Thursday, December 8, 2016

(12:52 PM)

I THINK WE SHOULD RETURN TO THE PRE-KENNEDY RULE AGAINST UNIONIZATION FOR FEDERAL EMPLOYEES: Federal government workers union is ready to “fight back” against Trump.

(12:50 PM)


Trump hasn't said much about homelessness—and that's making a lot of people nervous

— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) December 8, 2016

As Glenn noted years ago, the mainstream media only makes an issue out of homelessness when a Republican is in the White House.

(12:35 PM)

NEWS-READING GRIN: Pope Warns That ‘Fake News’ Is a ‘Sickness’ Comparable to Eating Excrement.

(12:30 PM)


(12:28 PM)

FORTUNATELY, SHE ADDED, I HAVEN’T HAD ONE OF THOSE SINCE 1979: Valerie Jarrett: Trump’s Win Was ‘Soul-Crushing.’

(12:22 PM)

SO THIS IS STARTING TO SOUND LIKE “RECKLESS DISREGARD:” Washington Post Appends “Russian Propaganda Fake News” Story, Admits It May Be Fake.

In the latest example why the “mainstream media” is facing a historic crisis of confidence among its readership, facing unprecedented blowback following Craig Timberg November 24 Washington Post story “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say”, on Wednesday a lengthy editor’s note appeared on top of the original article in which the editor not only distances the WaPo from the “experts” quoted in the original article whose “work” served as the basis for the entire article (and which became the most read WaPo story the day it was published) but also admits the Post could not “vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s finding regarding any individual media outlet”, in effect admitting the entire story may have been, drumroll “fake news” and conceding the Bezos-owned publication may have engaged in defamation by smearing numerous websites.

Here’s the note:

Editor’s Note: The Washington Post on Nov. 24 published a story on the work of four sets of researchers who have examined what they say are Russian propaganda efforts to undermine American democracy and interests. One of them was PropOrNot, a group that insists on public anonymity, which issued a report identifying more than 200 websites that, in its view, wittingly or unwittingly published or echoed Russian propaganda. A number of those sites have objected to being included on PropOrNot’s list, and some of the sites, as well as others not on the list, have publicly challenged the group’s methodology and conclusions. The Post, which did not name any of the sites, does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet, nor did the article purport to do so. Since publication of The Post’s story, PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list.

So in reliance on an un-checked list by an outside group that insists on anonymity, the WaPo designated a bunch of sites as Russian propaganda tools. And this is the “real news” outfit that is getting all uppity about “fake news.”

(12:21 PM)

PAYBACK’S A… YOU KNOW: Republicans Explore Budget Maneuver to Chip Away at Dodd-Frank.

They are exploring use of a tactic known as reconciliation, a procedural shortcut tied to the budget, which would allow them to make legislative changes to the 2010 regulatory-overhaul law with just a simple majority in the Senate. Republicans are likely to hold 52 seats in the 100-seat chamber, meaning they could pass such changes with just GOP votes.

They would otherwise need 60 votes to get the legislation through the Senate, putting them in the difficult position of needing support from some Democrats, who generally oppose rolling back the landmark law.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) is leading the charge to use reconciliation to pare back pieces of the law, which President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly said he wanted to scale back or scrap.

“We need to make a number of really substantial reforms to Dodd-Frank,” Mr. Toomey said in an interview Wednesday. While he said he would prefer to make legislative changes with Democrats’ support, he is open to more partisan methods. “I am very much in favor of making sure we have all the tools to do this,” he said.

Republicans are weighing using the tool to chip away at two Dodd-Frank creations in particular: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of Financial Research.

The upcoming session of Congress promises at the least to be wildly entertaining.

(12:14 PM)

THIS JUST IN — 2016 CONTINUES ITS SUCKAGE: Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer dies at age 69.

Keith Emerson died in March; what a brutal year this has been for pop culture.

(12:06 PM)

MORGAN CHILDS FOR GQ: The Libertarian Utopia That’s Just a Bunch of White Guys on a Tiny Island.

This is the most sneering and hate-filled piece I recall seeing in a major publication.

(11:00 AM)

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(10:51 AM)

BRICK AND MORTAR BLUES: Sears Says It’s Likely to Close Many More Stores as Sales Slide Worsens.

(10:48 AM)

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 1309.

(10:39 AM)

JOHN ELLIS: The Best Albums of 2016.

Mostly solid picks, including a near-handful I’d missed. And I’d have put David Bowie’s Blackstar higher on the list.

(10:30 AM)


Jack Shafer of Politico has the best piece yet examining the post-election phenomenon of “fake news” panic—the idea, which spread rapidly among establishment figures in the wake of the election, that Americans were fooled en masse into voting for Donald Trump by nefarious propaganda, funded in part by the Russians. His key contribution is to highlight the elitism at the heart of this idea:

The shrillness of the propaganda debate reveals a deep distrust of citizens by the elites. The Ignatiuses and Stengels of media and government don’t worry about propaganda infecting them. Proud of their breeding and life experience, they seem confident they can decode fact from fiction. What they dread is propaganda’s effect on the non-elites, whom they paternalistically imagine believe everything they read or view. But they don’t. The idea that naïve and vulnerable audiences can be easily influenced by the injection of tiny but potent messages into their media feedbag was dismissed as bunk by social scientists as early as the 1930s and 1940s. According to what academics call the hypodermic needle theory (aka magic bullet theory, aka transmission-belt model), there is little evidence that the public was the defenseless prey of mini-doses of propagandists. Larger doses don’t seem to be very effective, either.

We noted earlier this week that elite media figures actually were fooled on a large scale by a fake story about fake news because it seemed to confirmed their pre-existing assumptions. Everyone is vulnerable to misinformation and spin—to suspend disbelief when it is convenient to do so. As Shafer says, the self-righteous conceit behind the sudden preoccupation with fake news is that this tendency is somehow more pronounced among Trump voters than everyone else—indeed, that many people could only have voted for him because they were misinformed. . . .

But the collapse in public trust in the mainstream press is also driven by politics and social divides. Much of the public believes that big city reporters do not understand them or their way of life, and hold their values in contempt. And the degree of hysteria that media elites are exhibiting about “fake news,” and the rubes who were supposedly taken in, will only reinforce this perception further.


(10:23 AM)

WHITTLE, OTT, GREEN: Man’s inhumanity to kangaroo.

Full disclosure: I’m Green.

(10:11 AM)

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Syria President Says Victory in Aleppo Won’t End the War.

Assad, in an interview published on Thursday in the state-owned newspaper al-Watan, said he will no longer consider truce offers, adding that such offers, particularly from Americans, often come when the rebels are in a “difficult spot.”

“That is why we hear wailing and screaming and pleas for truces as the only political discourse now,” Assad said. He described his forces’ fight in Aleppo as one “against terrorism and a conspiracy” to destroy and divide Syria, allegedly led by Turkey.

“Liberating Aleppo from the terrorists deals a blow to the whole foundation of this project,” he said. But he added, “to be realistic, it doesn’t mean the end of the war.”

With Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and former commercial heart, the capital of Damascus and Homs, the third largest city under his control, Assad says “terrorists” no longer hold any cards.

“Even if we finish in Aleppo, we will carry on with the war against them,” Assad added.

It doesn’t seem possible that any amount of force or any attainable political solution will ever make Syria whole again. Iraq either, for that matter.

(10:01 AM)

VIETNAM COUNTERS CHINA IN SOUTH CHINA SEA: Get ready for more of this. At the moment it’s a war of barges and dredges slowly turning reefs into islands. But the game’s changing. Trump’s already told Beijing that America won’t play by Chinese rules.

(10:00 AM)

COLLEGE STUDENTS NEED FREE-SPEECH ORIENTATION THESE DAYS, and Purdue’s program offers a good model. I have to say, Mitch Daniels is doing an excellent job there.

(09:00 AM)

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(08:59 AM)

WELL, YES. AND TRUMP IS A MASTER AT ELICITING THOSE. Conservatives often win elections because of the hysterical, overblown reaction their common-sense plans receive from the left.

(08:57 AM)

REPORT: When No One Calls it Rape: Addressing Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys.

(08:55 AM)

PERHAPS SARAH HOYT WILL LET ME BORROW HER SHOCKED FACE: OPEC expected to deliver only half of target production cut.

Most energy professionals expect OPEC output will decline to around 33.0 million barrels per day in January 2017, down from 33.6 million bpd in October but well above the deal’s target of 32.5 million bpd.

Most of the 260 respondents to the survey think the organisation will succeed in cutting output, but on average by only 600,000 bpd, or half its stated target of 1.2 million bpd.

Less than 8 percent thought OPEC would achieve its target in full. More than twice as many thought output would stay the same or rise.

(08:40 AM)

HMM: Leonardo DiCaprio Just Met with Trump on Green Jobs.

(08:32 AM)

DAMON LINKER IN THE WEEK: How conservatives out-intellectualized progressives.

Profitably read along with Freddie de Boer’s comments.

(08:31 AM)

SALENA ZITO: Even anti-Trump working-class voters are having second thoughts.

What is astounding, post-election, is the total lack of contrition Democrats have displayed for ignoring the workingman and -woman bloc that has been the party’s horn of plenty. The only regret they display is that they lost the election, not the voters.

What Democrats, academics and pundits keep refusing to see is that the loss was never about Trump’s candidacy; it was all about how Democrats have increasingly lost touch with their voters outside of coastal America — until those voters finally hit their breaking point.

“The Democratic Party has become a coastal elitist club and if there is any decision or discussion made to broaden that within the ranks it is squashed,” said Dane Strother, a legendary Washington, DC-based Democratic strategist.

“We have completely lost touch with Middle America,” he admits, “How did we go from the party of the little man to the party of the elite?” Then he answers; “Yes, we rightfully should protect the rights of minorities, African-Americans, Hispanics, the LBGTQ communities and we always should — but we can’t forget the rest of the country along the way,” he said.

It isn’t that the Democrats forgot the rest of the country, it’s that they disdain the rest of the country.

(08:30 AM)

THIS IS ALL ABOUT DELEGITIMIZING TRUMP: Dems push for panel to probe Russian interference in election.

Two Democratic House members on Wednesday announced legislation to create an independent commission to investigate efforts by Russia to interfere with the U.S. election.

The bill comes from Oversight Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee’s CIA subcommittee.

The structure of the nongovernmental panel would be modeled after the 9/11 Commission, and would include 12 bipartisan members.

Specifically, the commission will be charged with investigating Russian hacks of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and former Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta’s personal email, as well as the scanning of electoral systems in some states and the dissemination of fake news and propaganda.

Republicans should probably encourage Democrats’ obsession with this stuff, though, as it will distract them from thinking about why they actually lost.

(08:19 AM)

WILFUL BLINDNESS: OSU Students, Faculty Member Can’t Seem to Say ‘Terrorism’ When Asked About Recent Attack on Campus.

(08:18 AM)

OBAMACARE: IS THERE ANYTHING IT CAN’T RUIN? Drug price hikes put sex beyond reach.

Soaring prices for prescription medicines for impotence and other problems have put the remedies out of reach for some.

Without insurance coverage, Viagra and Cialis cost about $50 a pill, triple their 2010 list prices. The new “female Viagra,” a daily pill for low sex drive called Addyi, costs $800 per month. Older products for women also have seen huge price run-ups, Truven Health Analytics data show.

“Many of them don’t get past the pharmacy counter once they see the price,” says Sheryl Kingsberg, a University Hospitals-Cleveland Medical Center behavioral psychologist and researcher who counsels men and women.

What people actually pay out of pocket varies. Some insurance prescription plans, including Medicare, cover some of the medicines. Some plans don’t cover any, arguing they’re not medically necessary. Many require steep copayments or limit the number of impotence pills per prescription.

“Once you get to a certain price point, sex becomes a financial decision,” says Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, a sexual dysfunction specialist at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital. “It takes a lot of the joy out of this.”


(08:10 AM)

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(08:09 AM)

HONESTLY, I THINK SHE HAS A PRETTY STRONG CASE THIS TIME: Jill Stein Demands Recount Of “Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums Of 2016.”

(08:08 AM)

PAYBACK’S A… YOU KNOW: The Most Potent Federal Regulatory Agency Will Answer Solely to Donald Trump.

The [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] was unaccountable to Congress and the president—but not the courts.

A federal appeals court ruling in October changed the fundamental structure of the CFPB and will allow future presidents to have direct control over the agency that has direct control over wide swaths of the country’s banking and financial sectors. Regulatory agencies headed by a single executive must be directly accountable to the president, the court observed, while independent agencies authorized by Congress—like the SEC and the FCC—must have a multi-member commission at the helm.

Practically, that means that Trump might be able to replace the director of the CFPB, Richard Cordray, before his term officially ends in 2018.

More importantly, it means Trump will be able to use the CFPB’s powers for his own ends, if he wants, because the person who gets to determine whether a banking practice is unfair, deceptive, or abusive will now serve at the whims of the president.

In other words, nothing changes on January 20.



(08:00 AM)



(07:52 AM)

WELL, YES: Comprehensive Terrorism Strategy Needed.

Bruce Hoffman, Director for Security Studies at Georgetown University:

Clearly during the eight years of the Obama Administration there was an effort to shift from the deployment of U.S. ground forces for prolonged periods overseas to using other forms of engaging terrorists, principally unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, as well as the increased deployment of Special Operations forces. Tactically, it was successful – it eliminated at least three-dozen senior al Qaeda commanders following the ramp up of drone strikes in 2009 – and it crystalized of course with the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011. These tactics served to disrupt terrorist operations and keep these groups off balance. Tactically, it was unquestionably successful.

But strategically, the U.S. faces the most parlous international security situation in terms of terrorism, at least since the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. According to the National Counterterrorism Center’s (NCTC), despite our ongoing efforts in Iraq and Syria over the past two years, ISIS has expanded geographically. The NCTC reported that in 2014, when the U.S.-backed campaign against ISIS began, the group had branches in seven countries. By 2015, they had branches in 13 countries, and by 2016, this number had increased again, now to 18. So clearly the Obama Administration’s strategy hasn’t stopped the spread of ISIS.

Read the whole interview.

(07:50 AM)

ROGER SIMON: The Stock Market vs. The Media: Who Do You Trust?

Today, as the Dow approaches 20,000, the Washington Post is moaning about the president-elect’s choosing too many generals for important positions, as if all military minds automatically think alike. The Post certainly wouldn’t say that about, say, Muslims. Nor would anybody who’d actually read a history book.

But never mind. Look at it this way. Whom would you trust — people who put their money where their mouths are (i.e. investors) or people who put their mouths where their mouths are? (Notice I didn’t pick another notable orifice. This is a family column and tries to set an example.)

Now, as well all know, past performance is not a… etc., etc., but things are looking remarkably good for the moment, which is upsetting our liberal media friends all the more. How’re they going to react if U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi actually does bring back 10,000 jobs, as he indicated on CNBC he might under the new Trump tax program? Oh, the vapors… the vapors. Lena Dunham may have to move to Canada after all.

Trump elected President, Canadians hardest hit.

(07:40 AM)

WHICH BRINGS US TO THE END OF THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: U.S. life expectancy declines for the first time since 1993.

Rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents and other conditions caused the lower life expectancy revealed in a report released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. In all, death rates rose for eight of the top 10 leading causes of death.

“I think we should be very concerned,” said Princeton economist Anne Case, who called for thorough research on the increase in deaths from heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the United States. “This is singular. This doesn’t happen.”

A year ago, research by Case and Angus Deaton, also an economist at Princeton, brought worldwide attention to the unexpected jump in mortality rates among white middle-aged Americans. That trend was blamed on what are sometimes called diseases of despair: overdoses, alcoholism and suicide. The new report raises the possibility that major illnesses may be eroding prospects for an even wider group of Americans.

This report will probably become bigger news after January 20.

(07:36 AM)

CHANGE: Poll: Trump now viewed more favorably than unfavorably, 50/43.

(07:30 AM)

LEGAL TRADE ASSOCIATION DECLARES WAR ON LEGALLY MEANINGLESS TERM: American Bar Association Pledges To Fight “Hate Speech.” Legal Blogger Scott Greenfield is not impressed, and announces the ABA’s self-inflicted demise via its president, Linda Klein:

The ABA hasn’t aged well. It’s been taken over by the fragile, the intellectually weak, the dishonest, who have subverted the organization to their fantasy of social justice at the expense of the Constitution. And now. under the “leadership” of Klein, it has publicly announced that it will fight against the First Amendment to the Constitution, the defense of free speech, and forsaken any claim to defend liberty or support the rule of law.

To the extent anyone thought the American Bar Association could survive, Linda Klein’s announcement of its death, a brutal, painful death, ends any hope. The American Bar Association committed suicide in a disgraceful demonstration of cowardice and intellectual dishonesty. It will not be missed.

It’s been largely dominated by social-justice types for years. Back in the mid-1990s I wrote a positive review of Joyce Malcolm’s excellent To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right for the ABA Journal, and I heard later that the editor who commissioned the review got in big trouble because I suggested that the Second Amendment protected an individual right.

(07:29 AM)

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Enough With The West’s Imaginary Threats.

(07:17 AM)

GLENN LOURY: Black Lives Matter — And Maybe Trump Is The Answer: “The discourse about race, violence, and the value of human life has been held hostage to partisanship — Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter. We can do better than that. The election is over. And, the body count mounts. I’m interested now in SOLUTIONS and, frankly, I don’t give a damn where they come from. Obama ignored this catastrophe unfolding in his adopted home town for nearly a decade. At the moment, I’m inclined to #GiveTrumpAChance to ‘fix it.’ Anybody with a better idea? Speak now.”

(07:12 AM)

HONESTLY, WHO’S SURPRISED BY THIS? Obama’s Outgoing Attitude on War and Terrorism: Do as He Says, Not as He Did; A speech on respecting rule of law and transparency from an administration that did neither.

It looks like President Barack Obama will be leaving office the same way he arrived: overestimating his actual commitment to rule of law and government transparency.

That’s one takeaway from the president’s counterterrorism speech at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa Florida, yesterday. As is typical of an Obama speech, particularly one coming as his administration winds down, it’s heavy on summarizing his successes and calling on actions from Congress, yet flat out either refuses to acknowledge or is quick to justify his misuses of power. . . .

Reminder: This is a president who has developed a complex system by which he executes suspected terrorists in countries where America is not legally involved in a war through the use of drone strikes in a system that is both deliberately secretive but also not subject to review by the judicial branch. The Department of Justice under Obama has, in fact, used claims of national security to try to keep judges from even being able to hear cases connected to the constitutionality of some of its practices.

Furthermore, this is a president who oversaw military intervention in Libya without authorization by Congress. And in this very speech he calls on Congress to use its authority to determine whether to allow for military force, an absurd incongruity Tim Carney makes note of in the Washington Examiner.

Obama calls for an updated Authorized Use of Force (the Congressional authorization for warmaking) but stubbornly clings to an insistence that everything he’s been doing is already authorized. It’s a muddled argument. Either the president’s military actions have been legal and a new authorization isn’t needed, or the president’s military actions have not been legal (in which case he should stop). He even recently added, via executive declaration, a terrorist group in Somalia that didn’t even exist at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks to the list of authorized targets.

Honestly, we’re just lucky he didn’t add the Tea Party to the list. But then, for them he has the IRS.

(07:00 AM)

IF ONLY SOMEONE HAD ISSUED A WARNING ABOUT THIS AGENCY: The Most Potent Federal Regulatory Agency Will Answer Solely to Donald Trump: And the potential for Trump to abuse the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is huuge.

And this never gets old:


(12:29 AM)

LIFE (AND DEATH) BEFORE THE FUNDAMENTAL TRANSFORMATION: Pearl Harbor vets ‘Never took a knee. Never failed to stand during national anthem.’ Colin Kaepernick zinged by Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr. at Pearl Harbor.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

(11:32 PM)

I’M GOING WITH GUN LAWS: Video: Which laws shouldn’t apply on campus?

(11:00 PM)

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(10:22 PM)

VOTING: Obama won lots of votes from racially prejudiced whites (and some of them supported Trump).

(09:49 PM)



(09:36 PM)

SORRY, JILL: Federal Judge Kills Recount Effort In Michigan.

(09:27 PM)

DAVID BERNSTEIN: The Supreme Court oral argument that cost Democrats the presidency.

According to exit polls, Trump received 81 percent of the white evangelical Christian vote, and Hillary Clinton only 16 percent. Trump did significantly better than the overtly religious Mitt Romney and the overtly evangelical George W. Bush. He likely over-performed among other theologically conservative voters, such as traditionalist Catholics, as well. Not bad for a thrice-married adulterer of no discernible faith.

To what can we attribute Trump’s success? The most logical answer is that religious traditionalists felt that their religious liberty was under assault from liberals, and they therefore had to hold their noses and vote for Trump.

Let’s focus on one of these incidents, the time the solicitor general of the United States acknowledged that religious institutions that oppose as a matter of internal policy same-sex marriage may lose their tax exemptions. At oral argument in the Obergefell same-sex marriage case, there was the following colloquy:

Justice Samuel Alito: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax­exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same­ sex marriage?

Soliticitor General Verrilli: You know, I ­, I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. ­ I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is ­­it is going to be an issue.

With the mainstream media busy celebrating the Supreme Court’s ultimate recognition of a right to same-sex marriage, this didn’t get that much attention in mainstream news outlets. But in the course of researching my book, “Lawless,” I noticed that Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr.’s answer was big news in both the conservative blogosphere and in publications catering to religiously traditionalist audiences. . . .

In short, many religious Christians of a traditionalist bent believed that liberals not only reduce their deeply held beliefs to bigotry, but want to run them out of their jobs, close down their stores and undermine their institutions. When I first posted about this on Facebook, I wrote that I hope liberals really enjoyed running Brendan Eich out of his job and closing down the Sweet Cakes bakery, because it cost them the Supreme Court. I’ll add now that I hope Verrilli enjoyed putting the fear of government into the God-fearing because it cost his party the election.

Well, that’s how things are supposed to work.

(09:08 PM)


It wasn’t long before he began to suspect corruption and mismanagement.

First, there was a scandal involving a large slush fund run by the dean of the law school, allowing him to hand out “forgivable loans” to select faculty members. The university’s president, William Powers, promised an investigation by an in-house lawyer, who dutifully produced a “nothing to see here” report. Hall argued that the matter required a more objective assessment, but his complaints were ignored.

Quoted in this piece, Hall said, “I was overruled. That’s when I first felt like, one, there’s a problem at UT, and, two, the system has set up a scheme that gives the opportunity for a less than robust investigation.”

But Hall kept pushing the Board to insist that the Texas attorney general’s office dig into the matter. It did, and then the truth finally came out that the dean of the law school was using the fund simply to hand out favors, including a $500,000 “loan” to himself. The AG’s report brought down the house of cards. The dean resigned and the scandal contributed to the pressure on president Powers to choose between resigning and being fired.

That fight was just a minor skirmish compared with the coming war over the secret, back-door admissions process at UT-Austin.

In 2013, Texas media began running articles such as this, suggesting that some students, despite their low scores and grades, were being admitted to UT as a favor to influential people.

In response, then-chancellor Francisco Cigarroa asked university general counsel Dan Sharphorn to investigate. The result was a mild report saying that the study had found “no evidence of overt pressure on Admissions Office staff to admit applicants based on the recommendations of persons of influence.” Sharphorn’s findings were accepted by president William Powers, who said that the report would be helpful.

Powers hoped that would be the end of the matter, but shortly afterward, Hall announced that he had found evidence in internal UT emails of blatant admissions favoritism at UT’s law school. That led to furious demands for his removal from office by Texans who didn’t like the way he kept turning over rocks. Several members of the legislature called for Hall’s impeachment and the Board of Regents formed a committee to see if there were legal grounds for doing so. When the lawyers it hired concluded that there was no ground for impeaching Hall, the committee voted to censure Hall for “disloyalty.”

We need more activist trustees at universities all over the country. There are a lot of rocks to turn over.

(08:06 PM)

MATT RIDLEY: Global Warming vs. Global Greening.

(07:00 PM)

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(06:33 PM)

HONESTLY, I’M WONDERING IF “FAKE NEWS” ISN’T AN IMPROVEMENT OVER THE “REAL” THING: NYT Reporter: Why Can’t We Assassinate Conservatives? “Cool down, Gardiner! You can’t kill American citizens who say things you don’t like with drones. You know you are in trouble when it takes Josh Earnest to explain the First Amendment to you. . . . I’m so old, I can remember when reporters not only had heard about the First Amendment, but were in favor of it. But I guess the ‘fake news’ crisis is so acute that the Left can’t let such niceties get in the way.”

(06:30 PM)


What gets to me, and what made this minor argument indicative of something far broader, was that the internal contradictions and lack of clear theoretical footing were packaged with the aggressive presumption that the conclusions were obvious.

This is a constant condition for me: interacting with liberals and leftists who affect a stance of bored impatience, who insist that the answers to moral and political questions are so obvious that every reasonable person already agrees, who then lack the ability to explain the thinking underlying their answers to those questions in a remotely compelling way. Everything is obvious; all the hard work is done; only an idiot couldn’t see what the right thing to do is. And then you poke a little bit at the foundation and it just collapses. I suppose the condescension and the fragility are related conditions, the bluster a product of the insecurity at the heart of it all. You act like everything is obvious precisely because you can’t articulate your position.


I’ve been asking my friends on the academic left what rights conservative students have, in an era of a university culture obsessed with trauma. Two things are broadly true: one, they think that it’s ridiculous to suggest that there’s any reason to worry about what conservative students can and can’t say – there’s no questions here, no conflicts, nothing even to discuss. Two, despite the mutuality of this dismissal, no two of them have the same idea about what answers are stunningly obvious, only that they are. I am told that of course students can support Trump and say so, but that “Make America Great Again” is hate speech, despite simply being the slogan of the campaign that they just said students have the right to support.

Bear in mind that this is from Freddie de Boer, a lefty.

(06:09 PM)

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Students Name the Most Insanely PC College Courses in America. These 5 Are Truly Absurd…

(06:08 PM)

SHOULD A PORK LOVER GO VEGAN: Heaven forbid, but there is bacon-flavored seaweed.

(05:45 PM)

WHY ARE DEMOCRAT-DOMINATED MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS SO RACIST? Black employees file class-action lawsuit against CNN, Turner.

(05:04 PM)

PAUL KRUGMAN ON ELECTION NIGHT: “If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.”

Wall Street Journal today: U.S. stocks charged to fresh highs Wednesday, with major indexes logging their biggest one-day rally since the election.



(05:01 PM)

THE SOURCE IS UNIMPEACHABLE: Incredible aerial timelapse reveals how the mysterious Area 51 has expanded over the last 30 years. But, you know, we have to get ready for the alien invasion.

(04:22 PM)

CHANGE: Trump taps Oklahoma attorney general to lead EPA. “President-elect Donald Trump plans to nominate Scott Pruitt, the Republican attorney general of Oklahoma and a frequent legal adversary to President Obama, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a transition official told The Hill. If confirmed by the Senate to oversee the 15,000-employee agency, Pruitt would take the lead on dismantling the EPA regulations that Trump targeted throughout his campaign as job killers that restrict economic growth.”

(04:16 PM)

TRANSPARENCY: Exclusive: Internal documents detail secret VA quality ratings.

(04:14 PM)

TALK ABOUT BURYING THE LEDE. WaPo: Trump Was Right About Overwhelmingly Negative Press Coverage.

Well yes. Real story here though: The WaPo actually gets one right for a change.

(04:01 PM)

ARSON: Two juveniles charged in Smokies wildfire investigation. “Authorities have charged two juveniles in connection with the fires that started last month in the Chimney Tops area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and swept through Sevier County, killing 14 and injuring more than 130. The juveniles were charged with aggravated arson, but could face additional charges later.”

(02:58 PM)

OVER AT VODKAPUNDIT: Build yourself a professional-strength wifi network with a consumer budget and without any network skills.

(02:56 PM)

BLACK DEMOCRAT ALABAMA STATE SENATE LEADER ENDORSES JEFF SESSIONS FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL. “We’ve spoken about everything from Civil Rights to race relations and we agree that as Christian men our hearts and minds are focused on doing right by all people.”

Say, what if a lot of black Christians start thinking of themselves more significantly as Christians than as black Democrats? Could that happen?

(02:56 PM)


(02:30 PM)

THEY’RE VERY FATTENING, THOUGH: A Handful of Nuts Is Good for Your Health.

A handful of nuts a day may be enough to reduce the risk for death from heart disease and other ills.

In a review combining data from 20 prospective studies, researchers found that compared with people who ate the least nuts, those who ate the most reduced the risk for coronary heart disease by 29 percent, for cardiovascular disease by 21 percent and for cancer by 15 percent.

There was also a 52 percent reduced risk for respiratory disease, 39 percent for diabetes and 75 percent reduced risk for infectious disease in those who ate the most nuts.

Most of the risk reduction was achieved by eating an average of about one ounce of nuts a day, the amount in about two dozen almonds or 15 pecan halves. There was little decrease in risk with greater consumption.

I love almonds.

(02:00 PM)

THERE’S A REASON SNOW TIRES EXIST: Watch as a Bunch of Trucks and Buses Slide Into Each Other In the Snow.

(01:39 PM)

THAT WOULD EXPLAIN… EVERYTHING: Earth’s days getting longer, slower.

Over the past 27 centuries, the average day has lengthened at a rate of about +1.8 milliseconds (ms) per century, a British research team concluded in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

This was “significantly less”, they said, than the rate of 2.3 ms per century previously estimated — requiring a mere 2.6 million years to add one minute..

Oh. So it is just 2016 then.

(01:34 PM)

IT’S AMAZING: Give the Gift of Amazon Prime.

(01:30 PM)

WELL, WHAT’S THERE TO CLAP ABOUT, REALLY? Video: Few troops clap for Obama during final national security speech.

(01:12 PM)

EVERYTHING IS SEEMINGLY SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL: Remarkable New Theory Says There’s No Gravity, No Dark Matter, and Einstein Was Wrong.

Professor Erik Verlinde, an expert in string theory from the University of Amsterdam and the Delta Institute of Theoretical Physics, thinks that gravity is not a fundamental force of nature because it’s not always there. Instead it’s “emergent” – coming into existence from changes in microscopic bits of information in the structure of spacetime.

Verlinde first articulated this groundbreaking theory in his 2010 paper, which took on the laws of Newton and argued that gravity is “an entropic force caused by changes in the information associated with the positions of material bodies”. He famously stated then that “gravity is an illusion,” elaborating further that:

“Well, of course gravity is not an illusion in the sense that we know that things fall. Most people, certainly in physics, think we can describe gravity perfectly adequately using Einstein’s General Relativity. But it now seems that we can also start from a microscopic formulation where there is no gravity to begin with, but you can derive it. This is called ‘emergence’.”

What’s more, the Dutch professor now published an elaboration of his previous work in “Emergent Gravity and the Dark Universe”, which argues there’s no “dark matter” – a mysterious kind of matter that along with dark energy theoretically makes up 95% of the universe, but has not really been discovered yet.

“Dark matter” always felt like a rationalization to cover up a serious flaw in our understanding of the universe, but the idea that gravity doesn’t exist until it emerges locally is too bizarre for this non-physicist to comprehend.

As usual, Douglas Adams might have nailed it decades ago:

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

There is another theory which states that this has already happened.


(01:00 PM)

WHEN “SEXUAL HARASSMENT” POLICIES INTERFERE WITH “FREEDOM OF INTIMATE ASSOCIATION:” Professor’s Right to Seek Affair With Student Constitutionally Protected: “Freedom of Association” Includes “Exercising His Right to Freely Associate With Other Persons” Even For Sexual Activities.

I’ve said for a while that many intrusive college sex rules are unconstitutional under Lawrence v. Texas. Next step: Rights for Dionysexuals.

(12:40 PM)

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: How Lasers and a Goggle-Wearing Parrot Could Aid Flying Robot Designs.

(12:33 PM)

THE ARTS WORLD: Rivalry, Drama, Betrayal—and the Opera Hasn’t Even Started Yet: Feuding Maltese houses live to upstage each other; ‘let us enjoy squabbling.’

The tiny island of Gozo, population about 37,000, has one hospital and one McDonald’s. But it has two opera houses.

Astra and Aurora are owned by rival band clubs that both trace their founding to 1863. For over a century they have been one-upping each other in everything from musical performances to feast-day celebrations. Once, when Aurora heard rumors that Astra planned to bring a horse onstage during a performance of “Aida,” the competing house—which was presenting its own “Aida”—secretly cast two horses.

Some locals on the island compare the rivalry to an arms race.

“We don’t fight with nuclear weapons,” said Matthew Sultana, an Aurora Theater organizer. “We fight with opera and saints.”

Well, that’s for the best.

(12:28 PM)

MAKE APPLE GREAT AGAIN: Apple Supplier Foxconn Plans Expansion in U.S.

Foxconn Technology Group, which manufactures Apple Inc.’s iPhone and other products, said it is in talks to expand in the U.S. The statement comes amid President-elect Donald Trump’s push for a return of manufacturing to the U.S.

Foxconn said the size and scope of its potential U.S. investment hasn’t been determined. . . .

Foxconn’s statement came a day after Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. Chief Executive Masayoshi Son met with Mr. Trump in New York and pledged to invest $50 billion in the U.S. Foxconn’s logo appeared beside SoftBank’s on the piece of paper that Mr. Son held while speaking to reporters.

Mr. Son and Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou are longtime friends. SoftBank and Foxconn have collaborated on several investments, including on a joint venture last year with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to sell the Japanese company’s humanoid robot, Pepper.

Well, this doesn’t fulfill my Taiwan-call-based prediction, yet. But . . .

(12:26 PM)

YOU CAN’T LEGISLATE LOVE: Denzel Washington on Race Relations.

(12:20 PM)

WHY ARE UNIVERSITIES SUCH CESSPITS OF INTOLERANCE? Adam Carolla Off to a Rocky Start Filming Movie About Political Correctness at Universities. The celeb is accusing California State University, Northridge of refusing to allow him to co-host a program with radio host Dennis Prager because of their politics. “Comedian Adam Carolla and radio host Dennis Prager are touring the nation’s universities while making their documentary film, No Safe Spaces, and their first stop, scheduled at CSUN, was canceled, according to lawyers, because the content of a talk they were to give was deemed politically incorrect.”

But they’re not taking it lying down. They’ve brought in a pit-bull lawyer:

“It appears your institution may have caused damage by committing unlawful content-based discrimination against my client and others,” wrote Kurt Schlichter of Schlichter & Shonack on behalf of Moral Compass, the limited partnership set up by the filmmakers.

The letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday is dated Dec. 2 and addressed to CSUN president Dianne Harrison.

The filmmakers say they also were told that the appearance of Prager and Carolla might cause some students to protest, and in a letter informing them that they weren’t able to use the venue, a CSUN a representative wrote: “The scope and logistics around the event is just not feasible.”

The college has in the past hosted President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Louis Farrakhan, poet Maya Angelou and other dignitaries at various places on campus.

Cal State Northridge locked horns with James Taranto when he was an undergraduate and lost. I doubt they’ll do better this time. . . .

(12:14 PM)

A BIG CHANGE FROM JEH JOHNSON: Retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly picked to head Department of Homeland Security. “In the end, people familiar with the transition said, the choice came down to Kelly and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. McCaul was considered an early favorite, but his chances were hurt by opposition from some conservatives who found him insufficiently tough on border security, the people said.”

(12:14 PM)

TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME: Person of the Year: Donald Trump, President of the Divided States of America.

Time magazine’s latest cover story. As Ed Morrissey writes in response, “Had Hillary Clinton managed to win Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan in the way that Trump did, there’s no doubt that Time would have bestowed this honor on her. Would they have subtitled her ‘President of the Divided States of America’? Almost certainly not, even though it would have applied just as well to Hillary; they would have probably used a ‘glass ceiling’ reference instead.”

(12:10 PM)

TRANSPARENCY: Obama’s Pentagon Suppresses Study Finding $125 Billion in Wasteful Spending.

That’s $125 billion annually.

President Barack Obama’s Pentagon discredited and suppressed an internal probe that uncovered $125 billion in wasteful spending on the enormous administrative operations primarily ran by civilians and contractors.

The money could have been reinvested in payment for troops, weapons, and renovating the aging nuclear arsenal, the Washington Post (WaPo) has learned.

The Defense Business Board produced the study in January 2015 by a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, in coordination with consultants from McKinsey and Company.


U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) leaders – namely Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work, the Pentagon’s second-highest-ranking official, and Frank Kendall III, the Pentagon’s chief weapons-buyer – reportedly buried the report by discrediting and suppressing its findings after the study discovered far more wasteful spending than the department expected.

According to the study, DoD is spending about 23 percent ($134 billion) of its $580 billion on back-office business operations, namely accounting, human resources and logistics and property management.

If we had as much military power as we actually pay for, we’d be the United States of Earth and Neighboring Satellites and Planets by now.

(12:05 PM)


(11:00 AM)

IN THE MAIL: From Steven F. Hayward, Patriotism Is Not Enough: Harry Jaffa, Walter Berns, and the Arguments that Redefined American Conservatism.

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(10:56 AM)

WELL, GOOD: British parliament set to back PM May’s Brexit timetable.

(10:51 AM)

TODAY IN MILITARY HISTORY: Pearl Harbor Day. And more.

(10:45 AM)

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 1308.

(10:40 AM)

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Mainstream media is the chief culprit behind ‘fake news’

Ashe Schow:

There are several additional, high profile examples of the media promoting the spread of fake news, though these examples thankfully have not resulted in physical harm. (Emotional harm is debatable.)

The first: Andrea Mitchell’s claim Juanita Broaddrick’s accusations against Bill Clinton were discredited.

Mitchell said in a May segment for MSNBC that Broaddrick’s claim against Clinton had been “discredited and long-denied.” NBC News later edited out the “discredited” line because Broaddrick’s accusation has never been discredited. But saying as much certainly helps a narrative that continued to keep Bill popular with Democrats (and Mitchell was referencing Broaddrick in an effort to smear Trump during the election).

The second: Trump’s “grab them by the p—y’” comment.

Make no mistake, these words were really said by our president-elect, and they are disgusting. But the media began to claim that Trump was admitting to sexual assault when he uttered those words. The full context revealed Trump saying that when someone is as rich and famous as he is, women would let him do whatever he wanted. After these decade-old remarks were revealed, women began coming out of the woodwork to claim they never consented to Trump’s advances. Now that the election is over, we aren’t hearing much from these women.

The third: Trump “fact checks” conducted by media outlets.

Read the whole thing.

(10:30 AM)

RICHARD FERNANDEZ: The Left Sees the Rise of a Rival Consciousness and is Becoming Afraid.

Tony Blair, for one, has stopped regarding what the press terms the “populist revolt” as a mere aberration and come to see it as a actual, threatening historical development. Little by little the Left is starting to realize that a global reaction to it is not a freak confluence of rogue waves but driven by systemic factors — and an awareness that it has not been seen for a long time.

It is that self-awareness that is so frightening to the Left. It does not mind fighting foes that have no mind. What was formerly described as conservativism was as a nuisance but never a real a threat to the left because it had no counterprogram beyond caution. They were regarded as frightened rabbits who never reached for the steering wheel of history only pleaded on occasion for a touch of the brakes to still their shattered nerves.

They were therefore safe because despite the occasional setback the Left held the Western monopoly on ideological direction-giving, and were never seriously challenged. . . .

What is emerging, if anything is, may not be the Left’s foe in the way the Left would be its own foe. But it is conscious and therefore they are afraid: because they know what the Left would do and they do not want done to them what they would do to others.

Well, yes. Flashback: When rulers despise the ruled.

(10:24 AM)

PASS THE POPCORN: Lame Duck Obama Seeing Power of Presidency Slip Away.

(10:07 AM)

PROCUREMENT: Boeing Said to Offer Talks on Air Force One After Trump Tweets.

The Pentagon already is budgeting $3.2 billion for research and development, military construction and acquisition of two of the Air Force One planes through fiscal 2021, said Kevin Brancato, the lead government contracts analyst for Bloomberg Government. More money is anticipated in the two years after that. Boeing 747-8 planes average about $225 million each, he said, which means most of the expenses will go to outfitting the planes for presidential use.

The Air Force and Boeing are still conducting work to reduce the program’s technical risks before the company is awarded an advanced development contract, Captain Michael Hertzog, a spokesman for the service branch, said in an e-mail. Budgeted spending can be expected “to change as the program matures with the completion of the risk reduction activities,” he said.

“This is what an Air Force One costs,” Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at Teal Group, said of Trump’s tweet. “There have been no cost overruns. The ability to fly the president during a war is fundamentally expensive.”

The Boeing executives who contacted Trump officials suggested that the price of the new planes could be reduced if the Air Force and Secret Service revise their specifications for the aircraft, the people familiar with the discussions said.

The US military already flies four “doomsday planes,” capable of staying airborne while commanding any conflict up to and including a full-scale nuclear war. Militarized 747s with “what is likely the most complete and sophisticated spectrum of communications equipment ever flown,” all four E-4 Advanced Airborne Command Posts together cost a little less than one billion in 1998 dollars.

But today we can’t build a pair Air Force one jets for less than $3.2 billion?

Something doesn’t seem right.

(10:00 AM)

SO IT’S BEEN ALMOST A MONTH, HAS ANYBODY DONE THIS? Time to Play Catch-Up on Hillary. “Donald Trump’s candidacy represented such a unique threat to democratic norms that the Fourth Estate decided it had an obligation to overcome its supposed objectivity in 2016. . . . The question now for reporters and editors, programmers and producers, is how do they respond after Hillary Clinton’s foe is vanquished? Reporters will have quite a bit of catching up to do when it comes to holding Hillary Clinton to account for what Americans discovered over the course of this campaign.”

(09:00 AM)

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(08:59 AM)

DAVID RIVKIN & ELIZABETH PRICE FOLEY: Can Trump Cut Off Funding For Sanctuary Cities? The Constitution Says Yes.

(08:51 AM)

PARTY OF SNOWFLAKES: Trump traumatizes Democrats.

The left is comfortable with the status quo, but nothing about Trump suggests that he will be content with going along to get along. Trump’s measures suggest that he is willing to be aggressive, think creatively and take some risks. The United States needs all of these traits to make up for the lethargic demeanor of the Obama years and the lawyerly approach that resulted in inaction more than it produced fresh initiatives.

The past month has given us some insight into how Trump will operate as president. His campaign and some of his personnel selections so far have been associated with clusters of tweets and some drama, but it’s clear that Trump and his team will be able to get some things done. You can argue about whether he is right or wrong on this or that issue, but there is no doubt that Trump is going to be bold.

Boldness and safe spaces don’t mix.

(08:51 AM)

OBAMA’S LEGACY: Worst GDP in 50 years, stagnant wages, poorer health. “Now they tell us. A new report on the economy finds that productivity growth is at a 50-year low and that much of the positive talk about the nation’s financial situation in the last election, much of it coming from the administration, was a lie.”

(08:48 AM)

SETH BARRETT TILLMAN: Response to a Liberal Journalist’s Inquiries.

It was nicer than this one.

(08:43 AM)

TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME: Time: 65 Million Americans Should Threaten to Not Pay Taxes. “Until democracy is restored.”

(08:38 AM)


(08:37 AM)

I’M NOT SAYING IT’S MICROWAVES… BUT IT’S MICROWAVES: Move over, fracking. There’s a new technology in town.

As strange as it sounds, producers are experimenting with ways to zap previously unextractable oil resources with microwaves, which has the potential to kick-start an even bigger energy revolution than fracking — and appease environmentalists while they’re at it. This is potentially “a whole shift in the paradigm,” says Peter Kearl, co-founder and CTO of Qmast, a Colorado-based company pioneering the use of the microwave tech. Some marquee names are betting on the play: Oil giants BP and ConocoPhillips are pouring resources into developing similar extraction techniques, which can be far less water- and energy-intensive than fracking.

If producers can find a way to microwave oil shales in the Green River Formation, which sprawls across Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, the nation’s recoverable reserves could soar and energy independence could become more than an election slogan. Even with existing methods — strip-mining the shale and then cooking it, or injecting steam to cook the rock underground (hydraulic fracturing is useless here) — the formation contains enough oil to last the U.S. 165 years at current rates of consumption. Microwave extraction could goose those numbers even higher.

Peak oil would seem to still be some ways off.

(08:30 AM)

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Report: Student journalists face administrative backlash.

Student journalists at college and university newspapers are facing consequences for reporting on concerns that show their schools in a negative light, according to a report from the American Association of University Professors.

The report, endorsed by the College Media Association, the National Coalition Against Censorship and the Student Press Law Center, focused-in on two examples of students facing backlash after doing their jobs.

At the University of Missouri, a student journalist and videographer were threatened with “muscle” by an assistant professor as they tried to cover protests at the university. At Wesleyan University, a student who wrote an opinion piece critical of the Black Lives Matter movement was harassed, and the student government slashed the paper’s funding for publishing the piece.

These two incidents were not isolated, the AAUP report found.

Why are universities such cesspits of censorship and intimidation?

(08:21 AM)

HUFFPO EDITOR: The FBI Is Investigating Me Because I Tweeted A Joke About Fake News.

Journalists benefit from special protections because the Justice Department doesn’t want to embarrass itself by picking a fight with people who buy server space by the terabyte. Non-journalists in my position have fewer ways to fight back — and lots of reasons to worry. They don’t have easy access to millions of readers. Many companies are more likely to fire an employee for causing trouble than to provide legal counsel. Many people feel compelled to talk to the bureau even though saying the wrong thing can lead to a felony charge for lying to the FBI.

The FBI has limited resources and must choose its targets carefully. As fake-news websites grow in influence, and people on the president-elect’s transition team spread ludicrous and dangerous claims — like the idea that a pizza place in Washington, D.C., is the site of a Clinton child-sex dungeon — it’s crucially important that the agency charged with investigating terrorism be able to tell the difference between what is a joke and what’s not. An agency that is using people’s tweets — and retweets — as evidence in terror trials should probably understand how Twitter works. The bureau needs a bullshit meter.

This episode has not inspired confidence.

Enjoy Obama’s weaponized FBI before Trump gets hold of it.