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THE SCIENCE IS UNSETTLED: “Richard Florida, one of the most influential thinkers about cities in postwar America, wants you to know that he got almost everything about cities wrong…His observations quickly formed the basis of a set of breezy technical solutions. If decaying cities wanted to survive, they had to open cool bars, shabby-chic coffee shops, and art venues that attract young, educated, and tolerant residents. Eventually, the mysterious alchemy of the creative economy would build a new and prosperous urban core. Today, even Florida recognizes that he was wrong. The rise of the creative class in places like New York, London, and San Francisco created economic growth only for the already rich, displacing the poor and working classes. The problems that once plagued inner cities have moved to the suburbs.”

Unexpectedly.

(Via SDA.)

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Venezuela’s Maduro Regime Steps Up Crackdown on Dissidents.

The raid came just as a so-called truth commission established by the constituyente announced investigations into Julio Borges, president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, and Freddy Guevara, the assembly’s vice president, claiming that they promoted violent anti-government protests that have left more than 100 dead.

The campaign of repression is already well advanced. The Venezuelan chapter of Transparency International says that 40 of 77 opposition mayors have been threatened or punished by the government since 2013, with some removed and jailed, some having their powers curtailed and some barred from leaving the country.

“This is an atrocity,” said Ramon Muchacho, the former mayor of the Chacao district in Caracas, an opposition hotbed, who has fled to Miami. “The truth commission is little more than a firing squad.”

“Unexpectedly” now feels far too flip for stories coming out of Venezuela.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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!”

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.”

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.

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:

UNEXPECTEDLY!  Aetna exiting all ACA insurance marketplaces in 2018.

“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.

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.

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?

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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…

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.

STARBUCKS HURT BY REFUGEE PLEDGE:

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

Unexpectedly.

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

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

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

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

* * * * * *

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

Unexpectedly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In November of 2016, Donald Trump was elected president.

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

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

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

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

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

Heh.

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

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

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

UNEXPECTEDLY! Oscar ratings hit 9-year low.

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

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

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

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

Related:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unexpectedly.

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

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

UPDATE: Ted Cruz likes Gorsuch.

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

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

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

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

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

Unexpectedly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Classical reference in headline.)

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

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

* * * * * * * *

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

MADDOW: Jesus, Chris!

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

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

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

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

(Bumped.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed.

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

Welt via Google Translate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNEXPECTEDLY! Trump’s Popularity Rising Post-Election.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Grand Rapids’ worker-run, no-tipping restaurant closes.

Not only was the menu unconventional, so was the business model. Bartertown was a collective, which meant there were no bosses, according to Cappelletti. The inspiration for the worker-owned restaurant was based on Cappelletti’s own restaurant experience.

“Because of our economy, people are working 12- to-15-hour shifts, servers take home $200 to $300 a night in tips, the cooks are making $10 an hour and the owner takes whatever he takes, ” Cappelletti told MLive in 2011. “We’re going to have equal pay and equal say across the board. Everyone working together.”

Employees would be expected to join the union, Industrial Workers of the World, he said.

In keeping with the worker empowerment theme, he commissioned a mural depicting Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong and other provocative leaders tackling restaurant duties.

In the end, the restaurant failed to achieve the employee business model it envisioned.

Do tell.

THIS JUST IN: ‘Secular’ Syrian Rebels Don’t Believe in Secularism.

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Trump set to take sharp right turn on immigration.

RIDE THE LEFT’S TRUMP AS THE POLITICAL EQUIVALENT OF 9/11 RECURSION! One of the memes the left seems to have coalesced to explain how they feel (and it’s always about the feelz with the left) about Trump winning the presidential election is that Donald Trump heading the federal government is the political equivalent of September 11th, 2001, which according to lefty blogs back in 2007, 35 percent or more of Democrats believe was caused by the head of the federal government.

And yet, as Kathy Shaidle has memorably pointed out, if you really did believe that the president ordered 3,000 Americans killed by slamming planes into the World Trade Center, and Pentagon, and/or by “controlled demolitions” to gin up war in the Middle East, you’d want to get the hell out of the country at once, and/or you wouldn’t feel comfortable openly discussing your conspiracies at the local Starbucks. (See also: Brutal Nazi and Soviet crackdowns on those who questioned Hitler and Stalin’s actions.) Similarly, Democrats seem to not get the disparity between comparing Trump to Hitler, and yet nothing at all happening to them.

Oh, and speaking of 9/11, As Sean Davis of the Federalist tweets, Democrats are considering a 9/11 Truther to be the chairman of their party:

Freshman Congressman Keith Ellison was among friends Sunday — in this case, a gathering of atheists — so his support for a fistful of hot-button opinions, including the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney, brought enthusiastic nods of approval and standing ovations.

As he was introduced to the eclectic gathering, which included one man wearing a black T-shirt that read “Investigate 9/11,” Ellison was told that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Muslims had joined atheists at the bottom of popular opinion polls.

“You’ll always find this Muslim standing up for your right to be atheists all you want,” Ellison, the first Muslim to serve in Congress, said in a speech to more than 100 atheists at the Southdale Library in Edina. As Minnesota’s first black member of the U.S. House ends his first six months in office, Ellison did not disappoint a crowd that seemed energized the more pointed he made his opinions.

On impeaching Cheney, which the Minneapolis DFLer supports: “[It is] beneath his dignity in order for him to answer any questions from the citizens of the United States. That is the very definition of totalitarianism, authoritarianism and dictatorship.”

* * * * * * * *

On comparing Sept. 11 to the burning of the Reichstag building in Nazi Germany: “It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is that I’m not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that because, you know, that’s how they put you in the nut-ball box — dismiss you.”

To be fair though, Ellison’s crusade for the DNC chair seems to be enjoying “unexpectedly” wide support on both sides of the aisle.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Separation of Powers Is En Vogue Again.

UNEXPECTEDLY! As Ratings Plummet, N.F.L. Considers Reducing Ads and Length of Games. As unexpected as Hillary losing.

Sing it: If you live in this world, you’re feeling the change of the guard.

YAHOO: ‘Sunday Night Football’ ratings down again, continuing season-long trend.

CTRL-F “Kaepernick” and CTRL-F “National Anthem” brings up zero results until the comments section. Unexpectedly.

kaepernick_pig_socks_sml_9-1-16-2

Click to enlarge.

 

UNEXPECTEDLY: Obama Leaves Israel With a Security Nightmare.

As Richard Fernandez noted in September, “The Era of Hope and Change has been one prolonged act of suicide. If anyone had said that Obama would manage to alienate Israel and the Philippines, lose Turkey, pay Iran a hundred billion dollars, preside over the loss of a won war in Afghanistan, lose billions of dollars in military equipment to ISIS, watch a consulate burn, restart the Cold War with Russia, cause Japan to re-arm and go the knife’s edge with China would you have believed it? If someone had told you in 2008 millions of refugees would be heading for Europe and that the UK would leave the EU after Obama went there to campaign for them to remain would you not have laughed? He promised ‘smart diplomacy’ and the restoration of American prestige in the world. How did it come to this?”

Of course, things could get even worse after Obama leaves office, but his legacy — a nuclear-armed Iran — continues steaming forward.

obama_iran_crossed_fingers_big_7-18-16-1

 

COMMUNIST RULE RETURNS TO COMMUNIST CHINA: China Ousts Finance Minister Lou Jiwei in Surprise Reshuffle.

Shortly before Lou Jiwei was appointed China’s finance minister in the spring of 2013, the outspoken Communist Party veteran expressed a wish to Premier Li Keqiang: to let him serve his full five-year term.

Mr. Lou’s pitch, according to people with knowledge of the matter, was that he had a plan to overhaul the country’s creaky fiscal system and tax code and needed time to carry it out. The chat with Mr. Li helped launch him as the highest-profile finance minister China has had in years and a voice for market-oriented changes in China.

On Monday, with nearly two more years to go before his term ends, the 65-year-old Mr. Lou was unexpectedly removed from his position and replaced by a relatively low-profile bureaucrat.

President Xi Jinping is apparently trying to make himself into China’s most powerful leader since Mao.

TIME-WARNER-CNN-HBO SPOKESMAN BILL MAHER PRETENDS TO APOLOGIZE FOR CRYING WOLF AT BUSH, McCAIN AND ROMNEY:


In response, Iowahawk adds:


But then, long before Trump came along, the previous president or GOP candidate, who received brickbats and worse from the left is magically rehabilitated to bash the current nominee. Rinse and repeat, going back to Eisenhower and Goldwater.

This past July, Jonah Goldberg explored “How the Media’s History of Smearing Republicans Now Helps Trump.”

Last night, responding to Maher, Stephen Kruiser wrote, “As he points out [in the above clip], Maher gave a cool million to the Obama campaign in 2012 to prevent Mitt Romney from being elected. In the last few weeks before the election, Democrats were portraying Romney (the man they now describe as honorable) as a sexist animal abuser who gave a woman cancer. Check back in four years to see if they’ve really learned anything about crying wolf.”

Similarly, file this prediction from Twitter user Chris Antenucci away for future reference: “Bill Maher and most liberals in 2020: ‘This year’s nominee, Rubio, is making Trump look like a moderate. He’s a radical on abortion.’”

That’s a remarkably safe bet. We’re seeing lots of mea culpas from the media and its critics about how badly it blew its reporting this year and how deeply it was in the tank for the Democratic nominee. But they could virtually be rewrites of the same faux apologies we’ve seen at the conclusion of every presidential election since at least 2004. And yet, “unexpectedly,” the MSM just never seems to learn from them, do they?

Just think of the media as Democrat operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense.

UNEXPECTEDLY: NYC millennials are crawling with STDs.

UNEXPECTEDLY! The NFL Was a Sure Thing for TV Networks. Until Now.