Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Cruising the Web

The Mooch is gone and we hardly knew him. Comedians and liberals are the only ones who aren't happy to see the end of Scaramucci's brief career in the Trump administration. The NYT reports that General Kelly, the new Chief of Staff, was responsible for his ouster after only 10 days. The paper also reports that Ivanka and Jared had wanted Scaramucci in order to get Priebus out of there. Mission accomplished and now, according to the NYT, Trump was already sick of Scaramucci.
While Mr. Kelly’s objection was the decisive factor in Mr. Scaramucci’s departure, people close to the decision said that Mr. Trump had quickly soured on the wisecracking, Long Island-bred former hedge fund manager, and so had his family....

Mr. Trump was initially pleased by Mr. Scaramucci’s harsh remarks, directed at Mr. Priebus and Steve Bannon, the chief White House strategist. But over the weekend, after speaking with his family and Mr. Kelly, the president began to see the brash actions of his subordinate as a political liability and potential embarrassment, according to two people familiar with his thinking.

Mr. Scaramucci’s swift departure is an early indication that Mr. Kelly intends to assert his authority over the operations of the White House, and that several of the big personalities there — including Mr. Kushner, Ms. Trump and Mr. Bannon — may be inclined to defer to him.

It also suggests that, at least for the moment, Mr. Kelly has the president’s support in that effort.
I guess Trump hires the very best people...until he fires them. Good luck to General Kelly to maintain the sort of control that he has demonstrated on the first day of his job. Now if could only limit the President's tweeting...

Though I don't see why the Trump family needed Scaramucci to get rid of Priebus. Isn't Trump the guy who achieved fame by telling people, "You're fired"? As Ed Morrissey writes,
This explanation conveniently avoids one small detail, which is that Trump could have fired Reince Priebus any time he wanted. He didn’t need the Mooch to offer obscenity-filled interviews that publicly accused the previous chief of staff of schizophrenia and treason to get Priebus to offer his resignation. Why would the President of the United States need a Mini-Me to simply fire a subordinate? Isn’t he tough enough to say “You’re fired” to Reince Priebus without having to rely on his buddy to conduct the world’s strangest bout of passive-aggression?
Well, Trump does seem to have problems firing Jeff Sessions.

Morrissey sees a couple of auspicious signs
in Kelly's hiring.
It seems that a new alpha dog has indeed arrived. Following Scaramucci's departure, new Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made it clear that Kelly would have "full authority" for the administration. Even Jared Kushner and Bannon would now have to report to Kelly, and Kelly would direct everyone's workflow.

The real question will be how long Trump sticks to that discipline. It's the best potential for an effective administration, and to unify the White House to focus on the mission rather than personal survival. Chaos breeds inefficiencies and conflict, as any military commander could well attest. If Trump allows Kelly to do his job, it might be the most effective appointment he has made within the administration. If not, no one will have to tell John Kelly to leave — he'll leave rather than enable failure.

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CNN had an interesting leak
- apparently, new chief of staff John Kelly called James Comey after Trump fired him and told Comey that he was thinking of resigning.
New White House chief of staff John Kelly was so upset with how President Donald Trump handled the firing of FBI Director James Comey that Kelly called Comey afterward and said he was considering resigning, according to two sources familiar with a conversation between Kelly and Comey.

Both sources cautioned that it was unclear how serious Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, was about resigning himself.

"John was angry and hurt by what he saw and the way (Comey) was treated," one of the sources said....

Comey, who took Kelly's call while traveling back from Los Angeles to Washington, responded to Kelly by telling him not to resign, one of the sources said.
How convenient that these two "sources" have a story to leak to the media to try to mess up the relations between Trump and Kelly?

JOsh Kraushaar writes at the National Journal to predict a dismal future for the Democrats if they can't take advantage of all the turmoil in the Trump presidency during the 2018 elections. He looks at some recent survey data showing that Democrats are still underwater among working-class whites.
Despite the Trump turmoil in Washington, Republicans held a 10-point lead on the generic ballot (43-33 percent) among these blue-collar voters. Democrats hold a whopping 61 percent disapproval rating among these voters, with only 32 percent approving. Even Trump’s job-approval rating is a respectable 52 percent with the demographic in these swing districts.

Democrats maintain that with robust economic messaging, they can move those numbers in their favor. But the results show how difficult that task will be. By a stunning 35-point margin, blue-collar white voters believe that Republicans will be better at improving the economy and creating jobs than Democrats. Under Trump, the economy has been growing—even in the disadvantaged parts of the country. Between promising job creation and Trump’s own paeans to blue-collar work, it’s hard to see the GOP numbers changing significantly.

The more uncomfortable reality is that these blue-collar voters’ resistance to the Democrats is on cultural grounds, not economic ones—a finding that studies of Obama-Trump voters have repeatedly shown. Democrats are facing a double-whammy: They’re still experiencing resistance among moderate voters in suburban swing districts over tax-and-spend economic policies. Meanwhile, small-town voters are having a tough time voting for their candidates because of a growing cultural disconnect.
I still think that the Democrats have the advantage and historical precedents to win control of the House in 2018. But the Senate is another story.
Just look at the Senate maps for the next two cycles. Republicans are likely to expand their majority next year even in a poor political environment because they’re hardly defending any seats next year. Even if they only win a few red-state races, their majority could easily be sustainable even beyond the next presidential election.

Consider: The Senate map for Democrats doesn’t get much friendlier in 2020. Most of the Republicans elected in the 2014 wave hail from conservative states that were once held by (now-extinct) moderate Democrats. Republicans will face challenges holding seats in North Carolina, Colorado, and Iowa—but after that, the pickings are slim. Even if Republicans net just one Senate seat next year, their long-term future looks pretty good. (And Democrats won’t be able to blame gerrymandering for future Senate woes.)
Kraushaar's argument helps to explain why the House Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is asserting that they won't be punishing Democratic candidates who are pro-life.
“There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” said Luján, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman. “As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America.”
Of course, some liberal Democrats would prefer ideological purity rather than success winning back the House.
In taking the position, Luján and Democrats risk alienating liberals, as well as groups dedicated to promoting access to abortion and reproductive health services that represent the core of the party’s base.
“Throwing weight behind anti-choice candidates is bad politics that will lead to worse policy,” said Mitchell Stille, who oversees campaigns for NARAL Pro-Choice America. “The idea that jettisoning this issue wins elections for Democrats is folly contradicted by all available data.”
Daily Caller finds other liberals ticked about this. They would prefer the party stay firm on abortion and refuse to have any sort of accommodation to attract more socially conservative voters. Of course, voters who truly care about being pro-life should cast a skeptical eye at Democratic candidates who profess to oppose abortion since they'll be voting for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker and she'll be promoting pro-choice policies.

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W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and AEI scholar, writes
about the importance of marriage before having children in escaping poverty.
Brookings scholars Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill have identified the “success sequence,” through which young adults who follow three steps—getting at least a high school degree, then working full-time, and then marrying before having any children, in that order—are very unlikely to become poor. In fact, 97 percent of millennials who have followed the success sequence are not in poverty by the time they reach the ages of 28 to 34.

Sequence-following millennials are also markedly more likely to flourish financially than their peers taking different paths; 89 percent of 28-to-34 year olds who have followed the sequence stand at the middle or upper end of the income distribution, compared with just 59 percent of Millennials who missed one or two steps in the sequence. The formula even works for young adults who have faced heavier odds, such as millennials who grew up poor, or black millennials; despite questions regarding socioeconomic privilege, our research suggests that the success sequence is associated with better outcomes for everyone. For instance, only 9 percent of black millennials who have followed the three steps of the sequence, or who are on track with the sequence (which means they have at least a high school degree and worked full-time in their twenties, but have not yet married or had children) are poor, compared with a 37 percent rate of poverty for blacks who have skipped one or two steps. Likewise, only 9 percent of young men and women from lower-income families who follow the sequence are poor in their late twenties and early thirties; by comparison, 31 percent of their peers from low-income families who missed one or two steps are now poor.

Even more significantly, it appears that marriage in itself reduces millennials’ chances of being poor. Why? Young men and (especially) women who put “marriage before the baby carriage” get access to the financial benefits of a partnership—income pooling, economies of scale, support from kinship networks—with fewer of the risks of an unmarried partnership, including breakups. By contrast, millennials who have a baby outside of marriage—even in a cohabiting union—are likelier to end up as single parents or paying child support, both of which increase the odds of poverty. One study found that cohabiting parents were three times more likely to break up than were married parents by the time their first child turned five: 39 percent of cohabiting parents broke up, versus 13 percent of married parents in the first five years of their child’s life. The stability associated with marriage, then, tends to give millennials and their children much more financial security.
Unfortunately, there are many on the left who find it too judgmental to urge "marriage before baby carriage" to young people.
Like other leftist commentators on marriage and poverty, Boteach and Ravi blame poverty among today’s young adults on forces entirely outside of their control: a tough job market and bad public policy.
The problem with the progressive approach to poverty is that it denies the importance of culture and character to household prosperity—especially when it comes to marriage. This isn’t to say that a tough job market and bad public policy are irrelevant to explaining why some millennials are in poverty, but life choices substantially affect the odds of ending up poor.

Governing Magazine profiles Texas Supreme Court justice Don Willett. I really enjoy Willett's tweets on Twitter.d While I might support his promotion to the federal bench based on his tweets alone, he's fighting the good fight for protecting individual rights.
In the past few decades, the number of American jobs requiring a state license has exploded. Roughly one out of every four workers must seek a license to work. Now some institutions are starting to push back. Perhaps the most prominent -- or at least most fervent -- of these is the Texas Supreme Court. In 2015, the court struck down the state’s licensing requirement for eyebrow threaders (cosmetologists who remove unwanted facial hair using a thread), finding it unreasonable.

One of the justices, Don Willett, who has served on the court since 2005, went much further. The state’s regulatory requirements were not just extreme, he concluded, but “preposterous.” To pursue the low-paying job, prospective eyebrow threaders had to pay thousands of dollars in fees and were required to complete more than five times as many hours of initial training as emergency medical technicians. “If these rules are not arbitrary,” Willett wrote in a concurring opinion, “then the definition of ‘arbitrary’ is itself arbitrary.”

Willett’s concurrence in the case, Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, has been hailed as one of the most important conservative opinions of recent years. It was expansive enough to trigger talk about reviving a judicial approach to regulation that has lain dormant for decades. It’s one of the main reasons Willett’s name appeared on President Trump’s short list for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Willett is pretty blunt about his overall intent. He’s a champion of individual rights, claiming a central role for the judiciary in protecting those rights against state encroachment. “Liberty is not provided by government,” he wrote in Patel. “Liberty pre-exists government.” In that context, Willett wasn’t talking about speech or privacy rights. He was referring to economic liberty: the right to earn a living by unfettered free choice in a capitalist economy....

Willett may be an amiable self-promoter, but there are substantive reasons why his Patel opinion made such a big splash. He went out of his way to question one of the most time-honored ideas in American jurisprudence: judicial restraint. Conservative judges have at least paid lip service in recent years to the notion of restraint, for fear of being accused of legislating from the bench. Willett doesn’t do that. In his Patel opinion, he wrote that he opposes judicial activism, but argued that “judicial passivism” is also “corrosive.”

“We see a guy who’s willing to say that just as courts shouldn’t exceed the rule of law, neither should anyone else,” says Michael Quinn Sullivan, president of Empower Texans, a conservative nonprofit that’s influential in state politics. “We’ve seen a lot of judges, all the way up the judicial food chain, give a lot of deference to agencies and to legislative bodies for taking actions that are just as unconstitutional as an activist judge creating law out of thin air.”

Willett devotes a fair amount of space in his Patel opinion to describing how courts have been far more timid about calling out lawmakers when it comes to overreaching on economic issues than in other areas such as privacy or political speech. In his view, judges must intervene whenever the government tramples on an individual’s right to pursue an economic path of his or her choice. “I believe that judicial passivity is incompatible with individual liberty and limited government,” he wrote in Patel.
Gosh, I'd enjoy seeing Willett on the federal bench.

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Rick Diguette, an English professor at Georgia State University, writes about the challenges facing professors trying to teach Freshman English.
You will often find yourself in a dark place where syntax constantly comes a cropper in its unequal battle against half-baked ideas, defenseless vocabulary, and ghastly grammar.

Your first skirmish will pit you against invisible, nameless, and formidable adversaries: all those “language arts” teachers from the past who, at least according to many students, seldom held them accountable for anything. To hear them tell it, their every idea was deemed above average, à la Lake Wobegon. Thesaurus-diving was also encouraged, so that a word like “plethora” will in their view serve their purpose much better than the perfectly clear and acceptable “many.”
That is so true. It's a delicate balance - teachers trying to encourage students to expand their vocabularies and then students want to use the new words that they have just learned. But they're so unused to those words that they use them improperly and their writing is awkward. I would encourage students to expand their vocabulary from reading and wait until they've encountered words more than once before they start incorporating the vocabulary into their own writing.
Assuming you survive this first brush with professional misadventure, the task of getting your charges to contend with their worst compositional tendencies will continue for the entire semester. Just when you think you’ve made it abundantly clear that “whether” and “weather” are not interchangeable, these and other malapropisms that evade every spellchecker ever devised will rise like Banquo’s ghost to haunt the pages of your students’ essays.

Routine grammar and punctuation issues as well as basic rhetorical fallacies will also seem to have taken up positions for a protracted siege.
I often tell my students that, if they can master such elementary stuff such as spelling homophones correction or using the correct punctuation, their writing will really stand out in college since so few students can do so. Bless those teachers and professors still conducting the good fight.