Friday, May 26, 2017

I'm sorry but I won't have a chance to blog today. I'm heading out today with two quiz bowl teams to go to Atlanta for the National Quiz Bowl Championship. My school is also in the middle of final exams, so it's a busy few days over the next week for us. Keep your fingers crossed for my teams; they're really great kids and I've loved working with them this year. But there are a lot of amazing teams out there so we need all the luck we can get.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cruising the Web

As someone who teaches high school students, many of whom are Asian Americans, it's very dispiriting to see this report about how admissions officers at Princeton talk about the race of applicants.
documents obtained by BuzzFeed News show Princeton’s admissions officers repeatedly wrote of Asian-American applicants as being difficult to differentiate, referring to them dismissively as having “very familiar profiles,” calling them “standard premeds,” or “difficult to pluck out.” The comments were noted by civil rights investigators at the Education Department as they probed allegations of racial bias in the school’s admissions system.

Of a Hispanic applicant, an admissions officer wrote, “Tough to see putting her ahead of others. No cultural flavor in app.” Of a black student, another said, “Very few African Americans with verbal scores like this.”

.... documents obtained by BuzzFeed News show Princeton’s admissions officers repeatedly wrote of Asian-American applicants as being difficult to differentiate, referring to them dismissively as having “very familiar profiles,” calling them “standard premeds,” or “difficult to pluck out.” The comments were noted by civil rights investigators at the Education Department as they probed allegations of racial bias in the school’s admissions system.

Of a Hispanic applicant, an admissions officer wrote, “Tough to see putting her ahead of others. No cultural flavor in app.” Of a black student, another said, “Very few African Americans with verbal scores like this.”

....An investigator questioned an admissions officer after an Asian-American student was described eagerly by a another officer as a “first-generation Chinese student whose own life has not been easy, trying to make the lives of others better through service. One of the best we’ll ever see from [high school].”

The second officer was less enthusiastic. “Perfectly able and appealing,” the officer wrote. “Very familiar profile.”

"Bright premed, but like many others," another admissions officer wrote of an Asian-American applicant.

BuzzFeed News obtained a number of documents from the investigation through a Freedom of Information Act request. Princeton has sued the Education Department to prevent the release of many more, in a suit that involves an anti-affirmative action group, Students for Fair Admissions.

The files released show that in brief summaries meant to present applicants to a committee, officers candidly discussed the race of black, Latino, and Native American applicants, often seemingly searching for those who highlighted their racial backgrounds rather than checking off boxes on their Common Applications.

"Nice essays, sweet personality," one admissions officer said of a multiracial applicant. "Bi-racial but not [National Hispanic Recognition Program] and no recognition of her [background] in app by anyone." The National Hispanic Recognition Program recognizes high-performing students who are "at least one-quarter Hispanic/Latino.”

When one reader called an applicant's Native American heritage "appealing," the other noted that the only place the boy had mentioned the heritage was in a checkbox on his Common Application. He called himself "a white boy," the admissions officer noted.
We already knew that admissions committees search for qualified racial minorities. Now we see that they especially want minorities who are themselves focused on their own race. They don't just want a Native American; they want someone who pumps up his race on the application. A mixed-race Hispanic student who is high-performing is not enough. The applicants also need to make sure to write an application about his or her race. And Asian Americans are just out of luck; it's not enough to be high-achieving and involved in community service. That's to be expected. There is something quite despicable about this attitude that students should be so focused on race that they insert racial comments into their applications. I would have thought that students who are focused on academic success and community service without regard to race, theirs or others, would be wonderful students that any university would want. But that's not enough for Princeton. They want young people who are full of racial concerns. We're never going to get to the post-racial society we were told would happen with Obama's election if universities penalize young people who aren't obsessed with race. Once this story gets out, students will know how they have to slant their admissions essays. Expect future applicants to be writing about their racial consciousness whether or not they have such thoughts.

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A new report indicates that the FISA Court sharply criticized the Obama administration for its treatment of the privacy of Americans.
The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.
The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans.

Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.

Officials like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have argued their activities were legal under the so-called minimization rule changes Obama made, and that the intelligence agencies were strictly monitored to avoid abuses.

The intelligence court and the NSA’s own internal watchdog found that not to be true.

“Since 2011, NSA’s minimization procedures have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collections under Section 702,” the unsealed court ruling declared. “The Oct. 26, 2016 notice informed the court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”
Imagine if it were the George W. Bush administration being criticized by the FISA Court. Do we care anymore if the federal government routinely violates the privacy of American citizens?

Hey, speaking of obstruction of justice.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” for holding equipment that she says belongs to her in order to build a criminal case against a Pakistani staffer suspected of massive cybersecurity breaches involving funneling sensitive congressional data offsite.

The Florida lawmaker used her position on the committee that sets the police force’s budget to press its chief to relinquish the piece of evidence Thursday, in what could be considered using her authority to attempt to interfere with a criminal investigation.

The Capitol Police and outside agencies are pursuing Imran Awan, who has run technology for the Florida lawmaker since 2005 and was banned from the House network in February on suspicion of data breaches and theft.
And here's an interesting detail.
A federal employee with knowledge of the situation and who requested anonymity told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group that as House authorities closed in on Imran Awan and his brothers, a laptop used by Imran was hidden in an unused crevice of the Rayburn House Office Building. Wasserman Schultz’s office is in Longworth House Office Building, a separate structure.

The laptop was later found by Capitol Police and seized because it was relevant to the criminal investigation, the source said.

The investigation is examining members’ data leaving the network and how Awan managed to get Members to place three relatives and a friend into largely no-show positions on their payrolls, billing $4 million since 2010.

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There was a lot of attention on the CBO's report on the House's AHCA plan. I just don't get why we pay so much attention to CBO analyses - they were way off on their Obamacare projections, as Guy Benson points out.

The WSJ is equally skeptical. They point out what is going on in the real world under Obamacare.
First, the Health and Human Services Department released new research showing that average premiums in the individual market have increased 105% since 2013 in the 39 states where the ObamaCare exchanges are federally run. That translates into about $3,000 more a year for the average family. There are limitations to the data, such as separating ObamaCare artifacts from underlying medical cost movements, but the trend doesn’t reflect well on whoever called it the Affordable Care Act.

Also on Wednesday, Blue CrossBlue Shield of Kansas City withdrew its ObamaCare plans for 2018 in Kansas and Missouri. The insurer cited ObamaCare losses of $100 million, which it called “unsustainable for our company.” The decision will leave 77 of Missouri’s 114 counties, including St. Louis, with a single insurer, and some 31,000 Missourians in another 25 counties with no coverage options. By the way, HHS says premiums have increased by 145% on average in Missouri over four years.

This is real news in real markets that affects people’s lives. So, naturally, the speculative CBO report became the day’s major story.
Here is their chart on how the CBO annually overestimated how many people would be covered under Obamacare.

The WSJ points out that the CBO definition of losing coverage includes many people who would make the choice on their own not to buy insurance.
The balance of beneficiaries “losing coverage” would not enroll in insurance, CBO says, “because the penalty for not having insurance would be eliminated.” In other words, without the threat of government to buy insurance or else pay a penalty, some people will conclude that ObamaCare coverage isn’t worth the price even with subsidies. CBO adds that “a few million” people would use the new tax credits to buy insurance that the CBO doesn’t consider adequate.
The CBO has a lot of guesswork in their analysis.
This particular credibility gap is exposed in CBO’s treatment of the House compromise on waivers, which would allow states to apply to opt out of certain ObamaCare regulations like benefit mandates. How many Governors would choose to do so, over what time period, in what political context, and how aggressively would they deregulate markets? “Who knows?” is the only honest answer.

CBO allows that there can be no “single definitive interpretation” of how states would respond to new incentives—before claiming that precisely “one-third of the population would be in states that would choose to make moderate changes to market regulations” and precisely “one-sixth of the population” lives where Governors would “substantially alter” those regulations. This isn’t a quantitative economic judgment but a raw political assumption.
The CBO is always referred to as the "nonpartisan CBO." It may be ostensibly nonpartisan, but that doesn't make it accurate. Its projections on Obamacare were used to pass Obamacare even though they were off and people recognized that at the time. And their projection on the AHCA will be used by Democrats now to slam the plan and by Republicans to argue to the Senate that it can go through reconciliation.

This is what has happened to insurance premiums since Obamacare went into effect.
Obamacare's insurance regulations contributed to premiums doubling over the course of four years, finds a new federal report.

The findings, assembled by the Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, show that since 2013, one year before the Obamacare regulations were fully implemented, premiums have risen from an average of $2,784 in 2013 to $5,712 in 2017 on the federal exchange, This represents an increase of $2,928, or 105 percent.

Premiums tripled in Alaska, Alabama and Oklahoma during the same time period, and the lowest premium increase, 12 percent, was in New Jersey....

Under Obamacare most people who sign up for coverage through the exchanges have not personally felt the premium increases because the law provides tax credits that reduce premium costs. But middle-class individuals and families, who make more than $48,240 or ​$98,400, respectively, often take on the full increases.
Republicans need to remind people of what we're seeing in our bills. If all Democrats want to do is criticize whatever the Republicans end up putting forth, then they should be made to answer what, if anything, they want to do about these increasing premiums.

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This is truly funny.
Many students at Davidson College recently responded in anguish and outrage after some conservative students filmed a video asking people on campus if they would sign a petition to redistribute GPAs for the sake of “education equality.”

Many students refused to sign the petition, saying it wasn’t fair for a variety of reasons, including that people who earned their As should keep their As, and that students who are given good grades without hard work might not be inspired to improve.

But after students discovered later the petition was a hoax played on them by conservative students in an attempt to illustrate the unfairness of wealth distribution, they hastily called a teach-in at the campus union at which they denounced the effort and vented their frustration....

Multiple students at the teach-in also made comments supporting both income redistribution and GPA redistribution, saying “life wasn’t always fair” and it’s “the right thing to do.” Others suggested that not forcibly redistributing income would give rich people the power to decide who lives and dies based off their charitable donation whims.

Ed Morrissey notes this wonderfully ironic story. The California Democrats have been having their state convention, but there are many supporters of Bernie Sanders are not happy with the new chair who defeated their favored candidate for party chair.
Ellis, the former director of Emerge America, a women’s political organization, lost the election by a narrow margin of 62 votes out of 3,000 cast. Her loss immediately set off protests from hundreds of her backers, many of whom charged that there were irregularities that included allowing voters to cast proxy ballots without proper ID.
Party ID? They're upset that people didn't have the proper ID? Oh, the irony! Suddenly, these Democrats are worried about voter fraud. And their solution is voter IDs. Oh, and going to court to challenge the results. That should be fun.Morrissey writes,
The attendees are already screened for entry, largely by ID, and the delegates chosen and identified by their constituents in their districts. If grassroots Democrats believe that another layer of voter-ID is necessary at a state convention to secure the vote — and it might well be — what does that say about elections among the populace as a whole, who aren’t screened and identified before showing up to cast a vote? Perhaps that’s why voter-ID laws draw broad support from Americans across the political spectrum in poll after poll.

This protest probably won’t last too long, as the stakes in California are rather small. What’s the difference between a California “establishment” Democrat these days and a Sanders socialist, other than just how quickly the government should seize all means of production?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cruising the Web

How ironic that Trump spoke out against the terrorism in Manchester while standing next to the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas himself condemned the terrorism. Yeah, that's rich. Abbas's Fatah faction has its own terrorist wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and celebrates those who kill Israelis, including children. They reward the families of so-called martyrs who have conducted suicide terrorist attacks on Israel. So how is he someone with whom any peace with Israel can be negotiated?

Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu did not let Abbas's murderous hypocrisy go unremarked.
While the terrorist in Manchester was condemned by Abbas, Netanyahu said, the suicide bomber's family would have received money from the Palestinian Authority if the victims were Israelis.

"And as you said this morning, Mr. President, funding and rewarding terrorism must end," Netanyahu said. "Standing next to you, President Abbas condemned the horrific attack in Manchester. I hope this heralds a real change, because if the attacker had been Palestinian, and the victims had been Israeli children, the suicide bomber's family would have received a stipend from the Palestinian Authority. That's Palestinian law. That law must be changed."
These are the words of Mahmoud Abbas:
"We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah," Abbas said in September of 2015 on Palestinian television. "With the help of Allah, every martyr will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward."
As Andrew McCarthy writes, Abbas is not a worthy partner for peace.

Fareed Zakaria gave Trump's speech in Saudi Arabia what is, for Zakaria, the highest of praise.
CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Monday praised President Trump's weekend speech in Saudi Arabia, saying former President Obama could have given it.

“It was nuanced. It was frankly the kind of speech that President Obama could have given. It had the kind of empathy and nuance that people look for," Zakaria said Monday on CNN, praising "both the symbolism and ... the substance."
Hmmm. I guess Zakaria has forgotten the speech that President Obama gave at a similar point in his presidency in Cairo. It was quite a different speech, as James Freeman points out. Obama spent a considerable part of his Cairo speech of criticizing the United States for our treatment of Muslims going back to colonial America through the Cold War and then after 9/11. He promised to close Gitmo and then blamed the US for our bad relations with Iran. But that wasn't all.
Even on issues of women’s rights, Mr. Obama didn’t want to give the U.S. much credit in comparison to the Muslim world. The latter is a world where women sometimes struggle just for the freedom to read books or drive automobiles. But Mr. Obama said that “the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.”
That's quite a different tone from Trump's speech. Unsurprisingly, Trump didn't spend any time in his speech critizing the United States or excusing our adversaries. Instead he spent the speech calling on Middle East nations to take on the responsiblity for rejecting terrorism. And his words for Iran were quite different from Obama's excuse-making.

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Rahm Emanuel has an interesting idea of how Chicago can get the money to pay for its school system. He wants to borrow money just to get to the end of the school year. This is being called a payday loan.
Aldermen will be told Friday that the Chicago Public Schools will get through the end of the school year and pay for teacher pensions by short-term borrowing against $467 million in late block grants owed by the state, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel had considered but ruled out a bridge loan from tax-increment financing districts amid concern it would endanger the city’s already shaky bond rating, City Hall sources said Thursday. He also decided against making a partial payment to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, concerned it would trigger a lawsuit and yet another drop in CPS’ bond rating.

Instead, CPS, which needs $596 million to finish the year, will go it alone on short-term borrowing that will allow it make the bulk of a $721 million teacher pension payment due June 30, minus $250 million from a dedicated property tax increase that will get deposited directly later in the summer, according to the sources.

They would not divulge the source of the borrowing, sure to resemble a payday loan, its exact amount or the interest rate expected to be paid by a district in which its credit card was believed to have been maxed out.
Think of that. Chicago owes so much money in pensions to teachers who have retired that they can't even get through their school year to the end of June. So he needs to borrow more money that they won't be able to pay back to keep the schools open. For years, Democratic politicians have given the teachers unions huge pensions in order to get their support to stay in power. And now the bills are coming due. They blame the Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, for the collapse that they engineered. But the state government doesn't have the money either to bail out the city because politicians in Springfield have done the same thing.
Illinois is as broke as Chicago. If this were a business, Rahm would be borrowing against his "accounts receivable" – also known as "factoring." That is a common practice among financially troubled businesses to keep the doors open. Rahm is trying to find a factor that will lend almost $400 mil against the promise of a broke state to come up with the cash.

The source of the borrowing has not yet been determined, nor has the interest rate. That must wait until the borrowing goes out to bid. The maximum interest rate allowed by state law is nine percent....

Chicago has already sold off major assets, including the right to collect money from parking meters. There are fewer and fewer sources of funds available.

The crash is coming. The Dems are just looking for opportunities to blame Republicans for the consequences of their bribes to unionized public employees.

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a report on the numbers of people who overstayed their visas.
Nearly 740,000 foreigners who were supposed to leave the United States during a recent 12-month period overstayed their visas, the Homeland Security Department said Monday, detailing a crucial but often overlooked contributor to the number of people in the country illegally....

An estimated 40 percent of the roughly 11 million people in the country illegally stayed past their visas.

There were 739,478 overstays from October 2015 through September 2016 among visitors who arrive by plane or ship - more than the population of Alaska.

The total number of overstays is much larger but has not been quantified because the statistic doesn't include how many people leave by land.
Those people who put all their hopes on building a wall for decreasing illegal immigration need to recognize that that would address only part of the problem. A wall would do nothing to limit people overstaying visas. The solution isn't to issue fewer visas since overstayers are only about 1.5% of the 50.4 million who visit the U.S. and arrive by plane or ship in the period from October 2014 to September 2015. Perhaps updating the computers at HHS might help.
Homeland Security's internal watchdog said earlier this month that immigration agents waste their time logging in and out of archaic computer systems while trying to track down foreigners suspected of overstaying their visas only to find out later that many visa holders have left the country.
I'm always amazed to learn how antiquated the computer systems are in the federal government. Isn't HHS one of federal departments that should absolutely have up-to-date computers?

Jazz Shaw responds to the HHS report.
Before we get too alarmed (though this is still alarming beyond a doubt) it’s worth noting that not all 700K of those people disappeared into the shadows. Those figures include people who stayed too long by as little as a single day. While to be discouraged, that could include people who simply got bumped from their flight or came down with the flu. But there were plenty more than enough who wound up staying for a very long time or, as DHS put it, never had any intention of leaving in the first place.

So where are they coming from? The largest numbers seem to be concentrated in the nations who take part in the Visa Waiver Program with us. The most common offenders there are listed as having come from the U.K., Germany, Italy and France. Those all sound benign until you realize that those countries have all experienced terror related issues from some of their own citizens who obtained training in causing mayhem and then unleashed it on their own countrymen. Gives you something to think about, eh?

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I don't really have strong feelings about the rash of removing Confederate monuments throughout the South. I just can't get excited about the Confederacy or Southern pride from the Civil War. Maybe it's because I grew up in the Land of Lincoln, Illinois. However, this is an absurd story.
A New Orleans school principal has been "removed from campus" after a photo emerged showing him standing at the Robert E. Lee statue in front of a Confederate flag.

Crescent Leadership Academy superintendent Tracy Bennett-Joseph confirmed Monday (May 22) that Principal Nicholas Dean was removed from campus. She said the school's management was investigating.

"With the recent events in the city it is important that this matter is thoroughly reviewed," she said.

Dean said he did go to the monument Thursday evening to take photos as rumors circulated of the statue's imminent removal. Mayor Mitch Landrieu had the statue of the Confederate general taken down Friday, the last of four Confederate monuments to go.

However, Dean said the fact that he was shown standing next to monument supporters was pure coincidence.

I didn't go to protest for either side. I went because I am a historian, educator and New Orleans resident who wanted to observe this monumental event," he said. "People who know me know that I am a crusader for children and I fight tirelessly on their behalf."

Crescent Leadership Academy educates some of the most struggling students in the city: It is a second-chance public school for those who have been expelled. They stay at Crescent anywhere from a semester to two years.

The school is also almost entirely African-American, whereas Dean is white. The photograph, particularly within that context, incensed some people on Facebook and led them to call for Dean's removal.
So there is a threat to firing a principal because of his appearance in a photo? It's ridiculous, but it's probable that, with this publicity, the guy's reputation is shot.
Daniel Payne outlines 13 fake news story since Trump was inaugurated that have spread through Twitter and major news outlets sometimes and just weren't true. If you aren't spending your day on Twitter observing out outrage spreads through the internet over supposed corruption and/or massive stupidity of anyone associated with Trump, you might have missed out on some of these outrages. No wonder that a whole lot of people are just exhausted at maintaining fire-hot levels of outrage. And it isn't confined to one side - just witness the way that some on the right manufactured and ran with the allegation that the murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich was the source of the Wikileaks publication of DNC files. This was all over Twitter and Sean Hannity and Fox News ran with it, but Fox is now acknowledging that it was wrong. Yeah, it is pretty shameful to jump all over a young man's murder in order to pump up your own conspiracies. Both sides need to just cool it and exercise the judgment that paid journalists are supposed to have, though that seems almost laughable to write these days.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cruising the Web

Our hearts go out to the friends and families who suffered losses at the Manchester bombing yesterday. Somehow, it seems especially horrific to read about young people going out for a good time and being murdered. I feared that, after Bataclan attacks in Paris that we would have move of such attacks and now we have a possible terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert that seems remarkably similar.
Though referring to U.S.-based terrorists, the Department of Homeland Security warned last September that terrorists are focused on concerts, sporting events and outdoor gatherings because such venues "Often pursue simple, achievable attacks with an emphasis on economic impact and mass casualties," according to a report obtained by The Washington Times.
How soon before we start seeing such attacks here? This was an attack that was aimed at young girls. It's hard to ponder such evil. There is no appeasement, no amount of understanding or soft words that can change the hearts of such terrorists. Vigilance and their defeat are the only tools we have.

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For those of us of libertarian bent, this is good news.
Agency rulemaking has essentially ground to a halt under the Trump administration and the president’s executive order on controlling regulatory costs could result in near gridlock for the next four years, panelists at an American Bar Association conference said.

Whether the significant slowing of the administrative state is a feared or a welcome development depends on your point of view, said several speakers at the ABA’s 13th annual Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Institute.

Since President Donald Trump was sworn into office Jan. 20, just 39 rules have been submitted for review to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the agency that reviews all significant federal regulations. There are currently 16 pending agency actions.

By comparison, the administration of former President Barack Obama had submitted 118 rules by the same point in the president’s first year, according to the database.

Agencies have been slow to regulate in part because of a regulatory freeze that was put in place on Trump’s first day in office. But panelists also pointed to the executive order signed in January that requires agencies to take two deregulatory actions and find offsets for every one rule it wants to promulgate.

To date, no regulation has been submitted that has required deregulatory actions and offsets. OIRA issued guidance in April that contains exemptions and definitions of what constitutes a regulation that must adhere to the requirements of the executive order.

But Amanda Leiter, professor of law at the American University Washington College of Law, suspected that few agencies—but particularly the Environmental Protection Agency—will be inclined to regulate at all. Leiter previously served at the Department of the Interior as deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management.
Matt Welch writes at Reason that deregulation under Trump is more real than many libertarians thought it would be. Trump has also nominated a head of the Office of INformation and REgulatory Affairs, Neomi Rao, a specialist on the administrative state. She has advocated cutting back deference to executive agencies and urged Congress to be more explicit in writing laws to limit the power of federal agencies to write their own rules. Welch happily concludes,
With the Trump presidency in an ongoing state of crisis management, and his legislative agenda foundering at best, these largely under-the-radar regulatory slowdowns and positive reforms may prove to be the most tangibly useful aspects of his White House tenure.

Why does the media keep referring to Iran's president Rouhani as a "moderate"? The coverage of the supposed election in Iran in some of the western press seems geared to portray Iran as having had a democratic election that re-elected a moderate leader. David French notes all the media outlets that called Rouhani a "moderate" in their coverage.
Under Rouhani (who truly rules by the permission of Iran’s Guardian Council, a coalition of clerics and jurists that vets all presidential candidates), Iran has exported terror, propped up a genocidal Syrian regime, kidnapped and humiliated U.S. sailors, tested ballistic missiles in defiance of the U.N. Security Council, and — as the Post reported last month — actually “boosted” the regime’s support for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

This is yet another reason why it’s so difficult to trust media reporting from the Muslim world. If the definition of the word “moderate” now includes any leader a few degrees more reasonable (maybe) than the Quds Force, then the term has no real meaning. In fact, it’s deceptive. When an American hears the word “moderate,” they might think of, say, Michael Bloomberg or Lindsey Graham. Rouhani, by contrast, is orders of magnitude more radical than any domestic elected official.

Words matter, and when the media uses a common term that has a common American meaning, it should take care that the term applies. When it comes to Iran’s president, it doesn’t. He’s an anti-American jihadist. There is no moderation here.
But that didn't stop most of the media calling him a "moderate." Remember that this is the candidate supported by upreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Do you think that Khamenei is supporting someone who is truly going to grant human rights and support women's rights?

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Ted Van Dyk, a longtime Democratic operative, has some good advice for his party. He advises them to just shut up about impeachment. Sure he finds Trump an appalling person to be president, lacking the "knowledge, experience and temperament for the office."
He nonetheless was duly elected and should be given the leeway that new presidents are traditionally afforded.

Critics, moreover, misread the temper of the American people. Most voters don’t much like Mr. Trump. But they like chaos less.

I spoke recently to a Democratic group consisting mainly of Bernie Sanders supporters. Many were searching for a constructive response to the Trump presidency. They were people, as the saying goes, seeking to light a candle rather than curse the darkness.

I suggested that they concentrate on developing alternatives to Mr. Trump’s proposals—on health care, taxes, the budget. “You mean we should help Trump?” someone asked. “No,” I answered, “you should help your country.” I was surprised by the outburst of applause that followed.

Democrats, in their all-out opposition to Mr. Trump, are missing real opportunities to influence policy. The tax-reform debate is a prime example. If Democrats were shrewd, they would try to negotiate a grand compromise, in which loopholes are scrubbed from the code and Social Security and Medicare put on sounder long-term footing. But to get there, purposeful polarization must give way to constructive engagement.

Trump haters disregard an old rule of politics and history: In the end, voters always choose order over disorder. Kicking Mr. Trump to the curb wouldn’t return the country to the pre-Trump status quo. It would likely bring forth new law-and-order leadership more disciplined and conservative than Mr. Trump’s.

This advice is in accord with a story in the NYT this weekend about how, outside Washington, Democrats are trying to focus on policy, rather than trying to impeach Trump.
“Russia is important to the American public, but health care hits home directly in people’s lives,” said Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party. “Regular Montanans are talking about the heck of a spring snowstorm we just had, this health care bill, the stuff that’s hitting them every single day. They know something is amiss in Washington, but in their everyday lives it doesn’t affect them right now.”

Continue reading the main story
The contrast between what Democrats in Washington are consumed by and what their candidates are running on illustrates an emerging challenge for the party as the president becomes ever more engulfed in controversy: For all the misfortunes facing their foe in the White House, Democrats have yet to devise a coherent message on the policies that President Trump used to draw working-class voters to his campaign.

And at least for now, the voters whom Democrats need to win back are more focused on their own troubles than those of the president.

After a campaign in which they learned the hard way that an anti-Trump message was insufficient, Democrats are again grappling with how to balance responding to Mr. Trump’s apparent transgressions and devising an affirmative policy agenda of their own.
We've long known that most people don't pay much attention to the daily details of stories out of Washington. They're focused on their own lives and the issues that touch them personally. Trying to follow the ins and outs of what Trump said or didn't say and what it all means. Both parties need to remember that.

Chris Cillizza writes
at CNN to bemoan "Trump fatigue" and how people are starting to tune out all the stories about Trump because the plethora of stories crowd each other out.
There are so many storylines -- Russia, Comey, staff drama, his Twitter account, to name a few -- that they all sort of blend together in one jumble, even for people who follow this stuff very closely.
Call it "Trump fatigue." There's just so much any one person can consume as it relates to the President. And it's far less than the amount that Trump puts out there on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

There are two basic reactions to Trump fatigue.

The first -- and this is common among Trump's supporters but, increasingly, even among those who aren't part of his hardcore base -- is a belief that all of this stuff can't be true. That the dishonest media must be making some or all of it up.
The second is to just turn off the TV, close the computer, take your Twitter app off your phone. To unplug from the constant stream of stories that start "Donald Trump said ..."
I know that some of my friends and family report doing the latter and feeling much happier now that they're minimizing their consumption of the news.

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This is so typical of teachers' unions.
Staff members at the nation's largest teachers' union are guaranteed pay for the time they spend in jail if it is related to union work.

Staffers at the National Education Association, the union that represents about 3 million American educators and school employees, are entitled to their standard wage rate during their incarceration, according to a copy of their contract first reported by The 74 Million.

"Some union staffers can receive incarceration pay ‘for reasons stemming from actions taken by him/her in the scope of his/her Association employment.' The NEA contract specifies that this will be at the regular hourly rate for all time spent in jail," the website reports.
It is, apparently, not unusual for unions to include compensation for union staff during imprisonment in their union contracts. Remember that many school districts require teachers be members of the union and pay the membership fees. So whether you like the union or not, you're paying for the union official's legal costs. I would find this infuriating.

You stay classy, California Democrats. This is what the outgoing California Democratic Party Chairman did at the Democratic Party convention.
[H]e invited the listening-impaired translators onto the stage Saturday at the California’s Democratic Party convention in Sacramento to “thank them,” and then, as they were flashing their hands in applause for his service to the party, he put his middle finger in the air and lead a chant, “F*** Donald Trump!”

Perhaps more remarkable was the eager willingness of the crowd to join in with him, chanting, while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Obama’s Former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis looked on, laughing it up in the background.

Clint Eastwood claims that "Dirty Harry" couldn't have been made today. He's so right.
Eastwood didn't talk about current political events, but while discussing his then-controversial 1971 film 'Dirty Harry,' he waded into a topic he's touched on before: political correctness.

'A lot of people thought it was politically incorrect,' Eastwood said of 'Dirty Harry.' 'That was at the beginning of the era that we're in now, where everybody thinks everyone's politically correct. We're killing ourselves by doing that. We've lost our sense of humour.'