Sobering Thoughts

Comments on politics, the culture, economics and religion by Paul Tuns -- in short, everything about the human endeavour from a non-hyphenated conservative perspective. I am Toronto-based writer and editor, whose articles, columns and reviews have appeared in more than 35 publications. I am editor-in-chief of The Interim, Canada's life and family newspaper, author of Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal and a regular contributor to the book pages of the Halifax Herald.

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Friday, October 24, 2014
Grandpa and his gun save 19-year-old granddaughter from being gang-raped
Bearing Arms reports: "A trio of serial home invaders met their match in a 67-year-old Lumberton, North Carolina grandfather who shot them all when they attempted to rape his 19-year-old granddaughter," during a home invasion. The grandfather was shot and fortunately he survived; one of the three invaders died of his wounds and the other two have been apprehended. This should be bigger news but it won't get national play.

Indiegogo project for the families Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent & Corporal Nathan Cirillo

Krauthammer on King Obama
Charles Krauthammer on "Barack Obama And His Bewildered, Bystander Presidency":
The president is upset. Very upset. Frustrated and angry. Seething about the government's handling of Ebola, said the front-page headline in the New York Times last Saturday.
There's only one problem with this pose, so obligingly transcribed for him by the Times. It's his government. He's president. Has been for six years. Yet Barack Obama reflexively insists on playing the shocked outsider when something goes wrong within his own administration.
But the first Secret Service scandal — the hookers of Cartagena — evinced this from the president: "If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then of course I'll be angry."
An innovation in ostentatious distancing: future conditional indignation.
These shows of calculated outrage — and thus distance — are becoming not just unconvincing, but unamusing. In our system, the president is both head of state and head of government. Obama seems to enjoy the monarchial parts, but when it comes to the actual business of running government, he shows little interest and even less aptitude.

'Federal Government: Too Big To Succeed'
Investor's Business Daily after reading Senator Tom Coburn's "Wastebook" report: "The government doesn't need more money to do its job. It needs a major housecleaning."

Thursday, October 23, 2014
The Ottawa shooting in terms Americans can understand
At PJ Media Kathy Shaidle explains the Ottawa terrorist attack to Americans:
Imagine, I tweeted, someone killing the honor guard at Arlington National Cemetery, then getting into an action-movie shootout in the marble halls of Congress, while the president and his Cabinet met in an unlocked room a few feet away.
It was harder to explain to Americans that the guy who took down the terrorist, the sergeant-at-arms, is best known for wearing a funny, archaic getup during government ceremonies. It’s a fancy-pants job given to a distinguished older fellow — Kevin Vickers is 58 — as a kind of pre-retirement honor. Luckily, yesterday, Vickers had a handgun in his desk drawer…
She also reminds readers that following breaking news on Twitter -- and I'm guilty of doing so, too -- is a mistake; many early accounts are incorrect: "Furious twitter traffic to the contrary, it doesn’t look like there were multiple shooters and crime scenes after all, but the authorities are being tight-lipped."
And ditto everything she says on page four.
Shaidle includes this video of the House of Commons resuming and the deserved standing ovation that Vickers received:

'2 Guys Disguise McNuggets As Gourmet Snacks And Serve Them To Food Experts'
Business Insider has the lifehunterstv video of food experts at a catering conference being fed McDonald's McNuggets and burgers sliced "into bite-size pieces and served them with toothpicks on a white platter" and told they were high-end restaurant menu samples. Of course, the experts loved the food with one offering that it "rolls around the tongue nicely."

Weaponizing Ebola
Stratfor considers the possibility of ISIS weaponizing Ebola and says it is extremely unlikely for numerous reasons not the least of which is that it is difficult to obtain samples and inefficient to spread. The intelligence service notes that there have been unsuccessful attempts to weaponize Ebola before:
As we have previously noted, the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo attempted to obtain the Ebola virus as part of its biological warfare program. The group sent a medical team to Africa under the pretext of being aid workers with the intent of obtaining samples of the virus. It failed in that mission, but even if it had succeeded, the group would have faced the challenge of getting the sample back to its biological warfare laboratory in Japan. The Ebola virus is relatively fragile. Its lifetime on dry surfaces outside of a host is only a couple of hours, and while some studies have shown that the virus can survive on surfaces for days when still in bodily fluids, this requires ideal conditions that would be difficult to replicate during transport.
If the group had been able to get the virus back to its laboratory, it would have then faced the challenge of reproducing the Ebola virus with enough volume to be used in a large-scale biological warfare attack, similar to its failed attacks on Tokyo and other Japanese cities in which the group sprayed thousands of gallons of botulinum toxin and Anthrax spores. Reproducing the Ebola virus would present additional challenges because it is an extremely dangerous virus to work with. It has infected researchers, even when they were working in laboratories with advanced biosafety measures in place. Although Aum Shinrikyo had a large staff of trained scientists and a state-of-the-art biological weapons laboratory, it was still unable to effectively weaponize the virus.
The challenges Aum Shinrikyo's biological weapons program faced would be multiplied for the Islamic State. Aum Shinrikyo operatives were given a great deal of operational freedom until their plans were discovered after the 1995 sarin attacks on the Tokyo subway. (The group's previous biological weapons attacks were so unsuccessful that nobody knew they had been carried out until after its members were arrested and its chemical and biological weapons factories were raided.) Unlike the Japanese cult, the Islamic State's every move is under heavy scrutiny by most of the world's intelligence and security agencies. This means jihadist operatives would have far more difficulty assembling the personnel and equipment needed to construct a biological weapons laboratory. Since randomly encountering an infected Ebola patient would be unreliable, the group would have to travel to a country impacted by the outbreak. This would be a difficult task for the group to complete without drawing attention to itself. Furthermore, once group members reached the infected countries, they would have to enter quarantined areas of medical facilities, retrieve the samples and then escape the country unnoticed, since they could not count on randomly encountering an infected Ebola patient.

Midterm watch (Dems not happy with Obama edition)
The National Journal: "Senate Democratic Officials Start Lashing Out at White House." Josh Kraushaar reports:
"The ineptitude of the White House political operation has sunk from annoying to embarrassing," one senior Senate Democratic aide told National Journal.

Winnipeg municipal elections
Brian F. Kelcey on Winnipeg mayor-elect Brian Bowman: "Cheerleader or problem-solver?" Opportunities and risks depending on whether Bowman wants to be bold and embrace the fresh faces on Winnipeg city council.

Sometimes a picture can be worth a thousands columns
Five Feet of Fury rounds up some Canadian newspaper editorial cartoons on 10/22 attacks in Ottawa.

Ottawa, Islam, what we have gained and what we have lost
Mark Steyn:
The sub-title of my new book is "Don't Say You Weren't Warned". I have been writing for over a decade now about the west's wannabe jihadists, often born and raised in Canada and America and Britain and Australia and Europe, some of them converts - or "reverts", as they call them. Throughout that period, the multiculti delusionists have insisted that Islam's contribution to the diversity mosaic is no less positive than that of Poles or Italians. Now we have pure laine Quebeckers and Nigerian South Londoners converting to Islam because it's the coolest gang on the planet. And one consequence of that is that a relaxed, open capital city will descend into the same panopticon security state as Washington. I love Ottawa - I know every yard of that stretch of Wellington Street connecting Parliament and the Cenotaph: Chateau Laurier is where I always stay when in town; not so long ago I walked past the war memorial with a senior Minister of the Crown and we talked about how simple and dignified and profoundly moving it was; and during my battles with the "human rights" commissions I had the honour of testifying to the House of Commons and strolling that same Centre Block corridor that that Allahu Akbar loon rampaged down today.
That security-lite Ottawa is gone, and that is a loss. But there will be others in the years ahead. Because the price of welcoming and incubating and growing Islam in the west is, ultimately, the loss of everything else.
We can't say we haven't been warned.

Why the Kentucky Senate race matters
George Will says that not only is control of the Senate on the line in the race between Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes which is closer than it ought to be. Will says a restoration of the constitutional balance of power between the legislature and the executive is at stake. Might be overselling the importance of one race, but Will makes the case as persuasively as it can be.

One party's vote fraud is another's calibration error
Investor's Business Daily editorializes about voter fraud -- or "irregularities" -- in American elections:
[V]oting early in Illinois on Monday was Republican state representative candidate Jim Moynihan. "While early voting at the Schaumburg Public Library today," Moynihan said, according to the website Illinois Review, "I tried to cast a vote for myself and instead it cast a vote for my opponent." Moynihan also noted his surprise that "the same thing happened with a number of races when I tried to vote for a Republican and the machine registered a vote for a Democrat."
Somehow we're not surprised this could happen in a state where the art of "machine" politics was perfected if not invented. Moynihan was able to recast his ballot, and the errant device was reportedly taken out of service.
But we wonder how many voters might not notice such a "mistake" in a state with an extremely tight governor's race between businessman Bruce Rauner and incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn ...
"This was a calibration error of the touch-screen of the machine," Jim Scalzitti, deputy communications director for the Cook County Board of Elections, told the website Illinois Watchdog. We would like to believe that, but it might not have been.
Clearly there has been much resistance among Democrats to voting integrity measures such as voter ID. We're reminded of the case of Melowese Richardson, the Hamilton County, Ohio, poll worker who was convicted of casting multiple votes for President Obama.
When the Virginia Voter Alliance cross-checked voter rolls in Virginia and Maryland, it announced that it had turned up 44,000 people registered to vote in both states at the same time. The group also identified 31,000 dead voters via the Social Security Administration's Death Master File.
Just this week, an Arizona ballot monitor caught a man wearing a Citizens for a Better Arizona T-shirt stuffing hundreds of early ballots in a ballot box, while guerrilla filmmaker James O'Keefe revealed undercover footage of liberal activists in Colorado urging him to fill out unused ballots, a violation of the law.
Also in Colorado, campaign workers have been going door to door, asking voters for mail-in ballots, a practice some fear could be abused. Meanwhile, in New York City, it's official: There are 850 registered voters who are officially listed as 164 years old or older.

Steyn on the Ottawa shooting
Mark Steyn was interviewed yesterday on Fox News and he takes issue with President Barack Obama's reference to the terrorist attack in Ottawa as "senseless violence" and says that it is time to challenge the ideology behind the terrorist attacks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
How the drop in oil prices affects Venezuela
Moisés Naím tweets: "Venezuela loses $728MM for each 1$ the oil price drops. Assuming oil @ $104 in 2014 and $96 in 2015 Vzla's $ deficit in 2015 will be $27.8bn."

Coburn's last 'Wastebook'
Senator Tom Coburn (R, OK) is retiring this year. Each year he releases his "Wastebook," a report on some of Washington's most egregious, some would say ridiculous, spending. The Washington Times reports on Coburn's mission to root out waste:
Plenty of lawmakers talk about rooting out government waste, but Mr. Coburn makes a cause of it. He deploys staffers to peruse newspapers and dig through government websites to spot the tens of billions of dollars in pork, boondoggles and extravagance that have contributed to the government’s trillions of dollars of debt.
Among the $25 billion in waste emanating from 100 projects:
Leading this year’s edition is $19 million in salaries that the government paid to workers who were suspended from their jobs, usually because of misconduct that would have resulted in outright firing at a private company. Other highlights include the $50,000 spent to study whether sea monkeys’ swimming changes the flow of oceans, $450,000 that the Homeland Security Department spent on high-end gym memberships for staffers whose federal health insurance already pays for gym benefits and the increasing number of veterans who get disability payments by claiming sleep apnea at a cost Mr. Coburn said could reach $1.2 billion.
Coburn wrote about his Wastebook for NRO, and why it matters:
This morning I’m releasing Wastebook 2014, an annual report that looks at 100 of the most outrageous ways Washington spent your money over the past year. Although they cover just a small slice of the federal budget, the waste in these examples alone totals more than $25 billion. It comes at a time when few people trust government to tackle the big, important problems. The examples detailed in the report make it easy to see why.
You can read the full report at Coburn's website.

Governor General statement on Ottawa shooting
Governor General David Johnston released his "Statement Following Recent Tragedy in Ottawa."

Canada and terrorism
People on Twitter (pundits and others) are saying Canada lost her innocence today. American journalists are reporting that today is the first incidence of terrorism in Canada. True, it's the first post 9/11 attack, but Wikipedia shows that Canada experienced numerous terrorist attacks in the '60s and '70s in regards to Quebec ("1963-1969 - Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) starts a bombing campaign at the average rate of one every ten days. Targets included English owned businesses, banks, McGill University and the homes of prominent English speakers") and numerous incidents related to Cuba and Yugoslavia, and, of course, there was the Air India flight 182 bombing in June 1985.

Ottawa attack as seen on Twitter
Two lines that tick me off: "Canada will never be the same" and "loss of innocence." This sounds like the bullshit people say at funerals because they don't have the words to express something meaningful and true. Perhaps "end of naivete" would be better. Also don't get the point of calling terrorists "cowards." How many people are willing to kill for their beliefs? Don't read that as approval or admiration, but terrorists aren't cowards. Their beliefs, their motivations, and their means are barbaric so call them that: barbarians. Or assholes.

How something can be true and totally miss the point at the same time
Former Liberal leadership contender Karen McCrimmon tweets: "Only light and love can overcome the fear and darkness. Share your light, love and compassion today in every way you can. Love beats fear!" On one hand she's right, but that isn't a guide for public policy or what is needed right now to meet the challenge in Ottawa.

Shooting in Ottawa
The CBC has very good coverage. So does Sun News. It is quite something that shots were exchanged in the Parliament buildings.To friends and family asking about my son, he was not in Ottawa today, so he's safe.
David Jack Smith tweets: "Heroine Malala Yousafzai was due to get Canadian citizenship today from PM Harper. This is no coincidence." Presumably. While this attack is by definition terrorism, it might not be that kind of terrorism -- you know, the kind we're fighting in the Middle East and which Justin Trudeau thinks can be combated by more humanitarian aid. Remember there will be a gazillion reports today, many of which will not be true or only half-true tomorrow.
I got nothing to add but to lament the inevitable restriction on liberties that will be coming to Canada's capital. Be vigilant, go after perpetrators, but keep us free.

Which one is the Party of the Rich?
Breitbart reports that donations from billionaires are keeping several Democrats competitive in the midterms. Breitbart reports:
So far this cycle, the top three liberal super PACs have trounced conservative groups on fundraising, raising $134 million against the conservatives' $58 million. Almost half the donations to the Senate Majority Fund, the most active liberal super PAC, have come in chunks of donations over $1 million. By contrast, just over a third of the donations to the Republican American Crossroads have been in excess of $1 million. Liberal hedge fund manager and environmental activist Tom Steyer alone has contributed over $40 million to Democrat campaigns.
This would be widely reported if it was the Koch brothers and Republicans.
Unfortunately, the article doesn't list which races are affected by the liberal PACs.

2016 watch (John Kasich edition)
The Washington Examiner's Philip Klein:
Ohio Gov. John Kasich's recent comments suggesting President Obama's healthcare law was here to stay and having a positive impact on people's lives generated a lot of attention as marking a potential shift in Republican attitudes toward the program. But the fact that he has since pushed back on the story suggests he's seriously thinking about a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
On Monday, the Associated Press ran a (since-modified) story quoting Kasich as saying of repealing Obamacare, "That's not gonna happen." He added that opposition "was really either political or ideological" and that "I don't think that holds water against real flesh and blood and real improvements in people's lives." ...
One of my first thoughts after reading his initial comments was that he cannot be serious about running for president in 2016, because there's no way he could win a primary with such a stance ...
"The AP got it wrong," Kasich tweeted. "Ohio said NO to the Obamacare exchange for a reason. As always, my position is that we need to repeal and replace."

Birthday books
Books are the best presents, and my family didn't let me down this year. Among much other loot, I now own the following books, some of which I've read before, some of which I'll be reading soon:
Cost and Choice: An Inquiry in Economic Theory by James M. Buchanan
How Baseball Explains America by Hal Bodley with a foreword by George F. Will
Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed by James C. Scott
Blood Aces: The Wild Ride of Benny Binion, the Texas Gambler who Created Vegas Poker by Doug J. Swanson
The Dominion of Capital: The Politics of Big Business and the Crisis of the Canadian Bourgeoisie, 1914-1947 by Don Nerbas

Twitter wouldn't let me post this message
Twitter tells me "This request looks like it might be automated. To protect our users from spam and other malicious activity, we can't complete this action right now. Please try again later." Me message:
"The [Un]Documented @MarkSteynOnline" is "already in the Politics Top Ten in both Canada and America"
Twitter followers are protected from that malicious announcement. You, dear readers, are not.

Kansas City Royals success in post-season seen as evidence that handouts to teams are worthwhile
Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra notes that the Kansas City Star editorializes:
The power of major league sports to bring this entire community together has been obvious in the past few weeks. It’s a big reason taxpayers were told they needed to approve public funding for a renovated Truman Sports Complex in 2006. And it has worked as advertised.
But wait, says Calcaterra, wasn't that money used on non-renovation items? Quoting from a 2012 local radio report:
The Kansas City Royals have requested nearly $17 million of taxpayer money the past five years from the Kauffman Stadium repair and upkeep fund but spent only 9% of the money received on actual repairs and maintenance to the stadium, according to documents obtained by Sports Radio 810 WHB . . . The Royals have received at least $12.7 million from taxpayers that was approved by the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority as part of the RMMO provision of the team’s lease with the county and spent it on full and part time employee salaries, security, cable tv, first aid, utilities, telephones and even payroll taxes. By using the money for payroll taxes, the team literally collected taxpayer money to pay their own taxes.
Royals owner David Glass is estimated to be worth around $2 billion, but is given government money to pay other levels of government what they are owed in tax. This should bring the community together ... in outrage against both local politicians and Royals owner David Glass.

Obama's 'giant orb of ineptitude' surrounded by incompetents
The Investor's Business Daily editorial on President Barack Obama's White House and administration:
In this administration, Obama is a giant orb of ineptitude circled by yes-men and amateurs. He surrounds himself with incompetent people and then wonders why they screw up. But instead of admitting his own poor judgment, he throws his hand-picked appointees under the bus.
IBD then lists the litany of "yes-men and amateurs" from IRS official Lois Lerner to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Economist Christina Romer was a yes-woman and certainly not amateur or incompetent, but was ultimately blamed for the stimulus failure for doing precisely what the president wanted.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
What Libertarians bring to elections
Reason's Ed Krayewski has "Four Big Issues Libertarians Bring to the Table in Elections" at Hit & Run. Whether "Marijuana Legalization" qualifies as a "Big Issue" is debatable and "Anti-War Foreign Policy" is going to be divisive, but "Civil Liberties" and "Crony Capitalism and Actually Limiting Government" are very important issues that the other parties need to be schooled in. A Senate controlled by neither party and a couple free agent Libertarian senators would be ideal, although an unrealistic expectation at this time.

How Facebook is shaping the news
The Kernel's Aaron Sankin on "How Facebook is wrecking political news":
In a media environment where every piece of #content is primed to go viral, this fact isn’t all that surprising. Facebook is a huge driver of traffic, with over 1.3 billion active users looking for something to Like. If Facebook were a country, it would have roughly the same population as China. Not only that, but Facebook has scientifically calculated its system to maximize the likelihood of its users liking and sharing content, which drives readers across the Web.
That’s just how it works in this Facebook-dominated digital world.
Once you stop to think about that, however, the entire system seems insane. If you’re a journalist, or even someone who cares about the role journalism plays in society, it’s utterly terrifying.
The lion’s share of the mechanism for disseminating information from professional news gatherers to readers is now handled almost entirely by a company with a frustratingly opaque method of operation and interests that don’t necessarily dovetail with news organizations or their readers. Publications haven’t just lost control over their distribution models to a decentralized collective—they’ve effectively ceded it to a 30-year-old Harvard dropout in a gray hoodie ...
Pushing out a post on an active trending topic does precisely that. While the actual boost may vary, it can run the gamut from a 50 percent increase over the standard number of people who would normally see it to the rare 20-fold increase. For an online publication, these types of numbers are basically a gold mine.
This scenario encourages the worst kind of journalism. If the window was nonexistent and seeing something on the trending topics sidebar meant it was already too late catch the wave, that would be one thing. It would be another if a trending topic boost lasted for a day or two, giving time for real reporting. But the current sweet spot encourages publications to look for what’s trending and pump out something on that subject as quickly as possible.
Not every story requires an exhaustive reporting process, but a lot of them do.
The article is long but worth reading, even if, like me, you are skeptical that all this is as bad as the author thinks it is.

Bet for the Ebola panic crowd
Bryan Caplan says that closing borders are unnecessary to control Ebola in the United States and is willing to bet it. Commenters make two good points: $100 may not hurt Caplan enough to be a valid indicator of confidence in his own prediction* and that the bet isn't properly structured to adequately account for the sort of catastrophic results the panic crowd is predicting and thus needs a system of odds and a higher threshold (10,000 not 300). However, this sort of criticism and searching for better terms for a bet helps us think more clearly about what might actually happen and to clarify or specify what we mean when predicting gloomy or rosy scenarios.
* However, surely $100 is a surer sign of confidence than the $0 most pundits are willing to bet. Also, there is another cost which is diminished reputation for getting the prediction/bet wrong.

People in cities don't like crowds but it's the crowds that make possible the things they do like
Ipsos Reid polled Torontonians about what they like and don't like about their city and the results are entirely predictable. They like the "diversity," "arts and culture," "the food and restaurants," and "the sports," but don't like the "traffic," "cost of living" or "size." But there wouldn't be the arts and culture or food and restaurants or five professional teams playing in Toronto if there weren't a lot of other people in the city which increases congestion and the cost of living. Choosing to live in Toronto (or anywhere) involves trade-offs: I like my home, the availability of quality independent schools, a plethora of shawarma restaurants, and easy access to 81 pro baseball games each year, and the long commute and high cost of housing/taxes are worth it. But I understand that the choice of good schools and hopping on the subway to baseball games doesn't exist without a customer base of millions. I am not sure if most Torontonians appreciate that fact. Saying they want live theatre and authentic Korean restaurants and numerous cultural festivals throughout the year but not the crowds is child-like, preferring an impossible fantasy world to what actually exists.

Prime ministerial material
Economist William Watson writes in the Ottawa Citizen about the concerns of whether past prime ministerial hopefuls were up to the job of prime minister: Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, and Stephen Harper. Each of them were in power for at least eight years, were re-elected at least once, and were impactful on the country. Watson reminds us about whom there was no question of being prepared for the job: John Turner and Paul Martin. Maybe Justin Trudeau is prime ministerial material (he certainly doesn't seem so) but Watson is warning political spectators that if the recent past is any indicator, it's that pre-conceived notions of who has the right resume for Canada's top elected political job are often incorrect.

'6 Times Obama Declared Crisis, Then Did Nothing'
Breitbart has the list.

Good-bye to entrepreneurialism
At AEI Ideas, James Pethokoukis notes that there are fewer and fewer young companies (defined as one year old) as a percentage of total businesses in America. And you can't blame President Barack Obama because the decline has been fairly steady since the early 1980s. Writing at NRO in March, Pethokoukis said, "there’s more to blame than the tax hikes and heavy-handed regulation of Obamanomics." And there are ramifications to fewer start-ups. As Pethokoukis wrote in March:
Start-ups generate the “disruptive innovation” that creates new goods, services, and jobs. And they force established businesses to try to match them. Without competition from new companies, old ones will pursue only the sort of “efficiency innovation” that makes production cheaper, often by replacing people with machines. The U.S. still generates lots of innovation overall, but maybe too much is of the job-killing sort rather than job-creating kind that marks a dynamic economy.
Fewer new companies means fewer jobs and less innovation, and it incentivizes crony capitalism:
While free and frequent entry by start-ups is critical, so is exit by incumbents. Established players can’t be allowed to win through lobbying what they can’t achieve in the marketplace ... Other ways government sides with Big Business over entrepreneurs include overly stringent patent and copyright laws and a subsidy-ridden corporate tax code.

Math gets in the way of a good feminist/political narrative
Mark J. Perry at AEI Ideas: "If only 12% of campus sexual assaults get reported, then only 1 in 32 women at Ohio State are sexually assaulted, not 1 in 5." Perry explains:
White House Statement 1. Sexual assault is a particular problem on college campuses:1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted while in college.
White House Statement 2. Reporting rates for campus sexual assault are also very low: on average only 12% of student victims report the assault to law enforcement.
There’s a huge, irreconcilable statistical problem here. Using actual reported crime statistics on sexual offenses at almost any US college and applying the White House claim that only 12% of campus sexual assaults actually get reported, we have to conclude that nowhere near 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college. Alternatively, if the “1 in 5 women” claim is true, the percentage of sexual assaults that don’t get reported to the campus police would have to be much lower than 12%. In other words, the claims that the White House uses don’t work together and they therefore both can’t be simultaneously correct.
Perry has a handy chart that is easier to follow than these paragraphs. The point is that the White House and its feminists allies can't use both these numbers and that the 1 in 5 claims strains credulity when you see precisely how many unreported sexual assaults there would have to be. Just follow the math.

Harvard Sex Week
The schedule is posted here. I found this, "What What in the Butt: Anal Sex 101," interesting:
Come learn everything about anal sex from the experts of Good Vibrations, a sex-positive store located right in Brookline! They will dispel myths about anal sex and give you insight into why people do it and how to do it well. They will cover a wide variety of topics, including: anal anatomy and the potential for pleasure for all genders; how to talk about it with a partner; basic preparation and hygiene; lubes, anal toys, and safer sex; anal penetration for beginners, and much more! Learn the facts about this exciting yet often misunderstood form of pleasure, find out the common mistakes people make, and get all your questions answered!
The reason I found this interesting is that while often students and academics are skeptical of private enterprise, the organizers of Harvard Sex Week are okay with a store providing information to students about sex. Might Good Vibrations have an agenda, or even worse, a commercial agenda?

Price controls don't work and the Left doesn't care
Thomas Sowell:
People who believe in government-set price controls — whether on interest rates charged for loans, rents charged for housing or wages paid under minimum wage laws — seem to think that this is the end of the story ...
Yet there is remarkably little concern on the political left as to the actual consequences of the laws and policies they advocate. Once they have taken a stance on the side of the angels against the forces of evil, that is the end of the story, as far as they are concerned.
Sowell briefly mentions the numerous negative repercussions of state-controlled prices on loans, rents, and wages, noting there is a vast literature in each area, and yet the economically illiterate Left doesn't seem to care.

US map
In units of Canadian population.
(HT: Suzanne Fortin on Twitter)

Monday, October 20, 2014
Four ways longer lifespans would change the economy
The Week: "How 1,000-year lifespans could remake the economy." Productivity, labour markets, and financial planning would all be affected. Author Nicholas Warino predicts retirement benefits would be replaced by a more broad-based redistribution of wealth to all adults; he also thinks there will be health care savings because the re-engineered human being won't face as many chronic illnesses, but that is highly speculative; it is just as plausible that people would consume more health care if they lived longer.

When Tony Soprano does it, it's called a shakedown, but when the government does it, it's called getting their fair share
A provincial panel is going to tell the Ontario government that the three beer companies that run the beer-selling monopoly in Ontario should be charged more for the privilege of their monopoly power. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is more than open to the panel's suggestion, excited at the opportunity to squeeze some more revenue out of private interests to pay for more government spending. The monopoly should be ended, not protected after a government shakedown of the beer companies. This is the kind of thing the mob does. And, unfortunately, governments. But when the state does it, all is fine because the funds will go to projects like transit. But the principle is the same.
If the beer companies profit is too large, it should be shared with customers and other companies through competition, not handed over to the government. And the idea that these costs can't and won't be passed onto customers is ridiculous.

Trying not to look not up to the job
The Ottawa Citizen reports: "Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says he will impose greater discipline on himself to avoid making off-the-cuff remarks that his opponents can use against him." From their interview with Trudeau the Younger, the paper elaborates:
He said he’s convinced Canadians will want to hear the thorough arguments he presents on a variety of issues. But he also said he needs to find the “right balance” when expressing his message. When asked how he’ll do that in next year’s election, he responded: “Discipline.”
The self-restraint will come after “hard-learned experience of the fact that when I am trying to say something clever that tickles my own wry sense of humor, all too often it gives material for my opponents to drag us off track in the direction that is unhelpful,” Trudeau said.
In other words, Trudeau will try not to be himself in an effort to fool Canadians that he is up to the job of prime minister.

'Cool' if it's women, sexism if it's men
Pundit's Guide tweets:
Three women to direct #elxn42 national campaigns: @Jenni_Byrne for the #CPC, @OttawaAnne for the #NDP, and @telfordk for the #LPC. Cool.
Will "men's issues" be ignored?

Public choice in action
Instapundit: "[A]ll that regulation — while making the country much poorer — has vastly enriched the parasite class. They have a bigger slice of a smaller pie, and they like it that way because it makes them feel important."

Every president's favourite adult beverage
The New York Post lists every president and his favourite drink. Wine and whiskey are popular.

Harvard profs vs. new campus sex laws
Cathy Young at the Daily Beast:
The increasingly contentious debate about the proper response to sexual assault on college campuses took a new turn on Oct. 15, when The Boston Globe ran an op-ed signed by twenty-eight current and retired Harvard Law School professors expressing “strong objections” to the school’s new Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures. The sharply worded statement not only slammed the university administration for forcing the policy on all of Harvard’s schools without adequate discussion but also charged that the new procedures for handling complaints of sexual misconduct “lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process [and] are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.” It even went so far as to urge Harvard to defy federal guidelines on addressing such complaints and “stand up for principle in the face of funding threats.” This is the latest, and biggest, volley in a mounting revolt against the overreach of government-led initiatives to curb campus rape—coming from unusual suspects.
Thus, the Harvard signatories include not only noted criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who has long been viewed as right of center in the culture wars, but preeminent African-American law professor and Barack Obama’s mentor Charles Ogletree and several renowned female jurists such as veteran civil rights attorney Nancy Gertner, constitutional scholar Martha Field, and feminist legal theorist Janet Halley. This protest is not easy to dismiss as a right-wing anti-woman backlash.

'Humanitarian Aid Going to ISIS'
The Daily Beast reports: "Not only are foodstuffs, medical supplies—even clinics—going to ISIS, the distribution networks are paying ISIS ‘taxes’ and putting ISIS people on their payrolls." Jamie Dettmer explains the dilemma:
The aid—mainly food and medical equipment—is meant for Syrians displaced from their hometowns, and for hungry civilians. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, European donors, and the United Nations. Whether it continues is now the subject of anguished debate among officials in Washington and European. The fear is that stopping aid would hurt innocent civilians and would be used for propaganda purposes by the militants, who would likely blame the West for added hardship.
Yeah, but it's ISIS.

Democratic crowd doesn't stay for Obama portion of rally
Reuters reports:
President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.
With approval levels hovering around record lows, Obama has spent most of his campaign-related efforts this year raising money for struggling Democrats, who risk losing control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm election.
Most candidates from his party have been wary of appearing with him during their election races because of his sagging popularity.
Not so Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown of Maryland, who is running for governor ...
"You've got to vote," Obama repeated over and over at a rally for Brown in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, near Washington ...
A steady stream of people walked out of the auditorium while he spoke, however, and a heckler interrupted his remarks.
(HT: Powerline's John Hinderaker)

Choice isn't (and this has nothing to do with abortion)
Spiked's Brendan O'Neill:
Nannies, nudgers and various other adherents to what the UK Labour Party calls ‘the politics of behaviour’ have done a lot of bad stuff in recent years. Their smoking ban hollowed out pub life. Their fearmongering about fatness did more than any fashion mag to convince young people that chubbiness is sinful and skinniness is next to Godliness. Their jihad against junk food in schools deprived today’s kids of some of childhood’s great pleasures: having a Mars bar in your blazer pocket and taking bites out of it in between scoring goals in the playground or sharing a fizzy strawberry lace as you natter about last night’s TV.
But even worse than all that has been the way this fun-allergic lobby has warped the meaning of the word choice. Almost singlehandedly they have transformed the c-word. They have turned ‘choice’ from something individuals do for themselves, using our free will and moral autonomy to decide on a course of action that we think is best suited to our lives, into something that is done for us, by others, and which we have to be guided towards. They talk about the ‘right choice’, the ‘informed choice’, the ‘healthy choice’, and about their determination to shove us donut-scoffing plebs towards that ‘choice’. They have turned choice utterly on its head: when they say ‘choice’, what they really mean is ‘less choice’.
Consider Lord Darzi’s proposals, published this week, for how to make London a healthier city. He wants mayor Boris Johnson to ban smoking in Trafalgar Square and other squares and parks; to ban the siting of junk-food shops near schools; and to give Oyster Card users a discount if they get off their lazy butts once in a while and walk part of the way to work. It is standard, soul-destroying lifestyle-policing fare. But what was most striking was Darzi’s insistence that through restricting certain forms of behaviour - smoking in public, buying chips near a school - he is boosting people’s ability to make a choice. He says he wants us all to make what he calls ‘the healthiest choice’, but that choice isn’t ‘always easy [or] obvious’, so we have to be assisted in the making of it. Labour’s Tessa Jowell also used the c-word in a super-weird way in her backing for Lord Darzi. ‘We need to make the healthier choice the easier choice for Londoners’, she said.
(HT: Samizdata's Perry de Havilland)

Sunday, October 19, 2014
Politics in the age of Ebola
Not what you think. The Daily Caller: "Man Claiming To Have Ebola Tries To LICK Conservative Protesters Outside Hillary Rally." DC reports:
An elderly man calling himself a progressive socialist accosted a group of about two dozen conservative students who were protesting outside a building where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was speaking. He then said he had Ebola and tried to lick the students.
Matt Vadum tweets: "Dem scum lucky he wasn't beaten to death."

Goldberg on Obama
Jonah Goldberg captures the disconnect between Barack Obama's (over)promises and reality, and how the President deals with it:
Every president claims the mantle of confidence and competence, and rightly so. That’s what leaders do and what we expect of them. But Obama was really something different. From the earliest days of his presidential run right through to today, Obama has exuded a boundless faith in his own competence and in the ability of government to tackle any problem. We all remember this sort of thing:
“I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Mr. Obama told Patrick Gaspard, his political director, at the start of the 2008 campaign, according to The New Yorker. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m going to think I’m a better political director than my political director.”
Finding other examples of Obama setting the bar impossibly high for himself are as easy to find as examples of Joe Biden putting squirrels in his pants (I mean that figuratively, not literally, the way Joe Biden means “literally”). The sheer arrogance of a foreign policy based on “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff”; the notion that you could vow the seas would stop rising thanks to your nomination and not eventually be mocked for it; his declaration that “I actually believe my own bullsh*t”; his assurance to a congressman that the 2010 midterms won’t turn out like they did in 1994 because “you’ve got me”; his claim that cynicism was his only opponent, as if he personified hope like a character from Pilgrim’s Progress; his determination not to be like Bill Clinton but instead be a “transformative” president who would “make government cool again.”
But most of these familiar examples go to the man’s psychology more than his ideology, and I find the ideology more interesting — but not unrelated. After all, when you believe “l’état, c’est moi,” it’s unlikely you will follow up that thought with a painful concession that L’état est un caniche obèses incompetent (which Google translate tells me is the “state is an obese incompetent poodle”). In other words, it is very hard for Obama to countenance the idea that the government he embodies isn’t as awesome as he is. This in part explains why Obama loves to say “I” and “me” whenever things (allegedly) go well, but it’s always “them,” or “they” or — very rarely — “we” when things go poorly.
I don't get how Obama is not mocked and ridiculed mercilessly by comedians, pundits, and, really, everyone. Okay, I get why he isn't. But he should be. Obama makes Jimmy Carter look like Ronald Reagan on leadership and Bill Clinton on fiscal issues.

Will on the War on Women attacks against the GOP
George Will notes the silliness of the War on Women attacks made by the Democrats against Republicans:
One of the wonders of this political moment is feminist contentment about the infantilization of women in the name of progressive politics. Government, encouraging academic administrations to micromanage campus sexual interactions, now assumes that, absent a script, women cannot cope. And the Democrats’ trope about the Republicans’ “war on women” clearly assumes that women are civic illiterates.
Access to contraception has been a constitutional right for 49 years (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965). The judiciary has controlled abortion policy for 41 years (Roe v. Wade, 1973). Yet the Democratic party thinks women can be panicked into voting about mythical menaces to these things.
Will goes on to explain how the WOW theme might not be working for the Democrats in the Senate race to keep Mark Udall's Colorado Senate seat from Republican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner:
Senator Mark Udall, is now uncomfortably known here as “Mark Uterus.” He is seeking a second term by running such a relentlessly gynecological campaign that the Denver Post, endorsing his opponent, Representative Cory Gardner, denounced the “shocking amount of energy and money” Udall has devoted to saying Gardner favors banning birth control.
Actually, Gardner favors over-the-counter sales of oral contraceptives.
In losing Colorado’s 2010 Senate race, the Republican candidate carried men by 14 points but lost women by 17. This 31-point gap will not be replicated this year. In a recent Fox News poll, Gardner trailed Udall among women by just five points while leading among men by 17. Independents favored Gardner by 15 points.

Apple and Google will encrypt new cell phones, FBI wants to stop it
Vice's Motherboard and Time both report that FBI director James Comey isn't happy with the plans by Apple and Google to encrypt information on the latest versions of their cellphones. Comey told an audience at the Brookings Institute, "Both companies [Apple and Google] are run by good people, responding to what they perceive is a market demand. But the place they are leading us is one we shouldn’t go to without careful thought and debate." He strongly implied that only "bad guys" would want encryption. Never mind that people actually care about privacy and that a free people rightly recoil at the thought of government surveillance of law-abiding citizens. Comey claims, "We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law." But as Danny Crichton at Tech Crunch notes:
Now, with U.S. government agencies actively hacking the cloud infrastructure of America’s top technology companies, the line between legal and extralegal activity is not so easy to discern.
Indeed, Comey’s request for transparency is precisely what the world has been clamoring for ever since the Snowden revelations revealed just how cavalier the U.S. government had become in treating the personal communications of American citizens (let alone citizens in other countries). Comey leads the country’s top law enforcement agency, and as such, he is looking to create the due process needed to bring criminals to trial, and ultimately, to put them behind bars. Most American citizens and companies are not opposed to this use case.
The challenge is that so long as companies hold consumer data, they are a target for all kinds of difficult security situations. End-to-end encryption isn’t just good marketing for technology companies peddling their services to wary consumers, but also a means to absolve these companies from having to deal with the very real politics at the heart of data and national security.
Crichton describes how subordinating corporate interests to local politics -- and that is what American law enforcement is -- the U.S. government is putting these companies at risk of alienating markets they need to grow (most notably China, but also South Korea and other countries). He also notes that decentralization of information is what the internet was supposedly about in its early stages (never mind its military roots). Crichton says that private interests should work with the government to ensure data that can be utilized legally but with limits to fight security threats, but that it might work best narrowly, on a case by case basis although how that might be achieved is not clear at this moment. What isn't helpful are Comey's comments, including the implication that Apple and Google are siding with America's enemies.
As Jason Koebler concludes his Motherboard article: "It also might be time to ask: Are the people chosen to run our law enforcement agencies so out of touch with the American people that they believe that only 'bad guys' want privacy?"

2008 Obama victory keepsake papers virtually worthless
Amusing story at the Daily Caller: "How Much Is Your Historic Barack Obama Post-Election Newspaper Worth?" George W. Bush victory papers are worth more.

The Obama administration moves from incompetent to insane
Judicial Watch: "Obama Plans to Let Ebola-infected Foreigners Into U.S. for Treatment."

Saturday, October 18, 2014
Quote of the week
From Mark Steyn:
If you let liberalism become the default societal setting on the 364 days of the year there's no election being held, what happens on election day is going to be pretty unimportant. So, if you're not playing on the big cultural battlefields, you're going to lose.

Doctors vs. Obamacare
The Hill reports:
The Physicians Foundation made shockwaves last month when it released its 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians. The survey’s top-line finding: Of the 20,000 doctors surveyed, almost 50 percent stated that Obamacare deserves either a “D” or an “F.” Only a quarter of physicians graded it as either an “A” or a “B.”

Instapundit's tweet of the week

Ebola and sex
The inevitable articles on "should you have sex if you have Ebola" and "how long after a person recovers from Ebola before they have sex" are appearing. The Washington Post says no sex or condoms for Ebola victims and for three months after recovery. It seems to be more of an issue during recovery because, as the Post says, "since Ebola victims can infect others only when they are showing symptoms -- high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and aches -- physical intimacy probably isn't a common way of transmitting the disease."

Best discussion of the supposed changes happening in the Catholic Church
Hot Air's Ed Morrissey has the must-read post on the synod going on in Rome. Ostensibly about Cardinal Raymond Burke being demoted, Morrissey touches on a number of issues, including, importantly, that Pope Francis cannot change Church teaching on homosexuality (in regard to its morality). The problem with the synod and the media coverage of the leaks (and official documents, because many journalists do not understand how the Catholic Church works) is that it is causing confusion among the laity and larger public (and probably many priests). Morrissey is the antidote to that confusion.