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BEFORE OBAMA AND HILLARY’S UNAUTHORIZED WAR, LIBYA WAS PEACEFUL AND COULD FEED ITSELF: Algeria, Libya, and Peace.

Algeria is, along with Tunisia and Egypt vigorously (loudly and repeatedly) supporting an unexpected peace agreement in Libya. A major reason for this July agreement was the need to avoid mass starvation in Libya. Since 2011 oil exports had shrunk and the Central Bank cash reserves are nearly gone. If peace and unity were not achieved soon no government would be able to buy and import food and other essentials. Even by Middle Eastern standards Libya was setting a new records in self-destructive behavior. By 2017 more Libyans were agreeing that the situation was indeed becoming desperate and a lot more compromise was the only solution. Even with the current national compromise the tribal (Arab, Berber and black African) and religious differences (Islamic radicals versus everyone else) plus epic levels of corruption and entitlement keep peace and prosperity out of reach. At this point most Libyans will settle for survival. The neighbors (particularly Egypt, Mali, Niger, Tunisia and Algeria) back the new peace deal as do European nations. How long it will last is another matter.

Say, whatever happened to “responsibility to protect,” anyway?

STILL RELEVANT WITH ALL THE NORTH KOREA STUFF: The Unexpected Return of Duck and Cover.

UNEXPECTEDLY. Disaster: Philly’s Soda Tax Has Produced Miserable Results.

UNEXPECTEDLY: A fashion company tried to ‘reclaim’ the swastika. It didn’t go well:

A design studio that tried to “reclaim” the swastika by selling shirts emblazoned with rainbow versions of the Nazi symbol has pulled its products after weeks of backlash, including from a national anti-Semitism group.

KA Design first pushed out its idea for “The New Swastika” in a July 12 Facebook video that reviewed the swastika’s long history.

For thousands of years, the video noted, the swastika had been used in numerous cultures to symbolize peace, love, luck, infinity and life.

“but one day Nazism,” text in the video noted, in one of the clip’s many capitalization-challenged semi-non sequiturs. “they stigmatized the Swastika forever. they won / they limited our freedom / or maybe not? the Swastika is coming back. . . . introducing the new Swastika.”

The video then showed an array of swastikas set against a rainbow background and the words “PEACE,” “LOVE” and “ZEN.”

“Wear the freedom,” the video declared, closing with the design studio’s motto: “Questioning Boundaries.”

Get one step closer to the dystopia predicted in Woody Allen’s Sleeper.

THE ATLANTIC ON HOW SILICON VALLEY TOOK OVER JOURNALISM. The piece is written by Franklin Foer, who describes how Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, bought the New Republic and promptly began the Buzzfeed-ification of that once august center-left magazine:

My master was Chartbeat, a site that provides writers, editors, and their bosses with a real-time accounting of web traffic, showing the flickering readership of each and every article. Chartbeat and its competitors have taken hold at virtually every magazine, newspaper, and blog. With these meters, no piece has sufficient traffic—it can always be improved with a better headline, a better approach to social media, a better subject, a better argument. Like a manager standing over the assembly line with a stopwatch, Chartbeat and its ilk now hover over the newsroom.

This is a dangerous turn. Journalism may never have been as public-spirited an enterprise as editors and writers liked to think it was. Yet the myth mattered. It pushed journalism to challenge power; it made journalists loath to bend to the whims of their audience; it provided a crucial sense of detachment. The new generation of media giants has no patience for the old ethos of detachment. It’s not that these companies don’t have aspirations toward journalistic greatness. BuzzFeed, Vice, and the Huffington Post invest in excellent reporting and employ first-rate journalists—and they have produced some of the most memorable pieces of investigative journalism in this century. But the pursuit of audience is their central mission. They have allowed the endless feedback loop of the web to shape their editorial sensibility, to determine their editorial investments.

“Unexpectedly,” the Atlantic’s own lust for clickbait isn’t mentioned the piece: CTL-F “Andrew Sullivan,” brings zero results. At the beginning of September of 2008, Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard wrote a post at his Galley Slaves blog titled “The Atlantic Becomes a Laughingstock,” that neatly foreshadows what Foer wrote for the Atlantic’s September 2017 issue on TNR:

What’s caught my attention here, then is The Atlantic. I am, and always have been, an enormous booster for the Old Media, and smarty-pants general-interest magazines in particular. What’s so notable in this whole affair isn’t the tarring of Palin but the fact that The Atlantic Monthly is the vehicle for the irresponsible spreading of smears about Palin and speculation so inane that it can’t be counted, by any reasonable measure, as analysis. (Here, I’m thinking of Sullivan’s claim that he thought it possible both Palin and McCain would relinquish their nominations.)

If Andrew Sullivan were to have written everything he wrote this week at his own website, I wouldn’t have said a word about it. The real scandal here isn’t Sullivan: It’s what The Atlantic has become by publishing him.

As for Sullivan’s page views, I sincerely hope that David Bradley isn’t making his editorial decisions based solely on eyeballs and dollars. Were that so, you could simply give The Atlantic‘s pages over to Perez Hilton or Slashdot or Matt Drudge or any other number of content formats. But the point of The Atlantic, like other great journals, is to be something different–to be a stage in the world of ideas, even if it’s not the most profitable thing.

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

Let’s give Foer the exit quote: “Journalism has performed so admirably in the aftermath of Trump’s victory that it has grown harder to see the profession’s underlying rot.”

I question both halves of that premise, especially the first.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to Newark public schools failed miserably — here’s where it went wrong.

Unexpectedly.

(Via SDA.)

UNEXPECTEDLY: Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Employees Arrested For Creating False IDs for Illegals.

RESEARCHERS BAFFLED BY UNEXPECTED RESULTS: Boys who watch porn are more likely to become misogynists.

MEET THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S UNEXPECTED NEW STAR: That and more in Liz Sheld’s morning brief.

THE ATLANTIC ON WHY AMERICANS GET CONNED AGAIN AND AGAIN:

For decades, Donald Trump has been compared to the legendary showman P.T. Barnum. Trump himself has publicly embraced being likened to a man described by historians as “vulgar, childish, surely just a little crooked.” His willingness to invoke that set of values—quite different from the Horatio Alger-style “luck and pluck” that serve as an unofficial national ethos—may be what his supporters are praising when they say he “tells it like it is.”

* * * * * * * *

Fraud is a phenomenon that knows no borders, but American exceptionalism, as Balleisen shows, includes a special vulnerability to fraudsters and con artists. As he points out, “Many of the world’s most expensive and ambitious frauds have occurred in America” because “openness to innovation has always meant openness to creative deception.” The country’s lionization of entrepreneurs and inventors creates tempting opportunities for those trafficking in highly implausible scenarios. It has made the U.S. home to genuine innovators, from Thomas Edison to Oprah Winfrey, but it has also facilitated the far-reaching deceptions and empty promises perpetrated by people like Bernie Madoff on Wall Street and Elizabeth Holmes in Silicon Valley. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme was the largest known financial fraud in history, and Holmes’s biotech start-up Theranos faces multiple lawsuits and federal investigations after its products didn’t work as claimed. (Holmes and the company deny any wrongdoing.)

Misrepresentations are usually made possible by two factors: their complexity and their proponents’ social craftiness. Madoff and Holmes used both of these to their advantage.

So did another conman working on an even bigger scale – and “unexpectedly,” he’s not mentioned at all in the above article.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Germany’s Refugee-Driven Terror Problem Out of Control with Dozen Incidents since 2016.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Debbie Wasserman Schultz Avoiding Reporters Since Awan Arrest.

C’mon Debbie — tell the world how you had been “myzled” by Awan! (Bumped).

UNEXPECTEDLY. Twitter Fails to Grow Its Audience, Again: Monthly active users in the U.S. fell, as did ad revenue.

Back in February, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Twitter Posts 10th Straight Quarter of Lower Revenue.”

But these things tend to happen when you go full-on SJW, and begin to ban controversial users – you know, the ones who generate clicks and links by being provocative. Or as Steve wrote a month ago, “I miss the old Twitter, too, before the company discouraged honest give-and-take by going Full SJW.”

(Via Small Dead Animals, which links to the above Bloomberg article under the headline “#TweetsUp.”)

Heh, indeed.™

JOURNALISM IS ABOUT COVERING IMPORTANT STORIES. WITH A PILLOW, UNTIL THEY STOP MOVING: Networks Cover Up Wasserman Schultz’s Shady IT Staffer Being Arrested, Fired.

Just think of broadcast news as Democrat operatives with Chyrons, and it all makes sense.

Meanwhile, Nick Confessore‏ of the New York Times calls the story “remarkable,” Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post describes it as “Wild,”’ and curiously, neither seems very upset that both of their papers missed it.

Unexpectedly, as they say in the DNC-MSM.

(Classical reference in headline.)

Related: Scott Johnson of Power Line on “The Awan connection.”

IT’LL BE INTERESTING TO SEE IF THIS EFFECT HOLDS UP, AND IF IT HAS ANY OTHER ANTI-AGING IMPACT: Cancer Patients’ Gray Hair Darkened While on New Drugs.

Cancer patients’ gray hair unexpectedly turned youthfully dark while taking novel drugs, and it has doctors scratching their heads. The AP reports chemotherapy is notorious for making hair fall out, but the 14 patients involved were all being treated with new immunotherapy drugs that work differently and have different side effects. A Spanish study suggests that may include restoring hair pigment, at least in patients with lung cancer. With the first patient, “we thought it could be an isolated case,” said Dr. Noelia Rivera. But she said the research team found the same thing when they asked other patients for photos from before treatment.

Let’s hope this turns into something big.

UNEXPECTEDLY!: The Obama-Ayatollah Nuclear Collusion Fraud isn’t working.

OK, The National Interest article is titled “The Iran Nuclear Deal Isn’t Working,” but I think my title is more accurate.

RELATED: Not so unexpectedly. (I’m so old I remember 2015.)

UNEXPECTEDLY: Study Finds Massive Drop in Israel Support … Among Jewish College Students.

Curiously, the one nation in the Middle East where they’re not tossing gays off tall buildings isn’t popular among the American far left, either.

BETWEEN NORTH KOREA AND IRAN, THAT’S A GOOD THING: This new drug could help the U.S. survive a nuclear meltdown.. “An injection being developed by the Israeli company Pluristem Therapeutics Inc. appears to help the body rebound from radiation injuries.”

Related: The Unexpected Return of ‘Duck and Cover.’

UNEXPECTEDLY? New York restaurateur: we axed 500 employees because of higher minimum wage.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Best-Run States Are Low-Tax Republican, Worst-Run Are High-Tax Democratic, Study Finds.

There were several changes in the rankings from last year. Florida moved from sixth place to first, while Alaska dropped from first place last year to 17th this year, driven mainly by the fall in oil prices. Idaho moved into the top 10.

At the bottom of the heap, Louisiana and West Virginia both dropped down in the 10-worst list, while Hawaii greatly improved, going from 45th place last year 27th this year. Connecticut, Maine and New York also climbed out of the bottom 10 list. But New Jersey fell to dead last from last year’s 48th place.

The report also includes rankings for each individual measure of fiscal solvency, in addition to the overall ranking. Some states do well on some measures, and bad on others. New Jersey, for example, is last on long-run solvency and second to last on budget solvency, but ranks 24 on service-level solvency.

Nearly bankrupt Illinois is in the bottom in all but one of the five individual measures — service-level solvency.

The Mercatus report doesn’t include data on the states’ political leanings or tax burdens, but the implication is clear.

Great study — don’t get cocky.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Two years after the bailout, life in Greece has gotten more miserable.

The economy is stagnant, unemployment hovers around 25% and is twice as high for young adults, taxes are rising, and wages are falling. Half of Greek homeowners can’t make their mortgage payments and another quarter can’t afford their property taxes, according to the Bank of Greece.

“All these years, I’ve heard dozens of promises from the current and the previous governments on creating new jobs and bettering conditions in the country, but I never believed anything of what I heard,” said Nikos Theodoridis, 57, who became homeless during the economic crisis that began in 2007.

“Homelessness and the crisis are still here, despite all that politicians are saying,” said Theodoridis, who makes a paltry living hawking magazines on the street.

On July 5, 2015, voters soundly rejected the terms of a proposed bailout with international lenders because the plan demanded too much austerity. Yet, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza Party ignored the referendum results and signed a third bailout deal that would provide nearly $100 billion in loans the country desperately needed to avoid collapse.

Tsipras, whose party gained power on a pledge to resist further austerity requirements, reversed itself and adopted more budget and pension cuts. In June, he negotiated the latest payment of $9.7 billion.

Many Greeks now are resigned to living in poverty under the deal. “It’s our fault,” said Vasiliki Gova, 52, a cleaning woman who gained national attention by staging a two-year protest outside the Ministry of Finance where she had been laid off from her job. “People were looking for hope and put all their hopes on politicians. But no messiah will come save us.”

Greeks spent a lot of money they didn’t have, then the bill came due. Greece has been down this road before, but never so far. Belonging to the eurozone allowed them to borrow at the same low rate as thrifty Germans — like giving dad’s Platinum American Express to a reckless teenager. Needless to say, they ran up some big bills. Even worse, their attachment to the euro means that this time they can’t devalue their way out like they have in previous debt crises.

Another case of “bad luck,” I suppose.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Even By Keynes’ Standards, Cash For Clunkers Was A Complete Failure.

Three economists (from MIT and Tex A&M) have crunched the numbers and discovered that Obama’s Cash-for-Clunkers scheme back in 2009 was a failure even by Keynesian standards.

The abstract of the study tells you everything you need to know.

The 2009 Cash for Clunkers program aimed to stimulate consumer spending in the new automobile industry, which was experiencing disproportionate reductions in demand and employment during the Great Recession. Exploiting program eligibility criteria in a regression discontinuity design, we show nearly 60 percent of the subsidies went to households who would have purchased during the two-month program anyway; the rest accelerated sales by no more than eight months. Moreover, the program’s fuel efficiency restrictions shifted purchases toward vehicles that cost on average $5,000 less. On net, Cash for Clunkers significantly reduced total new vehicle spending over the ten month period.

This is remarkable. At the time, the most obvious criticism of the scheme was that it would simply alter the timing of purchases.

And scholars the following year confirmed that the program didn’t have any long-run impact.

But now we find out that there was impact, but it was negative.

You don’t create wealth by destroying it, and you don’t alleviate stagnant incomes by making things more expensive — which shouldn’t be news to anyone but the most devoted followers of Keynes.

UNEXPECTED HEADLINES: ‘Scab’ Goats Raise the Ire of AFSCME at College in Michigan.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Photo ‘showing Amelia Earhart boarding a ship on a Pacific island after crash landing’ is not the aviator because it was taken at least three years after she disappeared, investigators say.

C’mon – it’s the History Channel that was pushing this. We all know how their “documentary” will really end, right?

WITH NORTH KOREA’S ICBM TEST, I suppose it’s time to reprise my The Unexpected Return of Duck and Cover.

And it’s never a bad time to prepare.

BLUE STATE BLUES: High-tax Connecticut fails to pass budget as fiscal situation worsens.

Despite having a per capita personal income that is more than 143% of the national average—according to Moody’s— the state’s economy continues to lag behind others. Revenue shortfalls in the state register around $450 million for the current fiscal year alone, while estimated deficit totals are projected to clock in near $5 billion for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years combined, according to The Connecticut Business & Industry Association. Debt outstanding levels and unfunded pension liabilities relative to revenues are among the highest of any state in the country, Moody’s Investors Service said in May.

Additionally Connecticut has yet to recover many of the jobs it lost during the financial crisis, according to Moody’s, and, as previously reported by FOX Business, income-tax collections are projected to fall in fiscal year 2017 for the first time since the recession.

The three major rating firms have downgraded the state’s credit rating in response to the ongoing budget crisis. In its most recent downgrade, which landed Connecticut with the third-lowest rating out of every state behind only New Jersey and Illinois. Moody’s said “the downgrades reflect continuing erosion of Connecticut’s finances, evidenced by the pending elimination of its rainy day fund, growing budget gaps and rising debt levels.”

Connecticut’s financial despair comes despite the state government’s approval of one of its largest tax rate increases ever in 2015, which has had a negative impact on some business investment.

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY:  Once a Model City, Hong Kong Is in Trouble, the New York Times reports.

Funny how that always seems to happen whenever a region moves further and further to the left. It’s just bad luck, I guess. And note this quote:

“More and more, there is a sense of futility,” said Anson Chan, the second-highest official in the Hong Kong government in the years before and after the handover to Chinese rule. She blames Beijing’s interference for the city’s woes. “We have this enormous giant at our doorstep,” she said, “and the rest of the world does not seem to question whatever the enormous giant does.”

Not least of which, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, who in 2009 praised the “great advantages” of one-party autocracy, “led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today.”

SERIAL JOB KILLER STRIKES AGAIN: The minimum wage. It’s a serial killer.

Working from the absurd idea that if higher wages are good for individual workers, it must be socially beneficial to have government order all employers to pay their workers more, progressives and other leftists have had extraordinary success in forcing small businesses to pay higher minimum wages.

Big Mac’s stock is up 27% this year. Why? Pushed by concerns over a rising minimum wage, the fast-food chain is replacing human cashiers as fast as it can. But it really has no choice.

By the end of 2017, it plans to have digital cashiers in 2,500 restaurants; by 2018, another 3,000 restaurants will go digital. They’re also going to let you order via mobile device at 14,000 restaurants by year end. McDonald’s calls it the “Experience of the Future” strategy.

Somewhere out there in Beltway Land, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are saying “Unexpectedly!”

MORE “UNEXPECTED” BAD LUCK IN ILLINOIS: Senator Durbin Confronted By Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso Who’s a Doctor: ‘Senator Durbin doesn’t want to talk about the fact that in Illinois they are way down on the number of people even selling insurance and prices are way up.’

Earlier: “Illinois on the Right Track…To Achieve Junk Credit Rating.”

(Classical allusion in headline.)

UNEXPECTEDLY: Every now and then, a small news item will restore your faith in the decency of people. This is one of those. “Video shows a teen falling off a Six Flags ride — and a crowd gathering to catch her.” Spare yourself the navel gazing about amusement parks, and watch the embedded video.

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.’

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