Monday, June 08, 2015

Cruising the Web

Marco Rubio is turning the words of Democratic icon, John F. Kennedy, back on Democrats of today.
"This election isn't about what laws we're going to pass. It's about what kind of country we're going to be," Rubio said to a packed Holiday Inn conference room. "And we've made that choice before. Asked six decades ago, this nation and that generation chose to embrace a New Frontier. In fact, they took up the challenge of a then young president who said, 'Ask not what your country can do, ask what you can do for your country.'"

"And here's the hard truth," Rubio continued. "For far too long, leaders in both parties have been campaigning on the promise of what your government can do for you. But my campaign is built on the idea of what together we can do for America. Because America doesn't owe us anything. But every single one of us, especially me, has a debt to this country we will never repay."
That's a nice segue to his main message that he represents a new generation of leadership and that his goal is to pay back all that he feels America has given him and his family. And the JFK comparisons don't hurt either.

Rubio was helped by the NYT's silly story that he and his wife had racked up a grand total of 17 traffic tickets since 1997. But then it turns out that Marco Rubio had only four of those tickets and the rest were for his wife. Big freakin' deal, but the NYT thought it was worth a story that, apparently, his wife has a lead foot - once even driving 23 MPH in a 15 MPH zone. Did the NYT really think that voters would care that Senator Rubio had gotten a ticket every four years or so? And do people really care about his wife? Mollie Hemingway comments,
As unspeakably horrific as this twentythreemph infraction is, don’t get me wrong, pardon me if I don’t find it disqualifying for a presidential spouse in the same way I find money laundering under the guise of running a charitable foundation, to pick randomly.
Another problem for the NYT is that it soon became clear that the information came from American Bridge, a Democratic opposition research firm as the Washington Free Beacon went to the court records to see who had been pulling those records. The NYT claims that they hired a research firm and got those records independently. Though that also seems in doubt. But does anyone think that they thought all on their own to go look for the Rubios' driving records? And why did they think this was newsworthy in the first place? And wouldn't the news be, if the Rubios hadn't paid their for their infractions? You know, like...Barack Obama.
Barack Obama is no longer a scofflaw, at least in Cambridge and Somerville.

Two weeks before the US senator from Illinois launched his presidential campaign, he paid parking tickets he received while attending Harvard Law School, officials said yesterday.

Obama received 17 parking tickets in Cambridge between 1988 and 1991, according to the city's Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department.

Of those tickets, he paid only two while he was a student and paid them late, said Susan Clippinger, the office's director.

In January, about when the Globe began asking local officials about Obama's time at Harvard, including any violations of local laws, someone representing the senator called the parking office to inquire about the decades-old tickets.

On Jan. 26, the remaining $375 in fines and fees were paid by credit card using the city's website, Clippinger said. She said she didn't know who paid them.

Glenn Reynolds writes in the USA Today.
Rappeport, Eder and Bennett's earth-shattering traffic scoop produced rather a lot of mockery from people on the right, and from some on the left. Longtime political correspondent Jeff Greenfield tweeted: "Rubio TrafficTicketGate? This a parody of political journalism gone nuts, right?"

Yeah, pretty much. To add to the embarrassment, the Times, though it has since silently corrected the piece, referred to Marco Rubio's Ford F-150 pickup as a "sports utility vehicle," displaying the level of automotive literacy expected of Manhattan residents.

Folks on Twitter mocked the Times with the #RubioCrimeSpree hashtag, featuring such other alleged crimes as "Drank milk after the expiration," "Red wine with fish," and my favorite, "Called Chris Matthews, asked him if his refrigerator was running."

Omar of The Wire could tell the NYT that, if you "come at the king, you best not miss." With this miss, the NYT has given Rubio some more cred among conservatives who have all jumped in to ridicule the NYT. There is nothing that unites conservatives more in support of one of their own than a silly hit piece by the MSM.

Speaking of the Wire, my husband and I have been watching season three. It's an illuminating juxtaposition to see the utter lawlessness prevailing in Baltimore in this show from 2004 in light of recent events there. And it is striking to realize that the events of the entire series almost exactly overlap Martin O'Malley's time there as mayor. Anyone who has watched that show would not be impressed with any politician coming out of Baltimore.

Kevin Williamson ponders another political spouse's travels that the NYT doesn't seem interested in pursuing.
In fact, the Time’s interest in the travel habits of the spouses of presidential candidates is a bit . . . uneven. Mrs. Rubio’s traffic violations are news that’s fit to print, but the self-proclaimed newspaper of record has taken scanty interest in the peregrinations of former president Bill Clinton aboard an airplane nicknamed The Lolita Express, bearing him to a destination with an even worse nickname — “Pedophile Island” — in the company of Jeffrey Epstein, today a convicted sex offender. There are some aspects to that story that are considerably more interesting than failure to come to a complete stop: Clinton traveled in the company of a pornographic actress (her business is listed in Epstein’s records as “massage”) and many times in the company of Sarah Kellen who — you’ll have to go to Gawker for this, as the Times must yawn — “was believed by detectives in the Palm Beach Police Department, which was the first to start unraveling the operation, to be so deeply involved in the enterprise that they prepared a warrant for her arrest as an accessory to molestation and sex with minors. In the end, she was never arrested or charged, and federal prosecutors granted her immunity in a 2007 non-prosecution agreement that described her as a ‘potential co-conspirator’ in sex trafficking.”

If there is a Times reporter willing to press Herself on these facts, he is being kept at a safe distance.

Instead, let’s talk about a senator’s wife — not the senator himself, but his wife — driving 8 mph over the speed limit.

Another day, another bit of slime oozing out of Bill Clinton's record of earning a big pay day from his speaking before questionable audiences.
The Internet was littered with scam warnings from small-time contractors who claimed they had been ripped off by Singapore-based UNI Strategic, but that didn’t seem to bother the State Department or Bill Clinton.

The agency, headed at the time by Hillary Clinton, signed off on a Nov. 14, 2010, speech delivered by the former president on behalf of UNI at the Presidential World Economic Forum held in Taipei, Taiwan.

The payday: $400,000.

Clinton’s speech was not remarkable, but it probably didn’t have to be. He spoke about the global economy, economic inequality and global warming in front of an audience of around 2,000 — eager to hear from an American politician of Clinton’s stature.

But while UNI could afford to pay Clinton a one-percenter’s annual salary, the company was ripping off a slew of contractors it had hired to provide training in various Asian nations.

Hillary Clinton has a strange idea of what the word "interview" means. Her campaign sent out instructions to reporters about her speech at Texas Southern University saying,
"There will be NO opportunities to interview Hillary Clinton; her speech will be her interview."
Hmm. I don't think that word, interview, means what you think it does. And they also told reporters that they must use the media-only rest rooms and stay within the barricades. They wouldn't want the media interacting too much with the audience or be in the position to shout questions at Hillary.

This is an excellent idea - a sunset provision for every law.
Milk goes bad. So do laws, sometimes. Unfortunately, most laws stick around long after they’ve gone bad.

Over the past several months, the nation had a healthy discussion about the extent of the government’s snooping on Americans’ electronic communications. This contentious debate led to changes in the law. Congress actually did something useful.

Why? Not because our elected representatives suddenly found their mojo, but rather because Section 215 of the Patriot Act — the section authorizing bulk collection of data and roving wiretaps — had an expiration date, which forced the issue. Instead of the eternal life bestowed upon most laws, these controversial provisions were subject to a “sunset clause,” which means they automatically expire unless specifically reauthorized. This meant Congress could not simply ignore Americans’ negative reactions to the revelation of massive federal surveillance — legislators had to actually do something rather than nothing, as is always their preference.
As Tom Giovanetti, president for the Institute for Policy Innovation writes, few of our laws include such sunset provisions.
Unfortunately, most laws do not include such sunset provisions, and regulations almost never do, which means the vast majority of laws and regulations that currently govern the lives of Americans were put into place by previous generations. In some cases, we are governed by regulations that are 70 or 80 years old. How much sense does that make? Why are we still governed by rules put into place during the New Deal, or even earlier? How similar is today’s economy to the economy of 1934 — the year several major current laws, programs, regulatory structures, and even cabinet agencies were created?

Granting so many provisions eternal life means we are piling up taxes, laws, and regulations that are outdated, ineffective, redundant, sometimes contradictory, and otherwise simply past their prime. This imposes costs on the economy, complicates the judiciary, grows the government, and creates an increasingly incomprehensible bureaucratic morass that innocent businesses and citizens must attempt to navigate.
Of course, the counter-argument would be that it takes so much effort to get a law passed these days in the first place, why should Congress invite even more gridlock by refighting those same battles every five years? And that's the exact reason why we should. In order to grease the passage of difficult bills, all sorts of provisions and pork spending are inserted, often at the last minute without anyone being really aware of what they ended up voting for. It is time to reassess those provisions while politicians also assess whether the law achieved the results it was originally designed for or whether it led to pernicious consequences that should be addressed.

Jessica Gavora, who has written a book, Tilting the Playing Field: Schools, Sports, Sex and Title IX, about the ways in which the original civil rights bill has been transmuted into a weapon far beyond its original purpose.
The road that took Title IX from a classically liberal antidiscrimination law to an illiberal gender-quota regime began in 1996 with an innocent-seeming “Dear Colleague” letter written by federal education officials in the Clinton administration. The letter targeted colleges and universities struggling to answer the difficult question of what constitutes (unlawful) discrimination under Title IX in sports programs that are already segregated on the basis of sex. It instructed schools that quotas—equalizing the participation of men and women in athletics, despite demonstrated disparities of interest—were the way to comply with the law.

Activists who had been instrumental in creating the new standard took the federal guidance and ran with it. Aided by the trial bar, they initiated lawsuits that enshrined the new bureaucratic “guidance.” The case brought against Brown University in the early 1990s by a coalition of feminists and trial lawyers set the stage. It alleged that Brown—which offered more women’s sports teams than men’s at the time—had violated the law by downgrading two women’s teams. The university produced reams of data showing that women at Brown had more opportunities to play sports than men, but more men than women played intramural sports by 3 to 1 and club sports by a whopping 8 to 1.

To the applause of the Clinton administration, the court ruled that such data didn’t matter. The responsibility of the school wasn’t to provide equal opportunity to participate in sports—it was to educate women to be interested in sports. In effect the ruling said that Brown women didn’t know what they wanted. They only thought they were dancers or actors or musicians. They had to be taught that they were really athletes. They didn’t know what was good for them but the government did.

With that, Title IX was transformed. It no longer mattered if schools offered equal or more-than-equal opportunities for women in athletics. If colleges couldn’t produce enough actual female bodies on the playing field, the schools were forced to cut male athletes until the participation rates of both sexes were the same. No legislation, let alone public discussion, made this so. When it comes to Title IX, quaint notions of the people’s representatives having anything to do with the law ended when the law passed.
Gee, how often have we heard about such bureaucratic overreach in recent years? And now Titile IX has been transmuted by the Obama Education Department into a tool to be used against universities if they didn't do enough to stop sexual harassment and assaults that occur both on and off campus by lowering the standard of evidence for such accusations.
A lower standard of evidence was established to prove the guilt of the accused. Earlier protections for academic freedom and free expression were dropped.

With that, the pas de deux with activist groups commenced. Title IX investigations of accusations of sexual assault and harassment on campuses exploded. Just as they had with Title IX in sports, activists went in search of victims to be the media face of a rape crisis—and to become plaintiffs in litigation against schools.
And now a Northwestern professor was investigated for criticizing the overreach of Title IX. Because, apparently, criticizing Title IX is enough to trigger a Title IX investigation. And even liberals are waking up to what a dangerous situation that is.
Feminists might not be so surprised today if they had paid more attention when college women, as a feature of Title IX enforcement, were being treated like impressionable children incapable of choosing to join a sports team. Most of the attention was focused on supposedly sexist men, and when Title IX targeted male athletes, academics like Ms. Kipnis didn’t speak out. Now academics are in the cross hairs. Who will be next?