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BYRON YORK: House GOP delivers blow to Trump-Russia collusion story. Will others follow?

It has long been the key question of the Trump-Russia affair: Did Donald Trump’s presidential campaign collude with Russia to influence the 2016 election? Now, we have the first official, albeit partisan, answer.

“We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians,” said Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee Monday as they released findings from a 14-month Trump-Russia investigation.

GOP Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, who formally oversaw the committee probe, said, “We found perhaps bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment in taking meetings.” But no collusion.

Committee investigators looked at the events often cited as evidence of collusion. They looked at the June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Donald Trump Jr. and other top campaign officials talked to a group of Russians who promised, but did not deliver, damaging information on Hillary Clinton. They looked at the activities of peripheral Trump advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page. They looked at the allegations in the Trump dossier. They looked at all that, and they could not find a thread connecting events into a narrative of collusion.

“Only Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take this series of inadvertent contacts with each other, or meetings, whatever, and weave that into a some sort of fictional page-turner spy thriller,” Conaway said. “But we’re not dealing with fiction, we’re dealing with facts. And we found no evidence of any collusion, of anything that people were actually doing, other than taking a meeting they shouldn’t have taken or inadvertently being in the same building.”

The collusion question is the most contentious of the Trump-Russia investigation. Some Democrats have long said we know enough now to prove collusion. Indeed, just last month, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said, “There is already, in my view, ample evidence in the public domain on the issue of collusion if you’re willing to see it.”

When Republicans released their findings, though, Schiff did not mention collusion. . . .

Would-be believers in collusion could suffer another disappointment later this year when the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee releases its report. Shortly after the House findings were made public, the chairman of that committee, Sen. Richard Burr, told CNN he has not seen evidence of collusion in the more than a year his committee has been looking for it.

It’s as if the whole thing was invented out of whole cloth, to keep the Democrats’ troops riled up after Hillary’s unexpected and humiliating defeat.

PALLYWOOD, THE SEQUEL: Richard Landes at Second Draft: demonstrating how the MSM contributes to the Palestinian cause by hiding reality (video).

“Unexpectedly,” the MSM and reality have been mutually exclusive terms for quite some time now.

UNEXPECTEDLY: The projected cost of California’s bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles has jumped to $77 billion and the opening date has been pushed back four years to 2033, according to a business plan released Friday.

Sportswriter Scott Criscione tweets, “According to math at that price it’ll be roughly 201-Million dollars per mile. Someone is pulling off the greatest heist of all time.”

It’s the graft inherent in “The Desire Named Streetcar”  taken to its most extreme.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Washington Post Writer Advocates for Outright Socialism.

A little late, isn’t she? In early 2009, a publication then-owned by the Washington Post assured me that we were already all socialists.

In the February 16 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands February 9), “We Are All Socialists Now,” Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas observe that the America of 2009 has become a more socialist country, and the shift began not under a Democrat but a Republican. Plus: how the United States is turning European; the draw of gangs in L.A.; the blackberry president; why Americans don’t hate the rich; and an interview with the Prime Minister of Pakistan. (PRNewsFoto/NEWSWEEK) (Newscom TagID: prnphotos078747) [Photo via Newscom]

NO. NEXT QUESTION? Is Islam the Solution for Wayward Youth? “If young Muslims in Western countries who get involved in juvenile crimes stop what they’re doing and become observant in Islam, authorities should breathe a sigh of relief, no? That’s what Australian authorities encouraged recently. Things didn’t work out quite the way they had hoped.”


EURABIA: ‘Hair-Raising’: Sharia Law Makes Its Debut in Swedish Court.

In a landmark case, the Solna District Court has acquitted an Iraqi man suspected of abusing wife by pushing her against furniture, pulling her hair and hitting her face with a shoe. The court called the credibility of the woman’s testimony into question, stressing her “lowly” parentage, the daily newspaper Aftonbladet reported.

In addition to stressing that the man “came from a good family,” unlike the woman, the court ruled that the fact that the woman turned to the police instead of the husband’s family “further” undermined her credibility. According to the court, “the normal thing” to do “in these circles” would be to try and resolve the conflict within the family.

The ruling, adopted by a divided court, triggered an immediate response from Sweden’s legal circles.

“This is one of the most prejudiced and strange judgments I have read. Not completely unexpectedly dictated by two lay judges. Still no one in charge who wants to do something about the lay judge system?” former Swedish Bar Association president Bengt Ivarsson tweeted.

​Prosecutor Josefine Dahlqvist appealed the ruling straight away, claiming that the ruling violated the foundations of Sweden’s legal system.

Of course it did — that was the entire point.

And I still think we need a word for cultural self-genocide.

UNEXPECTEDLY. New York Times: If GOP Wins Midterms, Democrats Will Rage at Russian Meddling.

I miss the good old days, when the Democrats simply blamed “right wing media bias” for their midterm losses.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Boston Globe: The Nation’s Toughest Gun Control Law Made Massachusetts Less Safe.

UNEXPECTEDLY: “We Don’t Belong Here Anymore” — Even Landlords Are Fleeing The Bay Area.

WHAT’S THIS? CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATS REJECT FEINSTEIN’S RE-ELECTION BID: Yes, Dianne Feinstein, the former San Francisco mayor, has been a U.S. Senator from California since Bill Clinton was in the White House, but she’s not sufficiently “progressive” for the Democrats in 2018? Kathryn Blackhurst of LifeZette counts the unexpected numbers.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Hollywood Enters Gun Debate to Get Its Virtue-Signaling Back.


[Updated at 17.20pm GMT to reflect CEO Meng Kuok’s statement about not charging existing SONAR customers again for cross-grades and also BandLab’s hiring of Cakewalk personnel]

BandLab Technologies — the company behind social music platform BandLab, as well as Rolling Stone magazine, Mono cases, Harmony Guitars and more — have today announced the acquisition of certain assets and the complete set of intellectual property of Cakewalk Inc. from Gibson Brands.

CEO of BandLab Technologies, Meng Ru Kuok said, “The teams at both Gibson and BandLab felt that Cakewalk’s products deserved a new home where development could continue. We are pleased to be supporting Cakewalk’s passionate community of creators to ensure they have access to the best possible features and music products under the BandLab Technologies banner.”

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for Sonar users since November 2017 when previous owners Gibson unexpectedly announced that they were ceasing development of the popular Windows-based DAW. This latest news will come as a huge relief to those who rely on Sonar and other Cakewalk products such as the Z3TA +2 and Rapture Pro synths. There’s every reason to be optimistic about the future of Sonar after this announcement. BandLab have past form in acquiring and developing audio technologies — something they’ve done already with AudioStretch, an iOS app that slows down audio and video without any change to pitch for transcription and music learning.

As someone who has used Sonar as my primary digital audio workstation software since around 2000, for music, podcasts, and PJM’s late, lamented Sirius-XM show, I was genuinely stunned when Gibson unceremoniously pulled the plug on Cakewalk right around Thanksgiving of last year, after acquiring the company in 2013. I don’t know anything about BrandLab other than what is reported above, but I’m glad somebody bought the Cakewalk brand, which dates back to 1987.

Related: Speaking of Gibson, “S&P lowered its rating for Gibson to CCC-minus, from the already very low rating of CCC. S&P says a CCC-minus rating indicates that a default is imminent,” CNN reports, adding, “The company has $145 million in outstanding bank loans that will come due on July 23 and another $377 million of outstanding secured notes maturing on August 1. ‘With multiple maturities looming and operating weakness ongoing, we believe Nashville-based Gibson Brands could default on its debt obligations over the next six months,’ said S&P in a report from analyst Francis Cusimano Jr.”

YES, HEADS SHOULD ROLL FOR FAILURE: John Fund: End the 9/11 Syndrome at the FBI: Terrible Things Happen, and There’s Little Accountability.

In the wake of the Florida school shooting, can we now have a real conversation about what is wrong with the FBI?

Howard Finkelstein, the Broward County public defender whose office is representing Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., puts it bluntly:

This kid exhibited every single known red flag, from killing animals to having a cache of weapons to disruptive behavior to saying he wanted to be a school shooter. If this isn’t a person who should have gotten someone’s attention, I don’t know who is. This was a multi-system failure.

Specifically, the FBI admits that it received two separate tips about Cruz. Last fall, a frequent YouTube vlogger noticed an alarming comment left on one of his videos. “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” said a user named Nikolas Cruz. The vlogger alerted the FBI and was interviewed. But the agency subsequently claimed its investigators couldn’t locate Cruz, despite the highly unusual spelling of his first name.

Then, just six weeks ago, a person close to Cruz warned a call taker on the FBI’s tip line that the expelled student had a desire to kill and might attack a school. The bureau said that the information was not passed to agents in the Miami office. Florida governor Rick Scott has called for FBI director Christopher Wray to be fired. So has NRO’s Kevin Williamson in a powerful piece: “Fire the FBI Chief.” Other officials are calling for FBI heads to roll, but at a level below Wray’s. Florida attorney general Pam Bondi told Fox News, “The people who had that information and did not do anything with it, they are the ones that need to go.” . . .

Nor is the Parkland shooting the first time the FBI has fallen down on its most basic job: assessing threats and acting on them. Look at what has happened just in Florida in the last two years. FBI agents investigated as a suspect the man who gunned down 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, but concluded the agency couldn’t act against him. The FBI also had an unexpected visit from the mentally ill man charged with killing five people at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport last year. He had walked into an FBI field office and made bizarre, though not threatening, statements.

Of course there should be a housecleaning at the FBI. But there is a larger issue. I call it America’s 9/11 Syndrome. I was across the street from the World Trade Center the day the terrorists flew two planes into it. I will never forget what I saw that day, including people holding hands jumping from the burning towers before they collapsed and killed 2,606 people.

I retain a mixture of feelings about that day, ranging from deep sadness to pride that my fellow New Yorkers played against stereotypes and helped each other so much that day and afterwards. But what also sticks in my mind is a simple fact: Not one person in the federal government was fired on account of 9/11.

When there’s this sort of major failure, the firings should begin at the top, but reach all the way down the chain. And not just at the FBI.

THIS VETERAN FBI INVESTIGATOR MAY KNOW KEY DETAILS ON THE CLINTON EMAILS: But he suddenly and unexpectedly retired a few months into it. Some might wonder why. Long-time Clinton Foundation exposer Charles Ortel lays it out in LifeZette.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Dems Politicize Florida School Shooting.

Ongoing updates on the situation can be found at PJM’s Hot Mic section.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Student Snowflakes Sign Petition To Ban ‘Offensive’ Valentine’s Day.


Related: Woke bros wonder: How does a woke bro get laid in this difficult #MeToo era?


“Gibson Brands, Inc. today announced that the company made a $16.6 million coupon payment to holders of its $375 million, 8.875% senior secured notes due 2018.”

That simple statement issued a week ago — at all of 26 words, it’s less than a quarter the length of Gibson’s boilerplate company description that accompanied it — suggests a business-as-usual tone of a company taking care of its contractual commitments.

But the situation facing the iconic Nashville-based music instrument maker, which has annual revenues of more than $1 billion, is far from normal: CFO Bill Lawrence recently left the company after less than a year on the job and just six months before $375 million of senior secured notes will mature. On top of that, another $145 million in bank loans will come due immediately if those notes, issued in 2013, are not refinanced by July 23.

Less than six months out from those crucial deadlines, the prospects for an orderly refinancing — Gibson has hired investment bank Jefferies to help with that — look slim, observers say. And the alternative scenarios look likely to sideline longtime owner and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz.

That helps to explain why Gibson tossed Cakewalk, the 31-year old Boston-based digital audio workstation and home recording software manufacturer it acquired in 2013 under the bus this past November so unexpectedly. (In the non-ironic sense of the word; I was genuinely shocked when the news broke).

(Via Iowahawk.)

#METOO FALLOUT: Almost Half of Male Managers ‘Uncomfortable’ in a Work Activity With a Woman.



NEWS YOU CAN USE: What To Do In A Nuclear Attack. Honestly, this is not a very good piece, as it conflates thermal radiation with ionizing radiation.

Related: The Unexpected Return of Duck and Cover.

CHANGE: U.S. jobless claims drop to near 45-year low.

UNEXPECTEDLY! New Minimum Wage Laws Will Eliminate More Than 260,000 Jobs in 2018.

If only there were some kind of easy-to-understand relationship between price and demand, maybe do-gooders wouldn’t keep making the same mistakes.


Many negative consequences flow reliably from a financial crisis, including unemployment, political turmoil, and piles of sovereign debt. Since the 2008 financial meltdown, however, we’ve seen none of the good consequences—and there are supposed to be good ones. Crashes and severe recessions often are followed by bursts of innovation that lay the groundwork for several decades of future growth and productivity increases. Severe economic downturns can perform a vital cleansing for the economy, toppling unchallengeable market positions and clearing a path for newcomers with disruptive ideas. The economic transformations that followed major worldwide crashes prior to 2008—in 1873, 1929, and 1973—were breathtaking. Indeed, the 1870s, 1930s, and 1970s were among the most innovative decades in history. The 1930s, for example, remembered mostly for the Great Depression, were also a time of great technological progress, in areas such as jet engines, synthetic materials, television, and computers. The 1970s saw enormous advances in personal computing, the digital camera, the Internet and e-mail (via the ARPANET), automotive technology (such as antilock brakes), phones that were truly mobile (even if you weren’t in a car), CAT and MRI scans, recombinant DNA, and IVF.

Yet here we are, nearly a decade after the worst financial crisis in modern memory, and we’ve seen few of these kinds of benefits. Don’t let heady stock prices, record corporate profits, and low unemployment fool you. America is only now emerging from a lost decade. Instead of renewal, the last ten years were blighted by slow growth, stagnant productivity, limited social mobility, long-term unemployment and underemployment, and despair.


CHANGE: Tillerson says U.S. still considering Venezuela oil sale restrictions.

I wouldn’t bother. Why provide Maduro another with another foreign scapegoat when Venezuelan oil production is already cratering (unexpectedly!) under socialism?

DON’T BE EVIL: There’s A Newfound Hatred Of Silicon Valley.

“Unexpectedly.” Or as J. Christian Adams wrote last month, Employee Lawsuit Reveals Google As Intolerant Race Cult.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): They were warned, years ago. But no dice.


Three out of four homeless people — 41,000 — live in cars, campers, tents and lean-tos, by far the biggest single group of unsheltered people in any U.S. city. If you took out Los Angeles, national homelessness would have dropped last year for the first time since the recession.

People left behind by the economic recovery can’t compete with young professionals who have bid rents up to record levels.

In another era, they might have found refuge in crumbling hotels and tenements. But many of those buildings were lost in the city’s post-recession spree of building, evictions and renovations.

The problem has only gotten worse since Mayor Eric Garcetti took office in 2013 and a liberal Democratic supermajority emerged in 2016 on the county Board of Supervisors.

Unexpectedly. And if you missed it last month, here’s California in a single headline: Anaheim to evict homeless to make way for flood-control project and preserve bike path.

The video in the post at Twitchy of ten speed-bicyclists in full spandex Lance Armstrong Tour de France gear and GoPro-equipped helmets videotaping themselves riding past an endless row of homeless tents is California in a single video:

Ayn Rand didn’t write The Return of the Primitive as a how-to guide.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Dodge under fire after using Martin Luther King Jr. in  Super Bowl ad.

And note this:

As Twitchy says, “oof.”

UPDATE: MLK Jr’s Daughter & Foundation Denounce Dodge Super Bowl Ad.

LIMITS: Have Self-Driving Cars Stopped Getting Better? “One solution could be to deploy a teleoperation system such as the one being developed by Phantom Auto, where a remote human driver can take control for a short time to navigate an unexpected obstacle or assist passengers. Another possibility is that the road to our driverless future is going to be bumpier than expected.”

ROBERT TRACINSKI: Twenty-five years ago, ‘Groundhog Day’ seemed like just a light screwball comedy. It has since been accepted as a beloved classic with unexpected depths. “‘Groundhog Day,’ a seemingly light and whimsical 1993 comedy from director Harold Ramis, is 25 years old this year, and the film has had an interesting life. It debuted to generally positive but not reverential reviews, yet has since been accepted as a beloved classic with unexpected depths. The general response was summed up when Roger Ebert upgraded his review 12 years later from three stars to four. It seems he only came to appreciate it after repeated viewings—which, given the film’s premise, is kind of amusing.”

CITING TAX REFORM, Altria will give its employees $3000 bonuses.

Related: Best Buy to hand out bonuses to workers. “The Minneapolis-based chain says that this month it will pay one-time bonuses of $1,000 to full-time workers and $500 to part-time employees.”

Crumbs, says Nancy Pelosi. But we’re sure seeing a lot of crumbs.

UPDATE: Unexpectedly!

UNEXPECTEDLY: A male backlash against #MeToo is brewing.

“I’m getting the feeling that we’re going back 20 years as female professionals,” said Green, who owns her company. “I fully anticipate I’m going to be competing with another firm that is currently owned by some male, and the deciding factor is going to be: ‘You don’t want to hire a female lobbying firm in this environment.’”

This kind of thinking is catching on in aggressively P.C. Silicon Valley, where men are taking to message boards like Reddit to express interest in sex segregation — sometimes labeled “Men Going Their Own Way,” or the “Man-o-Sphere.” How will that work out for women in the tech industry, where they already face substantial challenges?

Read the whole thing. On Thursday, Dr. Helen wrote, “There must be a better method that results in more true predators being brought to justice than a movement like #MeToo that results in so many false positives, but then, that may be their underlying goal. Because sadly, #Me Too thinks all men are guilty.”

And that all women are victims. Or as Megan McArdle wrote last month, “Listen to the ‘Bad Feminists’ — They’re the ones who still believe women have power.”

I’D PUT BETTER-THAN-EVEN ODDS THAT HARVEY WEINSTEIN IS BEHIND THIS: Rose McGowan Punished For Refusing To Be Harassed By Trans Activist.

On Wednesday night in New York City, actor Rose McGowan spoke about her new book, “Brave,” a memoir recounting the sexual abuse she has suffered. As a central figure in the Me Too activism, McGowan has taken a prominent place among activists fighting to end sexual harassment and assault. But as she chatted with the crowd, things took an unexpected and ugly turn.

A transgender activist named Andi Dier, a male who identifies as a woman, rose and began screaming at McGowan about the how trans people face more sexual abuse than what Dier refers to as “cis” women, those who accept their biological femaleness. McGowan began yelling back, telling the activist to sit down. The activist did not sit down and was eventually removed by store security. . . .

McGowan’s experience growing up female apparently included statutory rape. For having the temerity to suggest differences in life experiences, she was subjected to a yelling lecture about how she should talk less about “cis” women’s abuse, and more about the abuse facing trans women.

Dier’s message is clear: concerns about women who used to be men are more important and pressing than concerns about women who grew up as women. McGowan’s response to Dier was angry, but also full of transgender-reaffirming statements such as referring to Dier as “sister,” and saying “we are the same.”

But that wasn’t good enough. McGowan also objected to being called “cis,” saying she didn’t want the label. The feminist outlet “Them” said of this, “It’s common for anti trans activists to disavow the label “cis” and position themselves as women…The McGowan rant reeks of this trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) ideology…[and it] backs up her critics’ claims that she is a transphobe.”

Here’s the thing: When dealing with “activists,” nothing is ever good enough.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Venezuela’s Oil Power Vanishing, Hard Default Fears Rising.

The country has over $1 billion in overdue interest payments, which is more than 10% of the country’s central bank reserves at this point.

There has been no official communication from the government on any other coupon payments and lengthy delays are now prompting review on whether the oil firm has entered into permanent default. If so, bond holders will accelerate and request principal payment. Of course, they will not get their principal payments, at least not immediately.

“The markets will recognize declining probability of payment each day that passes without receipt of funds or notification from the intermediaries,” says Siobhan Morden, a managing director at Nomura in New York.

Defaults stress erodes the margin of flexibility for Maduro and exposes a worse phase of cashflow woes for the bills the country owes in dollars.


UNEXPECTEDLY! Exxon Mobil to invest $50 billion in US over 5 years, citing tax reform.

UNEXPECTEDLY: CNN’s Jeff Toobin Regrets Being Too Tough On Hillary Clinton in 2016: ‘False Equivalence’ to Trump.

Flashback: An internal memo written by ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin admonishes ABC staff: During coverage of Democrat Kerry and Republican Bush not to “reflexively and artificially hold both sides ‘equally’ accountable.”

Two guesses as to which side of the scale Halperin was pushing down on with his thumb back in October of 2004.

Just think of the media as being Democratic operatives with lavaliers, and it all makes sense.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Grammy Awards Ratings Down Sharply From 2017 in Early Nielsen Numbers.

Who wants to watch MSNBC with uglier fashions and a lousier soundtrack?

And astonishingly enough, even worse journalism, to boot: ‘Don’t ruin great music with trash’: Nikki Haley complains after Grammys feature Hillary Clinton reading ‘Fire and Fury’ with UN envoy saying she prefers her ‘music without the politics.’

All of which flows into Iowahawk’s observation about the left’s long march into cultural institutions, pop and otherwise:

Related: CBS fail in progress: #Grammys fans are pissed CBS is showing golf instead of the red carpet.

Perhaps the golf game was pulling in better ratings?

UNEXPECTEDLY! NYT: Weird how for the first time since the financial crisis, the economy is really taking off.



UNEXPECTEDLY: Facebook censors The Rebel’s ad about Christian genocide documentary.

THE PASSWORD IS: LYSENKOISM. Feminist Event Encourages Scientists To Only Pursue ‘Socially Just’ Research: “Got that? They want scientists to only undertake studies and only publish conclusions that will support a radical feminist worldview. Testicular cancer is striking down many men in their prime, you say? Well, don’t you dare invest scarce research money into finding a cure — men already have too many advantages.”


(Classical reference in headline.)

NAME THAT PARTY: Texas Politician Accused of ‘Grooming’ Grieving Mother for Sex and a Ponzi Scheme:

Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti “groomed” nearly $900,000 out of a former client and grieving mother by cultivating a sexual relationship with her, according to prosecutors in court on Monday.

The 54-year-old Uresti, who has also been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment during his time as a legislator, is on trial for 11 felony charges—including money laundering, wire fraud, and securities fraud—over his alleged part in a Ponzi scheme involving frac sand company FourWinds Logistics‍. Uresti, who served as legal counsel for the now-defunct company, has repeatedly denied all of the charges.

“Unexpectedly,” it takes the Daily Beast 15 paragraphs to reveal that Uresti is a Democrat, in the second-to-last ‘graph. At least the San Antonio Express-News article linked to in the above except identifies it in the fourth paragraph.

(Via Neontaster.)

UNEXPECTEDLY: AMVETS says NFL censored its ad against flag protests.

Pete Rozelle is pretty much doing non-stop 360s in his grave at this point.

BLUE STATE BLUES: New Englanders Have Only Themselves to Blame for Energy Price Spikes.

Both prices and demand for domestic natural gas have surged as people have started plugging in their space heaters. Gas consumption set a new record for daily use on January 1, surpassing the previous record set in January 2014 in the midst of the “Polar Vortex.” Energy prices in most of the country increased 20–30 percent to account for the strong demand before quickly returning to previous levels. But in parts of New England prices spiked more than 400 percent.

Why? New England — including Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island — is the only part of the country that has constrained supplies of natural gas. This constraint is largely self-induced by “above-ground” political issues. Local and state opposition have blocked a number of natural gas pipelines in recent years, with the result that the region hasn’t benefited from the gas production growth in the Marcellus shale formation in nearby Pennsylvania.


MEGAN MCARDLE: Listen to the ‘Bad Feminists:’ They’re the ones who still believe women have power.

Was it only a year ago that Margaret Atwood was the avatar for feminist resistance? That’s when the TV adaptation of her “Handmaid’s Tale” was widely praised for being “unexpectedly timely” (and I poked gentle fun at the notion).

But oh, how time does fly these days. Suddenly Atwood is defending herself from the charge of being a “bad feminist” because she suggested that railroading the accused out of their jobs without any semblance of due process was not, in the end, apt to be a net social improvement.

There is something odd happening to feminism these days, a stark split between its older and its younger practitioners. Daphne Merkin hinted at it in her recent New York Times op-ed on women’s misgivings about the #MeToo movement. Caitlin Flanagan came right out and said it after the comic actor Aziz Ansari was the subject of a humiliating tell-all about a recent date: “Sexual mores in the West have changed so rapidly over the past 100 years that by the time you reach 50, intimate accounts of commonplace sexual events of the young seem like science fiction,” she writes. “You understand the vocabulary and the sentence structure, but all of the events take place in outer space. You’re just too old.”

I have now had dozens of conversations about #MeToo with women my age or older, all of which are some variant on “What the hey?” It’s not that we’re opposed to #MeToo; we are overjoyed to see slime like Harvey Weinstein flushed out of the woodwork, and the studio system. But we see sharp distinctions between Weinstein and guys who press aggressively — embarrassingly, adulterously — for sex. To women in their 20s, it seems that distinction is invisible, and the social punishments demanded for the latter are scarcely less than those meted out for forcible rape.

There’s something else we notice, something that seems deeply connected to these demands for justice: These women express a feeling of overwhelming powerlessness, even though they are not being threatened, either physically or economically. How has the most empowered generation of women in all of human history come to feel less control over their bodies than their grandmothers did?

You could write a pretty strong argument for restoring patriarchy, just by quoting millennial feminists talking about how weak and fragile women are.

UNEXPECTEDLY: President Trump Releases ‘Fake News Awards,’ Crashes GOP Website.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Alec Baldwin Defends Woody Allen Against ‘Unfair’ Backlash Over Alleged Child Abuse.

Flashback: “Anthony Weiner Is a Modern Human Being.”

—Alec Baldwin, the Huffington Post, June 9, 2011.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Soda Tax Sticker Shock Grips Seattle.

UBER’S SECRET TOOL FOR KEEPING THE COPS IN THE DARK. “At least two dozen times, the San Francisco headquarters locked down equipment in foreign offices to shield files from police raids:”

Most tech companies don’t expect police to regularly raid their offices, but Uber isn’t most companies. The ride-hailing startup’s reputation for flouting local labor laws and taxi rules has made it a favorite target for law enforcement agencies around the world. That’s where this remote system, called Ripley, comes in. From spring 2015 until late 2016, Uber routinely used Ripley to thwart police raids in foreign countries, say three people with knowledge of the system. Allusions to its nature can be found in a smattering of court filings, but its details, scope, and origin haven’t been previously reported.

The Uber HQ team overseeing Ripley could remotely change passwords and otherwise lock up data on company-owned smartphones, laptops, and desktops as well as shut down the devices. This routine was initially called the unexpected visitor protocol. Employees aware of its existence eventually took to calling it Ripley, after Sigourney Weaver’s flamethrower-wielding hero in the Alien movies. The nickname was inspired by a Ripley line in Aliens, after the acid-blooded extraterrestrials easily best a squad of ground troops. “Nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

Other companies have shut off computers during police raids, then granted officers access after reviewing a warrant. And Uber has reason to be cautious with the sensitive information it holds about customers and their locations around the world. Ripley stands out partly because it was used regularly—at least two dozen times, the people with knowledge of the system say—and partly because some employees involved say they felt the program slowed investigations that were legally sound in the local offices’ jurisdictions.

I’ll defer to Glenn’s legal judgement, but at least in some cases Ripley looks an awful lot like obstruction of justice.


Related: The Unexpected Return of Duck and Cover.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Brain-Dead Lefties Blame Trump for False Missile Alert.


STILL RELEVANT: The Unexpected Return of Duck and Cover. Honestly, I think this was one of my best magazine pieces. And certainly it had legs. . .

DAS IST SCHRECKLICH: German Engineering Yields New Warship That Isn’t Fit for Sea.

Germany’s naval brass in 2005 dreamed up a warship that could ferry marines into combat anywhere in the world, go up against enemy ships and stay away from home ports for two years with a crew half the size of its predecessor’s.

First delivered for sea trials in 2016 after a series of delays, the 7,000-ton Baden-Württemberg frigate was determined last month to have an unexpected design flaw: It doesn’t really work.

Defense experts cite the warship’s buggy software and ill-considered arsenal—as well as what was until recently its noticeable list to starboard—as symptoms of deeper, more intractable problems: Shrinking military expertise and growing confusion among German leaders about what the country’s armed forces are for.

A litany of bungled infrastructure projects has tarred Germany’s reputation for engineering prowess. There is still no opening date for Berlin’s new €6 billion ($7.2 billion) airport, which is already 10 years behind schedule, and the redesign of Stuttgart’s railway station remains stalled more than a decade after work on the project started. Observers have blamed these mishaps on poor planning and project management, which also figured in major setbacks for several big military projects.


STUDY: The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco.

The whole thing is behind the SSRN paywall, but maybe you’ll find it worth your $5.

Here’s the summary:

We exploit quasi-experimental variation in assignment of rent control to study its impacts on tenants, landlords, and the overall rental market. Leveraging new data tracking individuals’ migration, we find rent control increased renters’ probabilities of staying at their addresses by nearly 20%. Landlords treated by rent control reduced rental housing supply by 15%, causing a 5.1% city-wide rent increase. Using a dynamic, neighborhood choice model, we find rent control offered large benefits to covered tenants.


SHOT: Concerns mount as Venezuela closes in on petro, an oil-backed cryptocurrency.

A cryptocurrency backed by oil would be a big first. A cryptocurrency backed by a sovereign government would be even bigger.

But while Venezuela claims it is going to do both very soon with the petro, experts are doubtful the country has the capabilities or the characteristics to achieve its goal.

The petro will be dogged by a major question, “Is it redeemable, in other words, can you take physical delivery?” notes finance professor Stephen McKeon of the University of Oregon.

The strength of any currency backed by a commodity, regardless of whether it is physical or digital, is that holders must believe they can exchange it for the actual commodity. When the U.S. was on the gold standard, individuals could bring their dollars to a bank and exchange them for physical gold.

Presuming Venezuela can get the oil out of the ground — quite the presumption, these days — how would you like to take delivery of the physical product? Gold is useful because it its value is portable and divisible in exactly the ways that a barrel of oil is not.

CHASER: Venezuela 2017 annual inflation at 2,616 percent.

Opposition politicians, whose numbers are broadly in line with analysts’ estimates, on Monday put December’s inflation figure alone at 85 percent, well into hyperinflation territory for which the benchmark is usually 50 percent.

“Inflation in December alone is greater than accumulated inflation (over the whole year) for all of Latin America,” said lawmaker José Guerra.

Venezuelan authorities did not respond to a request for comment.

They were too busy dreaming that their DOA cryptocurrency would restore some purchasing power to the Maduro regime and its flunkies.

HANGOVER: Halliburton Says $400 Million Exposure To Venezuela Could Be Problematic.


DID A REPUBLICAN SENATOR ACTUALLY MEET WITH A PSYCHIATRIST ABOUT TRUMP’S SANITY? “The ‘meeting’ isn’t quite what Politico made it out to be.”


Related: How The Media Mainstreamed A Democratic Conspiracy Theory.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How Do You Survive Nuclear War? The CDC Is About to Tell You.

Related: The Unexpected Return of Duck and Cover.


The Secret Service and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office both denied responsibility for the truck, causing CNN to launch into full-on conspiracy theory mode.

“Today this truck showed up out of nowhere and actually moved at one point when our journalists tried to get a different angle,” CNN’s Ryan Nobles cried. “It’s clear no one wanted us to get a picture of the president golfing.”

The Secret Service responded to CNN’s inquiries about the truck with an appropriate level of snark, stating, “The USSS is in the business of protection and investigations not in commissioning vehicles to block the media’s view of the president’s golf swing.”

CNN will get to the bottom of who the truck driver was – and then doxx the daylights out of him. You know they don’t take any guff from their viewers at Time-Warner-CNN-HBO.


23: The number of times over the past day that CNN has mentioned the white box truck that obscured view of Trump golfing.

0: For comparison, the number of times CNN has mentioned that Politico report on Obama admin’s quashing of Hezbollah investigation.


Update: “At this point, I think the only way we get CNN off this dumb truck story is if we tell them there are Hezbollah drug runners released by Obama behind it.” Heh, indeed.™

HERE COME THREE HUGE,  UNEXPECTED SURPRISES FOR THE “EXPERTS” IN 2018: If yours truly has learned anything living in Washington, D.C. since 1976, it’s that when you need to know where the country is headed in the near future, check the conventional wisdom among America’s political, academic and media elites, then expect the opposite to occur. Here are three major examples. And boy are there going to be some dumbfounded swamp creatures in coming months.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Venezuelans scramble to survive as merchants demand dollars.

“There’s no point keeping bolivars.”

For a decade and a half, strict exchange controls have severely limited access to dollars. A black market in hard currency has spread in response, and as once-sky-high oil revenue runs dry, Venezuela’s economy is in free-fall.

The practice adopted by gourmet and design stores in Caracas over the last couple of years to charge in dollars to a select group of expatriates or Venezuelans with access to greenbacks is fast spreading.

Food sellers, dental and medical clinics, and others are starting to charge in dollars or their black market equivalent – putting many basic goods and services out of reach for a large number of Venezuelans.

According to the opposition-led National Assembly, November’s rise in prices topped academics’ traditional benchmark for hyperinflation of more than 50 percent a month – and could end the year at 2,000 percent. The government has not published inflation data for more than a year.

“I can’t think in bolivars anymore, because you have to give a different price every hour,” said Yoselin Aguirre, 27, who makes and sells jewelry in the Paraguana peninsula and has recently pegged prices to the dollar. “To survive, you have to dollarize.”

Eventually, every America-despising socialist state ends up pining for US dollars it can no longer steal enough to trade for.



● Shot:

As part of her Let’s Move campaign, [Michelle Obama] wants to help families make better choices — especially the 23.5 million Americans living in largely urban, low-income areas where access to healthy food can be spotty.

The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity has identified this challenge of bringing more nutritious, affordable foods to so-called food deserts as one of the key pillars to solving the epidemic.

“We can give people all of the information in the world about healthy eating… but if parents can’t buy the food they need to prepare those meals… if their only options for groceries are in the corner gas station or the local mini mart, then all of that is just talk… and that’s not what Let’s Move is about,” she said.

—“First Lady: Let’s Move Fruits And Veggies To ‘Food Deserts,’” NPR, July 20, 2011.

And what happens if businesses go along with this, and take the risk of installing Whole Foods or farmers’ markets-style venues in higher crime urban areas? As they at the college that gave us the esteemed Senator Blutarsky, you f***ed up; you trusted us. And — unexpectedly! — you’ll be called a racist either way.

● Chaser:

Two professors from San Diego State University claim…that 44 percent of San Diego’s farmers’ markets cater to “households from higher socio-economic backgrounds,” which raises property values and “[displaces] low-income residents and people of color.”

“The most insidious part of this gentrification process is that alternative food initiatives work against the community activists and residents who first mobilized to fight environmental injustices and provide these amenities but have significantly less political and economic clout than developers and real estate professionals,” the academics write.

The men claim that negative externalities of “white habitus” formed at farmers’ markets can be managed through “inclusive steps that balance new initiatives and neighborhood stability to make cities ‘just green enough.’”*

—“Professors claim farmers’ markets cultivate racism: ‘Habits of white people are normalized,’” the Washington Times, yesterday.

* “Just green enough?” I knew Al Gore declared Mission Accomplished on radical environmentalism when he sold off his cable television network to Big Oil five years ago; it’s nice to see his fellow far leftists confirm that.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Venezuela’s Oil Industry Staggers Closer To Collapse.

Venezuela used to have a diversified economy and some of the world’s largest proven oil reserves. Now they have an oil-dependent economy yet can’t even get the oil extracted.

Unexpectedly, of course, and certainly the fault of wreckers, hoarders, saboteurs, Trotskyites, kulaks, Yankee Imperialists, counterrevolutionaries, and Jews.

UH-OH: U.S. warship unexpectedly docks in Port Colborne.

A U.S. navy warship named for Arkansas’ capital city that was to pass down the Welland Canal for its homeport in Florida docked in Port Colborne Wednesday afternoon due to a reported mechanical issue.

The USS Little Rock, a Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship, was recently-commissioned alongside its namesake in Buffalo Harbor, marking the first time that has happened in the navy’s 242-year history, according to a website dedicated to the vessel’s commissioning.

The new warship is one of a number of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) the navy will operate in waters close to shore.

It was built in Marinette, Wisc., at a cost of between US$300 million and $350 million.

It left Buffalo Wednesday morning and after the delivery of two pilots to it in the Port Colborne anchorage, some four kilometres offshore, it tied up along the east wall of the Welland Canal in the city.

The USS Little Rock was headed to Naval Station Mayport, its homeport in Jacksonville, Fla.

There was no word on how long the vessel would be tied up in Port Colborne. The area it is docked alongside on the canal is restricted and there is no public access.

The LCS ships have been almost nothing but trouble — late, over budget, and with serious operational issues.

JOEL KOTKIN: The New Mandarins Of The Deep State.

America’s authoritarian shift did not start with Trump’s election, but has been brewing for years. In the Obama years, we lived under “pen and phone” rule by decree that largely disempowered both Congress and local control. The former president’s legacy to the progressive coalition — paused briefly when power unexpectedly went to the GOP — means continued Democratic support for agglomeration of power in the executive.

This form of executive dictatorship is now more likely to return to the White House in 2020. The notion of enlightened rule from above may have even been further justified by the very fact that what Time’s Joe Klein has called “a nation of dodos” voted for Trump in the first place. The hoi polloi can be appealed to and cajoled, it appears, but not really trusted.

Unlike Trump, whose political methods are both offensive and self-defeating, the mandarins can count on support from most of the media, the non-profit world and the ascendant techie wing of the tech/media oligarchy, what Daniel Bell called “the priests of the machine.” Unlike the factionalized Republicans, the new mandarinate — entertainment, news media, law, software — share a strong commitment to a common progressive ideology.

More important still, the mandarins control most of the means of communication, particularly those that attract younger people. This will assist, as our secular pontiff, Jerry Brown, put it, efforts to successfully “brainwash” the masses. China’s recently anointed emperor, Xi Jinping, admired by Brown and many other American mandarins, may emerge as the new role model. That is, after Xi has shown how control of education and media can work on getting the masses to embrace “right thinking.”

I’m not sure the peasants will be as easy to put down as all that. And the loss of legitimacy by the “Establishment” far exceeds anything that happened in the 1960s.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Flood of Venezuelans are fleeing depressed country.

“Leaving was tough, but staying would have been tougher,” said Andrea Sequiera, 29, as she waits at the back of the line with her husband Luis, 31, and 8-year-old son Fabian. ”We know lots of people who would like to get out of Venezuela but can’t afford the ticket.”

Although Venezuelans for years have been fleeing the “socialist revolution” first launched by the late Hugo Chávez in 1999, in recent months the trickle has turned into a flood as living conditions become ever more dire — from hyperinflation to acute shortages of food and medicine to one of the worst homicide rates in the world.

In response to protests over the once-wealthy country’s seeming demise, President Nicolás Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian regime has cracked down on opponents, making prospects for improved times less and less likely.


UNEXPECTEDLY! US retail sales rose 0.8% in Nov, vs 0.3% increase expected.

21ST CENTURY HEADLINES: Amazon will cause rogue delivery drones to have a controlled self destruct.

The use of UAVs is accompanied by the need for new solutions to various problems, such as service disruptions due to unsuitable weather conditions, equipment malfunctions, and other problems.

In that context, various embodiments related to the fragmentation of UAVs are described. In one case, a UAV includes various parts or components, such one or more motors, batteries, sensors, a housing, casing or shell, and a shipping container or other payload for delivery. Additionally, the UAV includes a flight controller and a fragmentation controller. The flight controller determines a flight path and controls a flight operation of the UAV for delivery of the payload.

While the UAV is in-flight, the fragmentation controller develops and updates a fragmentation sequence. Among other information, the fragmentation sequence includes a release timing and a release location to fragment away (e.g., release, drop, jettison, eject, etc. away) one or more UAV components in case the flight operation of the UAV is disrupted. The fragmentation sequence can be evaluated and updated over time based on the flight path of the UAV, the ongoing flight conditions for the UAV, and the terrain topology over which the UAV is flying, among other factors. Terrain topology information or data can identify certain preferred locations for dropping one or more of the components of the UAV. For example, the terrain topology information can identify bodies of water, forested areas, open fields, and other locations more suitable for dropping components of the UAV if or when flight operation errors, malfunctions, or unexpected conditions occur.

What the article doesn’t describe is what happens to the package.

THE 21ST CENTURY ISN’T TURNING OUT AS I’D HOPED: Chinese Newspaper Near North Korea Offers Advice on Surviving Nukes.

Related: The Unexpected Return of Duck and Cover.

20 YEARS OF NORTH KOREA CAN-KICKING LED TO THIS: ‘The threat is very real’: Millions in Tokyo to take part in North Korean nuclear attack exercise.

Related: The Unexpected Return of Duck and Cover.


The economic turmoil has put families — poor and affluent alike — at the intersection of some very tough choices, bred a stressful uncertainty about the course of any given day and turned the most basic tasks into feats of endurance.

Oh sure – but the sex there is awesome, the Times assures me.

On a more serious note, typing ctrl-F “socialism” on the Times’ article on Venezuela brings back zero results, unexpectedly.

HIGH-SPEED TRAIN TO NOWHERE: Could California be seeing the onset of a recession?

Brown attaches his admonishments to the budgets he proposes to the Legislature – the initial one in January and a revised version four months later.

Brown’s latest, issued last May, cited uncertainty about turmoil in the national government, urged legislators to “plan for and save for tougher budget times ahead,” and added:

“By the time the budget is enacted in June, the economy will have finished its eighth year of expansion – only two years shorter than the longest recovery since World War II. A recession at some point is inevitable.”

It’s certain that Brown will renew his warning next month. Implicitly, he may hope that the inevitable recession he envisions will occur once his final term as governor ends in January, 2019, because it would, his own financial advisers believe, have a devastating effect on the state budget.

Everybody sees it coming, but when it does, those in charge of the state budget will find it all quite unexpected.


Thursday night, a little more than a year after her shocking loss to President Donald Trump, Secretary Clinton returned to Philly for a promotional event at the Academy of Music for her campaign memoir, What Happened. At the event, which was sold-out but not quite full, with an audience about two-thirds female, Clinton was interviewed on-stage by Philly native and best-selling author Jennifer Weiner.

* * * * * * * *

When it came to sexism and the media, it was Weiner who brought up the elephant in the room, reading out a section of What Happened about the September 2016 Commander-in-Chief Forum on NBC, in which the host separately interviewed both candidates but was notably tougher on Clinton than Trump. That host? Matt Lauer.

“Every day I believe more in karma,” Clinton said to that, referring further to several “men who shaped the narrative” during the campaign who have since been sidelined in the wave of sexual harassment scandals.

Control-F “Bill Clinton” returns zero results, unexpectedly.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: How Venezuela inadvertently became a cashless economy.

The cash crunch is so acute that ATMs now provide a daily limit of 10,000 bolívars, enough to buy just a few cups of coffee. Black-market money changers charge commissions of up to 20% to score paper money for small business people who pay their workers in cash. Banks are running out of banknotes.

“Sometimes, bank tellers will only pay you half of your pension and suggest that you come back later for the rest,” said Marta Milano, who was waiting in a long line outside a state-run bank in Caracas hoping to collect her pension.

Although many nations are moving away from paper money in favor of electronic payments – for convenience and to reduce street crime – critics contend that Venezuela is inadvertently turning into a cashless society thanks to economic blunders by President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government.

Out-of-control state spending, government currency controls and other policies have led to what many describe as hyperinflation, as well the collapse of the bolívar – which now trades at about 107,000 to the pound on the black market.

Now, there is not enough cash in circulation to keep up with skyrocketing prices.

Another thing there isn’t enough of to go around? “Unexpectedlys” for this report.

FLASHBACK: How Democrats Left Us Vulnerable To North Korea’s Nukes.

With last weekend’s surprise nuclear test, North Korea has reached final stage of its crash course to develop thermonuclear weapons that can reach and destroy U.S. cities. So why are we not on a crash course to protect our cities from North Korean nuclear missiles?

Answer: Because for more than three decades, Democrats have done everything in their power to prevent, obstruct or delay the deployment of ballistic missile defense.

Opposition to missile defense has been an article of faith for Democrats since President Ronald Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983. Sen. Edward M.Kennedy led the early opposition to what Democrats derisively labeled “Star Wars,” denouncing missile defense as a “mirage” and “a certain prescription for an arms race in outer space.” Running against Reagan in 1984, Walter Mondale called it a “dangerously destabilizing” and unworkable “hoax.” . . .

If we had continued the Bush program over the past eight years, we would now have a robust array of defenses against any North Korean ICBM. We would be able to target a North Korean missile in the boost phase, and if that failed we would have 44 ground-based interceptors armed with hundreds of warheads that could be fired to take it out in mid-course.

But we did not continue the Bush program. President Barack Obama slashed funding for ballistic missile defense by 25 percent. As part of his failed “reset” with Russia, he scrapped Bush’s agreement with Poland and the Czech Republic. He reduced Bush’s plan from 44 ground-based interceptors to just 30. (He belatedly changed course in 2012 after North Korea tested the Taepodong missile, but the United States still has not recovered from the delay.) And he cancelled the Airborne Laser, Kinetic Energy Interceptor and Multiple Kill Vehicle programs. As a result, North Korean now has eight minutes of unchallenged flight during which their missiles are most vulnerable, and we have dramatically reduced the chances of hitting a North Korean missile as it descends on a U.S. city.

Thanks, Democrats.

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

MICHAEL BARONE: Angela Merkel and Davos rebuked in Germany.

It’s been a tough era for Davos Man, the personification of the great and the good who meet in the World Economic Forum in that Swiss ski resort every January. The rebukes just keep coming: the Euro crisis, Brexit, Trump, and now, and once again unexpectedly, Angela Merkel’s failure to form a German government.

For a dozen years, European elites who have recoiled from former President George W. Bush and swooned over former President Barack Obama have regarded Merkel as a rock-solid firmament of good sense. Her considerable internal political skills, her seeming unflappability, her upholding of conventional wisdoms, both well- and ill-founded, have made her a favorite at Davos.

Merkel has been the pillar of the European Union and seems to have been the dominant force behind the multiple responses to each in a succession of euro crises. It helps, of course, that Germany has Europe’s largest economy, one mostly unscathed by the 2008 financial crisis — though that owes much to the Thatcherish labor law reforms of Merkel’s predecessor, the Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder.

By standard political science rules of thumb, Merkel and others in the Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, should have been a big winner in the Sept. 24 elections. The national unemployment rate is 3.7 percent. Inflation, the bugaboo of Germans since the 1920s, is low. The Social Democrats’ leader is untested in national politics.

Yet the CDU and its Bavarian partner the Christian Social Union, or CSU, got only 33 percent of the vote — their lowest percentage since West Germany started voting in 1949. The Social Democratic Party for Germany, or SPD, arguably the world’s oldest social democratic party, plummeted to 21 percent. The two major parties thus barely topped 50 percent, compared to the high 60s in 2005-13 and 76 to 77 percent in 1992-2002.

This, like Brexit in Britain and Donald Trump’s victory in the United States, was a slap in the face of the political, media, and business establishment.

Maybe the establishment would get slapped less if it were less awful.



UNEXPECTEDLY: Turkey’s Erdogan takes on financial markets again. And may lose, again.

Erdogan triggered a slump in lira assets this week by reviving his long-standing criticism of conventional central banking, namely, that policy makers should cut interest rates — rather than raise them — to stem soaring inflation.

That approach didn’t work in January 2014 when the central bank eventually had to more than double borrowing costs to stem a flight of foreign cash. As the lira plunges toward a record-low of four to the dollar, traders say he’ll be pushed into a corner again if he wants to avoid alienating the very investors he needs to sustain his economy.

“Nobody genuinely believes that high interest rates cause inflation, this is populist rhetoric from Erdogan. I’d be very surprised if he himself believes it,” said Paul McNamara, a London-based fund manager at GAM UK, which sold all its Turkish holdings months ago. “The lira is going to keep falling until we see tighter money.”

As James Carville quipped 25 years ago, upon discovering the limits even the White House faced going up again free markets, “I would like to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.”

DISPATCHES FROM THE K-12 IMPLOSION: NYC’s high school equivalency program is a complete boondoggle.


OHIO PLAYER: Ohio supreme court justice: Leave Al Franken alone because, just fyi, I’ve probably boinked 50 chicks myself.

And possibly Robert Taft, if you read his Facebook post too quickly.

It’s certainly one way to push back against today’s PC culture. And speaking of anti-PC, Ace of Spades has a great, if (not surprisingly) R-rated take on The Ohio State* Justice Bill O’Neill: “American politics are getting Trumpy in the most unexpected places, and I’m not sure that’s all bad. I didn’t really need to know about this self-conceived Lothario’s cocksmanship, but then, I also didn’t really need the pretend-virginal sanctimony about everything having to do with sex.”

* Classical reference.

FRANKEN ACCUSER: I’m not calling for him to step down.

Does this save him? If his own victim isn’t willing to call what he did a firing offense, Senate Dems could hide behind that as a reason to give him a second chance — if no one else accuses him of sexual misconduct. But what if someone does? Watch the clip and you’ll see Leeann Tweeden note that she’s already received a phone call from a woman claiming that something similar happened between her and Franken.

He’s all broken up about it, apparently. And by “it,” I of course mean getting caught.


LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Venezuela just defaulted, moving deeper into crisis.

Venezuela has no other meaningful income other than the oil it sells abroad. The government, meanwhile, has failed for years to ship in enough food and medicine for its citizens. As a result, Venezuelans are waiting hours in line to buy food and dying in hospitals that lack basic resources.

If investors seize the country’s oil shipments, the food and medical shortages would worsen quickly.

“Then it’s pandemonium,” says Fernando Freijedo, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research firm. “The humanitarian crisis is already pretty dire … it boggles the mind what could happen next.”

Apparently the only thing Venezuela hasn’t run out of is Unexpectedlys.

Also, this being CNN, “This story has been updated to characterize Venezuela’s government as socialist.”

UNEXPECTEDLY: The Media Doesn’t Want to Talk about the 26th Victim of the Texas Church Massacre.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Sweden’s Sexual Assault Crisis Presents a Feminist Paradox.

UNEXPECTEDLY! The California Marijuana Tax Problem: Why Prices Could Increase 70% in 2018.

California will include a 15% levy on all cannabis sales in the state, including medical pot products, starting in January. Meanwhile, local governments are also adding taxes for sellers and growers that could result in a 70% increase in the price of a small bag of good quality marijuana in parts of the state.

Between state and local taxes, some buyers will see an effective tax as high as 45% on adult-use cannabis in California. Proponents of legalization have long pointed to the collection of state and local taxes on marijuana sales as a big benefit.

The new cannabis industry in the state has a projected value of $7 billion with the potential to collect $1 billion per year in tax revenue. But industry leaders in California claim that the high taxes give illicit vendors the upper hand.

“High tax rates raise prices in legal markets, reinforcing the price advantage of black markets,” the global credit ratings firm Fitch Ratings said in a report. “California’s black markets for cannabis were well established long before its voters legalized cannabis in November 2016 and are expected to dominate post-legalization production.”

Only California could legalize pot and still make black markets more attractive than ever.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Crisis in Venezuelan hospitals — too many patients, too few beds.

Services are very limited in both public hospitals and private clinics, where shortages of supplies have reduced the number of beds available to little more than 25 percent of what the country needs, according to experts.

But finding a hospital bed is no guarantee that the patient will receive the required treatment because hospitals have less than 5 percent of the supplies and medicines needed to function normally, said Douglas Leon Natera, president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation.

“Any Venezuelan who gets sick here in the country today runs the risk of entering a clinic only to have the relatives leave crying” because “there’s nothing” in many hospitals, Leon Natera told el Nuevo Herald in a telephone interview.

“We have barely 3 or 4 percent of the supplies and medicines [needed], which is really nothing,” he said. “And the showcase hospitals, which receive the most resources, may have only 10 to 12 percent.”

Pummeled by the collapse of the Chavista economic model and low oil prices, the government of President Nicolas Maduro has put strict limits on the importation of food, medicines and other basic goods.


OHIO MAN UNEXPECTEDLY WORKING FLORIDA MAN’S TERRITORY: Feds Indict Ohio Man for Possession of Stolen Missile Warning System, Other Weapons.

UNEXPECTEDLY!  First Read of 3rd Quarter GDP at 3.0%, Beating 2.5% Expectation.


While recent reports said disgraced Weinstein landed a $4 million crisis mortgage on his $15 million Manhattan townhouse to fund his brewing legal battles — sources tell us that the money was actually arranged months before his scandal hit as he was putting together funds and a consortium to buy Rolling Stone.

But the Weinstein Rolling Stone bid was dropped once accusations against him started piling up after the bombshell pieces in the New York Times and New Yorker.

Considering Rolling Stone’s standards these days, that really is “unexpectedly.”


UNEXPECTEDLY: Progressive, “Fair Wage” Pizza Shop Closing Its Doors.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Bay Area hammered by loss of 4,700 jobs: Lack of affordable housing strangles hiring efforts. “I always thought that if I went into the tech industry, I could create a prosperous future for myself. But who wants to commute six hours a day? You should be able to afford a place to live near where you have to work.”

It’s weird how when you adopt a bunch of regulations limiting the supply of housing, the price goes up.

“UNEXPECTEDLY,” AFTER AN EIGHT YEAR ABSENCE, ASSASSINATION PORN IS BACK. NYT Reporter: Thumbs Up for ‘Trenchant Satire’ ‘To Kill the President’, Excuses Lefty Hate.

Michelle Malkin needs to update her Assassination Chic archives. Also, I eagerly await Paul Krugman denouncing his fellow Timesman for approving such eliminationist rhetoric.

WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HOLLYWOOD? “What Harvey Weinstein tells us about the liberal world,” according to Thomas Frank, the lefty author of the 2004 book What’s the Matter with Kansas?

Harvey Weinstein seemed to fit right in. This is a form of liberalism that routinely blends self-righteousness with upper-class entitlement. That makes its great pronouncements from Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons. That routinely understands the relationship between the common people and showbiz celebrities to be one of trust and intimacy.

Countless people who should have known better are proclaiming their surprise at Harvey Weinstein’s alleged abuses. But in truth, their blindness is even more sweeping than that. They are lost these days in a hall of moral mirrors, weeping tears of admiration for their own virtue and good taste.

“Unexpectedly,” Bill Clinton only receives a passing mention in the article, but read the whole thing anyhow.

OH: Doctor accused of bribing Menendez met with other politicians too.

A wealthy West Palm Beach eye doctor accused of bribing Sen. Bob Menendez wined and dined other politicians, including former Florida governor Charlie Crist, it emerged in Newark federal court on Tuesday.

Flor Melgen, the wife of Dr. Salomon Melgen, testified Tuesday about a weekend in October 2010 when Crist showed up at her house unexpectedly, ate dinner — consisting of Capital Grille takeout — and stayed the night.

He then handed Flor a $100 check for the cost of the meal and his stay.

“He knew that my husband was Bob’s [Menendez] friend and he was wondering if he might be with him,” Flor told the jury about the surprise visit.

The defense said the purpose of the testimony was to illustrate to the jury that Menendez, who flew Melgen’s private jet that same weekend, was in Florida for an official political function.

As such, the flight on Melgen’s private jet as well as a leg on a commercial flight Melgen paid for should have been reimbursed for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — not Menendez, according to Melgen’s lawyers.

The Garden State Democrat stands accused of accepting all-expense-paid trips and private jet flights from Melgen in exchange for political favors, including help with the doctor’s $8.9 million Medicare bill and in obtaining visas for the ophthalmologist’s young girlfriends.

Amazing how little coverage this trial is getting, isn’t it?

LOTS OF MATERIAL TO READ BETWEEN THE LINES OF THIS BBC ARTICLE ON WOODY ALLEN’S RESPONSE: “Harvey Weinstein: Woody Allen ‘sad’ for producer over sexual assault allegations.”

“The whole Harvey Weinstein thing is very sad for everybody involved,” he added. “Tragic for the poor women that were involved, sad for Harvey that [his] life is so messed up.

“There’s no winners in that, it’s just very, very sad and tragic for those poor women that had to go through that.”

Allen said he hoped the revelations, which emerged after an investigation by the New York Times, would lead to “some amelioration”, but said: “You also don’t want it to lead to a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself. That’s not right either.

“But sure, you hope that something like this could be transformed into a benefit for people rather than just a sad or tragic situation.”

Among those who investigated Weinstein were Allen’s own son, Ronan Farrow, who spoke to 13 women who said the producer had sexually harassed or assaulted them.

Allen was apparently not asked about Farrow’s involvement by the BBC — “unexpectedly,” as they say in old media.


The old “liberals” wanted to dispense with individual rights so they could pursue the fantasy of setting themselves up as benevolent, all-seeing planners who would protect us from harm and order our lives to achieve the “greatest good for the greatest number.” But they wanted to do this while still thinking of themselves as the good guys, as fighters against oppression, as defenders of liberty. That is the pretense being torn down today in the suicide of liberalism.

Read the whole thing.

Related: Yes, the Democratic Party’s Polarization Helps Explain Trump’s Rise: “Clearly, ours is a polarized age, with tribal consolidation happening at a breakneck pace.”

Or as John Podhoretz tweeted in January, as quoted in Glenn’s recent post on “How Ta-Nehisi Coates Gives Whiteness Power,” “Liberals spent 40 years disaggregating [the] U.S., until finally the largest cohort in the country chose to vote as though it were an ethnic group.”


PARTY OF THE WORKING MAN: Majority of Households Paying Obamacare Penalty Are Low and Middle-Income.

This isn’t an unexpected result, given that there are far fewer wealthy people and that they’re far less likely to have to make the difficult financial choice between, say, buying insurance or making the rent.

But it certainly wasn’t discussed much during the faux debate over ObamaCare, or during the law’s slapdash implementation under Barack Obama.