Friday, December 01, 2017

Cruising the Web

Pelosi must have gotten some major blowback from her caucus and other Democrats for her inept efforts to support JOhn Conyers because now, while he's in the hospital, she belatedly threw him under the bus. But it's going to be hard to wipe out the bad impression she left with her bungling of questions on Conyers on Meet the Press. And she's getting deep criticism from a younger congresswoman, Kathleen Rice, who perhaps is angling for Pelosi's job.
A Democratic congresswoman laced into Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, suggesting the top House Democrat “set women back and — quite frankly, our party back — decades” by failing to more forcefully confront allegations of sexual harassment by veteran Democratic Rep. John Conyers.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York said Pelosi’s appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday — when she raised questions about the accounts of Conyers’ accusers and described the Michigan Democrat as an “icon” — ceded the party’s moral high ground on sexual harassment issues, especially because one of Conyers’ accusers is bound by a nondisclosure agreement.

“I think that her comments on Sunday set women back and — quite frankly, our party back — decades,” said Rice, who is advocating for legislation that would expose a slew of hidden, taxpayer-funded settlements for sexual harassment by lawmakers and aides.
Ooooh, that's gotta hurt for Pelosi being accused by a woman in her own party of setting women back - for decades. It's silly hyperbole. Pelosi's comments are a political problem for Democrats, but not for women in general. When a member of her party attacks her so publicly and directly, we're seeing a glimpse behind the curtain of the conflicts within the Democratic Party. And with Pelosi caving so quickly, it's clear that she was feeling the pressure.

We're learning details
about how Congress paid for settling claims against a member of Congress.
The Congressional Office of Compliance secretly paid close to $100,000 in taxpayer funds to settle sexual harassment claims from at least two young male staffers who worked for disgraced former Congressman Eric Massa, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the matter told ABC News.

The claims were settled after Massa, a Democrat from upstate New York, resigned in 2010 amid a pending ethics investigation into allegations he groped and sexually harassed members of his staff.

"This is exactly why there should be transparency," said Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., who blasted the payouts in an interview with ABC News. Rice, who is co-sponsoring legislation that would remove secrecy from the payouts, added, "There is no reason why these settlements, these accusations should be done in secret once they're adjudicated."
How convenient that the one leak we've gotten about payouts from how this fund has been used is about a Congressman who has already been forced out of office. Why not tell us about those who are still in Congress.

Two Harvard Law professors, Jack Goldsmith and Adrian Vermeule, explain in the Washington Post why conservatives are perfectly justified in the negative feelings they have toward universities. Of course, there is the liberal tilt among both faculty and students. One just has to look at evidence of the disproportionate donations by faculty members to Democrats over Republicans. They also point to the intolerance for conservative or traditional views at the university. THere are the shoutdowns that university administrators allow to happen with very little punishment for the students involved whenever any conservative comes to talk on campus. And then there is the contemptuous arrogance by some on universities.
Fourth is the public contempt of so many university academics for those who fund their subsidies. Paul Krugman, an emeritus professor at Princeton University now at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, as well as a New York Times op-ed columnist, offered a self- ­described "deep thought" in reaction to a Post article about rising conservative anger at American universities: "Maybe conservatives are turning against learning because learning is incompatible with modern conservative ideology." Krugman's statement was a mere tweet. But in our experience it reflects an attitude that is widespread at elite universities.
So is it any wonder that conservatives are feeling increasingly skeptical and even hostile to universities in general and are starting to question why schools with huge endowments shouldn't be paying taxes on the income from those endowments?
We do not believe that every university in the country, or even every department in most universities, reflects the progressive views that we have described. Nor are we expressing a view on the merits of the current tax and spending proposals, which have complex consequences for universities and the public welfare, about which reasonable minds can differ. And Harvard and other private universities of course have every right to adopt a progressive ideology and to enforce it, more or less, by decisions on faculty hiring, student admissions and the allocation of resources.

But educational institutions should not be surprised when these attitudes and behaviors prove unappealing to a Congress and executive branch that are largely in the control of conservatives. Conservative politicians and their constituents hear, on the one hand, that government owes universities a continuance of largesse and, on the other, that conservatives are ignorant, unworthy or corrupt. This sounds suspiciously like special pleading by an intellectual elite that wants to indulge in social criticism at the expense of the criticized, in both figurative and literal senses.

Universities have become distinctively sectarian, limiting their appeal to federal elected officials who do not share those sectarian views and who are less and less willing to pay the universities to trumpet them.

Jim Geraghty lists
some of the bizarre things that Trump has claimed to believe or just tweet about. There's quite a list and I'm sure someone could add many items to other conspiracy theories that Trump has latched onto over his lifetime. Sometimes, there is no actual evidence or accusations have been debunked, but Trump still carries on. Remember that this is the guy who inserted himself onto the political stage by touting his supposed doubts about where Barack Obama was born. He still won't admit that this was a tissue of nonsense. NOw he's tweeting out mention of an "unsolved mystery" about a woman who tragically died, as the medical examiner determined, from passing out from abnormal hearty rhythm and hitting her head on the desk. There is no mystery, just Trump's nasty resurrection of this tragedy. Now Trump, we hear that he's denying that it was his voice on the infamous Access Hollywood tape even though he acknowledged that it was indeed he at the time it came out. So it's reasonable to wonder if Geraghty is just trying to throw dust in the wind or if he truly believes these wild things. As Geraghty points out, lots of Americans believe certain conspiracy theories. Trump just seems to ascribe to a wide bunch of obscure or weird ones.
Chances are, your belief in conspiracy theories, ghosts, or Atlantis doesn’t really interfere with your ability to do your job well. If you’re an auto mechanic, the carburetor is still fixed the same way whether you think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone or not. But a conspiracy theorist in the role of, say, a federal prosecutor or doctor could unleash some dire consequences.

The key question is, When does a belief in an unsupported theory begin to affect one’s duties and responsibilities?

Americans have to hope that Trump is just shooting his mouth off and doesn’t actually believe that his predecessor was a secret infiltrator from Kenya, that his voice was mimicked on the Access Hollywood tape, and that MSNBC’s morning show is hosted by a modern-day Jack the Ripper. If the president really thinks those things, then invoking the Twenty-Fifth Amendment doesn’t seem so unthinkable.

It's nice when those on the left finally acknowledge that the warnings conservatives have been making about how President Obama expanded the power of the executive branch were exactly correct. Here is Matt Taibbi having a wake-up moment.
Drone strikes have intensified since Donald Trump assumed the presidency.

This fact should surprise no one. The ability to kill by remote control without judicial review was one of the many gifts we bequeathed to Trump prior to his inauguration.

We all knew it!
Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that dogs have 530 million neurons in their cerebral cortex, while cats have only half that amount, or around 250 million.

“Neurons are the information-processing units in the brain, and the cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that can combine information from different sources and create new associations, recognize patterns, make decisions to act differently based on past experience and start making predictions for the future," Suzana Herculano-Houzel, the Vanderbilt professor who developed the method for measuring neurons, told ABC News.

"Whatever species has the most neurons in the cerebral cortex is therefore expected to be capable of more complex and flexible behavior, said Herculano-Houzel, who gave the disclaimer she is "100 percent a dog person." "We humans have twice the cortical neurons that gorillas have; dogs, as we found out, have about twice the cortical neurons that cats have."

The number of neurons in an animal also determines the “richness of their internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen … based on past experience,” researchers said.