Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cruising the Web

What does it say about people that, according to USA Today, some people are so angry about the election results that they are uninviting friends and family from their Thanksgiving
celebrations. I just can't imagine political topics getting so heated that you need to ruin Thanksgiving. Is it that difficult to just not discuss politics if you know it's going to be a flash point. It's just crazy, but maybe I'm spoiled by the fact that those in my immediate family are all in accord about the election and I know enough not to talk about it with the rest of my family. Knowing that is part of being an adult.

Mark Hemingway has a great satirical rant about what to say to a millennial about Donald Trump over Thanksgiving.
If Donald Trump is racist, does that mean you think your family is racist for voting for the man? Is Kanye West racist now? You think I like the fact that a rich New York jagoff with verbal diarrhea is going to be president? I just voted for the guy, I didn’t sign on the dotted line in blood. If he starts throwing people in camps, I’ll be the first guy to form a militia. But until then, I can’t be bothered to keep up with all things that are racist these days.

I remember watching cable news a few years ago, and some guy was saying that people complaining Obama golfed too much were racist. Golf is racist! If we’re going to do this, why don’t you go Wikipedia the Fugitive Slave Act and then we can put Trump’s racism in the proper political context, okay?

....Wait, you’re not really suggesting that I’m the one who’s out of touch because you have friends back in New York who are afraid? You really think “this country is over”? You were what, nine years old on 9/11? Your great-grandfather died when you were too young to remember, but we used to sit in the deer stand together and gramps would tell me stories about what Guadalcanal was like. Gives me chills thinking about it. You know how old he was at the time? Nineteen. And now kids your age need coloring books and safe spaces and therapy dogs to cope with an election that doesn’t go your way....

And not to point out the obvious, it’s Thanksgiving for God’s sake. If you’re gonna show up here in such a bad mood and call us racist, maybe, just maybe, just do the rest of us a favor and SHUT UP until you find a reason to be grateful.
Read the rest.

This is how ridiculous things have become in our country. Volokh links to a story from Lincoln, Nebraska.
Concerns about student safety [stemming from potential confrontations] and potential disruptions prompted administrators at Lincoln Public Schools’ Career Academy to ask welding students not to fly U.S. flags on their vehicles from holders they made in class….

The directive prohibiting displaying the flags in the school’s parking lot was prompted by an incident on Friday, when a Southeast Community College student [for unknown reasons] removed one of the flags from a holder and put it in the bed of a pickup next to the vehicle flying the flag.

Seven or eight welding students had flown the flags in recognition of Veterans Day with permission of Career Academy officials, who thought it was a great ending to the students’ welding project, [Career Academy Director Dan] Hohensee said….

“[O]ut of an abundance of caution” for both LPS and SCC students, Career Academy administrators asked students not to fly the flags again in the parking lot.

Hohensee said administrators worried that another such incident could result in a personal confrontation or property damage….
The school superintendent reversed the decision. Volokh comments,
Isn’t there a passage about that in the Star-Spangled Banner — “from abundance of caution was gallantly lowered”?

....But if immigration means reduction in our rights as Americans — the right to fly American flags, whether as a sign of patriotism or as an expression of sentiments critical of immigration, the right to own guns, or other rights — then those costs to freedom may well outweigh the benefits that immigration might provide.

If our leaders make clear that they will act boldly to defend our rights, whether against threats from recent immigrants (or the children of recent immigrants) or from the native-born, then we might feel that our rights will indeed remain secure. But if their reaction is to urge people to refrain from exercising their rights, “out of an abundance of caution” — on the theory that flying our country’s flags might yield “personal confrontation or property damage” because it “could be misinterpreted in light of the divisive election and anxiety like that expressed by Nebraska Latinos in a recent news story” — then we have legitimate cause to worry about the consequences of immigration for our freedoms.
Oh, the Trumpian conflicts of interest keep multiplying.
Members of the National Labor Relations Board will be able to decide legal disputes involving President-elect Donald J. Trump’s businesses even if they owe their seats on the board to the new president, labor lawyers told Bloomberg BNA.

There is no rule against presidential appointees voting on representation cases or unfair labor practice proceedings that arise at businesses of the president, though the issue has apparently not come up before.
Oh, that's not worrisome, is it?

And then there is this story in the WSJ.
President-elect Donald Trump’s charitable foundation engaged in self-dealing in 2015 and prior years, the foundation said in an Internal Revenue Service filing.

That self-dealing, which typically triggers additional taxes for anyone who got improper benefits, resulted from payments to “disqualified persons,” or foundation insiders, according to the document. The document, which was the foundation’s tax return for 2015, doesn’t provide more details.

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The WSJ is glad
that Mike Pompeo, as CIA director, may be able to open up the Iran files that may give us more information about the side deals made in the Iran deal that the Obama administration hid from the Congress.
In summer 2015 Congressman Mike Pompeo and Senator Tom Cotton visited the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, where they learned of two secret codicils to the Iranian nuclear deal. The Obama Administration had failed to disclose these side agreements to Congress. When pressed on the details of the codicils, Secretary of State John Kerry claimed never to have read them.

We’re reminded of this episode on news that Donald Trump has asked Congressman Pompeo to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. The Kansas Republican is being denounced by liberals as a “hardliner,” but the truth is that he has shown an independent streak that has allowed him to raise thorny questions and gather vital information that Administration officials want suppressed. Isn’t that what Americans should expect in a CIA director?

That goes double regarding the Iranian nuclear deal, which Mr. Pompeo opposed in part because of the diplomatic legerdemain he and Sen. Cotton uncovered in Vienna. Of the two secret deals, one concerned the nuclear agency’s inspection of the Parchin military facility, where the Iranians were suspected of testing components of a nuclear deal. The other concerned Iran’s non-answers to questions about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program.
The Obama administration is still trying to keep Congress from knowing what they really agreed to and how they made those decisions for the Iran deal.
As leading members of Congress petition the Obama administration for answers about what many describe as a $1.7 billion “ransom” payment to Iran, Obama administration officials are doubling down on their refusal to answer questions about the secret negotiations with Iran that led to this payment.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), a vocal opponent of last year’s nuclear deal with Iran, has been seeking answers from senior Obama administration officials since at least late September. However, officials continue to stonewall the senator’s inquiries, according to senior congressional sources and formal communications between Rubio and the State Department obtained by the Free Beacon.

Rubio and several other lawmakers have petitioned the Obama administration for documents and information about the secret negotiations that resulted in Tehran receiving $1.7 billion in cash and a promise from the United States to further roll back sanctions on an Iranian financial institution that helped finance the country’s illicit ballistic missile program.

Trump tweeted that he was considering Ben Carson to be the Secretary of HUD. I'd much prefer Robert L. Woodson, whom the Washington Post reports is also a candidate. This is a man who could really shake things up at HUD.
Woodson has expressed skepticism about state-initiated poverty solutions and has been supportive of market-based interventions. The Center for Neighborhood Enterprise notes that he has received “both the liberal and conservative world’s most prestigious awards — the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellowship and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation Prize.”

A black conservative, he has been critical of liberal leaders in the black community, like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and of their role in what he calls the “poverty Pentagon” — the social workers, counselors and others staffing anti-poverty programs.

“We’ve created a poverty industry, turned poor people into a commodity,” he told the Wall Street Journal in 2014. “And the race hustlers play a bait-and-switch game where they use the conditions of low-income blacks to justify remedies.”

The Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, which he founded in 1981, works to train and support neighborhood- and faith-based organizations to address issues in and design programs for low-income communities. In addition to focusing on a bottom-up approach, one of the organization’s three founding principles emphasizes the need for market solutions. “An effective approach to societal problems must be driven by the same principles that function in the market economy, recognizing the importance of competition, entrepreneurship, cost efficiency, and an expectation of return on investment,” the CNE’s website states.
It's also a plus that he's a friend and mentor to Paul Ryan.
Around 2013, Paul Ryan approached Woodson to help him understand what alternatives to traditional poverty-alleviation strategies existed. Woodson took him on tours of low-income neighborhoods across the country, and continues to be a close adviser to the speaker. Of the possible HUD pick, Woodson told the Post, “It’s fair to say that Paul wouldn’t mind having me there to work with them on all of this. … They seem to be very serious about it.”
I'll be hoping that Woodson gets the job instead of some of the other people whose names have cropped up.

J. Christian Adams has some background
on the guy, Gerry Hebert, whose accusations against Jeff Sessions in the 1980s are the basis for the whole storyline that Sessions said racist things back then and which served to deny him the position on the federal bench.
The reporters using Hebert as a source do not mention Hebert's history of making up stories about purported racism, yet documentation of that history is easily located in the public record. Hebert's exaggerations about racism in one federal court case resulted in sanctions being imposed by a federal judge, costing the United States taxpayer $86,626.
Read the details. It's rather horrifying how this guy lied in order to prevent over 50 white voters from voting. The appeals court really lowered the hammer on Hebert for his lies.
A properly conducted investigation would have quickly revealed that there was no basis for the claim that the Defendants were guilty of purposeful discrimination against black voters ...

Unfortunately, we cannot restore the reputation of the persons wrongfully branded by the United States as public officials who deliberately deprived their fellow citizens of their voting rights. We also lack the power to remedy the damage done to race relations in Dallas County by the unfounded accusations of purposeful discrimination made by the United States.
So, as Adams write, Gerry Hebert shouldn't be used as a source when the subject is supposedly racist statements that anyone made as he has a history of making up smears on race.

As a side note, I was amused that this guy's name was Hebert because that made me think of Jacques Hébert, a radical leader during the French Revolution who supported all the extreme actions taken during the Terror, but thought Danton and Robespierre were too moderate. One of the measures that Hébert supported was the Law of Suspects that gave the government the power to arrest anyone might be considered an enemy of the Revolution. Reading the post about how this modern Hebert felt that it was fine to lie about people to paint them as racists in order to achieve his own goal, I couldn't help thinking of the revolutionary Hébert. That radical ended up getting guillotined by his former allies.
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Eugene Volokh links to Senator Ben Sasse's speech at the Federalist Society last week to his fellow conservatives. His words illustrate why he's one of my favorite senators. He exactly expresses what I believe and hope to see.
If we’re sincere about what we believe, it needs to be the case that we again remember what we thought two weeks ago. Which was that we need checks and balances. That we need a separation of powers. … That we need everyone, Democrat, Republican or Independent, to know why it’s a really, really troubling speech for a president of the United States who has taken an oath of office to say that it doesn’t really matter if the legislation passes laws that I want them to pass, I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone. That was troubling when the guy who said it was a Democrat, and it will be troubling in 2020, and in 2024, and in 2028, and 2032, regardless of the partisan label of the person who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Exactly so. Liberals have demonstrated time and again their situational ethics. It would be nice if conservatives provided a more edifying example.

At least Obama's overreach is occasionally being blocked by the judicial branch. Yesterday we saw a Texas judge putting a hold on one of Obama's recent executive actions.
A Texas judge on Tuesday blocked President Obama's new rule intended to force companies to pay workers more overtime, agreeing with businesses that the administration overstepped its authority and that only Congress could approve such an expansion of the federal overtime law.

....Federal law says employees must be paid time-and-a-half once they work more than 40 hours in a week. However, businesses may exempt workers from the requirement if their duties are "managerial" in nature and they reach a certain salary threshold.

In May, the Labor Department announced that that threshold, previously $23,000 annually, would rise to more than $47,000 on Dec. 1, and would be updated every three years to reflect wage growth. The administration's rule change would have meant that 4 million more workers would be eligible for overtime. Because it was an administrative reinterpretation of the existing Fair Labor Standards Act, the White House said that the change did not require congressional approval.
The federal judge disagreed and said that the administration couldn't take this action without action by Congress. Obama was used to thinking that he didn't need Congress if there was something he wanted to do and the Republicans weren't doing his bidding. Well, we have a republic, not a monarchy, and it's nice to see one more unilateral action by this president stymied. And I'll cheer if Trump adds similarly and a judge puts a block on such actions.

Noah Rothman advises
the Democrats not to rest on their victories in the popular vote.
What the results of the 2016 presidential election should be communicating to Democrats is that they need a more efficient geographic allocation of their vote share, and that means recreating a more robust coalition of voters. In assessing the Obama White House’s decision to cede the white working class voter to the GOP, New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall astutely noted that the New Deal coalition of which they were a part maintained “economic coherence.” Democrats have fallen for their own mythology insofar as it is now the party of safety nets and benefits, but that was not the party of Roosevelt. That Democratic Party was a party of productivity, not dependency. It was a party of disparate cultural and intellectual traditions, not homogeneity.

The Democratic Party’s response to their failures in the Electoral College is equivalent to shooting the messenger. The party should adapt and adjust to again appeal to winning coalitions in the whole country, not force the country to accede to the will of California and New York. Trump and the Republican Party he leads may falter or overreach. Democrats could win back Congress and the White House again by default even if they didn’t change a thing. Given the contempt the party has shown toward the country’s institutions and the voters who elected the next president, however, they wouldn’t deserve the honor.

I wish all my readers a lovely Thanksgiving and hope that you have amiable interactions with all your friends and family members.