Friday, October 14, 2016

Cruising the Web

So Trump's lawyer is threatening a libel suit against the New York Times for publishing a story about women who say that Trump groped them. The lawyer for the New York Times has a rather mischievous reply.
Mr. McCraw also made the case that the crux of a libel claim is that a person’s reputation has been damaged. However, Mr. Trump has repeatedly boasted in public about his “non-consensual sexual touching of women,” Mr. McCraw said.
As the plaintiff in the landmark case that defined what can constitute libel against a public figure, the New York Times' lawyer fully knows that Trump has a near impossible task to prove libel. Not only would he have to prove that the story defamed his reputation, but he'd have to prove actual malice - that the New York Times knew ahead of time that the story was false and decided to go ahead and publish it anyway. That's a near impossible task for public figures and celebrities. And Trump should know that. But he loves to threaten lawsuits.

I bet the NYT would love to be sued by Trump. Just think of what they could go after in discovery. They must be licking their chops imagining what they could ask in such a court case.

Who knows if these women are telling truth, but in my mind, their allegations have the ring of truth especially in light of his own bragging about how he could do whatever he wanted to women just because he was rich. The timing might be suspect, but that doesn't mean that the charges aren't true.

I'm just so weary of all this. The guy has been a blot on our nation's political scene since he first appeared. Those of us who never supported him spent the primary season warning about how the Clinton campaign and Democrats would combine with the media to destroy him in the general election. We didn't know what would be uncovered, but we all knew how vulnerable he would be and how such stories, while not harming him in the primaries, would play much differently in the general election.

At least now, when he loses big time to Hillary in what should have been a very winnable election for a reasonable GOP candidate, the Trumpkins are going to have a hard time blaming #NeverTrumpers for his loss. If they're honest, they'll have to acknowledge that their guy was too deeply flawed to convince the necessary number of voters that he should be president. He was brought down by his own behavior - not only from years ago but by his incontinent response to attacks that sets him distracting everyone from talking about his opponent or issues that favor him.

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The same guy who didn't want to invest in ads, a data-driven get-out-the-vote program, a large campaign presence in key states, also didn't give his campaign the go ahead to do self-oppo research on himself.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump rebuffed political aides’ requests to research his past, people familiar with the matter said, a decision that contributed to his campaign being caught unprepared for the past week’s barrage of claims he mistreated women.

Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager, requested that Trump submit himself to a forensic evaluation that is traditional for any public figure seeking office, according to people granted anonymity to speak freely about the campaign’s start-up days last year. Opposition research would allow Trump’s new political team to prepare for potential attacks on his candidacy.
Paul Manafort and his team made a similar request when they took over the reins after Lewandowski, who was ousted this June.
I don't know that he refused such requests because he knew what was problematic in his past, but it does seem in accord with his refusal to make public his tax returns. It's all part of his idiosyncratic approach to politics. He assumed that, because he could dominate the GOP primaries, that he could apply his same free-media, Twitter-dominant tactics in the general election. Perhaps it would have worked if he hadn't been so self-destructive and if there hadn't been all these damaging stories. Then we might have spent more time talking about Hillary's deficiencies and some of the more eye-opening elements of the WikiLeaks hacking of her campaign. Instead, the media have a perfect excuse to do just what they want to do anyway - focus on Trump and his scandals and burying the Clinton stories.

It's interesting timing for my students. We just finished the unit on the Media and the test question, taken from a past AP test asked them to discuss techniques that the media use to focus on the candidate instead of on issues or the party and the techniques that candidates also use to keep the media focused on character. The kids all had examples about Trump to use in their answers. So I had to read 65 essays talking about the media and Trump. That was after an assignment that I'd given them to find examples from the media that exemplified the sorts of things we'd been discussing in class. Almost every student used examples about Trump. So there were another 65 essays on Trump and the media. I'm so sick of the subject!

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Timothy Carney chides those Republicans who are rushing to defend Donald Trump. Trump is trying to use Bill Clinton's behavior as a defensive attack against his own accusers while doing the same thing that he criticizes Hillary for - attacking the victims. But conservatives criticized Clinton in the 1990s by saying that such immoral behavior was not compartmentalized from his performance as president, but a sign of a moral deficiency in the man. And so the same argument should apply to Trump. It's not enough to criticize liberals for suddenly deciding that a man's behavior in private toward women now matters and makes him unfit for the presidency. We should acknowledge that what was true about Bill Clinton in the 1990s is true now about Donald Trump. We were asking where the outrage was then? We should be similarly outraged now.
Liberals' error back then and their inconsistency now do not in any way mitigate Trump's sins. The recently reported sins are directly tied to his fitness for the presidency, because sexual morality is directly tied to character, and character counts for statesmen.

Trump's own words indict him. Impulse control is an important trait in a president. Trump admits to lacking it. "l'm automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them," he told television personality Billy Bush in a video from 2005. "It's like a magnet. Just kiss." And he went on to describe his alleged success in groping as well.

Fidelity to one's wife reflects honesty and loyalty, things we value in a president. And conservatives who believe the family and marriage have been damaged by the sexual revolution ought to hesitate before attaching themselves to Trump, a professed adulterer.

There's another dangerous thread running through the sexual transgressions alleged (and in some cases admitted to) against Bill Clinton and Donald Trump: abuse of power. Trump explicitly celebrates his loutishness and harassment as a fruit of his power and fame.

"The funniest is that I'll go backstage before a show and everyone's getting dressed," Trump told Howard Stern about the beauty pageants he ran. "I'm allowed to go in, because I'm the owner of the pageant and therefore I'm inspecting it. ... 'Is everyone OK'? You know, they're standing there with no clothes. 'Is everybody OK?' And you see these incredible looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that."

He repeatedly bragged on tape about how his fame allowed him to get away with grabbing women and kissing them. A powerful man taking advantage of the women he has power over — especially in a sexual manner, where that exploitation is most personally damaging — is barbaric at best. Depraved is an appropriate word.

Trump treated women as objects. And he bragged about it. A leader of people needs to treat people as people. That means he needs to see and respect their dignity. Trump's abusive libertinism showed disdain toward human dignity.

Bill Clinton wasn't impeached for having an affair — he was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice. But conservatives knew that his personal morality mattered. Sure, the Democrats and the mainstream media have shown double standards, but that's their problem. We conservatives have no control over them. We do have control over how we behave and what we're willing to defend.

In the vast expanses of the Internet, there's surely room for pieces exposing liberal hypocrites or a media double standard. But the most important lesson today on sex and presidential politics is this: We were right that Clinton's unbridled sexual license was relevant. If we want to be right again today, we need to hold Trump to the standards of morality to which we should hold all men and women who ask to be given power over us.

A hidden video might come back to bite Russ Feingold. James O'Keefe brought a hidden camera to a Feingold fundraiser and recorded Feingold speaking on gun control as he runs to return to the Senate from Wisconsin, a state that usually supports gun rights.
O’Keefe recorded Feingold, the former senator who is running against Republican incumbent Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, suggesting that as president Hillary Clinton would use executive orders to limit gun rights. The hostess of the event added that Hillary “wants to shut it down,” “it” being private ownership of handguns, and “get guns away from everyone in this country.” She also mentioned imposing a limit on the number of bullets a citizen can purchase as a possible avenue of circumventing the Second Amendment.

I'm very happy that Bob Dylan got the Nobel Prize for Literature. I usually don't care and, in recent years, haven't read or often even heard of the winners. Who a bunch of Swedish guys think is the best writer is not necessarily who everyone else would agree on. I'm not the biggest Dylan fan and haven't listened to anything he did in the past 20 years, but his early stuff was indeed both enjoyable to listen to and meaningful, even inspirational for some.

However, I am a bit iconoclastic because I can remember disliking the lyrics to "The Times They Are A-Changin'" for its rejection of the old world. Maybe even as a kid, I was a bit of a Burkean, but the idea that the old order needs to get out of the way because the times are changing seemed to me to be a very dangerous concept. That isn't how change should happen with the "sons and daughters" telling "Mothers and fathers throughout the land" not to criticize what they can't understand and to get out of the new road because their "old road is rapidly agin.'" Maybe that seemed very appealing to the hippies of the sixties, but their new road wasn't the road to wisdom and a better world. There were aspects of their road that were good and beneficial such as equal rights for everyone, but did we really benefit from the sixties' attitude toward sex and drugs? I can remember analyzing the lyrics for a 9th grade poetry assignment and disagreeing with them back then. Now, removed from the 1960s, I still support my original opinion that this was a dangerous approach to change. The optimal chance should take the best of both the old and new worlds and not tell the old to get out of the way. Even so, I am happy for this choice and for the spirited discussion I had with a colleague about whether Paul Simon was actually a better lyricist and with my husband if Van Morrison should be in the mix. I heartily welcome such discussions instead of ones on politics!

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The Chicago Teachers Union is very contemptible. First they were threatening a strike against a school system that is losing money because of the pensions that teachers have been promised. But the issue that they settled with the city to avert their strike was to restrict the growth of charter schools.
What makes this deal unique is that it includes an item restricting any growth of charter schools in the whole district — both new schools from opening and existing schools from increasing current enrollment. CTU sees the restriction of charters as part and parcel of their unionized teachers’ salary and job security.

Chicago Teachers Union vice president Jesse Sharkey said Tuesday that the problem with charter expansion is that it has not been done democratically. That’s an odd line of attack given that charter schools depend on voluntary enrollment and their growth is in response to unmet demand for adequate public schools.

No students are being forced to use charter schools rather than their district schools. The only way that charters “hurt” traditional public schools is when families decide, en masse, that they need to escape their district school and send their children to a charter. Teachers unions and their allies like to describe this as “draining resources and students,” which is true in the sense that automobile production “drained resources” from horse-drawn carriage production. The CTU calculation is that it is in their interest to restrict families’ choices and punish them if they are seeking charter-school education.

This is about more than compensation: CTU is playing the long game. It can continue to exploit children through a closed market only if families have no other options. Yes, they could continue to negotiate for deals that give them further generous pay raises and job protections, but just as important is to halt competition that would slow the gravy train.

There would be no “draining of resources and students” if families weren’t fleeing these schools. That is the actual story here.

This may be the first instance of a collective-bargaining agreement including a provision capping all charter-school expansion, but expect other unions to push for similar deals. More pay for worse performance is unsustainable when consumers can freely choose to go elsewhere. It only makes sense that teachers’ unions want to maintain their monopoly.
And of course, Rahm Emanuel threw charters and the students they help under the bus to avert the strike. And the ones who lose out are future students who won't have a choice of a better school as students in other places such as Washington, D.C. have. If parents don't want their children stuck in the terrible public schools, the teachers are now going to force those children to stay there by holding the entire school district hostage until they get their way. Chicago as a city is a mess when it comes to providing safety for its less privileged inhabitants. And now this underhanded deal between the teachers union and government is further immiserating those families by shutting off the promise of a better education through their freely-made choices of a charter school.

And now the NAACP is going to be voting on a measure to call for a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools. As the WSJ writes, the NAACP in so voting would sell out those whom they purport to be fighting for in order to gain favor and contributions from teachers' unions.
If they vote yes, they should also change their storied name because they will be voting to leave black children behind.

Delegates to the NAACP national convention this summer passed a resolution to halt charter-school expansion. Most of the resolution’s complaints against charters, such as that they perpetuate segregation, are spurious. The NAACP’s main gripe seems to be that charters are threatening the union-run public-school monopoly.

The resolution claims that privately operated charters are “targeting low-income areas and communities of color,” thereby putting traditional public schools “at great risk of loss and harm.” Further, the NAACP complains that public funding of charters is creating “shortages of resources and space” at traditional schools.

It’s true that charters are attracting students from traditional schools, especially in big cities. Nearly one in four public school students in Los Angeles now attends a charter, up from about 9% in 2008. In the last seven years New York’s charter-school population has quintupled to more than 100,000 students.

Charters are proliferating because minority parents are voting with their feet. About two-thirds of black voters in Louisiana, New Jersey and Tennessee support charters and vouchers, according to a 2015 survey by the Black Alliance for Educational Options. An Education Next poll last month found that blacks backed charters by nearly two-to-one. Two thirds of blacks also favored tax-credit scholarship programs such as Florida’s, which the NAACP has sued to block. Meantime, only 8% of blacks gave their local schools an A grade. Twice as many Republicans did.

These views aren’t surprising since student learning at charters far exceeds that at traditional public schools. Black and Hispanic students who attend charters in New York City scored nearly three quarters higher than their counterparts at district-run schools, according to a recent analysis by Families for Excellent Schools.

A study last year by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes found that low-income black students attending urban charters gained 59 days in math and 44 days in reading over counterparts in traditional school. Advancement among black students at charters in Boston was off the charts: 200 days in math and 100 days in reading.

So what explains the NAACP’s hostility to charters? Money and ideology. The nation’s two largest teachers unions contributed nearly $400,000 to the outfit between 2011 and 2015, and other labor unions are also financiers. But don’t underestimate the degree to which the venerable outfit is now dominated by gentry progressives who are well-to-do themselves and are more attached to the Democratic Party than they are to poor black families.

The tragedy is that this is a sellout of the NAACP’s founding principles to provide opportunity for nonwhite Americans. The single biggest obstacle to an equal chance in America is the terrible quality of too many public schools. Charters are a proven path out of this dead end. If its board abandons charter schools, the NAACP might as well close up shop.