Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cruising the Web

I find myself agreeing with Bernie Sanders here about the question as to whether or not Trump's election is legitimate as Representative John Lewis has said. In response to George Stephanopoulos's question as to whether possible Russian support for Trump makes him illegitimate, Sanders responded, "Those are just words." I think a lot of Trump opponents are using the word "illegitimate" as a word to express their dislike of Trump and the fact that he won. They've tried all sorts of ways to block his ascension to the presidency from demanding recounts in a few sates to trying to convince Electors to change their vote to talking about fake news to talking about Russian hacking and publishing Democrats' emails to complaining about James Comey to BuzzFeed's posting an unchecked dossier. Now they're putting it all together to say he's illegitimate. John Lewis said George W. Bush wasn't the true American president because he opposed the Supreme Court's ruling. He also compared John McCain to George Wallace. It can be true that a man was a hero of the civil rights movement and still not above making over-the-top partisan criticisms of Republicans. Both can be true. And, by the way, John McCain was also a true American hero and that didn't stop Democrats from saying nasty things about him.

At some point, the Democrats should focus on how to acting as an effective opposition to Trump's administration and the Republicans in Congress. It sounds like Sanders has turned that corner and that is now his focus. Those who oppose Trump should be hoping that Democrats are going to follow his example. They can boycott the inauguration and I don't think anyone really cares. However, there is something quite pernicious in trying to undermine the peaceful passage of power from one party to another. On the other hand, Donald Trump has contributed to this damage by his birther accusations against President Obama. It's depressing to see how weakened that tradition of our country has become. And I wonder whether Martin Luther King would have boycotted a presidential inauguration if he were invited.

And Donald Trump harms his own position by tweeting insults as John Lewis. Is there any insult that Trump can't rise above? When he insults John Lewis as all talk, no action, I just wonder if he has any idea who John Lewis is. I find it difficult to underestimate what Trump knows and doesn't know from American history, even history he has lived through. He couldn't even make a perfunctory statement about how he honors Lewis's civil rights record.

As Peter Augustine Lawler points out
, Trump just fell for the bait of John Lewis's comments.
That said, there’s no denying Lewis outwitted Trump by deploying Trumpian means. He knew Trump’s response to his outrageous comment would be so predictable.

Trump also might have at least googled the Fifth District of Georgia which Lewis represents. It is, in fact, socioeconomically diverse. But it is also, overall, a pretty darn family-friendly place for prosperous young voters black and white (and others). It includes some of my favorite places in the world — such as the Decatur home of my daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren.

Many Lewis voters were also Sanders voters. And they sometimes should be faulted for regarding Lewis as immune from criticism because of his heroic status. He is sometimes guilty of self-indulgent exaggeration, and maybe he is ineffective these days. But he was a hero, after all.

President Obama is now repeatedly criticizing Trump for his disrespect for established institutions and traditions. And Trump might have responded, well, that’s what Lewis was doing, showing the hypocrisy of all those who want to wage guerilla war against him after he’s inaugurated.

Trump might have added a bit of praise for the heroes of the civil-rights movement in this weekend before Martin Luther King Day.

Overall: Trump missed the opportunity to be more of a gentleman than one of his critics. Instead, he showed Lewis could own his behavior — causing a response that could so easily be construed as ignorant racism.
It is very much like how he fell into the trap of tweeting out insults at the Khan family and Alicia Machado, the Miss Universe winner who talked about how Trump insulted her looks. By rising to the bait, Trump wasted many days of the campaign in a Twitter war that made him look awful and would have sunk the candidacy in any ordinary election year.

It makes me shudder to think of the cul-de-sacs of Twitter brouhahas that Trump will get stuck in during his presidency.

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Austin Yack lists the "ten most bizarre questions from last week's Senate confirmation hearings." It's amazing how often Democrats ask about climate change for nominees for whom that shouldn't be a top concern such as the CIA or the State Department. but given how so many of Obama's administration, including the President, have tagged climate change as the biggest threat facing this country, I guess that isn't a surprise.

Ah, so the Women's March is only interested in including some women. They just removed a pro-live group from its list of event sponsors because they don't want pro-life support. So, even if they oppose Trump, they're not welcome. A woman can't be considered a feminist in their eyes unless she supports abortion.

John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky write in the WSJ
to dispel the myth that Obama and his acolytes in his administration and the media are trying to perpetuate that he had an eight-year scandal-free presidency. They keep repeating this statement in the many exit interviews being conducted as if repetition would make it so. Even without the major scandal of the Secretary of State setting up a private server to evade federal law, there are plenty of other scandals.
• Operation Fast and Furious. The Obama Justice Department lost track of thousands of guns it had allowed to pass into the hands of suspected smugglers, in the hope of tracing them to Mexican drug cartels. One of the guns was used in the fatal 2010 shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Congress held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt when he refused to turn over documents about the operation.

IRS abuses. Mr. Obama’s Internal Revenue Service did something Richard Nixon only dreamed of doing: It successfully targeted political opponents. The Justice Department then refused to enforce Congress’s contempt citation against the IRS’s Lois Lerner, who refused to answer questions about her agency’s misconduct.

Benghazi. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed in the attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya. With less than two months to go before the 2012 election, the State Department falsely claimed the attack was not a terrorist attack but a reaction to an anti-Muslim film. Emails from the secretary later showed that she knew the attack was terrorism. Justice Department prosecutors even convinced a magistrate judge to jail the filmmaker.

Hacking. Mr. Obama presided over the biggest data breach in the federal government’s history, at the Office of Personnel Management. The hack exposed the personnel files of millions of federal employees and may end up being used for everything from identity theft to blackmail and espionage. OPM Director Katherine Archuleta, the president’s former political director, had been warned repeatedly about security deficiencies but took no steps to fix them.

Veterans Affairs. At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at a Phoenix VA facility, many of whom had been on a secret waiting list—part of an effort to conceal that between 1,400 and 1,600 veterans were forced to wait months for appointments. A 2014 internal VA audit found “57,436 newly enrolled veterans facing a minimum 90-day wait for medical care; 63,869 veterans who enrolled over the past decade requesting an appointment that never happened.” Even Mr. Obama admitted, in a November 2016 press conference, that “it was scandalous what happened”—though minutes earlier he boasted that “we will—knock on wood—leave this administration without significant scandal.”

All of these scandals were accompanied by a lack of transparency so severe that 47 of Mr. Obama’s 73 inspectors general signed an open letter in 2014 decrying the administration’s stonewalling of their investigations.
Add in the prisoner swap for Bowe Bergdahl and the money paid to Iran as part of a hostage-release deal. Add on to that the lies the administration told about the IRan deal and that hostage-swap. In any other administration that would be considered a scandal. In fact, any one of these stories would be major scandals that the media would have covered obsessively. I'm still amazed that Fast and Furious got skated over as if it were a nothingburger of a story.

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Monica Crowley won't be working as a spokeswoman
for the Trump administration. So there is a penalty for plagiarism. Good.

One of the founders of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Harvey Silvergate, returns the attack of Senator Casey and liberal groups that think that because Betsy DeVos donated money to FIRE that she is against sexual-assault victims on college campuses from receiving justice. Apparently, such attackers don't support due-process and free-speech rights for students and faculty on our nation's campuses.
Philadelphia-based FIRE is nonpartisan and has defended students and faculty members on the left and right. FIRE has made common cause with politically diverse organizations ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to the Heritage Foundation, Young Americans for Liberty and the Cato Institute.

Mrs. DeVos has entered the political thicket that civil libertarians often encounter, wherein one is saddled with the actions of the accused rather than credited with advocating for fair procedures. As a criminal-defense and civil-liberties trial lawyer who has represented defendants ranging from student radicals to alleged child molesters, I can vouch for the virulence of guilt-by-association.
The true injustice is how the Obama administration has pressured college campuses to limit the due process rights of students accused of sexual assault.
The Education Department has instructed universities to adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct using the low “preponderance of the evidence” standard, in which the mere 50.1% likelihood of guilt is sufficient. FIRE argues that a higher standard may be necessary—particularly given that campus judicial systems typically lack many if not most of the procedural protections available to defendants facing criminal charges, or even civil liability, in a court of law.

Lest anybody doubt the problem caused by the absence of due process, a quick scan of the landscape produces myriad examples. A Brandeis student sued the university after it found him guilty—without a hearing—of sexual misconduct for, among other things, staring at his then-boyfriend’s body while the two shared a bathroom. Judge Dennis Saylor, in a decision allowing the lawsuit to move forward, noted that Brandeis’s “inquisitorial” process “appears to have substantially impaired, if not eliminated, an accused student’s right to a fair and impartial process.”

Civil-liberties advocates have long defended free speech and fair procedures. Often that means standing up for the rights of people who hold odious views or have committed grave crimes, including sexual assault. Those whose views are merely unpopular, and the innocent who are wrongly accused, depend on the same protections.

If confirmed, Mrs. DeVos will have the opportunity to improve the climate for fairness and accuracy in campus judiciaries at universities that have obliterated due process for fear of losing millions in federal aid—to make American higher education free and fair again.
I hope that one of the first things that Betsy DeVos does when she becomes Education Secretary is to reverse this action from the Obama Education Department. Anyone who truly supported due process rights for the accused would applaud it. And if the event comes down to a he said/she said debate, I would hope that texts exchanged between the two people involved would be entered in evidence. In some of these stories, texts that the woman wrote indicating that she wanted sex were barred from testimony. I would In fact, I wish that such strong allegations of crime were adjudicated by the criminal justice system that is more prepared for investigating crimes. Sexual assault truly is a crime. Why should it be treated differently than accusations of theft or regular assault? Colleges are not equipped to serve as the investigators, prosecutors, and judges of criminal action. That is why we have a justice system. In fact, if my daughters had been sexually assaulted while at college, I would want the accused to suffer criminal penalties rather than simply expulsion from school.

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Donald Trump's tweet urging people buy from L.L. Bean because one of the founding family praised Trump and donated to him raises the possibility that Trump would, as president, urge people to buy products from companies that praise or donate money to him. We don't want our president using the power of his office to reward some private companies over another. That would set up a system in which the government is picking winners and losers in business and we definitely don't want that. And Trump's proclivities to praise those who praise him (even when they're heads of unfriendly countries like Russia) and attack those who attack him no matter who they are leave him open to manipulation by businesses. However, when have we seen a president using the power of his office to pick winners and losers among private companies? Hmmmm? Jim Geraghty writes,
Is it an ethically problematic area when a president or president-elect starts touting a particular company? Sure. But how different is “Buy L. L. Bean” from Obama heading to the factory of a soon-to-be-defunct solar-panel manufacturer and declaring, “It’s here that companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.” That’s not an endorsement?

When the federal government owned lots of GM stock, the leader of the free world also wore the hat of a car salesman. President Obama would occasionally joke about his role, declaring at the 2009 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, “GM will rise or fall on the quality of its products –like the taut, athletic design of the new Buick Enclave. Its French-seamed leather and warm wood tones make the Enclave more than transportation. It’s a modern driver’s retreat. Come on, work with me here. I’ve got cars to move, people!”

Obama visited the Saft America battery plant in Florida to tout it as a stimulus success story, praised Master Lock in the State of the Union, saluted Adidas for partnering with high schools that want to change from Native American mascots, and credited Gap for raising its minimum wage. The White House held a “demo day” for 32 start-up companies.

What differentiates “praising” a company from “endorsing” it? We need a standard that’s clearer than, “it’s bad when the presidents I don’t like do it but okay when the ones I do like do the same.”
And when Obama was doing it, he was using more than the bully pulpit to try to encourage people buy that companies' products; he was using the power of the federal purse to help those companies out.