Whatever you think about climate change, it's obvious that several states and municipalities are conspiring to extort oil companies by using lawsuits to allege damage due to climate change. The conspiracy is blatantly hypocritical, and ExxonMobil's lawyers are having a field day. The litigants suing ExxonMobil now have previously asserted in their bond offerings that the risk of climate change was unknown or unknowable. From ExxonMobil's response to the lawsuit:

Implementing a different page of the La Jolla playbook, a number of California municipal governments recently filed civil tort claims against ExxonMobil and 17 other Texas- based energy companies. In those lawsuits, each of the municipalities warned that imminent sea level rise presented a substantial threat to its jurisdiction and laid blame for this purported injury at the feet of energy companies.

Notwithstanding their claims of imminent, allegedly near-certain harm, none of the municipalities disclosed to investors such risks in their respective bond offerings, which collectively netted over $8 billion for these local governments over the last 27 years. To the contrary, some of the disclosures affirmatively denied any ability to measure those risks; the others virtually ignored them. At least two municipal governments [one of them San Mateo] reassured investors that they were "unable to predict whether sea-level rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm will occur, when they may occur, and if any such events occur, whether they will have a material adverse effect on the business operations or financial condition of the County and the local economy."

So when they want to borrow money, climate change is no risk; when they want to sue for damages, climate change is a huge risk.


California is offering to split the federal tax savings with local corporations, but it's hard to see why that's a good deal unless your business needs to be in California.

Trump's plan reduced the federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, which Republican and business leaders hailed as an incentive for a surge of capital investment and job growth. But Democrats denounced the change as a giveaway to the wealthy that would grow the national debt and require future cuts to welfare programs such as Medicaid.

The proposal from McCarty and Ting creates a new tax for businesses in California, which already has a state corporate tax rate of 8.84 percent. Companies with annual net income of more than $1 million in California would pay an additional surcharge of 7 percent, or half their savings from the recent federal tax cut.

If approved by two-thirds of the Legislature, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 22 would go before the voters for final consideration. Proponents estimate it would raise between $15 billion and $17 billion a year, which would be directed toward funding for education, college affordability initiatives, child care and preschool slots, taxpayer rebates and an expansion of California's Earned Income Tax Credit.

The $15 - $17 billion estimate is a static analysis that doesn't take into account the likelihood that some businesses will reduce their footprint in California, or just leave. Reducing the federal rate means that a company doesn't have to leave the country to benefit, it only has to leave California.


President Trump decried immigration from "shithole countries". (Funny, my fingers keep typing "shithold" and I have to backspace a lot.) Obviously, I condemn what President Trump said.

Other details of the plan had emerged in recent days. Senators plan to effectively nix the visa lottery and reallocating those visas to a separate program being terminated by the Trump administration aiding immigrants from countries facing natural disasters or civil strife. Countries affected so far by Trump's ending of Temporary Protected Status include El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan.

It was when Trump was being briefed on those provisions that he asked why the United States was admitting immigrants from "shithole countries," according to two sources familiar with the meeting.

Trump has denied using that language, but not the sentiment. Who knows. It seems that only the President and a few senators were present, but I'm sure their flunkies were around also.

My prediction is that within a week polling will show that a majority of Americans agree with Trump's sentiment.


"The Long-run Effects of Teacher Collective Bargaining" concludes that teachers unions hurt the education and later careers of students.

Our estimates suggest that teacher collective bargaining worsens the future labor market outcomes of students: living in a state that has a duty-to-bargain law for all 12 grade-school years reduces earnings by $800 (or 2%) per year and decreases hours worked by 0.50 hours per week. The earnings estimate indicates that teacher collective bargaining reduces earnings by $199.6 billion in the US annually. We also find evidence of lower employment rates, which is driven by lower labor force participation, as well as reductions in the skill levels of the occupations into which workers sort. The effects are driven by men and nonwhites, who experience larger relative declines in long-run outcomes. Using data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we demonstrate that collective bargaining leads to sizable reductions in measured cognitive and non-cognitive skills among young adults. Taken together, our results suggest laws that support collective bargaining for teachers have adverse long-term labor market consequences for students.

But, of course, teachers unions are designed to advantage teachers, not students.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded the memo that instructed federal prosecutors not to enforce federal marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal under state law. Republicans and Democrats are both upset.

Sessions' move infuriated Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who said he's placing a hold on Justice Department nominees and will try to push legislation to protect marijuana sales in states where they are legal.

Colorado's senior senator, Democrat Michael Bennet, also slammed Sessions' move.

"In rescinding the Cole memo, the Attorney General failed to listen to Colorado, and will create unnecessary chaos and confusion," he said on Twitter.

Maybe President Trump will take this opportunity to pass marijuana legalization through Congress. It seems like legalization would be an easy law to pass, and would be broadly popular.


Look, it's pretty obvious to everyone that Hillary Clinton broke the law and then received special treatment because she was expected to be the next president.

For the first time, investigators say they have secured written evidence that the FBI believed there was evidence that some laws were broken when the former secretary of State and her top aides transmitted classified information through her insecure private email server, lawmakers and investigators told The Hill. ...

"The sheer volume of information that was properly classified as Secret at the time it was discussed on email (that is, excluding the "up classified" emails) supports an inference that the participants were grossly negligent in their handling of that information," the FBI's original draft read, according to a source who has seen it.

Not only was there slam-dunk evidence of criminality, but the decision to exonerate Clinton was made before many key witnesses were even interviewed -- because the decision was driven by the political timeline.

Republican investigators say the most glaring irregularity they have found is the decision to begin drafting a statement exonerating Clinton before much of the investigative interviewing and evidence gathering was even done.

While the first draft of the statement was dated May 2, 2016, FBI records gathered by congressional investigators show agents were still receiving evidence responsive to grand jury subpoenas well after that, including documents and other evidentiary items logged on May 13, May 19 and May 26.

A House GOP lawmaker told The Hill his staff also has identified at least a dozen interviews that were conducted after the drafting effort began, including of some figures who would have key information about intent or possible destruction of evidence.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) staff has a higher number: 17 witnesses including Clinton were interviewed after the decision was already made.

The Democrats shouldn't have coronated Hillary. Hopefully America is rid of the Clintons for good this time, along with their cloud of corruption.


This story about a "SWATting" death is an important lesson, not just for the police but for everyone.

A 28-year-old Kansas man was shot and killed by police officers on the evening of Dec. 28 after someone fraudulently reported a hostage situation ongoing at his home. The false report was the latest in a dangerous hoax known as "swatting," wherein the perpetrator falsely reports a dangerous situation at an address with the goal of prompting authorities to respond to that address with deadly force. This particular swatting reportedly originated over a $1.50 wagered match in the online game Call of Duty. Compounding the tragedy is that the man killed was an innocent party who had no part in the dispute.

Police in Los Angeles reportedly have arrested 25-year-old Tyler Raj Barriss in connection with the swatting attack.

Not only was the 911 call itself a hoax, but the address given by the intended victim was a lie as well -- both the perpetrator and the intended victim contributed to the death of a completely un-involved third party.

If your house is surrounded by police officers, what's the safest way to respond? Probably not by opening the door and moving your arms around. Maybe it would be safer to have your family all lie down on the floor and then call 911 yourself to see what's going on.


One of President Trump's least-heralded accomplishments has been the significant number of American prisoners held abroad that he has brought home.

"Immediately after President Trump took office, he told Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson to prioritize bringing home Americans who've been wrongfully detained or held hostage in foreign countries," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told Fox News in an email. "We are proud that we've been able to secure the release of several Americans as a result of U.S. diplomatic efforts."

While the administration has been successful in securing the release of numerous Americans held abroad, officials noted there are at least 10 other U.S. citizens - like Joshua Holt in Venezuela - who are being wrongly detained.

Good work for the President and the State Department.


"Eat, drink, and be merry" -- tomorrow is the other party's problem.

It's hard to remember that just a couple of decades ago, our government did do something about the deficit, other than make it worse. First under George H.W. Bush, and then under Bill Clinton, Congress and the president worked together to pass major deficit-reduction bills that actually tried to put the finances of the country on a reasonably stable long-term footing. These bills were not very popular; the first may have cost Bush re-election. But they were what responsible government looks like.

Nowadays, with our entitlements crisis much closer, both parties seem to have chosen the slogan "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die!" Entitlements costing more than we take in in tax revenue? Obviously, we need to make them even bigger! Taxes too low to cover all our spending commitments? Cut taxes! The idea seems to be that if you can push through your pet programs now, by the time the reckoning comes, they'll be too popular to touch, and the other guys will have to find some way to pay for all your goodies.

How's the new meritocracy working out? We have the worst governing class in American history. Maybe we're stuck in a local maxima that we can't escape without a significant jolt to the system.


Rich Lowry writes that Trump has a string of successes in his first year as president.

Republicans have tried, on and off, to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling since the 1980s. The effort has always engendered intense opposition and always been abandoned. A provision for drilling in ANWR is included in the Republican tax bill almost as an afterthought.

Republicans took a constitutional fight against ObamaCare's individual mandate to the Supreme Court in 2012, and lost. They targeted it in their ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill earlier this year, and lost. They tried again with a last-ditch "skinny repeal" bill, and lost yet again. Repeal of the individual mandate is also included in the Republican tax bill.

As the year ends, President Trump is compiling a solid record of accomplishment. Much of it is unilateral, dependent on extensive executive actions rolling back President Barack Obama's regulations, impressive judicial appointments and the successful fight against ISIS overseas. The tax bill is the significant legislative achievement that heretofore has been missing.

Say what you will about his personal flaws, but Trump has delivered the most success for conservatives of any president in a long, long time.


Planned Parenthood partners have settled a lawsuit alleging that they sold baby parts. The settlement will put them out of business in California.

According to the settlement signed Monday, DV Biologics LLC and sister company DaVinci Biosciences LLC, both based in Yorba Linda, must cease all operations in California within 60 to 120 days. The agreement also requires the companies to admit liability for violations of state and federal laws prohibiting the sale or purchase of fetal tissue for research purposes, prosecutors said.

Also named as defendants in the settlement were company principals Estefano Isaias Sr., Estefano Isaias Jr. and Andres Isaias.

"This settlement seized all profits from DV Biologics and DaVinci Biosciences, which they acquired by viewing body parts as a commodity and illegally selling fetal tissues for valuable consideration. These companies will never be able to operate again in Orange County or the state of California," Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said in a statement.

So yes, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates do kill babies and sell their parts.


Andrew McCarthy argues that Mueller's special councel investigation can't possibly prove a conspiracy if it can't prove an underlying crime.

Rosenstein did not identify a crime because he did not have one. There are two reasons for this, but we have focused myopically on the wrong one: the fact that contacts between Trump associates and the Russian regime do not prove they conspired together in an espionage scheme. That simply shows that Mueller does not have a case. The more basic problem is that he cannot have a case. Russia's espionage operation cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, so it will never be possible to prove the Trump campaign colluded in it.

Let's concede that there is some evidence -- not much, but some -- of contacts between Trump associates and operatives of the Russian regime. On its face, this is not incriminating -- no more than the fact of contacts between the Clinton camp and the Russian regime. What would make the Trump-Russia contacts criminal would be indications that they facilitated Russia's cyberespionage operation against the 2016 election.


So far there's no evidence that Trump or his surrogates illegally conspired with Russia to "steal" the 2016 election, despite their unsavory behavior. (Certainly no worse than the DNC's sponsorship of the Steele Dossier.) The longer Mueller's special counsel investigation continues, the more it looks like an attempt by the disrupted political establishment to cover their collective ass. The WSJ lays out the facts.

The Washington Post and the New York Times reported Saturday that a lead FBI investigator on the Mueller probe, Peter Strzok, was demoted this summer after it was discovered he'd sent anti- Trump texts to a mistress. As troubling, Mr. Mueller and the Justice Department kept this information from House investigators, despite Intelligence Committee subpoenas that would have exposed those texts. They also refused to answer questions about Mr. Strzok's dismissal and refused to make him available for an interview.

The news about Mr. Strzok leaked only when the Justice Department concluded it couldn't hold out any longer, and the stories were full of spin that praised Mr. Mueller for acting "swiftly" to remove the agent. Only after these stories ran did Justice agree on Saturday to make Mr. Strzok available to the House.

This is all the more notable because Mr. Strzok was a chief lieutenant to former FBI Director James Comey and played a lead role investigating alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. Mr. Mueller then gave him a top role in his special-counsel probe. And before all this Mr. Strzok led the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails and sat in on the interview she gave to the FBI shortly before Mr. Comey publicly exonerated her in violation of Justice Department practice.

Oh, and the woman with whom he supposedly exchanged anti-Trump texts, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, worked for both Mr. Mueller and deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, who was accused of a conflict of interest in the Clinton probe when it came out that Clinton allies had donated to the political campaign of Mr. McCabe's wife. The texts haven't been publicly released, but it's fair to assume their anti-Trump bias must be clear for Mr. Mueller to reassign such a senior agent.

It's frankly astonishing to me that no substantial Trump wrongdoing has been uncovered, but despite numerous investigations that appears to be the case so far. Our political class keeps digging itself deeper into its hole, and somehow manages to make Trump look good.


Ann Althouse is right that you can't criticize Trump without understanding his humor.

What I'd say is: Those who want to do anti-Trump humor need to understand that Trump himself is a comedian. I'm not saying Trump is just a clown, and it's crazy that we made a clown President. I'm saying, whatever his worth as human being carrying out the duties of the presidency, he is also a comic talent, with many humorous insights, great timing, and -- like the greatest comedians -- he's challenging us to see what's funny and what's serious as he mixes it up and causes anxiety that we can relieve if we climb out of the ocean of confusion and onto the island of laughter.

You don't have to like any given comedian, and a comedian who wields tremendous political power is going to fail to amuse most people. In fact, whatever your politics, you're not going to be a very funny comedian if you just think of the President as a wonderful humorist and laugh at his jokes. But you should understand the way in which he means to be funny and project yourself into the minds of the many people who do respond to his humor. You should do this, not because he deserves respect, but because it's the foundation for writing better humor yourself.

Trump's supporters understand and appreciate his humor, not least because finally they are not the butts of presidential jokes.


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.

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