ON:

A lot of the gauzy image of RFK owes to his horrible killing and a lot of romantic revisionism by liberals, just as they did with JFK and the contrived “Camelot” legend after JFK’s killing in 1963. Perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to Robert Kennedy’s reputation is if he had not been killed. First of all, it is unlikely he’d have won the Democratic nomination in 1968.  On the morning of the California primary 50 years ago today, Hubert Humphrey remarked to an aide: “I want Bobby to win big. Number one, there are too many party leaders opposed to him for him to have any real chance of winning the nomination. Number two, since Oregon [where Kennedy had lost to McCarthy], he can’t use the argument that he went right through the primaries.” Bobby didn’t win big; his margin over McCarthy was only 5 percent—short of the landslide he needed. Incidentally, Kennedy played the racial demagogue with McCarthy in their one TV debate, with the totally false charge that “You say you want to move 10,000 black people to Orange County. . .” So much for the “racial healer.”

* * * * * * * *

The more durable strain of romantic myth is that King and Kennedy’s killings spelled the end of hope, the end of the dream, that America could redeem itself through politics.  “With King and Kennedy dead,” New Left historian Todd Gitlin wrote, “a promise of redemption not only passed out of American politics, it passed out of ourselves,” and Carl Oglesby of the SDS said “When these two heroes were killed, the movement was silenced.  The whole procedural foundation of our politics was shattered.”  This is nonsense, an exercise in selective memory and convenient revisionism: prior to their death the Left had little use for King, and no use for Kennedy. Remember that after King’s killing Stokely Carmichael said, “Bobby Kennedy pulled that trigger, just as well as anybody else.”   Kennedy especially was a threat to the New Left precisely because he appealed to the same youth constituency the New Left needed to survive and prosper. Kennedy’s position on Vietnam was to the right of McCarthy (and was not that far different from the “Vietnamization” policy that Nixon later embraced).  Tom Hayden always made great show about attending RFK’s funeral, holding his Cuban army cap in hand, tears streaming down his face.  Yet only a few days before Kennedy was killed Hayden had referred to Kennedy as “a little fascist.”

I’m not sure how much room Hayden had to talk on that last subject, but as RFK told Kansas State U in March of 1968, quoting from early “Progressive” William Allen White, “If our colleges and universities do not breed men who riot, who rebel, who attack life with all their youthful vision and vigor then there is something wrong with our colleges. The more riots that come on college campuses, the better the world for tomorrow.”

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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

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

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

Her political career was ruined forever.

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

Since then, the cultural paradigm has shifted.

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

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

I’M SO OLD, I CAN REMEMBER HOLLYWOOD’S #METOO ERA: Hollywood Women Invalidate Themselves in Supporting Samantha Bee.

Today celebrities — actresses — are coming forward to essentially declare that some women just have it coming. After more than half a year pleading with us to fix the problems that women are facing we now learn that our cultural elite believe certain women deserve to be degraded. Staggering to consider, after Hollywood and the media have been posturing the need to eliminate this very poison.

It was in 2015, when Hillary Clinton was launching her Presidential run, that a list of banned words was issued that should not be used when writing about the female candidate. Innocuous terms like “ambitious”, and “inevitable” were said to be forbidden for carrying sexist overtones. In just three years we now see the media defending vulgar epithets as acceptable in describing a prominent female in politics.

But this is our current climate. The need to apply one of only two labels to any story means these contradictions will be ever present. A day after the press was telling us to stop being crude they excuse Samantha Bee. While the entertainment industry demands women be treated better they applaud treating a woman in this fashion. The party that claims to support women, and claims conservative wage a war-on-women, now praises degrading a woman and mother in this fashion.

As Charles C.W. Cooke writes, “Samantha Bee’s Defenders Play Calvinball with the Language:”

Attempts to appeal to the speaker’s humanity — “that’s not the Ann I know!” — would fall flat. And not just in the case of an Ann Coulter or a Sean Hannity, but for anyone on the “wrong” side. If the speaker were tough to paint as a sexist, the word would be used instead as an example of the “latent” sexism of American culture — a sexism so potent that it pulls even ostensibly good people into its clasps. Breathless comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale would become de rigeur. And in would come the headshakers: “There’s just so much more work to be done,” they would sigh. “That the word came to mind in the first place shows that we’ve failed.”

But when Samantha Bee does it? It’s just a “word choice.” Hell, she might as well as have said “asparagus.”

When you’re “in the family,” you have the full protection of the soldato.

ALL BETTER NOW? Samantha Bee apologizes to Ivanka Trump: ‘I crossed a line.’

I would like to sincerely apologize to Ivanka Trump and to my viewers for using an expletive on my show to describe her last night. It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it.

It was “inappropriate and inexcusable” and entirely scripted and prerecorded, and TBS’s standards & practices division (aka, the network censors) allowed the show to air, presumably after previewing it. As Sean Davis tweets, “If the Turner non-reaction so far is any guide, Roseanne’s big mistake was putting her comments on Twitter instead of in her show’s script. The fact that a whole network reviewed, approved, promoted, and aired Bee’s scripted slur is the best protection Bee could ever buy,” adding that “The Roseanne and Samantha Bee scandals aren’t comparable. Roseanne wrote something on Twitter and her show was immediately cancelled. In the case of Samantha Bee, an entire network’s legal and editorial team knew exactly what Bee would say, approved it, and broadcast it.”

So it’s very likely this check-the-box apology will be enough for her to keep her job amidst the destructive malevolence that is Time-Warner-CNN-HBO. And her own promise to the New York Times at the beginning of 2017 that “We’re facing a new reality after the election. These next four years are going to require a broad coalition of straight-up decency.”

Interesting word that. Back in January, while leftists were freaking out over Trump’s “shithole” comments, Glenn wrote, “I’m amused when people who’ve spent 50 years declaring the very concept of decency repressive and outdated suddenly start with the ‘have you no decency?’ shtick. When Joseph Welch used that phrase, it was pretty much Peak Decency, or as we’re now told, a horrible regressive time of racism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia.”

Update: Samantha Bee Apologized for Giving Her Audience What It Demands.

Consider this: The YouTube channel for “Full Frontal” posted just that final 50-second segment containing her Ivanka rant as its own video Wednesday night. It’s now deleted, but the show clearly thought it was a winner until the backlash began.

Of course, Bee will be right back at it next week, just with less salty language.

As for the backlash to her remarks, I suspect media figures were extra-sensitive to getting busted for the dreaded double standard attack, given the swift blowback to Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett.

Bee should remember comedy is all about timing.

And getting paid: Autotrader.com “suspended” their sponsorship of Bee’s show; likely the network feared a repeat of social media panicking Laura Ingraham’s sponsors.

More: State Farm has also suspended its sponsorship of Bee’s show, according to showbiz site The Wrap. 

I’M SO OLD, I CAN REMEMBER WHEN THE LEFT STILL BELIEVED IN POSTMODERNISM:

Found via Small Dead Animals, where a commenter writes, “Heh….cool, now do a biology one on gender. For that one I’ll make popcorn.”

Heh, indeed.™

Update: “No irony lost: academics who have built careers pedalling post-modern theory now lamenting the advent of a ‘post-truth’ society.”

NOTHING TO SEE HERE, MOVE ALONG: Sweden distributes ‘be prepared for war’ leaflet to all 4.8m homes.

The Swedish government has begun sending all 4.8m of the country’s households a public information leaflet telling the population, for the first time in more than half a century, what to do in the event of a war.

Om krisen eller kriget kommer (If crisis or war comes) explains how people can secure basic needs such as food, water and heat, what warning signals mean, where to find bomb shelters and how to contribute to Sweden’s “total defence”.

The 20-page pamphlet, illustrated with pictures of sirens, warplanes and families fleeing their homes, also prepares the population for dangers such as cyber and terror attacks and climate change, and includes a page on identifying fake news.

One of these things is not like the others. Plus: “The leaflet advises people to think about how to cope if there was no heating, food became difficult to buy, prepare and store, there was no water in the taps or toilet, and cash machines, mobile phones and the internet stopped working.”

Remember when it was only paranoid preppers who worried about such things?

PRIVACY: I Tried to Watch a Video of a Puppy and Accidentally Sent Every Photo I’ve Ever Taken to Google.

I recently went to a concert, had a few beers, and woke up with a hangover and a notification that my phone had successfully uploaded 15,000 images and videos to Google Photos. Here’s what happened.

When Google Photos was announced in 2015, I downloaded it. I had no intention of giving every photo I’ve ever taken to Google — which categorizes them, runs them through image recognition and facial recognition algorithms, makes weird algorithmic slideshows out of them, and adds them to its massive photo database —but I wanted to try it out in any case. I quickly realized it was not for me, but I did not delete the app.

Instead, I just told iOS not to give Google Photos access to my photos, which means the app sat dormant on my phone for years. I could have and should have deleted the app. Most people probably would have.

ANYWAYS, a few weeks ago, I was at a concert and, between sets, suddenly remembered that my friend had just adopted a puppy.

I texted him asking to see a picture. He responded with a video that he uploaded to Google Photos. Because I had Google Photos installed on my phone, it tried to open in the app. You cannot use Google Photos on iOS — even to view photos that have been shared with you — without granting the app access to all the photos on your phone. Because I was drunk, and because I wanted to see the puppy, I changed my app permissions.

Plus:

I was careless and kind of dumb, but it’s not always easy to remember every specific setting I’ve ever selected for every app I’ve downloaded. And I think that’s one of the concerning things about “opt-in” privacy protection. They’re not really opt-in if you’re not sure what you’re opting into.

It’s clear that the author first had to give permission to Google Photos, but it’s also clear that Google uses its “free” apps to worm its way into its users’ lives in every imaginable way.

I REMEMBER NEW YORK CITY BEFORE IT BECAME A CESSPIT OF ELIMINATIONIST ANTI-SEMITISM: NYC Public School Holds Moment Of Silence For Hamas.

MARK PULLIAM ON TEXAS: The Snowflakes Take Charge at UT Law School: Political Correctness Trumps Pedagogy in Constitutional Law I.

Case in point: At UT law school, Professor Richard Alpert gave his 1L Constitutional Law I students a final exam consisting of half multiple-choice questions and half an essay responding to a prompt. The prompt asked students to assume they were advising the Governor of Kansas regarding the legality of segregated schools, prior to Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Students were asked to write a memo, no more than 1,000 words, raising the best legal arguments. Given the sensitivity of matters relating to race, it is unlikely that a white professor would have used such a prompt for an essay exam. Professor Alpert, however, is African-American.

After the exam was over, leftist students began to whine. One student, a white SJW, wrote an email to the class objecting that the question left him “shocked and disgusted.” The student encouraged his classmates to complain to the law school’s administration, asserting that “No one should have been forced to write an essay defending segregation.” Another white student defended Professor Alpert’s essay question as a legitimate pedagogical exercise.

A student of color admonished her classmates, asking that they “remember the amount of privilege that each of us sit in as we work towards solutions to mitigate or, possibly, remedy these concerns.” Continuing, this student scolded the initial objector with these words: “If you are not a person of color and you felt triggered by the exam question, I would encourage you to actually talk to a person of color in the class because, to be frank, the question did not address your experience. And because it is not your experience, it is not you [sic] place to take charge of the dialogue without consulting the individuals who are actually impacted.” Nevertheless, the student of color indicated that the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society, a student organization at UT affiliated with the National Black Law Students Association, “has been made aware of this exam question.”

The UT administration quickly assumed the fetal position. Within days, Professor Alpert sent an apology to the class, reproduced in full below.

This isn’t going to make Texas grads more appealing on the job market.

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

TERRY TEACHOUT’S PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS AN UNPERSON:

I won’t lose any sleep over the twin descents of Messrs. Cosby and Levine into the dark pit of disgrace. But there’s a difference—a huge one—between shunning such men and rewriting the history of which they are a prominent part. Not only was Mr. Cosby the first black man to star in a weekly dramatic TV series, “I Spy,” but “The Cosby Show,” for which he is now best remembered, was universally praised for portraying a middle-class black family in a way that appealed to viewers of all races. As for Mr. Levine, he was one of the half-dozen greatest opera conductors of the postwar era. Yet the Kennedy Center and Met Opera Radio seem to be trying to pretend that neither man ever existed.

Few of us like to admit it, but most human beings are impossibly complicated, none more so than artists. You can simultaneously be a great comedian and a sexual predator, a great musician and a pedophile. To argue otherwise is to falsify history, and to falsify history is to dynamite the foundations of reality.

I used the word “unperson” earlier in this piece. It was coined by George Orwell in “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” his 1948 dystopian fantasy about a totalitarian society similar to the Soviet Union whose ruler, Big Brother, rewrites history every day to expunge his enemies from the record books. To this end, his Ministry of Truth prints new editions of books and newspapers from which the names of politically incorrect “unpersons” have been scissored out, even as the offenders themselves have been jailed and brainwashed. As a character explains, “If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened—that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death?”

Perhaps it doesn’t matter all that much that the Kennedy Center has hosed Mr. Cosby’s name off its increasingly trivial roll of pop-culture sycophancy. But Met Opera Radio did something far more consequential when it chucked Mr. Levine’s historic recordings into the memory hole, an act of suppression that bears a distant but nonetheless definite resemblance to book-burning. By doing so, it effectively declared that great musicians must also be good men—a position that can be defended only by the tone-deaf.

In addition to the real-life acts allegedly committed by Cosby and the Met conductor James Levine, there’s that massive amount of badthink on display throughout even the most left-leaning old television shows and movies, which the modern left insists be judged by the current standards of #MeToo.

The Great Purge of 20th Century Mass Culture will be astonishing to watch, a much more insidious version of the way the arrival of the Beatles to America completely pushed swing music, America’s pop music from the 1920s through the early 1960s, into the dustbin of history. With no past to draw upon, what happens next to pop culture won’t be pretty, as Mark Steyn warned in a piece titled “The Totalitarianism of the Now,” written in August of last year, when the left was transitioning from toppling statues to toppling real-life men in pop culture and the fine arts:

I’ve said many times that, when a people lose their future, they also lose their past: There will be no West End theatre in an Islamized London – no Oscar Wilde, no Bernard Shaw, no Noël Coward, and eventually no Shakespeare. There will be no Berlin Philharmonic in an Islamized Germany — no Brahms, Beethoven, Bruckner. There will be no classic rock on the radio dial in an Hispanic Florida — so no Motorhead, no Def Leppard, no Blue Oyster Cult. Such are the vicissitudes of demographic transformation.

But perhaps it won’t matter anyway. Our age not only disdains its inheritance, but actively reviles it, and wishes to destroy it. It is a totalitarian impulse. Nescire autem quid antequam natus sis acciderit id est semper esse puerum: To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child. To despise what happened before you were born is to remain forever a juvenile delinquent in the thuggish gang of the present tense.

“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches,” Ray Bradbury wrote in the 50th anniversary edition of Fahrenheit 451.

TRUMP’s INITIAL RESPONSE TO NORTH KOREA’S SUMMIT THREAT AND LIBYA GIMMICK: It amounts to a non-committal shrug until he sees what Kim Jong Un actually does:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday offered a non-committal response to North Korean threats to cancel his planned summit with Kim Jong Un, saying he hadn’t received any information that would put the talks in jeopardy.

“We haven’t been notified at all, we’ll have to see,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, where he was meeting his Uzbek counterpart. “We haven’t seen anything, we haven’t heard anything. We will see what happens.”

But pressed whether he would still insist upon North Korea’s denuclearization as a condition for the talks, Trump nodded yes.

South Korean officials have reacted with similar cool.

Since early March, when North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un told South Korean officials he would discuss denuclearizing his regime without pre-conditions, everyone has known at some point Little Rocket Man and his Pyongyang gang would wiggle and yelp –and possibly stall the process– with the goal of politically dividing Seoul and Washington.

Yesterday Kim Kye Gwan, North Korean First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, wiggled and yelped as he “sharply criticized American officials – especially national security adviser John Bolton – for suggesting that Libya could be a template for denuclearizing North Korea.” Kim added that North Korea’s nuclear program is far more advanced than Libya’s nascent program.

That’s true. However, the vice minister’s complaint ignores several facts, which is a good indication it’s an agitation-propaganda ploy to try to get the Trump Administration to accept something less that complete denuclearization.

Vice Minister Kim attacked Bolton for telling the press that the technical process of denuclearizing North Korea will be very similar that used in Libya — access to sites, verification, removal and disposal of nuclear weapons material and manufacturing capabilities. Bolton also said the deal the Bush Administration struck with Libya is a “template” for the agreement Japan, South Korea and the U.S. seek with the North Korean dictatorship. Bolton expressed an informed opinion. North Korea went ballistic — so to speak.

The Vice Minister’s Complaint could be read as a freudian slip revealing paranoid Pyongyang’s deepest fear: an internal North Korean rebellion. We know Kim Jong Un fears rebellion and coup. He had his half-brother murdered after hearing rumors North Korean expats had asked Kim Jong Nam to help reform the Kim regime. Rebellion and coup connect to Libya. Remember, Libyan rebels killed Libya’s denuclearized dictator Muammar Gaddafi. If Gaddafi had possessed deliverable nukes he might have stopped foreign states from aiding the rebels, but maybe not. A dictator fighting off an internal rebellion is a distracted man. Threatening to nuke powerful states while battling a domestic coup gives the powerful states a great reason to launch an all out attack to eliminate those weapons.

North Korea is guilty of poor timing. The wiggle and yelp routine started too soon. Pyongyang should have waited a couple of more weeks before exhibiting totalitarian pique and threatening to scuttle the Trump-Kim talks.

Now the big question — who’ll be the first person to call the the talks The U.S. Dotard-Little Rocket Man Summit?

WHAT’S NEW? John Kerry: Reporting for Duty… From Vietnam to Iran.

Pointing to “peace” organizations that the KGB saturated with dubious anti-American propaganda, Pacepa stated: “The quote from Senator Kerry is unmistakable Soviet-style sloganeering from this period. I believe it is very likely a direct quote from one of these organizations’ propaganda sheets.”

Andropov would proudly tell Pacepa that the KGB’s Vietnam campaign had been “our most significant success.” Thanks to the manipulation of the American peace movement.

One can debate where and when John Kerry got his information. What is undeniable, however, was its value to America’s enemy: the Viet Cong.

In Unfit for Command, John O’Neill recalls the experience of one his band of brothers, Bill Lupetti, a Navy corpsman who had treated injured Swift Boat soldiers. Lupetti was stationed at An Thoi, where both O’Neill and Kerry had served. For Memorial Day 2004, Lupetti returned to Vietnam, painfully visiting Ho Chi Minh City, wandering through the streets earnestly looking to find out whether certain Vietnamese friends had survived the merciless communist takeover enabled by the American withdrawal.

Lupetti happened upon the War Remnants Museum. Inside, he came to an exhibit dedicated to “heroes” who had helped the communists win the war. A wall plaque at the head of the exhibit stated: “We would like to thank the communist parties and working class countries of the world.” This included the “wholehearted support” of various “progressive human beings.”

Among those progressives represented in pictures, Lupetti glimpsed American campus radicals from the 1960s. (In fact, Jane Fonda’s smiling face was captured in a photo in a separate Women’s Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, standing aside Madame Binh.) And there, Lupetti was staggered by the sight of a photo of John Kerry — the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee that year. There he was, John Kerry, in a special exhibit honoring those whose “heroic” contributions had helped the Viet Cong defeat the United States.

The communist Vietnamese never forgot John Kerry’s testimony in 1971. It had been a great help. And perhaps today, in Iran, Kerry’s words are again being heralded, this time by the world’s worst theocratic terror state.

Read the whole thing. And remember: The scorpion stings the frog, every time.

GREAT MOMENTS IN GASLIGHTING. In “Kanye West and the Question of Freedom,” Andrew Sullivan writes:

I remember a different time — and it wasn’t so long ago. A friend reminded me of this bloggy exchange Ta-Nehisi and I had in 2009, on the very subject of identity politics and its claims. We clearly disagreed, deeply. But there was a civility about it, an actual generosity of spirit, that transcended the boundaries of race and background. We both come from extremely different places, countries, life experiences, loyalties. But a conversation in the same pages was still possible, writer to writer, human to human, as part of the same American idea. It was a debate in which I think we both listened to each other, in which I changed my mind a bit, and where neither of us denied each other’s good faith or human worth.

It’s only a decade ago, but it feels like aeons now. The Atlantic was crammed with ideological opposites then, jostling together in the same office, and our engagement with each other and our readerships was a crackling and productive one. There was much more of that back then, before Twitter swallowed blogging, before identity politics became completely nonnegotiable, before we degenerated into these tribal swarms of snark and loathing. I think of it now as a distant island, appearing now and then, as the waves go up and down. The riptide of tribalism can capture us all in the end, until we drown in it.

Indeed. Flashback to September of 2008, when the Atlantic ran a cover story headlined “Why War is His Answer – Inside the Mind of John McCain” by future Obama administration stenographer Jeffrey Goldberg and employed photographer Jill Greenberg who admitted:

When The Atlantic called Jill Greenberg, a committed Democrat, to shoot a portrait of John McCain for its October cover, she rubbed her hands with glee…..

After getting that shot, Greenberg asked McCain to “please come over here” for one more set-up before the 15-minute shoot was over. There, she had a beauty dish with a modeling light set up. “That’s what he thought he was being lit by,” Greenberg says. “But that wasn’t firing.”

What was firing was a strobe positioned below him, which cast the horror movie shadows across his face and on the wall right behind him. “He had no idea he was being lit from below,” Greenberg says. And his handlers didn’t seem to notice it either. “I guess they’re not very sophisticated,” she adds.

Beyond the deliberately harshly lit cover photo, Greenberg would use one of her outtakes to Photoshop lipstick, fangs, and blood dripping from McCain’s mouth with the caption “I Am a Bloodthirsty Warmonger” above the altered shot.

Concurrently, Sullivan himself was busy, as PJM alumnnist Bryan Preston wrote, hounding Sarah Palin “to prove that her son, Trig, is in fact her son. There was and is no evidence that Trig Palin is not Sarah Palin’s son, but that never deterred our Utero-5-0 investigating agent, Andrew Sullivan. He pestered her for her medical records, speculated irresponsibly that Bristol Palin is actually Trig’s mother, and generally exposed himself as an ignorant buffoon on the subjects of women, child birth, life, the universe, and everything. (Useful summary and takedown here, written by Justin Elliott.)”

As Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard noted at the time, “The Atlantic Becomes a Laughingstock,” with a prophetic warning:

I find the prospect of The Atlantic devolving into some version of Free Republic or Daily Kos to be immensely worrisome. Hopefully David Bradley will do something to put his house in order. Soon.

In retrospect, that was a nice little mile marker on the road to Trump. Too bad the Atlantic didn’t heed Last’s warning; the Daily Kos is very much what the Atlantic devolved into, as witnessed by their distaff columnists’ hissy fit over Goldberg’s hiring of Kevin Williamson.

I REMEMBER WHEN PEOPLE THOUGHT MORE EDUCATION WOULD LEAD TO MORE TOLERANCE FOR DIFFERENT VIEWS: It Is Educated Voters Who Are Making Politics More Polarized. “In this view, the strength of a voter’s identity as a Democrat or Republican drives political engagement more than personal gain. Better educated voters more readily form ‘identity centric’ political commitments to their party of choice, which goes a long way toward explaining the strength of liberal convictions among more affluent Democrats.”

That reminds me of this on the behavior of college-educated voters from The Great Revolt:

In counties with far more than the national average of 29.8 percent of adults with bachelor’s degrees, Trump fared poorly. Of America’s one hundred most educated counties, he carried only nineteen — Romney had carried twenty-six in defeat and outpolled Trump in almost all of them by significant margins. Simply put, Americans who live their lives among a group of friends and neighbors with varied educational backgrounds preferred Trump more than Clinton or Romney, while college-educated Americans who live exclusively among other degree holders were less likely to support Trump, even if they were otherwise Republican.

Trump’s performance among college-educated voters who live in counties below the national average in education levels was right on the republican par — particularly in midsize and smaller counties in the Great Lakes swing states that determined the outcome of the election.

These voters did not face the kind of social pressure to oppose the lewd and coarse Trump that their college-educated peers did in the suburbs.

The enforced conformity of Democratic constituencies, from college-educated voters to black voters, is really amazing, and it’s something that I’d be looking for ways to break down if I were a GOP strategist.

IF THE RIGHT WANTED TO UNDERMINE THE SOCIAL AND INTELLECTUAL AUTHORITY OF ACADEMIA, IT COULDN’T DO BETTER THAN ACADEMIA HAS DONE FOR ITSELF:

Last month, during a conference for scholars who study international affairs, Simona Sharoni, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Merrimack College, asked a crowded hotel elevator what floor everyone needed. Richard Ned Lebow, a professor of political theory at King’s College London, replied, “Ladies’ lingerie” (or, as Sharoni remembers it, “Women’s lingerie.”) Several people laughed. Was that sexual harassment?

Academics have been debating the question among themselves since last month, when Sharoni filed a formal complaint about the incident, triggering an investigation by the International Studies Association. The ISA would later conclude that Lebow must apologize in writing by May 15.

So far, he has refused.

He should refuse, and the filing of such a complaint is itself a form of sexual harassment, and an indicator that Prof. Sharoni is not fit to attend public events.

And as I say, you could write a strong argument for patriarchy using only the things feminists say about the fragility of women.

AMERICA’S COOLEST COLD WAR WEAPON: One late, dark and rainy night in New York –circa 1981 to 1983– on some obscure cable channel on Manhattan’s then obscure (and now long gone) cable system, I perchance heard an interview with Dizzy Gillespie in which the bop jazz great talked about playing a gig in eastern Europe on one of those “State Department” tours. The interview was in black and white video. The tv was a color tv — perhaps this is a clue to the date of the interview. Anyway, Mr. Gillespie told the interviewer the police in this eastern European despotism brought dogs into the venue to confront the crowd while his band was on stage. That struck him as, you know, awkward, and, well, awful. This is my interpretation — the cops and dogs struck him as cold and chilling and cruelly inappropriate. As I remember the interview, prior to his comment about the cops and dogs, Mr. Gillespie remarked on how much eastern European audiences enjoyed American jazz and how that delighted him. Perhaps I incorrectly recollect the specifics, but somewhere out there the video exists. I got to hear Dizzy play live twice and he was electric.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIALIZES: Rod Rosenstein Protests:

His choice of the word “extorted” is illuminating. Mr. Rosenstein is right to say Justice and FBI aren’t obliged to “just open our doors to allow Congress to come and rummage through the files.”

But that isn’t happening here. In the cases at hand, Congress is acting through its committees as a separate and co-equal branch of government—the branch that funds Justice and has the right and obligation to exercise oversight. Congress is making specific requests regarding specific questions and documents.

As for the articles of impeachment, these too are expressions of Congress’s power. The practical worth of contempt and impeachment actions is less about removing an official from power than leverage to encourage cooperation. We had a demonstration of how this works in January, when Mr. Rosenstein and the new FBI director, Christopher Wray, tried to make an end run around the House Intelligence Committee’s subpoenas for information about the Steele dossier on Donald Trump. Only when Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress would hold them in contempt if they didn’t comply did they turn over the documents.

Mr. Rosenstein’s irritation might be warranted if the documents produced so far demonstrated that Congress’s demands were frivolous or imperiled national security. But remember how Justice warned the Intelligence Committee that making public its report on FISA warrants would be “extraordinarily reckless”? Instead, it provided the public with welcome (but still incomplete) insight about what went down in the 2016 election.

Or take the recently released memos written by then-FBI director James Comey to “memorialize” his private conversations with Donald Trump. We can see why Mr. Comey might not want it known that he assured Mr. Trump he didn’t leak or “do weasel things.” Now that everyone’s seen the memos, it’s clear nothing in them justifies the stonewalling before they were turned over to Congress. . . .

Justice can legitimately withhold information from Congress that might jeopardize specific criminal cases. But that doesn’t seem relevant here. We don’t want to see Mr. Rosenstein fired or impeached, but he and the FBI need to recognize Congress’s constitutional authority.

The Justice Department and FBI stink to high heaven, and Congress is justified in investigating them.

WIRED MAGAZINE EDITOR EQUATES TRUMP TO A ‘STEPFATHER WHO WAS GOING TO RAPE US:’

On the final day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the editor of one of the country’s leading magazines felt it appropriate to compare President Donald Trump’s inauguration to incestuous rape.

In a tweet posted Monday afternoon, Virginia Heffernan, a contributing editor for Wired, referred to former President Barack Obama as “our true father” and equated Trump to “a stepfather who was going to rape us”:

Heffernan tweeted, “When Obama left the White House in a helicopter that horrible day, I had the impression our true father was leaving & the nation was stuck with a stepfather who was going to rape us. Now I increasingly believe that the media is the mother who won’t stand up for us & defy him.”

What is it with Wired staffers and presidential-induced melodrama? Back in November of 2008, it was then-Wired contributor Spencer Ackerman who infamously wrote on the Journolist, immediately after Obama won, “Let’s just throw [PJM columnist Michael] Ledeen against a wall. Or, pace Dr. Alterman, throw him through a plate glass window. I’ll bet a little spot of violence would shut him right the fuck up, as with most bullies.”

I’m so old, I can remember, prior to its acquisition in 1998 by Condé Nast, that Wired’s editors were made of sterner stuff, back when the magazine was founded by a libertarian. Speaking of whom, Louis Rossetto takes a much more reasoned view of Trump than today’s Wired editors, telling Reason’s Nick Gillespie:

For most of my life, my tendency has been to try to diminish the power of the state. Part of that is literal power, and part of it is the power that’s in your head. The president has become this figure of immense authority that you’re obliged to respect, who has the ability to project that power all over the planet.

Trump is a refreshing reminder that the guy in the White House is another human being. The power of the state is way too exalted. Bringing that power back to human scale is an important part of what needs to be done to correct the insanity that’s been going on, where you have these large institutions that control all aspects of our lives. Leaching respect out of the state is kind of a good thing.

Not the least of which, a child-like worldview that makes you equate the president to your father or step-father, and the media to his wife.

“MY CULTURE IS NOT YOUR GODDAMN PROM DRESS:” White girl in Chinese prom dress triggers SJW Twitter.

And from right around this time in 2016, Video Game Director David Jaffe Plays The KKK Card As He Ruins Superhero Prom Picture:

Most of what I wrote back then applies to this year’s lefty freakout over prom-going teenagers, with just minor touchups.

As John Nolte wrote at Big Hollywood in 2015 when the Onion’s otherwise often enjoyable AV Club Website attacked a Michigan restaurateur for symbolically “banning” Hollywood’s Michael Moore and Seth Rogan when the two smeared the late Chris Kyle after Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper proved to be a surprise box office smash:

And how does the AV Club respond to this symbolic but righteous protest? By using no fewer than 7 paragraphs to relentlessly mock the Little Guy and his business.

[Restaurant owner Tommy] Brann has come up with the equally deadly revenge of denying him “decent, better than average, but nothing to rave about” fare delivered through “terrible service” amid “dated and kinda dirty” decor, of the sort that Americans must consume daily to live. Rogen and Moore are hereby condemned to slowly starve to death in the Brann’s parking lot, yearning fruitlessly for Brann’s Classic Onion Straw Loaf, the lights of the sign that illuminates their fatal mistake growing dim in their eyes.

Is anyone else old enough to remember when speaking truth to and defying power was the in-thing?

When the American Left reveals who they are really for and against, it is chilling.

Know your place and shut your mouth, little man.

And now you too, girls in Asian-style dresses, as well as teenage boys with geeky but harmless superhero T-shirts and the prom dates who love them. As Fred Siegel wrote in 2014 history of the American left, The Revolt Against the Masses, “The best short credo of liberalism came from the pen of the once canonical left-wing literary historian Vernon Parrington in the late 1920s.‘Rid society of the dictatorship of the middle class.’”

And if that means smearing high school kids as crypto-racists as part of the PC cleanup, hey, at least you can feel proud knowing you fought the good fight by Speaking Truth to Prom.

UPDATE: “The entire corpus of Identity-politics ideology is just a new way to bully,” Jordan Peterson tweets, with “the additional twist of simultaneously claiming higher moral ground.”

Found via John Sexton at Hot Air, who notes the whiplash factor of this train wreck: “Haven’t we seen the entire media recently defend the honor of the Parkland teens on the grounds that, Hey, they’re just kids? It’s amazing how fast the left goes from ‘don’t attack these poor kids’ to a mean girl army ready to destroy someone the same age over their choice of prom dress. Even more incredible, you can bet they all feel proud of themselves for this shameful behavior.”

Of course — it reminds them that they’re the anointed, as Thomas Sowell would say.

KANYE WEST IS FORCING LIBERALS TO CHECK THEIR ARTISTIC PRIVILEGE: “It’s not just that the assumption that all your favorite artists are reflect your own values makes you entitled and intolerant. It’s that it dulls your critical faculties. The idea of objective criticism is non-starter when you assume that any art that doesn’t result in personal affirmation is somehow bad. And to the extent that art must be challenged in the instances where it does inject dangerous values into the cultural bloodstream, that’s hard to do when you think it might otherwise be advancing political goals that you agree with.”

I’m so old, I can remember when politics was secondary in the entertainment industry to actually entertaining audiences.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS. MSNBC: Get It? Trump Is Like the Mob Boss in The Godfather:

Trump is like mobster Don Corleone in The Godfather because he kinda quoted a line from the classic gangster movie. Twice (so far) on Thursday, MSNBC played a clip of Marlon Brando saying, “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” This was to introduce discussions of the President.

Why? Because Trump said of the possibility of re-entering TPP: “Unless they offer us a deal that we cannot refuse, I would not go back into TPP.” Not quite the line, but close enough for MSNBC hosts apparently. Co-host Willie Geist opened Morning Joe with both the clip from the film and Trump. He marveled, “Going right to The Godfather this morning.”

And of course, CNN, with no memory of their past excesses, in February, saw Trump as “a mafia boss gone mad!” But why is that a problem to them? I’m old enough to remember back when a president posing as a gangster was seen as being cool, hip and desirable by the MSM, including this 2010 headline at CNN by Rev. Wright acolyte Roland Martin: “Time for Obama to go ‘gangsta’ on GOP.”

Choose the form of your destructor

I’M SO OLD, I CAN REMEMBER WHEN THE LEFT POSED AS HATING BLACKLISTS: Conservative Street Artist Sabo Banned from Twitter Permanently.

Related: Twitter Censors Mainstream Conservatism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’s not trustworthy.

A REAL LIBERTARIAN MOMENT:  HAPPY 75th BIRTHDAY TO UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO LAW PROFESSOR RICHARD A. EPSTEIN*:

I am not the only person I know who affectionately refers to Richard as “the smartest person in the world,” and … well … we’re really not joking.  There may be more lively minds out there somewhere.  But I haven’t found them.

My alma mater, the University of Chicago Law School, will be celebrating Richard and his many accomplishments this weekend, and I hope to be on hand to help. I wrote this little recollection for the book the Law School is preparing for him:

It was late September, 1978—my first day of law school.  Sure, I was a little scared.  But mostly I was feeling confident … maybe even a little full of myself.  I was a law student at the University of Chicago for goodness sake.  What could be better?

I was going to defend the Constitution …

I was going to let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream …

And I had a gorgeous leather briefcase to prove it.

The only problem on that sunny Hyde Park morning was that I hadn’t really worked out the details on all that justice stuff.   But I would.  I knew I would. The combination of the University of Chicago and that briefcase really seemed unbeatable.

Then came Richard Epstein, speaking rapidly and in perfectly formed paragraphs. His subject was the grand old case of Pierson v. Post.   He took great delight in showing that I couldn’t even settle on the just solution to a dispute over a dead fox (with or without my wonderful briefcase).  As for defending the Constitution, that would need to be put on hold … maybe even indefinitely.

That morning was the last time I remember feeling confident about anything.

Incidentally, I still have the briefcase. It’s the only remnant of my pre-Epstein self.

*Yes, I know that Richard’s primary affiliation these days is with New York University.  But as a University of Chicago alumna I refuse to acknowledge it.

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

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

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

YEAH, PRETTY MUCH:

What really happened is that women at The Atlantic complained that Kevin’s abortion views upset them. And since making women feel bad about their life choices is a mortal sin, he had to go.

Remember, at The Atlantic, women can’t even handle men’s shirts. More on that here.

ANOTHER PRO-SANCTUARY CITY CLAIM BITES THE DUST: Ask a defender of sanctuary cities to defend the policy and their first argument invariably is immigrants fearing deportation won’t help local crime fighters who cooperate with the feds. We hear it so often, it’s become a truism, part of the governing assumptions underlying of the debate about illegal immigration.

But guess what? There’s as much credible, concrete evidence for this sanctuary claim as there is for the proposition that Nancy Pelosi’s secret pleasure is watching Beta tapes (remember those?) of old Ronald Reagan speeches. LifeZette ace Brendan Kirby has the details on a new report out today from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

This group is an advocate of tough immigration enforcement, to be sure, but, as FAIR’s Matthew O’Brien told Kirby, “Illegal immigrants aren’t afraid of ICE. I mean, come on, we have DACA kids chaining themselves to the Capitol, refusing to leave.”

SUCKING IN THE SEVENTIES: The Book That Incited a Worldwide Fear of Overpopulation.

On February 1970, Ehrlich’s work finally paid off: He was invited onto NBC’s “Tonight Show.” Johnny Carson, the comedian-host, was leery of serious guests like university professors because he feared they would be pompous, dull and opaque. Ehrlich proved to be affable, witty and blunt. Thousands of letters poured in after his appearance, astonishing the network. The Population Bomb shot up the best-seller lists. Carson invited Ehrlich back in April, just before the first Earth Day. For more than an hour he spoke about population and ecology, about birth control and sterilization, to an audience of tens of millions. After that, Ehr­lich returned to the show many times.

* * * * * * * *

“Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” he promised in a 1969 magazine article. “Sometime in the next 15 years, the end will come,” Ehrlich told CBS News a year later. “And by ‘the end’ I mean an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity.”

Such statements contributed to a wave of population alarm then sweeping the world. The International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Population Council, the World Bank, the United Nations Population Fund, the Hugh Moore-backed Association for Voluntary Sterilization and other organizations promoted and funded programs to reduce fertility in poor places. “The results were horrific,” says Betsy Hartmann, author of Reproductive Rights and Wrongs, a classic 1987 exposé of the anti-population crusade. Some population-control programs pressured women to use only certain officially mandated contraceptives. In Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, South Korea and Taiwan, health workers’ salaries were, in a system that invited abuse, dictated by the number of IUDs they inserted into women. In the Philippines, birth-control pills were literally pitched out of helicopters hovering over remote villages. Millions of people were sterilized, often coercively, sometimes illegally, frequently in unsafe conditions, in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

In the 1970s and ’80s, India, led by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay, embraced policies that in many states required sterilization for men and women to obtain water, electricity, ration cards, medical care and pay raises. Teachers could expel students from school if their parents weren’t sterilized. More than eight million men and women were sterilized in 1975 alone. (“At long last,” World Bank head Robert McNamara remarked, “India is moving to effectively address its population problem.”) For its part, China adopted a “one-child” policy that led to huge numbers—possibly 100 million—of coerced abortions, often in poor conditions contributing to infection, sterility and even death. Millions of forced sterilizations occurred.

Curiously, the name Norman Borlaug doesn’t show up until the comments section. In any case, if you’re old enough to remember the 1970s’ non-stop doomfest, Ehrlich and his media enablers are some of the people you can “thank.”

(Classical reference in headline.)

WHOM THE GODS DESTROY THEY FIRST MAKE NIXONIAN: When does reporting become breaking and entering?

You probably recall this story from February, though it didn’t seem to have much of a lifespan in the mainstream press. New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi was found to have gone into the home of Corey Lewandowski when he wasn’t there and taken a picture as part of a story she was working on. There may be a lawsuit or criminal trial coming out of that as a result, but the details remain unclear. It should seem obvious to one and all that Nuzzi did something wrong, but precisely how wrong was it?

That’s the question Joan Vennochi at the Boston Globe is tackling this week, and to my great surprise, she appears to find some sort of gray area. Sure, it was a crime. But was it a crime crime (to adapt a phrase from Whoopi Goldberg about rape)? She’s even able to find some experts to back up the idea that there might be a different, more flexible standard of justice for special people like reporters.

I’m old enough to remember when a “third-rate burglary” was the stuff of impeachment, if it benefitted a Republican. In contrast, “Liberals need to stop trying to get us to call them ‘progressives’ or whatever word it is this week,” Kathy Shaidle once wrote. “They should just get brutally honest with themselves and with the rest of us and rename themselves the ‘It’s Different When We Do It’ Party.”

As Glenn noted last month, “Trump’s superpower is his ability, just by existing, to bring out the deep and pervasive rot in America’s institutions and the people who run them.”

YOU WANT TO BE A SHITHOLE COUNTRY? THIS IS HOW: More Racist Rhetoric From South Africa: Whites ‘Must Leave Everything;’ ‘Not calling for the slaughter of white people‚ at least for now.’

This sort of sentiment dominated Zimbabwe for decades as it went from breadbasket to, well, shithole. Over a decade ago, Nick Kristof reported that Zimbabweans were nostalgic for the old days of Rhodesia:

The hungry children and the families dying of AIDS here are gut-wrenching, but somehow what I find even more depressing is this: Many, many ordinary black Zimbabweans wish that they could get back the white racist government that oppressed them in the 1970’s.

“If we had the chance to go back to white rule, we’d do it,” said Solomon Dube, a peasant whose child was crying with hunger when I arrived in his village. “Life was easier then, and at least you could get food and a job.”

Mr. Dube acknowledged that the white regime of Ian Smith was awful. But now he worries that his 3-year-old son will die of starvation, and he would rather put up with any indignity than witness that.

An elderly peasant in another village, Makupila Muzamba, said that hunger today is worse than ever before in his seven decades or so, and said: “I want the white man’s government to come back. Even if whites were oppressing us, we could get jobs and things were cheap compared to today.”

His wife, Mugombo Mudenda, remembered that as a younger woman she used to eat meat, drink tea, use sugar and buy soap. But now she cannot even afford corn gruel. “I miss the days of white rule,” she said.

Nearly every peasant I’ve spoken to in Zimbabwe echoed those thoughts.

You’d think that Zimbabwe would be a cautionary example for South Africa, but it seems to be more of a how-to guide. And hey, the political insiders got rich.

IT’S NICE TO BE WANTED: Demand for American Sperm Is Skyrocketing in Brazil; Explosive growth spurred by more wealthy single women and lesbian couples turning to U.S. donors.

With “jewel-tone eyes,” blond hair and a “smattering of light freckles,” Othello looks nothing like most Brazilians, the majority of whom are black or mixed-race. Yet the “Caucasian” American cashier, described in those terms by the Seattle Sperm Bank and known as Donor 9601, is one of the sperm providers most often requested by wealthy Brazilian women importing the DNA of young U.S. men at unprecedented rates.

Over the past seven years, human semen imports from the U.S. to Brazil have surged some 3,000% as more rich single women and lesbian couples select donors whose online profiles suggest they will yield light-complexioned and preferably blue-eyed children.

Everyone wants a “pretty kid” and for many parents in Brazil, where prejudice often runs deep, that means “the white biotype—light-colored eyes and skin,” said Susy Pommer, a 28-year-old data analyst from São Paulo who decided to get pregnant last year after a breast-cancer scare left her eager to raise a child right away with her partner, Priscilla.

The preference for white donors reflects the persistent racism in a country where social class and skin color correlate with glaring accuracy. More than 50% of Brazilians are black or mixed-race, a legacy of Brazil having imported more than 10 times as many African slaves than the U.S.; it was the last Western country to ban slavery, in 1888. The descendants of white colonizers and immigrants—many of whom were lured to Brazil in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the ruling elite explicitly sought to “whiten” the population—control most of the country’s political power and wealth.

In such a racially divided society, having fair-skinned offspring is often viewed as a way to provide a child with better prospects, from a higher salary to fairer treatment by the police.

I can remember when Brazil was held up as a post-racial ideal, though to be fair, that was by American lefties who knew nothing about it.

SPENGLER: Uber’s Death Car and the Cracks in Liberal Culture.

Industry experts know that driverless cars are more hype than reality. As I noted earlier this week in Asia Times: “The Information, a consulting organization that showcases industry specialists, recently held a conference call on self-driving where one expert warned: ‘You have to remember that self-driving does not work, at least in… a highly functional, driverless robotaxi sense. It does not work. And there are many folks clamoring for architectures to get there. Again, think back to flight. Do you ever watch those YouTube videos where the guy pumping the umbrella and the dude with a big corkscrew and the person with the bird wings? I would think of it more that way. It is left to be seen which one of those architectures gets you to a useful outcome.'”

That is cold comfort to the family of Ms. Herzberg, whose death we can watch in a real-life horror movie. It is probable that improved sensors and communications might be able to prevent this sort of accident in the future; the sort of situations which AI never will master are things like lane changes in traffic in which one driver has to communicate intention to other drivers in order to avoid collisions.

But that is now beside the point. The cultural damage done by the Utopian vision of brain-as-a-machine is enormous, and the skepticism with which the public now must view Artificial Intelligence is a healthy corrective.

Read the whole thing.

ELIZABETH WARREN’S RESEARCH HARDEST HIT: Study: Medical bankruptcies may not be as common as thought.

Medical bills can push patients over the financial cliff, but a new study says this may not happen as often as previous research suggests.

Hospitalizations cause only about 4 percent of personal bankruptcies among non-elderly U.S. adults, according to an analysis published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This contrasts with previous research by former Harvard professor and current U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others that pointed to medical reasons as the trigger for more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies.

Background on Elizabeth Warren’s shady research here. Remember that her conclusions were among the major arguments for ObamaCare.

Related: ” I don’t know which is worse: the notion that Elizabeth Warren understood what she was doing, or the notion that she didn’t.”

I should note that Gail Heriot exposed Warren’s research as bogus back in 2006, but the Post continued to hold her up. Had the more-or-less fraudulent nature of her work gotten national attention then, would Warren be a Senator today? Would ObamaCare have passed?

THIS ALL SEEMS TO HAVE STARTED AFTER TRUMP’S TRIP TO SAUDI ARABIA, WHERE THE PRESS COMMENTARY WAS MOSTLY FOCUSED ON MAKING FUN OF THE “ORB” PICTURE: The Saudis Take On Radical Islam: The crown prince charts a course toward moderation, which prevailed before the 1979 attack on Mecca.

The year 1979 was a watershed for the Middle East. Iranian revolutionaries overthrew the shah, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and Sunni Islamic extremists tried to take over the Grand Mosque of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Islam’s holiest shrine. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hadn’t been born, but he is fighting the ghosts of 1979 as he dramatically reforms the kingdom.

The attempted takeover of Mecca was a defining event in my country, mainly because of what happened next. Saudi rulers, fearing Iran’s revolutionary example, decided to give more space to the Salafi clerical establishment in hope of countering the radicals. Traditional Salafi preachers are neither violent nor political, but they hold a rigid view of Islam. Their legal rulings and attempts to police morals made the kingdom increasingly intolerant, setting back the gradual opening up that had occurred in the 1960s and ’70s.

In Saudi schools, education was largely in the hands of foreign nationals, many with Muslim Brotherhood backgrounds. In the 1960s and ’70s, Saudi Arabia was more concerned with Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Arab nationalism than with Islamist radicalism. Thus the Muslim Brotherhood wasn’t much of a worry. But the combination of the brotherhood’s political outlook and the rigid Salafi doctrine injected a virus into the Saudi education system. That virus allowed Osama bin Laden to recruit 15 Saudis to take part in that terrible deed on Sept. 11, 2001. We Saudis failed those young men, and that failure had global implications.

The Salafi clerics and Muslim Brotherhood imports also worked in concert as they were given unsupervised access to private donations to fund mosques and madrasas from Karachi to Cairo, where they generally favored the most conservative preachers.

The policy makers’ idea was simple: Give the political Islamists and their Salafi affiliates room to influence educational, judicial and religious affairs, and we will continue to control foreign policy, the economy, and defense. Saudi rulers were handling the hardware, while radicals rewrote the nation’s software. Saudi society, and the Muslim world, is still reeling from the effects.

I can attest that when the Saudi money hit northern Nigeria, the Islam there went from a rather mellow Sufi variety to, well, Boko Haram. Even if all that happens is the Saudis stop funding and promoting radical Islam worldwide, that will be huge. Remember, after the Soviet Union folded, all sorts of “grassroots, authentic” terrorist movements dried up along with the Soviet funding. Something similar could happen here.

STEPHEN L. CARTER: Farewell to Toys ‘R’ Us, and an Era of Play.

For a while, Toys ‘R’ Us prospered. Still, the handwriting was on the wall. The chain continued to dominate the toy industry for another decade and a half, but then began to slip. In 1990, 25 percent of all toys sold in the U.S. were purchased at Toys ‘R’ Us. A decade later, as the figure slipped well below 20 percent, Walmart Inc. surged ahead. The stores themselves were aging, and the company took a $495 million charge against earnings to spruce them up. 2 Worried about the rise of EToys (does anyone remember EToys?) and American Girl (sold at the time exclusively through the mail), Toys ‘R’ Us moved expensively and not very successfully into online and direct marketing. Meanwhile, high-volume, low-margin retailers like Walmart and Kmart were discounting toys to get consumers into the stores, then offering them a full-service experience that Toys ‘R’ Us couldn’t match.

In 2006, the chain was taken private, but the new owners were never able to reinvigorate its sales, or, for that matter, to get it out from under $5 billion in debt. In September, the company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and now, after a disastrous holiday season, the owners are giving up. Seeking a cause for its demise, Toys ‘R’ Us has cast the blame upon its competitors — particularly Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart — which is a little like saying I’d have won the golf tournament if not for all those guys with the lower scores.

But the chain’s biggest foe was neither nimbler retailers nor that heavy debt load. It was the undermining of the very concept of the toy. . . .

Well, toys that talk and blink a chain could still stock, albeit at a fearsome discount to compete with online retailers. But when a toy as a tangible thing to be manipulated yielded to a toy as a digital presence with which a child interacted via a multipurpose device, the idea of a toy store was in its death throes. As we learned from the demise of video and record chains, that which is downloadable needs no physical presence to be sold. And nowadays even very young children prefer the touchable screen to the touchable toy. Apart from a niche here and there, toy stores no longer serve any discernible function.

Sad.

STANDARDS: “But breaching the privacy of an intimate relationship seemed worth doing to gynecologist Jen Gunter (writing in the NYT), because it was the male who (from her perspective) lacked interest in having sex. . . . This one individual deserves to have his personal story told in the NYT because in general people have a stereotype that the man is the one who wants sex all the time and it’s women with the lack-of-interest limitation. That’s such an awful basis for betrayal. . . . In the old days, that was called gossiping, and it was considered wrong. Then came consciousness-raising sessions and, later, telling your stories about all the sexual things. . . . Imagine a man telling a similar tale about a woman: I scheduled a night for sex and I got in bed naked, but she didn’t give me sex. What would people say? Who the hell does this guy think he is?! At best! I could imagine him getting denounced in full-on #MeToo mode.”

Remember: A man wants more sex than his wife? Men are awful! A man wants less sex than his wife? Men are awful!

Plus, from the comments: “I have asked myself, in this metoo moment, what is the analogous tendency in women to man’s lust which, when allowed to run to excess, becomes harmful and indecent? My answer was gossip.”

I’M SO OLD, I CAN REMEMBER WHEN THE LEFT WAS AGAINST BULLYING: Parkland Survivors Attack Dana Loesch’s Children.

AN AMAZING THREAD ON the students who attacked Christina Hoff Sommers’ speech at Lewis & Clark Law. I remember when the National Lawyers Guild was all-in for free speech. Of course, back then it was free speech for commies.

On the protesters, Ann Althouse comments: “Notice that they’re at their best when they create an atmosphere of unreason. When some people try to reason with them and invite them into a middle position of engaging in debate — which really isn’t fair to the speaker — they look baffled and — like so many law students in so many law school classrooms throughout the ages — woefully unprepared.”

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

WHY IS SILICON VALLEY CRUELLY EXPLOITING PEOPLE? ‘Success’ on YouTube Still Means a Life of Poverty: You can have a million views a month and still not be able to make rent. But: “One in 3 British children age 6 to 17 told pollsters last year that they wanted to become a full-time YouTuber. That’s three times as many as those who wanted to become a doctor or a nurse.”

Related: ‘I wanted to be an Instagram star… but I ended up a financial wreck’: Woman, 26, reveals how her debts spiraled as she paid for luxury holidays, the best clothes and amazing restaurants on her quest to be a social media star.. Remember, these platforms are designed to be addictive. There should probably be lawsuits and Congressional investigations. For the children!

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

Beto O’Rourke versus Ted Cruz:

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

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

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

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

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

A LOST IN SPACE REBOOT: “Set 30 years in the future, colonization in space is now a reality, and the Robinson family is among those tested and selected to make a new life for themselves in a better world. But when the new colonists find themselves abruptly torn off course en route to their new home they must forge new alliances and work together to survive in a dangerous alien environment, light-years from their original destination. Stranded along with the Robinsons are two outsiders who find themselves thrown together by circumstance and a mutual knack for deception. The unsettlingly charismatic Dr. Smith (Posey) is a master manipulator with an inscrutable end game. And the roguish, but inadvertently charming Don West (Ignacio Serricchio) is a highly-skilled, blue-collar contractor, who had no intention of joining the colony, let alone crash landing on a lost planet.”

Some time ago, I watched the first season of the old TV series on DVD and found it held up better than I expected: “I watched the reruns as a kid, but what I’d forgotten was the dark, Forbidden Planet ambiance of the early episodes. I’d also forgotten the meta-plot from the first episode, where the Robinson family is just the vanguard of 10 million American families heading to Alpha Centauri as part of an effort to remedy overpopulation. The shows are better than I remembered, and there are some interesting bits — such as the one in episode 3 where Dr. Robinson (Guy Williams) thanks Divine Providence for their survival, after the fashion of old-time explorers. Surely this was the last possible cultural moment for something like that on network TV.”

The second and third seasons, of course, turned into something more like space comedy.

BULLIED NFL LINEMAN POSTS SHOTGUN PHOTO, FORCES HIGH SCHOOL TO CLOSE:

Former Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin posted a chilling Instagram story that forced a high school to close.

On Thursday, Martin caught the attention of school officials with a story that featured a photo of a shotgun and the names of former Dolphins teammates Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey as well as the Los Angeles-area high school, Harvard-Westlake, that Martin attended. The 28-year-old was taken into custody on Friday, ABC reported.

“When you’re a bully victim and a coward, your options are suicide or revenge,” Martin cryptically posted.

Martin became the victimized face of NFL bullying in 2013 when he charged teammates, namely fellow offensive lineman Incognito, with harsh treatment in the locker room.

The post comes a week after 17 students were killed by a gunman at Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School.

I’m so old, I can remember when NFL players didn’t think of themselves as bullied victims or proselytizing “woke” SJWs.

HAITI SUSPENDS OXFAM OPERATIONS PENDING SEX SCANDAL PROBE:

Haiti on Thursday suspended the operations of British charity Oxfam pending the outcome of its investigation into allegations that its staff sexually exploited Haitians after a devastating 2010 earthquake.

The country’s ministry of planning and foreign aid said Oxfam GB had made a “serious error” by failing to inform Haitian authorities of the actions by their staff at the time they occurred.

“These reprehensible acts, alleged crimes, acknowledged by the perpetrators as well as the NGO, are a serious violation of the dignity of the Haitian people,” a government statement said.

It said the charity was suspended for two months pending an internal Haitian investigation into the matter.

At NRO last week, Kyle Smith explored how “The End Justifies the Obscene:”

When a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, Oxfam workers remembered Rahm Emanuel’s maxim that, in the progressive dictionary, one definition of crisis is “party time.” I’m paraphrasing.

But I’m quoting directly when I note that Oxfam execs set up brothels in Port-au-Prince that they called “pink apartments.” They took advantage of the economic dislocation and desperation (1.5 million homeless in a land of 10 million) to surround themselves with prostitutes, some perhaps under the age of consent, according to a recent exposé in the British paper the Times. Recalls an observer: “They were throwing big parties with prostitutes. These girls were wearing Oxfam T-shirts, running around half-naked, it was a like a full-on Caligula orgy. It was unbelievable. It was crazy. At one party there were at least five girls and two of them had Oxfam white T-shirts on. These men used to talk about holding ‘young meat barbecues.’”

Drivers in Haiti who wished to earn cash driving Oxfam employees around were told that their contracts were contingent on whether they could help with the, er, meat supply. “If you want your contract to be extended,” they were told, according to the Times, “we need girls and you need to pick them up.”

* * * * * * * *

How did we get to a point where relentlessly idealistic and progressive feminist women cover for men who turn girls from some of the poorest corners of the world into their sexual functionaries? Oxfam reminds us that a core feature of the Left is its happy-face Machiavellianism: The overall mission is so vital, so meaningful, so just, that the end justifies the obscene.

Harvey Weinstein and the Clinton family could not be reached for comment.

I’M SO OLD, I CAN REMEMBER FAR ENOUGH BACK TO WHEN NBC WAS STILL SANE:

Note the tag line below the photo. Funny, how Tom Brokaw, Chris Matthews, Chuck Todd, Brian Williams or Al Sharpton aren’t quitting their gigs at NBC to fight the patriarchy.

Update: Deploy the mighty space phallus!”

SALENA ZITO: FAITH IS NO LONGER A VIRTUE IN AMERICA.

Last week Joy Behar, co-host of the ABC show “The View,” did something that has become an escalating trend in our popular culture over the past 10 years — she mocked religiosity.

In a segment about Vice President Mike Pence and his belief that he hears the voice of God, Behar quipped: “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness, if I’m not correct . . . hearing voices.”

The audience of “The View” clapped and laughed along with her.

But outside the entertainment bubble, in places like Cumberland, people were horrified.

Behar’s sneer and the “clapter” it received from the studio audience is a nice in-kind contribution to the Trump 2020 campaign.

But I’m so old, I can remember a budding Democratic candidate for the senate back in 2004 saying, “The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states.”

What was his name again? I’m sure it will come to me eventually.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANDREW KLAVAN: REALITY HAS A VOICE. “I remember sitting on the edge of my bed that day, staring thunderstruck at the television screen as East Germans, brutalized by socialism, yearning to be free, dismantled the central symbol of the Cold War. I remember thinking: ‘I’ll be damned. That old b*****d Reagan was right about everything.’ And I began to change my mind. Because… reality.”

I remember thinking the same thing back in the 1980s about tax cuts igniting the stock market, which Business Week had dubbed “dead” in 1979. Read the whole thing.

I’M SO OLD, I REMEMBER WHEN SPORTS WERE SIMPLY ABOUT…SPORTS: New York Daily News Prefers Socially Woke Eagles to ‘Team Trump’ in Super Bowl.

I miss the old days, when we were simply rooting for laundry.

Rooting for Laundry from Melel Media on Vimeo.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Inside A Public School Social-Justice Factory.

For decades, the public schools of Edina, Minnesota, were the gold standard among the state’s school districts. Edina is an upscale suburb of Minneapolis, but virtually overnight, its reputation has changed. Academic rigor is unraveling, high school reading and math test scores are sliding, and students increasingly fear bullying and persecution.

The shift began in 2013, when Edina school leaders adopted the “All for All” strategic plan—a sweeping initiative that reordered the district’s mission from academic excellence for all students to “racial equity.”

“Equity” in this context does not mean “equality” or “fairness.” It means racial identity politics—an ideology that blames minority students’ academic challenges on institutional racial bias, repudiates Martin Luther King, Jr.’s color-blind ideal, and focuses on uprooting “white privilege.”

The Edina school district’s All for All plan mandated that henceforth “all teaching and learning experiences” would be viewed through the “lens of racial equity,” and that only “racially conscious” teachers and administrators should be hired. District leaders assured parents this would reduce Edina’s racial achievement gap, which they attributed to “barriers rooted in racial constructs and cultural misunderstandings.”

And the results were exactly as you’d expect. But remember, none of this is about educating kids.

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

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

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

SCOTT ADAMS: President Trump Earns the Highest Presidential Approval Level of All Time.

The Small Business Optimism Index hit an all-time high. That’s the new Presidential Approval Poll.

In olden days (pre-2016), candidates for president were not so different from each other. I can remember pundits complaining endlessly about how similar the Democrats and Republicans had become. In that environment, you can easily imagine someone who voted for Candidate A warming up to Candidate B. In those simpler times, a presidential approval poll meant something.

Today, a “presidential approval poll” is little more than taking attendance. If you’re a Democrat, you disapprove of President Trump as a lifestyle choice. If you voted for Trump, you probably still approve of him because you knew exactly what you were getting. And if you are an anti-Trump conservative, you allow cognitive dissonance to rule your brain and you say he’s doing a good job but you disapprove of him anyway. David Brooks accidentally described this phenomenon in this article.

I contend that business optimism — and small business optimism in particular — are the new standard for presidential approval because “economics” captures most of what a president influences.

But does it predict elections?

ACTUALLY, IT’S REALLY QUITE SIMPLE: “Why Mark Wahlberg Got ‘All the Money in the World’ for Reshoots and Michelle Williams Didn’t — It may look like obvious sexism, but it’s complicated,” The Wrap claims:

Wahlberg received more than 1000 times as much money as she did because reshoots were not in his contract, according to an individual with knowledge of the deal. It’s no surprise that Wahlberg’s agent, Ari Emanuel, demanded top dollar: Their dynamic inspired Wahlberg’s series ‘Entourage,’ in which an Emanuel-inspired agent’s ruthlessness is a running gag.

“Oh look, Michelle William’s contract required her to do reshoots, and Mark Wahlberg’s didn’t,” Alex Griswold of the Washington Free Beacon tweets. It’s almost as if some actors and their agents remember the importance of the second word in the phrase “show business.”

“Oh, you hired a pederast and you need me to come reshoot scenes because he finally got blown up in the media? F*** you, pay me,” Sonny Bunch adds, paraphrasing the mobster in Goodfellas played by Paul Sorvino.

As Glenn asks, where was Lee’s agent when her contract was negotiated?

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

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

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

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

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

FORREST NABORS: Why The Time Is Ripe For A Free Iran.

If different types of political regimes are plants that grow, the soil is the people, and different types of soil determine what kind of political regime is possible in a given nation. The rise, prosperity, or fall of a political regime depends upon the customs and temper of a people that have developed since time immemorial and are not easily changed.

This important insight was once commonplace when the classical analysis of political regimes was the starting point in understanding nations’ politics, but political science in its modern form no longer teaches our young citizenry in this way. This is why you will not find many journalists or analysts in the media or government who can convincingly explain the prospects for democracy abroad.

The cost of this change in education is apparent in the last 15 years of American foreign policy. The Bush administration expected Western-style democracy to immediately take hold in Iraq after it toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. The Obama administration expected the same following popular unrest during the Arab Spring. Noble though the goals of those administrations were, an intelligent citizen informed by Bernard Lewis’s “What Went Wrong” and educated in regime analysis could have foreseen that efforts to establish stable democracies in place of removed Arab tyrannies would encounter profound difficulties.

In Iran the case is different. Iranians are a great people well prepared for successful self-government and boast one of the oldest and most refined cultures in human history. Unlike Sunni Islam, their version of Islam always recognized the separation of mosque and state, a tradition that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini struggled to reconcile with his goal of preserving Islamic purity in modernity. He finally abandoned the attempt, but that tradition is still remembered by Shiites and has shaped the political principles that they hold today.

Read the whole thing.


PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Don’t refill the swamp by restoring earmarks, President Trump.

While President Trump wants to drain the swamp, his White House has been repeatedly checked by a gridlocked Congress. Now, Trump wants to grease the wheels a bit. He wants to bring back earmarks.

“I think we should look at a form of earmarks,” Trump told lawmakers gathered at the White House on Tuesday. “One thing it did is it brought everybody together.” The other thing it will do is permanently rebrand the party of fiscal responsibility into the party of graft, pork, and greed.

To be sure, earmarks make the legislative process a bit more efficient. And it’s understandable why a dealmaker like Trump would find them appealing as a negotiating aid. But they also lead to waste. Even the president admitted as much when he said that earmarks “got a little bit out of hand.”

When negotiations break down, obstructionists sell their votes for things like a $233-million bridge nobody needs, $3.4-million worth of tunnels for turtles, and $500,000 for a teapot museum. Old, greasy hands like former Rep. Charlie Rangel were even able to secure funding for personal monuments. That New York Democrat christened the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service with $1.9 million in taxpayer money.

Most lawmakers don’t remember, though. When some Republicans tried to bring earmarks back shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, warned that “63 percent of House Republicans have been elected since 2010” and as a result “have no personal knowledge or experience with earmarks.”

Those post-pork members didn’t witness the conservative crusade to end the practice. “If there’s a public vote [on earmarks],” former Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., warned me last February, “Republicans are going to get killed by some of these grassroots organizations out there now.” In other words, they can’t comprehend the rake they would be stepping on if they do this before the midterm elections.

That’s absolutely right.

MAMMOTH SMUG STORM THREATENS SAN FRANCISCO:

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Classical allusion in headline.)

FAUSTIAN BARGAIN: It was very wise for the Golden Globes to hand Oprah an award last night; instead of discussing the embarrassment of the first major awards show in the wake of Harvey Weinstein and Pervnado, the MSM gets to dangle the possibility of Oprah running for the presidency to coastal elite audiences exhausted from nearly two years of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Not to mention, Oprah versus Trump would be ratings gold for the news media, which was in its glory making Obama happen in 2007 and 2008.

For Hollywood, it’s a chance to at least temporarily rebrand from one of its worst scandals. “Remember, they’re not making a big deal because they found out what was going on in Hollywood,” Glenn noted, “They always knew. They’re making a big deal because you found out what was going on in Hollywood.”

However, if this is indeed the high visibility launching point for Oprah 2020; associating herself with the aftermath of Pervnado seems like very poor personal branding: “Actress: Weinstein used Oprah and Naomi[Campbell] to seduce me,” the New York Post reported in late November 28, 2017. And Weinstein and Oprah were quite chummy, as this photo of the two attending the 19th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards back in January 16 of 2014 attests. It quickly made the rounds on Twitter last night. Oprah co-starred in the 2013 film The Butler, produced by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, whose company distributed the movie.

As Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon writes in his recap of last night, “Oprah kicked off her presidential campaign last night, apparently, so 2020 should be fun. Or horribly depressing. As much as she might want to be president, I can’t imagine Oprah has any interest in campaigning for president—it’s such a slog and the Democratic primary will be a cluttered knife fight and I shudder to think at the nicknames Trump would hurl at her. But I digress. (Important side note: no one who voted for Trump gets to complain about “celebrity candidates” ever again.)”

Director Lee Daniels, Oprah Winfrey and Harvey Weinstein at The Los Angeles Premiere of ‘The Butler’ after party, on Monday, August 12, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Invision/AP Images.)

WOMEN HAVE HAD SEX ROBOTS FOR OVER A CENTURY. THEY’RE CALLED VIBRATORS: Maybe Sex Robots Will Make Men, Not Women, Obsolete.

Question: Would the editors of Bloomberg View let a male author get by with a stereotype-slur like this one? “Men will likely have trouble with things like household chores and remembering to go to the doctor regularly, but they’ll manage. Maybe Siri can make their appointments.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Profs blame ‘masculine’ ideals for lack of women in STEM. “According to the professors, these masculine norms include ‘asking good questions,’ ‘capacity for abstract thought and rational thought processes,’ ‘motivation,’ ‘independent’ thinking, and a relatively low fear of failure.”

Remember, when taxpayers get tired of funding this stuff, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

ATLANTIC MAGAZINE WANTS TRUMP’S BRAIN EXAMINED BY COMMITTEE.

I’m so old, I can remember when the Atlantic wanted Sarah Palin’s uterus examined by committee.

LAWRENCE MEYERS: It’s Only Been the Apocalypse for Democrats.

Ever since The Day Democrats Reached Out, I’ve been watching the hilarious hyperbolic reactions to every Trump tweet, and each piece of lint that flutters through the Oval Office. The Democrat reaction to every single move by the Trump Administration amounts to, “We’re all gonna die”.

Remember the mass deportation of Mexicans? Neither do I. Yet we we’re all gonna die. My Democrat friends here in Southern Wackyfornia told me that their maids and nannies were terrified that they were going to be rounded up because Trump was a racist.

Remember the mass deportation of Muslims? Neither do I. Yet we we’re all gonna die. During the March of the Week Spectacular that occurred early in 2017, Democrats clogged airports to protest the 90-day visa hold – a policy enacted merely to ensure the safety of Americans.

Remember how Trump’s election empowered hate groups to go and beat innocent minorities, and that we were all gonna die? Neither do I. What I do remember is the leftist group ANTIFA, whose very name epitomizes the phrase “unintended irony”, beating the crap out of innocent Americans and starting riots every chance they got – oh, but usually to shut down free speech. It was so bad in Berkeley that even the Washington Post couldn’t ignore the truth.

Remember how Trump is Hitler and Steve Bannon is a white nationalist – and that we we’re all gonna die? Neither do I. I never quite understood how Trump could be Hitler given his staunch support of Israel, and having the courage to do what no other President did by acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Election Day, 2018 will mark two years of turn-it-up-past-11 fear-mongering from the Left. The “professional left,” as Obama called it, seems to thrive on the constant shrieking, but you have to wonder how much good it’s doing with the more moderate voters they’ll need to mobilize for an off-year election.

WHY ARE BLUE STATES SUCH CESSPITS OF MISOGYNY AND ABUSE? Politico: California Dems face sexual-harassment meltdown. “Just how bad is this scandal, anyway? Bad enough for some progressive activists to claim that the Democrats are hiding rapists and molesters among their leaders:”

Among those who have been outspoken in their demands for more action is Christine Pelosi, chairwoman of the California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus and Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, who told lawmakers at the start of an Assembly hearing last month, “We have rapists in this building. We have molesters among us.” …

“It’s kind of a snowball effect, and every week seems to bring a new powerful man who is brought down by these accusations,” said Jessica Levinson, a Los Angeles-based political analyst. “And I don’t feel that we’ve totally cleaned house- and all the accusations are made and everybody else who remains in power has never conducted themselves in an inappropriate way before.”

I remember when Dems cheered the takedowns of Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes, and predicted that Trump would be next.

UNITED APOLOGIZES TO PASSENGER BOOTED FOR CONGRESSWOMAN:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE GRAY LADY HAS A BAD CASE OF ALZHEIMER’S THESE DAYS:

The New York Times’s Roger Cohen, an occasionally iconoclastic left-wing journalist, composed an inspired masterpiece of anti-Trump oratorical obloquy: “Wondering, If This Is America.” Cohen, an international columnist for the paper born in London, mustered his high indignation not only of President Trump (aka “Mussolini’s understudy”) but of America itself.

Cohen sold his Saturday edition article on Twitter as “Turkmenistan-on-the-Potomac: If This Is America.”

If this is America, with a cabinet of terrorized toadies genuflecting to the Great Leader, a vice president offering a compliment every 12 seconds to Mussolini’s understudy, and a White House that believes in “alternative facts,” then it is time to “keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.”

Flashback to Thomas Friedman, also of the New York Times, in September of 2009:

Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.

As Jonah Goldberg wrote in response, “Thomas Friedman is a Liberal Fascist:”

Now, of course, there are “drawbacks” to such a system: crushing of dissidents with tanks, state control of reproduction, government control of the press and the internet. Omelets and broken eggs, as they say. More to the point, Friedman insists, these “drawbacks” pale in comparison to the system we have today here in America.

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

Similarly, I’ve been meaning to link to this NewsBusters post from this past Thursday: “Irony! [Chris] Matthews Trashes ‘Trumpkins’ Praying to ‘Sun King,’ Calls Tax Reform ‘Greatest Shorting’ Ever.”

On Friday, Noah Rothman of Commentary explored “The Death Rattle of Obama’s Reputation:”

The members of Barack Obama’s administration in exile have become conspicuously noisy of late—even more so than usual. Former CIA Director John Brennan accused Donald Trump and his administration of engaging in “outrageous,” “narcissistic” behavior typical of “vengeful autocrats” by threatening proportionate retaliation against countries that voted to condemn the United States in the United Nations, as though that were unprecedented. It is not. James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, all but alleged that the president is a Russian “asset.” Perhaps the most acerbic and incendiary series of accusations from the former Democratic president’s foreign-policy professionals were placed in the New York Times by Obama’s national security advisor, Susan Rice. In her estimation, America has abdicated its role as a “force for good.”

It’s no coincidence that these overheated condemnations accompany abundant evidence that the Trump administration is finding its legs. As the last administration’s undeserved reputation as sober-minded foreign policy rationalists is dismantled one retrospective report at a time, its jilted members are lashing out.

Leftwing pundits such as Matthews and Friedman produced an astonishing amount of silly material worshipping Dear Leader in 2009. As his reputation becomes increasingly impossible for even his worst toadies (to borrow Cohen’s phrase regarding Mike Pence) to defend, their amnesia will likely only increase in direct proportion to their lashing out to Trump and his administration.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Remember this?

SO MUCH FOR THE COOL PROFESSIONALISM OF FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT: Bundy mistrial highlights why right distrusts the feds.

As Washington conservatives question whether partisan FBI officials working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller have stacked the deck against President Donald Trump, a criminal case in Las Vegas points to the sort of federal prosecutorial abuses that give the right cause for paranoia.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial in the infamous 2014 Bunkerville standoff case against rancher Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, and co-defendant Ryan Payne, on the grounds that federal prosecutors improperly withheld evidence. . . .

Navarro’s decision apparently was a reflection on federal officials. It follows release of a memo by BLM investigator Larry Wooten that described “a widespread pattern of bad judgment, lack of discipline, incredible bias, unprofessionalism and misconduct, as well as likely policy, ethical and legal violations among senior and supervisory staff” in the BLM’s Office of Law Enforcement and Security.

Wooten wrote that he had seen “excessive force,” described officers grinding Bundy’s son Dave’s face in gravel and opined that federal officials were intent on commanding “the most intrusive, oppressive, large scale and militaristic cattle impound possible.”

In an apparently partisan reference that used a term Hillary Clinton designated for Trump supporters, Wooten wrote that a federal prosecutor said, “Let’s get these ‘shall we say Deplorables.’”

(Likewise FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who worked on Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, shared texts in which they called Trump a “loathsome human.” Mueller removed Strzok after he learned of the texts.)

Wooten also wrote that the Bundy case “closely mirrors” the circumstances behind the trial of former Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.

In 2008, federal prosecutors indicted Stevens, a Republican senator, for failing to report that an oil contractor had paid for renovations on his Alaska cabin. A jury convicted Stevens, who then lost a re-election bid.

Only later did the case fall apart after a Department of Justice probe found prosecutors had withheld exculpatory evidence. Attorney General Eric Holder, who inherited the case after President Barack Obama won the White House, asked the courts to throw out the conviction.

Remember this when people talk about the patriotic, nonpartisan professional civil servants at the DOJ.

NOAH ROTHMAN: The Death Rattle of Obama’s Foreign Policy Record:

The members of Barack Obama’s administration in exile have become conspicuously noisy of late—even more so than usual. Former CIA Director John Brennan accused Donald Trump and his administration of engaging in “outrageous,” “narcissistic” behavior typical of “vengeful autocrats” by threatening proportionate retaliation against countries that voted to condemn the United States in the United Nations, as though that were unprecedented. It is not. James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, all but alleged that the president is a Russian “asset.” Perhaps the most acerbic and incendiary series of accusations from the former Democratic president’s foreign-policy professionals were placed in the New York Times by Obama’s national security advisor, Susan Rice. In her estimation, America has abdicated its role as a “force for good.”

It’s no coincidence that these overheated condemnations accompany abundant evidence that the Trump administration is finding its legs. As the last administration’s undeserved reputation as sober-minded foreign policy rationalists is dismantled one retrospective report at a time, its jilted members are lashing out. . . .

Barack Obama was inarguably the least Atlanticist president since the end of World War II. Within a year of Russia’s brazen invasion and dismemberment of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, Obama scrapped George W. Bush-era agreements to move radar and missile interceptor installations to Central Europe. In 2013, the last of America’s armored combat units left Europe, ending a 69-year footprint on the Continent. By 2014, there were just two U.S. Army brigades stationed in Europe. The folly of this demobilization became abundantly clear when Vladimir Putin became the first Russian leader since Stalin to invade and annex territory in neighboring Ukraine.

A year later, Putin intervened militarily in Syria, where U.S. forces were already operating, resulting in the most dangerous escalation of tensions between the two nuclear powers since the end of the Cold War. Putin’s move in Syria should not have come as a surprise; Barack Obama outsourced the resolution of the Syrian conflict to Moscow in 2013, if only to avoid making good on his self-set “red line” for intervention in that conflict despite the norm-shattering use of WMDs on civilians. Even Rice’s chief complaint about Trump, his failure to condemn Putin’s brazen intervention in the 2016 election, didn’t elicit a reaction from Barack Obama until the final month of his presidency.

By contrast, and to the surprise of just about everyone, the Trump administration has been tough on Russia. Trump has ordered harsh sanctions on Moscow’s Iranian allies for violating United Nations resolutions—a course the Obama administration declined to take even if it allowed Hezbollah terrorists with direct links to Putin to operate with impunity.

Read the whole thing. Plus: “Even as early as March of 2017, it was clear that the Obama administration’s foreign-policy professionals were quite insecure about how posterity would remember their stewardship of American interests abroad. They had every reason to be.”

2017 HEADLINES: Wesley Snipes and Sean Astin to Develop Adventure Supplement for Sci-Fi RPG.

Two unlikely men are teaming up for an even more unlikely venture for Starfinder, a spacefaring RPG based after Dungeons & Dragons.

Iron GM Games has secured two Hollywood actors—Sean Astin, best known for his role as Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings; and Wesley Snipes, Blade himself—to help write a new setting compatible with the popular tabletop game.

They are set to contribute to Grimmerspace, an upcoming adventure book intended for use with the Starfinder ruleset.

I’m old school when it comes to spacefaring RPG games inspired by D&D: Traveller. Accept no substitutes. (To be fair, it’s also the only spacefaring RPG game I remember playing back in the day. But still.)

WHEN THE HEADLINE DOESN’T MATCH THE STORY: “How liberal Hollywood’s support of Roman Polanski became a weapon for the alt-right,” blares this headline in the London Telegraph. Underneath it is a 2,360 word article on Polanski’s crime(s) and his flight from justice, of which less than 150 words focuses on the latest creation of conservative L.A. street artist Sabo:

For reasons we can’t possibly speculate on*, Streep has bore the brunt of her implied support of Polanski, with critics taking to social media this week slamming the star, calling her a rape apologist, proposing a boycott of her new film The Post, and celebrating posters unveiled across several Los Angeles locations this week claiming “she knew” about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct.

The Guardian yesterday confirmed that the posters were the work of a right-wing street artist named Sabo, who told the newspaper that he didn’t actually know whether Streep was aware of Weinstein’s behaviour (she has repeatedly denied any knowledge), and confirmed that the posters were revenge for an anti-Donald Trump speech Streep gave at this year’s Golden Globes. “She’s swiping at us so we’re swiping back,” he said.

But while much of the recent anti-Streep sentiment has been deliberately engineered by militants, it would be foolish to describe Hollywood’s past support of Polanski as anything other than an embarrassing, vaguely reprehensible blind spot…

Republican overreach — it’s everywhere! But is Sabo actually a member of the alt-right, or has that word replaced “neocons” (ironically enough) in the left’s dictionary for this decade’s catchall phrase to describe everyone on the right? So far, based on the art he has created, my money is on the latter.

On the other hand, I’m old enough to remember when the Telegraph was considered to be on the right, itself.

* C’mon, you’re speculating about the motives of one L.A. artist; why not another?

MAUREEN MULLARKEY: Why Criminalizing Sexual Harassment Fosters Witch Hunts.

What we do know is that something called sexual harassment is an imprecise but stubborn old nuisance sharpened into a crime by Catherine MacKinnon in the late ‘70s and codified by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As first introduced, the term referred to a loose chain of workplace irritants never to be confused with sexual battery, rape, or attempted rape. By now it has expanded into an all-purpose indictment, a universal solvent for turning radical feminist choler into a blunt object.

Like that shapeless thing in the old sci-fi movie, “The Blob,” the concept of sexual harassment swallows everything it meets. It digests a degenerate thug like Harvey Weinstein together with a college student who makes an awkward pass at a girl, an office worker who tells a risqué joke, or a well-intentioned boss who compliments a woman on her dress. MacKinnon’s devouring blob is covered throughout the country by a mélange of federal, state, and city laws as a form of discrimination under human rights laws.

Delirium over harassment plays out like the courtroom scene in “Alice in Wonderland.” You remember it: The Queen of Hearts had made some tarts and someone took them quite away. Who did it? Theft is pinned on the Knave of Hearts, but evidence is a shambles, scanty at best. Accusations fly; denials tumble over each other. The king calls the jury to consider its verdict. His wife interrupts: “‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first—verdict afterwards.’”

That is where we find ourselves now in the flood of unverifiable allegations hemorrhaging from college campuses and corporate offices to the Capitol. Huff and wrath arriving years, even decades, beyond their sell-by date ought to make us look closer at this inquisition.

Inquisitions are launched for the benefit of the inquisitors, not of the inquisited.

AND ANOTHER ONE: ‘Silicon Valley’ Star T.J. Miller Accused of Sexually Assaulting and Punching a Woman.

The Daily Beast has corroborated details of her story—which includes two separate incidents—with five GW contemporaries and spoke to numerous associates of both her and Miller.

Two of the GW contemporaries say they were in the off-campus house where the incidents allegedly occurred. The contemporaries later testified in student court about hearing the sound of violent thuds or seeing bruises on Sarah.

Three other contemporaries said they comforted and counseled Sarah in the aftermath of the incidents. Matt Lord was one of them. An ex-boyfriend of Sarah’s, he told The Daily Beast that he continues to believe her story more than a decade after the fact.

“I attended George Washington University for undergraduate studies from 2000 until December 2003… I had a romantic relationship with [this] woman, who spoke with me about T.J. Miller sexually assaulting her,” Lord, who currently works as an attorney in Montague, Massachusetts, wrote in a statement to The Daily Beast. “At the time I believed the statements she made regarding the assault by Mr. Miller, and I continue to believe the statements she made are true. She was engaged in student conduct proceedings regarding the sexual assault, and I remember the emotional toll that the assault and the subsequent conduct hearings placed on her.”

In the years since, Miller has attempted to address the lingering allegations by occasionally making light of them. He’s privately joked about committing violence against a woman in his past, according to three sources in the comedy world. Perhaps that is why some female performers and comedy professionals tell The Daily Beast that they have declined to work with Miller, citing a perceived history of abusive behavior.

FLASHBACK: T.J. Miller Insists ‘Emoji Movie’ Will Fight Trump, Make Young People ‘Adopt Progressive Values.’

ROCK AND ROLL EDITOR: Andrew Ferguson reviews Sticky Fingers, Joe Hagan’s new biography of Jann Wenner, and the recent HBO documentary on Wenner.

From the first, Hagan makes clear, Wenner was as much a fanboy as a journalist, hoping to use his position as editor of a rising publication to bathe in the nimbus of his favorite rock-and-roll celebrities. The ambition often paid off editorially. Wenner’s obsession with John Lennon led to other early scoops and made Rolling Stone seem indispensable to anyone following the counterculture. In 1968 word came that Lennon and Yoko Ono had posed naked, front and back, for the cover of a new album called Two Virgins. After Wenner’s relentless transatlantic hectoring, Lennon agreed to license the photos to Rolling Stone, if only because no one else would take them. (Asked about the significance of the Two Virgins cover, Lennon’s bandmate George Harrison said everything that needed saying. “It’s just two not-very-nice-looking bodies,” said the Quiet Beatle. “Two flabby bodies naked.”) Wenner put the flabby backsides on the magazine’s cover and tucked the other, full-frontal photo inside. It made a worldwide sensation. Multiple printings of the issue sold out. “Print a famous foreskin,” Wenner said, “and the world will beat a path to your door.”

And Wenner had made a new friend. The HBO documentary gives Homeric treatment to the relationship between Wenner and the Lennons, from foreskin to aft. The friendship was transactional, as friendships between journalists and celebrities usually are. Lennon had a constant need to generate publicity, especially for the new commercial entity known as “John and Yoko,” and Wenner craved proximity to a Beatle. A few months after the Beatles broke up, Lennon agreed to grant Wenner a long interview. Coming off years of drug abuse and months of psychotherapy, Lennon was as garrulous as any ex-junkie analysand could be.

He hammered his former bandmates personally and musically and careened from self-adulation (“If there’s such a thing as [a genius], I am one”) to self-loathing (“the Beatles are the biggest bastards on earth”). The interview, its extravagant profanity uncensored, appeared over two issues and again generated headlines everywhere. In his nationally syndicated column William F. Buckley Jr. referred to the interview as “How I Wrecked My Own Life, and Can Help Wreck Yours.”

Heh, indeed. Read the whole thing.™ For my own review of the Wenner bio, click here.

CHRIS MATTHEWS ON THE FALLOUT FROM FORMER NBC CO-WORKER AL FRANKEN: “The worst you can say about Democrats is they’re too pure. That’s a stupid thing to say, but that’s the worst thing you can say about them, these guys set too high a standard for public office. How’s that for an argument?”

As typical for Chris, not a very good one.

I’m so old, I can remember when Chris Matthews guest-hosted for Rush Limbaugh in the late 1990s, in-part because at the time, he was the rare Democrat who was publicly disgusted by Bill Clinton’s behavior. However, last month, Matthews claimed on air that he was “‘too tough on Bill Clinton’ during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Matthews apparently still views Clinton as the victim and forgot that the college intern was painted as the aggressor and villain in the situation,” as Rachel Mullen wrote at Hot Air.

I’M SO OLD, I REMEMBER WHEN THE DNC-MSM MOCKED TRUMP OVER HIS TERRORISM IN SWEDEN COMMENTS: Swedish Synagogue Firebombed in Apparent Terror Attack.

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

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

SHE’S LIVING IT: The Upside of Office Flirtation?

Allison Benedikt:

When I was 23 years old, my boss would look down the gap at the waistband of my jeans when he walked past my desk. I was an entry-level fact-checker at my first magazine job, and he was an older and more powerful editor. My career, at the time, was in his hands. Once, when we had finished working on a story together, he suggested we get a drink to celebrate. It was a Friday night, and I remember feeling extremely nervous as we sat across from each other in a dark bar. He was flirting with me, I could tell. The next weekend, he asked me out again. A few days later, he kissed me on the steps of the West 4th subway station without first getting my consent. We’ve now been happily married for 14 years and have three children.

It is an understatement to say something has shifted in the culture. And that shift is unquestionably to the good. Men like Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer and their less famous counterparts deserve to be kicked out of polite society, ruined, and, in certain cases, indicted. Women (and men) feel safer coming forward with stories of abuse and are being believed. But a byproduct of these welcome developments has been an expansion of our collective definition of harassment. Reading accounts of others’ experiences since the great outpouring began, I’ve vacillated between horror at the abusive situations so many women have endured and alarm at some of the interactions being considered misconduct. I’ve felt a rift with many of the younger women I know, who claim to understand exactly where to draw the line between legitimate behavior and abuse and seem to view harassment as any interaction with a man that has made them uncomfortable. For all the power of the #MeToo moment, it’s been a bit bewildering too.

It’s necessary — and belatedly satisfying — to expose devils like Weinstein and Rose and Lauer. But before this new normal settles down, it’s likely to take some innocent reputations along with it. To some “feminists,’ that’s a feature, not a bug.

But even after the dust settles down, the new normal may put a permanent kibosh on happy office romances like Benedikt’s.

‘BAM CRIES WOLF: Invoking the specter of Nazi Germany, Obama warns against complacency.

American democracy is fragile, and unless care is taken it could follow the path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

Mixed in with many softer comments, that was the somewhat jaw-dropping bottom line of Barack Obama last night as, in a Q&A session before the Economic Club of Chicago, the Chicagoan who used to be president dropped a bit of red meat to a hometown crowd that likely is a lot closer to him than the man whose name never was mentioned: President Donald Trump.

* * * * * * * * *

Still, the U.S. has survived tough times before and will again, he noted, particularly mentioning the days of communist fighter Joseph McCarthy and former President Richard Nixon. But one reason the country survived is because it had a free press to ask questions, Obama added. Though he has problems with the media just like Trump has had, “what I understood was the principle that the free press was vital.”

The danger is “grow(ing) complacent,” Obama said. “We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly.”

That’s what happened in Germany in the 1930s which, despite the democracy of the Weimar Republic and centuries of high-level cultural and scientific achievements, Adolph Hitler rose to dominate, Obama noted. “Sixty million people died. . . .So, you’ve got to pay attention. And vote.”

I’m so old, I can remember when devotees of fellow Democrat Lyndon Larouche were calling Obama himself Hitler and Photoshopping the toothbrush moustache onto his face:

Matt Guice, center, a field organizer for Larouchepac.com, distributes flyers as he stands near posters he has propped up on Wall Street in New York’s financial district, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013 in New York. Larouchepac.com is a political action committee of conservative activist Lyndon LaRouche. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

I’m also old enough to remember (not all firsthand, mind you), when virtually every Republican president was compared to a Nazi by prominent Democrats.

But Obama is right in one sense. Proper vetting is crucial…

…Lest we wind up with a president whose most fervent supporters begin to think has dictatorial powers.

Oh, and note this:

Obama said his greatest “regret and disappointment” is the failure to enact tighter controls on gun possession.

Say, you know who else thought that was a great idea?

Related: D’oh! Lefties may have twisted themselves into the Ultimate knot over Jerusalem: Trump “has been painted that he’s a white supremacist and racist.What type of white supremacist or racist would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel strengthening the Jewish homeland?”

THIS IS WHY IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE BETTER FLU VACCINES: Flu can have dangerous domino effect on older adults. But if you do get it, or older friends or relatives do, remember that Tamiflu or Relenza can make a huge difference, but you have to take them early.

DOES SAME-SEX MARRIAGE TRUMP THE FIRST FREEDOM IN THE FIRST AMENDMENT? That’s the essential question facing the U.S. Supreme Court as it deliberates in what quite possibly will become a landmark case. Remember the name: Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Court hears oral arguments Tuesday.

Jack Phillips, owner of the cakeshop, refused five years ago to design a wedding cake for a gay couple’s ceremony. An evangelical Christian, Phillips believes his creative participation in a process that violates his faith would make him a party to legitimizing sin. The bureaucrats at the commission ruled that protecting same-sex marriage is more important than upholding Philips’ exercise of the first freedom named in the First Amendment.

The case has occasioned a deluge of politically correct mis-information and mis-representation in the national media, as exemplified by this recent op-ed in the New York Times. I refer readers to NRO’s sage David French for the critical analysis there. One wonders how long before a Muslim man asks the Court to affirm his right to marry a nine-year-old girl.

In the meantime, the Alliance Defending Freedom – the evangelical legal defense group representing Philips – offers a collection of the key documents in the case, an overview of the facts that occasion the litigation, and a summary of the legal issues at stake. They just don’t come any more significant than this one.

UPDATE: George Will also gets the Masterpiece Cakeshop wrong, according to French.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Report: Having ‘white nuclear family’ promotes white supremacy, says New York professor.

Remember, when people get tired of funding this stuff, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

Related:

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

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

IT’S ALMOST LIKE THERE’S SOME SORT OF A PLAN: While eyes are on Russia, Sessions dramatically reshapes the Justice Department.

From his crackdown on illegal immigration to his reversal of Obama administration policies on criminal justice and policing, Sessions is methodically reshaping the Justice Department to reflect his nationalist ideology and hard-line views — moves drawing comparatively less public scrutiny than the ongoing investigations into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin.

Sessions has implemented a new charging and sentencing policy that calls for prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible, even if that might mean minority defendants face stiff, mandatory minimum penalties. He has defended the president’s travel ban and tried to strip funding from cities with policies he considers too friendly toward undocumented immigrants.

Sessions has even adjusted the department’s legal stances in cases involving voting rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in a way that advocates warn might disenfranchise poor minorities and give certain religious people a license to discriminate.

Supporters and critics say the attorney general has been among the most effective of the Cabinet secretaries — implementing Trump’s conservative policy agenda even as the president publicly and privately toys with firing him over his decision to recuse himself from the Russia case.

I remember when changes like this happened under Obama, we were told “elections have consequences,” and if we didn’t like it, to go out and win an election.

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

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

MONSTER FROM THE ID: In “Charles Manson’s Race War Fever-Dream,” Henry Allen of the Weekly Standard is “Remembering what it was like when Southern California went mad.”

There’s a banality here: The agent could have been anyone, when you consider that Manson was a 5-feet-2, semi-literate jail-raped punk still dreaming of becoming a rock star in his mid-30s in a city where, as Dionne Warwick sang in 1968:

All the stars that never were

Are parking cars and pumping gas.

Manson had the knack of appealing to Hollywood celebrities. Back then, madness seemed like a kind of super-truth and so he bore an air of prophecy. Imagine his bitterness when they did his music career no good at all. He turned to the ultimate banality of the age: revolution. Manson took “Helter Skelter” and other Beatles songs as the foretelling of a race war soon to come. He predicted that the blacks would kill all the whites, then find they were unable to govern themselves.

Manson and his “Family” would arise from hideouts in Death Valley and take power. All he had to do was get the race war started.

He ordered his followers to go on a killing spree, leaving fake clues that the killers were black militants. The most famous of their victims was the impossibly beautiful Sharon Tate, eight-months pregnant and the wife of Roman Polanski (living now in Europe to avoid charges of raping and sodomizing a 13-year-old in Los Angeles).

In that summer of 1969, there was the vast but momentary promise of Woodstock, a music festival, all peace and love. Joni Mitchell compared it to Eden.

We are stardust

We are golden

And we’ve got to get ourselves

Back to the Garden.

The bible was The Whole Earth Catalog, which preached the odd combination of communes and rugged individualism. Its opening line and motto was “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.” Did the editor, Stewart Brand, hear the echo of the serpent tempting Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit? Ye shall be as gods.

Read the whole thing — as William F. Buckley liked to say, quoting political philosopher Eric Voegelin, “Don’t immanentize the eschaton.”

(Classical reference in headline.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’M SO OLD, I CAN REMEMBER WHEN THE LEFT EXTOLLED THE VIRTUES OF NON-JUDGMENTALISM: “Twitter says it will judge verified users’ offline behavior.”

So be good for goodness sake! Note however that curiously, while white supremacist Richard Spencer was de-certified, Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton, Al Franken, Dan Rather, and Louis Farrakhan all still have their blue checkmarks.

Regarding that last fellow, as Liel Leibovitz of Tablet asks, if Twitter is judging verified users’ offline behavior, “Why Is Twitter Endorsing Anti-Semitic, Homophobic Hate-Monger Louis Farrakhan?”

SLATE: Al Franken Should Resign Immediately: Democrats’ credibility on sexual harassment is at stake.

The hypocrisy of Franken’s reaction is galling. Following the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the senator wrote an impassioned Facebook post declaring that sexual harassment is “appalling” and “far too common.” He added that it “takes a lot of courage to come forward, and we owe them our thanks.” Franken then praised Gretchen Carlson for writing about “the disappointing responses women often face when they go public both embolden harassers and encourage victims to stay silent.”

Now Franken has issued the exact kind of “disappointing response” that Carlson bemoaned, attempting to dismiss the accusation against him as a botched joke that his victim misremembered. Is anyone surprised? Yet another self-proclaimed defender of women’s rights has revealed himself to be a misogynistic fraud. Franken’s ardent promotion of gender equality on the Senate floor is rendered meaningless in the face of his disgusting conduct.

You should be suspicious of all men who engage in “ardent promotion of gender equality” in public settings.

UPDATE: Melanie Morgan: After TV appearance, Al Franken harassed me too.

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

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

MICHAEL WALSH ON THE TIMES’ ‘CAN MY CHILDREN BE FRIENDS WITH WHITE PEOPLE?’ COLUMN: “Before the liberal revolution is over, we’ll be back to segregating the sexes — in the name of ‘safety’ — and the races — in the name of ‘empowerment.’”

I’m old enough to remember when columnists were fired for writing pro-segregation articles.