Monday, July 13, 2015

Cruising the Web

I'm back from a lovely vacation in New Mexico with my family. What a wonderful state to visit - it has a perfect mix for a vacation: beautiful nature, art, history, and great food. Traveling on United Airlines was not so wonderful. Although, we were indeed flying on the Wednesday when United's system went down and its planes were grounded, that didn't affect us because we were scheduled for later in the day after they fixed things. However, we did have an unfortunate experience flying out there while we were transferring in Houston. There was a storm there and United was forced to cancel several flights. Apparently, if weather is bad, after a period of time, they just cancel flights rather than pushing them back. That was bad enough, but their communication with passengers and their customer service was just awful. They only had three service agents in our area of the airport to deal with hundreds of passengers. We had to wait in line for about an hour and a half and eventually got to Albuquerque about 14 hours after we were originally scheduled to arrive. Then, on our way back, we got to Houston and were again delayed for about 2 1/2 hours because of mechanical problems with the airplane. And so we arrived back in Washington, D.c. after the Metro was shut down for the night and had to pay for a taxi. I would be happy to never fly through Houston ever again and I will work assiduously to never fly United again.

As I was driving down the coast on Thursday and listening to both news on satellite radio for a while, I was struck by how CNN seemed to be spending the entire day on the Confederate flag coming down in South Carolina. Really? That is what they think is the most important story of the day? I just don't get it. Does anyone think that racism and arguments over race will change one iota just because the flag is now in a museum? Will black poverty be affected at all by the flag coming down? It's discouraging to see how so much of our arguments are over symbolism instead of substance.

So that is why I was a lot happier to spend my driving time alternating between music and listening to sports radio making fun of DeAndre Jordan. More and more, I'm finding that political talk is so aggravating, that I'd much prefer to read sports news.

I'm getting caught up on all the political kerfuffles that were going on while I was busy touring national monuments and art galleries and eating sopapillas. I find out that we're all supposed to be appalled that Jeb Bush said that people will need to work longer hours if our economy is going to grow. Well, duh. I know that the Democrats want to twist his words to mean that people aren't working hard enough, but his meaning was quite clear. Too many people are underemployed. Too many are working part-time jobs instead of the full-time jobs they wish they could have. Even Bernie Sanders agrees.
"Of course we need full-time jobs rather than part-time jobs," Sanders said.

"If he is talking about the need for more full-time jobs than part time jobs, that's absolutely correct," Sanders said.

So who does this remind you of?
The Cherokee Nation is denouncing scholar-activist Andrea Smith for falsely claiming to be a member of the tribe. Beyond untrue, the ethnic fraud is a painful reminder of their past.
“I have always been, and will always be Cherokee.”

This is University of California, Riverside professor Andrea Smith’s official response to recent allegations that she is not Cherokee, an identity that she has claimed throughout her decades-long career as a prominent figure in Native American scholarship and activism.

In a blog post on Thursday night, Smith maintained that she is Cherokee, that she has “consistently identified [herself] based on what [she] knew to be true,” and that “[t]here have been innumerable false statements made about [her] in the media.”

On June 30, research analyst and Cherokee genealogist David Cornsilk confirmed to The Daily Beast that he analyzed Smith’s genealogy at her request twice in the 1990s, finding no evidence of Cherokee ancestry either time. In response to Smith’s latest claim, Cornsilk again told The Daily Beast that she is not Cherokee and challenged her to share her ancestry publicly if she continues to label herself as Cherokee.
Shades of Senator Fauxcahontas.
The Boston Herald reports that “skeptical American Indian delegates – including the great-grandson of Geronimo — are inviting [Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth] Warren to a meeting tomorrow to explain her ancestry claims.”

Warren, derided from coast to coast as “Fauxcahontas” for her false claims of Native American ancestry, might find this meeting uncomfortable. The Herald doesn’t mention any Cherokee delegates – the tribe Warren directly offended by billing herself as a minority, based on a ridiculous claim of 1/32nd American Indian ancestry, which a bit of detective work – of the variety that only bloggers seem capable of performing, when high-profile Democrats are involved – exposed as unsupportable. However, representatives of the Apache, Winnebago, and Crow are quoted. Some of them sound conciliatory, but others seem quite angry.

For example, Harlyn Geronimo, the aforementioned descendant of the great Apache warrior, and his wife Karen both said they would not vote for someone who misrepresented herself as an American Indian. “I wouldn’t vote for anybody that is being dishonest, and it’s unfair to our people,” said Harlyn, while Karen sounded even more “adamant,” according to the Herald.
In case you have forgotten that bit of deception from Senator Warren's biography, George Will had a good summary back in 2012.
The kerfuffle that has earned Warren such sobriquets as “Spouting Bull” and “Fauxcahontas” began with reports that Harvard Law School, in routine academic preening about diversity (in everything but thought), listed her as a minority faculty member, as did the University of Pennsylvania when she taught there. She said that some in her family had “high cheekbones like all of the Indians do.” The New England Historic Genealogical Society said that a document confirmed the family lore of Warren’s Cherokee ancestry, but it later backtracked. She has said that she did not know Harvard was listing her as a minority in the 1990s, but Harvard was echoing her: From 1986 through 1995, starting before she came to Harvard, a directory published by the Association of American Law Schools listed her as a minority and says its listings are based on professors claiming minority status.

The kerfuffle that has earned Warren such sobriquets as “Spouting Bull” and “Fauxcahontas” began with reports that Harvard Law School, in routine academic preening about diversity (in everything but thought), listed her as a minority faculty member, as did the University of Pennsylvania when she taught there. She said that some in her family had “high cheekbones like all of the Indians do.” The New England Historic Genealogical Society said that a document confirmed the family lore of Warren’s Cherokee ancestry, but it later backtracked. She has said that she did not know Harvard was listing her as a minority in the 1990s, but Harvard was echoing her: From 1986 through 1995, starting before she came to Harvard, a directory published by the Association of American Law Schools listed her as a minority and says its listings are based on professors claiming minority status....

She who wants Wall Street “held accountable” is accountable for two elite law schools advertising her minority status. She who accuses Wall Street of gaming the financial system at least collaborated with, and perhaps benefited from, the often absurd obsession with “diversity.”

How absurd? Warren says that for almost a decade she listed herself in the AALS directory as a Native American because she hoped to “meet others like me.” This well-educated, highly paid, much-honored (she was a consumer protection adviser to President Obama) member of America’s upper 1 percent went looking for people “who are like I am” among Native Americans?

Another silly kerfuffle was liberal outrage at Clarence Thomas's dissent in the Obergefell v. Hodges gay marriage case in which he wrote that human dignity is innate and does not come from the government.
The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity
because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.
Whether you agree or not with Thomas's position on the case, there should be no controversy over his argument that human dignity is innate and can't be taken away by government policies. Yet those on the left erupted in outrage and George Takei, the actor who played Sulu in "Star Trek," said that Clarence Thomas was even a real black man, but was a "clown in blackface" and had "abdicated and abandoned his African-American heritage" with his opinion. Rich Lowry derides this ignorance of the Founding principles of our country.
That Takei’s first instinct was to deny the blackness of Clarence Thomas tells us much about the rancid racial essentialism of the Left, which can’t get its head around minorities stepping out of ideological line.

That aside, the Left’s freakout is remarkable, since what Thomas wrote represents American Founding 101. Where did Thomas get this outlandish notion of rights and dignity that exist prior to government?

Maybe Thomas Jefferson? “We do not claim these,” he wrote of our natural rights, “under the charters of kings or legislators, but under the King of kings.” Or John Adams? He wrote of rights “antecedent to all earthly government,” “that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws,” “derived from the great Legislator of the universe.”

One wonders if anyone disturbed by the Thomas dissent glanced at the Declaration of Independence over the July 4th weekend. It says, as Thomas notes, all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” In case there’s any misunderstanding, the good folks at Merriam-Webster define unalienable as “impossible to take away or give up.”

This is a truth that abolitionists wielded against the institution of slavery. The foremost of them, Frederick Douglass, held it strongly. He declared once after suffering a rank act of discrimination: “They cannot degrade Frederick Douglass. The soul that is within me no man can degrade. I am not the one that is being degraded on account of this treatment, but those who are inflicting it upon me.” (Quick — someone ask George Takei if Frederick Douglass was truly black.)
I encountered that same ignorance a decade ago when David Von Drehle interviewed me and a liberal blogger, Barbara O'Brien, for a cover story for the Washington Post Sunday Magazine to contrast two middle-aged female political bloggers from different ends of the political spectrum. He took us on a tour of Washington and had us talk about different issues as we traveled around the city. Apprently, Ms. O'Brien, like George Takei, had no understanding of the Enlightenment ideals underlying the American Revolution.
How about the future of the Supreme Court?

"Terrifying," O'Brien declares, especially because she thinks Bush might want to elevate Antonin Scalia to chief justice. "He believes the authority of government comes from God," she says. "That's not what we believe as a nation."

"Au contraire," counters Newmark. "That is so in keeping with the spirit of the Enlightenment and John Locke."

"No," O'Brien insists. "Government takes its powers from the consent of the governed, and not" -- here she begins waggling her fingers at the sky -- "from God."

Maybe it's a coincidence, but the sky begins to grow really dark. As the rain approaches, the bloggers decide to skip quickly over the abortion issue -- not much new to say there -- and move their sightseeing indoors. We hail a taxi.

Inside the National Museum of American History, Newmark leads the way past the Hall of Presidents to an exhibit on Americans at war. Noticing an enlarged image of the Declaration of Independence, she says, "Look at this!" There is triumph in her voice. She gestures to the opening lines of the document, in which Jefferson rests his argument on "the laws of Nature and of Nature's God."

But if she's hoping for an argument, it doesn't come; O'Brien simply shrugs.
Yeah, that is the liberal response to being proved wrong. Liberals might not believe that our rights and our human dignity are innate, but it is pure ignorance not to know that that was the ideology that fueled our Founding Fathers. At least my students, when I have them read John Locke and the Declaration of Independence, gain that understanding. They might not agree, but they will understand that natural rights ideology doesn't mean that government gets its powers from God, but that from people whose rights, as Jefferson wrote, are innate. Maybe all those outraged by Justice Thomas should read the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.-
Rich Lowry explains why this view is so counter to liberal beliefs.
The reaction to the Thomas dissent is, in part, about the historical and philosophical illiteracy of his critics. But they also have a profoundly different worldview. The Founders believed we have innate rights that must be protected from government. As Thomas writes, “Our Constitution — like the Declaration of Independence before it — was predicated on a simple truth: One’s liberty, not to mention one’s dignity, was something to be shielded from — not provided by — the State.”

This notion is anathema to a Left that identifies the state with progress, and that defines freedom much more loosely (not to say nonsensically) as including what government gives us, in an ever-expanding palette of benefits.

Thomas is the one firmly grounded in the best of the American tradition, even if his clueless attackers don’t get it. Some of them acted as if he is somehow ignorant of the nature of slavery, even though his forebears were slaves and he grew up in abject poverty in the Jim Crow South. Justice Thomas doesn’t just understand more about the reality of racial discrimination than his critics, but more about America and its ideals.

Douglas Schoen is wringing his hands over the lack of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton among the progressive electorate.
What’s driving the support for Sanders? It doesn’t have that much to do with Sanders himself.

It has to do with the issues driving the progressive agenda, along with old- fashioned anger. The Left is fired up about a range of issues, most prominently income inequality.

Indeed, perhaps more so than any other topic in the last 50 years, income inequality has become the issue most akin to Vietnam for the Democratic electorate. Clinton’s efforts to move left and accommodate these sentiments have been ham-handed, as in her comment last fall at a Boston rally. “Don’t let anybody tell you that, you know, it's corporations and businesses that create jobs,” she told the crowd, trying to tap into the populist-left energy. Other gestures are simply tone-deaf, especially for a candidate trying to rebrand herself as a progressive. When she recently decided to go to the Hamptons again this summer for three weeks, she set herself up for endless barbs by late-night TV hosts and her political opponents.
Schoen is still holding on to the hope that Clinton will flame out and Elizabeth Warren, his favored apostle to fight against income inequality will ride in to the rescue. I wonder what Warren thinks as she watches Bernie Sanders playing the role of stalking horse for her.

So now that Memphis is removing the remains of Nathan Bedford Forrest from where he is buried there, I guess that all our nation's problems with racism are over. Though I do find a rather delicious irony there 15 years too late. I still remember how George W. Bush was pounded with questions about South Carolina flying the Confederate battle flag as if it were his responsibility, but no one asking Al Gore about the monuments celebrating Forrest, the first leader of the KKK, spread out over Tennessee which was, at least, his home state.

Jim Geraghty reminds us of some the crazy stuff that Trump has said in the past.
Permit me to remind you about Donald Trump’s assessment of President Bush back in 2008:
Bush has been so bad, maybe the worst president in the history of this country. He has been so incompetent, so bad, so evil, that I don’t think any Republican could have won.
Evil? Evil? Of course, in the same interview, Trump endorsed. . . diplomatic outreach with Iran.
You know, you can be enemies with people, whether it’s Iran, Iraq, anyplace else and you can still have dialogue. These people won’t even talk to him. It’s terrible.
Wait, there’s more! Check out his assessment of Obama!
VAN SUSTEREN: The new president-elect, what are your thoughts? Pretty exciting, it's always exciting when we have a change of power, a transition, but what are your thoughts.

TRUMP: It's very exciting we have a new president. It would have been nice if he ended with a 500 point up instead of down. It's certainly very exciting.

His speech was great last night. I thought it was inspiring in every way. And, hopefully he's going to do a great job. But the way I look at it, he cannot do worse than Bush. [Emphasis added.]

(Links in the original)
And then here’s his thoughts on health care back in 1999. . .
TRUMP: I think you have to have it, and, again, I said I'm conservative, generally speaking, I'm conservative, and even very conservative. But I'm quite liberal and getting much more liberal on health care and other things. I really say: What's the purpose of a country if you're not going to have defensive [sic] and health care?

If you can't take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it's all over. I mean, it's no good. So I'm very liberal when it comes to health care. I believe in universal health care.
If only those people thrilled to think that Trump is brave enough to tell it like it is would be aware of some of what Trump has said in the past when it was better for him to sound a whole lot more like a Democrat.

It's now Ted Cruz vs. the New York Times. Hmmmm. What a bonus for Cruz who has been somewhat overshadowed by Donald Trump in the past week.

Jonah Goldberg, who Trump thinks can't afford to buy pants, thinks it's time to stage an intervention with the fans of the Donald.
Now, before I go on, let me clarify a few things. I get it. The base of the party is angry. They’re angry about Obama’s lawless chicanery on immigration. They’re angry about the GOP’s patented inability to cross the street without stepping on its own d*ck and then having to apologize for it. They’re angry that the Left’s culture warriors are behaving like an invading army that shoots the survivors even after they’ve surrendered. They’re angry that Republicans have to bend over backward so as not to offend anyone, while Democrats have free rein (and at times free reign) to do and to say as they please.

Enter Trump, stage left. He makes no apologies. He’s brash. I can understand why some see him as a breath of fresh air. If you want to give him credit for starting a worthwhile debate about sanctuary cities and illegal immigration, fine. I think that argument is way overdone, but certainly reasonable enough.

Maybe you just like him. On that, we can respectfully disagree, as there is no accounting for taste. Perhaps you just like his musk and the way it assaults your nostrils, which is fitting, given his line of cologne. Fine.

I, on the other hand, find him tedious, tacky, and trite. He’s a bore who overcompensates for his insecurities by talking about how awesome he is, often in the third person. Jonah can’t stand that.

You see the next Teddy Roosevelt and all I see is someone who talks big and carries a small schtick.
In response to the allegation that he can't buy pants, Goldberg makes this obvious point.
More to the point, what I find so gaudy about Trump is his constant reference to the fact that he made a lot of money, and his expectation that it somehow makes him immune to criticism or means that he’s a better person than his GOP competitors, never mind yours truly.

Moreover, I find it horribly disappointing that his fans like this about him. If you met someone in real life who talked this way, you would think he’s a jerk. But somehow he’s awesome when he does it on TV?
Goldberg than goes on to demonstrate that not only is Trump a Republican in Name ONly, but also a Conservative in Name Only. See Jim Geraghty's post above.

Ron Fournier performs a service by acting as a conduit between Democratic operatives and Hillary Clinton. He claims that several of these people who are close to Hillary and know Fournier from his days as a reporter in Arkansas during Bill Clinton's governorship there are whispering in his ear their fears about Hillary.
We're your friends. We love you enough to tell you the truth. Your political advisers and hangers-on mocked our advice to be hyper accessible, honest, authentic, vulnerable, flexible, small, competent, and populist. Take a minute to re-read the 2013 memo. We were very specific, particularly in the closing few paragraphs.

You didn't listen, Hillary. Now look what you've done.

You launched your historic campaign in the worst possible way: walled off from the media and the public – cautious, rigid, and institutional. You may disagree. Your hired guns may have convinced you, for example, that the scripted conversation with selected voters are authentic. They're not. What would be authentic? The Hillary we've long cherished in private: warm, open, and honest – unafraid of making mistakes and owning up to them. We haven't seen that Hillary. More important, the voting public hasn't seen that Hillary. Does she still exist?

Which brings us to the matter of trust. Hillary, this makes us want to cry. We can't figure out why you would compromise the most important commodity of leadership over such banalities. Why take money from foreign nations while serving as secretary of State? Why take money from foreign leaders who hate women? Why not comply with White House rules – fair and ethical guidelines designed to protect the reputation of your family's (wonderful) charitable foundation? You know this has always bothered us: Why would you and Bill blur so many lines between foundation money, your personal finances, and your government work? That's not how you operated in Arkansas.

And the emails! Why did you need a private server? Why would you violate clear federal and White House rules on email storage, security, and transparency? Who deletes their email, scrubs their server, and ducks subpoenas?

We love you, Hillary, but even we suspect there are foundation-related emails on that server. They may be embarrassing, but we'd like to think they're not nearly as politically damaging as stonewalling.

Your CNN interview made us cringe: "Everything I did was permitted." No it wasn't, Hillary. You are either being misled by your team or you're lying. We can't bring ourselves to suspect the latter – and urge you again to hire more honest advisers.

"People should and do trust me." No and no. You've told us yourself: Trust has to be earned, not assumed. And polls show that most Americans think you're dishonest. We've always trusted you, but we can understand why others don't. You've made some poor choices and, rather than fix them, you blamed the GOP and the media. You wouldn't let Chelsea say the dog ate her homework, so why do you think this is a good idea?

We can't make it any plainer: You're the problem, Hillary.
Poor Mr. Fournier. He would like for Hillary to be a much more honest and forthright candidate. He would like for her to win. And she keeps disappointing him.

You might enjoy this quiz to see which 2016 political candidate most closely matches your views. Be sure to click the "Other stances" button for more nuanced positions. I also like that you can choose how important each issue is to you. I was struck at how few of the issues questioned were of any importance to me in the presidential contest. Anyway, I was surprised that I ended up matching Marco Rubio at 99%. That is whom I actually do prefer at this point, but some of that support is based on on my thoughts that he would have the best chance of beating Hillary. Amazingly, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker were tied for my next choices even though I don't agree with Santorum on most social issues and those issues are just not primary for me. I don't know if that says more about the programming of the quiz or about Santorum.