Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cruising the Web

Kyle Smith reports on an essay by Thomas Frank that will appear in Harper's about "how the Washington Post killed Bernie Sanders' candidacy."
Frank went through every one of hundreds of opinion pieces published in the Washington Post on Sanders and Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic nomination for president, during primary season, from January to May 2016, and found a stark disparity in coverage. Sanders pieces took a negative tone by a ratio of 5 to 1, whereas opinion pieces on Clinton were about evenly split between favorable and unfavorable.

Newspapers can take whatever editorial stance they wish, but Frank sees in the Washington Post the epitome of Beltway bluestocking insider liberalism — pro-Wall Street, globalist, technocratic and white-collar. The vehemence with which these writers denounced Sanders suggested to Frank a primal loathing: “In Bernie Sanders and his ‘political revolution,’ on the other hand, I believe these same people saw something kind of horrifying: a throwback to the low-rent Democratic politics of many decades ago … to the affluent white-collar class, what he represented was atavism, a regression to a time when demagogues in rumpled jackets pandered to vulgar public prejudices against banks and capitalists and foreign factory owners. Ugh.”
A lot of this came from the editorial page and opinion writers. They're allowed to have their opinions and write about them. But it is interesting to see how one liberal analyst is blaming other liberal writers for bringing down Sanders.

But now we're seeing what went on behind the scenes of the Clinton campaign as these WikiLeaks emails are being released. The New York Post summarizes some of what has been revealed.
Clinton’s campaign coordinated with the New York Times, which gave it approval on quotes for a long profile on the candidate. Times reporter Mark Leibovich ­emailed campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri on July 7, 2015, seeking approval on the Clinton quotes.

A Boston Globe editorial writer worked with the Clinton campaign to give her a “big presence” in coverage during the candidate’s swing through the area amid the Democratic primary. Marjorie Pritchard, the Globe’s op-ed editor, emailed campaign chair John Podesta to tell him, “It would be good to get it in on Tuesday, when she is in New Hampshire. That would give her a big presence on Tuesday.”

New York Times reporter and CNBC anchor John Harwood bashed the GOP primary candidates in a December 2015 email to Podesta. After saying to Donald Trump at December 2015 debate, “Let’s be honest, is this a comic-book version of a presidential campaign?,” Harwood sent an email gloating about his query to Podesta, saying, “I imagine . . . that Obama feels some (sad) vindication at this demonstration of his years-long point about the opposition party veering off the rails.”
This is not what we think about as normal behavior by so-called neutral journalists. And remember that they were doing this to help her against Bernie, not Trump. Just imagine what they're doing now!

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So NBC has fired Billy Bush. Such is the punishment for getting caught discussing women in a crude fashion with Donald Trump. That's fine. But Larry Connor notes the bald hypocrisy of what is acceptable to NBC as they fire Bush, but maintain Alec Baldwin and Howard Stern. Remember Baldwin's tirade screaming at a photographer and calling him a crude epithet for being gay. That led to his losing a show that he was going to have on MSNBC. Then he was caught on a phone call with his 12-year old daughter telling her that she was a "rude little pig."
I’m tired of playing this game with you. I’m leaving this message for you to tell you that you have insulted me for the last time. You have insulted me. You don’t have the brains or the decency as a human being… I don’t give a damn that you’re 12 years old or 11 years old, or a child, or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the ass who doesn’t care about what you do as far as I’m concerned.

You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone and when I come out there next week. I’m going to fly out there for the day just to straighten you out on this issue. I’m going to let you know just how disappointed in you that I am and how angry I am with you that you’ve done this to me again.

You made me feel like s*** and you’ve made me feel like a fool over and over and over again. And this crap you pull on me with this goddamn phone situation that you would never dream of doing to your mother and you do it to me constantly and over and over again. I am going to get on a plane and I am going to straighten your ass out when I see you.

Do you understand me? I am going to really make sure you get it. That I’m going to get on a plane and I’m gonna turn around and come home. So you better be ready Friday the 20th to meet with me. So I’m going to let you know how I feel, about what a rude little pig you really are. You are a rude thoughtless little pig. Okay?
That's how he talked to his daughter yet he continued to star on TV and now is on NBC playing Donald Trump. And then O'Connor points out that Howard Stern is now a judge on NBC's America's Got Talent. Howard Stern has made his career talking extremely crudely andoffensively and is now a celebrated judge on a family show.

I realize that NBC has to worry about the women's audience for the Today Show and they can't afford to lose those women by continuing to promote Billy Bush. But it is notable how flexible that outrage is.

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David Harsanyi just can't understand the attitude of Trump and his supporters who are so angry that Paul Ryan criticized Trump over his language in the Access Hollywood leaks and cancelled a campaign event with him.
So, naturally, Donald Trump has targeted down-ballot races in his own party — people like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain. As it turns out, cult leaders are less concerned about the long-term philosophical aims of your political party than they are about your personal loyalty and subservience.

But if the prospects of a Hillary presidency are truly as apocalyptic as I‘m told, shouldn’t Republicans be appalled that their nominee is undermining the only institution in Washington that has the power to stop her agenda should he lose the race? After all, it wasn’t Ryan who coaxed Trump into vulgarity on a hot mic.
Harsanyi then goes on to refute the myth peddled by some Republicans that GOP leaders in Congress just let Obama get away with anything he wanted to do.
I hear this absurd myth every day. Elsewhere, I’ve gone into great detail, debunking the idea that Congress has enabled Obama’s agenda in toto — a belief that is pervasive among Trump supporters. In reality, a GOP Congress spent eight years doing the opposite. Not only did it block dozens of progressive initiatives and reforms, it often sued the president for abusing his executive power (winning a host of cases).

These presidential overreaches, incidentally, were necessitated by the GOP’s effective “obstructionism” — which is just another way of describing the manifestation of a divided nation’s will.

Of course this Republican Congress is infuriating. It often fails. It often folds. It creates unrealistic expectations. It struggles to find compelling arguments that appeal to its base. It picks mediocre candidates and is often paralyzed by risk-aversion.

Yet it’s also true that an uncompromising legislative branch stymied an uncompromising ideologue in the White House. I note the former with admiration, because, despite the assertions of our political class, the most crucial task of those elected to Congress isn’t to pass minimum-wage laws but to check the power of the executive branch. They did it better than most.
Do these people think that a President Trump wouldn't face a gridlocked Congress. The Democrats, whether or not they take control, would do everything possible to block everything he tried to do.

Harsanyi then points out that the economy has been improving despite the Republicans having blocked the sorts of economic measures that the Democrats wanted to make. Obama wants to brag about how the economy has been improving as if he personally brought it about. But there is nothing that he can point to that he did unless he wants to make the ludicrous claim that the 2009 stimulus fixed problems.
or the past eight years, Congress has passed absolutely no new economic reforms. I know this because every liberal pundit, every liberal functionary, every elected official in the Democratic Party, and virtually every editorial board in the country has argued that Republicans were engaged in an unprecedented obstruction of Obama’s agenda.

Not long ago, Rattner claimed on MSNBC that Republicans had “blocked every single piece, virtually, of legislation that Obama put forward.” So then what exactly have Democrats done to make wages grow faster? What have they done to make stocks returns grow at such an impressive pace? They’ve done the best thing possible. Nothing.

Yet, for some unfathomable reason, not only did Republicans decide to hand the presidency to Hillary Clinton, they’re now cheering a nominee who is urging his fans to destroy that last safeguard.

From a conservative perspective, surely even a timid Congress is more useful than one which “fixes” Obamacare and overturns the Hyde Amendment and passes anti-gun legislation and revisits cap and trade — and proposes dozens of other bills Republicans allegedly haven’t prevented. This is all going to happen if they lose. In the end, Trump won’t only lose the presidency; he’s going to help Democrats create one-party rule.

For those people hyperventilating by Trump's crack that Hillary Clinton would be in jail if he were elected president, Bre Payton at the Federalist reminds us of 16 times that Democrats tried to jail those with whom they disagreed politically.

Nate Cohn has a fascinating look at how one 19-year old black man in Illinois supporting Trump is skewing the polls to make it look like Trump is doing better than he actually is. It is all because the LA Times poll weights their polls demographically and so a young black man's response is weighted more because they had such few responses for young, black men.
Our Trump-supporting friend in Illinois is a surprisingly big part of the reason. In some polls, he’s weighted as much as 30 times more than the average respondent, and as much as 300 times more than the least-weighted respondent.

Continue reading the main story
Alone, he has been enough to put Mr. Trump in double digits of support among black voters. He can improve Mr. Trump’s margin by 1 point in the survey, even though he is one of around 3,000 panelists.

He is also the reason Mrs. Clinton took the lead in the U.S.C./LAT poll for the first time in a month on Wednesday. The poll includes only the last seven days of respondents, and he hasn’t taken the poll since Oct. 4. Mrs. Clinton surged once he was out of the sample for the first time in several weeks.

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Oh, dear. When are colleges going to treat their students as adults who should be able to exercise some judgment instead of being such fragile people that the merest hint that something might possibly be twisted into being somehow the teensiest bit offensive? Every day, it seems, I see another ridiculous story. Now Daily Beast brings us the story of the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse that is worried that students might wear Halloween costumes that might be interpreted as racist by someone too dumb to understand what real racism is.
On Wednesday night, at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, a crowd of about 30 people (mostly students) showed up for a program on avoiding insensitive costumes. Posters advertising the event provocatively asked “Is Your Halloween Costume Racist?” For those frightful of the looming boogeyman of “PC culture,” lectures on what is and is not offensive is a spooky, scary concept indeed....

Last year, the President of the University of Louisville apologized after photos surfaced of him hosting a Halloween party wherein attendees dressed in sombreros and bushy mustaches. Elsewhere, and years earlier, a “ghetto”-themed party that went viral at the University of Chicago left a ding on the school’s reputation and Google results. Connecticut’s Fairfield University suffered a similar embarrassment when its students hosted their own “ghetto party” in 2015.

For every school that doesn’t succeed at convincing its students to avoid offense, there’s a school that comes down too heavy-handed. Samantha Harris, director of policy research at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), tells The Daily Beast that colleges are “well within their rights” to encourage discussion and dialogue among their students, but they run afoul of student expression when they actually threaten to discipline students over clothing, as Rhodes College did last year against students who dressed up in costumes deemed “offensive.”

Harris adds that in recent years, the way colleges treat students has shifted. “As colleges become more corporatized, and the more students are seen as consumers rather than people there to get an education, universities respond to student demands like a company might respond to dissatisfied customers,” she said.

Halloween, with its massive potential to offend and subsequently embarrass, has become a veritable horror house for colleges, administrators, and students even attempting to hold a fruitful conversation around cultural sensitivity.
It's funny to read this today. My school is in the middle of Spirit Week during which the students dress up following various themes every day. Yesterday was Tacky Wednesday and the kids had a lot of fun dressing up in funky, mismatching outfits. One of my students was exuberant about all the ugly clothes that he had found to wear. He topped off his clashing clothes with a sombrero. I couldn't help but think that, if he were in college, someone would be sure to take offense that he would wear a sombrero as part of his costume of tackiness. But since we haven't descended yet to those depths of sensitivity, the kids just had fun laughing at the supremely ugly pants he was wearing and no one seemed to have a second thought about his sombrero. How pleasant that attitude is. And how silly it is that it is the older students who are more worried about possible offense.

If you have students going to college next year, here is some good advice for them.