March 21, 2017

YOUR GOVERNMENT AT WORK: Idaho boy sprayed by cyanide planted by US Department of Agriculture, dog killed.

“I hurried home, and the first thing I did was try to resuscitate the dog,” Mark Mansfield said. “Unfortunately I exposed myself to cyanide and had no idea.”

It took hours after emergency crews arrived and help from multiple agencies to learn Casey had died from exposure to an M-44.

M-44s are spring-activated devices that release cyanide when they are activated through upward pressure or pulling. The US Department of Agriculture uses the devices to control coyotes and other predators.

“We didn’t know anything about it. No neighborhood notifications and our local authorities didn’t know anything about them,” Mark said. “The sheriff deputies who went up there didn’t even know what a cyanide bomb was.”

The Mansfields have lived in their home nearly 10 years and have never seen M-44s in their neighborhood. They say the one triggered Thursday was planted on the borderline of their property.

“We weren’t aware, and nobody told us,” Theresa said. “There was nothing posted up on the hill saying to beware or be careful.”

Cyanide bombs seem like the kind of thing people should be made aware of.

SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP: UK flight ban on devices to be announced.

The UK is due to announce a cabin baggage ban on laptops, tablets and DVD players on certain passenger flights, after a similar US move.

It is understood the UK restrictions may differ from the US Department of Homeland Security’s ban, although details have not yet been released.

Flights from 10 airports in eight Muslim majority countries are subject to the US announcement.
US officials said bombs could be hidden in a series of devices.

The UK’s Department for Transport refused to comment on reports of the ban.

But BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford said the expected move was “obviously part of coordinated action with the US”.

I hope this is a sign that US/UK relations are still improving, despite the recent flap.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Wonder Woman Absolutely Should Not Have Armpit Hair, Sorry. “After all, a woman who has not once in more than 70 years gone out without perfectly curled hair is definitely not a woman who would ever wear something sleeveless without shaving her pits.”

Indeed.

WHEN CARS ARE LIKE POLITICIANS: The Subaru WRX STi Is a Hype Machine that Will Always End in Disappointment.

FIRE THEM: U.S. Women’s Hockey Boycotting Championships Over Equal Pay.

DRONE LAWS HAMPERING JOURNALISTS AND CITIZENS: What You Need to Conquer to be a Drone Journalist in Texas: An Airman’s Test, Privacy Laws and Gravity.

BEN DOMENECH: How Trump Can Fix Health Care.

Mr. Trump won the presidency in part because of some big promises, including a vow to break from conservative orthodoxy on entitlements. If Congress fails to deliver on that promise, Mr. Trump could correct it by going boldly in a direction anathema to many on the right but potentially acceptable to some Democrats: universal coverage for catastrophic care.

Many Americans’ greatest fear is that their health care costs will bankrupt them. The quality of care we receive is high — I experienced this myself this month after a cardiac incident left me reading the Republican plan in an emergency room — but the expense is opaque, and Americans are not wrong to worry about these costs.

By providing catastrophic care for all, President Trump could ensure that everyone has an ultimate backstop against medical bankruptcy, while freeing the states to experiment with options for reform. It would also enable the private sector to offer new insurance products to supplement the basic catastrophic care coverage.

This idea has some support among conservatives. In 2012 Kip Hagopian and Dana Goldman estimated in National Affairs that to insure all 209 million Americans not already covered by public insurance programs would cost about $2,000 per person, or $7,200 per family per year — about half the projected $1.7 trillion cost of Obamacare over the coming decade. Individuals and families could then purchase additional coverage given their particular health needs, but would not be bankrupted by severe illness or accident.

Something along these lines might be the least-bad, politically feasible outcome.

A STORY OF ADULT MUMPS AND MALE INFERTILITY. “To accurately describe the effect of mumps on that most delicate area for a young man would involve numerous fruit analogies, more akin to grapefruit than grapes.”

Get your shots.

SVERIGE GETTING SERIOUS: Sweden preparing nuclear fallout bunkers across the country amid fear of Russian war.

A system of 65,000 bunkers was established in the Cold War to protect the population from nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

According to MSB, the bunkers currently protect against blast and radiation as well as chemical or germ warfare.

With a distinctive logo, they can easily be located by civilians seeking shelter.

But with fears growing over threat posed by Vladimir Putin and his resurgent Russia they are being reviewed to make sure they are ready.

I’m old enough to remember when Sweden took its policy of armed neutrality seriously all the time.

JIM GERAGHTY: The FBI’s Coming Catch-22.

FBI director James Comey, testifying before Congress yesterday:

The FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.

He later added, “We’ve been doing this — this investigation began in late July, so for counterintelligence investigation that’s a fairly short period of time.”

Late July? When did the FBI think it was pertinent to tell the public?

Talk about a Catch-22. If the FBI finds evidence of some collusion or violation of U.S. laws, it’s an epic scandal, will set up Democratic conspiracy theories for years, will take a sledgehammer to public faith in the Trump presidency… and everyone will rightly ask why the FBI couldn’t uncover anything, or even inform the public about the investigation, until after the election. Heck, not even until after the inauguration!

If the FBI doesn’t find evidence of some collusion or violation of U.S. laws, it’s an epic farce, where the Trump administration can rightfully ask where they can go to get their reputations back.

Comey’s tenure at the FBI hasn’t exactly been marked by glory, or even forethought.

SO WITH THE RIGHT SUBWOOFER I CAN FOOL MY IPHONE INTO CREDITING ME WITH MORE STEPS? Smartphone Accelerometers Can Be Fooled by Sound Waves.

AIRBRUSH ALERT: Amazon removes Scalzi parody at Tor Book’s behest.

VIDEO: Sounds Like Hillary May Run Again?!?

I’m putting this one up without having played it first because I couldn’t bear to watch.

KEEPING THE SEMI IN SEMI-AUTONOMOUS: Uber’s autonomous cars drove 20,354 miles and had to be taken over at every mile.

Though Uber has more cars on the road this month than last month and has increased its weekly autonomous mileage — both good developments — the company’s human drivers are still taking over the system more times than they did in January.

Uber uses several different metrics to determine how its systems have progressed. Those include:

The average number of miles a car drives itself before a driver has to take over for any reason
The average number of miles between “critical” interventions — when a driver has to avoid causing harm, such as hitting pedestrians or causing material property damage
The average number of autonomous miles between “bad experiences” — things like jerky motions or hard braking, which are more likely to cause discomfort than damage

For example: During the week ending March 8, the 43 active cars on the road only drove an average of close to 0.8 miles before the safety driver had to take over for one reason or another.

So Uber has more and more semi-automous cars driving more miles, but the average distance driven before the driver needs to intervene hasn’t changed much.

This suggests that Uber’s AI isn’t a very quick learner — although my hunch is that after enough miles and AI experience, that a virtual tipping point will be reached, after which the AI will start learning very quickly.

READER BOOK PLUG: From Holly Tucker, City of Light, City of Poison.

NO. Dogs are getting facelifts, nose jobs and ball implants.

Edgard Brito, a São Paulo vet and plastic surgeon, told DuJour that he wants his procedures to make pets more lovable to their owners. “I often say that a clean dog with well-kept teeth will always be in better contact with its owners, otherwise the dog ends up being [put to sleep],” he said.

Brito, who’s been called the world’s go-to dog surgeon, performs procedures to glam up canines’ appearances: Botox to perk up the ears of a Doberman, nose jobs, face-lifts and testicular implants such as Neuticles to help neutered pets regain their masculinity.

Dogs love you, as-is, no questions asked. We should at least be kind enough to return the favor.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Chicago Police Investigating Facebook Live Gang-Rape of 15-Year-Old Girl.

SMART DIPLOMACY: Team Trump is already kicking butt at the United Nations.

QUESTION ASKED: Why Isn’t The Laptop Ban Unconstitutional Like The Travel Ban?

Perhaps because al Qaeda may be working on turning laptop batteries into bombs:

Reuters reported Monday that the move had been under consideration since the U.S. government learned of a threat several weeks ago.

U.S. officials have told Reuters the information gleaned from a U.S. commando raid in January in Yemen that targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula included bombmaking techniques.

Or maybe it just depends on which judge on the 9th Circuit hears the inevitable lawsuit.

THIS IS NOT THE 21ST CENTURY I WAS HOPING FOR: House Conservative on Healthcare Bill: Everyone’s Concerned About ‘Getting into a Twitter War’ with Trump.

PAUL MIRENGOFF: Did Obama collude with Russia in 2012? “If one applies the same sort of conspiracy thinking being used to claim that Donald Trump colluded with Russia, one can make out a case that Barack Obama colluded in 2012.”

STRANGE NEW RESPECT: Ann Althouse busts Dubya revisionism at the New York Times.

MONASTERIES OF THE MIND: AMERICANS RETREAT WHEN THERE’S NO ESCAPING POLITICS, Victor Davis Hanson writes: “More and more Americans today are becoming Stoic dropouts. They are not illiberal, and certainly not reactionaries, racists, xenophobes, or homophobes. They’re simply exhausted by our frenzied culture. More and more Americans don’t like lectures from the privileged and the wealthy on the pitfalls of privilege and wealth. They don’t like lectures from the privileged and the wealthy on the pitfalls of privilege and wealth. In response, they don’t hike out to monasteries, fall into fetal positions, or write Meditations. Instead, they have checked out mentally from American popular entertainment, sports, and the progressive cultural project in general.”

Read the whole thing.

USING BOARD WAR GAMES FOR TRAINING: This Popular Mechanics article focuses on a CIA analyst who uses games to train. Glad he’s doing it.

Training for any job, let alone one involved in security, is crucial. The prospect of having to go through it, though, is enough to make your eyes glaze over. Which is why the CIA brought a new element to their internal training exercises: board games.

The article is good –except using games for this purpose is not new. Board games have been used like this for decades. It may not have been official policy, but I know U.S. intelligence community analysts used board games for this purpose in the 1970s and 1980s. The military used them. Firefight is an example. The game was published in 1976. StrategyPage editor Jim Dunnigan designed it for the U.S. Army. In 2001 a lieutenant-colonel in CENTCOM’s J-5 told me his section was using my Arabian Nightmare: Kuwait War game for training purposes. He said that game’s “Political” module was particularly valuable for generating challenging scenarios. (The commentary at the link refers to the “Political rules.” The Political Game could radically re-shape the military campaign. In fact, Saddam could win the Political Game.)

UPDATE: Of course war games are not new. Soldiers have run map exercises since the invention of maps. In the mid-1980s an archivist at the old U.S. Army historical center at Carlisle Barracks, PA, showed me a “war gaming kit” put together by a U.S. Army officer in the 1850s. If I recall correctly, the wooden box had a compass, a protractor, a ruler and some small pieces of colored wood to indicate units. The archivist said the officer’s notes showed he experimented with “what if” scenarios. The center had part of a map the man had used. (I didn’t see the map or the notes.) The kit and documents were kept in a store room and someone “would get to it eventually.”

ALICE STEWART: Plug the leaks and stop blaming Russians for Clinton’s loss.

In terms of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Comey confirmed this is under investigation by the FBI. He went on to say the Russian officials meant to hurt democracy and Hillary Clinton, all the while helping Donald Trump. Comey also confirmed that FBI officials are investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

So far, there is no publicly available evidence to support the claim. In my view, Russian interference and possible collusion with the Trump campaign had nothing to do with the Democrat’s defeat; Hillary Clinton lost because she had the wrong message, failed to compete in key battleground states and spiked the football in the third quarter.

Indeed. But although it harms the country, blaming the Russians and discrediting Trump helps Democrats politically — so expect it to continue.

On the other hand, I just spotted this headline: “Tillerson plans to skip NATO meeting, visit Russia in April.”

Snubbing NATO could mean nothing more than sending Berlin another signal to get serious about their defense budget. And until we see an actual policy shift in favor of Russia, that’s probably the smart take.

RICHARD FERNANDEZ: Putin Is Bust, So Who Won The Pot?

If Putin is the world’s puppet master he’s not doing very well. Russia’s economy has been in crisis since 2014, with no end in sight. The Kremlin has been in the doldrums for two reasons: the continued decline in oil prices and economic sanctions imposed on Moscow for its incursions into Ukraine.

Trends have worsened rather than gotten better. Initial hopes the Trump administration would cut Russia some slack were dashed. “Enormous amounts of money have flowed in and out of Russia over the past several months as oil prices and U.S. policies turned from favorable to seemingly unfavorable”. . . .

Russia is facing a tough Nikki Haley in the UN, something that has left the New York Times baffled. ” In recent weeks, Ms. Haley has condemned what she called Russia’s “aggressive actions” in eastern Ukraine, vowed to maintain sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and, in her Senate confirmation hearing, went as far as saying that Russia was guilty of war crimes in Syria.” . . .

But the rhetoric is matched by actions on the ground. US troops arrived in Syria to support the impending assault on Raqqa. After an extended retreat before the Kremlin in the Middle East America is re-asserting itself again.

Worse the administration has been exhorting its European allies to spend more money on NATO. Though Trump’s urgings were mocked by politicians who point out the Euros spend on “UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism” it nevertheless amounts to a call to arm against Russia.

It is reasonable to suppose that puppetmaster Putin would prefer 1) less US oil production; 2) lower American defense spending; 3) a free hand in Syria; 4) lifting of sanctions but there is precious little evidence he is getting any of it. On the contrary Putin is doomed if current trends continue.

If Putin robbed the bank where’s the money? The problem with the Russian hacking stories now roiling Washington is demonstrating how any of it worked to the Kremlin’s advantage. A proper conspiracy theory involving a foreign power in the last election should at least consider China, not just Russia, as a suspect. The Chinese at least would have benefited from cheap oil. Yet even here there are problems.

But without conspiracy theories, Democrats would have to face reality, and that’s still too painful. Alternatively (or additionally) it may be that all this Russia-talk is there to distract from actual foreign-government influence in DC, as Fernandez suggests. But from whom?

IT COULDN’T HAPPEN TO A NICER BUNCH OF DESPOTS: Opec and Russia risk a lost decade as shale revolution spreads.

Russia and the OPEC nations have had every opportunity to reform their economies, financed by riches located right under their feet. Now they find those riches are no longer worth so much, and their other industries are as moribund as ever.

They chose… poorly.

HE’LL BE BACK: Fox parts with Napolitano amid wiretap fizzle.

WASHPOST INSINUATES PBS BUDGET WAS CUT BECAUSE ‘SESAME STREET’ MOCKED TRUMP.

Which seems odd, considering that starting in 2015, new episodes of Sesame Street appear on HBO.

Can’t the Time-Warner-CNN-HBO empire still function even if it’s off the government teat?

SINAI’S DISPLACED COPTIC CHRISTIANS: In January and February Islamic State fighters and their allies launched attacks on the Christians living in Egypt’s Sinai.

Hundreds of Christian families escaped the city of el-Arish Feb. 24 after the Islamic State (IS) and its branch in Egypt, Wilayat Sinai, increased attacks on Copts there. It is believed to be the largest wave of collective displacement in Egypt since the June 1967 war. Coptic families have discretely been experiencing displacement since the Egyptian government declared a war on terrorism in July 2013, but Cairo and the media have taken an interest in this latest wave because it involves collective migration. No official census figures are available on the Coptic population in the Sinai.

Read the entire report.

DIANE FEINSTEIN TRIES TO EMBARASSES GORSUCH, EMBARASSES SELF INSTEAD:

Polite, soft-spoken, in command of the facts — a wise white dude, you might say.

RUSSIAN ECONOMIC GROWTH RESUMES: But not enough to stop budget cuts.

That means large cuts in government spending, including a defense budget that is now 25 percent smaller…That also means the replacement of worn out or obsolete Cold War era equipment will take a lot longer and upgrades to or expansion of the military will be restricted. The government has already announced sharp reductions in orders for new armored vehicles, ships and aircraft. Instead thousands of tanks and aircraft will undergo extensive (and much cheaper) upgrades.

Good news for Russia’s neighbors.

THE PRICE OF BEING THE MINORITY PARTY: Dems Still Smarting Over Garland Snub on Gorsuch’s First Hearing Day.

During the opening day of Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing, Democrats consistently noted the GOP’s refusal to provide Garland due consideration. While several expressed their intent to keep an open mind regarding the Gorsuch nomination, several cast a shadow over his prospects because of the handling of Garland, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., nominated by then-President Obama to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Scalia seat has been vacant for more than 13 months as a result of the Garland snub. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the former committee chairman, said the “unprecedented obstruction” by Republicans of the Garland nomination “is one of the greatest stains on the 200-year history of this committee.”

“This was an extraordinary blockade and one backed by then-candidate Donald Trump,” Leahy said. “Committee Republicans met behind closed doors and declared that they would surrender the independence of this committee to do the majority leader’s bidding, and they ignored the Constitution in the process.”

If Senate Democrats need a reminder about what it means to be the minority, perhaps employing the Reid Option would do the trick.

UPDATE: Commenter Jukin writes, “If the donks are pissed at the republicans using the ‘Biden Rule’ they will absolutely livid when the republicans use the ‘Reid Rule.’

“Leftists hate, more than usual, when we use their tactics against them.”

Punch back twice as hard, the wise man once said.

WHY ARE UNIVERSITIES SUCH CESSPITS OF CRUELTY AND INJUSTICE? Lawsuit: Father fired after defending disabled son from campus kangaroo court.

HMM:

Club for Growth is one of those conservative groups which helps conservatives pass conservative legislation, so take that as you will.

AND YET, ENVIRONMENTALISTS OPPOSE IT: Thanks to Shale, America Is the Global Green Leader.

Global greenhouse gas emissions stalled for the third year in a row in 2016, and environmentalists the world over are going to have to swallow their pride and give credit where credit is due: to the American shale revolution. . . .

U.S. emissions dropped 3 percent last year, and that fall helped to stabilize the global number of emissions, even as the global economy grew. The IEA’s executive director, Fatih Birol, acknowledged natural gas as the first driver behind this new trend, because plentiful and cheap natural gas is displacing coal around the world, and emitting only half as much carbon in the process. . . .

Europe, led by Germany, has been gripped by green mania in recent years, but has precious little to show for its efforts—Germany’s own emissions actually rose last year.

But here in the United States, the innovative combination of different technologies (hydraulic fracturing and horizontal well drilling) has set off an oil and gas boom that is both boosting the American economy and keeping our greenhouse gas emissions down. So while Berlin busies itself shutting down nuclear reactors and propping up expensive renewables with lavish government subsidies, Washington is actually doing the heavy lifting necessary to keep global emissions from rising.

Actually, Washington has mostly stayed out of the way. Also, are “greens” getting money from Putin and the Saudis to oppose fracking? I think we need an investigation. Because of the seriousness of the charge.

LE PEN IS NOT MIGHTIER AFTER ALL: Macron on Top After First Presidential Debate of French Race.

Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old running for office for the first time, parried attacks from both ends of the political spectrum as he navigated questions on the economy, terrorism and immigration.

Voters are still getting to know Macron who’s been in the public eye for less than three years, so the stakes were high in front of a television audience of almost 10 million. Two snap polls judged the rookie candidate, who has the backing of no established party, the most convincing and markets rose as he stopped the National Front’s Marine Le Pen from landing a knock-out punch.

“Macron managed quite well,” said Bruno Cautres, a political scientist at SciencesPo in Paris. “The challenge for him was to show that he wasn’t just the new and inexperienced one, to show he has the depth and the skills.”

The euro strengthened against most of its major peers after the debate.

Then again, this is a bad time to be making predictions about politics.

CHRIS BUSKIRK: Ryancare Will Destroy The Republican Majority.

WHY NOT? To Truly Beat The Bureaucrats, Trump Needs To Shut Their Agencies Down.

HOMELAND SECURITY? US bans larger electronic devices on some flights from Middle East.

US authorities have secretly required airlines from eight nations to forbid passengers from carrying any electronic or electrical device larger than a cellphone.

The new edict was distributed in an email described as “confidential” from the US transportation safety administration (TSA) on Monday.

The requirement forbids passengers from bringing laptops, iPads, Kindles and even cameras larger than mobile phones into the cabin. All such devices must be checked.

Saudi Arabia’s Saudia Airlines and Royal Jordanian airlines are among the affected countries; the full list had not been revealed to the affected airlines themselves until a press briefing by the US department of Homeland Security on Monday evening.

The ban is techincally related to ten airports in eight countries:

Queen Alia in Jordan
Cairo International in Egypt
Ataturk International in Turkey
King Abudlaziz and King Khalid in Saudi Arabia
Kuwait International in Kuwait, Mohammaed V in Morocco
Doha International in Qatar
Dubai international and Abu Dhabi international in the United Arab Emirates.

Royal Jordanian airline tweeted the new rule yesterday, but the English was broken (and the tweet since deleted) so that didn’t seem like a trustworthy source for a new DHS rule. And DHS would neither confirm nor deny, per this Guardian report. Nevertheless, “Compliance has been swift” and an official announcement is expected later today.

I’M CHANGING MY NAME TO GLENDA AND ENTERING ONE OF THESE: Controversy as Transgender Athlete Wins Women’s Weightlifting Competition. Sadly, I’m not sure my personal-best squat of 320 pounds would win me anything in one of those. But hey, it’s not bad . . . for a law professor.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: The Suicide of Expertise.

In the realm of foreign affairs, which should be of special interest to the people at Foreign Affairs, recent history has been particularly dreadful. Experts failed to foresee the fall of the Soviet Union, failed to deal especially well with that fall when it took place, and then failed to deal with the rise of Islamic terrorism that led to the 9/11 attacks. Post 9/11, experts botched the reconstruction of Iraq, then botched it again with a premature pullout.

On Syria, experts in Barack Obama’s administration produced a policy that led to countless deaths, millions of refugees flooding Europe, a new haven for Islamic terrorists, and the upending of established power relations in the mideast. In Libya, the experts urged a war, waged without the approval of Congress, to topple strongman Moammar Gadhafi, only to see — again — countless deaths, huge numbers of refugees and another haven for Islamist terror.

It was experts who brought us the housing bubble and the subprime crisis. It was experts who botched the Obamacare rollout. And, of course, the experts didn’t see Brexit coming, and seem to have responded mostly with injured pride and assaults on the intelligence of the electorate, rather than with constructive solutions.

By its fruit the tree is known, and the tree of expertise hasn’t been doing well lately.

Read the whole thing!

JUST IN TIME FOR TODAY’S HEARING: 5 Things to Know About the Neil Gorsuch Hearing.

North Korea Blows Up US Aircraft Carrier, Bomber In New Propaganda Video.

The 2 minute clip has emerged just days after Kim threatened to reduce the US “to ashes” as tensions with North Korea continue to increase, which in turn followed a warning by Tillerson that the US is preparing for a “first strike” against the irrational dictator, while US special forces conduct drills in South Korea to “eliminate” the country’s ruler.

It comes after a statement earlier this month warned Donald Trump of nuclear destruction if America fires “even a single bullet” towards Pyongyang. In it the country warned that “the Korean People’s Army will reduce the bases of aggression and provocation to ashes with its invincible Hwasong rockets tipped with nuclear warheads and reliably defend the security of the country and its people’s happiness in case the US and the South Korean puppet forces fire even a single bullet at the territory of the DPRK.”

The menacing talk came as South Korea warned over the weekend that its northern neighbor’s latest rocket-engine test showed “meaningful” progress. As reported on Sunday, the KCNA news agency said the engine would help the country achieve world-class satellite-launch capability – indicating a new type of rocket engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The video isn’t very convincing, but North Korea’s growing launch capability is getting there.

TAKING SIDES: Anti-Trump media: 91% coverage negative, 96% of donations to Hillary.

With the coverage of President Trump putting media bias on display as never before, an influential House chairman and longtime press critic has opened a campaign to call out the “mainstream media” for what he thinks it is.

“The media and Democrats are so close in association and so close in their philosophical views that we might as well use one word to describe both, and that’s ‘Mediacrats,'” said Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, founder of the House Media Fairness Caucus.

Smith, chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, has often been on the receiving end of the media’s anti-conservative bias, but he said the attacks on Trump have led him to urge colleagues to stop referring to the “mainstream” media.

“How can the media be considered ‘mainstream’ when it doesn’t represent a majority of the American people?” he asked. “It’s more accurate to use the term ‘liberal,'” he said.

In an interview, he cited the media’s ills: 91 percent of Trump campaign coverage was negative, 96 percent of media campaign contributions went to Democrat Hillary Clinton, and 55 percent of the public is weary of the anti-Trump tone in coverage.

“It’s the most biased media I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Smith said.

Mine too.

NO SHE WON’T: Donna Brazile will “forever regret” doing thing she still insists she didn’t do.

Jazz Shaw:

I had assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that former interim DNC chair Donna Brazile no longer had a career in American politics. How could she? After the revelations which came out of the leak of John Podesta’s emails one might easily presume that she would be so radioactive nobody would come within a country mile of her. This was clearly an errant conclusion since the party kept her on straight through the election of her successor last month and she is still making the rounds on the interview circuit to this day. This past week she published an editorial in Time Magazine which finally seemed to amount to a confession of what she did to rig the Democratic primaries against Bernie Sanders. (Emphasis added)

In October, a subsequent release of emails revealed that among the many things I did in my role as a Democratic operative and DNC Vice Chair before assuming the interim DNC Chair position was to share potential town hall topics with the Clinton campaign. I had been working behind the scenes to add more town hall events and debates to the primary calendar, and I helped ensure those events included diverse moderators and addressed topics vital to minority communities. My job was to make all our Democratic candidates look good, and I worked closely with both campaigns to make that happen. But sending those emails was a mistake I will forever regret.

Saying that you “forever regret” something isn’t quite the same as an apology, but at least it’s a start. So now we can all let the healing begin and simply move on, right? Not so fast. In a follow-up interview, Brazile reversed course and yet again flatly denied any wrongdoing.

A just and decent Fourth Estate would have hounded a lying cheat like Brazile out of print and off the airwaves months ago.

MATT DESSEM: MEET THE OTHER CHUCK BERRY. One Chuck Berry Invented Rock ’n’ Roll. The Other Chuck Berry Lived a Life in His Shadow.

ELIMINATIONIST RHETORIC: Psychologist Blasts Destructive ‘The Future is Female’ Slogan as Threat to Boys. Remember, feminism today is about making middle-aged white women feel good about themselves. Collateral damage is irrelevant.

WINNING: China Sees a Manufacturing Future —- in America.

Glen Lin is struggling to keep his shoe company competitive on the world’s factory floor in southern China. Wages are shooting up 15% each year. Taxes are high. Shipping is exorbitant, and slow.

So, as fast as he can he’s automating production, while planning an escape to his largest market—the U.S.

The vice general manager of Dongguan Winwin Industrial, a Taiwan-owned company, is scouting for a location in America to move his newest machinery that turns out high-quality sneakers and casual shoes. Most likely, he’ll end up near one of his main customers: Skechers, based in California, Crocs in Colorado, or Nike in Portland, Ore.

In global manufacturing, fortunes are starting to shift in America’s favor.

Come for the skilled workers and business-friendly climate, stay for the low shipping rates and fast cars.

I’M NOT SURE THAT’S THE WAY TO BET HERE: Scarborough: Trump learning that ‘Washington always wins.’

But if it is, it’s bad news for Washington. Washington may not like it, but it can live with Trump. It’s not clear it can live with what will come after Trump, if Trump is blocked.

BUT DOES IT SELF-IDENTIFY AS HUMAN? New Zealand Grants a River the Same Legal Rights as a Human Being.

CHANGE: Military Cooperation Between Russia, China Hits Three-Decade High.

A SCARY STORY ABOUT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION DOING WHAT OTHER ADMINISTRATIONS HAVE DONE FOR YEARS: White House installs political aides at Cabinet agencies to be Trump’s eyes and ears.

And Trump needs it more than most, since the bureaucracy is at open war with him. But by all means pretend that this is unprecedented if it advances the narrative.

REPEAL-ISH AND REPLACE-ISH: GOP leaders unveil changes to healthcare bill.

The changes include two measures that conservative Republican Study Committee members won at the White House on Friday: allowing states to require Medicaid recipients to work and allowing states to choose a Medicaid block grant over the cap system in the current bill.

The revisions also include a change targeted at New York state that is expected to bring on board several wavering Empire State Republicans. That change would cut off federal Medicaid reimbursement for county contributions to Medicaid.

It is in doubt whether this range of changes will be enough to win the 216 votes needed for the bill to pass on Thursday. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Monday night that given his understanding of the changes, not enough was altered to bring him and his colleagues on board.

More from Axios:

Here’s what Meadows told Axios early Monday evening:

After investing hours and hours and hours of trying to find common ground between our moderate members and conservative members, and believing, because of the White House’s engagement in the process, that we could find common ground; I’ve now reached a conclusion that our leadership is going to put forth a bill that does not address any of the concerns in a meaningful way and will dare us to vote against it.

Why this matters: If the White House loses most of the Freedom Caucus members they can’t pass this bill. Meadows was only speaking for himself tonight, but his is a voice to move votes. The caucus will meet tonight, and whether to collectively oppose the bill or not will certainly be discussed.

What a trainwreck.

PRIORITIES: Obama’s IRS gave ‘Satan Club’ creator fast tax-exempt status.

Documents obtained by a government watchdog show that the originator of the “After School Satan Club” received speedy tax-exempt status while conservative groups were stuck in bureaucratic red tape under the Obama administration.

Treasury Department files obtained by Judicial Watch last week show Reason Alliance in Somerville, Mass., was given nonprofit status within 10 days of its application in October 2014. The group operates the Satanic Temple out of Washington state and planned an “After School Satan Club” initiative in 2016.

It’s fair to say that by 2014, Obama’s IRS didn’t give a damn about the optics of anything.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: In a Polarized Climate, Free-Speech Warriors Seize the Spotlight. “The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a champion of First Amendment rights, has gained new prominence as campus controversies spread. Yet FIRE has also found itself in the cross hairs of increasingly fraught debates.”

Well, people who hate free speech will naturally attack people who support free speech. And since people who hate free speech are horrible human beings, bereft of morals or standards, they will often do so unfairly.

Because they suck.

March 20, 2017

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AND FRANK RICH. On anti-Semitism and dog whistles.

DON’T TRY TO FIX IT: “I just need you to listen.”

ROGER KIMBALL: The Nothing Burger Gets Flipped.

It wasn’t quite “Are you now or have you ever been . . .” but it was close. You don’t have to have that good a memory to have found the whole exercise amusing: Democratic politicians abandoning the “1980s asking for its foreign policy back” in order, suddenly, to castigate Russia as a threat to US national security and even (if you can believe it) wrapping themselves in the flag of patriotism (yes, really) to denounce Donald Trump.

My own feeling is that the Dems must be very, very worried to go down that street. And what did it all add up to? Nada. Which is to say, rien. Nichts. Zilch. Nothing.

Well, it let them look good to their constituencies, and distracted from their inability to stop Gorsuch. So there’s that.

Plus:

Was that it? Almost. There actually was one bit of news. If you are looking for a crime in this whole scenario, the one crime we know was committed was when someone “unmasked” Mike Flynn’s name and leaked it to the press in connection with a couple of exchanges he had with the Russian Ambassador. That, as was stressed by Republican interlocutors as well as by James Comey, was a felony punishable by up to 10 years in the slammer.

To my mind, that was the big news of the day. If I were the person who did the leaking, I would not be sleeping so well.

I’m sure the leaker was promised protection. But we all know what promises are worth in DC.

HEY, MAYBE WHITE WOMEN REALLY ARE THE WORST: Yoga Pants, ‘Active Wear’ Are Destroying the Oceans.

NEIL GORSUCH’S OPENING STATEMENT: “OURS IS A JUDICIARY OF HONEST BLACK POLYESTER.”

Classical allusion in headline?

LOOKING AT THE GLOCK STRIKER CONTROL DEVICE.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: The Suicide of Expertise.

In the realm of foreign affairs, which should be of special interest to the people at Foreign Affairs, recent history has been particularly dreadful. Experts failed to foresee the fall of the Soviet Union, failed to deal especially well with that fall when it took place, and then failed to deal with the rise of Islamic terrorism that led to the 9/11 attacks. Post 9/11, experts botched the reconstruction of Iraq, then botched it again with a premature pullout.

On Syria, experts in Barack Obama’s administration produced a policy that led to countless deaths, millions of refugees flooding Europe, a new haven for Islamic terrorists, and the upending of established power relations in the mideast. In Libya, the experts urged a war, waged without the approval of Congress, to topple strongman Moammar Gadhafi, only to see — again — countless deaths, huge numbers of refugees and another haven for Islamist terror.

It was experts who brought us the housing bubble and the subprime crisis. It was experts who botched the Obamacare rollout. And, of course, the experts didn’t see Brexit coming, and seem to have responded mostly with injured pride and assaults on the intelligence of the electorate, rather than with constructive solutions.

By its fruit the tree is known, and the tree of expertise hasn’t been doing well lately.

Read the whole thing!

DIANNE FEINSTEIN IS alarmed about Neil Gorsuch’s originalist philosophy.

Trust me, DiFi, you don’t want a Living Constitution rightist.

OK, I’VE FOUND YOU FANS OF AMERICAN AIR POWER SOME MORE COOL BOMBER PHOTOS: Since the Bomber Trifecta I’ve had several requests.

Agreed, the B-1 Lancer is a beautiful airplane. This B-1 is taking off from Andersen AFB, Guam. Like the Bomber Trifecta photo, it’s a USAF public relations pic, but a fine one.

However, this old photo is truly dramatic: an ocean-hugging B-52 flies by the USS Ranger.

Per the caption, the photo was not photo-shopped. “It happened in early 1989 off the coast of Mexico… It’s very, very rare for a USAF aircraft to do a fly-by below the flight deck of a carrier.”

SNOWFLAKE OUTRAGE: Wonder Woman Has No Armpit Hair.

INTERVIEW WITH SECSTATE TILLERSON: A long sit-down interview with The Independent Journal Review.

Intro:

In his first sit-down interview since becoming secretary of state, Rex Tillerson spoke with Independent Journal Review’s Erin McPike about the challenges of American diplomacy with China, the imminent threat of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, and his reasoning behind his limited press access.

Sample:

EM: You told Fox yesterday that ‘nothing is off the table’ with respect to the nuclearization of the Korean peninsula. In your confirmation hearing, you kind of said that South Korea and Japan don’t need to have nuclear weapons. Has your view changed, given the urgency of the situation with North Korea, particularly because Japan could finalize development of a nuclear weapon rather quickly if they needed to?

RT: No, it has not, nor has the policy of the United States changed. Our objective is a denuclearized Korean peninsula. A denuclearized Korean peninsula negates any thought or need for Japan to have nuclear weapons. We say all options are on the table, but we cannot predict the future. So we do think it’s important that everyone in the region has a clear understanding that circumstances could evolve to the point that for mutual deterrence reasons, we might have to consider that. But as I said yesterday, there are a lot of … there’s a lot of steps and a lot of distance between now and a time that we would have to make a decision like that. Our objective is to have the regime in North Korea come to a conclusion that the reasons that they have felt they have had to develop nuclear weapons, those reasons are not well-founded. We want to change that understanding. With that, we do believe that if North Korea [were to] stand down on this nuclear program, that is their quickest means to begin to develop their economy and to become a vibrant economy for the North Korean people. If they don’t do that, they will have a very difficult time developing their economy.

Check the whole thing out.

Good to see this interview appear in something other than ‘the usual suspects.”

OPENING UP ABOUT YOUR SEXUALITY IS SO 20TH CENTURY. NEW HOTNESS: SHUTTING UP ABOUT YOUR SEXUALITY. Katy Perry Opens Up About Sexuality And Religious Upbringing In HRC Gala Speech.

But should she be promoting such high-risk behavior? The science is settled!

JEFF SANDERS: Six Immortal Lessons My Depression-Era Parents Taught Me.

WAPO HEADLINE: The World Happiness Report is out and the U.S. has fallen. Sad!

That should probably read: “The World Happiness Report is out and, let me be perfectly clear, the U.S. has fallen.”

WE MAY NEVER KNOW:

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Will Dropping The LSAT Requirement Create More Miserable Lawyers?

I ran into a former student yesterday who wasn’t miserable. She likes her job, but says that most of the people she deals with aren’t happy to be seeing a lawyer. I told her that there aren’t many areas of law where clients are really glad to need your services. . . .

PROBLEM SOLVED: Meals on Wheels Sees Donation Surge Following Trump Proposed Cuts.

CRYING WOLF: Ex-CNN Host Rips ‘F***ing’ Trump as ‘Liar’ Not Worthy of Respect:

Former CNN host D.L. Hughley ranted in a TMZ video posted Monday that Donald Trump is a “f***ing’ “liar” who “doesn’t deserve respect.” The former host of CNN’s D.L. Hughley Breaks the News blasted, “I think if the president were respect-worthy, you should do it…. He’s lied. A liar doesn’t deserve respect like that.”

Hughley added, “But I think you only give respect when you get it. And he’s been disrespectful to just about everybody, except the white supremacists who serve him.”

Speaking of being “disrespectful to just about everybody,” back in 2009, when Hughley was briefly a CNN host, he interviewed Michael Steele, then the chairman of the Republican Party, and said, “‘The tenets of the Republican Party are amazing and they seem warm and welcome. But when I watch it be applied — like you didn’t have to go much further than the Republican National Convention….It literally look[s] like Nazi Germany.’ He went on to say that blacks weren’t welcome in the party: ‘It just does not seem — like not only are we not welcome — not only are we not welcome, but they don’t even care what we think.’”

Hughley either forgot that he was interviewing a fellow African-American when he uttered the above words, or more likely didn’t care, and simply fired off the same ancient boilerplate smears against the GOP that date as far back as President Roosevelt. And note that the rank and file GOP – of numerous races and religions – were gathered in Saint Paul, Minnesota in early September of 2008 to nominate former war hero John McCain to be their presidential nominee, a man left permanently crippled after being tortured while a captive of real life national socialists in North Vietnam.

60 million people voted for John McCain. Another three million voted for Trump. If you believe they’re all Nazis and Klansmen, it might be time to open the airlock and leave the bubble for a while to see what lies outside the bio-dome. The first step is the hardest, but you might be surprised at what’s out there once you take it.

TOLERANCE: Trans Conference Celebrates Getting People Fired For Not Calling Men Women.

And:

I was fascinated to learn that there is a pecking order within transgender culture known as “privileged trans.” The first tier of a privileged transgender is someone wealthy enough to be able to afford the full gauntlet of surgeries to appear as a man or woman. Unprivileged transgenders must settle with cross-dressing and shaving. However, the highest level of privilege is someone who is both wealthy and already has certain physical attributes of the preferred sex, such as feminine facial features, a low voice, or broad shoulders.

The penultimate goal of transition is when a person is in “stealth,” which means one is always recognized by strangers as one’s intended gender. When you’re in stealth, you no longer have to worry about “being read,” in which a stranger tries to figure out whether you’re a boy or a girl.

They showed a video in which a construction worker ogled a transgender woman, with the transgender woman’s inner monologue being “Hey, maybe things are changing for the better.” I found it odd that something that is considered a micro-aggression in the feminist world is the zenith of compliments in the transgender world.

So much anxiety over status, so little concern with the equality the movement claims to strive towards.

CHANGE: Once Banned in China, Warhol’s Iconic ‘Mao’ Portrait Is Going Up for Auction in Hong Kong.

One of the most well-known images of the 20th century, Warhol’s 1973 Mao was sold for $9.4 million in London in 2014. The current owner, who has not been identified, has now put the silk-screen print up for sale with Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, the BBC reports. The auction is expected on April 2 and the sale could fetch up to $15 million.

Warhol’s iconic depictions of the Communist leader were excluded from the Beijing and Shanghai legs of a 26-month Asian tour that marked the 25th anniversary of the artist’s death in 2012. The series of portraits, in Warhol’s classic pop art style, were rejected due to “political sensitivity.”

Eight-figure speculative art auctions and a dictatorship of the proletariat — 21st Century China in a nutshell.

WEIGHTLESS IN THE GREAT WHITE NORTH: “Fat Canadian snowflakes need no longer fear the terrifying judgement of gym scales, thanks to an Ottawa university’s forward-thinking and progressive decision. They’ve simply removed the offending item.”

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: The Suicide of Expertise.

P. DAVID HORNIK: Israel, American Jews Far Apart on Trump.

KURT SCHLICHTER: Who Is Going To Save The Democrat Party? Chelsea!

Please, please, please make her the face of your party.

Let’s be clear – Chelsea is not an embodiment of malignant evil, as is her harpy mother. I am aware of acts of great kindness she has personally performed; she does not appear to be a morally bankrupt monster like her parents. Nor do I blame her for supporting her mother or Bill. But Chelsea is a doctrinaire limo liberal who is utterly clueless about her privilege – she is one of the rare cases where the use of that term is neither teeth-gratingly stupid or a lie designed to seize unearned moral authority. And she buys into the moral vacuum that is progressivism’s received wisdom – from going all-in on the global warming scam to seeing all the SJW –isms and –phobias behind every opponents’ views to embracing the Planned Parenthood baby-killing racket. She should be left to live her life in peace without harassment, but so should we – which means Chelsea must never hold anything like a position of power.

I dunno, Kurt. My impression is that Chelsea shares Bill’s aversion to making an honest living and Hillary’s disdain for the deplorables.

But in either case, do, yes, please make her the face of the Democrats.

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: High-risk sex, girl-on-girl experimenting linked among NYC teens. But it’s not soft-core porn here:

This “vulnerable population of girls” who engage in same-sex or bisexual activity are twice as likely as heterosexual teens to be sexually active. The researchers also found:

These girls start having sex sooner, have more sexual partners and suffer more “intimate partner violence.”
They are less likely to use contraceptive methods — putting them at higher risk of unplanned pregnancy if they also have sex with boys.
They use more alcohol, marijuana and other illicit drugs.
They report more suicidal thoughts or attempts. Girls “not sure” of their sexual orientation are at highest risk of trying to kill themselves.
Even though female-to female transmission of HIV is possible, many of these girls do not test for it or other sex-related diseases.

So there you have it.

CRIME OF THE CENTURY: Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl jerseys found in possession of international media member.

JESSE WALKER: The Brief, Half-Serious, and Sort of Visionary Political Career of Jimmy Breslin. “Looking back, Breslin declared himself ‘mortified to have taken part in a process that required bars to be closed.'”

THOMAS W. SMITH: Confessions of a Climate Change ‘Denier’

There are two things necessary for a mass movement to succeed: true believers and a well-defined enemy. The enemy of the climate change mass movement is fossil fuels and the Industrial Age, with the “deniers” being the enablers of planetary destruction.

In the past, the term “denier” has been associated with that extreme group who denies the existence of the horrible, tragic historical fact, the Holocaust. Many climate change true believers want the public to put anyone who questions or disagrees with climate change projections in the same category as the Holocaust deniers. But one is a fact, the other a contested projection. Nevertheless, they have been quite successful.

Here is one of the definitions of “denier” found on the Internet: “a person who denies something, especially someone who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of the scientific or historical evidence: a prominent denier of global warming.”

Here is Hoffer’s warning on the role of the true believer: “where mass movements can either persuade or coerce, it usually chooses the latter.”

Skepticism isn’t denial; it’s science — but coercion isn’t.

WELL, WE COULD GET RID OF ANTICOMPETITIVE ADMISSIONS QUOTAS FOR MED SCHOOL AND GRADUATE AS MANY DOCTORS AS QUALIFY RATHER THAN IMPORTING FOREIGN DOCTORS: Rural Areas Brace for a Shortage of Doctors Due to Visa Policy.

But seriously, how many doctors are we importing from Yemen?

HEALTH: Amazon tribe has lowest heart risk ever seen.

Known as the Tsimane, the small forager-farmer community in Bolivia was five times less likely to develop coronary atherosclerosis (artery hardening) than people in the United States — where it is a major killer, scientists wrote in The Lancet medical journal.

They pointed to the community’s low-fat, high-fibre diet and non-smoking, physically active lifestyle — factors which most scientists agree contribute to good health.

The study was an observational one, meaning it merely uncovered a correlation between lifestyle and heart health, and cannot conclude that one causes the other.

In that case, pass the bacon.

WALT PIMBLEY POINTS OUT that Bernard Cornwell’s novel, The Gallows Thief, is $3.99 on Kindle. I haven’t read it, but Walt says it’s good.

HMM: Cholesterol-Slashing Drug Can Protect High-Risk Heart Patients, Study Finds. “For cardiologists, the study was a crucial test of a long-held hypothesis: the lower the level of cholesterol in the blood, the better. The results support that hypothesis. There seemed to be no floor to the benefits of cholesterol lowering, at least down to the stunningly low levels achieved in the study. The lower the LDL, the lower the risk, with no leveling off of the linear relationship.”

TIM MAK: Obama’s Imperial Presidency Now Is Trump’s.

Forever and evergreen:

Limited government, checks and balances, federalism — they don’t seem so old-fashioned now, do they, Tim?

FRANK RICH: Die, you stupid red-state hillbillies, die! Plus, bonus anti-semitism:

The answer to that is yes, as a matter of morality, policy, and politics. Americans below the top of the heap, with or without college degrees and regardless of race, have been ill served by the axis of Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, and the Davos-class donor base that during Bill Clinton’s presidency helped grease the skids for the 2008 economic collapse and allowed the culprits to escape from the wreckage unscathed during Barack Obama’s.

Anti-semitism? Absolutely. “As David Bernstein of the Scalia Law School at George Mason University asks, imagine the reaction if a Republican had ‘singled out two Jews while talking about economic collapse and wealthy donors. It would be condemned as anti-Semitic.'”

Well, sure, if a Republican had done it.

ALLIES: Afghan soldier opens fire on U.S. service members, wounding 3.

Capt. William Salvin, a U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan, said security forces on base killed the attacker to end the assault.

“The U.S. soldiers are receiving medical treatment at this time, and we will release more information when available,” he said.

The so-called “insider attack” happened around 1:30 p.m. local time at Camp Antonik in Washer District in Helmand.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the shooting involved a Taliban sympathizer, a personal dispute or a cultural misunderstanding.

Since 2008, there have been 94 insider attacks in Afghanistan, with at least 150 foreign soldiers killed and 187 wounded, according to the Long War Journal blog.

“Cultural misunderstanding?”

WHEN NATIONS NEED TO BREED: 7 signs Japan has become a ‘demographic time bomb.’