Monday, November 21, 2016

Cruising the Web

Since I consistently opposed Donald Trump on this blog and in private conversations, I feel no responsibility to defend him or his nominees. It's nice to just call them like I see them. I can praise his choices when I agree and criticize when I think he deserves it. And I can enjoy the disarray among the media and the Democrats as his victory and that of Republicans across the country drive them crazy. I just had to laugh to see how quickly the media storyline switched from tut-tutting about how unorganized and in disarray the Trump transition was because they didn't have nominations set to go at a faster pace than other recent presidents to immediately complaining about the nominations he does make. But the media quickly took time from those complaints to breathlessly report that some rude people booed Mike Pence when he went to see Hamilton, and then the cast made a statement telling Pence how worried everyone is about the Trump presidency. I don't care about all that, but the media hadn't had so much fun since an Iraqi journalist threw a shoe at President Bush. Gosh, it's amazing how quickly we can turn from hearing that dissent from a president is racist (or potentially sexist) to now hearing that dissent is the height of patriotism.

While I don't care much what the cast of Hamilton, a play that recently sent out a casting call for "NON-WHITE men and women," which rather demonstrates the weakness of their calls for diversity, I do find it funny thinking that, for people in a show about a vice president who killed the titular character, it might not be auspicious to be dissing the future vice president.

And, of course, Donald Trump has to call more attention to the whole affair by spending the weekend tweeting about it. If he's going to be spending time tweeting about all the parts of pop culture that insult him and his administration, he's not going to have any time left over for, you know, being president. Hmmmm, maybe that's the left's plan. They know the guy can't resist unleashing his nuclear thumbs to tweet back about every real and perceived insult. Once he finished whining about how Mike Pence was treated at viewing Hamilton, he turned to watching SNL and tweeted this idiocy.
Now, admittedly, the episode on Saturday night spent a lot of time ranting/joking about Trump and criticizing those who voted for him. But conservatives have spent a lot of time arguing against equal-time provisions on ideology mandated by government. We don't need the president elect throwing out the idea that we need equal time on a comedy show, whether he's talking about a government mandate or just begging for more ridicule of the Democrats. We've just spent the past eight years with a president who inserted himself into almost every aspect of our culture. We don't need to spend the next four with a president whining about the way the culture views him. Get over yourself and focus on governing.

And learn something from Mike Pence whose response hit just the right note.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence said he was not offended by a decision of the cast of the musical Hamilton to deliver him a message asking him to uphold American values....

Pence told "Fox News Sunday" he told his family the boos were "what freedom sounds like."

"I did hear what was said from the stage and I could tell you, I wasn't offended by what was said," Pence said on Fox. "I'll leave to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it."

He continued, "I just want to reassure people that what President-elect Donald Trump said on Election Night, he absolutely meant from the bottom of his heart: He is preparing to be the president of all of the people of the United States of America."
It would be nice if Trump could learn from Pence, but I get the feeling that Trump just doesn't learn from others and does what he wants to and assumes that, because he's the one doing it, it's the right thing to do.

Rod Dreher adds these thoughts:
To many Americans, myself included, Hamilton audience and cast made themselves look like self-righteous jerks with their display last night. Trump should have let it pass, and allowed the jerks to do further damage to themselves. It would have been the presidential thing to have done. But now he’s ramping it up, and making himself look undignified and beneath the office to which he was elected. I have a sinking feeling this is going to be the pattern for the next four years.

I see lots of people on the left — commenters on this blog, people on Twitter, etc. — getting all indignant, saying that the descent of fascism onto America is such a crisis that we have no reason to respect the ordinary norms of civility. How can you complain about people booing Mike Pence at the theater when the administration in which he will serve is a nest of white nationalists who are going to take everything away from gays and minorities?! Well, assuming that that is true — which I absolutely do not — then you ought to fight even harder to maintain the structures and norms of civil society. One of the blessings of civil society, when it’s working as it should, is the ability of people of different, and sometimes antagonistic, views and backgrounds to gather in the public square as a community.

One reason why the no-platforming, safe-space p.c. craziness on campus is so destructive is that it makes it impossible for a university to do what it’s supposed to do. They treat a space for education as if it were a temple, and attempt to protect it from heretics and heathens. A theater has a different function than a college campus, but when it functions as it is supposed to do, it is a place where all people can come to be entertained, certainly, and, one hopes, raised out of themselves, enlightened, and enlightened together with everyone else in the audience. To make the theater a place where our political opponents cannot come to experience art in community is to place them outside the community. It is to regard the performance on stage as a sacred rite to which unbelievers may not be witness. It is to make a religion of art.

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Michael Barone analyzes some of the problems facing the Democrats because of the way that the Obama coalition was structured.
But the Obama coalition turned out to be too heavily clustered to be easily replicated in an election decided by electoral votes, and much too heavily clustered to make the party competitive in congressional and legislative elections conducted in equal-population districts.

Hillary Clinton's campaign blithely assumed that rallying "people of color" and Millennials would produce victory. They didn't figure that Midwest non-college whites, who had long voted Democratic, wouldn't be dazzled by Lady Gaga concerts.

The Democrats' initial reflex seems to be to lurch further left. Schumer joined Bernie Sanders in backing Rep. Keith Ellison as Democratic national chairman. Ellison may be smart and charming, but he's also a Muslim representing a 73 percent Obama 2012 Minneapolis district. Back in 2007, he said the 9/11 attacks were "almost like the Reichstag fire," enabling a leader to "have authority to do whatever he wanted." That sounds uncomfortably close to 9/11 trutherism and comparing George W. Bush to Hitler.

It's not likely to win votes for Democrats in Wright County, 40 miles outside Ellison's district, where Hubert Humphrey had a lakefront home and Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton 62 to 29 percent. A party with a leftist national chairman and congressional leaders from Brooklyn and San Francisco is not ideally positioned to appeal to voters in those places where Hillary Clinton fell short.

Exit polls showing Republican improvement among blacks, Hispanics and Asians suggest regression to the mean—people considered minorities behaving more like the national average than they had previously. The results also suggest that when you keep telling white Americans that they soon will become a minority—a message that sometimes sounds like "hurry up and die"—then many non-college-graduate "deplorables" may start acting like members of a self-conscious minority, and vote more cohesively against your own side.
Barone adds about the miserable job that Clinton did targeting voters.
The 70-year-old Bill Clinton apparently repeatedly advised Clinton campaign chairman Robby Mook and others to campaign in white working class areas. The 36-year-old Mook spurned — perhaps ridiculed — his advice. None of this going after men who wear trucker hats unironically; let's show Brooklyn-type Millennials that supporting Hillary is really cool.

So you have the Clinton campaign dispatching "West Wing actors" to Ohio and capping their Pennsylvania campaign with a Saturday night concert in Philadelphia featuring Lady Gaga and Beyonce. "This Philadelphia event is just so excellent," tweeted 33-year-old former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett, who co-wrote Obama's 2011 White House Correspondents' dinner speech tweaking Donald Trump. The campaign's target audience!

I don't know whether there's any political science study of whether endorsements by showbusiness figures help candidates. My guess is that these days, when practically all entertainers are liberal Democrats or farther left, it doesn't strike most voters as worthy of any attention when several of them appear for a Democratic candidate like Hillary Clinton.
I mean, was anyone surprised that Lady Gaga or Beyonce supported Clinton? Mostly, I suspect, their presence playing Clinton rallies just brought out people who were already voting for Clinton or who just wanted to see the celebrities.

Mark Lilla, a Columbia professor at Columbia, wrote this weekend in the NYT about how such identity politics among liberals must end.
One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop. This was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded. Which, as the data show, was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions. Fully two-thirds of white voters without college degrees voted for Donald Trump, as did over 80 percent of white evangelicals.

The moral energy surrounding identity has, of course, had many good effects. Affirmative action has reshaped and improved corporate life. Black Lives Matter has delivered a wake-up call to every American with a conscience. Hollywood’s efforts to normalize homosexuality in our popular culture helped to normalize it in American families and public life.

But the fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life. At a very young age our children are being encouraged to talk about their individual identities, even before they have them. By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good. In large part this is because of high school history curriculums, which anachronistically project the identity politics of today back onto the past, creating a distorted picture of the major forces and individuals that shaped our country. (The achievements of women’s rights movements, for instance, were real and important, but you cannot understand them if you do not first understand the founding fathers’ achievement in establishing a system of government based on the guarantee of rights.)

When young people arrive at college they are encouraged to keep this focus on themselves by student groups, faculty members and also administrators whose full-time job is to deal with — and heighten the significance of — “diversity issues.” Fox News and other conservative media outlets make great sport of mocking the “campus craziness” that surrounds such issues, and more often than not they are right to. Which only plays into the hands of populist demagogues who want to delegitimize learning in the eyes of those who have never set foot on a campus. How to explain to the average voter the supposed moral urgency of giving college students the right to choose the designated gender pronouns to be used when addressing them? How not to laugh along with those voters at the story of a University of Michigan prankster who wrote in “His Majesty”?
Too much of the media and culture are focused on diversity as if that were an end in itself.

Peter Augustine Lawler has some good observations
on this topic.
Elitist moral superiority based on self-proclaimed sensitivity to diversity produces a condescending indifference to the real concerns of struggling, admirable, real people not in the elitist identity-politics bubble.

That bubble generates the elitist fantasy that inexorable demographic change will overwhelm the average-white-guy faction soon enough. The inconvenient truth is that Americans don’t automatically vote their “identity,” after all. And, for anyone with eyes to see, that the Republican faction will not always be as white as is now, or the Democrats as dependent on the nonwhite vote. Identity politics is one lullaby that’s produces the dogmatic slumber of too many of our progressive Democrats. (Another is “history” having sides. A third is globalization.)

....Let’s get back back to the liberalism of shared citizenship. Trump was right to say “a country is a country,” but his nationalism, obviously, is too tribal and, so far, far too white.

....And when our elite thinks of white, straight males as having unearned privileges, it’s hard to see how that thought makes sense to the former steelworkers of Steubenville. Those guys know who the privileged really are.
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As Democrats ponder whether to filibuster whomever Trump nominates to the Supreme Court or how vociferously to fight everything Trump does, they have to remember the ugly electoral map their Senate candidates are facing in 2018 as a result of some unexpected successes they had in 2012.
Still nursing their wounds after last week’s thrashing, Democrats already are grappling with how to defend 10 senators up for reelection in 2018 in states that Donald Trump carried, some resoundingly. Republicans are targeting a quintet of senators from conservative states where Trump walloped Hillary Clinton: Montana, Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia. The GOP could amass a filibuster-proof majority by running the table in those states and other battlegrounds.

To prevent that, Schumer will need to mine his fellow leaders to accommodate vulnerable Democrats with profoundly different ideologies and political circumstances — from Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin, who also was tapped for a leadership spot, to West Virginia’s Manchin, who has gone out of his way to align himself with Trump voters this week. That means appealing to the white working class in some states — and stoking minority and liberal turnout in others.
That's a delicate balance. They have to keep appealing to those in the coalition who vote based on identity politics while still convincing unhappy white voters who took a chance on Trump. While the Democrats may be regretting that they followed Harry Reid in ending the filibuster for presidential nominations to the Executive branch, that may save some of those vulnerable Democrats from making difficult votes on some of the more controversial Trump nominees. While several Democrats have come out already with very skeptical comments about Sessions and Elizabeth Warren is already pledged to try to block it, it looks like he won't have trouble being confirmed. He already has Susan Collins' support and Jeff Flake, who is much more moderate than Sessions, said he will support him. That frees up some Democrats to vote their druthers along with Warren, but for other Democrats in red states facing tough reelection fights to support him. Already Joe Manchin of West Virginia who skated to victory in 2012 has come out in support of Sessions.

Meanwhile, Byron York explains why Trump and Sessions together are the worst nightmare that the Democrats could imagine. That is because there are already a lot of laws on the books passed by Congress and signed into law that require the enforcement of immigration laws. President Obama simply decided not to enforce those laws. An Attorney General Sessions could simply start enforcing laws already on the books and there would be nothing the Democrats could do. This is what happens when they embraced government by presidential fiat. And Democrats might have a hard time arguing that these are laws that should not be enforced once people learn more about them.
One of the immediate changes would be to get rid of Obama's Priority Enforcement Program, instituted in 2014. Known as PEP, the program made it almost impossible for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to even begin deportation proceedings until an illegal immigrant has been convicted of an aggravated felony or multiple misdemeanors. Obama's policy "forced local ICE offices to release of thousands of deportable criminals," Vaughan has noted, "including Eswin Mejia, an illegal alien with prior arrests who killed 21-year old Sarah Root in Omaha, Neb., while drag-racing drunk in January of this year. Like many of the 86,000 convicted criminals released by ICE since 2013, Mejia is now a fugitive but considered a 'non-criminal,' because he has yet to be tried and convicted for Root's death."

President Trump could throw PEP out the window. And that would be just a start. The Center for Immigration Studies has published a list of 79 Obama policies the new administration could change without any action by Congress. (The list was compiled in April 2016, before anyone could know who the next president would be.) Among them:

1) End the embargo on worksite enforcement. "Experience has shown that employers respond very quickly and voluntarily implement compliance measures when there is an uptick in enforcement," Vaughan notes, "because they see the potential damage to their operations and public image for being caught and prosecuted."

2) Restore ICE's authority to make expedited removals of illegal immigrants who are felons or who have recently crossed into the United States....

5) Force sanctuary cities to observe the law. Trump campaigned extensively on the subject of sanctuary cities, mentioning San Francisco murder victim Kate Steinle in many speeches. Attorney General Sessions could enforce an existing law, 8 USC 1373, which prohibits local communities from banning their officials from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The Justice Department, among other federal agencies, hands out billions of dollars in federal grants. In instructing grant recipients to comply with federal law, the Obama administration ignored 8 USC 1373; in September, the Justice Department inspector general told a House committee that, "we found that the Department had not provided grant recipients with clear guidance as to whether Section 1373 was an applicable federal law with which recipients were expected to comply."
As York points out, the Democrats don't want to talk about Sessions enforcing laws already on the books so they're reduced to complaining about comments he may or may not have made 30 years ago. I can agree with the position that we shouldn't be trying to round up those who came here illegally, but have been living and working within the law ever since. I support finding some way for them to achieve legal status because I abhor the thought that we have two levels of people living in this country under the law. But even people who support immigration should be appalled at the idea that we a simply releasing those who are here illegally and committed some crime back into the population. As the Washington Examiner reports,
According to a 2015 report by the Center for Immigration Studies, more than 2,000 immigrants released under sanctuary city policies have gone on to commit crimes. Another study found that between January 2014 and October 2015, more than 17,000 federal requests for detainment were rejected by sanctuary cities, more than two-thirds of which were for illegal immigrants with criminal records.
I just don't know how much support people have for such policies. In terms of an action that Trump and Sessions could take that would go toward fulfilling a campaign promise while still having broad support, denying funds to sanctuary cities has got to be one of the most feasible. Even Obama's Justice Department has started making noises about denying such federal funds to cities that defy federal law. Such cities shouldn't be allowed to get off freely from trying to nullify state laws.

I am just starting to teach the unit on federalism in my AP Government classes. On Friday, we were discussing South Dakota v. Dole which upheld the power of the federal government to deny 5% of the Highway Funds to South Dakota for refusing to raise the drinking age to 21. A few of my brighter students immediately made the connection to a Trump administration denying funds to sanctuary cities. If 10th graders can figure this out, I assume Jeff Sessions can also do so.

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While I don't have much of a brief for Sessions, I do find it telling that Eric Holder, with his involvement in the shameful pardon of Marc Rich, sailed through the Senate with bipartisan support. You wouldn't find Democrats voting for such a discredited nominee. Richard Cohen wrote of Holder's shame back at the time the nomination was made.
Holder was Clinton's deputy attorney general, and he played a significant role in the pardon. When asked by the White House what he thought about a pardon for Rich, Holder replied, "Neutral, leaning towards favorable." These four words have stalked him since.

Rich was a commodities trader who amassed both a fortune and some influential friends in the 1970s and '80s. Along with his partner, Pincus Green, he was indicted in 1983 on 65 counts of tax evasion and related matters. Before he could be prosecuted, however, he fled to Switzerland. There he remained, avoiding extradition and eventually arranging to be represented by Jack Quinn, a Washington lawyer and Clinton's onetime White House counsel -- in other words, a certified power broker. Quinn did an end run around the Justice Department's pardon office and went straight to Holder and the White House. With a stroke of a pen, justice was not done.

Holder was not just an integral part of the pardon process, he provided the White House with cover by offering his go-ahead recommendation. No alarm seemed to sound for him. Not only had strings been pulled, but it was rare to pardon a fugitive -- someone who had avoided possible conviction by avoiding the inconvenience of a trial. The U.S. attorney's office in New York -- which, Holder had told the White House, would oppose any pardon -- was kept ignorant of what was going on. Afterward, it was furious.
Slate, no conservative flame-thrower, wrote in 2013 upon Rich's death,
Rich was an active fugitive, a man who had used his money to evade the law, and presidents do not generally pardon people like that. What’s more, the Justice Department opposed the pardon—or would’ve, if it had known about it. But Holder and Quinn did an end-around, bringing the pardon to Clinton directly and avoiding any chance that Justice colleagues might give negative input. As the House Government Reform Committee report later put it, “Holder failed to inform the prosecutors under him that the Rich pardon was under consideration, despite the fact that he was aware of the pardon effort for almost two months before it was granted.”
Holder just claimed that he exercised bad judgment and was distracted by other matters at the end of Clinton's presidency. Yeah, sure.
presidential pardons don’t just slip through like this, especially not pardons of wanted fugitives. If Holder had followed protocols and made sure the Justice Department was looped in, there’s no way that Rich would have been pardoned. Hundreds of thousands of men sit in American prisons doing unconscionably long sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. DNA tests routinely turn up cases of unjust convictions. But Marc Rich bought his pardon with money and access, and the committee’s response to that purchase is worth quoting in full:

The President abused one his most important powers, meant to free the unjustly convicted or provide forgiveness to those who have served their time and changed their lives. Instead, he offered it up to wealthy fugitives whose money had already enabled them to permanently escape American justice. Few other abuses could so thoroughly undermine public trust in government.
But there was no real lasting damage to trust in government, or to anyone’s reputation, really. Bill Clinton retired to wealth and adulation. Eric Holder got his wish and eventually became attorney general. And Marc Rich died a wealthy man in Switzerland.
There were all sorts of warning signs about Eric Holder that Republicans ignored for the sake of comity and respect for the new president's wishes for whom he wanted to have in his cabinet. Somehow, we don't see such moves for the sake of comity from the Democrats. For all their whining about how the Republicans held up the vote on Merrick Garland, I well remember how the Democrats filibustered a vote on the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia simply because they didn't want Bush to raise a Hispanic to that Court where he would then be available for Bush to nominate to the Supreme Court and, as memos later revealed, they couldn't stand the idea of Bush nominating the first Hispanic to the Court, especially a Hispanic who was conservative.

Obama's White House Counsel admits that she would have recommending blocking a replacement nominee for Scalia if the partisan alignment had been reversed and Democrats controlled the Senate and a Republican was sitting in the White House.

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What is it with these Trump people and Putin? Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, Trump's choice for National Security Advisor, while having an estimable record from his time in government calling out the Obama administration's blind eye for the rising terror threat, he also has a disturbing relationship with Russia.
Flynn has made a name for himself as a straight shooter and a farsighted soldier with a keen eye on the radical Islamist terror threat. In 2010, he blew the whistle on America’s deteriorating position in Afghanistan, compelling the president to devote more attention and resources to that conflict. As director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, he warned his colleagues that Osama bin Laden’s death had not neutralized the terrorist threat. The administration didn’t want to hear this admonition, but Flynn was right....

Rather, it is Flynn’s objective conflicts of interest and his dubious judgment that have observers concerned.

The retired lieutenant general has a bizarrely close relationship with key elements of Vladimir Putin’s power structure in Russia. He frequently appeared on the Kremlin-funded news network RT and even attended an anniversary gala for the network where he was seated directly next to the Russian President. Flynn has defended the network by insisting that it is not Kremlin-run (it is) and then defended the practice of state-run media by contending that CNN and MSNBC are RT’s equivalents. Flynn has claimed that Putin is a “totalitarian dictator and a thug who does not have our interests in mind,” but legitimizing that thug’s propaganda outlet is an odd way to display contempt.


Mark Pulliam writes
about how often taxpayers end up funding public unions' political activities.
So-called “release time” or “association business leave,” a common provision in public-employee union contracts, allows government workers—who are also union officers—to receive their full salaries at taxpayer expense, even if they exclusively perform union business. Release time costs state, local, and federal taxpayers more than $100 million annually. Taxpayers nationwide have begun challenging this subsidy, contending that it constitutes an unconstitutional “gift” of public funds.
The unions are taking advantage of state courts to do this even though all but three states have provisions barring taxpayer funds being used as "gifts" without public benefit. Yet these union workers get release time to attend to union business including partisan activities.
Taxpayers must pay for government services regardless of cost or quality. In fact, public-employee unions campaign for the election of “friendly” politicians who will reward their support with lavish contracts. The taxpayer has no champion in public-sector collective bargaining; the unions effectively negotiate with themselves. Even the most ardent New Dealer, President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself, opposed collective bargaining in the public sector.
“Release time” amounts to a direct subsidy of political activity, which Texas attorney general Paxton contends isn’t permitted by the state constitution. “In Texas, a public purpose has never been defined to include political activity by a private organization,” he argues. Moreover, there are no controls on Local 975’s use of release time. Local 975, like all public-employee unions, makes contributions to political candidates, lobbies for and against legislation, and endorses candidates for office. “Granting public funds to private political entities is not a legitimate public purpose,” Paxton maintains.
With Republicans controlling so many state legislatures, this is certainly one practice that can be ended.

George Will asks
if the ridiculous coddling of the tender snowflakes on their campuses has led to a backlash that helped elected Trump. Will has an easy job making his argument. All he had to do was just list some of the silliness that passes for political culture on college campuses these days.
Academia should consider how it contributed to, and reflects Americans’ judgments pertinent to, Donald Trump’s election. The compound of childishness and condescension radiating from campuses is a constant reminder to normal Americans of the decay of protected classes — in this case, tenured faculty and cosseted students.

As “bias-response teams” fanned out across campuses, an incident report was filed about a University of Northern Colorado student who wrote “free speech matters” on one of 680 “#languagematters” posters that cautioned against politically incorrect speech. Catholic DePaul University denounced as “bigotry” a poster proclaiming “Unborn Lives Matter.” Bowdoin College provided counseling to students traumatized by the cultural appropriation committed by a sombrero-and-tequila party. Oberlin College students said they were suffering breakdowns because schoolwork was interfering with their political activism. Cal State University–Los Angeles established “healing” spaces for students to cope with the pain caused by a political speech delivered three months earlier. Indiana University experienced social-media panic (“Please PLEASE PLEASE be careful out there tonight”) because a priest in a white robe, with a rope-like belt and rosary beads was identified as someone “in a KKK outfit holding a whip.”

A doctoral dissertation at the University of California, Santa Barbara uses “feminist methodologies” to understand how Girl Scout cookie sales “reproduce hegemonic gender roles.” The journal GeoHumanities explores how pumpkins reveal “racial and class coding of rural versus urban places.” Another journal’s article analyzes “the relationships among gender, science and glaciers.” A Vassar lecture “theorizes oscillating relations between disciplinary, pre-emptive and increasingly prehensive forms of power that shape human and non-human materialities in Palestine.”
Aren't there any adults on campuses who realize how stupid all this is? At least SNL, in the midst of all its (not totally undeserved) bashing of Trump, found time to make fun of all this with an ad for a bubble that people could retire to if they can't stand the idea of living in a country with Trump as president.


"If you're an open-minded person, come here and close yourself in," said SNL's Kyle Mooney in the fake ad alongside Sasheer Zamata.

The Bubble, where one-bedroom apartments start at $1.9 million, will be filled with liberal-friendly things such as hybrid cars, used bookstores and small farms with "the rawest milk you've ever tasted." And the one dollar bill features Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' face.

Only "good" websites will be available, including Huffington Post and the Daily Kos, along with Netflix documentaries about sushi rice and the "explosive" comedy of "McSweeney's."

Don't expect any police or firemen, "because we haven't found any who'd agreed to live here," said Mooney.

The commercial ends with the tagline: "It's Brooklyn. With a bubble on it!"


This is how absurd the United Nations is - Saudi Arabia just retained their seat on the Human Rights Council. The absurd structure of the UN virtually guarantees that there will always be at least one egregious violator of human rights from the Middle East sitting on the council.
How did Saudi Arabia, which has been indiscriminately bombing Yemeni civilians for 18 months, just get re-elected to the Human Rights Council, the United Nations' premier human rights body?

Unlike Russia, whose failure to retain its council seat made the news last week, Saudi Arabia was able to slide safely back into its own chair.

Why? Because it had no competition. Seats on the Human Rights Council are shared among five regional groups. This year, the Asia group put forward just four candidates for their four open seats on the council, effectively guaranteeing their election. Unsurprisingly, Saudi Arabia, China, Iraq, and Japan all won.

The Eastern Europe group, however, put forward more candidates than the number of seats available, with Russia, Croatia, and Hungary all competing for two seats. The result was Russia’s unexpected defeat by two votes.
Now the Council can spend its time condemning Israel


Obama seems to believe his own media. Now he's bragging that his administration has finished eight years "without significant scandal." Really? Really? Wasn't he aware of any of the following?
Well, let’s start with the IRS scandal — or is there another word for what happens when public officials in one of government’s most sensitive departments make decisions based on ideology. Let’s see, how about when any organization with the words “tea party” in its name applies for tax-exempt status? Lois Lerner, who headed the tax exempt division resigned.

But guess that’s only a “significant scandal” for those groups still waiting to hear back from the IRS.

And what about the billions of tax dollars wasted on the Healthcare.gov website that had to be completely redone?

Or the outright lies being told about waiting lists by Veterans Administration personnel and the vets who suffered as a result?

“We’ve made mistakes, there have been screw-ups,” Obama said, “but I will put the ethics of this administration and our track record in terms of just abiding by the rules and norms, and keeping trust with the American people — I will put this administration against any administration in history.”

Tell that to the family of a vet who died while on some fictitious waiting list.

And how about the Solyndra scandal — or is there a nicer word for what happened when the company lost more than $500 million in taxpayer dollars? Even the Obama-friendly Washington Post reported “Obama’s green-technology program was infused with politics at every level.”

An electric battery company that went belly up cost taxpayers another $280 million.

There was the Secret Service prostitution scandal, which caused the resignation of the head of the Secret Service. The White House intruder incident in 2014 caused yet another resignation at the top.

But our personal favorite was the scandal involving U.S. General Services Administration regional commissioner Jeffrey Neely — if only because of the unforgettable photo of Neely in a bathtub, wine glass at the ready during a $822,751 conference he organized that the GSA Inspector General called “excessive” and “wasteful.” That resulted in five firings, including Neely, and the resignation of the head of the agency.

But as Obama said, “We had a strong Ethics Office. We had people in every agency whose job it was to remind people, this is how you’re supposed to do things. It doesn’t mean everybody always did everything exactly the way it’s supposed to . . .”

No scandal here, folks. Just move along.
And add in the gun-running scandal of Fast and Furious.

6 comments:

mardony said...

Note to Betsy ~
Betsy's Page reflects a broad intellect, a prodigious effort, and a clever capacity for "cruising" and aggregating from mostly like-minded websites. Despite its virtues, it's inapparent if its purpose is more to promote a mindset than to provoke thought. But, given your obvious talents, it could be so much more. Its daily pageview numbers are extremely low (current Alexa Stats). But, it's potentially a real contribution to right-wing postings (and beyond), especially now during this period of national tremor. Here are six (6) suggestions from me, a veteran journalist, to strengthen the page, increase daily pageviews, and make it a more relevant forum. I hope your mind is open.
(1) Edit down the quotes. They are often run-on, predictably repetitive, and unnecessarily lengthening to the entire blog.
(2) Expand the range of content (e.g., climate science, Medicare's future, the need for Medicaid, prison reform, future of nuclear power, a thoughtful take on race, etc. ). And, get off the tiresome Clinton/Obama condemnation train unless you are prepping for Maureen Dowd's NYT gig when MoDo retires. :-)
(3) Sprinkle in an occasional viewpoint, without ridicule, from a non-right wing site with an opposing view, rather than only gratuitously quoting those sites when they are supportive of the blog's reliably conservative view points.
(4) Ditch the censorship. The best blogs (media, in general) encourage dissenting views to stimulate interest and readership. Use this authority sparingly, and only when comments are x-rated, otherwise the blog will appear trivialized as mere propaganda. This off-putting response on your blog to a well-intended, non-x-rated commenter (me) says to me dissent is unwelcome because Betsy's point of view is shaky and can't abide disaccord. "Comment deleted. This comment has been deleted by a blog administrator". The best blogs don't do this; the most doctrinaire likely wield it. It frustrates thoughtful readers and drives them away.
(5) Stimulate a healthier comments section. For example, discourage "tfhr" who regularly snarls within minutes at dissenting commenters, usually with Trump-style personal insults. Without fear of being deleted, "tfhr" antagonistically discourages broader blog readership with trash talking. This demeans, diminishes and dumbs down the blog. A friend who originally recommended Betsy's Page to me recently said "tfhr" and those who engage "tfhr" in petty putdown exchanges are real "nasty downers." Comments to a blog are popularly read and they vitally contribute to its legitimacy, shelf life and pageviews.
(6) Tone down your exultation over the adversities of Democrats and your ad hominem characterizations of them (e.g., Reid, Hillary, Pelosi). They've crossed a line. Somehow you've spared Dennis Hastert, the longest serving GOP house speaker.

Betsy, I intend this constructively; please take it as such. I salute you for your long dedication to this work, but re-examination would be useful.

If this comment gets deleted, I'm gone for good.
Mardony

Jim Hanks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tfhr said...

Oops - I missed the deadline again! Poor Mardony. Here was my response to your 8:09 post that lasted less than two hours:

Mardony,

Behold - the good idea fairy strikes with a vengeance – through Mardony!

Great stuff. Perhaps you should consider creating a blog of your own - one that is built on the recommendations you so graciously provided at 8:09 - I'm sure it will be a hit in certain circles.

Given your post-election, first time entry into these threads (using a brand new profile), you’re kind of stretching to complain about having knowledge of some sort of enduring bias here. I can tell you what has been very consistent and that is since Trump entered the primaries, Betsy has been a stalwart critic of just about everything to do with the guy while offering criticism of his opponents. You missed that?

You’re a journalist, so here’s a news flash: conservative sites tend to have critical views of Progressives and liberals much as liberal and Progressive sites tend to hold a harsh perspective when it comes to things conservative. Somehow you feel the need to provide “advice” on how to remedy this problem (in your mind, anyway) on Betsy’s site.

Ironically, though I know you won’t see it, you’ve instructed Betsy not to delete your posts telling her what is wrong (in your mighty opinion) with her namesake blog. You cried about censorship and threatened to never post here again if she dares to ever delete your gilded prose. THEN you direct Betsy to censor me! I laughed out loud – it almost reminded me of the days when liberals were sometimes deliberately funny. Sadly, so many liberals went over the cliff to become Progressives and in doing so, many apparently lost their sense of humor. The rabid ones only manage to spark a laugh when they stumble over themselves like the racists on the cast and crew of Hamilton that presumed to lecture VP-elect Pence on racism after they’ve run casting calls prefaced with “Whites Need Not Apply”.

Your presumption to tell others, not only what to think but how those approved thoughts would best be presented takes not only a level of arrogance that I would consider unhealthy, it says a lot about the tone deaf nature of the left today. In a nutshell, the left presumes to know what is best for the rest of us and when we don’t agree, your reflexive response is to quash any debate rather than to even pretend to care why there is disagreement. It's so much easier to brand an opposing view as "racist" than to effectively counter it on merit, but that's where intellectual laziness will take you. You’ll remember that debate includes a free exchange of ideas to defend or advance a position. It takes a little effort, it's helped by a lot of supporting facts, and it is impossible without a willingness to be honest about your intent. Perhaps your “friend” (cough) that recommended this site to you can tell you about his unwillingness to engage in debate and his default tactic of slinging insults. Ask him what his intent was - that would be a good place to start.

You said you are a journalist – maybe that explains your attitude – it certainly explains why that profession has fallen on such hard times.

mark said...

Well, no surprises. Mardony took the time to write a thoughtful and respectful post which was far more intelligent than anything written here in years (and that certainly includes anything written by me or tfhr) Of course it is met by ridicule, insults and lies.

No trumpette, Mardony didn't ask Betsy to "censor" you. He suggested she "discourage" you from posting some of your more insane posts. I didn't see the comment by Mardony that Betsy removed, but I find it hard to believe it was more disgraceful than falsely labeling someone a "child-rapist". What could be more vulgar than making a false claim regarding something so heinous? Dozens of similar claims/lies have been made by you and others here with no pushback.

You and Betsy really seem to want to absolve yourself of blame for electing Trump. Yet besides condoning the un-American, un-Constitutional accusations here, this blog has constantly sourced Breitbart, a mouthpiece for Trump and white-supremacists.

This site has become far closer to parroting Trump than I assume people would like to admit. Mardony gave sound advice. Whether or not Betsy takes it or not is certainly up to her.

tfhr said...

mark,
Look at you! Already back from the wilderness and all of that soul-searching you said you had to do out there. So did you find one? A soul?

"Discourage", you say? That euphemism is just lipstick on a pig. Freedom of expression does not need instructions to filter, modify or otherwise inform others of what to say or how to say it. It's that simple.

Sure. I'll bet you didn't see the comments of your "friend" that were removed but if you are to be believed, how do you know your imaginary friend didn't cross a line? Perhaps if you and your "friend" weren't so incredibly tone deaf to your own self-righteousness arrogance, you wouldn't spend the bulk of your efforts telling others how to conduct their business but then I guess you wouldn't be Progressives or even a good crypto-socialist. Perhaps if you understood how insulting it is to be slimed as “racist” for having the nerve to disagree with a politician, a policy, or an opinion, you might understand why I’ve put the shoe on the other foot for you from time to time. However I have doubts you can ever overcome the dependence, no, the absolute need for the sad left and its loyal adherents to portray themselves as the ever aggrieved, and therefore perpetually butt-hurt victims.

So here we are once again at the same intersection: I’m asking you to enter the debate and leave the insults behind. You’re screaming “racist” or the latest fashion of the same, “white nationalism”, instead of addressing the issues. Didn’t you learn anything from the election outcome? As undesirable as Trump can be, he still managed to defeat a corrupt woman that felt so entitled that she couldn’t be bothered to take the time to address issues well enough to convince people to vote for her. Hillary managed to lose states that went for Obama two times and you’re hyperventilating about racism!!! Why don’t you try some more soul-searching and don’t stop until you find one that is capable of at least some objectivity?

Try taking a break from hurling insults at people you don’t like, disagree with, or cannot be bothered to understand. I offer this suggestion in the spirit of “Mardony”, or as the great journalist once said, “I intend this constructively; please take it as such. I salute you for your long dedication to this work, but re-examination would be useful.”

Ron K said...

"I am just starting to teach the unit on federalism in my AP Government classes. On Friday, we were discussing South Dakota v. Dole which upheld the power of the federal government to deny 5% of the Highway Funds to South Dakota for refusing to raise the drinking age to 21. A few of my brighter students immediately made the connection to a Trump administration denying funds to sanctuary cities. If 10th graders can figure this out, I assume Jeff Sessions can also do so."

something people forget are the judges, this might have set a precedent but judges don't always follow, I'm sure the SJW's would find a judge that would totally go against this precedent, and force the Feds to fund the sanctuary cities.