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DOROTHY RABINOWITZ: Chuck Hagel’s Defenseless Performance. “No amount of right-wing conspiracies against Mr. Hagel could have done to the former Nebraska senator what his own astoundingly disastrous performance did. One that revealed far more about his lack of capacity for the job, his confusion, than anyone could have predicted—a display not without its saddening aspects.”

LOOKING BACK ON HILLARY’S CAREER AS SECRETARY OF STATE: NOT VERY IMPRESSIVE, REALLY. “American foreign policy under Secretary Clinton has been one disaster after another. She may not deserve blame for all of them — or even most of them — but it defies common sense to call her tenure a success.” Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Reader Dennis Mulcare writes: “When the mass media measures Hilary’s career as Secretary of State in miles traveled, 1,000,000, and the number of countries visited, 120, then you have a major confusion between mere activity and actual accomplishments. Now there is a difference for you.”

MEDICINE: Fecal transplants successful in treating intestinal ailment. “An infusion of feces from a healthy person is much more effective than an antibiotic in treating C. difficile, a recurrent intestinal infection, researchers find.”

FRACKING AND HIGHER EDUCATION:

North Dakota, unlike almost every other state, is poised to make an unprecedented spending increase in its higher education system. The state’s governor has proposed a 14 percent increase — about $90 million — in the 11-campus system’s operating budget for the next biennium, as well as an additional $177 million in one-time capital expenditures. Politicians and education leaders hope an infusion of cash will help transform the system – which has struggled with inconsistent direction and leadership – into one of the country’s best.

The proposal stands out in higher education because most states are still cutting budgets in the wake of the economic downturn, which led to a 25 percent decline in per-student funding between 2006-07 and 2011-12, according to the College Board. At the same time, Republican lawmakers in other states have begun to question the value of state investments in higher education, with some calling for even greater austerity.

The situation in North Dakota couldn’t look any different. The state’s economy did not take any meaningful hit during the economic downturn that began in 2008, so the increases would come on top of decent budget years to start with. Recent developments in natural gas and oil drilling have dramatically transformed the economy of the western portion of the state, generating multibillion-dollar budget surpluses for a state of about 700,000 people. And Republican lawmakers are eager and excited to invest in higher education.

Okay, we know about the oil. But what about the rest?

Higher education leaders and politicians say that while the economic picture is unique to the state, the system would not be seeing an increase in funding had it not been for a concerted effort on the part of the board and system administration to prove that such an investment would be a good move on the part of lawmakers.

And they say their experience holds lessons for public institutions facing lawmakers who are increasingly skeptical about higher education funding. In particular, they said their efforts to provide a detailed road map, meet initial goals, hear and respond to private-sector interests, demonstrate efficient operations, and establish personal relationships with lawmakers all helped build confidence in the system after a period of prolonged skepticism.

The big secret seems to be transparency and accountability. Go figure.

SO NOW THE UTAH COUNTY GOP SAYS that I was never officially invited. Well, I got an email inviting me, which I sure thought was an official invitation. And I’m pretty sure David Kirkham thought he was conveying an official invitation, too. But perhaps there was confusion at their end about what was going on. With my paid speaking gigs there’s generally a contract, but this was, of course, unpaid. And this still remains: “Word got back to me over the weekend that they didn’t want Mr. Reynolds here because he was ‘pro gay’ and that was too controversial for them.” At least the puppy-blending rumors never made it that far. . . .

UPDATE: More here. It doesn’t sound like the problem was confusion. Oh, well.

THE BOY WHO PLAYED WITH FUSION: “A rational society would know what to do with a kid like Taylor Wilson, especially now that America’s technical leadership is slipping and scientific talent increasingly has to be imported. But by the time Taylor was 12, both he and his brother, Joey, who is three years younger and gifted in mathematics, had moved far beyond their school’s (and parents’) ability to meaningfully teach them. Both boys were spending most of their school days on autopilot, their minds wandering away from course work they’d long outgrown.”

Do tell. But read the whole thing.

NEW MARIJUANA LAWS CAUSE CONFUSION: “Laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington state have exposed a wide disconnect between Congress, the administration and voters on an increasingly controversial issue. The newly enacted laws put President Obama in a tricky spot, as evidenced by the Justice Department’s (DOJ) monthlong silence on the matter, despite pleas from lawmakers and the states’ governors for a concrete position.”

WHAT THE LEFT BLOGOSPHERE IS DOING ABOUT THE ASSAULT ON STEPHEN CROWDER: “They’re engaged in a systematic effort to create confusion and discourage mainstream journalists from reporting on the incident.” And they don’t have to be very good at it to achieve their goal, since mainstream journalists are looking for an excuse to ignore it. They never cover violence by lefties when they can avoid it, though they’re happy to report made-up claims of violence involving the right.

A GLOOMY TAKE ON THINGS FROM DAN GIFFORD:

Romney lost because he refused to provide an alternative for fear of being labelled a warmonger, flint-heart or social reactionary. He refused to engage with any of the issues that made this Presidential election so truly momentous. Up against the bullying of the totalitarian left, he ran for cover. He played safe, and as a result only advertised his own weakness and dishonesty. Well, voters can smell inconsistency from a mile away; they call it untrustworthiness, and they are right …
like Britain’s Conservative Party, the Republicans just don’t understand that America and the west are being consumed by a culture war. In their cowardice and moral confusion, they all attempt to appease the enemies within. And from without, the Islamic enemies of civilization stand poised to occupy the void.

Well, I think we’ll get someone different next time.

UPDATE: Oops. It’s from Melanie Phillips. Dan Gifford just emailed it to me. Sorry — insufficient coffee.

ENDING COFFEE CONFUSION with language reform. “Instead of the tall, grande or venti sizes favoured by big-name shops such as Starbucks, customers in Debenhams can now simply ask for a cup or mug.”

THE RETURN OF COLD FUSION? “A new theory may explain the notorious cold fusion experiment from two decades ago, reigniting hopes of a clean-energy breakthrough.”

CONVENIENT NEW REVELATIONS: CIA documents supported Susan Rice’s description of Benghazi attacks. What the CIA reportedly said on September 15: “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”

This certainly makes the CIA look bad, at any rate. But notice how the story tries to turn this White House reliance on a bad report by its own intelligence agency into a Romney “misfire.”

UPDATE: Reader Ed Holston emails: “Sure looks like the CIA documents that supported Susan Rice’s description of Benghazi attacks were revised from and at odds with the CIA’s own sources who were reporting from on the ground in Libya to Langley.” He sends this: CIA report at time of Benghazi attack placed blame on militants, sources say: CIA station chief in Libya reported within 24 hours that there was evidence US consulate attack was not carried out by a mob.

Remember when we were told that an Obama Administration would be marked by competence and good communication?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jim Hicks voices darker suspicions:

That memo raises more serious questions about the cover-up than it answers and does not provide cover for Obama. The information that they supposedly relied on for the memo was an intercept involving an Al Qaida operative. That Al Qaida connection was left out of the memo. More importantly, we know that the CIA knew the day after the attack that it was a terrorist attack and Al Qaida was involved. So why is the administration and CIA circulating the Talking Points memo, which goes to Capitol Hill, on the 15th? This looks more than anything like they were intentional deceiving Congress. Rice/Obama/Ignatius might have had a point if the memo were released on 12th. However, the release of of a memo on the 15th, to Congress, containing assertions everyone in the intelligence community knew to be false, raises the questions of who wrote the memo and who approved it. Obama himself has now claimed he called it a terrorist attack on the 12th. In any event, we know that was the conclusion of the intelligence community on the 12th. So why was he having the CIA lie to Congress on the 15th?

“Lie” is such a harsh word. And there may well have been confusion in the Administration. But they certainly showed no uncertainty or margin for ever in their insistent, and long-running, efforts to blame a YouTube video.

Say, anybody heard from Mr. Nakoula lately?

Related: White House Tries to Write Al Qaeda Out of Libya Story. “If this is the best the Obama administration can offer in its defense, they’re in trouble.”

COLD FUSION, ANYONE: British engineers produce amazing ‘petrol from air’ technology.  If not a hoax, I’m all for it.  It would allow us to stop financing terror.

ELIZABETH BATHORY CALL YOUR PHLEBOTOMIST:Transfusion of young blood could delay onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

HILLARY FALLS ON HER SWORD:  She tells CNN tonight, in an interview from Lima, Peru, “I take responsibility” for the confusion and misstatements after the 9/11 attacks on American installations in the Middle East, including Benghazi.  She insists the President and Vice President are not involved in security decisions.  Seriously????????

UPDATE (from Glenn): David Kirkham emails: “I think Hillary just zeroed out her campaign debt.”

Amazing how cynical they become once they’ve been exposed to politicians.

ANOTHER UPDATE: (From Glenn again): Reader Yolanda McVicker writes: “Well played by Hillary – the President and Vice President are not involved in security decisions. She fell on her sword and impaled them in the same blow. I’m sorry – this is just too funny. She and her husband have the art of politics down – Obama thought he was safe by putting her in a position of power. She showed him that he is a mere babe in the woods. But, this one isn’t over yet.”

ROOTING FOR INJURIES: Bill Maher and Newsweek’s Tina Brown have Twitter tiff over Newsweek “Heaven is Real” cover.

Speaking of which, on Sunday, I linked here at Instapundit to Tina’s latest cover, and the 1966 Time magazine cover that bookended it, which asked, “Is God Dead?” At Power Line, Steve Hayward mentions another Time magazine cover story, this one from 1989, that squares the circle:

As Steve writes, “I went back and read the two Time ‘death’ stories side-by-side, and recognized that since government is, for liberals, the secular substitute for God, these were essentially the same story.”

Heh, indeed.™ Or as Ace writes, regarding the left’s post-debate meltdown:

But it is much, much more the fault of people who pride themselves on being skeptical realists who permitted their minds to run to the magical and to the (frankly, blasphemously) religious.

I hate to defend Obama at all, but I have to say to his Religious Zealot supporters: This is your shit. This is your deeply weird, Great Man on a White Horse worshipping psychological hangup.

One of the most wonderful things which will come with a Romney presidency is that Romney will finally, once again, separate Church and State. The president, finally, will just be a man. Not a perfect man. Not a prefigurement of Jesus. Not a prophet and not a savoir.

Just a man. A good man, and a smart man. But ultimately just a man.

The fusion of religion and politics has in fact been every bit as deleterious as the liberals always warned us.

It’s just that they were the ones who actually fused God and President.

Which dovetails perfectly into the theme of Noemie Emery’s latest column in the Washington Examiner.

CONFUSION: Obama’s Social Security Answer Leaves Democrats Utterly Baffled.

COMPETENCE: Report: Napolitano misled Congress on terrorism ‘fusion’ centers.

“THREE UW PROFESSORS IRKED AT SOME DETAILS OF OBAMA’S RALLY,” and, yeah, I’m one of them. The article is in The Wisconsin State Journal, a traditional newspaper:

Downs was joined by law professor Ann Althouse and political science professor Ken Mayer in raising concerns. Mayer sent a letter outlining four concerns to university administrators on Wednesday. Althouse later shared it with [Instapundit], a conservative-leaning blog run by a Texas law professor.

Texas, Tennessee… what’s the difference? Not much, out here in Wyoming… I mean Wisconsin, where we’re lining up in droves to give our President a big hug after his debate debacle.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): A reader emails:

I read this. Then I thought…well, isn’t this about audience suppression? I mean requiring registration and ID and such?

Rrrraaaccciiisssts!

By the way, I am curious about the rainbow of color at this rally in Madison.

Just sayin’.

Heh. And I love the Tennessee/Texas confusion. In the words of Tex Ritter: “They say that Virginia is the mother of Texas. We never knew who the father was, but we kinda suspected Tennessee.”

POOLS OF WASTE AND CIVIL LIBERTY INTRUSIONS: at the DHS fusion centers.  Between this and the video of Obama channeling Sharpton look for the media to be ultra-protective at the debate and condemn as racist any vague suggestion Romney might make that Obama might be less than competent.  Take that in account as you watch.

 

#NARRATIVEFAIL: Democrats to join call for more information on Libya terrorist attack. “Officials initially attributed the attack to a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam video before labeling the assault an act of terrorism several days later. The administration continues to say the attack was not planned in advance, despite Stevens’s reported concerns that he might have been on al Qaeda hit list and multiple media reports that have called the administration’s account into question. Adding to the confusion, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday appeared to draw a link between the Libya attack and al Qaeda.”

It’s clowns all the way down.

MICHAEL BARONE: Thoughts on night three of the Democratic convention. “Barack Obama went into this convention essentially tied with Mitt Romney. Most voters want to think well of whoever is president but most voters dislike the current economy and disapprove of his economic policies. In these circumstances I thought and think he needs a pivot, an indication of what new goals he would seek in a second term. We didn’t get that at this convention.”

UPDATE: “You know it’s not a good night when you get out-shined by Joe Biden.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ouch:

1. Clint Eastwood’s remarks were more memorable and more effective than President Obama’s. The empty-chair metaphor never seemed so apt as during the Obama drone-a-thon.

2. The press, even liberal commentators, admitted that Obama had bombed. Sure, there were bitter-enders who claimed all was fine, but the cable TV talking heads and the vast majority of columnists were brutally honest. MSNBC personalities were downright glum.

3. Knowing the president has a problem with pro-Israel voters, the Obama campaign made a mess for itself by fiddling with platform language and then allowed the matter to fester for two days. The display of booing and confusion when the language was reinstated may be the most memorable thing about the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Even more surprising, Obama did not mention Jerusalem and gave short shrift to both Israel and Iran in his speech.

More at the link.

#GREENFAIL: Amonix closes North Las Vegas solar plant after 14 months, heavy federal subsidies. “The Amonix plant was highly touted by political leaders and economic development officials when it opened in May 2011. Company executives said they would employ as many as 300 assembly line workers paid $12 to $14 an hour, plus benefits. Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Gov. Brian Sandoval were among the political leaders who lauded the company when it announced it would start making solar panels in the Golden Triangle Industrial Park. . . . Amonix isn’t the only solar company to go under after receiving an infusion of federal capital. California-based Solyndra filed for bankruptcy last year after receiving $535 million in federal loan guarantees from the Obama administration. Colorado-based Abound Solar, which received a $70 million loan guaranteed by the Energy Department, filed for bankruptcy in June.”

HMM: DARPA spent $34 million investigating cold fusion, and excess heat was found.

RESPIROCYTES: Injecting life-saving oxygen into a vein: Microparticles could deliver oxygen when breathing is impaired. “Patients unable to breathe because of acute lung failure or an obstructed airway need another way to get oxygen to their blood—and fast—to avoid cardiac arrest and brain injury. A team led by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital has designed tiny, gas-filled microparticles that can be injected directly into the bloodstream to quickly oxygenate the blood. . . . The microparticles consist of a single layer of lipids (fatty molecules) that surround a tiny pocket of oxygen gas, and are delivered in a liquid solution. In a cover article in the June 27 issue of Science Translational Medicine, John Kheir, MD, of the Department of Cardiology at Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues report that an infusion of these microparticles into animals with low blood oxygen levels restored blood oxygen saturation to near-normal levels, within seconds.” Faster, please.

And this is kind of cool: “We drew each other’s blood, mixed it in a test tube with the microparticles, and watched blue blood turn immediately red, right before our eyes.”

The emergency-medicine applications are dramatic. Here, by the way, is Robert Freitas’ original envisioning. Not quite there yet, but amazingly close.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Liberals Shouldn’t Defend FDR’s Attacks On The Court. “Maybe you like precious schoolchildren lisping loyalty oaths to government programs more than I do. But even so, not this program. The NIRA was based on a lunatic confusion of cause with effect. President Roosevelt had noticed, along with everyone else, that prices were falling and people were being thrown out of work. So he decided that if businesses would just stop lowering those darn prices, everything would be okay. . . . This is like thinking that the way to deal with your drinking problem is to just stop vomiting and blacking out so much. Prices were falling because the banking system had collapsed, which was sucking the money out of the economy like a gigantic national vacuum. Even if the cartels managed to keep prices from falling, people still weren’t going to have enough money to buy the goods they wanted, because their savings accounts were shut down and they couldn’t roll their loans over, and neither could the people who bought their merchandise or wrote their paychecks. With too little money in circulation, fixing prices artificially high would just mean that even more people would be going without necessities. . . . I’m not trying to get liberals to concede that 80 years of Supreme Court jurisprudence were all a hideous mistake. But thinking that the healthcare law should be allowed to stand does not require romanticizing FDR’s conflict with the court, which mostly used bad methods to defend bad laws.”

FASTER, PLEASE: University of Tennessee Professors Take Big Step to Develop Nuclear Fusion Power. “UT researchers have successfully developed a key technology in developing an experimental reactor that can demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy for the power grid. Nuclear fusion promises to supply more energy than the nuclear fission used today but with far fewer risks.”

FASTER, PLEASE: The Big Machine That Could Lead to Fusion-Powered Spaceships.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Global Green Agenda Continues To Fail.

Remember when meetings to debate and negotiate an international carbon treaty were big news? The Copenhagen Summit was hailed as the largest assembly of world leaders ever to gather for one event; when it fizzled in waves of shame and confusion, the green movement was shocked and dismayed.

There was a lot of happy talk, of course. The world remained committed to the treaty, more progress would be made, targets were agreed, blah blah blah.

Then there was the meeting in Cancun: fewer reporters, fewer first rank politicians, fewer hopes. That meeting too ended in disarray on the core issues, and then, too, desperate greens scrambling to maintain some kind of policy relevance tried to spin the meeting as a victory for the “process”. Nobody was paying much attention; the world’s news organizations sharply cut their budgets for green summitry.

By the time there was another meeting, this time in Durban, South Africa, the global green agenda had slithered even farther down the news ladder. Most people simply didn’t notice that diplomats and greens had gathered to discuss The Fate of The World last December. Once again, there was no real progress to report.

Now the latest meeting in this increasingly anti-climactic series has concluded, this time in Bonn. Yet again, much was said and nothing was done — and yet again even fewer reporters and officials paid attention to this increasingly irrelevant bureaucratic mess.

Global Warming was a hothouse flower, a child of the bubble. And, sometimes, sneering is a solution. . . .

SHOCKER: Green energy jobs far short of Obama goal.

President Obama has made much of his commitment to green energy as he launches his re-election bid, but the nascent industry has produced far fewer jobs than the president promised, despite massive, repeated infusions of taxpayer dollars.

Since taking office more than three years ago, Obama has routinely promoted wind, solar and other green energy efforts, touring factories — often the beneficiaries of federal grants — and touting the manufacturers as cutting-edge job producers who are leading America’s transition to energy independence. He had promised in 2008 to help those companies create millions of jobs.

“We can invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources of energy … to create 5 million new jobs, new energy jobs, all across [the] country, jobs that pay well, jobs that can’t be outsourced,” Obama, the candidate, told an Ohio crowd.

But the president has fallen far short of his own mark.

The wind industry has actually lost about 10,000 jobs since 2009, even though it doubled its domestic production, the American Wind Energy Association reports. And Republicans were quick to point out that as Obama blocks the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas, the oil and gas industry has added 75,000 jobs since the start of his term.

Obama spent $90 billion of his stimulus package on green energy projects, including weatherization of buildings and development of electric vehicles. Yet, by the end of last year, just 16,100 people landed new jobs in the so-called green industry, Labor Department statistics show, far short of the 200,000 jobs the White House projected it would help create each year.

It’s like the whole thing was really just about funneling money to cronies and contributors.

THE PRESIDENT’S HIT LIST: The Wall Street Journal notes:

Those are some ugly details that our Kimberley Strassel has been turning up about the effort to smear Mitt Romney’s campaign donors. The dirt-digging exercise reflects the character of President Obama’s re-election campaign, as well as what’s really behind the drive for more “transparency” in political donations.

As Ms. Strassel has reported in recent columns, Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot has become the target of a smear campaign since it was disclosed earlier this year that he had donated $1 million to a super PAC supporting Mr. Romney. President Obama’s campaign website teed him up in April as one of eight “less than reputable” Romney donors and a “bitter foe of the gay rights movement.” One sin: His wife donated to an anti-gay-marriage campaign, of the kind that have passed in 30 or so states.

Now we learn that little more than a week after that Presidential posting, a former Democratic Senate staffer called the courthouse in Mr. VanderSloot’s home town of Idaho Falls seeking his divorce records. Ms. Strassel traced the operative, Michael Wolf, to a Washington, D.C. outfit called Fusion GPS that says it is “a commercial research firm.”

As Doug Ross wrote back in 2010, “Unlike Tricky Dick Nixon, Obama Wears His Enemies List On His Sleeve.”

MORE: Businessman Says He Lost Hundreds of Customers After Attacks by Obama Campaign.

FINE-TUNING NANOTECHNOLOGY TO TARGET CANCER. “The results of the human trials are startling. Even at a lower-than-usual dose, multiple lung metastases shrank or even disappeared after one patient received only two-hour-long intravenUous infusions of an experimental cancer drug. Another patient saw her cervical tumor reduce by nearly 60 percent after six months of treatment. Though the drug trial—by Bind Biosciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts—of an experimental nanotechnology-based technique was designed simply to show whether the technology is safe, the encouraging results revive hopes that nanomedicine could realize its elusive promise.”

Faster, please. Though is it really “elusive promise” when people have only been working on this stuff for a few years?

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: History Repeats: In Europe, They Want Jewish Blood. “When a self-proclaimed jihadist slaughters Jewish schoolchildren in France on account of events in the Middle East, the proper response is collective horror and serious societal soul-searching. Via Meadia highlighted one laudable example of this in the form of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and there have been many more in France. Unfortunately, there are those in France and elsewhere who do not see the Toulouse attack as an anti-Semitic hate crime to be forcefully condemned, but rather as an event to be ‘explained,’ whitewashed or even celebrated. Take Tariq Ramadan, professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University.”

Plus this: “In rage, confusion and hatred, some of these young people may focus on Jews when they lash out, but it will not only be Jews who reap the harvest of dragons’ teeth that Europe in its blindness has so thoughtlessly sown. Europe and France should either have kept the immigrants out or welcomed them in as they prepared a place for them. They did neither, and the payback will hurt.”

WELL, TO BE FAIR, DEMOCRATS IN THE SOUTH HAVE A LONG HISTORY OF VIOLENCE AGAINST PEOPLE OF COLOR: Narrative Interrupted: George Zimmerman a Registered Democrat. Will someone ask Obama about this?

More here: “According to the document, Zimmerman’s race is officially listed as Hispanic.” But there’s this: “It is unclear whether he voted for President Barack Obama in 2008.”

UPDATE: Reader Bert Rollen writes: “Heh, I bet he doesn’t vote for him this year.”

Related: Inconvenient narratives in the Martin case.

Plus: Trademarking Trayvon?

BLOOMBERG: Obama Relies on Debt Collectors Profiting From Student Loan Woe. “With $67 billion of student loans in default, the Education Department is turning to an army of private debt-collection companies to put the squeeze on borrowers. Working on commissions that totaled about $1 billion last year, these government contractors face growing complaints that they are violating federal laws by insisting on stiff payments, even when borrowers’ incomes make them eligible for leniency. . . . In failing health, after contracting hepatitis from a blood transfusion, Campos pleaded with Pioneer, owned by SLM Corp. (SLM), the nation’s largest student-loan company better known as Sallie Mae. He left a $40,000-a-year job at the Massachusetts health department when he got too sick to work and waited for a liver transplant. The 52-year-old former busboy, a naturalized U.S. citizen from El Salvador, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the 1990s from Cambridge College in Massachusetts.”

Occupy the Department of Education! Or, you know, the White House. Just the kind of behavior you’d expect from the administration of President Goldman Sachs! (Bumped).

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Noticed your post regarding student loan providers engaging in hard-headed collection practices. You might want to also consider another feature of student loans that I believe resembles loan-sharking. After graduation, many students consolidate their loans into a single loan. This is because each year a student is in school, a new loan is made. Sometimes there are multiple loans in a single year, due to different kinds of eligibility, etc. This means that a graduating student can often have a half-dozen or more individual loans to manage. Student loan providers helpfully allow consolidation of all these loans into a single loan with a fixed interest rate. Now here’s the rub. Once consolidated, the loans cannot be refinanced and the borrower is locked to the same interest rate no matter how low market rates might go. There have been bills introduced to allow student loan refinancing, but so far the lenders have lobbied heavily against allowing the practice and the bills have failed. This means that a student who borrowed during a period of high rates is locked to those rates, potentially for decades, without any real recourse.

No name on this one. I am in administration now.

A report from the Dark Side!

BLOOMBERG: Obama Relies on Debt Collectors Profiting From Student Loan Woe. “With $67 billion of student loans in default, the Education Department is turning to an army of private debt-collection companies to put the squeeze on borrowers. Working on commissions that totaled about $1 billion last year, these government contractors face growing complaints that they are violating federal laws by insisting on stiff payments, even when borrowers’ incomes make them eligible for leniency. . . . In failing health, after contracting hepatitis from a blood transfusion, Campos pleaded with Pioneer, owned by SLM Corp. (SLM), the nation’s largest student-loan company better known as Sallie Mae. He left a $40,000-a-year job at the Massachusetts health department when he got too sick to work and waited for a liver transplant. The 52-year-old former busboy, a naturalized U.S. citizen from El Salvador, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the 1990s from Cambridge College in Massachusetts.”

Occupy the Department of Education! Or, you know, the White House. Just the kind of behavior you’d expect from the administration of President Goldman Sachs!

DAN MITCHELL: How to Reconcile Liberty, Morality, Conservatism, and Libertarianism with Carney’s Fusionist Theorem.

A NEW WARNING ON STATINS: “It is the first time that the Food and Drug Administration has officially linked statin use with cognitive problems like forgetfulness and confusion, although some patients have reported such problems for years. Among the drugs affected are huge sellers like Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor and Vytorin.”

Try CoEnzyme Q10. In fact, you should probably try it even if you aren’t taking statins.

RICK SANTORUM: Straining the Libertarian-Conservative Alliance?

FASTER, PLEASE: Study: Cardiac stem cells can reverse heart attack damage.

Researchers have used cardiac stem cells to regenerate heart muscle in patients who have suffered heart attacks, also known as myocardial infarction.

The small preliminary study, which was conducted by the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, involved 25 patients who had suffered heart attacks in the previous one and a half to three months.

Seventeen of the study subjects received infusions of stem cells cultured from a raisin-sized chunk of their own heart tissue, which had been removed via catheter. The eight others received standard care.

Did I say “Faster, please?” Why yes, yes I did.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAWYER RON COLEMAN ON SOPA:

 

You don’t need a link to find out what’s going with the SOPA “Blackout,” or all that other stuff. It’s all over the place, beyond those with a special interest in intellectual property.

Real news over an IP issue? Not quite.

Rather, the news and the attention arise from the fact that the threatened power-grab that SOPA represents goes far beyond IP, or “enforcement,” or “brands,” or even “piracy.”

Oh, those are all real things, real concepts. But their meaning has become so distorted in the public and political debate and spin that they get scare-quotes here today. It is precisely by turning piracy into a mission-critical bogey-man that the strong-IP advocates have perhaps, for once, overplayed their hands.

 

Yes, it’s about protecting existing companies from new business models, not piracy. But here’s an easy fix for SOPA: Allow anyone whose site is taken down to recover the greater of either $50,000 or five times actual damages imposed if their site is taken down without good reason, or if they can show bad faith. Given that Big Entertainment was robo-signing complaints a decade ago, that seems a reasonable thing to ask. Also make it a felony to sign a false affidavit in these cases, and allow private prosecution. . . .

Meanwhile, here’s Julian Sanchez on Internet regulation and the economics of piracy.

UPDATE: From reader Max Mulholland, a prediction. Is Obama playing a deep game here?

I am a undergraduate student in mechanical engineering at Missouri S&T and from what I have observed over the last few days is, If SOPA or PIPA are passed by congress and obama vetos them he will most likely get reelected in 2012 by energizing the youth by becoming “the savior of the internet” or something along those lines. It would be reasonable to assume that if he vetoed SOPA or PIPA now to get reelected he would just ram them through in the beginning of his second term.

Interesting. Is he that smart? Regardless, it’s looking as if he’s not going to get the chance. Missouri S&T is a great school, by the way.

SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS: When Lobotomy Was Seen As Advanced. “When used for psychiatric illness, lobotomy was once seen as a huge advance. Dr. Egas Moniz, a Portuguese neurologist who developed the procedure in the 1930s, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1949. Surgeons performed many types of lobotomies, but most involved severing nerves that ran from the frontal lobes to other parts of the brain to disrupt supposedly faulty connections that had developed in schizophrenia or depression. Lobotomies for mental illness fell out of favor in the 1960s because of the development of effective antipsychotic medications, misuse of the procedure and a growing unease among doctors with the confusion and stupor that resulted from the operation. . . . One of the ironies of Dr. Nijensohn’s story, if true, is that another method already existed for treating Perón’s pain: aggressive use of opiates like morphine. Doctors of the era, however, so feared that their cancer patients would become addicted to these drugs that they saw lobotomy as a suitable alternative. Today, our understanding of cancer pain has certainly changed. The liberal use of narcotics, accompanied by other medications to treat side effects, is seen as appropriate, not indicative of untoward behavior by patients.”

UPDATE: Reader Brad Merriman writes: “So when Moniz won the Nobel prize, was the science settled about lobotomies?”

WELCOME TO THE BIG LEAGUES, BUB: The way Americans talk about China can often seem hostile, frustrating, or altogether irreconcilable with the world as a newcomer from China knows it.

Americans have been having this experience while traveling abroad pretty much forever.

MORE PROBLEMS FOR THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION. Really, an agency in need of repair, or replacement. Or abolition.

A ROUNDUP FROM ALAN BOYLE: What’s New On The Fusion Front.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Report: Fed directors benefited from bailouts. “Multiple directors or former directors of the Federal Reserve banks who played a key role in the 2008 bailouts had an apparent conflict of interest, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. These directors had business relationships with companies and banks that received large infusions of government money.”

Of course, when you’re bailing out most everyone in the business, most everyone in the business will have a bailout-related conflict.

CHANGE: Prostate Test Finding Leaves a Swirl of Confusion.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD DEFENDS OBAMA against charges that the President is an “assassin.” But Mead also observes:

The President has created some of the confusion in our debate. Frequently during the campaign, sometimes even in office, he has spoken as if he is the head of a criminal investigation team. When it comes to actual decisions, however, he acts like a military leader at war. Greenwald and Paul appear to believe that he is a policeman and needs to start acting more like one; I believe he is a war leader and needs to start talking more like one.

An odd omission for such a famous communicator.

UPDATE: Brian Dunn on responsibility to protect.

THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEKEND, if you were off, you know, having a life or something:

Erdogan, Egypt, and Food.

Thoughts on electronic publishing.

I propose more tax increases, and solicit reader suggestions.

“Green Jobs” and magical thinking.

Bill Quick unimpressed with the “Buffett Tax.” ““Is that it? Is that all you got left? Another freaking tax on rich people? Do you have any idea just how pathetic you’ve become? This sort of crap won’t even motivate your base any more.”

Is the Obama White House a hostile workplace for women? Or is that just the grumbling of affirmative-action babies?

Taxes, deficits, and the war on the young.

Bill Whittle: What We Did Right.

“Oh, what a huckster that John Edwards was!”

Getcher hyperinflation currency now!

Thoughts on Jon Huntsman. No, really, someone has thoughts on Jon Huntsman!

“So now it turns out that the Obama White House was warned privately in no uncertain terms last January against a fresh infusion of taxpayer cash to financially beleaguered Solyndra.”

The press and Obama: A disastrous love affair.

Lightsquared: Lawmakers Question White House Role In Wireless Project.

A Twitter Disaster.

On Mississippi and bigotry.

OBAMA PLAYS SECOND FIDDLE.

At some level it is comical. We have a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, have spent trillions (between the Bush and Obama administrations) in stimulus money, have near-zero interest rates, and he wants to spend another $300 billion in money we don’t have to “create” jobs.

In a real sense he comes across as less on top of it than either of the two GOP front-runners. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Mitt Romney both have a coherent vision (pretty much the same one, actually): Lower taxes, reduce spending, lighten regulation, open up trade and encourage rather than bash the private sector.

By contrast, the defining characteristic of Obama’s approach is now confusion. What he has tried hasn’t worked, so he’ll do more of the same? . . . He’s not really fooling anyone. This is a political speech intended to lay the foundation for “Congress won’t cooperate with me” excuse- mongering. But frankly, the public doesn’t want more boondoggle spending either. They have lost confidence in his ability to manage the economy, and telling us his hands are tied by those ornery Republicans is hardly going to boost confidence that he can get things done.

Indeed.

HEY, HERE’S AN IDEA — WHY NOT TRY DUE PROCESS INSTEAD? New Scrutiny for Sex Assault Cases.

As the U.S. Education Department is aggressively reinforcing colleges’ legal obligations to address allegations of sexual assault — and making examples of those that don’t — a federal jury on Friday found a university negligent for how it treated someone accused by a fellow student of rape.

The verdict will likely be mulled over at colleges across the country, where judicial hearings for alleged sexual assaults are the norm – and where confusion and a lack of guidance over how such hearings should transpire often result in the mishandling of cases, experts say. However, these discussions tend to focus on the rights of the accuser, rather than the alleged perpetrator.

Well, that focus is by design, of course. It’s just not, you know, constitutional.

STEVEN HAYWARD:

Now, as to mike259259’s second point that conservatives are anti-science, well, at least two things come to mind. Which ideology is it that throws a hissy fit over genetically modified organisms and childhood vaccinations? Or files lawsuits to stop de-listings of recovered species (like the gray wolf) even after the government’s science advisory bodies say “the science” says they should be de-listed? Who’s not respecting science now?

But rather than stopping with the simple observation that ideology or politics drives acceptance or rejection of certain domains of science, it is worth pressing on to ask why liberals dislike some kind of science, and conservatives other kinds.

Indeed.

FASTER, PLEASE: “Terrapower, a startup funded in part by Nathan Myhrvold and Bill Gates, is moving closer to building a new type of nuclear reactor called a traveling wave reactor that runs on an abundant form of uranium. The company sees it as a possible alternative to fusion reactors, which are also valued for their potential to produce power from a nearly inexhaustible source of fuel.”

JANET DALEY: Media Pile-On On Murdoch Is About Eliminating An Ideological And Commercial Rival. Well, yes. “This has gone way, way beyond phone hacking. It is now about payback. Gordon Brown’s surreal effusion in the House last week may have made it embarrassingly explicit, but the odour of vengeance has been detectable from the start: not just from politicians who have suffered the disfavour of Murdoch’s papers, or the trade unions (and their political allies) who have never forgiven him for Wapping, but from that great edifice of self-regarding, mutually affirming soft-Left orthodoxy which determines the limits of acceptable public discourse – of which the BBC is the indispensable spiritual centre. . . . . But the power of the BBC – and its historical hatred for the ‘Murdoch empire’ – is just one aspect of a larger battle which has now leapt across the Atlantic, where the target is not newspapers which can be legitimately charged with having committed unconscionable acts, but Fox News. Its offence is to have filled such a huge gap in the market for television news and current affairs that it has swept all before it. Its raucous Right-wing orientation is, in fact, matched by an equally raucous Left-wing equivalent in the cable news channel MSNBC, so why should anyone who believes in open and free debate among news providers object to this?” It’s about ensuring the absence of alternate power centers.

UPDATE: British reader James Spiller writes:

I was glad to see you linking to a rare article that mentions how ridiculous the BBC makes the fear of “too much media power being concentrated in one man” seem. It’s partly that, unlike Murdoch’s ill-fated proposed TV channel ownership, the BBC is an overt monopoly in the UK. It is not just that their many TV and radio channels dominate the mediums, but also that there is a legal compulsion to purchase their services if you purchase the services, or own equipment that allows you to purchase the services, of any of its rivals. Ma Bell had it good, but Independent Telephone Company customers did not have to buy them, too. Standard Oil did OK, but filling your tank with Gulf or Texaco gas didn’t enrich the Rockefellers.

Worse than merely being a uniquely powerful commercial monopoly in the western world, the BBC serially abuses its monopoly in ways that Murdoch would never dream of. All advertising on UK BBC channels, from the lowliest micro targeted local radio station to the flagship television channels and websites. By removing all commercial advertising, they enhance the power of their cross media subsidization. Charity events that get employees to work for their monopoly employer for free would be a caricature of abuse in any other sector, but is a mainstay of BBC success.

News International’s three newspapers operated in a fiercely ideologically competitive market and did not cooperate with each other. For instance, in the 1997 election, the Sunday Times supported John Major, the Sun switched to support Tony Blair 6 weeks before the election, and the News of the World supported Blair throughout. The Times leaned slightly towards Major, but was more neutral than the Sunday Times. Rivals of News International dominated the market and supported a variety of positions allowing people of most political persuasions and cultural leanings represented in the UK to buy a newspaper that supported them. In contrast, the BBC monolithically supported Blair, and the relatively minor rival television channels offered only fairly similar perspectives (although Channel 4 news could sometimes be a little more centrist; sort of a WaPo to the BBC’s NYT). There is no dimension of monopoly power that Murdoch held that could have rivaled the BBC’s, and no aspect of abuse that he could have stooped to without the BBC having gone well beyond him.

Even if we have to have our entertainment and news being dominated by a state owned entity whose fees are collected by mandate rather than by attracting customers, there’s no reason that the BBC should not be split up and have the license fee allocated to a variety of different state owned companies. If there is one good thing that has come out of this, it may be that the excited words of Murdoch haters may come back to form a key support for radical reform of the BBC.

One can hope.

DEBATING THE RIGHT TO TAKE PICTURES AT SECURITY CHECKPOINTS.

Just note Morgan Manning’s piece on photographers’ rights. And reader Doug Levene comments:

The confusion seems to arise from the determination by various police agencies to prevent anyone from taking pictures of their little empires.

The writer doesn’t mention this in her article, but if you fly into JFK on an international flight, there are signs everywhere prohibiting photography – and the use of cell phones since they might have cameras in them – in the customs/immigration area, including the booths where the customs officers are and at the baggage carousels. To add insult to injury, while you wait for your bags, officious officials wander around telling people to turn off and put away their cell phones. So this is the first introduction that foreign visitors get to the Land of the Free. I cannot imagine what public purpose this ban serves.

Well, it might make it harder to take photos when celebrities get special treatment.

INSIDE the world’s largest fusion reactor.

PHIL BOWERMASTER ON AVOIDING DOUBLESPEAK: “I bought a new plan for my mobile phone earlier today and had an interesting conversation with the customer service rep about what the word “unlimited” means on my unlimited data plan. (I’m still not 100% sure.) The thing is, this is not something there should ever be any confusion about.”

A LOOK AT PROGRESS ON FUSION POWER.

RON COLEMAN ON THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ANGLE to that iPhone-crippling story.

LAST NIGHT, a reader asked me if Frank Herbert’s Bureau of Sabotage was behind the Weinergate incident. I replied that with politicians, it’s mostly self-sabotage, making BuSab superfluous.

This observation is true from a policy standpoint too, and here’s the latest example: Environmental tax threatens green energy research in UK: Carbon reduction commitment (CRC) scheme has ‘perverse effect’ of threatening zero-carbon energy research.

World-class research into future sources of green energy is under threat in Britain from an environmental tax designed to boost energy efficiency and drive down carbon emissions, scientists claim.

Some facilities must find hundreds of thousands of pounds to settle green tax bills, putting jobs and research at risk.

The unexpected impact of the government’s carbon reduction commitment (CRC) scheme is so severe that scientists and research funders have lobbied ministers for an exemption to reduce the bills.

Among the worst hit is the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, a facility for research into almost limitless carbon-free energy. The lab faces an estimated £400,000 payment next year, raising the spectre of job losses and operational cuts. “Considering our research is aimed at producing zero-carbon energy, it seems ironic and perverse to clobber us with an extra bill,” a senior scientist at the lab said. “We have to use electricity to run the machine and there is no way of getting around that.”

Perverse, indeed. All part of the Knowledge Problem, of course.

READER DAVID DUFTY WRITES: “Once again, your guest bloggers did a sterling job of blogging in the ‘instapundit’ style. Not only did they do short, snappy posts just as you do, but they even emulated your spread of subject matter, updating us on insta-favorites such as robots, fusion research, the higher education bubble, and even wonkish constitutional issues. They became you. Perhaps ‘instapundit’ will outlast you, in spirit as well as name.”

Hmm. Not anytime soon, I hope! But as I mentioned before, InstaPundit was originally meant to be a group blog. Every once in a while I consider giving that a try again.

FUSION GOES FORWARD FROM THE FRINGE:

A Navy-funded effort to harness nuclear fusion power reports that its unconventional plasma device is operating as designed and generating “positive results” more than halfway through the project.

The latest quarterly update from EMC2 Fusion Development Corp. comes amid other signs that seemingly oddball approaches to fusion research may not be all that oddball after all. Just last week, General Fusion announced that Amazon.com’s billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos, was part of a $19.5 million investment round to further the company’s plan to take advantage of a technology called magnetized target fusion. Another billionaire, Paul Allen, is an investor in Tri Alpha Energy, which is working on its own hush-hush fusion project (and occasionally publishing its research).

EMC2 Fusion doesn’t have tens of millions of venture capital to play with — but it does have a $7.9 million Navy contract to test a plasma technology known as inertial electrostatic confinement fusion, also known as Polywell fusion. The idea is to accelerate positively charged ions in an electrical cage to such an extent that they occasionally spark a fusion reaction, releasing energy and neutrons. The concept was pioneered by the late physicist Robert Bussard, and carried forward by the EMC2 Fusion team in Santa Fe, N.M.

Faster, please, to coin a phrase.

MESSAGING FAIL: WaPo: White House Goes Silent On Bin Laden Raid.

Related: In Bin Laden Victory, Echoes Of The Bush Years. Yeah, their messaging was bad, too.

UPDATE: You can’t keep track of the changing stories without a scorecard.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Associated Press: Only 1 killed in bin Laden raid was armed.

MORE: Tariq Ramadan: Changing Osama stories ‘bizarre’.

I heard what the president, Barack Obama, was saying, that they wanted to bring him to justice. And then all these different versions and just very bizarre and weird that we don’t get a straightforward version of what happened.

And look at what is happening now in the Muslim majority countries, is that all the people are asking questions. It’s very strange and that we drop his body in the sea, against all the Islamic rituals and we are told the Islamic rituals and principles are respected.

Not ready for prime time.

BRIDGE TO FUSION? Four Advanced Nuclear Fission Technologies.

CHARLIE MARTIN: Understanding Radiation. “Since we’re not faced with thinking about radioactivity in daily life, the units and methods of measuring radioactivity aren’t part of daily life either, not like weight and temperature are. As a result, many people get confused about them. The worst confusion, in fact, seems to be among people who are reporting about radioactivity and radiation in the media.”

JAPAN TIMES: The Mobile Internet Is A Lifeline For People In Post-Quake Confusion.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE JAPANESE NUCLEAR SITUATION? Not that much. Which is why I’m not doing much with it — the reports are conflicting, and often third- fourth- or fifth-hand. It’s mostly buzz and confusion. Much of what’s going on is, literally, incalculable.

Meanwhile, now it’s a volcano? That seems kind of unfair. . . .

CLAIRE BERLINSKI on food confusion.

FASTER, PLEASE: Compact Fusion Experiment Demonstrates Confinement of 100 keV (Billion-Degree) Ions in Dense Plasma.

SOUTHERN LEE HIGH SCHOOL IN SANFORD NORTH CAROLINA should be closed. Its principal, and board of education, are too dumb to hold jobs. And its Superintendent, Jeffrey C. Moss, is no poster boy for Ed.D. degrees.

“Bottom line is we want to ensure every child feels safe on our campus.” Not safe from idiots like you, Mr. Moss. Because you’re unwilling to take responsibility for discipline, you formulate and enforce rules that make public schools — and now, particularly, yours — a national joke. From the comments: “Let’s have the students feel safe. How about letting them feel like their entire lives and livelihood aren’t at risk at your institution from an honest mistake. You are ruining this child’s life and future because some bonehead can’t recognize an honest mistake.”

It’s beginning to seem like placing your children in public schools is placing them at unacceptable risk.

UPDATE: Reader Gregg Hanke writes: “There is a cure: vouchers. Yes, they have been shot down in numerous elections, and I am disappointed the Tea Partiers have not pushed them yet. But perhaps the reason they were shot down is because they were promoted before the situation was ripe enough for the voters to accept them. And this situation over a paring knife is certainly ripe.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Tim Wohlford sends this, which he says is a reply from the school system:

The facts recited by the media are erroneous and without foundation.

On October 20, 2010, a faculty member at Southern Lee High School discovered a student on campus with marijuana. Based upon information obtained in the interview between school administration and the student in question, a search of several other students, including Miss Smithwick, was promptly conducted. During this search, a 3-inch paring knife was found on the person of Miss Smithwick in her purse. The knife was not found in Miss Smithwick’s lunchbox as reported by her family and the media.

Miss Smithwick has not been long-term suspended from Southern Lee High School. She is currently enrolled as a student at the school. Over two months after the event it is a mystery to us that the Smithwick’s concerns were not brought to our attention by the family through normal appeal procedures prior to going to the press.

Hmm. Well, if this is true, then the news story was wrong on some particulars. But it quotes the school superintendent. Stay tuned.

MORE: Reader John Torbett writes:

The school district’s response shows how clueless they are. Apparently, their primary defense is that the pairing knife was found in Smithwick’s purse. However, follow your link to the WRAL website and click on the second photograph and you can see that she had a lunch bag that looks like a purse. It isn’t a traditional metal lunchbox like a construction worker might carry, but it is still a lunchbox. As is usually the case, it seems that the school district is coming up with lame excuses. If your reader is correct and that is their defense, I hope someone calls them on it.

We’ll see, won’t we?

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ATTACK ON FOR-PROFIT SCHOOLS meets “extraordinary bipartisan opposition” in Congress. I think that whatever scrutiny is applied to employment of graduates should be applied to all schools, whether for-profit or traditional.

UPDATE: Reader Tony Benvin writes:

In your post regarding applying like standards to the examination of for-profit v non-profit schools you would do your readers a favor to distinguish the difference. As a person in the financial services industry I find that a large number of people believe that non-profits must literally not make a profit; they are not aware of the fact that a non-profit is nothing more than a for-profit corporation without stockholders.

Non-profits never make that distinction because the public confusion of non-profits with public charities (which, of course, are decidedly different) works to the non-profit fund-raising advantage. For many people there is no apparent difference between a donation to an Ivy league school’s foundation which charges $50,000/year in tuition and a donation to the Salvation Army which provides social services without charge.

Yes, many “nonprofits” simply pay big salaries to insiders in place of dividends to shareholders. In a related note, several readers have suggested that we eliminate nonprofit tax status for universities and regulate them according to the same standards as publicly traded corporations. Transparency!

FUSION PLASMOID space propulsion.

FIRST NISSAN LEAF DELIVERED IN SAN FRANCISCO, but what’s up with the next batches? “A glance at the My Nissan Leaf discussion forum shows that there is a lot of confusion over when the bulk of the vehicles will actually be delivered.” As I mentioned before, I signed up early and I’ve been very disappointed with what I’ve been hearing — or not hearing — from Nissan.

RON BAILEY: Clouds And Climate Confusion.

PROF. JACOBSON: Empowering The Jeopardized.

UPDATE: Oops. That wasn’t Jacobson, but his co-blogger, Kathleen McCaffrey. The dreaded co-blogger confusion strikes again!

FASTER, PLEASE: Scientists turn skin into blood. “In an important breakthrough, scientists at McMaster University have discovered how to make human blood from adult human skin. The discovery, published in the prestigious science journal Nature today, could mean that in the foreseeable future people needing blood for surgery, cancer treatment or treatment of other blood conditions like anemia will be able to have blood created from a patch of their own skin to provide transfusions. Clinical trials could begin as soon as 2012.”

THE DON DRAPER PRESIDENCY?

Peggy Noonan: “Not knowing how to feel humility or therefore show humility he decided to announce humility.”

It reminded me of Heather Havrilesky: “The move is classic Don Draper. He announces abruptly that he has evolved — instead of actually evolving.”

Plus, this conclusion from Noonan:

Here is an old tradition badly in need of return: You have to earn your way into politics. You should go have a life, build a string of accomplishments, then enter public service. And you need actual talent: You have to be able to bring people in and along. You can’t just bully them, you can’t just assert and taunt, you have to be able to persuade.

Americans don’t want, as their representatives, people who seem empty or crazy. They’ll vote no on that.

Indeed. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Numerous readers are still blaming Noonan for her earlier Obamamania. Reader Barry Dauphin writes: “So why did she fall all over him two years ago? He had even fewer accomplishments then.”

Like Draper, he can be seductive on short exposure. And reader Lawrence Loretoni writes:

I’m glad to see that Ms. Noonan’s eyes seem to be open at last. But she, like so many other Republican “moderates,” spent several months in 2008 lecturing the rest of us lower-class knuckle draggers about how Obama’s “superior temperament” and other star qualities made him a better choice than McCain for President. It would be nice if at least one of these pundits had the common decency to admit they were wrong. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Dodd Harris says the comparison is unfair — to Don Draper:

I don’t think that analogy is entirely fair – to Don Draper. This last season was about the harrowing of Don Draper, just as this political season was the harrowing of Obama. But Don at least *experienced* it before not really changing. He was tortured, pushed to his limits, and forced to at least acknowledge his past failures. In the end, he chose the easy fix, but he at least plumbed the depths of his own manufactured past before doing so.

I’ve seen no sign Obama has done any of that. He’s still blaming everyone but himself.

Well, that’s the difference between real life and fiction, I guess . . . .

MORE: The Anchoress emails:

That Don Draper/ Obama comparison was brilliantly insightful. It squares well with this piece by Santiago Ramos who examines the shallow emptiness that is being revealed in Draper, and his confusion, but it also rings with Hiawatha Bray’s comments at the bottom of the piece. Bray mentions that Draper is bothered by women who are actual adults…I would argue that Obama too is bothered by adults…he wants the voters to be childlike, chanting three-word catchphrases and buying the product. he does not want adults who actually question, dare to oppose or wish to peer below the surface. Don Draper, indeed. A grad student could write a thesis on it!

And probably will!

DISPELLING THE CONFUSION: The Official Map of Non-Monogamy.

PETER SUDERMAN: “The Obama administration is playing a game of opposite limbo with the federal budget: When it comes to deficit spending, its operative question seems to be ‘How high can you go?'”

Well, you can go pretty far, until you become Britain. “Chancellor George Osborne has unveiled the biggest UK spending cuts for decades, with welfare, councils and police budgets all hit. The pension age will rise sooner than expected, some incapacity benefits will be time limited and other money clawed back through changes to tax credits and housing benefit.”

Why? Because socialism has left them broke. Ace’s econ-blogger Monty says that this is our future, unless we wind up with riots like France, too. Well, it certainly is if greedy pols continue their loot-the-treasury policies. We’ll see if November’s elections put the brakes on that.

As Tea-Partier Moe Tucker says: “No country can provide all things for all citizens. There comes a point where it just isn’t possible, and it’s proven to be a failure everywhere it’s been tried.”

Right on, Moe.

UPDATE: Co-blogger confusion at Ace corrected. Sorry!

CLEARING UP CONFUSION: Sen. Bob Corker Denies Obamacare Reports. I emailed his office last night and got a direct denial — Corker absolutely intends to seek the repeal of ObamaCare, they say.

More here: Senator Corker denies allegations he told group of donors Senate Republicans would not repeal Obamacare.

It seems like a no-brainer to me. Yeah, Obama would probably veto a repeal — but forcing Obama to veto a repeal of his highly unpopular initiative would be good 2012 politics, carrying the issue past the 2010 elections.

HEREDITARY BLOOD DISORDER CURED WITH GENE THERAPY. “A 21-year-old Frenchman is the first person in the world to be cured of the blood disorder beta-thalassaemia through gene therapy. But there is some confusion over what made the treatment work.”

TEST-DRIVING Lincoln’s Luxury Hybrid. “A smart buyer will see right through the chrome and realize that the MKZ Hybrid is little more than a dressed up Ford Fusion Hybrid with better seats. Of course, something similar could be said of the Lexus HS250h and the Toyota Prius.”

PUBLIC PENSIONS: A Tsunami Approaches: The Beginning of the Great Deconstruction.

At the state and local level, the Great Deconstruction has already begun albeit delayed by an infusion of federal stimulus dollars and grants in 2009 and 2010. The federal government must deconstruct as well. It must happen, if only because the revenue is no longer there to sustain all of these often well-intentioned programs. The federal government will not be immune from fiscal reality.

In this sense, the election in November will be a referendum on the very sustainability of our system of government. One party will continue to borrow and spend in order to maintain the 500 agencies in California and the abundance of federal programs. They have not said how long they will be able to borrow money to sustain their system. The other party will try to simply turn off the spigot – now. Either way, one day the money will run out and the inevitable deconstruction will occur.

Read the whole thing. And happy Labor Day!

DAVE KOPEL: Obama Is Too A Christian. “Coulter is accurate in calling Jeremiah Wright ‘a racist nut.’ However, that does not prove that Wright (and by extension Obama, to whatever extent Obama believes in Wright’s theology) is not a Christian. Some practitioners of ‘liberation theology’ (including the black liberation theology variant) may simply be Marxists looking for some broadly-appealing rhetoric to add to their political program. Other practitioners, however, may be sincerely and otherwise-orthodox Christians who truly believe in both Christianity and Marxism, and in the liberation theology fusion of the two. . . . Similarly, I would suggest that many of the pastors in slave states in antebellum America who taught that slavery was legitimate because of the slaves’ inherent racial inferiority were also sincere Christians, albeit grossly mistaken in their teachings on this matter.”

And — to take things beyond the Obama question — on a similar moral plane. In fact, if you look at a Marxist Utopia — say, Cuba — what you’ll see is basically a plantation. At the top, you’ve got the Massa and his family — Fidel, Raul, et al. — followed by various layers of overseers — the Communist Party apparat, the secret police — and House Negroes — e.g., the state-controlled media — all living off the surplus labor of the Field Negroes, whose produce is disposed of not according to their own desires (that would be capitalism!) but according to their betters’. This, we’re told, is for the best, since they aren’t smart enough to make their own decisions anyway, and the Massa looks after them with food, housing, and health care. Slaveholders even defended their system as more humane and less exploitative than atomistic capitalism, conveniently ignoring the role of the lash, just as apologists for Marxism conveniently ignore the role of the gulag.

ANN ALTHOUSE ON AVASTIN: “There are death panels. They don’t want to be seen as death panels, because to be seen as death panels will undermine their relentless, bureaucratic work. So see them.” And name names, which, as I’ve noted before, undercuts the diffusion of responsibility that bureaucrats prefer. In this case, some names are Wyndham Wilson, the chair of the committee, and Richard Pazdur, the FDA’s cancer chief. Also committee members Natalie Compagni Portis, and Jean Grem, both quoted here.

And, as Mickey Kaus reminds us, this is all part of the ObamaCare cost-containment plan. The man behind that is named Barack Obama.

DOUG MATACONIS: “You heard it here first, the GOP will not gain control of Congress in 2010.”

UPDATE: Sorry, I had the dreaded co-blogger confusion. It was Mataconis, not James Joyner as I had originally here.

RAZORBLOGGING: Okay, I shave with a Fusion — actually, with Fusion blades in a fancy handle from The Art Of Shaving — but now there’s the Fusion ProGlide. Is it better? Or just a gimmick?

UPDATE: Charlie Martin emails in favor of the ProGlide: “I’ve been using one for a couple of weeks, and I’ve got to say it’s pretty durn good. They’re not joking about the ‘gliding’ feel, even with my beard, which has the consistency roughly of the copper wire in a lamp cord.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: As always on this subject, the email pours in. A reader emails:

I’ve been using the Fusion Proglide Power for about a month now. While it doesn’t give me the shave my Sensor did before Gillette went with the awful “Comfort” blade (stupid Germanic ancestor facial hair (glad the ancestors got out of there though)), the blades give me a consistent shave longer than the original Fusion I had before, at least so far.

The power option so far seems to be about the same as the original Fusion Power, somewhat unneeded, but the Glide’s power button had a popular shade of blue illumination.

The Fusion Hydra Gel shaving gel (ultra sensitive) is a big step forward for Gillette, though. Rather than Alien Movie Egg Internal Green Slime colored like the previous Gillette gels I’ve tried, it is now blue, which at least for me is a lot easier to look at first thing in the morning.

Reader Merv Benson writes:

I have been alternating between the Schick Hydro 5 and the Pro Glide Power. I give a slight edge to the Schick although the Pro Glide comes pretty close if you use the special Gillette Hydro shave gel. The Pro Glide does have a much simpler trimmer application.

Reader Jay Johnson emails:

I shave my face and my whole head every day. I am on the cusp of reverting all the way back to the old double-edged razors. In the interim, I have abandoned completely the Fusion series of blades. I think they do not last an adequate amount of time, and they do a poor job of removing the shaved hairs from the cartridge, because there are too damn many blades in the thing.

Combined with the fact that they’re obscenely expensive and not that good, I have now reverted back (not a possibility of reverter) the 2 blade Gillette Sensor series. I find that the shave is excellent, the blades are reasonably cheap, and I’m not succumbing to slick advertising.

I also use Proraso shaving cream. That’s the kicker for me. It’s the absolutely best thing to lather on before running a razor across your face. You can get the private labelled “C.O. Bigelow” stuff in the tubes at Bath & Body Works.

Steve Adkins emails:

have been a fan of your site for some time, and I enjoy when you occasionally detour from politics into other subjects.

I use a Fusion razor and one of my greatest irritants is buying new blades. I turned to the internet for a solution to my problem. After a short search, I found a youtube video of a man explaining how he extended the life of his blades by simply swiping the razor(about 40 repetitions) in the opposite direction on some denim fabric after he was finished shaving. He used the pant leg from an old pair of jeans for this purpose.

I thought it was too good to be true, but worth a shot. On 9/1/10, I will reach the one-year mark with my current cartridge. I am amazed. This was certainly not my idea, but I felt compelled to pass it on to you.

That’s amazing. Reader David Himrich emails:

I shave with the King of Shaves Razor:

I found that the Fusion blades plugged up on me. This King of Shaves razor seems to clean out better and maybe that is why it seems to last longer. I use King of Shaves gel, too.

I’ve never heard of that one. Not too expensive, anyway. And, from a particularly brave reader, we get this:

I agree the modern safety blades are very good, but I have to say I’m a straight razor man myself. It takes time to get the knack (you’re lightly scraping, not slicing your beard), but it’s well worth it. I find it easier on the skin, it’s a better shave and you get cred with your woman for manliness. Besides, I won’t be sending Gillette any money since good straight razor lasts a lifetime. It also doesn’t hurt that cakes of shaving soap go for about a dollar.

Braver than me. And, of course, it’s another case of life imitating The Onion.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader David Wheeler emails:

I am a long time reader of Instapundit and always enjoy your product discussions. I think those of you using blades to shave with are missing a great experience in shaving. I use a Panasonic Pro-curve wet/dry electric razor with English shave cream applied with a brush (this is important), not an aerosol. The quality of the shave cream alone might be enough to make the difference, but combined with the incredibly close shave delivered by the Panasonic with absolutely NO nicks is a wonderful experience. The shave cream provides lubrication and wetting for the whiskers, prevents razor burn so common with electrics and leaves your face feeling truly great after a shave. I have a fairly heavy beard and need to shave every day, so the comfort factor is important. You have to try it to understand and it is an investment, but well worth it in my opinion.

Hmm.

FINALLY: Beware of what Mickey Kaus calls the Gillette cycle of despair. “Why do Gillette’s fancy razors seem to work so well when they are introduced, then gradually get worse and worse until a new, fancier razor is introduced? . . . My sneaking, completely unproven suspicion, of course, is that the seeming improvement with each newer, fancier, priceier razor has little to do with all the various innovations Gillette advertises (e.g., two blades, three blades, five blades, a “snow plow guard” that prevents hydroplaning, etc.) and a whole lot to do with the quality of the steel that’s used in the blades. The investigative mission, should you decide to accept it, would be to somehow prove that Gillette uses high-quality steel when it introduces a new razor, and then gradually lets the blade quality get degraded, saving the company money until it introduces the next innovative shaving system (the main innovation being that it uses the high quality steel again).” (Thanks to reader Joes Leopold for reminding me of this).

SOME fusion power news.

SUING BLOGGERS: This seems like a poor business plan to me. On the other hand, if your real goal is to silence the blogosphere . . . .

UPDATE: Reader Joseph Dorsett writes:

The main way that Righthaven can be finding these blogs is through analyzing traffic sources. The solution for that is to not use any media generated by Stephens Media. No links at all. No links to AP generated content either. There is so much material on the web that there is no need to link (and send traffic) to any organization inimical to the blogosphere.

Clearly these people have no idea on how consumers find their website and how traffic affects their ad revenue. As circulation of Dead Tree News declines it will be interesting to see if rags like The Review-Journal survive by biting the hand that feeds it.

Yeah, don’t look for me to send ’em much traffic in the future.

UPDATE: Some thoughts from copyright lawyer Ron Coleman.

IS THE KAGAN NOMINATION OBAMA’S WAY TO “advance the cause of the closet?”

UPDATE: A Brief History of Andrew Sullivan’s Confusion Over The Politics of The Closet.

MILEAGE: Ford Fusion Hybrid pays off quickest.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Unemployment challenges Obama’s economic narrative. “Even as he touts his efforts to put more Americans to work, President Barack Obama faces a public increasingly skeptical of his ability to bring jobs back to Main Street. . . . That’s a far different reality than what the administration predicted last year, when Obama rallied support for the $787 billion economic stimulus package. At the time, the White House said the massive infusion of taxpayer funds would keep the unemployment rate from topping 8 percent, though the administration later revised those estimates, saying the recession proved to be worse than it expected.”

HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF, THIS TIME AS FARCE: Read this Virginia Postrel piece from 1995 and compare it to the latest “narrative” being peddled in Washington. Excerpt:

I wrote that in April 1990. In April 1995, it would have gotten me declared an enemy of the state, an inciter of violence, and for all intents and purposes the murderer of babies.

Which, in the eyes of E. J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Bill Clinton of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I apparently am. After all, in REASON’s May issue, which subscribers received in early April, I suggested that Americans are rightly afraid of government power, and I criticized Washingtonians for being too cool to use the word tyranny in polite conversation.

Back then, it was gauche to point out that Washington rules by force–that lawmakers’ symbolic gestures, from drug laws to wetlands regulations to the Americans with Disabilities Act, are enforced by government agents backed by guns. It was gauche to suggest that many government actions are unjust. It was gauche to tell Washington that the rage of the powerless was building in the land.

Now it’s not just gauche, it’s criminal. It makes you a terrorist, guilty by association. . . . Many commentators have noted that Clinton can’t tell the difference between talking and acting. They mean that he substitutes words for deeds, especially in foreign policy, and is shocked when his yammering has no effect.

In the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, we have seen a different side of that confusion–the deliberate conflation of his opponents’ words with the deadly deeds of a handful of vicious, isolated individuals. Using tactics that would make Joe McCarthy sit up and take notes, Bill Clinton has sought to intimidate critics of government policy by branding them as terrorists.

Dionne, of course, was a reliable narrative-peddling tool then, as now, and Bill Clinton was, well, just a tool. Then as now. But read the whole thing. Some background here.

MORE “RUBES” SELF-IDENTIFY: Press, shut out of nuclear summit, unhappy.

Related: Obama attends non-existent soccer game? He was probably sneaking out to meet with Israelis about bombing Iran, or Iranians about Israel, or something. But Tom Maguire is skeptical.

Plus, from Ed Driscoll, confusion.

GENDER CONFUSION AT THE DCCC. I’ve met Dana Rohrabacher and he’s definitely not a she.

ALAN BOYLE REPORTS ON the latest in fusion’s ups and downs.

CHEMISTS WARMING to Cold Fusion.