Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cruising the Web

Noah Rothman notes all the times that Trump's grandstanding has rescued the Democrats from focus on their mistakes and weaknesses. We've seen it this week with how the focus of the media moved from talking about Obama's terribly-received speech on terrorism to 24/7 focus on Trump's proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the country.
The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis and our own Jonathan Tobin were just some of the commenters on the right who noted the most lamentable casualty of Trump’s irresponsible call to block all Muslims from entering the country, beyond of course comity and decency, was a disastrous moment for Barack Obama’s presidency. Before the press became universally incensed over and obsessed with Trump’s latest ridiculous proposal, reporters were investigating how the worst radical Islamist terrorist attack on American soil since September 11 happened. Gone are the condemnations of Barack Obama’s ill-timed claim that ISIS was “contained” just hours before the Paris attacks. Gone are the recriminations of his prime-time self-indictment, in which he insisted Americans stay the course of his failed war. When the president warned the country not to engage in a backlash against Muslim Americans, Republicans were perplexed as to where exactly the evidence for this forthcoming backlash was until Donald Trump manufactured some.

This is far from an isolated event; it’s a pattern. First, a Democrat becomes embroiled in a controversy or an external event reflects negatively on the party. Donald Trump then makes an outrageous comment calculated for maximum political impact. Like clockwork, the press abandons their critical examination of Democratic policies, and Republicans are back at each other’s throats. This is a measurable phenomenon.
Rothman then goes on to remind us of some of those moments. There was the time this summer when we found out that Clinton and Obama were hiding their coordination of the nation's response to the Benghazi attack. Then Trump announced that illegal immigrants from Mexico were bringing in drugs and crime and were rapists. Immediately, the focus of the media shifted from Obama and Clinton to Trump's words. In July, Hillary claimed that she had never received a subpoena for her emails, a claim that was demonstrably false, but the media soon shifted to Trump's statement that he would have preferred invading Mexico instead of Iraq. The Planned Parenthood videos coverage gave way to Trump's insult of John McCain for getting captured by the Viet Cong. Then controversy over Hillary's server and classified information was eclipsed by Trump's proposal to eliminate birthright citizenship for children of immigrants born here.

Read the rest of Rothman's examples. The pattern is clear. Of course, with the frequency that Donald Trump says controversial and attention-grabbing things and the media fascination with him, he is going to be grabbing the spotlight on a regular basis. It's just unfortunate for Republicans in more ways than one, that his grandstanding has distracted the very minimal attention that the media might have paid to the problems plaguing Obama and Clinton. The mainstream media weren't going to spend much time focusing on Obama and Clinton's mistakes, lies, and failures, but any chance that those would be come the story of the day gets perpetually eclipsed by focus on whatever idiocy of the day that Trump has committed.
None of this establishes either correlation or causation, but it is remarkably coincidental how often Donald Trump has rescued Democrats from the jaws of a terrible news cycle and the withering scrutiny of the press. The celebrity candidate’s many distasteful comments are certainly doing the Republican Party no favors, but you cannot say the same for Democrats.

It's as if, as Mona Charen writes, Donald Trump were working to help the Democrats.
It’s not clear whether he set out intentionally to elect Hillary Clinton, but there is little question that he could not be fulfilling the role of Republican bogeyman to greater effect.

As Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin noted, during a week in which the disastrous fecklessness of President Obama and his party in the face of terrorism ought to have been Topic A, we are all talking about Trump instead. Brilliant. Tobin’s point actually applies to the entire presidential contest. By rights, it should be about the Democrats’ unraveling. From Obamacare to terrorism, from the economy to climate change, and from guns to free speech, progressive policies have proven deeply disappointing when not downright obtuse and dangerous. Clinton promises more of the same while trailing an oil slick of corruption in her wake. And yet swinging into the frame, week in and week out, the orange-maned billionaire bogeyman dominates the discussion.

Hell yes, Republicans are anti-Hispanic bigots, Trump (a lifelong Democrat) is supposed to confirm. Just look at the way he talked about Mexican “rapists” and vowed to build a wall that Mexico will fund.

Hell yes, Republicans want to fight a war on women. Did you hear what Trump said about Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina?

Hell yes, Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-handicapped, anti-Jewish, and anti-Muslim. Line ‘em up and Trump will offend. Not cleverly, mind you, but crudely. Donald Trump is fond of saying that our political leaders are stupid, constantly outmaneuvered at the bargaining table by shrewder Chinese, Mexicans, and Japanese. No one can accuse him of stupidity, provided his goal is to elect Hillary Clinton.
Well, he did contribute to her previously. I don't think he's doing it deliberately, but the effect is the same. And we're really seeing the effect with this week's brouhaha.
It’s not just that what he says demands condemnation. It’s that it seems to give credence to the Democrats’ narrative.

One of the false notes in President Obama’s Sunday-evening speech was his resort to one of his favorite libels about the American people he purports to lead. He scolded the country for its Islamophobia. “It is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently.”

That’s not the trouble here. America is an incredibly welcoming nation and has opened its arms to Muslims along with people from every part of the globe. Far from targeting American Muslims for discrimination, the U.S. has been a haven. Though liberals like to conjure it to slander the U.S., anti-Muslim discrimination and violence have been minimal in the U.S., even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. (The most common targets of religious bigotry in America? Jews.)

On the other hand, it’s only common sense to proceed with caution about admitting thousands of refugees and immigrants from the part of the world that is currently aflame with Islamic extremism. That caution, not to be confused with discrimination (there is no constitutional right to come to America), was endorsed just three weeks ago by a large majority in Congress (including 47 Democrats). It isn’t anti-Muslim to seek to exclude Muslim extremists.

Leave it to Trump to lob a stink bomb that putrefies everything.

Above all, the great favor that Trump does for Obama and for Hillary Clinton is to focus on personalities instead of philosophy. Trump, of course, has nothing to offer except personality (even if its charm eludes me). But his emphasis on “getting the best people” is exactly wrong. That’s the progressive idea — that the best people know better how to run your life than you do. That’s what we’ve had under President Obama. Obama is a failure not because he’s stupid, or stubborn, or inexperienced. He’s a failure because he believes in failed ideas.

Hillary Clinton believes in all the same myths and shibboleths. After two terms of decline and decay, voters are ready for a different approach, unless someone crashes the Republican party. Can it be pure accident that Donald Trump is playing the role to perfection?

The Media Research center provides the statistics to back up what Rothman and Charen and others have claimed.
GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from coming into the United States dominated the media coverage since Monday instead of President Obama’s address from the Oval Office on combatting ISIS Sunday night, according to the Media Research Center.

“The morning and evening news broadcasts on ABC, CBS and NBC have dedicated a whopping 105 minutes (1 hour and 45 minutes) to criticism of Trump’s comments about restricting Muslim immigration, since Trump made the comments on December 7,” reported Media Research Center’s Mike Ciandella. In contrast, Obama’s speech Sunday evening only recieved a total of three minutes of media coverage.

According to the study, NBC dedicated the most time to covering Trump

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The Clintons keep the corruption in the family.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton forwarded a request made by her son-in-law for a meeting between one of his hedge fund's clients and State Department officials when she was the country's top diplomat, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Marc Mezvinsky, the husband of Chelsea Clinton and a partner at the hedge fund Eaglevale Partners LP, in 2012 sent to Clinton a request made by an investor in the deep sea mining firm Neptune Minerals Inc. to meet with State Department officials.

Clinton forwarded the request to Thomas Nides, a vice chairman at Morgan Stanley who at the time was a deputy secretary of state, the AP reported.

"Could you have someone follow up on this request, which was forwarded to me?" Clinton asked Nides.
Hey, why shouldn't a politician's relatives try to make money off of their connections? Billy Carter and Roger Clinton both did so. Surely, a mother-in-law has to help out her daughter's husband. Just remember that Hillary has attacked hedge fund managers. It's not clear if that criticism included her son-in-law who co-founded a hedge fund that lost big money by betting on Greece's recovery. I'm sure he would have really liked to recoup some of those losses by facilitating a deal that took advantage of his mother-in-law's position as Secretary of State.

National Review reports on how supporters are getting aggravated with Marco Rubio for having such a weak ground game in Iowa. He doesn't seem to be doing enough to meet with voters. His campaign thinks that he will do well enough by appearing on TV. That seems like a pretty arrogant assumption. Iowa voters have been spoiled by their first-in-the-nation status and like to meet or hear as many candidates as possible. They certainly won't like the idea that a candidate thinks television interviews on Fox and Friends is a worthy substitute from meeting them in person.
In a place where retail politicking remains paramount, conservative and evangelical leaders are complaining that the Florida senator hasn’t given them enough attention since launching his White House campaign. While he has begun to attend their events and engage with their constituents, they say his team has not followed up to deepen relationships or organize additional meetings with them.

Establishment Republicans, meanwhile, have the same concerns about Rubio’s organization, but worry that Rubio is flirting too aggressively with Iowa’s social conservatives. They say that, thanks to Scott Walker’s exit and Jeb Bush’s decline, there exists in Iowa an enormous center-right vacuum that Rubio would be ideally positioned to fill, if only his team beefed up its field operation.

In recent conversations with nearly a dozen unaffiliated Iowa GOP veterans, a consensus has emerged across the party’s ideological spectrum: The state’s caucus-goers are interested in Rubio, but his infrequent appearances and paltry field operation leave lingering doubts as to whether he is interested in them.
Ted Cruz is campaigning all over the state and trying to meet as many voters as possible. I bet that that strategy will pay off a lot more than Rubio's strategy of sticking to Des Moines and using TV for the rest of the state. I think Rubio is making a big mistake. He doesn't need to beat Cruz in Iowa, but he has the opportunity to make a good showing, but it won't work if the voters get a whiff of his campaign's attitude. And I'm sure the Cruz people will make sure they hear about it.

The NYT has a story with the headline, "Marco Rubio Quietly Undermines Affordable Care Act." The paper explains how Marco Rubio's provision in the budget bill to ban a federal bailout of insurance companies has done more to deal a mortal blow to Obamacare than any of the complaints and fruitless votes that Republicans have done.
A little-noticed health care provision that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida slipped into a giant spending law last year has tangled up the Obama administration, sent tremors through health insurance markets and rattled confidence in the durability of President Obama’s signature health law.

So for all the Republican talk about dismantling the Affordable Care Act, one Republican presidential hopeful has actually done something toward achieving that goal.

Mr. Rubio’s efforts against the so-called risk corridor provision of the health law has hardly risen to the forefront of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but his plan limiting how much the government can spend to protect insurance companies against financial losses has shown the effectiveness of quiet legislative sabotage.

The risk corridors were intended to help some insurance companies if they ended up with too many new sick people on their rolls and too little cash from premiums to cover their medical bills in the first three years under the health law. But because of Mr. Rubio’s efforts, the administration says it will pay only 13 percent of what insurance companies were expecting to receive this year. The payments were supposed to help insurers cope with the risks they assumed when they decided to participate in the law’s new insurance marketplaces.
The Obama administration was planning to use federal funds to bail out insurance companies for how Obamacare forced them to take on sicker consumers without having the money coming in from the healthy consumers being mandated to buy insurance. Those consumers haven't bought policies in anything like the administration thought they would. So the insurance companies are experiencing massive shortfalls and were expecting the federal government to bail them out and the administration was going to do that. Until Rubio's provision put an end to that plan.

The result has been catastrophic for the insurance exchanges.
Mr. Rubio latched on to the issue in late 2013, recognizing not only the importance of risk corridors to the operation of the Affordable Care Act but also the political potency of a program he labeled crony capitalism — putting taxpayers “on the hook for Washington’s mistakes,” as he said when he reintroduced his risk corridor bill in January.

The “bailouts” of big banks and other financial firms during the economic crisis of 2008 and the rescue of the Big Three automakers that year and the next remain politically unpopular.

Then the numbers rolled in from the insurance exchanges’ first year of operation: Losses were so steep that insurance-company requests for risk corridor payments were $2.9 billion, compared with only $362 million paid into the program by profitable plans.

Mr. Rubio says he “saved taxpayers $2.5 billion” — the difference between those two amounts — because his measure prevented the government from using other sources of money for the risk corridor payments.

The administration has repeatedly told insurers that it will explore other funding sources to keep its commitment to companies losing money in the exchanges, but Mr. Rubio effectively tied the hands of federal health officials this year.
And Obama's habit of unilaterally changing the provisions of the law have exacerbated the problem.
Mr. Rubio says Mr. Obama compounded his problems by diverting risk corridor funds to quell a 2013 furor over canceled insurance policies. That year, the president announced that states could let insurers renew canceled plans and continue coverage for several years even if those policies did not meet the requirements of the federal health law.

Insurers were shocked by the sudden change. They had set 2014 premiums on the assumption that healthy people with old insurance policies would move into the new marketplace, but Mr. Obama allowed many of them to stay out. In a letter to state insurance commissioners in November 2013, the administration said “the risk corridor program should help ameliorate unanticipated changes in premium revenue.”

Five days later, Mr. Rubio introduced his bill to kill the risk corridor program.

Insurers now are lobbying to get more of the money they say they were promised, or to get relief in some other form.
Rubio's provision will expire this year so expect a battle as he leads Republicans to keep it in the budget and for the Democrats to scream that the federal government needs to bail out the insurance companies or else people will have to suffer the very predictable results of Obamacare. But Rubio and the Republicans will have a winning response - the federal government should not be bailing out any more industries. Period.

Rubio hasn't made much of how his little-noticed provision is affecting Obamacare. He can legitimately argue that he did more to undermine Obamacare than any other Republican, particularly Ted Cruz's grandstanding filibuster that accomplished exactly nothing. Maybe he's waiting to make that point closer to the election, but we're getting closer to the elections all the time. He can't expect the NYT to do his job for him.

As John Hinderaker writes, Rubio's action to weaken Obamacare is "a good example of how conservatives in Washington can be effective as well as inspiring. Effectiveness is what we conservatives should vote for."


Chris Cillizza has fun annotating
what he calls the "Most Donald Trump Interview Donald Trump Has Ever Given." What struck me is that Trump takes total credit for Carson's decline in the polls. In Trump's analysis, Carson declined once Trump made fun of his religious conversion, his supposed pathological temper, and his story about almost knifing a friend of his but hitting the belt buckle himself. Trump doesn't seem to entertain the possibility that Carson is declining because he hasn't shown himself up to snuff on foreign policy and voters are more and more concerned about how a candidate would lead the nation in this age of terror.

Jonah Goldberg discusses how one-party rule in Chicago explains why the city would have attempted to cover up the apparent unprovoked killing of Laquan McDonald. He reminds us that the last time a Republican was elected mayor of Chicago was 1928. Perhaps it's time for Chicagoans to consider if their blind allegiance to one party is truly serving them well.
Thanks to stonewalling by the Emanuel administration and his handpicked chief of police, the video didn’t surface for more than a year. The video might not have surfaced at all if it hadn’t been for a court-ordered release at the request of a very persistent journalist. And murder charges came only after it became clear the journalist would get his way.

There is more evidence of a cover-up. Remember that five police officers reported events contradicted by the video. Presumably relevant security footage from a nearby Burger King was allegedly erased by police. The McDonald family was given a $5 million settlement. At a press conference Monday, Emanuel said he “welcomes” a federal investigation of the killing — but what else could he have said?

Normally, the rule in politics is that the cover-up is worse than the crime. It’s hard to make that case here. But that doesn’t mean the apparent conspiracy to hide the crime is trivial.

This scandal should be instructive. Conservatives, including me, have generally been dismissive or even contemptuous of the Black Lives Matter movement — and the movement has done much to earn that scorn. Michael Brown was not murdered. The whole “Hands up, don’t shoot” narrative was based on deliberate mythmaking. And the requirement that Democratic politicians be barred from uttering the phrase “All lives matter” is an absurdity out of a Tom Wolfe novel.

But the Chicago scandal isn’t that. Whereas the evidence didn’t support the protesters in the case of Michael Brown, it certainly appears to in the case of Laquan McDonald. Moreover, the Chicago Police Department has an ugly past, and this situation suggests it has an ugly present. Conservatives should pause and consider that despite all of the posturing and hysteria elsewhere, there’s real substance to the movement’s complaints in the Windy City.

The McDonald killing should also spur some reflection among liberals. There’s no simple political pattern to where police abuses arise; they’re certainly not confined to red states, or absent in blue states. But it is easier to predict where politicians will get away with covering them up: cities suffering from one-party rule.

Guy Benson has some thoughts
about Hillary's denial that she told the families of the victims of the Benghazi attack that the attack was the fault of the video.
Did you tell the families that the attack was about the film? Answer: No. Justin has addressed her subsequent "fog of war" dissembling, which is belied by the fact that she consistently managed to get it right in private discussions, while peddling a very different tale in public. But let's ignore that part of her answer for the moment. She was asked a direct question: Did she, or did she not, tell those family members that the Internet film was responsible for their loved ones' deaths? She says she did not. This is a direct contradiction of very explicit memories shared on the record by multiple people who have far less incentive to lie than, say, a truth-challenged politician seeking power. This should be a serious problem for Hillary Clinton. The media spent an enormous amount of time fact-checking Donald Trump's false claim about watching "thousands" of Muslims dancing in the streets of New Jersey on live television after 9/11. Here we have the presumptive Democratic nominee essentially arguing that Benghazi victims' relatives are either forgetful simpletons, or liars. How mysterious that they all "forgot" in exactly the same way, and that their "lies" all match up. Is this another one of those conspiracies Hillary sees around every corner when her political ambitions are threatened? Stephanopoulos didn't follow-up on this point during the interview. Other journalists should, relentlessly. She's sure she didn't blame the video in those discussions? If so, why are the families saying she did? And if they're inventing a collective memory out of whole cloth, is it just a coincidence that Hillary happened to invoke that video during her public remarks that day? And that another administration spokesperson made the same untrue connection on national television the next day? C'mon.
Nothing like implying that the families of dead Americans are lying. Though Ed Driscoll points out, we shouldn't hold our breath for the networks to cover the implications of Hillary's words because they're too busy cheering on Donald Trump's idiocies and how Trump is affecting the GOP race. CBS's chief executive Les Moonves said earlier this week how much he was enjoying seeing the GOP candidates insult each other.
Speaking to a Wall Street crowd at the UBS Global Communications Conference on Monday, CBS chief executive Les Moonves gleefully cheered Republican 2016 contenders going after one another in the primary contest: “We love having all 16 Republican candidates throwing crap at each other. The more they spend, the better it is for us.” He mockingly declared: “Go Donald [Trump]! This is fun, watching this. Let them spend money on us...we're looking forward to a very exciting political year in 2016.”
I'm sure his attitude would be very different if there were attacks on Hillary.

Nat Hentoff has always been a very honest liberal who is willing to criticize those on his own side if he didn't feel that they were truly supporting civil liberties. Now he's calling out the ACLU for not doing enough to protest the threats to First Amendment rights on college campuses.
The National and local ACLU chapters haven't done the student protesters any favors by withholding criticism of their anti-free speech behavior. In the vacuum created by such deafening silence, the rudderless ACLU chapter at Wesleyan University signed on to a list of student demands that included "an anonymous student reporting system for cases of bias, including microaggressions, perpetrated by faculty and staff." The demands supported by the Wesleyan ACLU chapter also called for the "revision of ... professor evaluations to include a section dedicated for reporting ... microaggressions ... perpetrated by instructors."

Substitute the words "un-American activities" for "microaggressions," and you have a demand reminiscent of the anti-communist witch hunts that ravaged American universities during the 1940s and '50s. The ACLU was the leading advocacy organization for academic freedom during the McCarthy era. It shouldn't let its guard down now.

The national ACLU has issued only two public statements that relate to the recent nationwide student anti-racism protests: a blog entry by Dennis Parker, director of the ACLU's Racial Justice Project, and an op-ed in Time magazine by ACLU President Susan Herman.

Herman noted in her op-ed that ACLU founder Roger Baldwin was once arrested for reading the First Amendment aloud at an anti-war protest. The anecdote would have been more powerful had she acknowledged the irony that a staple demand of student protesters has been the punishment of other students who advocate for free speech in response to the protesters' censorious demands. For example, if students at Amherst College get their way, anyone who chose to emulate Baldwin's example would be subject not only to academic discipline, but to mandatory cultural sensitivity training as well.

Both Herman's op-ed and Parker's blog entry cloak their affirmation of the First Amendment in an unequivocal defense of the student protesters , without offering a single criticism of their anti-free speech actions or demands for censorship. Herman and Parker each offer a rhetorical shrug to "private parties" whose conduct and demands have violated freedom of expression both in principle and in practice. Their pointed references to private actors not being subject to the First Amendment is, at its heart, an abandonment of the ACLU's traditional core value that freedom of expression be encouraged and protected wherever it is threatened.

So, when Susan Herman claims in her op-ed that the ACLU "is a multi-issue organization" -- in an oblique defense of charges that free speech is a lesser priority in the ACLU's pantheon of advocacy issues -- what she is really saying, with a wink and a nod, is that for the ACLU all issues are equal, but some issues are more equal than others.
And, as Glenn Reynolds noted, the ACLU is also uninterested in defending Second Amendment rights.
ACLU ON OBAMA’S GUN PLAN: We only protect constitutional rights we like from people we don’t like. And we don’t like guns, and we do like Obama, so suck it, gun nuts. “The American Civil Liberties Union is taking no position on legislation that would bar people from buying guns if they are on the federal government’s no-fly list — a list that the ACLU has spent the past five years arguing is unconstitutional.”
Ed Morrissey proposes another example to demonstrate how the ACLU is violating the principles it's supposed to stand for.
The ACLU likes to point out that it defends unpopular positions by reminding people of their defense of the National Socialist Party of America’s (NSPA, a neo-Nazi group) right to peaceably assemble in Skokie, Illinois and march with swastikas in an attempt to humiliate the significant Jewish community there. Would the ACLU have switched sides if the government had argued that their secret list of potential domestic-terrorism threats included the NSPA’s leadership and/or several members who would be expected to participate (certainly a possibility), and therefore they had to be restrained from peaceable assemblies as guaranteed by the First Amendment? If not, how is this position any different? Part of the city’s argument in that case was that violence would be likely to occur, so it was also a question of public safety — and yet the ACLU correctly stood on the side of the Constitution.

Or, let’s use an example closer to today. France shut down three mosques last week (Jazz will have more on this later today), based on “a pattern of radicalization.” Will the ACLU cheer that action in the US if the government claims that the leaders and/or the followers in a mosque are on the no-fly list but never charge anyone in relation to that? What kind of “major reform” of the no-fly list would make them support its use in closing down mosques … or synagogues … or churches? For “public safety” and/or “national security”? If none short of a public trial that again would make a “list” irrelevant anyway, then why would they support its use for denying other constitutional rights?

When it comes to the Second Amendment, not only can’t the ACLU be bothered to defend it (and due process guarantees of the 6th and 7th Amendments), they’re willing to torpedo the right to bear arms. It’s that kind of hypocrisy that generates animosity toward the ACLU, and reveals them to be not civil-liberties champions but an activist group for progressive causes.

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Richard Sander, who has done much research and written on the effects of what he calls, Mismatch, on the experiences of minorities who get into college based on affirmative action, explains how mismatch is relevant to the case the Supreme Court heard yesterday, Fischer v. University of Texas.
The third type of mismatch—“social mismatch”—is in some ways the most intriguing.

Several studies have now found that college students are much more likely to form friendships with students who have similar levels of academic preparation or performance at college. The phenomenon operates even within racial groups, but when a college’s preferences are highly correlated with race (as they are at many elite schools), social mismatch can lead to self-segregation by blacks and/or Hispanics.

The result is decreasing social interaction across racial lines. That’s particularly relevant to the Supreme Court’s deliberations because its tolerance of racial preferences has been based on the idea that a diverse racial campus promotes interracial contact and learning. But if preferences promote substantial social mismatch, then race-conscious admissions actually decrease interracial contact and learning—not only at the school where the preferences are used, but also at the college that the preferenced minority student would have attended in the absence of preferences.
The whole value of affirmative action in college admissions was based on the theory that a "critical mass" of minority students were necessary in the university for minority students to feel comfortable. How many students qualify for a "critical mass" was never defined and, in the original Michigan Law School case, there were actually different numbers put forth for African American students or those who were Hispanic. But, as Sander points out, a mismatch of student to university may lead to more social isolation along racial lines, the exact opposite result of what advocates of affirmative action claim to want.

The NYT covers the movement, supported by Democrats of course, to allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections. I sponsor an extracurricular activity called Student Legislative Assembly for which the students write bills for a mock North Carolina legislature and then we debate them. We had a proposed bill just like this one year. The students voted it down. The argument that seemed most persuasive to them was that they knew so many other kids who were clueless and immature and they couldn't see giving them the vote a couple of years early. I appreciated how self-aware the students were. I wish those pushing this idea would listen to my students.

Rich Lowry reminds us that we used to have a ban on assault weapons. And it didn't seem to make much of a difference.
And they don’t seem to care that a prior version of the assault-weapons ban, in effect in the 10 years after 1994, was wholly ineffectual.

A Department of Justice-backed study concluded, “Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”
But, even though Mr. Obama came into office claiming that he was going to base his decisions on science unlike, presumably, the Republicans, doesn't seem to care about actual evidence.

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Gosh, those protesters on college campuses are really demonstrating that it's all about the self-glorification and excitement about being part of a protest rather than because they have actual complaints. Now we have students at Lebanon Valley College demanding that a building be renamed because it is Lynch Memorial Hall and they are traumatized by the association with terrible lynching crimes against African Americans. Of course, as anyone with just a modicum of thought would realize, the building was not named for the act of lynching but for an individual whose last name was Lynch.
According to its website, Lynch led the college through the Great Depression and World War II, helping to raise $550,000 for a new physical education building which was named for him following his death.

The building, which housed the college's basketball court for more than 50 years, was "revitalized" into an all-academic center in 2003, now known as Lynch Memorial Hall.
I think what we have here, is victimization envy. These students are so eager to have something to protest about that they have to make stuff up to demonstrate what a racialized environment their school is. Instead, they should be thinking about how good they have it that this is all they can come up with to be upset about. And I hope they never find out who is the Attorney General of the United States.

Virginia Postrel reminds us that Woodrow Wilson might have held despicable ideas, but he was actually typical of progressives of that era. She cites a soon-to-be-published book about progressivism's dark history, Illiberal Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era by Thomas C. Leonard that explains the underlying racism of the progressive movement.
In the early 20th century, the progressive definition of the common good was thoroughly infused with scientific racism. Harvard economist William Z. Ripley, for example, was a recognized expert on both railroad regulation and the classification of European races by coloring, stature and "cephalic index," or head shape. At the University of Wisconsin, the red-hot center of progressive thought, leading social scientists turned out economic-reform proposals along with works parsing the racial characteristics -- and supposed natural inferiority -- of blacks, Chinese, and non-Teutonic European immigrants. (Present-day progressives somehow didn’t highlight this heritage when they were defending “the Wisconsin Idea” against the depredations of Republican Governor Scott Walker.)

“The ‘race suicide’ of the American or colonial stock should be regarded as the most fundamental of our social problems,” the Wisconsin economist John R. Commons wrote in 1920. His colleague Edward A. Ross, who popularized the terms “social control” and “race suicide,” called interest in eugenics “a perfect index of one’s breadth of outlook and unselfish concern for the future of our race.”

In the early 20th century, most progressives viewed as cutting-edge science what today looks like simple bigotry. “Eugenics and race science were not pseudosciences in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era,” Leonard emphasizes. “They were sciences,” supported by research laboratories and scholarly journals and promoted by professors at the country’s most prestigious universities.

While some socialists and conservatives also embraced them, Leonard argues, eugenics and scientific racism fit particularly well with progressive thought: “Eugenics was anti-individualistic; it promised efficiency; it required expertise, and it was founded on the authority of science.” Equally important, “biological ideas,” Leonard writes, gave progressive reformers “a conceptual scheme capable of accommodating the great contradiction at the heart of Progressive Era reform -- its view of the poor as victims deserving state uplift and as threats requiring state restraint.” They could feel sorry for impoverished Americans while trying to restrict their influence and limit their numbers.

Take political participation. Nowadays, people argue about whether stricter voter identification laws are good-government protections against fraud or discriminatory attempts to deter minority and low-income voters. A century ago, leading progressives happily embraced both goals. “Fewer voters among the lower classes was not a cost, it was a benefit of reform,” Leonard writes. After progressive reforms, including Jim Crow restrictions sold in part as anti-corruption measures, voter participation plummeted. In New York State, turnout dropped from 88 percent in 1900 to 55 percent in 1920, while national turnout fell from 80 percent in 1896 to 50 percent in 1924.

Dan Walters of the San Jose Mercury News explains how the reform in California to have primaries come down to the top-two candidates is making the legislature a bit more moderate and may even bring down the Democratic Party's rising star in the senatorial election.

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Oh, isn't this special. The hosts of the Paris climate conference are noticing how much carbon they wasted holding their conference.
Talking about cutting carbon emissions sure puts out a lot of carbon.

That's the irony of drawing in 40,000 people, including heads of state, negotiators, activists and journalists, to Paris to hash out what's hoped will be a ground-breaking international agreement to put a brake on global warming.

The last such conference, the so-called COP20 in Lima, Peru, in2014, had a "carbon footprint" of an estimated 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the biggest carbon footprint of any U.N. climate meeting measured to date. That's more than eight times as much carbon as the 2009 Copenhagen talks and twice that of the 2010 conference in Cancun, Mexico, according to the U.N.

Organizers of the Paris conference, which runs until Dec. 11, say they'll limit COP21's carbon footprint to 21,000 tons of CO2 - but their calculation doesn't take into account transport - and with participants coming from around the world, this is the single biggest contributor to the conference's carbon emissions.

The Paris conference will also be many times larger than Lima was, with 40,000 attendees forecast vs 11,000 in Lima.

I was pretty bad at this quiz to distinguish whether the quote came from Donald Trump, Kanye West, or Lord Voldemort. I could pick out the Voldemort quotes, but had a hard time figuring out if Kanye or The Donald said the other quotes. See how well you do.

And despite what J.K. Rowling might tweet, Trump is nowhere as evil as Voldemort.

And, of course, Donald Trump has to complain that he wasn't Time's Person of the Year. I guess he wants to be like Barack Obama and pick up acclamation before he actually does anything.

3 comments:

mobties said...

Re: Donald Trump

Dear Betsy,

You had me ..... but you've lost me.

Ebeneezer Flamsteed said...

All the gun control laws in the world have not prevented terrorist attacks in the US and Europe. One thing that would have prevented them, however, is not letting the people who did it in in the first place.

So far Trump has been the only one to actually say anything close to that.

tfhr said...

Betsy has a bootleg copy of the new Star Wars movie:

https://youtu.be/KU_Jdts5rL0