Ellis Cooper

From Zoo Today:

More at Egotastic, "Ellis Cooper Screencaps for Zoo Magazine November 2012."

The Reality of Modern Politics, We Go After Each Other

An outstanding essay from Kathleen McKinley, at Right Wing News:
I am about fed up with all of politics. I’ve never been as SICK of it in my life as I am now, and I have been in it ALL my life.

This is the time we should be focused on our families. We should be focused on our country getting through this terrible economic time, and terribly sad time.

Focus on what matters. Don’t focus on anger, pettiness, and self righteousness.

The media needs to decide what it is going to be in the future. Is it going to be what it is supposed to be? Reporting fairly both sides? Or is it going to continue to promote a liberal agenda? Because as long as it does the latter, then other news organizations will pop up, like Fox News, that reports on the conservative side, and we have no unbiased reporting whatsoever.

So, decide media. It’s up to you.

If the liberals current political fight continues as “divide and conquer,” then I congratulate them. They are winning. They won the Presidency that way, and they continue to win that way.

But what a price America is paying for that. Neighbor against neighbor. Friend against friend. Brother against brother.

Personal Computers On the Way Out

If the PC isn't on the way out economy-wide, it's certainly on the way out in my household. Not only have we not had a PC for a few years, we're now almost all on Apple mobile devices. I bought my wife an iPad for Christmas. Both my sons are fully on Apple. I got an iPhone 5 a couple months back and I'll be purchasing an Apple laptop sometime early next year. The part, at the clip, about taking your computing devices with you really says it all. I need a laptop to blog, but other than that I can do just whatever I want on handheld devices. The changes in technology are endlessly fascinating. I'm just wondering when we'll get some real robust economic growth amid all the innovation, like we had during the 1990s' Internet boom.

Bruno Mars 'Unorthodox Jukebox'

I gave my wife the CD for Christmas.

I liked him on SNL.

And see the Los Angeles Times, "Bruno Mars gladly loses his cool on 'Unorthodox Jukebox'."

Jennifer Johnson: 'I Am Too Young...'

At London's Daily Mail, "Terminally ill mother-of-two records heartbreaking YouTube video before she died just days before Christmas."

And watch the video, "A Heart Worth Saving."

Ms. Johnson died of complications following open heart surgery. Join me in a prayer for her survivors.

Weight Watchers Extends Endorsement Deal With Jessica Simpson

Weight Watchers executives were furious when they first learned that Jessica Simpson was having a second baby, becoming pregnant just months after her first child was born. But the company is continuing its business relationship with the star. Simpson lost over 50 pounds while using the company's products (although that wasn't as dramatic a weight loss executives were looking for). But things have apparently cooled down a bit on the business end and Ms. Simpson can focus on family before returning as the spokeswoman. The Los Angeles Times reports, "Jessica Simpson won't follow Weight Watchers diet while pregnant."

I say good for her. More at London's Daily Mail, "Baby on board! Blooming Jessica Simpson's romantic Hawaiian getaway as she puts Weight Watchers diet on hold."

Thanks Democrats: Sluggish Economic Growth Locked-In for 2013

At IBD, "Economy 2013: Mediocre Growth Will Be the New Good":
Next year may be when Americans stop waiting for faster economic growth to make everything better again and finally learn to accept the current modest pace as good enough now and good enough later.

Even if lawmakers reach a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff's full impact, tax rates will still go up for many Americans, and government spending will go down.

Incomes, which have seen little growth during the recovery, are unlikely to start shooting higher. Aging consumers haven't regained their lost net worth and aren't ready to load up on new debt.

"It's a very different economy than what we've seen in the last 20 to 30 years," said Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG Investment Research.

Gross domestic product has expanded at an average rate of just over 2% a year since the recession ended, and many economists expect more of the same in 2013.

That assumes a fiscal cliff deal. But the chances of a pact before year-end are now looking increasingly bleak, and a prolonged standoff could deal another blow to the fragile economy. The U.S. could fall back into recession, the Congressional Budget Office has said.

Even without a "cliff" shock, the National Association for Business Economics, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Monetary Fund all see 2013 growth at or just above 2%.

ITG's Blitz also thinks the U.S. will expand by about 2%, with some positive momentum in housing but not much improvement in consumer spending.

"What the economy is not going to do is accelerate toward the trend path where we were pre-recession," he said. "We're not going to make up that lost ground."
More at that top link.

While I think both parties suck, it's definitely the Democrats who're by design seeking to hold the economy back by punishing wealthy high-achievers in the name of social justice. Even far-left hack Jamelle Bouie admits it, "Why Democrats insist on upper-income tax hikes."

Fiscal Cliff Dive Would Impose Steadily Increasing Pain and Hardship

At the New York Times, "Fiscal Cutoff Gradually Morphs Into Horizon":

Negotiations are set to resume in the coming days, following a break for Christmas, although hopes for a so-called grand bargain have faded. Instead, President Obama is pushing for a scaled-back plan that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts on incomes below $250,000, while suspending the automatic spending cuts and extending unemployment benefits.

Michelle Meyer, senior United States economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said there is a 40 percent chance of what she calls a “bungee-jump over the fiscal cliff,” with Congress failing to act until after Jan. 1 but eventually averting the full package of tax increases and spending cuts by mid-January. If that were to happen, she predicts a steep sell-off on Wall Street, which would quickly force political leaders to compromise.

Over all, Ms. Meyer estimates that the economy will grow by just 1 percent in the first quarter of 2013, well below the 3.1 percent pace recorded in the third quarter of 2012.

What’s worrisome, she added, is that consumer anxiety about the fiscal impasse has begun to mount, catching up with business leaders who have been warning of economic danger since summer. “What’s been missing in this recovery has been confidence,” she said. “We’d see a healthy recovery if it weren’t for this uncertainty and the potential shock from Washington.”

Indeed, the economy has been showing signs of life recently. Unemployment in November sank to 7.7 percent, a four-year low. Consumer spending has been picking up, and the housing market has continued to recover in many parts of the country. Overseas worries like slowing growth in China and recession in Europe have also faded.

Those trends have encouraged some observers, like Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG Investment Research. He estimates that the economy will grow by nearly 2.5 percent in the first quarter if Washington comes up with even a modest compromise. In the absence of a deal, the pace of growth would be more like 1 percent, he said.

“I don’t think that not having a deal going into the new year is all that critical,” Mr. Blitz said. “It doesn’t mean you will immediately go into a recession.”
RTWT at the link.

And that's Maria Bartiromo at the clip, mercilessly hammering the befuddled Democrat Senator Ben Cardin, via Eliana Johnson at National Review, "Maria Bartiromo Lays the Smackdown on Ben Cardin, Trading Floor Erupts in Cheers."

And see Jonathan Tobin, at Commentary, "Democrats Can’t Avoid Fiscal Cliff Blame."

Just a Bunch of Bloggers Get NBC's David Gregory in Whole Heap o' Trouble

Here's the background with video, "NBC's David Gregory Under Investigation by Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police."

And here's William Jacobson, "D.C. Police — NBC requested and was denied permission to use high capacity magazine in news segment." (Via Memeorandum, where just a whole lot more bloggers are also reporting.)

Laws are for little people, I guess. But I wonder, is that really a "planned vacation" for Gregory next Sunday? He won't be hosting "Meet the Press." Arrest the f-ker, I say. He and his producers should be prosecuted.

Polish Historians and Nazi Germany's Final Solution

An outstanding review article from Timothy Snyder, at the New York Review, "Hitler’s Logical Holocaust." The Polish historians cited offer a fascinating --- and sometimes surprising, considering how much has been written --- interpretation of the fate of European Jewry:

Reinhard Heydrich
To attempt to realize the program of Mein Kampf, Hitler needed to win power in Germany, to destroy Germany as a republic, and to fight a war against the USSR. As Edouard Husson notes in his book on Heinrich Himmler’s deputy Reinhard Heydrich, the Great Depression made it possible for Hitler to win elections and begin his transformation of Germany and the world. In Hitler’s Germany after 1933, the state was no longer a monopolist of violence, in Max Weber’s well-known definition. It became instead an entrepreneur of violence, using violence abroad—terror in the Soviet Union, assassinations of German officials by Jews—to justify the violence at home that was in fact organized by German institutions. Hitler then used the alleged threat of domestic instability to justify the creation of ever more repressive institutions.

For most of the 1930s Hitler maintained the pose that his foreign policy was nothing more than the classic Balkan one, the gathering in of fellow nationals along with their land. This was the justification given for the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia and the annexation of Austria in 1938. But in fact, as Husson shows, the takeover of these countries and destruction of their governments was a trial run for a much larger program of racial colonization further east.

Husson’s method is to follow the career of Heydrich, the director of the internal intelligence service of the SS, and the ideal statesman of this new kind of state.2 The SS, an organ of the Nazi party, was meant to alter the character of the state. It penetrated central institutions, such as the police, imposing a social worldview on their legal functions. The remaking of Germany from within took years. Heydrich understood, as Husson shows, that the destruction of neighboring states permitted a much more rapid transformation. If all political institutions were destroyed and the previous legal order simply obliterated, Heydrich’s organizations could operate much more effectively.

In particular, the destruction of states permitted a much more radical approach to what the Nazis regarded as the Jewish “problem,” a policy that Heydrich was eager to claim as his own. In Germany, Jews were stripped of civil rights and put under pressure to emigrate. After Germany seized the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia in 1938, its Jews fled or were expelled. When Austria was incorporated into Germany, Heydrich’s subordinate Adolf Eichmann created there an office of “emigration” that quickly stripped Jews of their property as they fled anti-Semitic violence.

Historians tend to see World War II from two perspectives: one as the battlefield history of the campaigns by, and against, Germany; the other as the destruction of European Jews. As Hannah Arendt suggested long ago, these two stories are in fact one. Part of Hitler’s success lay in denigrating international institutions such as the League of Nations and persuading the other powers to allow his aggression in Czechoslovakia and Austria. As Bloxham stresses, the weakness of the Western powers meant that the fate of citizens, above all Jewish citizens, depended upon the actions (and existence) of states. The Evian Conference of 1938 demonstrated that no important state wanted to take Europe’s Jews.

Hitler, as Husson observes, apparently believed that, in the absence of American willingness to accept European Jews, European powers should ship them to Madagascar. The island was being considered as a place for Jews by Polish authorities at the time, though as a possible site for a voluntary rather than involuntary emigration. Husson writes that Hitler seemed to believe until early 1939 that Germany and Poland could cooperate in some sort of forced deportation to the island. Poland lay between Germany and the Soviet Union, and was home to three million Jews, more than ten times as many as Germany. Hitler, who wished to recruit Poland into a common anti-Communist crusade, presumably imagined that this deportation would take place during a joint German and Polish invasion of the Soviet Union.

Because Poland refused any alliance with Nazi Germany in the spring of 1939, Hitler made a temporary alliance with the Soviet Union against Poland. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939 sealed the fate of the Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Polish nation-states, and it was particularly significant for their Jewish citizens. The joint invasion of Poland by both German and Soviet forces in September 1939 meant that Poland, rather than becoming some sort of junior partner to Nazi Germany, was destroyed as a political entity. Unlike Austria and Czechoslovakia, Poland fought the Germans, but it was defeated. Poland therefore offered a new opportunity for Heydrich, because its armed resistance created the possibility to initiate mass murder under cover of war.

Heydrich’s Einsatzgruppen were ordered to destroy the educated Polish population. Poland was now to be removed from the map, its society politically decapitated. The destruction of the Polish state and the murder of tens of thousands of Polish elites in 1939 did not destroy Polish political life or end Polish resistance. Auschwitz, established in 1940 as a concentration camp for Poles, also failed in this regard. The Germans murdered at least one million non-Jewish Poles during the occupation, but Polish resistance continued and in fact grew.

Nor did the destruction of the Polish state provide an obvious way to resolve what Hitler and Heydrich saw as the Jewish “problem.” At first Heydrich wanted a “Jewish reservation” established in occupied Poland, but this would have done no more than move Jews from some parts of the German empire to others. In early 1940 Heydrich’s subordinate Eichmann asked the Soviets—still German allies—if they would take two million Polish Jews; this was predictably refused. In the summer of 1940, after Germany had defeated France, Hitler, the German Foreign Office, and Heydrich returned to the idea of a deportation to Madagascar, a French colonial possession. Hitler wrongly assumed that Great Britain would make peace, and allow the Germans to carry out maritime deportations of Jews.

The Final Solution as applied to Poland’s Jews would thus take place in Poland, but it was still not clear, as 1940 came to an end, just what it would be. As Andrea Löw and Markus Roth remind us in their fine study of Jewish life and death in Kraków, Polish Jews were not simply impersonal objects of an evolving German policy of destruction. Kraków’s Jews, like those of Poland generally, had been organized under Polish law into a local commune (kehilla or gmina) that enjoyed collective rights. It was this institution that the Germans perverted by the establishment of the Judenräte, or Jewish councils responsible for carrying out German orders. Despite a few anti-Semitic laws in the late 1930s, Poland’s Jews were equal citizens of the republic.

When the republic was destroyed, German anti-Semitic legislation could immediately be imposed. German expulsions of Jews from their homes, which would have been an unthinkable violation of property rights in Poland, demonstrated that Jewish property was for the taking. The Germans themselves seized bank accounts, automobiles, and even bicycles. Pending some future deportation, the Jews of Kraków were held in a ghetto where they suffered from lawlessness, exploitation, misery, and death from disease and hunger. But this was not yet a Holocaust.
Continue reading.

PHOTO: "Reinhard Heydrich, Acting Reich Protektor of Bohemia and Moravia, who was responsible, according to an order signed by Hermann Göring in July 1941, for organizing ‘a general solution of the Jewish question throughout the German sphere of influence in Europe’."

NFL Cheerleaders Celebrate Christmas

At Gunaxin.

Cool clickable slideshows at that link.

"This is about what you can expect on NFL sidelines this weekend. Enjoy."

For sure.

More at Proof Positive.

'It was really awkward because he kept telling me that I was the perfect girl for him, but that a low credit score was his deal-breaker...'

Times have changed, I guess. My credit was shot when I met my future wife. And I was working minimum wage and driving a beaten down Toyota 2x4 pickup. I had a smokin' hot physique back in the day, so I guess that explains it.

In any case, a great piece at the New York Times, "Perfect 10? Never Mind That. Ask Her for Her Credit Score":
As she nibbled on strawberry shortcake, Jessica LaShawn, a flight attendant from Chicago, tried not to get ahead of herself and imagine this first date turning into another and another, and maybe, at some point, a glimmering diamond ring and happily ever after.

She simply couldn’t help it, though. After all, he was tall, from a religious family, raised by his grandparents just as she was, worked in finance and even had great teeth.

Her musings were suddenly interrupted when her date asked a decidedly unromantic question: “What’s your credit score?”

“It was as if the music stopped,” Ms. LaShawn, 31, said, recalling how the date this year went so wrong so quickly after she tried to answer his question honestly. “It was really awkward because he kept telling me that I was the perfect girl for him, but that a low credit score was his deal-breaker.”

The credit score, once a little-known metric derived from a complex formula that incorporates outstanding debt and payment histories, has become an increasingly important number used to bestow credit, determine housing and even distinguish between job candidates.

It’s so widely used that it has also become a bigger factor in dating decisions, sometimes eclipsing more traditional priorities like a good job, shared interests and physical chemistry. That’s according to interviews with more than 50 daters across the country, all under the age of 40.

“Credit scores are like the dating equivalent of a sexually transmitted disease test,” said Manisha Thakor, the founder and chief executive of MoneyZen Wealth Management, a financial advisory firm. “It’s a shorthand way to get a sense of someone’s financial past the same way an S.T.D. test gives some information about a person’s sexual past.”
Actually, Ms. LaShawn has some pretty great teeth --- and then some.

RTWT at that top link.

Added: I can't resist adding this passage:
Lauren Dollard, a 26-year-old assistant at a nonprofit in Houston, said her low credit score had helped to stall her romantic plans. Her boyfriend is wary of marrying her until she can significantly pay down the more than $150,000 she owes in student loans and bolster her credit score, she said.
I personally wouldn't marry someone who ran up that much in college debt. The numbers I read about in student loan debt these days are literally obscene. No one should ever take out that much debt for any kind of degree, any kind, including an attorney, doctor, or whatever. You start out your professional life in financial bondage. Talk about a higher education bubble. Oh brother...

And the Biggest Lie of 2012 Is ...

The Benghazi clusterf-k, highlighted by Aaron Klein:

JERUSALEM – Information surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks against the U.S. mission in Benghazi has been so distorted by the Obama administration and so misreported by the news media that the issue was selected as WND’s “Biggest Lie of the Year.”

Immediately following the attacks, President Obama and other White House officials notoriously blamed supposed anti-American sentiment leading to the violent events on an obscure anti-Muhammad video on YouTube they claimed was responsible for supposedly popular civilian protests that they said took place outside the U.S. mission in Benghazi – protests, they claimed, that devolved into a jihadist onslaught.

However, vivid accounts provided by the State Department and intelligence officials later made clear no such popular demonstration took place. Instead, video footage from Benghazi reportedly shows an organized group of armed men attacking the compound, the officials said.


Media coverage of the events has been so dismal that even the most basic understanding of what happened is being distorted. The vast majority of all news media coverage worldwide refer to the U.S. facility that was attacked as a “consulate,” even though the government itself has been careful to call it a “mission.”

WND has filed numerous reports quoting Middle East security sources describing the mission in Benghazi as serving as a meeting place to coordinate aid for the rebel-led insurgencies in the Middle East.

Among the tasks performed inside the building was collaborating with Arab countries on the recruitment of fighters – including jihadists – to target Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, the officials said.

Whether the news media report on what was allegedly transpiring at the mission or not, their calling the building a “consulate” is misleading.

A consulate typically refers to the building that officially houses a consul, who is the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another. The U.S. consul in Libya, Jenny Cordell, works out of the embassy in Tripoli.

Consulates at times function as junior embassies, providing services related to visas, passports and citizen information.

On Aug. 26, about two weeks before his was killed, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens attended a ceremony marking the opening of consular services at the Tripoli embassy.

The main role of a consulate is to foster trade with the host and care for its own citizens who are traveling or living in the host nation.

Diplomatic missions, on the other hand, maintain a more generalized role. A diplomatic mission is simply a group of people from one state or an international inter-governmental organization present in another state to represent matters of the sending state or organization in the receiving state.

However, according to a State Department report released last week, the U.S. facility in Benghazi did not fit the profile of a diplomatic mission, either.

According to the 39-page report released this week by independent investigators probing the attacks at the diplomatic facility, the U.S. mission in Benghazi was set up without the knowledge of the new Libyan government, as WND reported.

“Another key driver behind the weak security platform in Benghazi was the decision to treat Benghazi as a temporary, residential facility, not officially notified to the host government, even though it was also a full-time office facility,” the report states. “This resulted in the Special Mission compound being excepted from office facility standards and accountability under the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999 (SECCA) and the Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB).”

The report, based on a probe led by former U.S. diplomat Thomas Pickering, calls the facility a “Special U.S. Mission.”

The report further refers to the attacked facility as a “U.S. Special Mission,” adding yet another qualifier to the title of the building.

Violated international law?

WND also exclusively reported the facility may have violated the terms of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which governs the establishment of overseas missions.

Like most nations, the U.S. is a signatory to the 1961 United Nations convention.

Article 2 of the convention makes clear the host government must be informed about the establishment of any permanent foreign mission on its soil: “The establishment of diplomatic relations between States, and of permanent diplomatic missions, takes place by mutual consent.”

According to the State report, there was a decision “to treat Benghazi as a temporary, residential facility,” likely disqualifying the building from permanent mission status if the mission was indeed temporary.

However, the same sentence in the report notes the host government was not notified about the Benghazi mission “even though it was also a full-time office facility.”

Article 12 of the Vienna Convention dictates, “The sending State may not, without the prior express consent of the receiving State, establish offices forming part of the mission in localities other than those in which the mission itself is established.”

If the Benghazi mission was a “full-time office facility,” it may violate Article 12 in that the mission most likely was considered an arm of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, which served as the main U.S. mission to Libya...
Continue reading.

Image Credit: Posted exactly two months ago, via A.F. Branco, "Blockbuster Report Contradicts Panetta's Claim of 'No Real-Time Intel' During Libya Attack."

The Battle of Trenton

I've forgotten how I got going on this, but I was reading all about George Washington's military leadership on Wikipedia the other day, and since it's the anniversary of the battle, it's especially worth your time.

The secret attack started with the crossing of the Delaware River, captured for the ages in the famous painting from Emanuel Leutze's, "Washington Crossing the Delaware."

Washington Crossing the Delaware

Is Hate a Liberal Value? Reflections on Newtown

From Glenn Reynolds, at USA Today:
1. When Twenty Minutes Is Forever. According to the CNN timeline for the Sandy Hook tragedy, "Police and other first responders arrived on scene about 20 minutes after the first calls." Twenty minutes. Five minutes is forever when violence is underway, but 20 minutes -- a third of an hour -- means that the "first responders" aren't likely to do much more than clean up the mess.

This has led to calls -- in Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, St. Louis -- for armed officers or staff at schools. Some object. But we have people with guns protecting airports, hospitals and politicians. And leading anti-gun crusaders like New York's billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg and press lord Rupert Murdoch are protected by armed security teams that could probably topple some third-world governments. Why are our children less worthy of protection?

Then there are our homes. If police took twenty minutes to respond at a school, how likely are they to get to your house in time? For those of us without "security teams," the answer isn't reassuring.

2. Is Hate A Liberal Value? A 20-year-old lunatic stole some guns and killed people. Who's to blame? According to a lot of our supposedly rational and tolerant opinion leaders, it's . . . the NRA, a civil-rights organization whose only crime was to oppose laws banning guns. (Ironically, it wasn't even successful in Connecticut, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.)

The hatred was intense. One Rhode Island professor issued a call -- later deleted -- for NRA head Wayne LaPierre's "head on a stick." People like author Joyce Carol Oates and actress Marg Helgenberger wished for NRA members to be shot. So did Texas Democratic Party official John Cobarruvias, who also called the NRA a "terrorist organization," and Texas Republican congressman Louis Gohmert a "terror baby."

Nor were reporters, who are supposed to be neutral, much better. As The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg commented, "Reporters on my Twitter feed seem to hate the NRA more than anything else, ever. "
Well, left-wing "tolerance" at work. Continue reading at that top link.

PREVIOUSLY: "Erik Loomis' Twitter Timeline Available Dating Back to June 2012."

Lacey Banghard Tweets Year-End 'Page 3' Group Photo

She tweeted this out on Christmas Eve, perhaps as a nice gift for followers in Twitter: "The girls and I on Page 3."

FLASHBACK: "Lacey Banghard Topless Zoo Photo Outtakes September 2012," and "Lacey Banghard Never-Ending L.A. Summer."

NBC's David Gregory Under Investigation by Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police

Wiilliam Jacobson has been all over this story, "NBC News stonewalls inquiries regarding David Gregory and “active investigation” by D.C. Police":

As previously reported, last Sunday David Gregory held up what he described as high capacity AR-15 ammunition magazine, which would violate the District of Columbia’s gun law if the magazine were real.

My multiple attempts last Sunday to obtain a response from NBC News as to whether the magazine was real were met with stone cold silence. None of the three senior communications executives with responsibility for Meet the Press responded.

Now there is news via Breitbart.com (h/t Drudge) that the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department is investigating.

I spoke with Officer Alali, the spokesman on duty today at the MPD, who refused any further comment except to confirm that there is an “active investigation.”

It may be even worse for Gregory and NBC News. According to an e-mail received by The Patriots Perspective website, which originally broke the Gregory story, NBC News had inquired whether it was permitted to use the magazine and was told that it was not permitted. The authenticity of the email has not been verified.
More at the link.

And following it, here's Warner Todd Huston, at Big Journalism, "DC Police Investigating NBC's Gregory for Brandishing Illegal Magazine." Also at Patriot Perspective, "David Gregory Violated DC Gun Laws After Being Denied By DC Police?"

And here's a kicker, at the Weekly Standard, "W.H. Petition: 'Press Charges Against David Gregory' for Breaking D.C. Gun Laws." (Via Memeorandum.)

'So Depressing and Communist!'

It's Milla Jovovich on Twitter:

And see London's Daily Mail, "Milla Jovovich shares adorable childhood picture from her days in Russia."

Amazing, isn't it?

Beautiful immigrants like Ms. Jovovich move to America to be free of communist oppression. And the damned progressives are doing their absolute best to foster and promote that same communist oppression right here at home.


When the immigrants stop coming, and they will, you'll know it's all over. The American dream will be over.

RELATED: "Stunning Picture of Milla Jovovich."

Netanyahu's Christmas Greeting 2012

Via Linkmaster Smith:

No Room for Seconds

Everything turned out just perfect, via Twitter.

Christmas Dinner

I think we have some pumpkin pie in the fridge, but that's going to wait until later tonight, way later.

Science Gifts

At the New York Times, "Gifts That Keep Giving (if Not Exploding)":
Ask scientists of a certain age about their childhood memories, and odds are they’ll start yarning about the stink bombs and gunpowder they concocted with their chemistry sets. Dangerous? Yes, but fun.

“Admittedly, I have blown some things up in my time,” said William L. Whittaker, 64, a robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon University who unearthed his first chemistry set, an A. C. Gilbert, in a junkyard around age 8. By 16, he was dabbling in advanced explosives. “There’s no question that I burned some skin off my face,” he recalled.

Under today’s Christmas tree, girls and boys will unwrap science toys of a very different ilk: slime-making kits and perfume labs, vials of a fluff-making polymer called Insta-Snow, “no-chem” chemistry sets (chemical free!), plus a dazzling array of modern telescopes, microscopes and D.I.Y. volcanoes. Nothing in these gifts will set the curtains on fire.

“Basically, you have to be able to eat everything in the science kit,” said Jim Becker, president of SmartLab Toys, who recalled learning the names of chemicals from his childhood chemistry set, which contained substances that have long since been banned from toys.

Some scientists lament the passing of the trial-and-error days that inspired so many careers. “Science kits are a lot less open-ended these days,” said Kimberly Gerson, a science blogger who lives outside Toronto. “Everything is packaged. It’s either ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ If you don’t get the right result, you’ve done it wrong and you’re out of chemicals.”

Others, though, say the new crop of science toys — even with their cartoonish packaging and heavy emphasis on neon goo — actually represent progress. More entertaining, educational and accessible than earlier products, which relied heavily on a child’s inner motivation, these toys may actually help democratize the learning of science and introduce children to scientific methods and concepts at an earlier age.

“I grew up in the 1960s, and a lot of the chemistry sets were kind of boring,” said William Gurstelle, a science and technology writer. “You’d go through the book, and at the end of the experiment you’d get some light precipitate at the bottom of the beaker. Maybe at most it changes color or something.”

Mr. Gurstelle’s books, which include “Whoosh Boom Splat” and “Backyard Ballistics,” teach people how to make dangerous projectiles, like a potato cannon that uses hair spray as launching fluid. But he had high praise for commercial science kits, which show children (among other things) how to make slime.

“Well, that’s a pretty cool thing to have when you’re done,” Mr. Gurstelle said. “You’re not going to really learn to be a chemist from a chemistry set when you’re in seventh grade; you’re just going to be inspired. The point is that new chemistry sets and new toys are just better, because the manufacturers have figured out how to make them more fun.”
More at that top link.

Christmas Visits

I just got back from my aunt's house in Mission Viejo. My sister Chris was visiting. (Recall the last time I blogged about my sister here.) It was a nice visit. Chris is 53 now. She's living in Sherman Oaks and is a human resource executive with Kelly Services. In other news, we're getting ready shortly to start fixing dinner. We've had the beef slow-cooking all day but we've got the lobsters and potatoes to prepare. I'll be blogging and enjoying food and wine throughout the evening. Merry Christmas!

Chris Lynn

Foreign Affairs Best of Print in 2012

At the thumbnail is the cover shot of the January/February issue, which will feature the first cover photo in the history of Foreign Affairs (via Garance Franke-Ruta on Twitter).

And from the editor, "Foreign Affairs' New Look":

Foreign Affairs
To our readers:

These days, Foreign Affairs publishes a broad range of content on a wide variety of platforms. Our innovations are increasingly coming in the digital realm, and this year alone we've released an iPad app, put out two eBooks, digitized our full archives, and ramped up online editorial content, from text to video to infographics. But our flagship print edition is also thriving, reaching its highest ever paid circulation and gaining more influence and buzz than ever before. So we decided that after a generation with our current print design, and nine decades with a nearly blank or text-based cover, it was time to put our classic wine in a beautiful new bottle.

There were several reasons for the makeover, among them...
Continue reading.

And here's the feature highlighted at the post title above, "The Best of Print in 2012."

Among the selections is Kenneth Waltz's, "Why Iran Should Get the Bomb: Nuclear Balancing Would Mean Stability" (which I mentioned here).

And my favorite among the picks is Bjørn Lomborg's, "Environmental Alarmism, Then and Now."

Jenny McCarthy Santa's Hat Photo Shoot

Well, compared to her Playboy shoot earlier this year, her Santa's shoot is pretty mild.

At London's Daily Mail, "Now that's a Christmas gift! Jenny McCarthy gets in the festive spirit as she poses in bed wearing a Santa hat for racy new shoot."

Added: From Bob Belvedere, "Rule 5 Christmas Countdown: 24-Dec-12."

'The Joy of Hate'

My wife gave me Greg Gutfeld's new book, The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage.

Greg Gutfeld

An Apple Christmas

An interesting post from Gabe Rivera, "Techmeme's top 20 headline terms of 2012, and what they signify":


Several things stand out from this list:
- Yeah, Apple is #1. It's no surprise that tech's largest company by revenue, market cap, and influence is also the biggest newsmaker, appearing in over 11.45% of Techmeme's headlines.
Continue reading.

It's going to be an Apple Christmas morning around my household. I'll post some photos later...

Neil Heslin, Father of Jesse Lewis, Killed in Newtown Shooting, Spends Christmas Eve Graveside

I cried listening to this interview a couple of days after the shooting. Not shaking, sobbing crying. Just crying in my soul for this man and his unbearable loss. My wife saw this later after I'd seen it and she said, "He was still in shock."

The story's at the New York Post, "Alone together: Grieving dad at Jesse’s grave."

I get a little misty watching it again at the clip.

Pope Benedict XVI Delivers His 2012 Christmas Message

At Telegraph UK:
The Pope used his Christmas message to the world to say that people should never lose hope for peace, even in war-torn Syria and in Nigeria, where he spoke of "terrorism" against Christians.

Faces of Addiction, Hunts Point, Bronx

At London's Daily Mail, "The faces of poverty, despair and addiction inside 'New York's Red Light District' captured by an ex-Wall Street banker."

Photos by Chris Arnade, on Flickr.

Shopping for Christmas Dinner

Last night, at Costco Tustin:




We picked up a bottle of wine* and some of those lobsters pictured, plus some beef tri-tip roast. Mmm, it's going to be tasty!

* Louis M. Martini, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County 2010 (about $11.00 at Costco, a little more at Amazon).

'Little Queenie'

My kinda music.

Jerry Lee Lewis with Kid Rock and Ron Wood. Oh my.

I got the lumps in my throat
When I saw her coming down the aisle
I gets the wiggles in my knees
When she looked at me and sweetly smiled

There she is again, standing over by the record machine
Oooh, she's looking like a model on the cover of a magazine
Why, she's too cute to be a minute over seventeen

Meanwhile, I was thinking
She's in the mood
No need to break it
I got the chance
I oughtta take it
She can dance
We can make it
Come on, Queenie
Let's shake it

Go, go, go, little Queenie
Go, go, go, little Queenie
Go, go, go, little Queenie...

Hallelujah Chorus

Via EBL:

Spider-Man for Christmas

Pretty cool:

Global Currency Tensions Rise

Economic statecraft, at the Wall Street Journal, "Japan's Abe Calls on Central Bank to Resist Easing Moves by U.S. and Europe":
TOKYO—Japan's incoming prime minister fired a volley into increasingly tense global currency markets, saying the country must defend itself against attempts by other governments to devalue their currencies by ensuring the yen weakens as well.

Shinzo Abe's call comes as others including Bank of England Gov. Mervyn King warn that the world's economic-policy makers risk becoming embroiled in currency spats that could heighten tensions among countries.

Mr. Abe on Sunday called on Japan's central bank to resist what he described as moves by the U.S. and Europe to cheapen their currencies and noted that a yen level of around ¥90 to the dollar—it was at ¥84.38 in early Asian trading Monday, down from ¥84.26 late Friday—would support the profit of Japanese exporters. Tokyo markets were closed on Monday for a holiday.

"Central banks around the world are printing money, supporting their economies and increasing exports. America is the prime example," said Mr. Abe, referring to the Federal Reserve's policy of flooding the market with dollars by purchasing massive amounts of Treasury bonds and other assets.

"If it goes on like this, the yen will inevitably strengthen. It's vital to resist this," said Mr. Abe, who will become prime minister on Wednesday.

Mr. King, in an interview this month, said, "I do think 2013 could be a challenging year in which we will, in fact, see a number of countries trying to push down their exchange rates. That does lead to concerns."

It was part of an effort by countries to preserve trade advantage, he said. "The policies pursued by countries for domestic purposes are leading to tension collectively."
What is notable about Messrs. Abe's and King's comments is that the scope of global currency angst seems to be expanding. China, which manages its exchange rate to keep it closely aligned with the U.S. dollar, has long been the object of global criticism for its efforts to hold down the value of its currency in an attempt to boost exports.

Since the financial crisis, other countries—including Switzerland, Israel and South Korea—have ramped up their efforts to prevent their own currencies from getting too strong amid worries about their export competitiveness. Policy makers in Australia also are under increasing pressure to fight the rise of the Australian dollar.

Global central bank foreign-exchange reserves expanded to $10.5 trillion by mid-2012 from $6.7 trillion in 2007, according to the International Monetary Fund, a 57% rise in less than five years and a sign of how aggressively world central banks are stockpiling other currencies in an attempt to prevent their own currencies from getting too strong in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

The largest increase has been in Switzerland.

It is "completely different" for Japanese companies if the dollar is in the 80-yen range, as it is now, as opposed to the ¥90s, Mr. Abe said. If the dollar "is above ¥85, companies that haven't been paying taxes until now [because they don't have profit]…can pay taxes."

The U.S. hasn't explicitly sought a weaker dollar. But the effect of its policies has been to suppress its value. Most notably, the Federal Reserve's quantitative-easing programs—in which the central bank prints dollars to purchase government bonds—have the side effect of holding down the international value of the currency by increasing its supply in global markets.

Despite this effect, the dollar has retained much of its global trading value in recent years because investors are flocking into U.S. Treasury bonds as safe haven investments.

The dollar's value against other currencies is little changed since early 2008, according to a Federal Reserve index, which measures its value versus U.S. trading partners. Over the past decade, however, the dollar has lost 23% of its value versus other currencies.

Some prominent U.S. economists have been pressing the Fed and U.S. Treasury to respond more aggressively to Chinese actions. Fred Bergsten and Joseph Gagnon, economists at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, estimate that the U.S. trade deficit would be $150 billion to $300 billion smaller—and the U.S. would have two million more jobs—if China and other emerging markets didn't intervene to protect their currencies.

They have called on U.S. policy makers to retaliate, by intervening in markets to hold down the dollar or by taxing imports from these countries.

Low-interest-rate policies and quantitative-easing strategies like the Fed's are one way to suppress the value of a currency. Another is currency intervention—in which a central bank sells its own currency and buys another. South Korea's central bank in November sold won and bought at least $1 billion in the currency market to curb a steep rise in its currency, traders said, and its officials warned against "excessive" moves that would hurt the nation's exporters.
This isn't good. The report goes on to note that currency manipulations like this generally precede trade wars, like those of the interwar period, which in turn helped contribute to the downward spiral of the world economy during the 1930s. It's fascinating. Also interesting is that the U.S. government's ability to print money to buy government bonds is a privilege --- the "exorbitant privilege" --- that no other government has. Most of world trade is denominated in dollars, so if the U.S. runs massive deficits it's able to finance these with monetary interventions. Needless to say this helps fuel the kind of hostility the Wall Street Journal highlights.

Merry Christmas 2012

My family's presents under the tree, via Twitter.

And from Thomas Sowell, at National Review, "Christmas-Tree Totalitarians":

Presents Under the Tree
Some people seem to think that, if life is not fair, then the answer is to turn more of the nation’s resources over to politicians — who will, of course, then spend these resources in ways that increase the politicians’ chances of getting reelected.

The annual outbursts of intolerance toward any display of traditional Christmas scenes, or even daring to call a Christmas tree by its name, show that today’s liberals are by no means liberal. Behind the mist of their lofty words, the totalitarian mindset shows through....

If someone wrote a novel about a man who was raised from childhood to resent the successful and despise the basic values of America — and who then went on to become president of the United States — that novel would be considered too unbelievable, even for a work of fiction. Yet that is what has happened in real life.
Merry Christmas.

Two Firefighters Shot and Killed Responding to Fire in Upstate New York

At USA Today, "4 firefighters shot, 2 killed at Webster, N.Y., fire."

More video here: "Firefighters report 2 dead on dispatch audio.

And at the Los Angeles Times, "Suspect in fatal N.Y. firefighter ambush killed grandmother in 1980."

Counterterror Agents Monitored Occupy Movement

At the New York Times, "F.B.I. Counterterrorism Agents Monitored Occupy Movement, Records Show."

The were considered domestic terrorists. You think?

Low- and Moderate-Income Taxpayers to Face Biggest Burden if U.S. Goes Over Fiscal Cliff

Here's an excellent Fox & Friends segment from over the weekend, especially the second half, "If Bush Tax Cuts Expire - What Would It Mean For Your Taxes?"

And at the Wall Street Journal, "Cliff Would Strike Low Incomes Hard":
If the U.S. goes over the "fiscal cliff," some Americans may fall harder than others.

The biggest impact in sheer dollars would land on relatively affluent households, particularly when it comes to the tax increases that make up the bulk of the cliff. But in terms of percentage of tax increases, low- and moderate-income taxpayers will face the biggest burden—an often overlooked part of the budget debate that's now getting attention as the year-end deadline nears.

Households earning $10,000 to $20,000 would see a large increase in their overall federal tax burdens, from an average of $68 to $605. The blow would be especially harsh for married couples and households with children. The fiscal cliff "clobbers low-income households with children," said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. "It is striking how large some of the increases are."

A household that makes between $10,000 and $20,000 in income and has a child would get a $2,761 payment from the Internal Revenue Service under current rules, thanks to various tax breaks and credits. After the cliff, that would be cut by $1,324, or about half.

Married couples earning $20,000 to $30,000 today would get an average $15 payment from the IRS under current rules. In January, they would owe an average $1,408 to the IRS, because several of those breaks would be narrowed or eliminated.

Budget talks were mostly quiet Sunday, officials on both sides said, after a week when efforts between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) to cut a deal collapsed, and the House failed to pass a backup plan.

Some leaders, including Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), attended a memorial service for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye in Honolulu. Mr. Obama said he would cut his holiday vacation short and return to Washington this week to work on an agreement.

The so-called fiscal cliff comprises about $500 billion in tax-break expirations and government spending cuts that are set to take effect in early January, unless Congress acts. With little more than a week to find a solution, Democrats and Republicans are focusing on the real-world impacts of the fiscal cliff and seeking to shift blame for it.

"We're taking…this incredible mallet and [are] about to smash America," Newark's Democratic Mayor Cory Booker said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "People are going to be cut out of programs that support the poorest Americans….This is really what bothers me right now."

Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), said on Sunday: "Given the impact on all segments of the economy, it's disappointing that Democrats are so cavalier about letting the country go off the cliff."

The Obama administration contends Republicans would let much of the fiscal cliff's impact happen for moderate-income families, by allowing Obama-era breaks to expire.

If Congress misses its year-end deadline but quickly restores the expired tax breaks, the tax impact on lower-income households could be modest.

One problem, however, might be unavoidable: a delay in sending tax-refund payments that normally arrive between late January and March. The IRS already has warned lawmakers it might have to postpone the tax-filing season by several weeks, possibly for everyone.

Much of the tax debate has focused on upper-income Americans, who will likely see taxes rise in some form next year. If no budget deal is reached, households making more than $100,000 would absorb more than 50% of the total tax increase, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center. And those earning more than $1 million would see their taxes rise by an average 24%, from about $1.1 million to about $1.3 million.

At the other end of the income scale, the risk comes from the expiration of less-heralded parts of the Bush-era tax code, as well as Obama changes that expanded several breaks for lower- and middle-income households.

About two million people also face the prospect of losing unemployment checks starting in January, with the expiration of extended federal unemployment benefits. "For the long-term unemployed, their entire income may disappear," said Robert Greenstein, executive director of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
See also, "How 'Cliff' Talks Hit the Wall: Behind Scenes, Boehner Failed to Sell Republicans on Taxes, While Obama's Spending Plans Rankled."

Obama's ball-busting budgeting. And I'll tell you, the Republicans aren't coming out too pretty here either. That video at top says the average tax hit for incomes over $108,000 would be more than $14,000. The liability would be enormous especially for people making over $1 million (around $100,000), but still. The bill comes due in April, as we're talking about the 2012 tax filings that will be affected, unless the IRS is able to reset the deadline. I doubt there'd be a better impetus to a new American tax revolt than going over the cliff, but perhaps an agreement will come at the 11th hour. We'll see.

'Blue Christmas'

This song's been playing at The Sound L.A.

Can't miss:

'Hanging on the Telephone'

Via Killian and Kurt Loder, "Taking punk platinum: How #Blondie’s “Parallel Lines” was made" (on Twitter).

One number for which she didn't have to put pen to paper was Parallel Lines' dynamic opening track, 'Hanging On The Telephone', which was also the opener on a 1976 EP by guitarist Jack Lee's short-lived LA power pop trio, the Nerves. Blondie had shared a bill with the Nerves on one of their first visits to the West Coast, and they had already worked on the song by the time they introduced it to Mike Chapman.

"That track was magic from the beginning," he says. "Unlike some of the others, it was an easy one to cut because it was more like Blondie's normal, frantic sort of style, and I also vibed it up a lot. Initially, they didn't know quite how much to put into it, but I told them, 'Look, this is more like the stuff on your first two records. Let's give it that sort of punk/new wave attitude.' I knew that the energy level on that track would make or break it. If we didn't have that energy we'd miss the point, because the musical structure of the song is very tense — it sits you on the end of your chair, and we had to have a track that did the same thing.

"They were all very much into giving it that full-on energy, and of course this was Clem's favourite way of playing. If he really liked something, that in itself added extra energy. So, I think we did four takes and I then took the best one to work on and fix things. If there was a guitar mistake or a bass mistake, we'd punch in and out. In those days, I didn't cut the tape a lot like I'd do later on."

While Burke's sharp drumming and Nigel Harrison's pumping bass are punctuated by Frank Infante's electrifying, punk-edged guitar lines, 'Hanging On The Telephone' is nevertheless powered right from the start by Deborah Harry's energetic, in-your-face vocals as she spits out the song's staccato-style opening lines with machine-gun rapidity: "I'm in the phone booth, it's the one across the hall. If you don't answer, I'll just ring it off the wall. I know he's there, but I just had to call..."

"Debbie always got it right away whenever I tried to describe what to do, but a lot of the phrasing was totally down to her," Chapman states. "She has a strange way of delivering certain phrases, and I found myself accepting things from her that I never would have accepted from anyone else. I would have had other people change it, whereas with her I'd think, 'No, no, no, I've got to leave it like that,' or else it just wouldn't be her. For instance, in 'Hanging On The Telephone', the lines 'I heard your mother now she's going out the door. Did she go to work or just go to the store?' — I remember listening to those and thinking, 'This is the dumbest lyric I've ever heard.' However, it was so dumb, it was beautiful, it was brilliant, and when Debbie then sang it in her inimitable way it suddenly sounded even funnier. It just sounded like the weirdest, most bizarre thing I'd ever heard."
It's a long piece, but fascinating.

It's about Mike Chapman as much as it is about Blondie (one band I never did see back in the day).

Christmas Eve Roundup of the Roundups

I should probably do this more often.

We could just save readers some time by linking to all the good stuff.

Kelly Brook
Maggie's Farm always has great links, for example, "My Christmas Eve post," and "Monday morning links."

And at Director Blue, "Larwyn's Linx: The Perfect Prison."

The Other McCain usually has the "Live at Five" roundup posted, but Wombat must be taking the day off. So here's this, "Memo From the National Affairs Desk: Chains Rattling, and Who’s That Ghost?" And, "FLASHBACK: December 2010 - Christmas Cheesecake."

Plus, more at Theo Spark's, "Pic Dump," and "News..."

You know Instapundit's the place to go, and this one's really worth it, "LARRY CORREIA: An Opinion On Gun Control. (Reposted)."

And from The Never-Saw-It-Coming Department at Weasel Zippers, "Socialists Blame Capitalism For Newtown Massacre…"

Now, over at Right Wing News, you can get your fill, "Monday, December 24, 2012. Plus, "The Journal News Doxes (possible) NY Handgun Owners.

Check Pirate's Cove as well, "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup," and "If All You See…is an flooded world, you might just be a Warmist."

Also at Ninety Miles From Nowhere, "If Gun Free Zones Are Good Enough For Our Children...."


I'll have more blogging this afternoon. My wife and I are heading over to Costco in a bit to get some beef tri-tip and lobster for tomorrow's Christmas dinner.

Drop your links in the comments to be added. And have a Merry Christmas Eve.

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News of White House Petition to Deport Piers Morgan Goes Viral

I've avoided the Piers Morgan controversy. I've tried to be fair-minded, but the dude makes it really hard. I watched his town hall program on CNN last week and Morgan was just screaming at gun advocate John Lott. It was over the top. And he's been emotionally obsessed with the issue on Twitter.

Team Twitchy goes in for some snarky lulz, "Piers Morgan pathetically wallows in deportation petition attention, British start petition demanding he’s not sent back":
The attention-seeking ghoul has once again taken to Twitter to exploit a tragedy for his own benefit.
No doubt.

And there's a stoic White House petition request to "not send Piers Morgan back to us in the UK."

AP is now reporting on this (via Memeorandum and Moonbattery).

Oh boy. What a Christmas holiday!

Still more from Twitchy, "Givers! Happy warriors offer ideas for Piers ‘Musket’ Morgan deportation gifts."

Erik Loomis' Twitter Timeline Available Dating Back to June 2012

I wrote earlier, quite seriously, of Professor Erik Loomis:
No one's as stupid to violently rattle off the death chants while still an untenured assistant professor at a research university. "Dim bulb" is charitable.
Thinking back now, that's even an understatement, a big one. It's possible that no one --- no academic faculty member at a major college or university --- has ever acted as stupidly vis-à-vis his or her own viability as an employee. Loomis is behaving stupidly and recklessly, as if he's got a "termination wish" (like a death wish, but meaning instead a pathological need to get fired in pursuit of romantic martyrdom in some larger cause of crusading labor unionism, perhaps harking back longingly to an earlier, valorized era of violent class struggle).

In any case, see Robert Stacy McCain's report, "The Vocabulary of Professor Erik Loomis: ‘Motherf–ing F–kheads F–king F–k’."

Folks should be sure to read the whole thing at The Other McCain. Read it carefully. And then check the full Twitter timeline (available in pdf). Note especially how Loomis indulges in using the f-word quite a bit. Indeed, "overindulge" might be the better verb form (his f-bomb usage is clearly overdone and all too frequent, transparently uncomfortable as if a poorly-offered cover for insecurity). But it's always the context of things that's even important (an importance Loomis' defenders have proved beyond a reasonable doubt with their systematic omission of any of Loomis' statements outside of the key "metaphor" at issue). Rattling off death chants as an untenured faculty member isn't smart. But it's as dumb as one can possibly be to diss your own job responsibilities --- more so with so much obvious contempt for your institution and its structure of hierarchical authority. Here's a surprisingly revealing tweet as to Loomis' state of mind:

Again, read the full timeline for the context.

Committee service is a major part of serving as a professor --- and of the collegiate life of a university more generally. It's an especially important function to untenured faculty members because such work is a key manner in which unfamiliar and untested colleagues pay their dues. And it should be obvious, but when you're dissing committee work as pointless you are dismissing as useless the work of a great many of the leaders on a given campus, people who have put in enormous numbers of hours in attempting to have a voice in the institution's decision-making --- and to hopefully have a greater voice in final outcomes affecting the institution, the faculty, students, and the curriculum. Some faculty members earn most of their professional self-esteem through the work they provide on committees. It's a deeply embedded aspect of the academic culture. So, the kind of opposition to the norms of collegiality that Loomis demonstrates is utterly astounding --- even exponentially astounding, again, given that Loomis lacks the security of tenure. He is demonstrating that he is, by definition, as dumb as an ox. The problem with that, clearly, is that research universities are supposed to be populated with smart people. Really smart people. And a public university such as the University of Rhode Island is tax payer supported, so there's a particularly high level of public accountability. People on the outside, taxpayers as well as moneyed players supporting campus foundations, and so forth, want to think their support is in furtherance of an elite and respected body of scholars and practitioners. Educators at these places are cut tremendous independence because they are society's most esteemed role models. They are the masters of the (knowledge) universe who're transmitting society's essential values and learning to the next generations. But there are limits.

For someone like Loomis to show such outward contempt for all of this is simply mind-boggling. It's even more astounding given that Loomis spends so much time online. He should know better. The norms of academic hiring and promotion may have changed since 2005 when Daniel Drezner was denied tenure (largely on the suspicion that blogging was taking up too much of his time). But they haven't changed that much. It's just not well-advised to be so outspoken --- virtually all the time --- on social networking sites and on widely-read partisan blogs. For a lot of elite power-brokers in academe, such patterns of behavior are unscholarly. And to be so stridently unscholarly goes 100 percent against what the ideal candidate for tenure is supposed to be like. I would personally advise anyone entering the job market or working on becoming tenured to avoid hard-core partisan blogging and tweeting. To do otherwise is to court trouble, the kind of trouble that could ruin one's career. This is why I sense that what Loomis lacks in brains he more than equals in social insecurity. All that tweeting, and blogging too, is designed to buff this guy's creds among the hard-left commentariat. But for what? So the communist freaks at Crooked Timber will post a couple of huzzah! blog posts in solidarity. That's manifestly not worth it.

In any case, if anyone were really, truly looking to get Loomis fired this is the argument they'd want to make to the administration of the University of Rhode Island. One could contact the university and make the case that is isn't a matter of freedom of speech, or of academic freedom. It's a matter of basic professionalism toward one's vocation and the standards of institutional and professional decorum. Loomis reflects badly on the university. He reflects badly on the hiring committee that brought him there in the first place. Folks on the outside, the tax payers and other supporting constituencies will ask, "How could they have possibly hired this idiot? He's making the university look like a bloody circus." And they'll be well warranted to ask such questions. A lot of money goes into to recruiting and investing in productive academic colleagues. These are people who're expected to be teaching, publishing and performing community service. There are very high standards involved, or there should be. Which is why if people of professional standing raised these points to university president Dr. David Dooley it's quite possible the administration will reflect even more deeply on the problem in the days and weeks ahead. I mean, it's been well over a week since this story first broke and the university now has a huge and extremely prominent posting of the administration's condemnation of Professor Loomis. And looking at this again, President Dooley has updated the language since I last check over at the university's homepage:

Statement from URI President David M. Dooley

Over the past several days we have heard from many individuals concerning statements made or repeated by Professor Erik Loomis. Many writers forcefully expressed serious concern about his statements and many others expressed very strong support for Professor Loomis, especially in regard to his First Amendment right to share his personal opinions. In the statements at issue, Professor Loomis did not make it clear that he was speaking solely as an individual, and that the views he expressed were his alone and did not reflect the views of the University of Rhode Island. This was the rationale for our original statement.

The University of Rhode Island strongly believes that Constitutionally protected rights to free expression are the foundation of American democracy, and central to our mission of imparting knowledge and promoting the exchange of ideas. It is our conviction that Professor Loomis's personal remarks, however intemperate and inflammatory they may be, are protected by the First Amendment, as are the views of those who have contacted us in recent days.
Here's the link to the scanned document now available at the website.

I quoted and screencapped the president's initial comments at the time, dated December 18th, "University of Rhode Island Condemns Violent Labor Historian Erik Loomis." No doubt the backlash escalated enormously since then. In no time the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on the story, "‘Head on a Stick’ Tweet Lands U. of Rhode Island Professor in Hot Water." And Inside Higher Ed also took it up, "Who's Overreacting? Professor's tweet and university's reaction stir debate on academic freedom."

So my sense is that this issue is far from over. It's Christmastime. That's the slowest time at the university. And if the administration feels it needs to have its statement placed so largely and prominently at the website, it's clear that the backlash isn't close to subsiding. People on campus will be dealing with these matters when business gets going again in the new year. Opponents of Loomis' tenure bid might not relent in their vocal outrage at this man's outward violence and incivility. But the more troublesome issue, on a practical working level, is Loomis' clear propensity toward uncollegialty and unprofessionalism. All together, the profanity-laced death chants, etc., and the dissing of the university's committee service responsibilities, could very well create a picture for outside constituencies of unworthiness for the honorific of academic tenure. As I've said, Loomis is really dumb. He's joking all about it over at Lawyers, Guns and Money, but when your professional future is so seriously on the line, this is hardly a laughing matter.

Opening Christmas Presents Early

Opening gifts before Christmas Day isn't a big tradition in my house, but my mother's in town, heading out later this morning to visit other family members, so we exchanged presents early. I scored some gift cards and immediately headed over to Barnes and Noble, picking up Paul Kengor's, The Communist. I'll be getting into it over the next few days, and if I like it that means I'll probably read it all in a few sittings. We'll see, but I'll report back with some thoughts, in any case.

The Communist

'Anything Could Happen'

From Ellie Goulding:

Robert Stacy McCain once remarked of Goulding, "Wow. She could grind diamonds into sand with her pelvis."

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Newtown's Big Tradition of Gun Rights

I wondered --- and others may have as well --- but what got into Nancy Lanza that she became such an unabashed lover of firearms? Perhaps one factor is the deep cultural tradition of gun ownership in Connecticut. The Los Angeles Times reports on the region's huge local defense of Second Amendment rights. See, "Newtown's firearms tradition clashes with gun-control push":
NEWTOWN, Conn. — When the wind blows a certain way across the tree-topped hills, Gary Bennett can stand in his yard and hear echoes of gunfire from his hunting club five miles away. The sound comforts him.

"It's a huge tradition here," said Bennett, a retired electrician and former president of the club, which helped defeat a proposal to tighten Newtown's gun ordinances in September. "I'd rather see more gun clubs come to town, training people with the use of firearms so that everyone's doing it safely."

Anguished families are still burying the 20 children and six women who were shot to death by a lone gunman last Friday just after the morning Pledge of Allegiance at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But a surprising local undercurrent has emerged: Many gun owners here say the slaughter has sharpened their view that guns alone aren't the problem.

"I wish that at that school somebody was armed," said Kuthair Habboush, a software engineer who keeps a weapon at home for protection. "If a security guard or a teacher or a principal had been armed, somebody could have taken the [killer] out" before his lethal rampage.

Firearms are deep in the culture of this corner of New England. Two of America's most storied weapons manufacturers, Colt and Winchester, were based in Connecticut. Some historians say the West was won in Hartford — the state capital and birthplace of the Colt revolvers favored by lawmen and outlaws alike beginning in the 1830s.

Today, dozens of gun dealers, gun instructors, gun repair shops and shooting ranges do a brisk business in Newtown and nearby cities and towns. Private hunting clubs are widespread, many with waiting lists for membership.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a powerful lobbying group for gun retailers, has its headquarters across the highway from Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"You'd be surprised," said Sean Eldridge, owner of Parker Gunsmithing, a gun repair shop in nearby Danbury, referring to his customers. "They're regular people and they have an arsenal in their basement."

That was the case with Nancy Lanza, a wealthy divorced mother who enjoyed jazz, craft beer and frequent visits to shooting ranges. She kept at least five weapons, all legally registered to her, in the large Colonial-style house she shared with her 20-year-old son, Adam.
Continue reading.

Actually, the Times' report was out last week, so it's not true that Newtown's still burying its dead. See the New York Times, "Newtown Mourns Last of Its Children Killed in Massacre."

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