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FIGHT FOR $15! Kids today: They don’t work summer jobs the way they used to.

Ctrl-F and “minimum wage” brings up zero returns in the AP article — “unexpectedly.”

UNEXPECTEDLY: Finishing most expensive House race ever, Ossoff calls for campaign finance reform.

Or as Iowahawk tweeted today, “This just in: cornpone Georgia hicks sell Brooklyn Bridge to visiting California city slickers for $25 million,” adding, “‘Y’all come back now, you hear?’ — fat Georgia TV ad salesman counting cash and chuckling in his leisure suit.”

HAVE YOU HUGGED A FRACKER TODAY? Plunging oil prices ‘could go even lower for even longer’

Falling prices could temporarily constrict the rapid growth of U.S. oil production, but energy industry experts don’t expect a significant pullback. American oil producers cut costs during the last downturn spanning from late 2014 to early 2016, which keeps them profitable even at lower oil prices that might have previously shut down wells.

The possibility of what the energy industry calls a “lower-for-longer” scenario is gaining ground. It could accelerate the auto industry’s transition from fuel-efficient cars to thirstier sport-utility vehicles and give Americans unexpected savings in their summer travel budgets, while also raising the prospect of energy worker layoffs if prices dip further.

The price of West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark crude, dipped below $43 per barrel in afternoon trading Tuesday, a level not seen since last August. It settled at $43.23, down 97 cents on the day.

Less than a month ago, oil was trading above $50 and experts were projecting prices of $60 to $70 later this year. That now looks unlikely.

“We had no idea it would be this low for this long,” said Patrick DeHaan, a petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com. “It could go even lower for even longer.”

The key takeaway here is that innovative American frackers are learning to prosper at $45 and under, while otherwise-useless petrostates see their gravy trains start coming off the tracks at anything much under $60.

ILLINOIS MELTDOWN (CONTINUED): “The State Can No Longer Function”

With just 10 days to go until Illinois enters its third year without a budget, resulting in the state’s imminent downgrade to junk status and potentially culminating in a default for the state whose unpaid bills now surpass $15 billion, Democratic Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza issued a warning to Illinois Gov. Rauner and other elected officials on Tuesday, saying in a letter that her office has “very serious concerns” it may no longer be able to guarantee “timely and predictable payments” for some core services.

In the letter posted on her website, Mendoza who over the weekend warned that Illinois is “in massive crisis mode” and that “this is not a false alarm” said the state is “effectively hemorrhaging money” due to various court orders and laws that have left government spending roughly $600 million more a month than it’s taking in. Mendoza said her office will continue to make debt payments as required, but indicated that services most likely to be affected include long-term care, hospice and supportive living centers for seniors. She added that managed care organizations that serve Medicaid recipients are owed more than $2.8 billion in overdue bills as of June 15.

“The state can no longer function without a responsible and complete budget without severely impacting our core obligations and decimating services to the state’s most in-need citizens,” Mendoza wrote. “We must put our fiscal house in order. It is already too late. Action is needed now.”

Say it with me: “Unexpectedly.”

A TALE OF TWO ATTACKS: “Compare the media post Giffords to post Scalise. It’s amazing.”

You spelled “unexpectedly” wrong. Just think of the media as Democrat operatives with bylines and airbrushes, and it all makes sense.

THE MEDIA HAVE A BAD CASE OF THE TRUMPS, Andrew Ferguson writes:

The meeting did sound truly appalling, utterly icky. But then I started to think … wait a minute. If the story was that every cabinet member was puckering up for Trump in public, why did the CNN reporter illustrate the point with a quote from Priebus, the chief of staff, who’s not a cabinet member? And I thought some more. Most of these cabinet secretaries are pretty self-possessed people, proud of their achievements in life, and cravenly kissing up to a boss, even when he’s president of the United States, doesn’t fit the profile.

And so I did what I, as a proud consumer of the mainstream liberal press, am not supposed to do. I second-guessed the mainstream liberal press. I watched the video of the cabinet meeting, all twenty-damn-five minutes of it, and I discovered that every story I had read or heard or seen that morning about the cabinet meeting was, as a whole, wrong or misleading, and in many particulars, just wrong.

Unexpectedly.

THEY DID NOT SEE THAT COMING: “Leftists said if Trump won, that there’d be violent mobs of hate, and intolerant fascists would try to silence those with whom they disagree. And they were right. It just was by a group of people from which they didn’t expect it: themselves. What is happening, in the larger sense? Historians will study this election and our times as unique, but what seems to be unfolding in politics and America overall is stunning not only in its scope, but hypocrisy.”

As the photo atop the article suggests, today’s violence from the left isn’t happening entirely “unexpectedly.”

Related: Extremism Experts Are Just Starting To Worry About The Left Now?

Bill Ayers, Leonard Bernstein, and the folks who brought you the blue-on-blue riots at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention  could not be reached for comment.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Milo Yiannopoulos shoots to number one on Amazon with self-published book after it was dropped by Simon & Schuster.

As Glenn asked yesterday, “frankly, if you know your book is going to be a big seller, why use a publisher at all? And where are publishers once people figure that out?”

BLUE STATE BLUES: Connecticut’s Tax Comeuppance – With the rich tapped out, the state may resort to Puerto Rico bonds.

Last month the state Office of Fiscal Analysis reduced its two-year revenue forecast by $1.46 billion. Since January the agency has downgraded income-tax revenue for 2017 and 2018 by $1.1 billion (6%). Sales- and corporate-tax revenue are projected to fall by $385 million (9%) and $67 million (7%), respectively, this year. Pension contributions, which have doubled since 2010, will increase by a third over the next two years. The result: a $5.1 billion deficit and three recent credit downgrades.

According to the fiscal analyst, income-tax collections declined this year for the first time since the recession due to lower earnings at the top. Many wealthy residents decamped for lower-tax states after Mr. Malloy and his Republican predecessor Jodi Rell raised the top individual rate on more than $500,000 of income to 6.99% from 5%. In the past five years 27,400 Connecticut residents, including Ms. Rell, have moved to no-income-tax Florida, and seven of the state’s eight counties have lost population since 2010. Population flight has depressed economic growth—Connecticut’s real GDP has shrunk by 0.1% since 2010—as well as home values and sales-tax revenues.

The state treasurer has advocated “credit bonds” securitized by income-tax revenues to reduce the state’s borrowing costs. Investors beware: Puerto Rico tried something similar with its sales tax, and bondholders might not get back a penny.

They’ve run out of other people’s money — unexpectedly.

SORE LOSER: Hillary Clinton Unloads on What Led to Her Election Defeat.

Speaking at Recode’s 2017 Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Clinton gave an unfiltered assessment of the 2016 campaign that ended with her unexpected loss to Donald Trump.

“I take responsibility for every decision I made, but that’s not why I lost,” she said. “I think it’s important we learn the real lessons of this last campaign.”

She lost, she told Recode’s Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, because of unfair media coverage, an “unprecedented” campaign waged against her by a foreign adversary, James Comey’s decision to re-open her email probe, criticism of her candidacy that she claimed bordered on misogyny, and a prevailing sentiment that she would be victorious, which hampered voter turnout.

If I’m reading this correctly, Clinton’s judgement was sound, but women-hating Russians at the FBI forced her to set up an unsecured email server and prevented her from campaigning in Wisconsin.

UNEXPECTEDLY: San Francisco’s Higher Minimum Wage Costing Hundreds of Jobs.

UNEXPECTEDLY: The price tag on universal health care is in, and it’s bigger than California’s budget.

California would have to find an additional $200 billion per year, including in new tax revenues, to create a so-called “single-payer” system, the analysis by the Senate Appropriations committee found. The estimate assumes the state would retain the existing $200 billion in local, state and federal funding it currently receives to offset the total $400 billion price tag.

The cost analysis is seen as the biggest hurdle to create a universal system, proposed by Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

Steep projected costs have derailed efforts over the past two decades to establish a publicly funded, universal health care system in California. The cost is higher than the $180 billion in proposed general fund and special fund spending for the budget year beginning July 1.

Californians already pay some of the highest tax rates in the nation, which have all but driven out the state’s formerly robust middle class.

Single payer — and the taxes required to pay for all that paying — would be the final nail in California’s coffin.

IN AIRSTRIP ONE, BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOUR COMMENTS: BBC Holds Personal Data, Threatens To Contact Employers If Users Leave ‘Offensive’ Comments On Articles.

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Glenn Thrush, Self-Confessed Hack, Commits Hackery.

Just think of him as a Democrat operative with a byline, and it all makes sense.

Flashback:

WAR TO THE KNIFE: The media have already impeached Trump.

Many in the news media have already indicted President Trump for breaking some unspecified law by firing former FBI Director James Comey, which they theorize is an attempt to cover up his ties to Russia.

In the immediate days and hours following Comey’s unexpected firing, some news outlets and TV commentators have indicated that they’re convinced Trump is guilty of something.

Mostly of being a Republican who doesn’t respect them. The ultimate crime. Everything else is just justification.

UNEXPECTEDLY!  Aetna exiting all ACA insurance marketplaces in 2018.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Dress Rehearsal for Armageddon: How Cities Plan for a Nuclear Attack. And how you can, too.

So I guess it’s “Duck and Cover” all over again. Who could have seen this coming?

UNEXPECTED HEADLINES: Could marijuana hold a key to keeping our brains forever young? Science is starting to find out.

Their findings were provocative: A low dose of THC, they reported, “reversed the age-related decline in cognitive performance of mice aged 12 and 18 months.” They traced this change to a shift in gene expression — the way that our DNA codes are transcribed and translated into proteins and other molecules. According to the study, “the expression profiles of THC-treated mice aged 12 months closely resembled those of THC-free animals aged 2 months,” as if the older mice’s brains were getting younger.

The experiment focused on learning, spatial skills and memory. While older mice typically did not perform as well as young ones in mazes or with location-recognition tasks — an outcome consistent with the decline of brain function in aged individuals — they performed just as well as their younger cohort under the influence of THC. Meanwhile, younger mice given doses of THC demonstrated worse performance, more in line with that of average old mice.

I had a high school teacher who jokingly (?) said that drugs should be legalized, but only for old people. “We’re bored and everything hurts,” was the punchline.

Maybe it will turn out that he was onto something.

WELL, GOOD: Trump to Nominate 10 Federal Judges.

Among those expected to be nominated for vacancies on an appeals court are Joan Larsen and David Stras, state supreme court judges in Michigan and Minnesota, respectively. Both Larsen and Stras were also on the list of 21 potential nominees to fill the Supreme Court seat occupied by the late Antonin Scalia, which Trump released during his campaign. The list was compiled with the help of two conservative groups, the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. One of the judges on the list was Neil Gorsuch, who Trump successfully nominated to the Supreme Court. Another on the list is Amul Thapar, whom Trump has already nominated to an appeals court vacancy on the Sixth Circuit.

Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society who advised Trump on the Gorsuch selection, says the selection of Larsen and Stras for appeals court judgeships isn’t unexpected. “These are very impressive state judges who are natural prospects for federal judicial service at the Court of Appeals level. That was always a possibility,” Leo told me.

But will Trump prove bold enough to ask Congress to dismantle the Ninth?

“I NEED WIDER POWERS!” Venezuela plan to rewrite constitution branded a coup by former regional allies.

“It seems that he is doubling down, and not realizing that those who die in the street – whatever colour they wear – are Venezuelans,” said Malcorra.

Brazil’s top diplomat described the proposal for a constituent assembly as a coup d’état. “It is another break with democracy, violating the country’s constitution,” said foreign minister Aloysio Nunes in a Facebook post. Nunes said Brazil could not intervene, but had condemned Maduro’s “escalation of authoritarianism”.

Venezuela is likely to shrug off the accusations, having grown accustomed to criticism from the two countries which have seen a switch of government from left to right in recent years. In Brazil’s case, that shift came about after the impeachment of president Dilma Roussef – a move which Maduro described as a coup.

Maduro – who is struggling to overcome low approval ratings, bloody demonstrations, a deteriorating economy, runaway crime and riots over food shortages – said on Monday that the new constitution was necessary to overcome the gridlock paralysing the country so that the nation’s considerable oil wealth could be channelled to the people more effectively.

Unexpectedly, of course.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Connecticut income tax revenue collapses; Malloy says taxing the rich doesn’t work.

NANCY PELOSI: “I’M SO SORRY, PRESIDENT BUSH, I NEVER THOUGHT I’D PRAY FOR THE DAY THAT YOU WERE PRESIDENT AGAIN.”

Unexpectedly.

REMEMBER: WHEN YOU WANT TO KEEP MORE OF YOUR OWN MONEY, IT’S “GREED.” Rich States Growl At Trump Tax Plan.

The Trump Administration’s stated intention to eliminate the state and local tax deduction (SALT) is likely to meet major opposition from big blue states’ Congressional delegations. . . .

The deduction overwhelmingly benefits six-figure earners. The benefit is largest for affluent people living in states that impose high income tax rates, which are much bluer than average.

Trump’s abbreviated tax proposal is too vague to assess in any level of detail; it appears on the whole to be too expensive and too regressive. But Congressional leaders and Administration officials looking to turn it into something more palatable should hold the line on eliminating SALT. This would raise much-needed revenue to pay for the plan’s other provisions, and it would be targeted, for the most part, at the coastal metropolitan regions that have benefited most from the economic changes of the past few decades.

Moreover, as we have noted before, scrapping SALT could have unexpected positive effects at the state level. As it stands, many wealthy people in cities like San Francisco and New York have largely withdrawn from the state political process. They can afford to acquiesce to inefficient government and the high taxes required to pay for it in part because they can deduct all of that money from their federal tax bill. If it weren’t for SALT, we might see more talented and creative people in wealthy blue states re-engage in state government in a meaningful way.

Some SALT opponents will claim that the measure would create a system of “double-taxation,” and they aren’t entirely wrong. But if this were really the concern, states could address it by making federal tax deductible from state tax bills. Of course, that would impose new costs on states, just as SALT imposes costs on the federal government. This is at its core a fight over resources, and it’s one that the working class deserves to win more than coastal high-flyers.

Indeed. In fact, that’s why they elected Trump.

WORRIED ABOUT “RAPE CULTURE?” LEGALIZE PROSTITUTION. An unexpected court order in Rhode Island decriminalizing indoor prostitution decreased rape offenses by 31%. Much more here.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Democrats are still rushing to extremes.

Jolted by Hillary Clinton’s unexpected loss to Donald Trump, Democrats and progressives have retreated to an alternate reality. In this safe space that they’ve created for themselves, Clinton didn’t lose so much as the Russians won.

Red Mania hasn’t been confined to the fringe, but is being promoted by Democratic representatives, including Maxine Waters and Ted Lieu.

Waters took it so far as to suggest on MSNBC that GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, is leaving Congress because of his “connections” to “what is going on in the Ukraine and perhaps in Russia itself.”

Their reward for pushing this craziness? Becoming national heroes to the Democratic faithful.

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

UNEXPECTEDLY! German Govt: Crime by Immigrants Skyrocketed 50% Last Year. And it’s probably worse than they admit.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Obama Accepts $400,000 Fee for a Speech.

From a Wall Street firm, natch.

ACTUALLY, IT’S DATED AND CHILDISH: No, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is Not ‘Unexpectedly Timely.’

We are all necessarily prisoners of our own place and time, and thus, I was in my youth necessarily a fan of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I read it; I discussed it very earnestly with like-minded friends; I copied author Margaret Atwood’s muted style and dystopian preoccupations in my own, less competent fiction.

But that youth has fled, alas; it has been two decades since I last waxed indignant about the drinking age, or picked up my copy of the book. Even that copy — paperback, dogeared and waterstained and threatening to come apart at the spine — has been left behind somewhere, presumably the same place I lost my velvet chokers and my Suzanne Vega CDs.

However, a new television show has been made out of the book, and is attracting rave reviews, less for its acting, script, or stunning visuals than for its “unexpectedly timely” message.

Nonsense.

Whatever future we should fear Donald Trump will usher in, it will bear precious little resemblance to Atwood’s Gilead.

But people keep saying the TV adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale” is “unexpectedly timely” in this age. Perhaps I had forgotten some Trumpian intimations from the text. So I reread the book again. To try to get as close to the original experience as possible, I listened to Suzanne Vega on Spotify. Alas, my household does not contain anything that may safely substitute for a velvet choker.

It’s mostly “timely” because it supports left-wing women’s organizations’ fundraising schedules, I suspect.

FOR THE LEFT, SOCIALISM DENIAL IS HOLOCAUST DENIAL: We’re supposed to remember the horrors of the Holocaust so we’ll never let it happen again. But we haven’t done the same for the horrors of socialism.

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Venezuela’s socialist hell.

Venezuela cannot wake up from its socialist nightmare.

The Venezuelan opposition just staged a massive protest against the government, which the government repressed with military force, leading to at least three deaths, The New York Times reports. Detained opposition activists say the authorities tortured them, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, across the country, people are starving.

Venezuela, a beautiful, oil-rich country, once one of the wealthiest nations in the Southern Hemisphere, is only sinking further into economic devastation and chaotic, corrupt authoritarianism. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro increasingly looks like a “Bolivarian” version of Vladimir Putin, holding power through corrupt patronage, fear, and the smothering of alternative voices and power centers. The protests were triggered by further moves by the executive to consolidate power. Maduro has banned a main opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, from holding political office.

Meanwhile, the economy keeps rotting. Venezuela has topped Bloomberg’s Economic Misery Index, a benchmark whose title is self-explanatory, for three years running. The economy shrank by 18 percent last year, with unemployment at 25 percent, and inflation slated to be 750 percent this year and 2,000 percent the next, according to the International Monetary Fund (Venezuelan government statistics are, of course, made up, so third-party figures are more reliable).

But it’s other statistics that show the real extent of the misery, and make one’s stomach truly churn. Over the past year, 74 percent of Venezuelans lost an average of nearly 20 pounds each, reports The Economist. The military controls the country’s food supply, and the result is widespread malnourishment and, of course, corruption. Venezuela’s hospitals have more in common with those in Aleppo than with those of an oil-rich, emerging economy. As the Guardian reported last year, children are suffering from malnourishment for the first time in the country’s modern history; there are outbreaks of scabies, a disease easily prevented with basic hygienic practices; hospitals are running out of even basic drugs. Caracas is the murder capital of the world. Corruption has infected the country wholesale even as it has created a new class of kleptocratic oligarchs linked to the security services.

This is what happens under socialism if it’s not stopped. And yet stupid, evil people in the West will make excuses for socialist dictators, every time.

BITCH ABOUT FAKE NEWS. RESURRECT DAN RATHER. PICK ONE. People Magazine Boosts ‘Dan Rather’s Unexpected Comeback.’

HOARDERS AND WRECKERS: General Motors Quits Venezuela After Officials Seize Plant.

The seizure, in the country’s industrial hub of Valencia, comes amid a deepening economic and political crisis that has sparked weeks of deadly street protests.

General Motors Venezolana, GM’s local subsidiary, said it “strongly rejects the arbitrary measures taken by the authorities and will vigorously take all legal actions, within and outside of Venezuela, to defend its rights.”

The auto giant did not provide any details about its plant being seized, other than saying it “was unexpectedly taken by authorities, preventing normal operations.” It said other assets, “such as vehicles,” had also been stripped from the site.

“Unexpectedly,” GM? Really?

FROM THE BBC: North Korea promises to test missiles on a weekly basis.

Why?

Its aim is to be able to put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach targets around the world, including the US.

By George the Beeb has got it!

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Related: The Unexpected Return of Duck and Cover.

20+ YEARS OF FECKLESS NORTH KOREA POLICY, AND NOW: North Korea tensions have Hawaii pols revisiting emergency attack plans. “The plans were last revisited in the 1980s. But the Hawaii House Public Safety Committee on Thursday formally called for the state’s defense agency to repair their hundreds of Cold War-era fallout shelters and restock them with medical supplies, food and water.”

Coming soon to LA and SF. And then to everywhere else!

Related: The Unexpected Return of Duck and Cover.

RIP ALLAN HOLDSWORTH; the brilliant jazz-fusion guitarist died unexpectedly at age 70.

His early album I.O.U. was a favorite of mine and my guitar teacher when I first started playing, and I still play it on a regular basis. I had hoped to see him play live at least once, but I did get to interview him by phone for a piece Guitar World assigned me a decade ago on the history of Carvin guitars, which he endorsed. Incredibly charming and understated man — you had no idea that you were speaking with a guitarist so good, he influenced Eddie Van Halen and about whom jazz-fusion pioneer John McLaughlin (also equipped with monster chops) was quoted as saying, “I’d steal everything Allan was doing, if only I could figure out what the heck it was that he was doing.”

STILL RELEVANT: The Unexpected Return of Duck and Cover.

SHOT: Trump and Xi – Tensions Turn to Friendship.

It’s safe to say very few people saw that coming. China was, as much as any country, the target of Trump broadsides during the 2016 presidential campaign—for not playing fair in the world economy, for taking advantage of the U.S., for stealing American business, for intimidating its neighbors.

Meantime, of course, Russian President Vladimir Putin was the great-power leader who was supposed to emerge as the Trump favorite, the one who would develop a close relationship and be forgiven for past transgressions.

Yet somehow in the five months or so since Mr. Trump’s election victory, almost the reverse has happened. Now it appears the Trump-Xi relationship may be emerging as the world’s most important.

As Mr. Trump recounted in the interview, he spent hours with Mr. Xi at his Mar-a-Lago resort last week, including long stretches minus their retinues. An opening discussion between the two “was scheduled for 10 to 15 minutes, and it lasted for three hours,” Mr. Trump said. “And then the second day we had another 10-minute meeting and that lasted for two hours. We had just a very good chemistry.”

CHASER: Kim Jong Un’s rockets are getting an important boost — from China.

When North Korea launched its Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite into space last February, officials heralded the event as a birthday gift for dead leader Kim Jong Il. But the day also brought an unexpected prize for the country’s adversaries: priceless intelligence in the form of rocket parts that fell into the Yellow Sea.

Entire sections of booster rocket were snagged by South Korea’s navy and then scrutinized by international weapons experts for clues about the state of North Korea’s missile program. Along with motor parts and wiring, investigators discerned a pattern. Many key components were foreign-made, acquired from businesses based in China.

The trove “demonstrates the continuing critical importance of high-end, foreign-sourced components” in building the missiles North Korea uses to threaten its neighbors, a U.N. expert team concluded in a report released last month. When U.N. officials contacted the implicated Chinese firms to ask about the parts, the report said, they received only silence.

It is, as they say, complicated.

QUESTION ASKED AND ANSWERED: Can Presidents Take Credit for the Stock Market?

—Headline, the Atlantic, today.

Not if he’s Republican, no, of course not. But if he has a (D) after his name, then all bad economic news is reported by the DNC-MSM as happening “unexpectedly.”

THAT MEANS IT’S WORKING: Wellmark to halt sales of individual health-insurance policies.

Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield’s decision means more than 21,000 Iowans who bought health-insurance policies from the company in the past three years will need to find another carrier — and it’s not clear all of those people will have another choice.

Wellmark President John Forsyth said his company’s decision was painful but necessary, because the carrier had lost $90 million over three years covering that group of people.

“We’re an Iowa company, we’re here for Iowans, we want to do the right thing for Iowans, but we can’t allow a small subset to put the broader group in jeopardy,” he said in an interview Monday.

Forsyth said the overall problem is too few healthy, young consumers are buying health insurance.

Say it with me now: “Unexpectedly.”

“I NEED WIDER POWERS!” Venezuela’s Maduro Wins Power Over Oil Despite Court Reversal.

The Venezuelan Supreme Court may have amended part of its explosive decision to take over the opposition-led congress, but it still gives embattled leftist President Nicolas Maduro broad new powers over the OPEC nation’s vast oil wealth.

The reversal on Saturday came after political leaders worldwide and street protesters at home accused the pro-government court of effectively making Maduro a dictator.

While the court backed off its Wednesday decision to fully take over the legislative branch, it left in place sweeping new authority for Maduro to cut oil deals on behalf of PDVSA, the state-run oil company, without congressional approval.

Maduro’s cash-strapped government now has the autonomy to sell stakes in Venezuela’s oil fields, which contain the world’s largest reserves, or launch new joint ventures with foreign firms.

Venezuela’s socialist government can’t drill the oil profitably itself, and — I’ll put this gently — the country’s political situation makes it somewhat risky for foreign firms to enter into joint ventures.

All unexpectedly, of course.

THE HILL: Gingrich: All ‘real evidence’ of Russian influence points to Dems.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sunday that all the “real evidence” of Russian interference in the presidential election points to Democratic collusion. His charge comes one day after President Trump tweeted that the “phony Russia story” is “a total scam!”

“It is ironic that all of the real evidence of real money and real influence-buying relates to Democrats,” Gingrich said on Fox New’s “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.”

“There is no evidence that anybody was being purchased on the Republican side.”

Gingrich, a trusted Trump adviser, added that Russian interference in U.S. elections “may have helped Democrats far more than Republicans” in the past.

Gingrich cited the brother of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta as an example, saying Tony Podesta is a “registered agent for a Russian bank” as an example.

Trump has frequently assailed allegations of possible collusion between his associates and Moscow as a smokescreen intended to compensate for Clinton’s unexpected loss in November.

Gingrich urged Congress to examine all of Russia’s efforts and involvement to subvert elections both in the U.S. and abroad, rather than narrowly focusing on possible Russian ties to President Trump’s associates.

Somebody needs to go through all the Clinton dealings with foreign interests — not just Russia — with a fine-tooth comb. Since we’re now worrying about such things.

WELL, THAT WAS UNEXPECTED: Swarthmore students upset they actually got in trouble for office sit-in protest.

COUNTERCOUP: Top Venezuela official breaks with government, protests escalate.

Venezuela’s powerful attorney general on Friday rebuked the judiciary’s takeover of congress, breaking ranks with President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government as protests and international condemnation grew.

“It constitutes a rupture of the constitutional order. It’s my obligation to express my great concern to the country,” said Luisa Ortega, usually considered a key ally of the Socialists who have ruled Venezuela for the last 18 years.

While various prominent political figures have leveled criticism after leaving the government, it is extremely rare for a senior official to make such criticism. It may be interpreted by opponents that Maduro’s internal support is cracking.

And:

Maduro, 54, a former bus driver and self-declared “son” of late leftist predecessor Hugo Chavez, was narrowly elected in 2013 amid widespread support for the ruling Socialist Party’s oil-fueled welfare programs.

But his ratings have plummeted to just over 20 percent as Venezuelans struggle with a fourth year of recession, scarcities of food and medicines and the highest inflation in the world.

Unexpectedly.

THE F-35 HAS BEEN CRITICIZED FOR ITS SHORT RANGE, BUT THE MARINES HAVE A PLAN: The U.S. Military’s V-22 Osprey.

Bell-Boeing is continuing its work to develop a roll-on/roll-off aerial refueling tanker capability for the company’s MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor at the behest of the U.S. Marine Corps. If all goes well, the Marines should have an organic aerial refueling capability for their expeditionary strike groups operational by the 2019-2020 timeframe.

The service wants the tanker capability for its fleet of Osprey so that the tilt-rotors would be able to extend the range of the Marines’ F-35B Joint Strike Fighters—which is becoming an increasingly important factor in the Pacific theatre. Dubbed, the VARS—V-22 Aerial Refueling System—the idea is for the Ospreys to top-off the F-35Bs as they takeoff from a large-deck amphibious assault ship with a full load of weapons but not fuel. The Ospreys would also be able to refuel the jets as they return—acting as a recovery tanker.

I was an early critic of the Osprey, but it keeps proving its worth in new and unexpected ways.

BLESS HIS HEART — LEFT-WING ‘HISTORIAN’ ACCUSES TRUMP OF ‘TREASON,’ ‘ASSAULT’ ON ENVIRONMENT:

Appearing on MSNBC’s 3 p.m. ET hour on Tuesday under the guise of being a “presidential historian,” left-wing pundit Douglas Brinkley accused President Trump and his associates – without evidence – of committing an act of “treason.” He went on rant that the President’s new executive order rolling back onerous Obama-era environmental regulations was “an assault on the public lands.”

Anchor Kate Snow started off the discussion by inviting Brinkley to elaborate on recent comments he made to the Washington Post about the administration betraying the country: “You told the Washington Post last week that, quote, ‘There’s a smell of treason in the air,’ when it comes to this [Russia] investigation. Why did you say that and has anything changed about your view in the last week?”

As a reality check on the “smell of treason in the air,” Brinkley is the author of the 2004 hagiography, Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War. As the Weekly Standard noted back then:

Brinkley’s “not worried” about appearing biased, he tells the New Orleans Times-Picayune in a “wide-ranging interview in the soaring lobby of his Uptown home” published August 27. Sure, he says, “I’m sympathetic to Kerry in his 20s.” And “it’s no secret I think he would make a first-rate president.” And, okay, Brinkley’s “angry” about “false accusations made against Kerry’s military record.” Also, Brinkley cohosted a fundraiser for Kerry in February 2003. Plus which, he spoke at a rally for Kerry in New Orleans this past March. . .

But, hell, “I’m not a partisan” or anything, he points out. “I don’t have some ax to grind against President Bush. I try to be judicial.”

A judicial activist, you might call him.

Heh. So Trump is merely razing Obama’s legacy in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, you might say. In 2012, Brinkley wrote a fascinating biography of fellow lefty Walter Cronkite, in which he portrayed Mr. “That’s The Way It Is” as being a less than objective “just the facts, ma’am” journalist, who famously veered from reading the news to injecting his (invariably partisan Democrat) opinion on it during numerous occasions, not least of which were viciously attacking Barry Goldwater in ’64, declaring Vietnam unwinnable in ’68, and becoming an enviro-crank just in time for the first “Earth Day” in 1970, when the Gleichschaltung demanded that all good lefties embrace radical environmentalism and its related doomsday talk. (Here’s a look at some of the zanier predictions from the first Earth Day.)

In Cronkite, Brinkley noted:

Republicans had always liked the idea that Cronkite, even if liberal leaning, was pulling for the United States to whip the Soviets in the space race. But Nixon was now in the White House, and Cronkite’s promotion of the 1970s as the Decade of the Environment was a slap at petroleum companies, forest product industries, auto companies, and corporations seeking minerals. All his heroes in Eye on the World— Senator Ed Muskie (D-Maine), Dr. Barry Commoner, biologist Dr. Paul Ehrlich, and consumer activist Ralph Nader— were left-of-center political figures.

The Big Four villains of Eye on the World were Dow Chemical, the Florida Power & Light Company, Consolidated Edison, and Chevron Oil Company. It seemed that Union Carbide caught a break for sponsoring The Twenty-First Century for so long, as Cronkite took aim squarely at corporate polluters. With uncanny prescience, he scolded them for the damage carbon dioxide was causing the planet’s health. Long before Al Gore made global warming household words in his 2006 Academy Award– winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Cronkite sounded the alarm on CBS Evening News and in Eye on the World. “Every year American power plants pour more than 800 million tons of carbon dioxide into the skies,” Cronkite warned. “Some scientists suspect that carbon dioxide can turn the planet into a kind of greenhouse, sealing in heat so that temperatures gradually rise until the polar icecaps melt and a new deluge covers the lands of the earth.”

Of course, what Brinkley failed to add was the rest of Cronkite’s statement:

“Some meteorologists fear that dust is already filtering out too much sunlight, so that the world’s temperature already has started down toward a new ice age. And that pattern repeats: a science so far behind technology that it can’t predict which of two opposite catastrophes will occur.”

“Unexpectedly,” Brinkey’s book also doesn’t reference Cronkite’s prediction of global cooling, which featured in this memorable 1972 segment:

Five years later, Howard K. Smith, Cronkite’s rival at ABC was similarly predicting that “an ice age is returning to the Earth, with glaciers down to the Mason-Dixon line and freezing temperatures south of that.”

With nearly a half-century of enviro-doomsday crankery and not-so-final countdowns, no wonder Trump is taking a much more balanced approach between man, nature, and the economy. If this be treason, make the most of it – in much the same fashion as another legendary environmentalist, Genghis Khan himself.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Iran’s Supreme Leader Takes Fresh Shot At Gender Equality.

I THOUGHT THE SCIENCE WAS SETTLED: An Unexpected New Lung Function Has Been Found – They Make Blood. “In experiments involving mice, the team found that they produce more than 10 million platelets (tiny blood cells) per hour, equating to the majority of platelets in the animals’ circulation. This goes against the decades-long assumption that bone marrow produces all of our blood components. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco also discovered a previously unknown pool of blood stem cells that makes this happen inside the lung tissue – cells that were incorrectly assumed to mainly reside in bone marrow.”

FRACTURED CAUCUS: House Cancels Vote on GOP Health-Care Bill.

Mr. Trump asked Paul Ryan to pull the health care bill from the floor, an aide to the House GOP leadership said.

Mr. Ryan is scheduled to hold a news conference shortly.

And:

The House has postponed the health-care vote, a, Republican leadership aide said.

The House unexpectedly went into recess ahead of the planned vote, and is now holding an emergency GOP caucus meeting. Speaker Paul Ryan plans a press conference shortly.

Developing…

THIS IS INCREASINGLY RELEVANT AFTER OBAMA’S IRAN DEAL: Where to Hide If a Nuclear Bomb Goes Off In Your Area.

Although, with all due modesty, I think my piece for The Atlantic is better.

PEOPLE WHO ESPOUSE DIVERSITY AND TOLERANCE TO MULTICULTURAL WORLDVIEWS “UNEXPECTEDLY” TRIGGERED BY INANIMATE OBJECT: I survived wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat in NYC.

UNEXPECTEDLY. Colin Kaepernick update: some teams ‘genuinely hate him:’ 

“He can still play at a high level,” an anonymous AFC general manager told Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman. “The problem is three things are happening with him.

“First, some teams genuinely believe that he can’t play. They think he’s shot. I’d put that number around 20 percent.

“Second, some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or (President) Trump will tweet about the team. I’d say that number is around 10 percent. Then there’s another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.

“Third, the rest genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem]. They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.”

If only the NFL had a commissioner who hadn’t tacitly approved of that clown show, he could have saved Kaepernick from himself.

SPEND LESS, SAVE MORE?  IT WILL NEVER WORK! The unexpected frugal habits of rich people.

PROMISES, PROMISES: Musk offers to fix Australia’s energy crisis in 100 days.

The Tesla (TSLA) founder was responding to a challenge from billionaire entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes, who wanted to know whether the company was serious in claiming that it could end blackouts in South Australia quickly.

“Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?,” Musk wrote on Twitter.

South Australia’s population of 1.7 million people suffer regular power cuts and energy shortages. In September, much of the state was left without power after a storm damaged crucial transmission lines.

Another major blackout happened last month, after an unexpected spike in demand due to a heat wave.
The Australian government has made solving the problem a priority, and increasing grid storage could help.

South Australia’s renewable energy woes are entirely self-inflicted and easily predicted.

FOLLOW THE MONEY: China’s Capital Outflows Just Reversed, Bad News For Global Real Estate.

The world’s greatest overseas real estate binge might finally be over. According to the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), China saw its foreign exchange reserves rise to over US$3 trillion. The unexpected rise is the first in 8 months, and may indicate that the new regulatory crackdown on capital outflows is actually working. This is bad for real estate markets that have seen a sudden surge of buying activity from Mainland Chinese buyers.

China’s capital outflows turned into inflows, meaning more foreign currency went into the country than left. The PBoC found itself with US$6.9 billion more than the month before, a 0.25% increase. This comes after US$220 billion in outflows in 2016, and another $12 billion in January. While it doesn’t seem like a lot in contrast, analysts polled by Reuters expected a drop of more than US$25 billion. Analysts are now adjusting projections since this means China’s foreign reserves are a full US$31.9 billion higher than they anticipated. This could mean that China’s new capital controls are much more effective than analysts had previously anticipated.

Will this be enough to pop the real estate bubble in Western metroplexes, or will Chinese-held dollars find new routes overseas?

STARBUCKS HURT BY REFUGEE PLEDGE:

Reuters reports Starbucks Corp.’s pledge to hire thousands of refugees has harmed its image among consumers, according to one measure. Amid a boycott campaign organized by immigration opponents, Starbucks’ consumer perception levels as measured by YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score fell by two-thirds between Jan. 29 and Feb. 13, and have not recovered.

Unexpectedly.

ESPN’S COLLAPSE IS THE BIGGEST STORY IN SPORTS YET MOST STILL HAVEN’T REALIZED IT:

ESPN is cutting up to $100 million in on-air salaries.

Yep, on air. This means you’re going to know many of the people leaving the network.

The cuts will come via buyouts and expiring contracts that won’t be renewed and when those layoffs start becoming apparent many will recognize that what Outkick has been writing for a couple of years now — ESPN is in a world of trouble and doesn’t know how to stem a rapidly collapsing business model.

* * * * * *

That business collapse at ESPN has caused a panic at the network, a desperate grab for relevance that has led to a pronounced leftward move. ESPN’s trying desperately to stay relevant as ratings collapse and subscribers flee. The decision? “We’ll be MSESPN, the home for far left wing politics and sports!” Only, it’s not working.

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Here Come Big ESPN Layoffs. You went full SJW. You never go full SJW.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Academic ‘Surprised’ Just How Much World Hunger Has Fallen Recently.

OH, I WAS LOOKING: Andrew McCarthy: While You Weren’t Looking, the Democrat–Media Election-Hacking Narrative Just Collapsed.

But still, the media and Democrats have always had a serious vulnerability here — one they’ve never acknowledged because they’ve been too swept away by the political success of the fantasy narrative. It is this: At a certain point, if compelling evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to steal the election did not materialize, the much more interesting question becomes “How did the government obtain all this information that has been leaked to the media to prop up the story?”

The most plausible answer to that question: The Obama administration, through the Justice Department and the FBI, was investigating the associates of the opposition party’s presidential nominee, and perhaps even the nominee himself, during the campaign. Otherwise, what explanation can there be for all of the investigative information — much of it classified, and thus illegal to disclose — that has been funneled to the press?

In short, the media and Democrats have been playing with fire for months. The use of law-enforcement and national-security assets to investigate one’s political opponents during a heated election campaign has always been a potentially explosive story. Let’s not kid ourselves: If the roles were reversed, and a Republican administration had investigated officials tied to the campaign of the Democrats’ nominee, we would be drowning in a sea of Watergate 2.0 coverage.

Well, this weekend, the potentially explosive story detonated. It happened in the now familiar way: jaw-dropping tweets by President Trump.

Every time this happens, the reaction is “Trump’s crazy tweets will sink him this time!” And yet, somehow. . . .

Plus:

Here’s the most interesting part: Now that they’ve been called on it, the media and Democrats are gradually retreating from the investigation they’ve been touting for months as the glue for their conspiracy theory. It’s actually quite amusing to watch: How dare you suggest President Obama would ever order surveillance! Who said anything about FISA orders? What evidence do you lunatic conservatives have — uh, other than what we media professionals been reporting — that there was any investigation of the Trump campaign? . . .

But have you noticed? While all this head-spinning legal jibber-jabber goes back and forth, the foundation of the false narrative we’ve been hearing since November 8 has vanished. Now that we’re supposed to believe there was no real investigation of Trump and his campaign, what else can we conclude but that there was no real evidence of collusion between the campaign and Russia . . . which makes sense, since Russia did not actually hack the election, so the purported objective of the collusion never existed. Trick or tweet?

Alternatively, the spying on Trump was real and wholly political, and the Russians-under-my-bed thing was a cover story hatched after Hillary unexpectedly lost, when it became apparent that Trump, and America, would find out sooner or later what had been done.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Media Which Has Been Decrying Rise of Antisemitic Vandalism and Bomb Threats, Assuming, For No Good Reason, a Trump Supporter Was Behind It, Suddenly Gets Pretty Quiet About It.

Flashback: Iowahawk on “Bylines of Brutality — As Casualties Mount, Some Question The Emotional Stability of Media Vets.”

UNEXPECTEDLY: Pepsi is laying off up to 100 workers in Philadelphia and blaming a 2-month-old soda tax.

The layoffs, which account for roughly 20% of Pepsi’s 423 Philadelphia employees, will begin Wednesday and be spread out over the next few months, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“Unfortunately, after careful consideration of the economic realities created by the recently enacted beverage tax, we have been forced to give notice that we intend to eliminate 80-100 positions, including frontline and supervisory roles, in Philadelphia over the next few months, beginning today,” Pepsi said in a statement to Business Insider.

Why are Democrat-run cities such cesspits of anti-worker sentiment?

IS THERE ANYTHING HE CAN’T DO? Trump’s Big Achievement: Making the New York Times Care About Antisemitism.

To summarize: Ten Jewish cemetery desecrations, of which two — one of which was outside the US — were covered by the New York Times. Both times the Times bothered to cover the attacks, the newspaper did so in a way that minimized the potentially antisemitic aspect of the attack.

In November of 2016, Donald Trump was elected president.

In February 2017, there were two attacks on Jewish cemeteries. About 200 tombstones were affected at a graveyard near St. Louis, Mo., and about 100 at one in Philadelphia, Pa.

The Times responded in a markedly different way than it did to the earlier, pre-Trump attacks, which it had either ignored or minimized. One Times news article about the Missouri attacks carried the bylines of two Times reporters and was accompanied by two images shot by a Times-commissioned photographer. The article prominently noted that critics said the attacks “were an outgrowth of the vitriol of last year’s presidential campaign and Mr. Trump’s tone during it.” The Times reinforced this point with not just one, but two op-eds commenting on the attack, both of which were accompanied by additional photographs and carried headlines reaching speculative conclusions about the motive: “The New American Anti-Semitism” and “When Hate Haunts a Graveyard.” (Never mind that one of these op-ed pieces itself propagated the falsehood that Jews oppose organ donation.)

The Times produced a video report on the attacks. The Philadelphia attack also got its own Times news article, accompanied by a photograph. . . .

But the difference is not that now Jewish cemeteries are subject to vandalism. As the timeline above demonstrates, that has long been the case. The difference is that now, rather than ignoring or minimizing the problem, the New York Times is highlighting and emphasizing it. (We’ll also have to see whether the attacks increase in scope or frequency, and, if culprits are found, what can be determined about their motivation.)

Of all the possible consequences of a Trump presidency that have been warned about or hoped for, a heightened attention by New York Times editors to antisemitism probably falls in the category of unexpectedly positive developments.

Heh.

UNEXPECTEDLY! “Leonardo DiCaprio flew eyebrow artist 7,500 miles to do his brows for the Oscars — The move is particularly surprising given the fact that DiCaprio is an active environment campaigner.”

Is that you, Fox Butterfield? In any case, you spelled “totally expected” wrong. But as the Professor is wont to say, I’ll believe global warming is a crisis, when the people who scream it’s a crisis start to act like it’s a crisis themselves.

UNEXPECTEDLY! YouGov survey: CNN drops to last place among the three cable news networks in brand perception.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Oscar ratings hit 9-year low.

HMM: Pending home sales drop unexpectedly to lowest in a year, down 2.8% in January.

We’ve been creaking along for almost a decade, borrowing for sub-par growth with bubble-tastically low interest rates, unsustainable deficit spending, and slowly expanding the market for car and home loans to worse and worse credit risks. But even lousy parties must end eventually.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Crime Increasing in California After ‘Prison Reform,’ Jack Dunphy writes.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Crime Increasing in California After ‘Prison Reform.’

Related:

FROM L. JAGI LAMPLIGHTER, A VALENTINE’S SALE:The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin (Books of Unexpected Enlightenment Book 1)

 

KYLE SMITH: WHAT WAS 84 LUMBER THINKING WITH ITS SUPER BOWL AD?

The ad is an unmistakable invitation to lawbreaking from a building-supplies company that, because of the industry it represents, is strongly associated with illegal immigrants. A Pew survey conducted between 2007 and 2012 found that construction was the sector that employed the second-largest number of illegal immigrants, after the service industry.

The guy who made the ad all but admitted the purpose of the ad was to draw illegal immigrants to work for the company. Michael Brunner, the CEO of Brunnerworks, the agency that created the spot, said its purpose was threefold: To generate awareness of the company, create pride in its workforce and fill jobs. “We’ve got over 400 positions that we’re looking to fill at all levels, at all capacities,” Brunner told KDKA, the CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh.

Pride in the workforce? Why would the workforce of 84 Lumber be proud of prospective illegal immigrants unless a lot of illegal immigrants worked there? If it were staffed by legal residents of the U.S., wouldn’t its staffers be kind of resentful of people jumping the queue and breaking the law to get jobs there? And if the company is hiring, why skip over all of the Americans and green-card holders and reach out to unauthorized immigrants?

Allahpundit, who after viewing the ad writes, “Good lord almighty, is this some effective pro-amnesty schmaltz,” notes that Maggie Hardy Magerko, 84 Lumber’s CEO and the daughter of its founder, is having second thoughts after her ad’s “unexpectedly” negative response:

The owner of the company insists that she voted for Trump and that the ad was inspired by his campaign chatter about a “big beautiful door” in the border wall, but that reeks of damage control in light of the outcry this spot would surely cause on the right. I’d be mighty curious to know from the Border Patrol how many legal immigrants (on a “journey toward becoming legal American citizens”) whose visas and work permits are in order typically enter the United States by wandering through the desert towards the border instead of showing up at a point of entry and presenting their papers. These two are very obviously illegal immigrants.

Funny, she didn’t mention being a Trump supporter when quoted by her local Pittsburgh TV station on Friday in a segment on her ad. If she did, I can’t imagine that disclosure would end up on the cutting room floor of the station’s editing bay:

Growing up in South Jersey, I saw numerous 84 Lumber outlets in NJ and their home state of Pennsylvania (the “84” in their name comes from the name of an teeny-tiny unincorporated town near Pittsburgh), and there are a few branches near me now in Texas. They were a brand with which I never associated any negative or political connotations; they were always simply just there. But going political is guaranteed to bifurcate your audience, and it’s very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle afterwards. I hope there are enough people on the left side of aisle to keep them afloat after what will be perceived by many as their “Progressive” coming out party last night.

AFTER EIGHT YEARS OF “SMART DIPLOMACY,” AN IMPORTANT EXPLAINER: What’s the actual difference between a hydrogen bomb and an atomic bomb?

Related: The Unexpected Return Of ‘Duck And Cover.’

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Black Ivy League student claims ‘trauma’ after white professor refuses to acknowledge privilege:

A black University of Pennsylvania student recently declared that his fall semester at the Ivy League institution was “traumatic” because he had three white professors who refused to acknowledge their privilege, and one scholar in particular who “constantly perpetuated these systems of oppression … [that] led to me mentally breaking down in the classroom.”

Student James Fisher wrote about his experience earlier this month in an op-ed in the Daily Pennsylvanian campus newspaper.

In it, Fisher opens by saying: “Last semester was honestly the worst semester I’ve had at Penn so far. And all because of one thing: the white professors I’ve had at Penn. It appears that the term ‘privilege’ does not apply to them. Nor do they care to learn what it is.”

Fisher wrote about his experience with one professor, noting that there “were countless times that his lack of acknowledgment of his privilege led to some of the trauma that I experienced in class. He would show images of slaves on plantations and even allow students to say ignorant comments in class.”

“… So, because my professor wanted to protect the voices of the white students who benefit from black oppression, the oppression unfortunately continued. It even led to me mentally breaking down in the classroom,” Fisher wrote.

“And while trying to console me, [the professor] said, ‘There is no way that I could acquire the wisdom that you possess.’ That was exactly what I needed to hear! I think he thought that that was a compliment,” Fisher continued.

“I stopped going to his class for a month. With different emotions going through my head from not only this class but from the Trump election, I did not want to step foot into another white space until I made sure that my mental health was restored.”

Unexpectedly.

PERRY DE HAVILLAND: “Looking back, it’s hard to overstate the cultural significance of GamerGate: it marked when the Left suddenly and unexpectedly lost control of social media, right at the point where the influence of social media actually started to matter. In a sense, it was the second wave of discontent that started with the arrival of anti-MSM blogs in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, but within a very different internet environment compared to ‘The Golden Age of Blogging’ 2001-2010. As has often been the case in military campaigns, when one side becomes greatly overextended, they only realise they have lost the initiative when they seek to advance and experience a completely unexpected reversal: a result that may seem obvious and perhaps even inevitable to a historian looking back, but which was far from obvious to the people on the ground at the time. . . . could just as easily be talking about Brexit or Trump, for it was a widespread tone deaf lack of introspection by establishment folk that made those things possible (albeit for very different reasons)… but the way I see it, GamerGate was the canary-in-the-coal mine.”

ILYA SOMIN: “Judge Neil Gorsuch is a well-respected jurist and a better Supreme Court nominee than I expected from Donald Trump.” Ilya’s biggest concern is that Gorsuch is too big a fan of judicial restraint, and insufficiently willing to strike down unconstitutional laws.

UPDATE: Ted Cruz likes Gorsuch.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh: Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch on religious freedom.

Sasha Volokh: Neil Gorsuch, fortunately. “Generally, I don’t have any expectation that Trump will do the right thing, so I’m unexpectedly pleased that — of the three judges who were apparently on Trump’s short list — Judge Gorsuch is probably the best on civil liberties issues.” Well, live and learn.

Plus: “Oh, and — what’s the best Gorsuch line? ‘Ours is not supposed to be the government of the Hunger Games with power centralized in one district, but a government of diffused and divided power, the better to prevent its abuse.'”

MORE: A reader sends this suggestion: “Mitch McConnell should announce that he does not think there is any basis for a filibuster of Gorsuch, and that if the Democrats filibuster him, the majority will eliminate the filibuster not only for Sup Ct appointees but for legislation as well.” I predict the Dems will keep their powder dry this time.

YOU WENT FULL NEO-CONFEDERATE MAN. NEVER GO FULL NEO-CONFEDERATE: California is doing its best imitation of South Carolina c. 1860, Michael Walsh writes.

Unexpectedly.

san_francisco_sanctuary_city_cable_car_article_banner_5-1-16-1

IT’S AN IMPORTANT QUESTION AFTER EIGHT YEARS OF “SMART DIPLOMACY:” How far away would you need to be to survive a nuclear blast?

Related: The Unexpected Return of “Duck and Cover.”

THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: Investor’s Business Daily: Obama’s Legacy — 8 Years of an Unexpectedly Weak Economy.

The latest numbers mean that Obama’s economic forecasters missed their growth targets every year that he was in office. And, once again, economists who had been promising that strong growth was just around the corner — most recently because of a relatively strong third quarter — had to eat crow.

It also means that GDP growth has not exceeded 3% for 11 straight years. . . .

In dollar terms, if Obama’s recovery had merely been average, the nation’s GDP would be $2.4 trillion bigger. That translates into $19,000 in lost income per household.

Heck, if Obama’s recovery had managed only to live up to the forecasts Obama himself made at the start of each year — which always turned out to be too optimistic — GDP would be nearly $1 trillion bigger today.

Obama’s record on jobs tells the same story. On average, the number of jobs was 18% higher 7-1/2 years after those recoveries started. Under Obama, it was 10.9%. That translates into 12 million fewer jobs.

If you want to know why Donald Trump is sitting in the Oval Office instead of Hillary Clinton, here are your reasons.

In our view, the incredibly mediocre economy we’ve suffered with over the past 7-1/2 years is not the result of some mysterious underlying “secular” shift that makes it impossible to grow faster than 2.6%. It is the result of bad economic policies, most of which were enacted by Obama in his first two years in office when Democrats controlled Congress.

The good news for Trump is that the bar is set pretty low.

MY FATHER DIED YESTERDAY. He did so peacefully, and surrounded by family and friends. It wasn’t unexpected, so I had a lot of posts scheduled for today. This column from a few weeks ago tells the story pretty well.

I’m not going away, but I’m taking a week off from the USAT column, and blogging here — by me, at least, as the co-bloggers are stepping up nicely — will be lighter than usual.

And here are some words from Charles Black that mean a lot to me:

In process of letting go the breath,

Moment for relieving your eyes’ ache,

You see bark patterns, a child’s hand

Catching and throwing, next to the tree.

You have to relive all your days

To receive the gift of surprise

At words you didn’t quite hear, once riding.

Do what you can; everything will come

In memory if never in experience.

Revisit, retell. Love sounds deeper

Out of time than in time. Act love

Imperfectly; you will remember love itself.

BEWARE OF LAW PROFESSORS FILING ACTUAL LAWSUITS: Emoluments Law Suit, Filed Today, Haunted by Past Debacle.

A law suit filed today by a group of prominent law professors, challenging President Donald Trump for alleged violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, may well yield the same result – a complete rout and debacle, including a major loss – as the last major case brought by law professors, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

In 2006, a law suit largely put together by constitutional and other law professors, arguing that universities which accepted federal funding nevertheless had a constitutional right to bar military recruiters from their campus, was rejected unanimously by the U.S. Supreme Court which sharply rebuked the law schools and law professors who brought the case for even making the argument.

The Court trashed the four legal theories advanced by the law professors, especially Harvard’s statutory interpretation argument, although six justices went to Harvard Law.

Worse, the case backfired on the learned professors when the Court also went on to say that Congress could probably mandate that colleges permit military recruiters on campus, even if the school does not accept any federal funding – a major and (to them) an unexpected loss, says Banzhaf.

I agree with Ann Althouse that there seem to be severe issues with standing here.

ROGER SIMON: The Pointless Paranoia of the Women’s Marches. “The success of the demonstrations in terms of size attests to the power of mutually reinforced paranoia.” The Democrats are always trying to paint Republicans as the preacher in Footloose, but that’s never been as ridiculous as when talking about Donald Trump.

What’s the motivation? Well, Tom Hayden started the anti-nuclear movement quite consciously as a way to preserve the infrastructure built up in the anti-Vietnam War protests. I suspect that this is about keeping up Hillary’s woman-card machinery for the post-election era, just as the Black Lives Matter protests are mostly about keeping up the position of the urban black wing of the Democrat coalition in the post-Obama era. In both cases, the real point is intra-Democratic Party positioning.

Well, that and the travails of entitled women with MFA’s who were comfortably supported by their political-appointee husbands until — unexpectedly! — Democratic hegemony didn’t turn out to be as stable as they thought. As a friend on Facebook notes, this story seems calculated to reinforce Trump supporters’ views about who’s marching and why, and it’s not pretty.

The New York Times’ lack of self-awareness is easy to mock, but impossible to top.

IN “THE SCIENCE OF INTELLECTUAL TRIBALISM”, Jonah Goldberg writes:

‘David Gelernter, fiercely anti-intellectual computer scientist, is being eyed for Trump’s science adviser.” — Washington Post, January 18

Um. Well, huh.

For those unfamiliar with David Gelernter, he essentially created parallel computing, which sounds like witchcraft to me, but I’m told it’s a really big deal. He was also one of the first people to see the Internet coming, in his 1991 book Mirror Worlds. Bill Joy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, described Gelernter as “one of the most brilliant and visionary computer scientists of our time.” Ted Kaczynski — aka “the Unabomber” — agreed, which is why he maimed Gelernter with a letter bomb in a 1993 assassination attempt.

Gelernter, who teaches computer science at Yale and has degrees in classical Hebrew, has written books and articles on history, culture, religion, artificial intelligence, and philosophy. His acclaimed paintings don’t do too much for me, but that’s probably because I’m a bit of Philistine about these things.

Regardless, saying that Gelernter is “fiercely anti-intellectual” is a bit like saying Tiger Woods is fiercely anti-golf.

So what on earth could the Washington Post mean with that headline?

This is how Tom Wolfe defined the term “intellectual” in his 2000 essay, “In the Land of the Rococo Marxists:”

The word “intellectual,” used as a noun referring to the “intellectual laborer” who assumes a political stance, did not exist until Georges Clemenceau used it in 1898 during the Dreyfus case, congratulating those “intellectuals,” such as Marcel Proust and Anatole France, who had joined Dreyfus’s great champion, Emile Zola. Zola was an entirely new form of political eminence, a popular novelist. His famous J’accuse was published on the front page of a daily newspaper, L’Aurore (“The Dawn”), which printed 300,000 copies and hired hundreds of extra newsboys who sold virtually every last one by midafternoon.

Zola and Clemenceau provided a wholly unexpected leg up in life for the ordinary worker ants of “pure intellectual labor” (Clemenceau’s term): your fiction writers, playwrights, poets, history and lit profs, that whole cottage industry of poor souls who scribble, scribble, scribble. Zola was an extraordinary reporter (or “documenter,” as he called himself) who had devoured the details of the Dreyfus case to the point where he knew as much about it as any judge, prosecutor, or law clerk. But that inconvenient detail of Zola’s biography was soon forgotten. The new hero, the intellectual, didn’t need to burden himself with the irksome toil of reporting or research. For that matter, he needed no particular education, no scholarly training, no philosophical grounding, no conceptual frameworks, no knowledge of academic or scientific developments other than the sort of stuff you might pick up in Section 9 of the Sunday newspaper. Indignation about the powers that be and the bourgeois fools who did their bidding-that was all you needed. Bango! You were an intellectual.

From the very outset the eminence of this new creature, the intellectual, who was to play such a tremendous role in the history of the twentieth century, was inseparable from his necessary indignation. It was his indignation that elevated him to a plateau of moral superiority. Once up there, he was in a position to look down at the rest of humanity. And it hadn’t cost him any effort, intellectual or otherwise. As Marshall McLuhan would put it years later: “Moral indignation is a technique used to endow the idiot with dignity.” Precisely which intellectuals of the twentieth century were or were not idiots is a debatable point, but it is hard to argue with the definition I once heard a French diplomat offer at a dinner party: “An intellectual is a person knowledgable in one field who speaks out only in others.”

If that’s how the Post’s Sarah Kaplan or her headline writer define the term “intellectual,” then defining Gelernter as “anti-intellectual” is very likely quite justified. But as Jonah goes on to write in his essay on Gelernter, it’s not: “What Kaplan really seems to be getting at is that Gelernter is one of the few major intellectuals out there today who is critical of the intellectual establishment, which acts as a class or guild…“It takes a lot of intellectual firepower and self-confidence to declare that the intellectual emperors have no clothes,” he adds, so it’s no surprise that Gelernter “has been accused of being excessively humble.”

Speaking of emperors with no clothes, here’s what Obama’s “science” “czar” was proposing around this time in 2009:

That wasn’t the zaniest idea that Holdren ever floated. As the anonymous Bay Area blogger Zombie noted with quotes from his 1977 book, Holdren believed that forced abortions and mass sterilization were needed to save the planet from overpopulation. Those ideas that were all the rage among the scientific caste back in the ‘70s, who drank gallons of Paul Ehrlich’s “Population Bomb” Kool-Aid at the dawn of the Nixon era.

I don’t recall anyone on the left in 2009 speaking out and proclaiming Holdren as daft for wanting to fire rockets filled with pollution into the sky. Someone in the Trump administration should propose that as well, just for kicks and gins when he’s attacked as a lunatic by the media.

UNEXPECTEDLY: The Mainstream Media Was in Rare Form During Trump’s Inauguration.

YOU WENT FULL JOHN LEWIS, NBC. NEVER GO FULL JOHN LEWIS:

● Shot: Chuck Todd: Trump Needs to ‘Erase the Asterisk’ of His Election.

● Chaser: MSNBC Panel: Bush Gave Warm Greeting to SCOTUS Justices Because They Got Him Elected.

(Classical reference in headline.)

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, today was quite the dumpster fire at NBC and its subsidiary networks. Chris Matthews “unexpectedly” dialed the Godwin meter up to 11 and then some — throwing in Mussolini murdering his own son to boot:

“But I’m thinking when he said today ‘America First’ it was not just the racial, I mean the, um, I shouldn’t say racial, the Hitlerian background to it. But it was the message I kept thinking, what is Theresa May thinking this morning, when she picks up the papers and goes ‘My God, what did he just say, he said America first, what happened to the special relationship,’” Matthews complained.

* * * * * * * *

MATTHEWS: [B]ut Mussolini had a great solution to that. He had him executed. So, it’s —

MADDOW: Jesus, Chris!

MATTHEWS: So, if I were Jared, I’d be a little careful.

MADDOW: Well, all the people who are waiting for the reference to Mussolini have just started drinking.

And for others keeping score at home, Chris has now compared Republicans as diverse as Trump, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul to Hitler. And in 2012, when faced with the patrician Mitt Romney as the GOP’s presidential candidate, declared words such as “golf” and “Chicago” to be racial dog whistles.

But if Trump is Hitler, why didn’t Matthews warn the NBC brass while the 45th president was still on their payroll?

(Bumped.)

ADRIANA COHEN ON THE DEMOCRATS’ ELECTION-DENIAL:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think there’s a lot to that.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Your next home security system could deploy patrol drones.

Alarm has developed a machine learning algorithm, called the Insights Engine, that continually monitors sensors placed around your property to learn how things are normally run and to quickly identify unexpected events — say, a break-in or a water leak — when they occur. If the system does spot something out of the ordinary, it will deploy a swarm of autonomous UAVs built on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Flight drone platform to investigate. These little fliers will swarm over the event site and provide live video feeds to your phone. You can also opt in to share that video data with either Alarm.com’s central monitoring facility or directly with emergency responders.

There’s a sitcom scene yet to be written with a sneaky teenager barely making their way back into the house late at night, pursued by security drones.

NOTHING POLITICAL ABOUT THE TIMING HERE: Justice, FBI to be investigated over Clinton probes.

The Justice Department inspector general on Thursday announced that it will launch an investigation into the FBI’s conduct leading up to the 2016 elections.

The probe, which comes in response to requests from numerous chairmen and ranking members of congressional oversight committees, will look into allegations that Director James Comey broke bureau policy with his various public disclosures regarding the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

The FBI’s role in Clinton’s unexpected defeat in November has remained a subject of fierce debate — with Comey himself in the middle of the controversy. Clinton’s campaign has blamed Comey and the FBI for her loss to President-elect Donald Trump.

Well, Trump could always fire the Inspector General, the way that Obama did with Gerald Walpin. The usual “ethics watchdogs” were awfully quiet about that, but I’m sure they’d rouse for Trump.

IS THERE ANYTHING HE CAN’T DO? America was the unexpected theme at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show thanks to Trump.

UNEXPECTEDLY: ABC, NBC Skip White Chicago Man Being Tortured Live on Facebook by Four African-Americans, while shouting “fuck Trump” and “fuck white people.” Equally unexpectedly, CBS’s coverage left out those last two details:

With ABC and NBC choosing to keep their audiences in the dark on this (at least until Thursday morning), the CBS Evening News was the lone network left to cover it. However, fill-in anchor Josh Elliott could only muster a 27-second news brief that only vaguely described the situation.

“Well, Chicago, which just had one of its most violent years ever, was the scene of another horrifying attack this week. A young man, described as law enforcement sources as developmentally challenged, was beaten, kicked, and tormented for half an hour,” Elliott explained.

He concluded by alluding to the assault being broadcasted on Facebook and how the victim “had been reported missing from his home in the suburbs” but “is now in the hospital and four suspects are in custody.”

CBS’s blackout on the details of this story, and their competitors’ embargo of the story itself, dovetails perfectly with Iowahawk’s observation that “Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving,” and Jim Treacher’s line that in the 21st century, the profession “is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn’t know because they might reflect badly on Democrats.”

Related: “The Left’s insane hatred of Donald Trump has spun out of control, and there have been far too many instances of this sort of depraved violence,” John Hinderaker writes at Power Line. “I don’t want to hear another damn word about ‘hate crimes’ against minorities supposedly inspired by Donald Trump’s campaign or election, not unless they equal this level of depravity.”

 

HUH: States that legalized marijuana saw a drop in traffic deaths.

“Instead of seeing an increase in fatalities, we saw a reduction, which was totally unexpected,” said Julian Santaella-Tenorio, the study’s lead author and a doctoral student at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

Since 1996, 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical use.

Deaths dropped 11 percent on average in states that legalized medical marijuana, researchers discovered after analyzing 1.2 million traffic fatalities nationwide from 1985 through 2014.

The decrease in traffic fatalities was particularly striking – 12 percent – in 25- to 44-year-olds, an age group with a large percentage of registered medical marijuana users, the authors report in the American Journal of Public Health.

Though Santaella-Tenorio was surprised by the drop in traffic deaths, the results mirror the findings of another study of data from 19 states published in 2013 in The Journal of Law and Economics. It showed an 8 to 11 percent decrease in traffic fatalities during the first full year after legalization of medical marijuana.

Correlation is not causation, of course, and the story also notes that after an big initial drop, fatalities in some states began to rise again. But concerns about stoned drivers making the roads radically more dangerous haven’t materialized, which ought to (but probably won’t) put a stop to some of the Reefer Madness-level panicmongering over legalization.

WHY THE NEW YORK TIMES’ RESOLUTION FOR MORE ACCURATE REPORTING IS DOOMED:

The problem with these mea culpas and modified, limited hang-outs is that anyone familiar with the history of The New York Times has seen this movie before. Baquet may think putting people out on the road is the answer, but the paper has been there and done that in 2004. David Kirkpatrick spent a year in the field, covering mostly the socially conservative tribes of Jesusland. Yet here is the NYT, right back where it started.

The pre-election lack of balance Spayd identified continues in the paper’s current coverage. The NYT has visited flyover country from time to time after the election and occasionally included comments from Trump supporters in other pieces. But as before, such stories are drowned about by the flood tide of Times coverage serving progressives’ parochial appetites.

Immediately after every presidential election, the MSM promises to improve their coverage, even in November of 2008, when the DNC-MSM went all-in to successfully elect Obama.”Unexpectedly” though, it only gets worse during each successive presidential election. You almost wish they’d run an Onion-style headline instead: DON’T WORRY COCOONED READERS, WE’LL STILL BE TOTALLY IN THE TANK FOR THE NEXT DEM CANDIDATE AND WE’LL STILL HALF-ASS IT IN 2020. At least they’d get points for being honest Democrat operatives with bylines for a change.

KERRY ON ISRAEL: An Alternate Universe.

Amir Cohen:

Kerry’s speech was already going to be drowned out by the global din around United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed in recent days after the U.S. abstained, and which among other things lumped Judaism’s holiest sites in East Jerusalem together with the West Bank and declared all of them occupied Palestinian territory. It has been criticized first, as a diplomatic gambit that detonated the peace process and second, as an abandonment of Israel contrary to decades of U.S. diplomacy aimed at blocking international assaults on the Jewish state.

The resolution presented another rhetorical problem for Kerry: to even get to the parameters he was going to have to get past those two criticisms. He needed to paint a world in which the UNSCR built on the peace process rather than detonated it, and boosted Israel rather than abandoning it.

He did exactly that, but at the cost of whatever relevance the speech might have had left, because the world he painted has very little in common with the one we live in. He couldn’t even craft a single version where everything fell into place, but had to leap from one alternate reality to another. Those who work on the Middle East as it actually exists don’t have anything in the speech for them.

This is perhaps not unexpected from the man who invented huge swaths of his Vietnam service record, then gained domestic fame by comparing his fellow U.S. troops there to Ghenghis Khan.

MICHAEL WALSH: In the Wake of Trump’s Election, Consumer Confidence Soars.

Unexpectedly!, as Obama’s hagiographiers at Bloomberg would say. Around this time in 2008, Time magazine and other leftists were busy describing BHO as the next FDR, but as Amity Shlaes, the historian of the Depression that FDR prolonged by eight years warned, business and consumer uncertainty during a regulatory-obsessed socialist regime is a great way to keep a stagnant economy from catching fire.

“She Betrayed Our Country” – Afghan “Top Gun” Pilot Seeks US Asylum, Sparks Domestic Outrage.

It all started when Niloofar Rahmani, a 25-year-old pilot described widely domestically as the “Afghan Top Gun”, was scheduled to return to Afghanistan last week after a 15-month training course with the US air force. But on the eve of her departure, she announced she will not be returning according to AFP, citing fears for her safety, triggering a storm of criticism in Afghanistan for “betraying” her nation but also garnering support from activists.

For a country whose love-hate relationship with the US in the past two decades has mostly gravitated to the latter, the defection was a huge blow: “What she said in the US was irresponsible and unexpected. She was meant to be a role model for other young Afghans,” defense ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh said on Monday. “She has betrayed her country. It is a shame.”

Rahmani had emerged as a symbol of hope for Afghan women when she surfaced in the press in 2013 after becoming Afghanistan’s first woman pilot since the Taliban era, dressed in tan combat boots, khaki overalls and aviator glasses. The once-unimaginable feat last year won her the US State Department’s “Women of Courage Award”.

But with fame came death threats from insurgents and she routinely faced contempt from her male colleagues in a conservative nation where many still believe that a woman does not belong outside the home. In an interview in Kabul last year, Rahmani said she always carried a pistol for her protection and though she has grown accustomed to the ogling eyes of men, she never left her airbase in uniform, lest it make her a target.

We would be lucky to keep her.

UNEXPECTEDLY: CA Gun Sales Surge Ahead of ‘Assault Rifle’ Ban.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Berlin Christmas market attack suspect a refugee, security sources say.

The man suspected of deliberately ramming a large truck into a Christmas market in Berlin is a refugee from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, two German intelligence officials and a police official told CNN.

The sources said the suspect in Monday evening’s attack, which killed 12 people and injured dozens more, arrived in Passau, a city on Germany’s border with Austria, on December 31, 2015, after traveling through the Balkans.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a press conference on Tuesday saying it would be “especially disgusting” if the suspect turned out to have been given asylum in Germany.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Berlin police – “We have the wrong man”

Welt via Google Translate:

The allegations of the alleged perpetrator had been examined and considered to be correct. “We have the wrong man,” says the Berlin police. “And thus a new situation. For the real culprit is still armed at large and can cause new damage. “The capital’s preparedness police and the special forces were informed.

Earlier Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) had informed that the arrested suspect denies a complicity . According to him, he comes from Pakistan. He was submitted to Germany on 31 December 2015 and registered, said the minister. His asylum procedure has not yet been concluded after several attempts at a hearing have not taken place.

In the cab of the truck was found according to information of the news agency dpa blood-smeared clothes. In the case of the suspect who was later arrested at some distance from the crime scene, on the other hand, no clothing stained with blood was found, according to security circles.

According to de Maizière, “there is no longer any doubt that the terrible event last night was an attack.” The semitrailer was consciously controlled in the human population. “We are dealing with a brutal assassination attempt,” said the minister. An official confession of a terrorist group does not yet exist, but indirect assurances.

Did they simply arrest the wrong man, or was he acting as a decoy?

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: New and improved: Syphilis makes comeback with unexpected drug resistance.

UNEXPECTEDLY: New York Times Hires Reporter Who Sent Stories To Hillary Staffers For Approval.

Fortunately for the Times, unlike his pose during the previous eight years, I doubt Glenn Thrush will be feigning much boredom during the Trump administration. (Perhaps a little ignorance of history, though.) And I doubt he’ll dub their worst decisions as “badass.”

Just think of him as a Democrat operative with a byline, and you’ll rarely go far wrong.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Trump’s Popularity Rising Post-Election.

THE SOFT BIGOTRY OF LOW EXPECTATIONS: Obama hails Obama for his anti-terror work.

“He gave himself an A,” reports Andrew Malcolm — well of course he did.

More:

Obama has struggled to seem relevant in these waning 43 days of his lame-duckness. As Americans’ eyes turn hopefully toward a new presidential administration under construction in New York City, simple static shots of a Trump Tower elevator overwhelmed once must-see images of Obama greeting leaders and reviewing troops in foreign capitals.

Obama’s got one long Air Force One voyage left: An 18-hour round-trip vacation junket to Hawaii next week at $209,000 per flight hour. But before then, he flew down to Tampa to tell Special Ops troops what they’ve been doing these last long eight years under his command.

As usual, Obama’s report had a strong emphasis on Obama. “On January 20th,” he said, “I will become the first President of the United States to serve two full terms during a time of war.” An unexpected boast from a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

You may recall Obama has told the military the biggest threat to national security is global warming. You may also remember he’s often said that defeating ISIS is his No. 1 priority. Your choice.

It’s nice to have choices.

WHICH BRINGS US TO THE END OF THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: U.S. life expectancy declines for the first time since 1993.

Rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents and other conditions caused the lower life expectancy revealed in a report released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. In all, death rates rose for eight of the top 10 leading causes of death.

“I think we should be very concerned,” said Princeton economist Anne Case, who called for thorough research on the increase in deaths from heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the United States. “This is singular. This doesn’t happen.”

A year ago, research by Case and Angus Deaton, also an economist at Princeton, brought worldwide attention to the unexpected jump in mortality rates among white middle-aged Americans. That trend was blamed on what are sometimes called diseases of despair: overdoses, alcoholism and suicide. The new report raises the possibility that major illnesses may be eroding prospects for an even wider group of Americans.

This report will probably become bigger news after January 20.