Saturday, September 24, 2016

(04:33 PM)

AN APT RIPOSTE TO TEAM HILLARY’S MARK CUBAN (NOT FIDEL) GAMBIT: Demonstrating his genius for political theater, Trump is threatening to give Gennifer Flowers a front row seat at his upcoming debate with Hillary Clinton. Democrats love to seed debate audiences with aggressive supporters who’ll violate rules of decorum and mock Republican candidates. Team Hillary has given Trump-antagonist Mark Cuban a seat. Cuban has been cultvating an anti-Trump rep. ABC News called Cuban a dedicated Trump-troller and he’s been touting his front row ticket. Cuban hasn’t said he intends to disrupt Trump but the touts are meant to suggest he might. Team Hillary has calculated Cuban serves a propaganda purpose even if he behaves and remains silent, Giving Cuban a ticket and having him sit in a seat tv camera’s can’t miss give media commentators ready-made anti-Trump story lines. For example, at one time Cuban supported Trump, now he doesn’t. Talk that one up, Anderson Cooper. Cuban thinks Trump is a weak candidate, etc. Now repeat Cuban’s assessment of Trump 30 times, CBS News. Yup, Team Hillary’s Cuban Gambit — how clever. Cuban is a sharp fellow, but Flowers is a better than an apt counter-punch. She’s still attractive and camera-ready. (Here’s a photo from 2013.) As Bill Clinton’s former mistress she’s a far more sensational story line. Illicit sex, anyone? Suddenly every Clinton scandal and subsequent coverup are chitchat fodder. Flowers’ personal history calls into question major Clinton campaign themes, to include Hillary’s “I’m for women and Trump’s a sexist” pitch. Compared to Flowers, Cuban is just a guy in a seat.

(04:00 PM)

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS BEING TOO OLD TO DONATE BLOOD. Though given that there’s some evidence that younger blood has anti-aging properties, maybe we should encourage younger people to donate more.

Or maybe we should have old people give blood for trauma victims, while saving young blood for anti-aging. . . . Likely to be mooted anyway, if and when scientists isolate what factors in younger blood provide the benefits.

(03:00 PM)

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(02:30 PM)

SEMICONDUCTORS: Fusing of Organic Molecules With Graphene Opens Up New Applications.

(02:00 PM)

CONNECTEDNESS IS BAD FOR SECURITY: U.S. intelligence agencies know better than anyone how vulnerable today’s technologies are to being infiltrated—but some spies are getting smartphones and Wi-Fi anyway.

(01:30 PM)


(01:22 PM)

MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL: Downbeat reviews it. The article has a photo of Clint Eastwood introducing Quincy Jones. Eastwood served “as an MC of sorts” on opening night.

(01:00 PM)

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How to Build Your Own Car in Just 400 Easy Steps.

(12:44 PM)


At least for now. A massively hungover Scott and Zelda will sober up and stumble back in any day now.

(12:36 PM)

SO AT THE END OF OCTOBER, THEY INDICT TRUMP AND A BUNCH OF HIS STAFF? “OCTOBER SURPRISE!” U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin.

Not long ago I would have laughed off thoughts that something like that could happen just to steal an election, but no more, alas.

(12:14 PM)

DEJA GRUNGE ALL OVER AGAIN: Nirvana baby recreates iconic album cover 25 years later.

(12:02 PM)


War crimes investigators collecting evidence of the Islamic State group’s elaborate operation to kidnap thousands of women as sex slaves say they have a case to try IS leaders with crimes against humanity but cannot get the global backing to bring current detainees before an international tribunal. Two years after the IS onslaught in northern Iraq, the investigators, as well as U.S. diplomats, say the Obama administration has done little to pursue prosecution of the crimes that Secretary of State John Kerry has called genocide…The West looks to the United States for leadership in the Middle East, and the focus of this administration has been elsewhere – in every respect,” Bill Wiley, the head of the independent investigative group, the Commission for International Justice and Accountability, told The Associated Press…The U.S. has no legal obligation to take on the genocide of the Yazidis, but President Barack Obama has said that “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.”

The media and academic left would be gnashing teeth and throwing moral authority fits if we had a Republican president downplaying mass murder and sex slavery while engaging in hypocritical posturing.

(11:00 AM)

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(10:50 AM)

IN CASE YOU MISSED THE NEWS YESTERDAY: Ted Cruz Endorses Donald Trump on Facebook.

“Smart politics, or a betrayal of conservative principle?”, PJM’s Tyler O’Neil asks.

(10:49 AM)

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 1234.

(10:41 AM)


Shot: “Colin Kaepernick Had No Choice but to Kneel.”

Time magazine, which put Kaepernick on its cover this week after he refused to stand for the National Anthem, has a BLM-obsessed Twitter feed. and wore socks depicting pigs wearing police hats during training camp.

Chaser: “The Seattle Mariners suspended Steve Clevenger without pay for the remainder of the season, moving swiftly Friday to discipline their backup catcher after his set of tweets imploring that protestors in Charlotte should be ‘locked behind bars like animals.’”

USA Today, yesterday.

(Classical reference in headline.)

(10:34 AM)

DAMNING: Platte River Networks Employee Referred to ‘Hilary Cover-up Operation’ in Work Email.

(10:30 AM)

ANOTHER JAYVEE TEAM? Mali’s President at the UN: We’ve Still Got a Colossal Jihadist Problem.

UN peacekeepers’ incentives are just as perverse as those of the condottieri, the Italian mercenaries Machiavelli once wrote off as “useless and dangerous.” Like the condottieri of old, UN peacekeepers are paid for an input measure—a fee per soldier—not for an output measure, such as actually keeping the peace. The UN reimburses peacekeeping at a rate of $1,332 per soldier per month, making peacekeeping a lucrative endeavor for major contributors like Bangladesh where soldiers are paid roughly 1/20th that amount. Well-paid, professional militaries like those of the U.S. and the U.K. commit far fewer forces to peacekeeping; for those they do contribute, the UN reimbursement does not come close to covering the cost.
Professional militaries have a difficult time implementing counter-insurgency strategy (COIN) effectively, so it’s no surprise that UN peacekeepers are struggling against the jihadist onslaught. As we’re seeing in South Sudan—where peacekeepers are turning a blind eye to mass rapes and otherwise failing to protect the civilians—the peacekeepers’ main objective is to avoid casualties, not to complete the mission.

Keeping ISIS and Al Qaeda at bay in Mali requires détente between two historically opposed forces: the Malian central government in Bamako and the nomadic Tuareg people, who fiercely defend their independence and cross Mali’s porous Saharan borders with ease. These “blue men of the desert” are known for their indigo turbans and their spirited resistance against central authorities—first the French and then the Malians. Even if the Malian state will never win the love the Tuareg, it must work to placate them and to isolate Islamist Tuareg militias like Ansar Dine, driving a wedge between apolitical Tuaregs and jihadist groups that might otherwise be inclined to join together against the state under the logic of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Here’s the thing about terrorists in Mali: we’ll hear nothing about them and nothing about them and then suddenly everything will be about them. The geography of the Sahara makes it possible for groups to lie in wait, regroup, and plan their next moves. UN peacekeepers are useless against them. Jihadists in Mali don’t just complicate the regional security situation—they threaten European security as well. We ignore Mali’s terror problem at our peril.

Well, that’s comforting.

(10:00 AM)

SALENA ZITO: Taking Trump Seriously, Not Literally.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse highlights this excerpt, and it’s worth highlighting here, too:

The 70-year-old Republican nominee took his time walking from the green room toward the stage. He stopped to chat with the waiters, service workers, police officers, and other convention staffers facilitating the event. There were no selfies, no glad-handing for votes, no trailing television cameras. Out of view of the press, Trump warmly greets everyone he sees, asks how they are, and, when he can, asks for their names and what they do.

“I am blown away!” said one worker, an African American man who asked for anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the press. “The man I just saw there talking to people is nothing like what I’ve seen, day in and day out, in the news.”

Imagine that.

(09:00 AM)

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(08:55 AM)

OKAY, THIS “Waterproof Endoscope” for Android phones isn’t quite what I thought at first. Which is actually a relief.

(08:50 AM)

IT’S COME TO THIS: “Caitlyn Jenner might have convinced Kim Kardashian to vote for Donald Trump, and I can’t believe I just wrote that headline,” Allahpundit writes.

A uniter, not a divider!

(08:40 AM)


UPDATE: FBI: Clinton IT Aide Discussed Hillary ‘Cover-Up Operation’ in Work Email.

(08:40 AM)

EVERYTHING SEEMINGLY IS SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL: Hillary: Demonic Possession or Natural Depravity?

(Classical reference in headline.)

(08:30 AM)

GOOD: Rolling Stone gang-rape defamation case will go to trial.

The defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine over its now-retracted story about a gang-rape at the University of Virginia will go to trial. . . .

Eramo claimed she was portrayed as callous and indifferent to women who made accusations of sexual assault, even though her job was to support them and investigate the claims. The magazine even photoshopped an image of Eramo to make her look sinister. Eramo was quoted in the story, by the woman who made the false accusation, as claiming “nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school.” Eramo claims she said no such thing.

Judge Conrad found there was enough evidence for a jury trial that the magazine likely knew the accuser, named in the original article and lawsuit as “Jackie,” made false accusations.

“First, plaintiff offers evidence that could lead a jury to determine that [Rolling Stone author Sabrina Rubin] Erdely had a preconceived story line and may have consciously disregarded contradictory evidence,” Conrad ruled.

He added: “Second, plaintiff has produced evidence supporting the inference that Erdely should have further investigated Jackie’s allegations. The record suggests that Erdely knew the identity of at least one of the individuals who found Jackie the night of her alleged rape. Erdely, however, did not seek to contact this individual.”

Additionally, Conrad wrote, Jackie never provided the names of her assailants – and Erdely didn’t make a real attempt to find them on her own – meaning Erdely was “unable to test the reliability of Jackie’s story with them.” Rolling Stone knew this, but ran the story anyway.

“Third, plaintiff has presented evidence suggesting that Erdely had reasons to doubt Jackie’s credibility,” Conrad wrote. Erdely had been told that the alleged rape happened months before fraternity events actually took place. She had also made a note that it was “too much of coincidence” that three women had been gang-raped at the same fraternity, as Jackie claimed. Also, Jackie’s story had changed over time, but Erdely didn’t press her on the inconsistencies.

Rolling Stone fact checkers knew this as well, but didn’t press the issue.

We were supposed to make national policy based on this hoax.

(08:22 AM)

DAVID FRENCH: Dear University of Tennessee, Hands Off Glenn Reynolds.

(08:10 AM)

THE LONDON TELEGRAPH: Americans don’t like riots. Clinton’s silence on Charlotte is a liberal loss of nerve.

Obama’s silence shows something very different.

(08:00 AM)

WHY ARE DEMOCRAT-RUN COUNTRIES SUCH CESSPITS OF VIOLENCE? US cited for police violence, racism in scathing UN review on human rights.

(07:50 AM)


“Why the Obama recovery was so weak.”

—Paul Mirengoff, Power Line, yesterday.

● “You and I have a rendezvous with scarcity.”

—Your humble narrator, February 25, 2009.

(07:30 AM)

WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING? Charlotte violence sparks self defense gun buying spree.

(07:00 AM)

I SUSPECT AN AD BUBBLE IS GOING TO BURST: Facebook, Google allowed to “grade their own homework.”

(01:03 AM)

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Northwestern Univ. President Calls Those Who Decry Safe Spaces, Trigger Warnings ‘Lunatics.’

Parents, alumni, spend your money accordingly.

Friday, September 23, 2016

(09:32 PM)

BIG NEWS FROM THE FBI’S LATEST FRIDAY-EVENING DUMP: Obama used a pseudonym in emails with Clinton, FBI documents reveal. “Once informed that the sender’s name is believed to be pseudonym used by the president, Abedin exclaimed: ‘How is this not classified?’. . . Abedin then expressed her amazement at the president’s use of a pseudonym and asked if she could have a copy of the email.”

(09:00 PM)

WAIT, I THOUGHT OBAMACARE WAS GOING TO FIX ALL THIS: Maternal Mortality Rate in U.S. Rises, Defying Global Trend, Study Finds. “The United States has become an outlier among rich nations in maternal deaths, according to data released Wednesday by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research group funded by the Gates Foundation and based at the University of Washington. There were 28 maternal deaths — defined as deaths due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth — per 100,000 births in the United States in 2013, up from 23 in 2005, the institute found. The rate in 2013, the most recent year for which the institute had detailed data for the United States, was more than triple Canada’s.”

(08:44 PM)

ARE THEY TRYING TO TELL US SOMETHING? Cast of Old TV Show About a President Hiding a Debilitating Disease to Stump for Hillary in Ohio.

(08:31 PM)

QUESTION ASKED: Can the Bat Man of Mexico also be Tequila’s Super Hero?

Bats have long been among the world’s most despised animals, due largely to myth and Hollywood’s fascination with vampire bats. But Rodrigo Medellín is trying to lead a the perceptual transformation of the bat, from blood-sucking demon to unsung nature hero, and hopes a bat-friendly tequila will provide a major public relations boost.

Aside from consuming loads of crop-destroying insects, bats are plant pollinators, and Medellín’s prized lesser long-nosed bat pollinates the cactuslike blue agave plant, the single plant species from which Mexican tequila is produced.

Habitat destruction has been especially harmful to the lesser long-nosed bat, first listed as a threatened species in Mexico in 1994. By 2008 it was well on its way to recovery, thanks largely to Medellín, a tireless advocate who’s been dubbed the “Bat Man of Mexico” for his work with bats.

Clearly this man deserves a Nobel or an Oscar or whatever we can give him.

(08:06 PM)

THIS BODES POORLY: Italy’s Fertility Day Falls Flat Amid Claims of Sexism, Racism.

(07:00 PM)

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(06:36 PM)

THE ROTTEN IMMUNITY DEALS BEHIND THE FBI’S ROTTEN INVESTIGATION: Here we go again. FBI Director Comey’s recommendation not to prosecute Hillary stank when he made it and the stench just gets worse. Don’t let FBI Director Comey put a criminal in the White House.

(06:05 PM)

NOBODY CARES: The Crisis Of America’s Nonworking Men.

(05:07 PM)

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): COPS: Cheerleading Coach Romped Naked With Teen, Offered Exotic Oral Sex. “Investigators began looking into Duncan’s extracurricular activities after the mother of the unidentified 14-year-old teen contacted Tishomingo police. . . . The pair, separated in age by 34 years, used Snapchat to communicate — laboring under the apparent belief that their messages would eternally disappear into the Internet ether forever.”

(05:05 PM)

NOTHING GOOD: Roger Simon: What Happens When You Can’t Trust the FBI and the Department of Justice? “Besides being totalitarian in essence, the obfuscatory policies of Lynch and Comey have made certain that Hillary Clinton, should she win the presidency, will never have anything close to the consent of the governed. She will never be reliably cleared and an extremely high percentage of the public will never believe her — and will be correct in doing so.”

(04:49 PM)

REBOOT: ABC Developing Female-Centric ‘Magnum P.I.’ Sequel Series.

My wife insists that the original Magnum starring Tom Selleck was plenty female-centric.

(04:20 PM)

FIRE’S ROBERT SHIBLEY writes on my situation.

Related: John Stuart Mill and me.

(04:08 PM)

TEST DRIVING THE 2016 Porsche 911R.

(04:01 PM)


I’m sure the two will consummate their newfound friendship over the finest bottle of Trump wine.


(03:00 PM)

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(02:53 PM)

AND FOUR OTHER CLINTON AIDES, TOO: FBI Gave Clinton Aide/Lawyer Cheryl Mills Immunity Deal in Clinton Email Probe.

“The FBI was handing out immunity agreements like candy.”

Heads should roll, starting with Comey’s.

(02:30 PM)

SO TECHNICAL DATA AREN’T FREE SPEECH? 3D-Printed Gun Files Aren’t Free Speech, Court Rules.

The State Department was the federal agency that acted in this case, and not the more obvious Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), because by the nature of the internet, the 3D-printed gun files can cross international borders. The State Department seized on this fact to say that transferring technical data like this counted as an export.

Shortly afterwards, Defense Distributed took down the files and then reached out to the Electronic Frontier Foundation to see if they could help with this as a free speech fight.

Last December, the EFF filed a brief in support of Defense Distributed, arguing that the State Department’s enforcement of arms regulations this broadly was in fact a threat to free speech.

So is hosting files for printing a gun protected under the 1st Amendment? Not if there’s national security at stake, ruled the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. . . .

As Ars Technica notes, the opinion of the dissenting judge finds instead a complete lack of concern for free speech from the State Department, is using such a broad interpretation of the law to stop the sharing of these specific files online.

This isn’t a good decade for free speech.

(02:00 PM)

FASTER, PLEASE: World Leaders Agree at U.N. on Steps to Curb Rising Drug Resistance. “Infectious disease doctors have long warned that overuse of antibiotics in people and in animals puts human health at risk by reducing the power of the drugs, some of modern medicine’s most prized jewels. The problem is global, because the bugs are mobile. Overuse in pig production in China, for example, has spawned superbugs that have surfaced in the United States and Europe. The numbers are sobering. Jim O’Neil, chairman of the British review on antimicrobial resistance, estimates that 700,000 people a year die from drug-resistant infections. In the United States, about two million people fall ill from drug-resistant bacteria every year and at least 23,000 die from those infections.”

(01:36 PM)

GO ON WITH YOUR BAD SELF: Obama’s debate advice to Clinton: ‘Be yourself’

Yes, please do.

(01:34 PM)

SO I’M NOW READING Kurt Schlichter’s People’s Republic, and it’s really quite good. I’m about halfway through and it’s a page-turner. To be honest, I expected the ideas to be good but the execution to be so-so, since it’s a first novel, but it’s very well-done.

(01:30 PM)

NEWER LED LIGHTS LOOK GOOD, BUT THE OLDER ONES DIDN’T: LED Streetlights Are Giving Neighborhoods the Blues: Early adopters of LED street lighting are struggling with glare and light pollution.

(01:14 PM)


David P. Goldman, aka “Spengler,” weighs in on Andrew’s new book, The Great Good Thing. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Klavan responds to Goldman: Coming Under Jewish Fire.


(01:04 PM)

CLAIM: Former congressman Weiner faces sexting claim from girl, but he calls it a hoax.

Weiner gave The Associated Press an email, written by the girl to her teacher, in which she recanted her story.

“Our online chats were never inappropriate,” the email said. “I wanted to publish my story. He was the best candidate to pin the story to. The story needed a hoax to ride on.”

The girl told the Daily Mail she wrote the email at Weiner’s request but never sent it to the teacher.

One of Weiner’s previous online paramours was a 21-year-old college student less than half his age.

(01:00 PM)

THAT’S FAST: Lockheed to Build a Mach 20 Hypersonic Weapon System: Tactical Boost Glide could move at speeds of up to 13,000 miles an hour.

(12:44 PM)


The quote in question came during an exchange she had with guest and MRC Latino Guide to Conservative Hispanic Speakers member Alfonso Aguilar about the term “hard worker” being racist back when Harris-Parry still had an MSNBC show on October 24, 2015.

Alfonso Aguilar, Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles: “If there’s somebody who is a hard worker when he goes to Washington, it’s Paul Ryan….”
Host Melissa Harris-Perry: “I want us to be super careful when we use the language ‘hard worker,’ because I actually keep an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall, because it is a reminder about what hard work looks like. So, I feel you that he’s a hard worker, I do, but in the context of relative privilege.”
— Exchange on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, October 24, 2015.

More “fun” from the NBC-owned network at the link.

(12:44 PM)

THE APOPLECTIC LIBERALS: The media is failing, they argue, because it can’t convince the public that Trump is Lucifer.

Curious, isn’t it, that liberals believe that it’s the job of the “objective” press to get Hillary Clinton elected President?

(12:29 PM)

FASTER, PLEASE: ‘Hangover-free alcohol’ could replace all regular alcohol by 2050, says David Nutt.

On second thought, maybe hangovers are an necessary tool for helping us learn our limitations.

(12:14 PM)

ROGER SIMON LAYS DOWN A MARKER. Why Trump Will Win: It’s the Likability, Stupid!


(12:04 PM)

TRUMP TO DEBATE MODERATOR HOLT: We don’t want another Candy Crowley.

“Well, I think he has to be a moderator,” Trump told “Fox and Friends” of Holt during a phone interview Thursday morning. “I mean, you’re debating somebody and if she makes a mistake or I make a mistake, I’ll, you know, we’ll take each other on. But I certainly don’t think you want Candy Crowley again.”

Crowley, who moderated a 2012 debate at Hofstra University, where Trump and Clinton will square off Monday, attempted to fact check then-GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who said it took President Barack Obama 14 days to call the attack in Benghazi, Libya, an “act of terror.”

“And she turned out to be wrong. I really don’t think you want that,” Trump said. “That was a very pivotal moment in that debate. And it really threw the debate off and it was unfair. So I don’t think you want that. No, I think you have to have somebody that’s just — let them argue it out.”

What a welcome change — it’s been decades since I’ve been able to think about an upcoming presidential debate without flinching.

(11:00 AM)

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(10:56 AM)

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 1233.

(10:46 AM)

THE PRICE OF WAR, NEGLECT, DOWNSIZING, AND A BROKEN PROCUREMENT SYSTEM: House Panel says $1 Trillion Needed to Reboot Military.

The committee is spearheading the $18-billion annual increase for more equipment, training and troops. But it is facing a tough political fight with the Senate and Democrats, who oppose busting defense spending caps and raiding the Islamic State war fund to pay for the hike.

A $1 trillion increase would require obliterating spending limits passed by Congress and doling out an average of an additional $100 billion each year on the military through 2027.

Such an increase appears highly unlikely on Capitol Hill where budget gridlock and stop-gap legislative solutions have become normal. It foreshadows the hard political fight ahead for Republican defense hawks who want more money for a military that they say is depleted, inexperienced and unready for war with major world powers such as Russia and China.

That’s a lot of money. But as Robert Heinlein noted, “The most expensive thing in the world is a second-best military establishment, good but not good enough to win.

(10:44 AM)

RICHARD FERNANDEZ: “Charles Lister, writing at Foreign Policy, headlines his piece ‘Obama’s Syria Strategy Is the Definition of Insanity’…Lister doesn’t accuse Obama of being actually a crazy person, just of acting like a one. Yet the suggestive evidence goes much further than Syria.  Whether at social policy (which yielded riots), health policy (which resulted in Obamacare), or economic policy (which has created unemployment), the administration has shown a willingness to double down on failure.  In many and varied contexts, it acts like it’s insane.

Read the whole thing.

(10:30 AM)

OREGON’S LOOMING PUBLIC PENSION CALAMITY: Oregon officials face truth behind state’s soaring public pension costs: ‘It’s a little bit like a Ponzi scheme,’ the chair of the Oregon Investment Council says.

Just how bad is Oregon’s public pension funding crisis?

Bad enough that Rukaiyah Adams, the normally polished investment professional who is vice chair of the Oregon Investment Council, broke down in tears last week as she spoke of passing a record $22 billion in unfunded promises to future taxpayers.

“My call to the Legislature and to the governor is for leadership on this, and I mean right now,” Adams said during last Wednesday’s joint meeting of the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System board and the citizen panel that oversees its investments. “This is becoming a moral issue. We can’t just talk about numbers anymore.”

The numbers are bleak. Oregon’s pension system owes billions of dollars more to retirees than it has, and the last major attempt to fix the problem was shot down in courts.

This month, cities, school districts and others will find out how much more they’ll pay to help prop up the system. Higher pension costs could come at the expense of funding for other needs, including social services, infrastructure investments and education programs.

Last week’s meeting was extraordinarily candid. And it provided a brief, reality-based peek behind the financial charade taking place not only in Oregon’s pension system, but also in systems across the country.

Experts openly acknowledged they’re understating the magnitude of Oregon’s problem. They’re relying on optimistic assumptions about investment returns. And they’re holding down required pension payments below what’s needed to keep pace with the debt, to avoid eviscerating school and government budgets across Oregon.

“We’re beyond crisis,” Katy Durant, chair of the Oregon Investment Council, said in an interview after last week’s meeting. “We should have been addressing this 20 years ago and it’s just been building. It’s a little bit like a Ponzi scheme. Sooner or later it’s going to catch up with you.”

Politicians just keep kicking the can down the road, hoping the bill will fall due after their time. That’s worked so far, but something that can’t go on forever, won’t.

(10:26 AM)

AFTERMARKET AUTOPILOT: will ship a $999 autonomous driving add-on by the end of this year.

This isn’t a kit that makes your car into a fully self-driving vehicle, [famed iPhone and PlayStation hacker George] Hotz is quick to note, but it is a system that can provide powers equivalent to Tesla’s Autopilot, without requiring that you buy a whole new car. “It’s Mountain View to San Francisco without touching the wheel,” Hotz said. At launch, Comma One will support a small group of specific vehicles, but over time the startup hopes to add compatibility with more models.

Hotz contends that Comma’s key ingredient is “shippability,” a key ingredient he says other companies lack. Automakers and other startups are fond of announcing self-driving car projects (another was announced earlier today, in fact), but Hotz points out that many of these companies don’t even have hardware, let alone products they can sell to consumers.

“It is fully functional. It’s about on par with Tesla Autopilot,” Hotz said. It doesn’t have a lot of sensors as the Comma One relies on built-in car front radars and comes with a camera.

You go first.

(10:14 AM)

AS A WISE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER ONCE SAID, PUNCH BACK TWICE AS HARD: 9/11 Families Protest Obama Veto Threat of Bill That Would Allow Saudi Suit.

(10:13 AM)

NC CONGRESSMAN ROBERT PITTENGER: Charlotte Rioters ‘Hate White People’

That doesn’t seem like a helpful thing to say right now.

(10:11 AM)

CUE WORLD’S SMALLEST VIOLIN: Falling Oil Prices Shock Saudi Middle Class.

Mohammed Idrees used to travel to London once or twice a year, but these days the Saudi civil servant is asking his wife and children to cut back on using the family car to save fuel and has installed a solar panel for the kitchen to reduce electricity costs.

For decades, Saudi nationals such as Mr. Idrees enjoyed a cozy lifestyle in the desert kingdom as its rulers spent hundreds of billions of dollars of its oil revenue to subsidize essentials such as fuel, water and electricity.

But a sharp drop in the price of oil, Saudi Arabia’s main revenue source, has forced the government to withdraw some benefits this year—raising the cost of living in the kingdom and hurting its middle class, a part of society long insulated from such problems.

They might have to find honest work.

(10:02 AM)

SO NOW THE UNIVERSITY IS “INVESTIGATING” MY TWEET. I’m not sure what that means, since I’m not sure how you investigate a tweet.

More on that here.

UPDATE: Daniel Polsby emails:

I’m on your side.

A person reasonably in fear for his life has no legal duty to prefer the interest of the person who has wrongfully detained or assaulted him and made such a fear reasonable to his own, and is entitled to use necessary force on the wrongdoer to get himself out of harm’s way. That’s blackletter orthodoxy.

You can get “investigated” now – by the state, yet – for giving the “wrong” answer to a trolley problem? Really?

So it seems.

Related, from Judge Danny Boggs:

All of MY SIDE’s references and statements are to be taken in the coolest, hip-ironic, culturally aware, benign-metaphorical way possible (see Watts v. United States, and [granting my side the full benefit of the] the conflicting interpretive modes the various judges/justices on the Supreme Court and the Court[s] of Appeals [have approved]),


All of YOUR SIDE’s references and statements are to be taken in the most mindlessly literal, threatening way possible.

That should work for almost all of our commentators, of whatever persuasion.

Also, any charge against MY SIDE requires exquisite legally admissible proof of its accuracy,


Any charge against YOUR SIDE must be true if it was asserted by anyone, anywhere.

People on MY SIDE are responsible only for what they said personally, in full-quotation context.


People on YOUR SIDE are responsible for the inferred implications of anything said by anyone who ever held any idea vaguely similar to what your people think.


Well, it’s not okay, but it’s accurate.

(10:00 AM)

NEWS YOU CAN USE: What It’s Like to Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. “IBS is not a life-threatening disorder, but some people become incapacitated by it. They quit work, stop traveling, and withdraw completely. Some fall into a deep depression that exacerbates the brain-gut feedback loop and intensifies their symptoms. Like me, many people with IBS are too embarrassed to talk openly about it, or think that because it’s invisible or not serious that somehow their symptoms don’t matter.”

(09:00 AM)

AT AMAZON, fresh deals on bestselling products, updated every hour.

Also, coupons galore in Grocery & Gourmet Food.

Plus, Kindle Daily Deals.

And, Today’s Featured Digital Deal. The deals are brand new every day, so browse and save!

(08:58 AM)

MY CATO PAPER ON THE SUPREME COURT’S COMING TERM IS #7 on the SSRN Top Downloads list. Thanks to everyone who downloaded it!

(08:57 AM)

THE CHARLOTTE RIOTS WILL ACCELERATE THIS IN NORTH CAROLINA, I SUSPECT: On a street in Ohio, defiant Democrats flock to Trump.

How long before some reporter asks Hillary if the riots are Russian-backed provokatskiya designed to swing the election?

(08:46 AM)

MEET PALMER LUCKEY: The Facebook Near Billionaire Secretly Funding Trump’s Meme Machine.

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey financially backed a pro-Trump political organization called Nimble America, a self-described “social welfare 501(c)4 non-profit” in support of the Republican nominee.

Luckey sold his virtual reality company Oculus to Facebook for $2 billion in 2014, and Forbes estimates his current net worth to be $700 million. The 24-year-old told The Daily Beast that he had used the pseudonym “NimbleRichMan” on Reddit with a password given to him by the organization’s founders.

Nimble America says it’s dedicated to proving that “shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real,” according to the company’s introductory statement, and has taken credit for a billboard its founders say was posted outside of Pittsburgh with a cartoonishly large image of Clinton’s face alongside the words “Too Big to Jail.”

Payback’s a… well, you know.

(08:44 AM)

THE HILL: Clinton’s eyes — a window into her health issues:

In 2014 Conan O’Brien did a spoof of Hillary Clinton‘s interview with Diane Sawyer about her lack of lingering health issues following her 2012 concussion. In an obviously photoshopped version Clinton’s eyes are made to oscillate crazily.

It was a very funny piece. Now, it may not seem so funny.

Hillary Clinton exhibited abnormal eye movements during her recent speech in Philadelphia and they were not photoshopped.

Her eyes did not always move in the same direction at the same time. It appears that she has a problem with her left sixth cranial nerve. That nerve serves only one function and that is to make the lateral rectus muscle contract. That muscle turns the eye in the direction away from the midline.

They’re not Photoshopped. This is an unretouched closeup of a photo off the AP wire of Hillary speaking with members of the media at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, NY on Monday. Note the disparity between where each eye is pointed.


Click to enlarge (AP Photo/Matt Rourke).


(08:43 AM)


Obama warned that, if we didn't act to punish Assad in 2013, US troops would face chemical weapons. He was right.

— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) September 22, 2016

(08:40 AM)

CEASEFIRE UPDATE: New strikes in Aleppo as Syria announces offensive.

Syrian and Russian planes were pounding eastern Aleppo, according to activists. A rescue worker described what was happening as “annihilation”.

The government has urged people to avoid positions held by rebels. Russia has not confirmed its involvement.

US-Russian talks to revive a collapsed truce have broken up without progress.

Publicly, John Kerry sold the Syrian deal with Russia as a possible “turning point” in the five-year-old civil war. But privately, he “conceded to aides and friends that he believes it will not work,” even before it was implemented.

Our hands continue to be tied by overly restrictive rules of engagement, while Moscow and Damascus do whatever they please — with another self-humiliation of the U.S. Secretary of State as an added bonus.

(08:31 AM)

MEDIAITE: Dear Media: Please Stop Calling Violent Rioters ‘Protesters.’ “There are thousands of protests in America every year, all of which manage to be nonviolent. I’ve been to quite a few of them, including entirely peaceful Black Lives Matter protests. None of them involved throwing people into a fire. Heck, none of them managed to set anything on fire.”

(08:30 AM)

BOTTOM STORY OF THE DAY: Celebrities want you to vote … but not for Donald Trump.

(08:28 AM)

WELL, I’M HOPING TO SEE THIS CIVIL RIGHT EXPAND: In America, Guns Are For Whites Only. It’s Eugene Robinson, so he’s got to get his licks in against the NRA, but actually the NRA called for an investigation in the Philando Castile case, though it could have moved faster in doing so.

That someone is carrying a weapon doesn’t make them a threat that police should respond to. Drawing a gun and pointing it is a different matter, obviously. Police need to be better trained on this.

On the other hand, Tennessee’s self-defense law is already benefiting minorities:

The man who shot and killed an armed robbery suspect at a Knoxville convenience store may avoid charges under Tennessee law — despite the fact he was a felon with a gun.

Issac Jamal Scruggs, 42, of Knoxville, was at a Breadbox convenience store early Monday on Asheville Highway when 18-year-old Tamon Stapleton held the clerk at gunpoint.

Scruggs, a friend of the clerk’s, shot and killed Stapleton. A previous felony conviction would ban Scruggs from carrying the gun he used, but Tennessee law says the fact he protected someone else means the gun charge doesn’t matter.

“It trumps any other firearms charges that might exist per statute. Now, the only thing that could come in play is it doesn’t preclude the federal government,” said Knoxville attorney Don Bosch, who is not directly connected to the case.

Scruggs is a felon, with past convictions for aggravated assault and possession of weapons more than 10 years ago. So far, no charges have been filed against him, and Knoxville Police say they consider the case closed.

As I said at the time, this seems entirely just.

UPDATE: The above reminded me of this story, reproduced in full below:


A crowd gathered as Knoxville Police Department Lt. Gordon Gwathney struggled with the screaming black woman in the public housing development.

Gwathney already had shot his stun gun at the 5-foot-2-inch tall woman, but her crack cocaine high made her impervious to the electric jolt designed to freeze the muscles of large men. She ripped the metal wires from her body and continued to fight.

As he tussled with the 110-pound woman, the crowd of onlookers in Walter P. Taylor Homes swelled. Gwathney’s radio was ripped from his uniform as he forced the woman to the ground, so calling for help as the crowd closed in around him was not an option.

As he fought to get handcuffs on the squirming woman, two people from the crowd jumped into the fray.

“I saw something I thought I’d never see — people come to the aid of an officer,” Dewey Roberts, former president of Knoxville NAACP, told a community group last week. “They were telling her to calm down and they got his radio that had been knocked loose.”

Roberts witnessed the event through a window at the Dr. Lee Williams Complex, a senior citizens center he oversees in Walter P. Taylor Homes. Roberts had seen the confrontation develop despite Gwathney “trying to de-escalate the situation” and worried as he saw the crowd of black onlookers encircle the lone officer.

“With my experiences with police over the years, I was just amazed,” said the 69-year-old Roberts who led Knoxville’s black community through the racial tinderbox in the late 1990s when several black men died during confrontations with Knoxville officers.

“And it wasn’t just a few people, it was the whole crowd. I was shaking my head in disbelief, but it was a good feeling.”

Well, good.

(08:27 AM)

HUH: Turkey postpones trip by UN torture expert.

The U.N.’s special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, was due to visit Turkey from Oct.10 to 14, but Ankara pushed the trip back to “November or December,” according to a statement from Mendez’s office.

“While I understand that the developments in Turkey during the last months demand the government’s fullest attention, I believe that postponing my visit at this late stage sends the wrong message,” he said in the statement.

“In light of the thousands of arrests made following the failed coup of July 15, and the allegations of severe overcrowding and poor conditions in many detention centres throughout the country, my visit is of utmost importance,” he added.

Mendez’s mandate ends on Oct. 31, but he urged Ankara to give his successor “unfettered access” to any areas where people were being detained.

U.N. rights office spokesman Jon Izagirre told AFP that Turkey said it was “too busy to dedicate time to the visit.”

Too busy with what, exactly?

(08:17 AM)

THIS IS COMFORTING: Deadly Viruses and Bacteria Mistakenly Shipped 21 Times: Believing the deadly pathogens had been deactivated, scientists and officials at U.S. labs sent highly contagious viruses and bacteria to unsecure locations at least 21 times.

(08:15 AM)

MAN SHOT IN CHARLOTTE PROTESTS DIES. “Police said Carr was shot in a civilian-on-civilian incident Wednesday night, during protests that led to at least 44 arrests. Mayor Jennifer Roberts instituted a midnight-to-6 a.m. curfew Thursday.”

(08:14 AM)


Yesterday I linked Ross Douthat’s column on what he describes as Samantha Bee-ism – the problem of a universal and exclusionary liberal tone among late night comics like Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, and Bee herself.  Douthat was absolutely over the target in his piece, which led to a serious of escalating self-beclownings among the defenders of the idea that this brand of politicized humor is a good thing – Bee reportedly criticized the column in a conference call, and I’m sure Douthat will be the subject of an Oliver rant soon enough, where he literally destroys people by yelling into a black glass eye for 30 minutes to the seal-like cheers of an audience of people who think exactly as he does.

But it’s impossible for any fair-minded evaluator to deny Douthat’s main point: replacing culture with politics, even late night culture, makes for bad versions of both. Late night comedy has gotten so off the rails of putting comedy first that when one of their fellow liberally minded hosts, Jimmy Fallon, has a softball interview (the only kinds he does) with Donald Trump, it’s viewed as a traitorous act, “normalizing” bigotry by just playing nice with it. And their irritation makes sense: It bothers these late-nighters very much not just that Trump has a shot, but that the brand of humor they and their predecessors used to skewer past nominees just isn’t landing this time around.

As Glenn has noted, “Every four years the GOP nominee is literally Hitler, only to be resurrected as one of the ‘good Republicans’ later in contrast to the new guy who’s literally Hitler.” How many times can the left cry wolf?

Related: Everyone Hush: Conan O’Brien’s Pet Fool [Andy Richter] is Going to Weigh In on Media Bias.

(08:08 AM)

YOU DON’T SAY: Fewer see 2016 election coverage as fair.

The decline is largely due to Democrats’ dissatisfaction. “It comes predominantly from Democrats’ unease of how the media is covering the candidates,” Jeffrey Gottfried, senior researcher at Pew, said in an interview.

The percentage of Americans who characterized the media’s coverage of the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, as “too easy” totaled 27%. That is higher than 20% for 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney, and 15% for John McCain, the Republican standard bearer in 2008.

More than four out of 10 Democrats, 43%, say the media is too easy on Trump. Only 27% of them said the same about Romney in 2012.

Meanwhile, 61% of Republicans said the media is too easy on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, relatively unchanged from four years ago, when 59% of them said the same about President Obama.

If the media were fair with Clinton, she’d be hiding in Argentina by now.

(08:00 AM)

2016: Americans Already Hate The Next President.

A majority of Americans have a negative view of Hillary Clinton. And that’s according to a poll that has her leading Donald Trump by seven points.

It’s true that every four years journalists write columns lamenting the pitiful choices facing Americans on Election Day. But this election is special because of how overwhelmingly negative public views are toward the two major party candidates.

At Amazon, those wishing to wear their frustration now have three pages of products to choose from emblazoned with the logo, “I Already Hate Our Next President.” This sentiment can be shared on mugs, T-shirts, tank tops, hoodies and even infant onesies. But one need not rely on anecdotal evidence.

In the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll cited above, just 37 percent of respondents said they had a positive view of Clinton, compared with 52 percent who had a negative view — and that was actually a marginal improvement over the August poll. Meanwhile, Trump was only viewed positively by 28 percent, compared with 61 percent who viewed him negatively. Among undecided voters, just 13 percent had a positive view of Clinton and 5 percent of Trump.

Even their own voters don’t like them much. A system that produces nominees like this is dysfunctional. But will anybody do anything?

(07:50 AM)

THIS DOESN’T LOOK GOOD: Charlotte police refuse to release shooting video.

Other officers at the scene were wearing body cameras at the time, though the officer who shot Scott — Brentley Vinson, who was placed on paid administrative leave — was not wearing any recording device.

Kerr Putney, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief, said that video footage of the encounter did not give “absolute definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun,” but he said that the footage and other evidence “supports what we’ve heard” about what happened.

Putney later told CNN that the video was not from an angle that would show a gun in Scott’s hand, but he said witnesses saw a gun and one was found nearby. However, he said the department has no imminent plans to let the public view this footage and make a determination.

Conclusive or not, it’s probably past time to let the public see the video.

(07:36 AM)

JAYVEE: Islamic State launches chemical attack against U.S., Iraqi forces, Pentagon confirms.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee “mustard blister agent” was released in the vicinity of a military airfield in the western part of al Qayyara, about 40 miles south of Mosul, in northern Iraq.

The airbase has been designated by Iraqi and American commanders as the main logistics hub to support a series of firebases that will serve as jumping-off points for 14 Iraqi Army brigades and thousands of peshmerga and militia fightersfor the eventual siege of Mosul.

If ISIS had been dealt with seriously three years ago, they wouldn’t be holding dress rehearsals with chemical weapons today.

(07:30 AM)

LOYALTY: Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin defends daughter after tough EpiPen grilling.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) delivered a robust defense of his daughter, Mylan Pharmaceuticals CEO Heather Bresch, one day after House lawmakers rebuked her for the recent price increases of her company’s EpiPen allergy medication.

“We can criticize and beat the living crap out of anyone we want to, and that was proven yesterday. But does that solve the problem? Do they really want to solve the problem?” Manchin told CNN in his first public remarks about the EpiPen controversy, which has involved both his wife and daughter.

Bresch sat through about five hours of combative questioning by House members from both parties on Wednesday about her company’s decision to raise the price of its EpiPens, as well as her $19 million salary.

Manchin has so far stayed quiet about the issue that’s gripping Capitol Hill. But he weighed in Thursday to say the House panel could have been “more constructive” and said his colleagues weren’t trying hard enough to address the larger problem of rising medical costs.

He’s a loyal dad.

(07:22 AM)

OOPS: Facebook Overestimated Key Video Metric for Two Years.

Several weeks ago, Facebook disclosed in a post on its “Advertiser Help Center” that its metric for the average time users spent watching videos was artificially inflated because it was only factoring in video views of more than three seconds. The company said it was introducing a new metric to fix the problem.

Some ad agency executives who were also informed by Facebook about the change started digging deeper, prompting Facebook to give them a more detailed account, one of the people familiar with the situation said.

Ad buying agency Publicis Media was told by Facebook that the earlier counting method likely overestimated average time spent watching videos by between 60% and 80%, according to a late August letter Publicis Media sent to clients that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

This isn’t just a big deal for advertisers on Facebook-hosted videos, but also for video producers. Metrics like how long users watch and exactly when they stop watching help producers figure out the best ways of creating content which actually keeps people watching.

Business Insider’s Lara O’Reilly argues that Facebook’s flub isn’t “as bad as it seems,” but as one of those content creators, I’d have to strongly disagree.

(07:06 AM)

CRAZY LIKE A FOX: South Korea reveals it has a plan to assassinate Kim Jong Un.

South Korea has elite troops on standby ready to assassinate Kim Jong Un if the country feels threatened by North Korean nuclear weapons, the country’s defense minister revealed this week.

Asked in parliament Wednesday if there was a special forces unit already assembled that could eliminate North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, Han Min-koo said: “Yes, we do have such a plan.”

It seems unlikely that Seoul could actually pull off such a thing, given Kim’s secrecy, paranoia, and the level of protection he enjoys. Two weeks ago, South Korea announced a similarly unlikely plan to raze Pyongyang from the air. Perhaps the South is trying to provoke Kim into doing something stupid enough that the cabinet or the army instigates a coup against him.

(07:00 AM)

THE HILL: Trump: Police wrongdoing needs to be ‘vigorously addressed.’

Donald Trump called for wrongdoing on the part of police officers to be “vigorously addressed” following this week’s shootings of unarmed black men in North Carolina and Oklahoma.

“The problem is not that there are too many police. The problem is that there are not enough police,” Trump said at a rally in Pennsylvania Thursday.

“We must do everything to ensure they’re properly trained and they respect all members of the public and that any wrongdoing is always vigorously addressed.”

In Charlotte, N.C., the death of Keith Lamont Scott and the refusal of the city’s police department to release a video of the incident has sparked two nights of violent protests.

As of Thursday morning, nine people have been injured and 44 arrested during the riots, Reuters reports.

And in Tulsa, Okla., the officer who fatally shot Terence Crutcher was charged with first-degree manslaughter Thursday.

Trump said communities should work with and not against their police departments.

“The main victims of these violent demonstrations are law abiding African-Americans who live in these communities and only want to raise their children in safety and peace and with a good education,” Trump said.

Well, that’s certainly true.

Related: “And I can’t help suspecting that he’s trying to deliver a subliminal message about Hillary: Maybe the woman is not up to the extreme stress of the job.”

(06:59 AM)

SO MY USA TODAY COLUMN is suspended for a month. My statement is here. I don’t apologize for saying that you shouldn’t stop for angry mobs, even if they’re blocking your way. But I could have said it better.

(12:00 AM)

HOW IT WORKS: Law firms, under pressure from their clients — and the Obama administration — forced their attorneys to drop their representation in the House’s Obamacare suit.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

(11:57 PM)

WHY, INDEED? Hillary Clinton — in a strange new angry voice — asks “Why aren’t I 50 points ahead?”

(10:50 PM)

FALL FASCISM PREVIEW: September is “Trump Is Hitler Month” At The Washington Post.

Hasn’t every month at the Post been “Trump is Hitler Month” for quite some time now?

(Classical allusion in headline.)

(09:00 PM)

AN AR-STYLE RIFLE in .300 Win Mag.

(08:13 PM)

AIN’T NO CRIME: Scotland to celebrate illegal whisky heritage.

The Cabrach Trust is earmarking £5.3m in fundraising in order to help transform the Inverharroch Farm into a heritage site and ensure that enthusiasts are well aware of the areas place in the Scotch whisky story.

Cabrach, which lies on the southern edge of Moray, is said to be one of the birthplaces of Scotch whisky as we know it, though traditionally, it is better known for its number of illicit distilleries and smuggling routes of the past.

The forbidden fruit theory holds that scotch might taste better when it’s illegal, but I’m not willing to risk it.