Can't link to the WSJ because of the paywall, but via TaxProfBlog: Lois Lerner's abuse of power was so bad that she believes it put her family in danger.

Here's how lawyers for Ms. Lerner and her former IRS deputy, Holly Paz, put it in a filing aimed at persuading a judge to keep their testimony from becoming public: "Public dissemination of their deposition testimony would expose them and their families to harassment and a credible risk of violence and physical harm." They're not just thinking of themselves, they add. Young children, family members, might be hurt too.

That's quite an argument. So enraged would the American public become upon learning what Ms. Lerner and Ms. Paz said that they and those around them would be in physical peril. Which probably makes most people wonder what the heck must the two have said that would get everyone so agitated? ...

[W]hat a crippling precedent it would be if government officials from powerful agencies such as the IRS were permitted to keep their abuses secret on grounds they fear that the people whom they are supposed to serve might be upset if they found out.

The thing to remember is that if Lerner's family is in danger it's because of the horribleness of her actions. What exactly did she do? The public has a right to know.


With all the sexual harassment and assault accusations flying around these days (and worse) it makes sense to ask: what the heck is wrong with the cultures/industries that have tolerated such behavior? Sure, the men are horrible, but it seems like there were also plenty of women who enabled the men (for example, Harvey Weinstein's assistants).

The woman, who was in her early 30s when she was employed at the Weinstein Company, echoed the complaints of others who have worked for the disgraced producer, alleging that his staff was forced to do demeaning and humiliating tasks to facilitate and cover up his philandering. Many, including her, she claimed, didn't suspect they were enabling sexual assault or rape.

"He had manipulated everyone in his path with that one purpose, and that was for sex," she said. "It's awful. I should have walked out. I should have said something."

During the entire course of my life I have never found myself in a position where I've encountered systemic sexual harassment or assault, so I've never had to make a choice about hiding it or revealing it. (I'm not omniscient, so I don't claim to know everything that has happened in all of my work/social circles.)

The sheer volume of accusations coming out of Hollywood and Washington, DC, is astounding to me, and the volume suggests that these cultures are systemically flawed. I don't believe this kind of systemic sexual behavior is the "normal" experience for most Americans.

Maybe the "Pence rule" is looking pretty good?

Hey, remember that one time the left and basically everyone in mainstream media threw an utter conniption fit when Mike Pence said he makes it a point not to share private meals or meetings with women when his wife is not present? ...

The vice president understands that as a man in a position of power, he is vulnerable to rumor, misinterpreted intentions and flat out lies. One way to protect oneself from those things is to always make sure a third party is present in any meeting. In addition, as we have seen with the revelations from the last few weeks of the horrific (and even criminal) sexual misconduct of some of the most powerful men in America, power has a tendency to corrupt and leave one vulnerable to the temptation to wield that power. By choosing to not let the opportunity get a even a toe in the door, Pence is recognizing that no man is above making bad choices and he's doing everything in his power to avoid the trappings of his station.

Only in 2017 America can that be seen as character flaw.

Update:

Look at these revelations from the TED Talks non-profit! It isn't "merely" young, naive, vulnerable women being harassed (as if that weren't bad enough).

At least five people, including a past main stage speaker, told TED officials that they were harassed or groped during the organization's flagship conference in Vancouver in April, according to interviews and email correspondence seen by The Washington Post.

The nonprofit's general counsel Nishat Ruiter said in an April email to TED's senior leadership that she, too, had been "touched inappropriately but let it go." She added she was finding it difficult to believe the issue was being "addressed by TED effectively. We are clearly not doing enough." [...]

The Post reviewed email exchanges among senior TED officials at the time of the April conference, sparked by a complaint by a long-time attendee, who complained of sexual harassment and being offered "every drug known to man." The problem was so bad that the woman decided to pack her bags and leave, telling Anderson that it would be her last TED conference.

TED speakers are prominent people, and they're getting secretly groped? Someone inappropriately touched TED's top lawyer? How can creeps feel safe enough to behave this way? What the heck is wrong with these people?


Paula Bolyard lists out numerous media outlets who refuse to count an unborn baby as a "real" victim.

Take, for instance, the Chicago Tribune, which wrote, "Kelley shot and killed 25 people at the church. Authorities have put the official toll at 26, because one of the victims was pregnant." The newspaper didn't want to get caught recognizing the humanity of the unborn baby, so they deferred to "authorities." There wasn't a deceased baby, there was a pregnant victim, according to the Tribune.

CNN wrote that "the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs will reopen its sanctuary as a memorial on Sunday, one week after a gunman killed 25 people and an unborn child." In other words, 25 real people and one blob of tissue.

At USA Today, they didn't even try to cloak their hostility toward unborn babies in clever wording. "The memorial ceremony was a block away from the First Baptist Church, which is slated for demolition after the massacre during Sunday services Nov. 5 that killed 25 people including a pregnant woman and wounded 20," an article declared.

And many more.

Obviously if an unborn child can be a victim of a shooting, he can be a victim of an abortion.

That "plus one" baby had a name: "Carlin Brite 'Billy Bob' Holcombe." John Holcombe, who was shot in the leg but survived the shooting alongside two of his children, wrote on Facebook that the name "includes [his wife] Crystal's pick for a girl, a boy and the nickname the kids gave the baby." Holcombe lost a total of eight family members in the shooting.


I guess Obama loyalists have finally decided to throw Hillary Clinton under the bus. Interim DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile writes that the DNC rigged the nomination for Clinton and against Bernie Sanders.

"Hello, senator. I've completed my review of the DNC and I did find the cancer," I said. "But I will not kill the patient."

I discussed the fundraising agreement that each of the candidates had signed. Bernie was familiar with it, but he and his staff ignored it. They had their own way of raising money through small donations. I described how Hillary's campaign had taken it another step.

I told Bernie I had found Hillary's Joint Fundraising Agreement. I explained that the cancer was that she had exerted this control of the party long before she became its nominee. Had I known this, I never would have accepted the interim chair position, but here we were with only weeks before the election.

Lots more detail in they story. But yep: rigged. It's very possible that Sanders would have won the nomination otherwise.


Shoes continue to drop as a result of the "Russia investigation", whatever that actually means these days. It seems like Trump was the only person not colluding with Russia. From my perspective, the Russia angle (whatever it may be) is minor compared to the vast number of shady conspiracies that are emerging in the wake of the elites' slow defenestration from Washington.

Sometime in October 2016 -- that is, at the height of the presidential campaign -- Christopher Steele, the foreign agent hired by Fusion GPS to compile the Trump dossier, approached the FBI with information he had gleaned during the project. According to a February report in the Washington Post, Steele "reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work."

It was an astonishing turn: the nation's top federal law enforcement agency agreeing to fund an ongoing opposition research project being conducted by one of the candidates in the midst of a presidential election.

Everyone in D.C. believed that "business as usual" would continue forever, whether Democrat or Republican won the presidency. No one counted on an erratic populist winning and overturning the applecart. Trump is certainly flawed, but I for one am glad to see some positive results from the chaos.


The conclusion of this essay about the dictatorship of the small minority by Nassim Nicholas Taleb was written in August of 2016, and now appears prescient.

Alexander said that it was preferable to have an army of sheep led by a lion to an army of lions led by a sheep. Alexander (or no doubt he who produced this probably apocryphal saying) understood the value of the active, intolerant, and courageous minority. Hannibal terrorized Rome for a decade and a half with a tiny army of mercenaries, winning twenty-two battles against the Romans, battles in which he was outnumbered each time. He was inspired by a version of this maxim. At the battle of Cannae, he remarked to Gisco who complained that the Carthaginians were outnumbered by the Romans: "There is one thing that's more wonderful than their numbers ... in all that vast number there is not one man called Gisgo.[6]"[i]

Unus sed leo: only one but a lion.

This large payoff from stubborn courage is not just in the military. The entire growth of society, whether economic or moral, comes from a small number of people. So we close this chapter with a remark about the role of skin in the game in the condition of society. Society doesn't evolve by consensus, voting, majority, committees, verbose meeting, academic conferences, and polling; only a few people suffice to disproportionately move the needle. All one needs is an asymmetric rule somewhere. And asymmetry is present in about everything.

It's important to realize: most "lions" get crushed by the majority -- but the minority of successful "lions" still have a huge effect on society.


I'm not sure what Hillary Clinton's goal is, but her post-election conspiracy theories are growing increasingly odd. Tim Blair injects his comments into this ABC interview with Clinton by Sarah Ferguson.

CLINTON: I feel really terrible about losing it and I'm very clear in the book that I feel like I let people down, that there was so much at stake in this election. I knew it would be hard, I knew it would be close, but I did not know that I would be running against not only Trump but the FBI Director and Vladimir Putin ...

[BLAIR:] The conspiracy count begins!

CLINTON: If you feed false information continuously to people about one candidate versus another, it does have an impact and we now know that the Russians actually paid in rubles for running ads in Facebook and on Twitter making all kinds of accusations against me ...

[BLAIR:] Add Facebook, Twitter and "the Russians" to Hillary's conspiracy count. And all Hillary had at her disposal to counter these social media ads - did anyone actually see them? - was the combined might of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, USA Today, every major television network, all late-night comedy hosts, NPR, CNN, several Fox News presenters, Hollywood stars and music stars, plus tons of Facebook and Twitter content. The poor woman never stood a chance.

And most painfully:

FERGUSON: Are you still angry with the idea that women could hear that tape and hear that language and behaviour and still vote for him?

CLINTON: I'm really disappointed. Michelle Obama said something the other day which I thought was, you know, very much on point - why would any woman give up her own self-respect to side with someone who is clearly sexist and misogynistic and by his own words ah guilty of sexual assault?

[BLAIR:] Hillary is married to Bill Clinton.

What is Hillary Clinton trying to accomplish? Just sell some books? Stay in the public eye... for what? To run for president again?


I love to run (15 miles per week) and lift weights (3 times per week), and I've been fortunate to have avoided many injuries from either.

Combined, capacity and load limits determine how resilient a runner's tissues are. When those limits are low, the odds for injury go up and performance can go down. This is where strength training comes in.

A 2016 meta-analysis of five studies on the impact of strength training on running found a "large beneficial effect" on running economy -- the ability to use less oxygen at the same pace -- three to four percent less, in fact. Most of the five studies included two to three strength sessions per week at low- to moderate-load in the range of 40 to 70 percent of one-rep max. In general, the studies involved two to four different exercises plus plyometric jumps and sprints.


Zero Hedge is conspiracy-minded, but today they've posted several videos taken during the Las Vegas shooting that clearly show shots fired from the hotel far below the 32nd floor.

#2 Were there additional shooters? A taxi driver reportedly captured video of an automatic weapon being fired out of a lower level window. A video from another angle and brief footage captured by Dan Bilzerian also seem to confirm that automatic gunfire was coming from a floor much lower than the 32nd floor room that Stephen Paddock was located on. And if you weren't convinced by the first three videos, this fourth video should definitely do it.

I pointed out on Monday that the shooting was weird, especially noting that I didn't believe a single shooter with semi-automatic rifles could wound so many people so quickly. Jon Rappoport agrees.

"...a potential MAXIMUM of only 360 rounds could be fired at full auto burst with NO magazine changes in the approximate four minutes or 240 seconds of the shooting!"

"So, Paddock didn't fire 360 rounds in 240 seconds because he had to stop and change magazines...probably 30 round mags. That would be THIRTEEN magazine changes in the 240 seconds. And it is reported he fired from both broken out windows in the room/s."

"Survivors state there were shooting pauses and that is when they would run."

"Let's say Paddock managed to get off an amazing 300 rounds in 4 minutes (or 240 seconds) and hit someone with EVERY ROUND."

"Remember, there were 573 killed and wounded according to late statistics."

"WHO, then, fired off the other full-auto 273 rounds also without missing a single shot ?!"

I don't think there's a conspiracy, and I'm sure we'll learn a lot more details in due course.


Michael Barone outlines some interesting potential consequences of California's early primary election schedule. It's always fascinating to me how much effect process has on outcome. See also: path dependence.

California doesn't vote much like the rest of the nation any more. It favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a 30 point margin, the second most Democratic result (after Hawaii) in the nation. California voted 1 to 3 percent more Democratic than the nation in 1988, 1992 and 1996. Since then it has shifted to become more Democratic than the national result: 5 percent more in 2000, 6 percent more in 2004, 8 percent more in 2008, 9 percent more in 2012 and 13 percent more in 2016. This is the first time in American history that our largest state has voted at one end of the partisan spectrum. ...

So despite California Democrats' hopes that an early presidential primary date will give the state greater influence in selecting a Democratic nominee, past history suggests that that's not likely -- and that there's a risk that California, newly installed at the left extreme of the political spectrum, will tilt the process toward an unelectable left-wing nominee.

And it seems likely -- at least this is how it's worked out in the recent past -- that an early California primary will be determinative in the Republican nomination race, which may or may not be in Democrats' interests. Politicians fiddling with the presidential primary schedule should always remember that there's no way to repeal the law of unintended consequences.


President Trump's prayer for Las Vegas pretty much says it all.

'We pray for the day that evil is banished and the innocent are safe from hatred and fear,' Trump said. 'May God bless the souls of the lives that our lost, may God give us the grace of healing and may God provide the healing family with the strength to carry on.'

One bit from the report caught my eye:

Police were able to pinpoint Paddock relatively quickly since the gunfire he emitted triggered the smoke alarms in the hotel.

They used explosives to blow the door off his room, but by then it was too late - Paddock had shot himself dead. ...

Two on-duty Las Vegas police officers who engaged the shooter have been hospitalized.

What does it mean that these brave officers "engaged" the shooter without entering his room? If they were at the concert, they were 1,700 feet away from the shooter. I can't imagine that they were shooting up into the hotel.

las vegas shooting scene.jpg

I don't understand how anyone could kill this many people from such a distance without military weapons.

Update:

David French thinks the shooting is strange too:

So, a person who's "not a gun guy" has either expended untold thousands of dollars to legally purchase fully-automatic weapons, somehow found them on the black market, or purchased and substantially modified multiple semi-automatic weapons -- and did so with enough competence to create a sustained rate of fire. This same person also spent substantial sums purchasing just the right hotel room to maximize casualties. I cannot think of a single other mass shooter who went to this level of expense and planning in the entire history of the United States.


Lots of people are apparently surprised that Congressional Republicans have completely failed to live up to their decade of promises to repeal Obamacare. Newsflash: you can't trust politicians. You can't trust Republicans, you can't trust Democrats, you can't trust any of them.

Senate Republicans, short of votes, abandoned their latest and possibly final attempt to kill the health care law Tuesday, just ahead of a critical end-of-the-week deadline.

The repeal-and-replace bill's authors promised to try again at a later date, while President Donald Trump railed against "certain so-called Republicans" who opposed the GOP effort. But for now, Trump and fellow Republicans who vowed for seven years to abolish President Barack Obama's law will leave it standing and turn their attention to overhauling the nation's tax code instead.

The GOP's predicament was summed up bluntly by Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, a lead author of the legislation: "Through events that are under our control and not under our control, we don't have the votes."

"Am I disappointed? Absolutely," he said after a GOP lunch attended by Vice President Mike Pence.

I'm disappointed too, but not really surprised.

This is a perfect example of why we shouldn't give the government so much power.

All Americans should be united in sympathy and prayer for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. We pray for safety and peace in the following weeks and months, and that federal and local leaders have wisdom and boldness to make the best decisions for the territory.

If Puerto Rico is really without power for months, the island will depopulate as residents flee.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told CNN late Wednesday night that it may take months to restore power to the entire island.

He said that as a result of the powerful Category 4 hurricane, no one on the island has power from utilities since the power grid is 'a little bit old, mishandled and weak'.

'It depends on the damage to the infrastructure,' Rosselló said. 'I'm afraid it's probably going to be severe. If it is ... we're looking at months as opposed to weeks or days.'

The sad truth is that the devastation on Puerto Rico is due not only to the power of Hurricane Maria, but also to decades of waste and mismanagement by the Puerto Rican government. Government incompetence and negligence created a fragile situation on the island, and the hurricane tipped them over the edge into disaster.


My youngest daughter has been obsessed with Moana for the past few months. She insists that I sing the entire soundtrack to her every night before bed, so I've become pretty familiar with the lyrics. In my opinion, the best line in the movie is in the song "We Know the Way".

We read the wind and the sky

When the sun is high

We sail the length of sea

On the ocean breeze

At night we name every star

We know where we are

We know who we are, who we are

The dominant theme of the movie is discovering who you really are, and it's powerful to me that Moana's ancestors knew -- both her grandmother, and the chieftain in the musical vision that her grandmother led her to. He knows who he is because he knows where he is: his ability to navigate the open ocean is what gives him the power to fulfill his purpose and comprehend his identity.

Later the demi-god Maui gives this power to Moana in a sequence that is critical to Moana's destiny without being overtly supernatural. At the end of the movie she returns to her island and her people, but it's impossible to think of Moana as a mere human anymore after having touched the gods.


It's fun to type the word "malfeasance", and yes, I was a little proud when it didn't earn a red underline from my browser because I spelled it right the first time. It's the little things in life.

But anyway, despite Hillary's humiliating electoral defeat, let's not forget how grossly negligent she and her aides were with classified information.

Judicial Watch today released 1,617 new pages of documents from the U.S. Department of State revealing numerous additional examples of classified information being transmitted through the unsecure, non-state.gov account of Huma Abedin, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff, as well as many instances of Hillary Clinton donors receiving special favors from the State Department.

The documents included 97 email exchanges with Clinton not previously turned over to the State Department, bringing the known total to date to at least 627 emails that were not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over, and further contradicting a statement by Clinton that, "as far as she knew," all of her government emails had been turned over to department.

Plus, of course, the pay-to-play relationship between the Clinton State Department and the Clinton "charity" foundation.

On July 16, 2009, Zachary Schwartz asked Band for help getting visas to travel to Cuba for a film production crew from Shangri La Entertainment. Band forwarded the request to Abedin, telling her, "Please call zach asap on this. [Redacted.] Important." Abedin responded, "I'll call zach when we land in India." Abedin concludes with "Enjoy. Cuba is complicated. Am sure you aren't surprised to hear that." Schwartz worked for Steve Bing, a mega-donor to the Clintons and owner of Shangri La Entertainment. Bing has reportedly donated $10-25 million to the Clinton Foundation and paid Bill Clinton personally $2.5 million a year to be an adviser to a green construction company Bing owned.

On September 11, 2009, Terrence Duffy, chairman of futures brokerage firm CME Group, a donor to the Clinton Foundation, asked Clinton to arrange "government appointments" for him in Singapore and Hong Kong. Clinton, using her HDR22@clintonmail.com address, forwarded the request to Abedin, "fyi." Abedin responded to Duffy's email, saying she would "follow up" with Duffy's secretary, Joyce. Duffy gave $4,600 to Hillary's 2008 presidential campaign; CME Group paid Hillary $225,000 for a speaking fee and has donated between $5,001 and 10,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

And lots more... obviously.

(HT: Instapundit and Townhall.)


I guess you can interpret this partnership for yourself: Planned Parenthood teams up with Satanists to abort more babies in Missouri.

Missouri's recent stroke of good fortune in the reproductive rights realm may have to do with intervention from the fiery underworld. On Monday, the Satanic Temple argued in a Missouri court that the state's abortion restrictions violate worshippers' rights to free religious practice. The organization is challenging two Missouri laws: one that requires patients to look at unscientific anti-abortion propaganda and another that forces them to wait 72 hours between their initial consultations and a second appointments for their abortions. Satanic Temple members argue that their religion prizes rational, independent thought and that forcing Satanists to read anti-abortion pamphlets and "consider a religious proposition with which they do not agree" during the 72-hour waiting period constitutes a violation of their beliefs.

I wonder how this "stroke of good fortune" will impact the most vulnerable and defenseless people among us?

(HT: Breitbart and Patheos.)


This year I didn't "forget" about 9/11, but I did lose track of the current date over the weekend. I knew 9/11 was coming, but yesterday I forgot that it was 9/10. I'm grateful to the men and women who work hard to keep my family's life so normal.

It's been 16 years since the 9/11 attacks... kids who were born that year have almost graduated high school. I remember watching the TV news coverage that morning and calling my pastor to tell him what had happened. I had just returned from Europe less than a week ago, and I was grateful to be home instead of stranded abroad.

Over the weekend I tried to explain the attacks to my oldest daughter without being too graphic, but it was hard to convey the enormity of the event. I considered showing her pictures or video of the Twin Towers, but decided not to. I think that was wise, considering her age and the fact that we fly pretty frequently.

The attacks were intended to change the world, and they did. Or did they merely reflect a change that was already in progress? Probably both. It's hard to imagine a counterfactual world in which the 9/11 attacks were unsuccessful, and therefore didn't motivate American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, with all the consequences therefrom. I'm pretty sure that would have been a better world... but maybe some other inciting incident would have happened anyway, and we'd be right where we are now with only minor differences.


I pray that God gives our leaders wisdom and courage, and that the men and women who protect our peaceful existence have strength, encouragement, and goodness.


Hurricane Irma is devastating the Caribbean on its way to Florida. I've been thinking about installing a metal roof on my house, and this picture is fascinating to me.

metal roofs.jpg

These roofs survived the hurricane in perfect condition... other than being torn off their buildings.


Since rogue AI is in the news recently, it's worth remembering that AI can be dangerous even if it isn't malevolent. Nick Bostrum's paperclip maximizer is the canonical example.

First described by Bostrom (2003), a paperclip maximizer is an artificial general intelligence (AGI) whose goal is to maximize the number of paperclips in its collection. If it has been constructed with a roughly human level of general intelligence, the AGI might collect paperclips, earn money to buy paperclips, or begin to manufacture paperclips.

Most importantly, however, it would undergo an intelligence explosion: It would work to improve its own intelligence, where "intelligence" is understood in the sense of optimization power, the ability to maximize a reward/utility function--in this case, the number of paperclips. The AGI would improve its intelligence, not because it values more intelligence in its own right, but because more intelligence would help it achieve its goal of accumulating paperclips. Having increased its intelligence, it would produce more paperclips, and also use its enhanced abilities to further self-improve. Continuing this process, it would undergo an intelligence explosion and reach far-above-human levels.

It would innovate better and better techniques to maximize the number of paperclips. At some point, it might convert most of the matter in the solar system into paperclips.


An Oklahoma woman who drove her three friends to a burglary has been charged with murder because the homeowner killed her accomplices in self-defense.

The woman who says she drove three teenagers to an Oklahoma home where they were fatally shot during a midday break-in told television reporters that she feels guilty, but not responsible for their deaths and that she has little compassion for the man who shot them.

Elizabeth Marie Rodriguez, 21, is jailed without bond on murder and burglary warrants in Wagoner County for the deaths of Maxwell Cook, Jacob Redfern and Jakob Woodruff at the home just outside the city limits of the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow. The Wagoner County sheriff's office says the three were between 15 and 19 years old.

Authorities have said the three were shot Monday by the homeowner's 23-year-old son, who has not been arrested, and that each was found masked, dressed in black and wearing gloves. A knife and brass knuckles were recovered at the scene.

"I understand he (the son) protected his home," Rodriguez told television station KOTV. "He had his rights."

But she said he could have shot the three in the legs. "He's at the bottom of my list to be compassionate for," she said.

Apparently Rodriguez was unaware of the felony murder rule which generally states that if someone is killed while you are committing a dangerous felony you are guilty of murder -- even if you had no intent to kill, you intentionally created a dangerous, illegal situation that resulted in death.

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