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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.

Unexpectedly.

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.

Unexpectedly.

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.

Unexpectedly.

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.

ONCE UPON A TIME YOU DRESSED SO FINE. THREW THE BUMS A DIME IN YOUR PRIME, DIDN’T YOU? Harvey Weinstein tried to buy Rolling Stone.

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.

SIGNS LIBERALISM’S SLOW SUICIDE IS FINALLY COMPLETE:

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.”

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Leftist Anti-Gun Group Refuses to ‘Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste’ After Vegas Shooting.

UNEXPECTEDLY: After Week Of Worrying About Police Power, Liberals Now Wants Cops To Take Your Guns.

BECAUSE IT VIOLATES THE NARRATIVE. Sex change regret: Gender reversal surgery is on the rise, so why aren’t we talking about it?

Those wishing to reverse their gender reassignment, Prof Djordjevic says, have spoken to him about experiencing crippling levels of depression following their transition and in some cases even contemplated suicide. “It can be a real disaster to hear these stories,” says the 52-year-old.

And yet, in the main part, they are not being heard.

Unexpectedly.

OOPS: China’s booming electric vehicle market is about to run into a mountain of battery waste.

The average lifespan of a lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) battery, the dominant type in China’s electric vehicles, is around five years, according to Li Changdong, chairman of the Hunan-based Brunp group, China’s top electric car battery recycler in 2016 (link in Chinese). Most batteries installed on electric vehicles during the 2012 to 2014 period will be retired on a large scale (link in Chinese) around 2018, Li told the Beijing-based newspaper Economic Information Daily.

In 2020, nearly 250,000 metric tons (276,000 tons) of batteries, or 35 gigawatt-hours of batteries, are set to be retired—nearly 20 times those depleted in 2016, GaoGong Industry Institute, a Shenzhen-based electric car industry research firm, told Quartz.

The battery is the heart of the electric vehicle industry, and the country needs a well-established battery recycling system, Xin Guobin, a top industry and tech official, told a national forum for the battery-powered engine industry Tuesday (link in Chinese) (Sept. 26). But recycling these batteries isn’t easy, due to the sophisticated chemical procedures involved. If it’s not done properly the heavy metal contained in the battery can lead to contamination of soil and water.

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY: NFL ticket sales plummet 17.9%.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Pittsburgh Store Selling Steelers Gear Facing Boycott, Fan Anger (Video).

UNEXPECTEDLY: Sunday Night Football Ratings Down Again On Day Of Player Protests.

Related: Michelle Malkin on the Show Biz Meltdown: Bombs Away!

(Via SDA.)

WHAT HAPPENED?

Astonishingly, the 2016 Clinton campaign conducted no state polls in the final three weeks of the general election and relied primarily on data analytics to project turnout and the state vote. They paid little attention to qualitative focus groups or feedback from the field, and their brief daily analytics poll didn’t measure which candidate was defining the election or getting people engaged.

The models from the data analytics team led by Elan Kriegel got the Iowa and Michigan primaries badly wrong, with huge consequences for the race. Why were they not then fired? Campaign manager Robbie Mook and the analytics team argued, according to Shattered, that the Sanders vote grew “organically”—turnout was unexpectedly high and new registrants broke against Clinton. Why was that a surprise?

Campaign chair John Podesta wanted to fire Mook, but Clinton stood by him. She rightly admired previous campaigns in which big data and technology were big winners, yet in 2008 it was the candidate and his appeal more than the technical wizardry that pushed Obama over the top. David Axelrod told me that analytics adds a “great field-goal kicker”—no substitute for a strategy and compelling message.

* * * * * * *

 

Clinton and the campaign acted as if “demographics is destiny” and that a “rainbow coalition” was bound to govern. Yes, there is a growing “Rising American Electorate,” but Page Gardner and I wrote at the outset of this election, you must give people a compelling reason to vote and I have demonstrated for my entire career that a candidate must target white working-class voters too.

I’m sure if the campaign had gone with the “Because It’s Her Turn” slogan that would totally sold the deal.

“UNEXPECTEDLY,” FROM THE SAME PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU THE OLD SEGREGATION SIGNS: New Segregation Signs Pop Up in Leftist Establishments.

UNEXPECTEDLY: The NFL Is Seriously Concerned With Empty Stadiums.

Here’s the thing, the NFL’s plans for relocating teams have been hilariously ham-fisted. Moving the 49ers to Santa Clara, 45 minutes from San Francisco was a moronic decision. Levi’s Stadium is also positioned so roughly 70 percent of the stadium bakes in the sun with no chance of shade.

Meanwhile, the Rams might actually have decent attendance once they move into their new stadium, but that’s a huge gamble. Until then, they’ll likely be dealing with sparse crowds at the Coliseum for the next three seasons. It’s terrible optics for the NFL to have empty stadiums and absolutely no atmosphere for games.

And we haven’t even gotten to the Los Angeles Chargers…

Read the whole thing.

(Via NewsAlert.)

UPDATE: ‘Tough start’ for NFL season — ratings down 13% in Week 1.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Tagging fake news on Facebook doesn’t work, study says.

UNEXPECTEDLY: The Inconvenient Truth About Obamacare’s Premium Spiral.

The biggest reason for Obamacare’s rate hikes? Two of its most popular provisions, guaranteed issue and community rating. These are the technical terms for Obamacare’s ban on insurance companies denying coverage or charging people who are sick more.

The McKinsey report found that in Georgia, these mandates added between 44 and 52 percent to premiums. In Ohio, they were responsible for 41 to 50 percent of the hikes — and in Pennsylvania, as much as 62 percent. In Tennessee, guaranteed issue and community rating accounted for between 73 and 76 percent of premium increases.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. A study by Milliman, a consultancy, in 2013 predicted that Obamacare’s guaranteed issue and community rating rules would sharply increase premiums.

If you’re going to charge younger, healthier people more like older, sicker people, and force insurers to sell “insurance” to people who are already sick, then premiums are going to go WAY up — which many of us warned back in 2009, 2010.

DEMOCRACY DIES WITH DOXXING: The New York Times explores “How ‘Doxxing’ Became a Mainstream Tool in the Culture Wars,” and “unexpectedly” fails to mention the time it doxxed Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in 2014, and CNN’s threatening to doxx an anonymous anti-CNN gif maker this past Fourth of July.

A BEATING IN BERKELEY: “As white supremacists go, Joey Gibson makes for a lousy one. For starters, he’s half Japanese. ‘I don’t feel like I’m Caucasian at all,’ he says. Not to be a stickler for the rules, but this kind of talk could get you sent to Master Race remedial school…Joey believed that a person should be able to attend the political rally of his choice in America, or to wear a MAGA hat in a place like Portland, Ore., without worrying about getting hit in the face.”

Peaceful, easygoing, free speech-oriented Berkeley “unexpectedly” had other plans. Read the whole thing.

 

UNEXPECTEDLY? Migrant crisis: Italy lurches to the right as tolerance wears thin.

As cowering locals filmed Catania’s first ever interracial street fighting on their phones, Mr Salice, 54, climbed into his white van and drove it towards the Senegalese, then reversed before careering into a stall, scattering those who had avoided being run over.

His subsequent claim that he was trying to get his van to safety did not convince Tidiane Diamanka, a Senegalese hawker. “He was trying to hit people — this was an act of terrorism,” he said.

The battle on July 19, which police are investigating, was a turning point for Catania. Italian traders in this port of 300,000 people in the shadow of Mount Etna used to help African hawkers to dodge the police. Now, after the arrival of more than 600,000 migrants in Italy in the past four years, locals are increasingly saying basta — enough. And not just in Catania.

The summer has been peppered with reports of violence and hostility to migrants as Italians adjust to the likelihood that many tens of thousands of the newcomers will be staying permanently. The country’s tolerance is waning, its politics being reshaped. The anti-establishment and increasingly migrant-hostile Five Star Movement is well placed to win next year’s parliamentary elections.

Interesting report, and with serious longterm implications for Europe.

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.