October 26, 2016

AT AMAZON, Happy National Pumpkin Day!

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: What we’re not talking about in this election: Government Corruption, ObamaCare’s Implosion, The Ballooning National Debt. And that’s because, as Jim Treacher notes, “Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn’t know because they might reflect badly on Democrats.”

LUXURY AND 605HP: Review: Audi S8 Plus.

FIND OUT WHAT SHE’S DRINKING AND — WELL, NO, THAT LINCOLN QUOTE DOESN’T WORK HERE. WIKILEAKS: Hillary Clinton Needed Someone to ‘Sober Her Up’ at 4:30 in the Afternoon.

THE ULTIMATE VOX.COM WORKPLACE ACCIDENT? Vox co-founder Matt Ygelsias has deleted several thousand tweets:


Gone, as Steve noted earlier, was this classic tweet from the summer of 2013:


Could it all have been an accident? Perhaps — but this tweet from 2010, which also recently vanished down the memory hole, casts a bit of doubt on that theory:


Exit quote:


Heh, indeed. And note the irony of a notorious robophobe approvingly quoting one of the most famous replicants in history. Do androids dream of deleted tweets?

HEH: New York City Tap Water Contains 11% Molly and 6% Oxycontin.

WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS: A Mercedes Luxury Pickup Truck. “Nissan-based?”

IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO SHOP the Amazon Halloween Store.

Plus, save big on Scotch tape and 3M Products.

Also: Deals on Used Textbooks.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Your Trigger-Free Trick or Treat Guide to Halloween Costumes (Video).

FLASHBACK 1986: Donald Trump, Rosa Parks, and Muhammad Ali pose together after receiving the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

Snopes lists the story as True, but jerks their knees hard to the left to smear Trump as a crypto-racist anyhow, just for kicks and grins.

ISIS RESISTANCE STIFFENS SOUTH OF MOSUL: That was expected. ISIS has also launched a couple of spoiling attacks.

ANSWERING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: How often do quantum systems violate the second law of thermodynamics?

GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP: Hidden Mic Catches Chicago Cubs Star Anthony Rizzo Apologizing to MLB Umpire.

RESEARCH THAT MATTERS: Scientists have recreated an ancient mead from 2,500 years ago. “The result was smooth and pleasant – almost like a dry port, but with a minty, herbal tinge to it. It also packed an alcoholic kick.”

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Army Lasers Will Soon Destroy Enemy Mortars, Artillery and Drones From Strykers.

OFF THE WALL GUITARS ABOUNDED AT THE 2016 ARLINGTON GUITAR SHOW: My photo-intensive wrap-up, at the PJ Lifestyle section.

Off the wall — sometimes off the ceiling — haircuts didn’t exactly abound, given the age of some of us collectors, but they could certainly be found as well.



I WOULD CERTAINLY HOPE SO: ObamaCare premium hikes fuel Trump, GOP case in key swing states.

SO I’M READING ROBIN HANSON’S The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth. I’m happy to see that his bibliography includes Greg Egan’s Permutation City, which I think is the best mind-uploading visualization in SF, though I’d add Egan’s Diaspora to that list if it were me.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Otto’s Robotruck Hauls Budweiser While the Driver Twiddles His Thumbs in the Back.

LIFE IN THE AGE OF HYSTERIA: “How could it not enter your mind that the signs belonged to someone else? She describes her mind as the mind of an insane person: Someone else’s speech was assaulting her mind and destroying all sense of equilibrium, as if she had to protect the inside of her own head where she never dreamed anyone else could own property. But it wasn’t really only in her own head, as the policeman kindly informed her. . . . She’s running with this I-was-literally-crazy argument. But Trump is worse, because he assaulted women. As if she were protecting women by stealing signs.”

Related: “One way to bully is to call the other person the bully. Chelsea could be said to be part of that activity.”

SHOCKER: Private Equity Executives Give To Democrats, But Not A Penny To Trump.


HMM: AARP Sues U.S. Over Rules for Wellness Programs. “Employers have raced to offer workers a hefty financial incentive to sign up for programs meant to improve their health, submitting personal medical details in the process. But as these programs have spread, so has resistance from employees dubious about sharing that information with employers.”

ANALYSIS: ALL-TOO-TRUE. Obamacare woes to linger long after Obama is gone.

Big price hikes to Affordable Care Act premiums announced this week mean that Obama’s proudest legislative achievement will fail to resolve the decades-old controversy surrounding the government’s role in managing the cost of and access to health care.

It will fall to the next administration whether to fix Obamacare’s shortcomings — including rising premiums and deductibles, slowing enrollment growth and the increasing number of insurers pulling out of the ACA marketplaces — or to trash the system and start again.

Heckuva job, Barry.



JOHN SCHINDLER: Syria’s Civil War Is Over — Russia Won.

For Putin, his Syrian intervention has been an unambiguous win on the world stage. Its benefits exist on many levels, not least Russia’s reinforcing the potent message that Moscow, unlike Washington, stands by its friends. When his regime was collapsing in 2011, Hosni Mubarak, who had led Egypt for three decades as a loyal ally of America, was coldly abandoned by the White House. President Obama, against the advice of his own national security experts, cut Mubarak loose to the mob, refusing to take his panicked phone calls pleading for help.

That same year, when his regime was facing the abyss as civil war enveloped Syria, Bashar al-Assad got all the help he wanted from Moscow. Russia saved Assad and has not cared one whit about cries from the international community and NGOs about the brutal methods employed by the Syrian regime against rebels. This message has not been missed in the Middle East. It’s no wonder that even Israel has sought parley with Moscow, which has replaced Washington as the new regional kingmaker-cum-sheriff, while Egypt has renewed security ties with the Kremlin that Cairo abandoned more than four decades ago, in favor of the Americans. No more.

Putin and his ministers have acted cynically and cunningly in Syria, to good effect for Russia. However, it would be wrong to portray Moscow as strategic geniuses here. It’s much more about the staggering, unprecedented foreign policy incompetence of President Obama and his White House than anything else. Time and again, Obama and his coterie of self-proclaimed foreign policy masterminds on his National Security Council have been bested by the Russians, who view them with undisguised contempt.

As Mark Steyn noted about the jihadis after 9/11 — the question isn’t “Why do they hate us?” but “Why do they despise us?

SHIKHA DALMIA: Hillary Clinton: Feminism’s False Prophet.

One does not have to be a Clinton basher to point out there is something screwy about her whole posture toward women. She now insists that all victims of sexual assault deserve to be taken seriously and chastised Trump for not apologizing to the women he’s insulted and allegedly assaulted. But at the Wednesday debate, when asked about her own husband’s sexual misdeeds, she pretended like she didn’t hear the question. And she herself hasn’t been exactly easy on her husband’s victims. Indeed, there is no denying that one reason Trump is getting away with his sexual misconduct is because her husband, whom she enabled, got away with his.

Nor did she play fair to get a plea deal for a 42-year-old who raped a 12-year-old girl in 1975. Granted, she took the case only very reluctantly. However, after she did, she resorted to every trick in the book — including suggesting that the girl fantasized about older men — to get her client off the hook. This would be fine if she believed that accused rapists deserve strong due process protections. Or that it is the duty of lawyers to defend their clients in the most aggressive way possible. Or if she at least explained that her position has evolved and she has come to understand that the victims of sexual assault bear a special burden and therefore deserve special protections (debatable though that is).

But she has done none of that and feminists have not pushed her to clarify.

The conundrum for feminists is that if they ask Clinton to reconcile her actions and positions, they risk exposing her hypocrisy and making her vulnerable in the face of an intolerable alternative. But if they don’t, they end up undermining their own credibility and effectiveness.

Actually, as even Maureen Dowd noticed, feminism died in 1998 after being converted into a groper’s support group for Bill Clinton. Hillary’s just reanimated its corpse to stagger around until November 8. And no, I’m not sure if that’s nihilistic fatalism or fatalistic nihilism.

Related: “He’s got beautiful blue eyes.”


A fun reminder from Free Enterprise Alliance.

SO WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE THAT WAS AIMED AT CHRIS CHRISTIE? Protesters Disrupt Traffic On George Washington Bridge, Cause Major Delays. To be fair, the drivers seemed pretty outraged. Is this a Trump false-flag op?

I’M GLAD TO SEE PRESIDENT ASH CARTER ON THE JOB: Carter suspends Pentagon’s demand of the return of cash bonuses to California soldiers.

BROSURANCE BUMMER, MAN: Young People Pick Beer Over Obamacare, says Aetna CEO.

I’m old enough to remember way back to this week in 2013, when the world was still young, and everything seemed possible — those halcyon hallucinogenic, fun-filled days of “Brosurance.” This was the unfortunate portmanteau created by a pair of the Obama administration’s fellow travelers, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and ProgressNow Colorado Education, “two nonprofit advocacy groups involved in promoting enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.” According to CNBC,* they promised “young people” they could have both beer and insurance — Brosurance, dude! — thanks to the wonders of Obamacare.


Remember kids, “‘Keg stands are crazy. Not having health insurance is crazier,’ it says next to a photo of three hard-partying guys, described as ‘bros for life,’” before adding the two scariest words in the English language, “Thanks, Obamacare!” near the bottom of the ad.

*Speaking of Obama’s fellow travelers.

WE’VE BEEN BUSSING IN PEOPLE FOR 50 YEARS AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO STOP NOW: Yes, bussing in illegal voters to vote illegally is one way the Democrats rig an election.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 1266.

ROGER SIMON: Only Trump Has a Chance to Bring the Country Together—and It’s Slight.

Read on for Roger’s modest proposal, the core of which is hinted at in my Photoshop.




TO FUEL OR NOT TO FUEL, THAT WAS THE QUESTION: Spain won’t have to decide. Moscow has withdrawn its request. “Spain had been coming under pressure from Nato allies not to allow the refuelling of Russian warships bound for Syria.”

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Jeffrey Toobin Doesn’t Know The First Thing About Clarence Thomas’s Legal Legacy.

As someone who had the privilege of clerking for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, I am more familiar with his opinions than most people are. I read them one after another as I nervously prepared to interview for the position.

With each opinion, I became less confident that I could even carry on a conversation with the man who had written so thoughtfully and prolifically about the original meaning of the Constitution, let alone help him with his work. But one does not have to have read the Thomas canon to know that Jeffrey Toobin’s recent article in The New Yorker, “Clarence Thomas’s Twenty-Five Years Without Footprints,” is nonsense.

Read the whole thing.

HOW’S THAT “PIVOT TO ASIA” GOING? Duterte Threatens to Scrap Defense Pact (Again).

A Philippine decision to ax the EDCA would deal another major blow to the Obama administration’s Asia rebalance. The bilateral defense agreement, signed in 2014, was strategically designed to make the Philippines a major staging area for projecting U.S. naval and air power in the Pacific. Last November, Obama travelled to the Philippines to make the case for the EDCA as the Philippine Supreme Court questioned its constitutionality. The agreement cleared that hurdle in January, but with Duterte’s latest diatribe its future is in doubt.

When Duterte threatened to tear up the pact earlier this month, the Pentagon downplayed his comments. But his latest threat, together with his cryptic words about staying in power long enough, have renewed uncertainty about U.S.-Philippine security cooperation. The timing of his comments is particularly awkward coming on the heels of a U.S. diplomatic visit meant to smooth the waters, and ahead of Duterte’s trip to Japan, a major U.S. ally.

Remember when our smart, universally-loved commander in chief was going to run America’s diplomacy so much more smoothly and intelligently than that dumb cowboy Bush?

BECAUSE AFTER EIGHT YEARS, TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY? Philippines’ Duterte Leaves U.S. Policymakers “Baffled”

BLOOMBERG POLLSTER: “This race may come down to the independent vote. Right now, they tilt for Trump. By a narrow margin, they opted for Obama over Romney in 2012.” And: “A mere 7 days ago, Bloomberg Politics had Clinton with a 9 point lead.”

Plus, Bob Wright on media bias against Trump: “Well, my concern is that they are so ham-handed about it — they’re so obvious about it — that it won’t work.”

It’s 2016, man. Nobody should be cocky.

Related: Dishonest media 101: ‘Your bias is showing.’

ANDREW KLAVAN: “Democrat Corruption is Much Worse Than Trump.” Plus a nifty callback to the earlier, funnier days of The Simpsons: “If Trump is Kang, I can’t help but feel that Kodos is still much worse.”

Read the whole thing.


THE 1980s CALLED… YOU KNOW THE REST: Russia Unveils RS-28 Sarmat ‘Satan 2’ Nuclear Missile.

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HUMA ABEDIN EMAIL: Hillary ‘still not perfect in her head’

Top aide Huma Abedin warned the Clinton campaign team in a 2015 e-mail that Hillary was “still not perfect in her head” and would have to “stick to notes” during an event.

The e-mail is among thousands hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s account that have been released by WikiLeaks.

The exchange came at the end of a discussion among staffers about how Clinton would address then-GOP candidate Jeb Bush’s use of Super PAC money to fund his campaign.

Unfit to stand up to Jeb Bush, but ready, willing, and able to re-reset with Vladimir Putin.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Trump Supporters Trigger SJWs By Chanting “USA” (Video).

21ST CENTURY CRIME: National Intelligence Director Says Data Suggests ‘Nonstate Actor’ Was Behind Cyberattack.

Network experts studying the attack are also starting to rule out usual suspects, such as national governments and online blackmailers. That suggests, they said, the attack was another cry for attention by online attack-for-hire services and their customers looking to make a statement.

“All the arrows point away from any sort of political motivation,” which hurts “the nation-state argument,” said Allison Nixon, a researcher at online-security firm Flashpoint. “Of course, you never know until someone’s got handcuffs on them.”

Evidence instead points to the “loosely knit social circle of kids and young adults” who tend to launch similar attacks, Ms. Nixon said. Flashpoint called comments from online groups like WikiLeaks and the New World Hackers that claimed a connection to the attack “dubious.”

It isn’t at all comforting that a loose group of “script kiddies” might be responsible for such a large attack.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE’S “BLACK JEOPARDY” SKETCH AND THE MORAL BLINDNESS OF IDENTITY POLITICS: “Good luck getting anyone on the left to recognize the fallacy of special pleading when it’s right in front of their eyes.”

Read the whole thing.


SUNSHINE: Trump Has 2-Point Edge in Bloomberg Politics Poll of Florida.

Marco Rubio is up by ten in his Senate race.

ASHE SCHOW: Sabrina Rubin Erdely and the ‘banality of evil.’

When Rolling Stone author Sabrina Rubin Erdely interviewed Jackie for her article “A Rape on Campus,” the now discredited writer described the fraternity alleged to have raped her subject as representing the “banality of evil.”

The phrase “banality of evil” was coined by another author decades ago, and has itself generated fierce debate and criticism ever since. To be clear, Erdely is no Hannah Arendt, the woman who coined the term. Arendt is still widely respected and her writing, including her book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.

Years from now, people will continue to respect Arendt’s work, while they no longer respect Erdely’s.

True. By the way, I’d still like to know more about the role of the Obama Administration, and Emily Renda, in this whole affair.

Catherine Lhamon, who heads the Department’s civil rights wing, was identified in a letter sent last month by University of Virginia Dean of Students Allen Groves to Steve Coll and Sheila Coronel, the two Columbia Journalism School deans who conducted a review of the Nov. 19 article, written by disgraced reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

Groves’ letter was included as a footnote to the Columbia deans’ report, which was released on Sunday and cataloged the failures and lies that led to the article’s publication.

In the letter, Groves wrote that he has suffered “personal and professional” damage as a result of Erdely’s reporting and comments Lhamon made about him which were included in the article.

As the Rolling Stone article fell apart, Lhamon’s involvement has gone virtually unmentioned. But a deeper look reveals her ties to Emily Renda, a University of Virginia employee and activist who put Erdely in touch with Jackie, the student whose claim that she was brutally gang-raped by seven members of a fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012, served as the linchpin for the 9,000-word Rolling Stone article.

President Obama nominated Lhamon to become the Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in July 2013. The Senate approved her unanimously the following month.

She has served as the Education Department’s designee to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault which Obama created on Jan. 22, 2014. Renda served on the same task force. . . .

Lhamon has been invited to the White House nearly 60 times, according to visitor’s logs. Renda has been invited six times. Both were invited to the same White House meeting on three occasions.

The whole thing smells.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Richard Nixon could only wish he got Hillary’s FBI treatment.

Michael Goodwin:

One result is that, while “Nixonian” is a synonym for illegal abuse of authority, his resignation and the smooth transfer of power marked a ringing triumph of justice. The fundamental principle that nobody in America is above the law was upheld in practice.

Now imagine another scenario. America wakes up on Nov. 9 to President-elect Hillary Clinton, and to the cold reality that the same principle of equal justice is null and void.

Her election would mean that some people are above the law. It would mean that one of them will assume the commanding heights of our country despite abundant evidence that she committed crimes and got away scot-free.

Oh, for the good old days of Watergate and of public servants like Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus. We should be so lucky now.

I’m still having trouble believing we actually get the government we deserve.



When the heroics of the Spanish Civil War come up — Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, Hemingway’s fictions or the effusions of various poets — there is a very large and usually unremarked elephant in the room: Orwell, who actually fought, and Hemingway who wrote about fighting, were on the wrong side.

The strategic point is simple: had the Stalinists won war, then during the period of the Hitler-Stalin pact from 1939 to mid-1941, they would have allowed Hitler to cross Spain and seize Gibraltar. Had this happened, the British forces in the Mediterranean, including the British Empire’s last remaining field army in action, would have been cut off. The British army and fleet could probably have been supplied through the Suez Canal, at least for a while, but their positions would have been immeasurably weakened, and the enemy’s position immeasurably strengthened.

— Hal G.P. Colebatch, “Orwell’s Bad Republicans,” the American Spectator, August 7th, 2007.

Chaser: Spain faces condemnation as it prepares to refuel Russian battle group heading to bomb Aleppo.

—The London Telegraph, today.

Hangover: Adjacent to the above Telegraph article is the headline “Trump says Clinton’s foreign policy would start World War Three.”

Say, who was America’s Secretary of State in 2011, when Syria imploded?

WELL, BESIDES THOSE, YEAH: 9 Controversies Obama Didn’t Mention When He Denied Any ‘Major Scandals.’

HMM: Trump cuts off fundraising events for Republican Party.

Donald Trump’s campaign has ended fundraising events meant to support the Republican Party’s get-out-the-vote efforts in next month’s elections.

Aides to the Republican nominee told Fox News on Tuesday that Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee for the GOP and the campaign, held its most recent fundraiser on Oct. 19 and no more such events were scheduled.

The move, which was first reported by The Washington Post, cuts off a key money source for Republicans hoping to keep hold of both houses of Congress.


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: At Berkeley, safe spaces are out. “Spaces of color” are the new hot ticket.

Are those spaces separate but equal — to coin a phrase? Michael Graham, call your office.

HMM: Obama administration delays selection of new FBI site.

Officials in Virginia and Maryland who have been competing for years to land a new headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation will have to wait a few more months to find out which state has the winning pitch.

The General Services Administration said Monday it will delay selecting a site for the headquarters until March. The agency initially planned to choose between the three sites in play — two in Maryland and one in Virginia — by the end of the year.

The delay drew pointed criticism from members of Maryland’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who has made landing the headquarters in Maryland a priority for the final months before her retirement in January.

Mikulski, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, along with other members of the delegation, helped secure federal funding for the project late last year. A spending measure approved by Congress in December included $390 million for the headquarters.

“I’m deeply disappointed in more delay,” Mikulski said in a statement. “I will continue to work my earrings off to put the funds in the federal checkbook for a new, fully consolidated headquarters. This is a headquarters that belongs in Prince George’s County, keeping our country and the American people safe while creating new jobs in Maryland.”

At a guess — shared by the Maryland reader who sent me this story — they’re trying to figure out a way to give it to Terry McAuliffe instead of to a state with a Republican governor. But given the FBI’s conduct lately, I think the HQ should be located in Nenana, Alaska.

FLASHBACK: Under ObamaCare Your Premiums Will Fall “By As Much As 3000%”

That’s a lot.

PRESIDENT ASH CARTER: Raqqa Offensive Against ISIS to Begin Within Weeks.


Gosh, whatever could explain this “unexpected” run of “bad luck?”

And speaking of “unexpected” bad luck, “CBS anchors on spiraling Obamacare premiums: Hey, what’s up with that?”

Heck, I can remember when CBS anchors read holiday poetry on the air in effort to beg for Obamacare’s passage. Other than half the country, who knew it would be such a debacle?

UNEXPECTEDLY: Offering Poor Value, Obamacare Exchanges Have Become Medicaid-like Ghettos. “To moderate premium spikes, insurers have done what Medicaid managed-care plans do: Narrow networks. Consultants at McKinsey note that three-quarters of exchange plans in 2017 will have no out-of-network coverage, except in emergency cases. And those provider networks themselves are incredibly narrow: one-third fewer specialists than the average employer plan, and hospital networks continuing to shrink. In short, exchange coverage looks nothing like the employer plans that more affluent Americans have come to know and like.”

THE HILL: ObamaCare Premium Hikes Leave Democrats Exposed:

Democrats are increasingly acknowledging that the Affordable Care Act has an affordability problem.

Former President Bill Clinton said recently that people who are ineligible to get subsidies to buy ObamaCare insurance are “getting killed.”

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said this month that “the reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people.”

Even President Obama said in a speech last week that “there are going to be people who are hurt by premium increases.”

Every one of these Democrats made the argument that ObamaCare is working well for most people and that the problem of rising premiums is specifically focused on a minority of consumers who earn too much money to qualify for federal subsidies.

Clinton said the system “works fine” for people who get subsidies under the law to help them afford coverage, while Dayton said that “the law is working” for most enrollees and that those negatively affected amount to about 2 percent of Minnesotans, with individual coverage.

Yet the problems with the law are leaving Democrats exposed to GOP attacks.

Republicans have been beating the drum about higher premium increases this year, which are on average about 25 percent for a benchmark plan, the administration said Monday.

Well, maybe if they hadn’t passed a bad law on a party-line vote using a technicality to slip it through, they wouldn’t be “exposed to GOP attacks.”

BEER IS CERTAINLY THE BETTER VALUE: Aetna CEO says young people pick beer over Obamacare.

Bertolini’s comments, made at Bloomberg’s The Year Ahead Summit in New York City, came a day after the Obama administration announced that Obamacare premiums will spike and plan offerings will be significantly down for 2017.

He brought up a problem that has plagued the Obama administration — convincing enough young, healthy people to enroll so that insurers are bringing in enough revenue to cover sicker patients while keeping premiums lower. With rates jumping next year, it could be a challenge for advocates for the Affordable Care Act to increase the share of healthy enrollees.

“As the rates rise, the healthier people pull out because the out-of-pocket costs aren’t worth it,” Bertolini said. “Young people can do the math. Gas for the car, beer on Fridays and Saturdays, health insurance.”

Just don’t call it a death spiral!


The co-mayors of the largest city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast have been detained for questioning as part of a “terrorism” investigation, according to Turkish media reports.

The state-run Anadolu Agency reported that anti-terrorism police took Gultan Kisanak into custody late on Tuesday at the city’s airport. The second politician, Firat Anli, was held at his home.

The agency cited an ongoing probe into the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as the reason for their detentions, without providing further details.

I’m starting to wonder how much longer before the ethnic cleansing — or worse — begins.

JAYVEE UPDATE: Mosul Fight Unleashes New Horrors on Civilians.

A sulfur plant set on fire by the Islamic State has sent dozens of people for treatment for respiratory problems, and several journalists have been hurt, and two killed, covering the fighting. And a wayward attack — either an artillery shell or an airstrike —– hit a Shiite mosque in northern Iraq, killing more than a dozen women and children.

Just 10 days into the long-awaited offensive to retake Mosul from the Islamic State, the campaign has unleashed a fresh set of horrors across a wide stretch of the country. Although the government’s military operation itself is largely meeting its goals in progressing toward the city, the turmoil surrounding it is a sign of just how difficult it would be to secure a lasting peace across Iraq’s many divisions even after a victory.

The tragedy is that if ISIS had been treated seriously in the beginning, things wouldn’t be so serious in the end.


THE BULLY PARTY: Scott Adams: “I’ve been trying to figure out what common trait binds Clinton supporters together. As far as I can tell, the most unifying characteristic is a willingness to bully in all its forms.”

If you have a Trump sign in your lawn, they will steal it.

If you have a Trump bumper sticker, they will deface your car.

if you speak of Trump at work you could get fired.

On social media, almost every message I get from a Clinton supporter is a bullying type of message. They insult. They try to shame. They label. And obviously they threaten my livelihood.

We know from Project Veritas that Clinton supporters tried to incite violence at Trump rallies. The media downplays it.

We also know Clinton’s side hired paid trolls to bully online. You don’t hear much about that.

Yesterday, by no coincidence, Huffington Post, Salon, and Daily Kos all published similar-sounding hit pieces on me, presumably to lower my influence. (That reason, plus jealousy, are the only reasons writers write about other writers.)

Joe Biden said he wanted to take Trump behind the bleachers and beat him up. No one on Clinton’s side disavowed that call to violence because, I assume, they consider it justified hyperbole.

Team Clinton has succeeded in perpetuating one of the greatest evils I have seen in my lifetime. Her side has branded Trump supporters (40%+ of voters) as Nazis, sexists, homophobes, racists, and a few other fighting words. Their argument is built on confirmation bias and persuasion. But facts don’t matter because facts never matter in politics. What matters is that Clinton’s framing of Trump provides moral cover for any bullying behavior online or in person. No one can be a bad person for opposing Hitler, right?

It’s who they are, it’s what they do.

October 25, 2016

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: College threatens police response for students wearing ‘offensive’ costumes. “The Dean of Student Affairs at Tufts, Mary Pat McMahon, is urging people who feel offended to file reports to campus authorities.”

Well, conservative students should give her something to work with if they see anything that offends them. I like that this article notes how absurdly expensive Tufts is, especially given the idiocy of its administration.

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NEWS YOU CAN USE: Lifting weights could make you more intelligent, study suggests.

Reminds me of Nassim Taleb on how to spot someone who is “an intellectual, yet idiot” with ease: “He doesn’t even deadlift.”

VITAMIN D UPDATE: Genetic Risk Score for Vitamin D Predicts MS Relapse. “A genetic risk score identifying the risk for low vitamin D levels may help predict the risk for relapse in pediatric patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and also offers evidence, albeit not proof, supporting the theory of vitamin D as having a causative role in the disease, according to new research. . . . With low vitamin D levels known to be associated with the risk for MS relapse, neurologists prescribe supplementation to most patients and monitor their vitamin D levels.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: ‘Reverse Racism’ Not a ‘Reality.’

THE 21ST CENTURY IS NOT TURNING OUT AS I’D HOPED: Female Genital Mutilation Remains Widespread in Many Countries.

The United States is in the midst of an election where allegations about mistreatment of women abound. But in parts of the world, women do not enjoy even the most basic of rights—let alone a shot at political leadership and power over their male counterparts. In some Middle Eastern, Central Asian and African countries, women are subjected to “honor killings,” sex trafficking and slavery. Female genital mutilation belongs among the most serious violations of women’s rights. In fact, as the World Health Organization explains, there are, four distinct types of FGM:

Removal of the clitoral hood, the skin around the clitoris, with partial or complete removal of the clitoris.
Removal of the labia minora, with partial or complete removal of the clitoris and the labia majora.
Removal of all or part of the labia minora and labia majora, and the stitching of a seal across the vagina, leaving a small opening for the passage of urine and menstrual blood.
Then there are miscellaneous acts of genital mutilation, including cauterization of the clitoris, cutting of the vagina, and introducing corrosive substances into the vagina to tighten it.

So no flying cars or moon bases, but we’ve got this crap. Sigh.

HER INSTINCTS CAN BE TERRIBLE: No kidding, Washington Post? So why not investigate her crimes? They’re terrible, too- they’ve compromised the FBI.

Oh dear. What have we here?

“I know this email thing isn’t on the level. I’m fully aware of that,” Tanden wrote in an August 2015 note to Podesta. “But her inability to just do a national interview and communicate genuine feelings of remorse and regret is now, I fear, becoming a character problem (more so than honesty).”

Tanden is Neera Tanden, a Hillary loyalist of the highest stench. But she admits the “email thing” isn’t on the level. Wow. And Neera’s not a Republican.

Another quote from the WaPo quoting the hacked Podesta emails:

We’ve taken on a lot of water that won’t be easy to pump out of the boat,” Podesta wrote to Tanden in September 2015, at a time when Clinton’s campaign feared that Vice President Biden was about to enter the race for the Democratic nomination. “Most of that has to do with terrible decisions made pre-campaign, but a lot has to do with her instincts.”

Tanden responded, “Almost no one knows better [than] me that her instincts can be terrible.”

And an email nugget. Quoting John Podesta, “Laughing too hard,” he wrote, “is her authentic weirdness.”

John, for the good of our nation, she needs to express her authentic weirdness in prison.

CHANGE: Restoring evolutionary fatty acid balance may curb obesity. Plus: “It is the responsibility of the governments and international organizations to establish nutrition policies based on science and not continue along the same path of focusing exclusively on calories and energy expenditure, which have failed miserably over the past 30 years.”

OUR RACIST LIBERAL MEDIA: A New Yorker headline denies the humanity of Clarence Thomas.

WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING? Insurers use California’s assisted-suicide law to deny treatment for terminal patients.

About one-year ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the state’s assisted-suicide bill into law. It fully went into effect this June, with the opening of the first clinic. While there is no data on the number of California assisted-suicides, Oregon recorded over 130 last year as part of their legalized physician-assisted death program.

Now, one young mother says her insurance company denied her coverage for chemotherapy treatment after originally agreeing to provide the fiscal support for it, but indicated it would be willing to pay for assisted suicide instead. . . .

“As soon as this law was passed – and you see it everywhere, when these laws are passed – patients fighting for a longer life end up getting denied treatment, because this will always be the cheapest option.”

Packer attends a support group for terminally ill patients. She said legally sanctioned suicide has changed the tone of the meetings, which used to be “positive and encouraging.” With patients under new societal pressure to kill themselves, she said meetings “became negative, and it started consuming people. And then they said, ‘You know what? I wish I could just end it.’”

That’s not a bug to some, but a feature.

FASTER, PLEASE: Pembrolizumab Approved in US for First Line in NSCLC. “After causing a sensation at the recent European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) meeting, the new data for pembrolizumab (Keytruda, Merck & Co) in the first-line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) have now secured an approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pembrolizumab is now the first immunotherapy to be approved for first-line use in NSCLC and is expected to change practice, experts said at the meeting. . . . The approval for the new indication is based on results showing that pembrolizumab was superior to chemotherapy in the first-line setting.”

A RE-REVIEW OF the original 2001 iPod. It holds up surprisingly well.

YES. Internet of Things: Have We Bitten Off More Than We Can Chew?

“We definitely have a lot of work to do. Any device that has an IP address is vulnerable to tampering,” Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com told NBC News.

The crippling DDoS attack that last week shut down many popular websites, including Twitter, Amazon and Spotify, turned harmless web-connected home devices, such as smart cameras, into cyber soldiers in a “botnet” — a network of “bots.”

That botnet then flooded its target, internet service management company Dyn, sending it artificial traffic that made it impossible to access its customers’ websites.

We had four IoT outlet plugins, controlling nothing more dangerous than bedroom and living room lamps — convenient for having stuff switch on at dusk, and off again around bedtime. But they aren’t secured by any kind of encryption that I’m aware of, and they are “internet facing” for switching when we’re away from home. I knew they weren’t secure, but it didn’t seem as though anyone could do anything worse than switch my nightstand lamp on in the middle of the night.

When I read how hackers conducted Friday’s DDoS, I unplugged all four controllers, because it turns out that hackers can make a botnet — one capable of taking out huge swaths of the internet — out of seemingly anything.

RISE OF THE MACHINES: Army Tests Self-Driving Supply Trucks.

EAST BOUND AND DOWN: Self-driving semi-truck makes first trip — a 120-mile beer run.

AT AMAZON, save on Fall Clothing & Accessories.

Plus, fresh deals in Health & Personal Care.

WHERE’S THE MEDIA OUTRAGE?: Democrat operative Robert Creamer ran a political terror operation — with the goal of influencing the 2016 election.

SOCIAL JUSTICE NETWORKING: Twitter’s sales team is taking a hit in big upcoming layoffs.

It’s possible to feel sorry for those losing their jobs while at the same time having no pity at all for a CEO who seems determined to run his company into the ground.

YES, PLEASE: Increasing CPR Training To Save Lives.

In August, Jeffrey Feig, a 50-year-old financial executive in Manhattan and father of three young sons, became one of the more than 350,000 Americans who each year suffer a sudden cardiac arrest. His heart went into an erratic and ineffective rhythm and he stopped breathing.

But unlike 90 percent of people similarly afflicted, Mr. Feig not only lived to tell the tale but survived his near-death experience without any damage to his heart muscle or his brain, an outcome rarely seen following an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Mr. Feig owes his life and bright future to the forward thinking, planning and participation of fellow residents at Pine Lake Park, a bungalow colony in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., where he and his family spend the summer. The moment he collapsed, fellow vacationers who had been trained at the colony in CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator, or A.E.D., sprung into action.

One person called for an ambulance, another began chest compressions, a third provided mouth-to-mouth ventilation while a fourth ran into the social hall to get the defibrillator, which was used to shock his heart back to a normal, lifesaving rhythm. Just two weeks before this incident, the colony had conducted a training and refresher course in these lifesaving measures.

If not for his lay rescuers, Mr. Feig would most likely not have survived. It took the ambulance 10 minutes to arrive; without oxygen, the brain is permanently damaged after about four minutes and death follows a few minutes later. But moments after receiving the shock from the A.E.D., which enabled his heart to again pump oxygen-rich blood to his brain and body, Mr. Feig regained consciousness.

My cyborg wife has a defibrillator built-in, but for the rest of us, this is a very good thing.

I WAS SO MUCH OLDER THEN; I’M YOUNGER THAN THAT NOW: The Left Turns on Bob Dylan for His Pro-Israel Views, Refusal to Acknowledge Nobel Prize.

(Classical reference in headline.)


It’s been all downhill since Cookie Monster started reminding kids that cookies are a sometimes food.


CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Kerry’s Daughter Traveled On Taxpayers’ Dime To Get Government Contracts.

The Peace Corps authorized an estimated $46,000 for 20 international and domestic trips for Dr. Vanessa Kerry and her staff, agency documents obtained by TheDCNF show. The purpose of the travel was to form the Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP) – a Peace Corps-run and State Department-funded program Kerry proposed.

The Peace Corps ultimately gave Kerry’s nonprofit – Seed Global Health – $9 million in contracts for the program, which were bankrolled by the State Department and awarded without competition between 2012 and 2015, The DCNF previously revealed.

I’d like to see their books.


(Classical reference in headline.)

RISE OF THE MACHINES: You Can’t Stop Robots With Furniture Barricades Anymore.

HMM: Justice Dept. Shakes Up Inquiry Into Eric Garner Chokehold Case.

RIP STEVEN DEN BESTE: Glenn and Sarah Hoyt expressed their condolences yesterday, and I’d like to as well. The rise of the Blogosphere during the immediate aftermath of 9/11 was something to behold – the best analogy that I can think of is to compare it to the golden age of television in the 1950s: a new medium was born, and for those willing to seek it out, programming of a surprisingly high quality was available to be consumed on it.

But unlike television, which then as now requires an army of craftsmen and technicians to create, the early Blogosphere was almost exclusively a series of solo acts, and living in California, from about 9:00 PM to midnight Pacific Time each weeknight, I would eagerly consume the best of the new programming as it went online, usually (forgive me If my memory of the timing is a bit off) Den Beste around 7:00 or 8:00 PM, Lileks around 9:00 or ten o’clock, and then pre-Weimar era Andrew Sullivan around 11 or midnight. And of course, Glenn firing off new posts throughout the night.

Den Beste also demonstrated how infinitely flexible blogging could be. Glenn, Mickey Kaus, Sullivan and Virginia Postrel specialized in short posts offering news aggregation and commentary, but Den Beste seemed to effortlessly generate 1,500 to 3,000 word essays on the GWOT and other breaking news events every night. Of course, they only looked effortless to those of us reading them. I imagine the work that went into them eventually contributed to Den Beste’s health issues, and the merciless brickbats he received from the tolerance and diversity-obsessed left eventually led him to focus his blogging primarily on anime and other lighter fare.

As with the Golden Age of TV, which by the early ‘60s had collapsed into Newton Minnow’s infamous “vast wasteland…of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials,” the Golden Era of the Blogosphere was doomed to be a fleeting epoch as well. Today, blogging is universal, but also far too corporatist, an increasingly exclusive medium for Democrat operatives with bylines to pay homage to the state. But for a time, there were a plethora of individual voices to be read, and Den Beste’s was one of the most idiosyncratic and enjoyable.

“A software engineer by trade, exhibiting a precise logic in his thinking, Den Beste was acerbic, sharp and often charmingly irascible,” Jim Geraghty writes today in encomium. “I missed his playful cantankerousness when he had merely stopped blogging. He’s missed even more now.” RIP.

UPDATE: In his tribute to Den Beste, Ace of Spades compares the heyday of the USS Clueless as belonging to “a pre-professional blogging age (such as it may well be), a novice/hobbyist phase, when writers would just write about whatever interested them at that moment, whether it ‘fit the format’ or whatever. Rather like I’ve heard FM radio was when it first came out, as opposed to heavily-programmed/demographically-targeted AM.” Given the free-form, inventing techniques and terminology on the fly nature of the early Blogosphere, that’s an apt comparison as well.