Friday, May 25, 2018

Cruising the Web

I never had any hopes at all for a decent outcome from a summit with North Korea. The most I was expecting was that there would be some pretend deal that North Korea would renege on such as happened before with both Clinton and Bush. There was, however, a chance for a more damaging deal such as Trump pulling troops out of South Korea leading towards the North's domination of the peninsula. They wouldn't need to actually invade to exercise a threatening force there. With Trump's ignorance of issues and disinclination to study and put in the long lead-up time and work such as Reagan put in before coming to agreements with Gorbachev, I had no faith in his ability to negotiate any real deal and was putting my faith in Mike Pompeo and John Bolton to restrain Trump's eagerness for some sort of seemingly monumental deal. Those who favored such face-saving agreements were right to start talking about a Nobel Peace Prize because Trump is very attracted to such shining objects. I mean they already made a coin to commemorate the meeting. So I'm heaving sigh of relief that Trump called it off. Maybe this is just a first move and it will be back on but, for right now, it's a relief. And, at least, we got three hostages back. But there are enough Americans in North Korea that Kim could grab more whenever he wants to yank our chain.

The National Review editors write,
It was always far-fetched that the North would be willing to give up its nuclear weapons. For Pyongyang, the value of a summit wouldn’t be the opportunity for a good-faith negotiation at the highest levels but the chance to use a superficially successful meeting to unravel the sanctions against it, the way it has in the past.

President Trump says there’s still the chance of a summit at some point. It’d be better to give up hopes for a splashy meeting and instead double down on the maximum pressure campaign. There’s still room to tighten up further by, for instance, cracking down on the regime’s illicit sources of cash and imposing secondary sanctions on Chinese entities dealing with the North. The longer-term goal would be to crack the regime, or at least its will.

It’s nice to believe that the North can be defanged easily and quickly at a headline-generating summit. But realism says otherwise. The United States shouldn’t, yet again, let the North Koreans play scorpion to our frog.

The WSJ also editorializes
on why calling off the summit was the right decision.
Mr. Trump had overestimated Kim’s willingness to give up his nuclear weapons and was heading toward a summit failure.

In a letter to Kim announcing his withdrawal, Mr. Trump cited “the tremendous anger and open hostility” in Kim’s “recent statement.” But the real problem is substance, not tone. As North Korea’s recent comments made clear, the North hasn’t decided to give up its nuclear weapons. The North continues to define denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as a process of arms control that includes the departure of America’s presence in South Korea. Like his father and grandfather, Kim wants sanctions relief and other benefits in return for nuclear promises his country has never honored.

Mr. Trump agreed to the summit in part because South Korean President Moon Jae-in misrepresented the North’s position after talks with Kim’s sister at the Winter Olympics. After claiming Kim had a change of heart about nuclear weapons, Mr. Moon pursued his plan to resurrect the Sunshine Policy of appeasement toward the North that failed in the 2000s.

This created a peace euphoria in the South that pushed the Trump Administration to explore the opening to preserve the alliance. Mr. Trump was ill-advised to agree to the summit so readily and without much planning, and he compounded the error by talking up its prospects. He might have gone to a summit that gave Kim a diplomatic victory for nothing in return. But perhaps the experience has taught the President that Mr. Moon and Kim have different priorities than his goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

Mr. Trump said the U.S. will now continue with its “maximum pressure” campaign against the North, but the international consensus will have to be revived. Even without the summit, Kim scored a major propaganda victory by playing the peacemaker. This week he invited foreign journalists to witness the closure of the North’s nuclear test site at Punggye-ri.

But this means little since new tunnels can be dug elsewhere. The North used previous negotiations as cover to continue its nuclear and missile programs in secret. Recent satellite photos show the North is building a new facility to make launchers for the Hwasong-15 intercontinental missile that can hit the U.S.

The summit planning also allowed China to repair relations with Kim and relax restrictions on border trade without diplomatic costs. Mr. Trump has criticized Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s influence because Kim took a harder line after the second recent Xi-Kim meeting. Mr. Xi publicly endorsed Kim’s position demanding phased and synchronized steps toward denuclearization. Mr. Trump will now have to consider tougher economic sanctions on Chinese firms that do business with North Korea.

Mr. Trump held out to Kim the prospect of new talks “if you change your mind.” But it will take time to repair the damage and get the maximum pressure campaign of sanctions and diplomatic pressure back on track. At least the President realized the danger and dodged a summit.
But never fear. You can still buy the commemorative coin and it's discounted.


Yeah, it's going to be hard to take the FBI's arguments over redactions seriously after learning this.
Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, who was fired for lying under oath, spent $70,000 in taxpayer dollars on a conference table. The FBI also redacted the conference table’s steep price tag from documents that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee requested, in an apparent attempt to hide it from Congress.

In a letter sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley revealed that the FBI had redacted the cost of the table from a document he and his fellow members of the committee requested to see. Grassley said many of the redactions within the documents made no sense, nor were they made to protect national security secrets.

“Congress, and the public, have a right to know how the Department spends taxpayer money,” Grassley wrote. “I am unaware of any legitimate basis on which the cost of a conference table should be redacted. Embarrassment is not a good enough reason. The manner in which some redactions have been used casts doubt on whether the remaining redactions are necessary and defensible.”
Gee, that conference table was over twice the cost of the dining room table that Ben Carson ordered. Cue the outrage...Oh, yeah, don't expect the outrage.


David French eloquently lays forth his position on the NFL's anthem rule.
One of the most compelling expressions of America’s constitutional values is contained in Justice Robert Jackson’s 1943 majority opinion in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. At the height of World War II, two sisters, both Jehovah’s Witnesses, challenged the state’s mandate that they salute the flag in school. America was locked in a struggle for its very existence. The outcome was in doubt. National unity was essential.

But even in the darkest days of war, the court wrote liberating words that echo in legal history: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Make no mistake, I want football players to stand for the anthem. I want them to respect the flag. As a veteran of the war in Iraq, I’ve saluted that flag in foreign lands and deployed with it proudly on my uniform. But as much as I love the flag, I love liberty even more.

The N.F.L. isn’t the government. It has the ability to craft the speech rules its owners want. So does Google. So does Mozilla. So does Yale. American citizens can shame whomever they want to shame.

But what should they do? Should they use their liberty to punish dissent? Or should a free people protect a culture of freedom?

In our polarized times, I’ve adopted a simple standard, a civil liberties corollary to the golden rule: Fight for the rights of others that you would like to exercise yourself. Do you want corporations obliterating speech the state can’t touch? Do you want the price of participation in public debate to include the fear of lost livelihoods? Then, by all means, support the N.F.L. Cheer Silicon Valley’s terminations. Join the boycotts and shame campaigns. Watch this country’s culture of liberty wither in front of your eyes.

The vice president tweeted news of the N.F.L.’s new policy and called it “#Winning.” He’s dead wrong. It diminishes the marketplace of ideas. It mocks the convictions of his fellow citizens. And it divides in the name of a false, coerced uniformity. Writing in the Barnette decision, Justice Jackson wisely observed, “As governmental pressure toward unity becomes greater, so strife becomes more bitter as to whose unity it shall be.”

The N.F.L. should let players kneel. If it lets them kneel, it increases immeasurably the chances that when they do rise, they will rise with respect and joy, not fear and resentment. That’s the “winning” America needs.
I agree. I don't think that the players should kneel, but it's their choice. It always seemed to me to be the wrong symbol for the cause they're fighting for - stopping police violence. It was never clear what their endgame was. What would have to happen for them to stop kneeling. It would have been better to sponsor open discussions with local police. They could use their money to help pay for police body cams. Also, the problem with police violence is a local problem while the flag represents the entire country. I also object to the implication that all police departments have problems with racism and violence. Yes, there is a problem, but there are also hundreds of thousands of brave and good police officers who are out there doing a difficult and sometimes dangerous job without compensation comparable to men getting paid millions to play a game.

Rich Lowry also responds to those who are protesting.
Last year when this controversy was at its hottest, I had debates with left-wing supporters of the protesting players and would argue that disrespecting the flag wasn’t going to go over well. They would always come up with sophistical arguments about how it wasn’t really about the flag. To which I’d reply — well then, don’t make it about the flag. There are all sorts of way to express your discontent with policing in America other than disgracing your team and your league by kneeling during the National Anthem. Since the protesting players didn’t realize this or didn’t care, the NFL is going to probably going to have another season of acrimony over one of the most basic civic gestures in America. It’d be much easier for everyone to simply stand up — and if they find that hateful or untoward, grin and bear it for two minutes.

And, of course, Trump steps in and exacerbates the whole situation with his ridiculous and offensive comments that people who don't want to stand for the anthem should leave the country. His constant insertion of himself into the issue just makes it worse as it did last year when the protests were decreasing until Trump started mouthing off about it. The NFL's new policy plus Trump's words will just lead players to find some other way to protest. And so we're doomed to spending another season arguing about all this stupidity. And it will be about kneeling or not kneeling or what Trump says. If the real concern is stopping police violence, the controversy over kneeling distracts from that issue. Their chosen method of protests detracts from the cause they're espousing. That should be what matters to the players, but it seems to have been lost.


This is interesting - PHelim McAleer points to a revelation from Morgan Spurlock that casts doubt on his cliams that eating nothing but McDOnalds for 30 days straight harmed his health.
His claims were dramatic. Before the 30-day experiment, he said, he was in a “good spot” healthwise. By the experiment’s end, he reported experiencing fatigue and shakes (trembling, not Shamrock). Most disturbing, and most widely reported, was that he had suffered liver damage. The New York Times review was headlined “You Want Liver Failure With That?” The doctor examining him during the experiment said the fast food was “pickling his liver” and that it looked like an “alcoholic’s after a binge.”

Fast-forward to December 2017, when Mr. Spurlock issued a #MeToo mea culpa titled “I Am Part of the Problem,” detailing a lifetime of sexual misdeeds. As a result, YouTube dropped its plans to screen his “Super Size Me” sequel, and other broadcasters cut ties. But overlooked in all this was a stunning admission that calls into question the veracity of the original “Super Size Me.”

After blaming his parents for his bad acts, Mr. Spurlock asked: “Is it because I’ve consistently been drinking since the age of 13? I haven’t been sober for more than a week in 30 years.”

Could this be why his liver looked like that of an alcoholic? Were those shakes symptoms of alcohol withdrawal? Mr. Spurlock’s 2017 confession contradicts what he said in his 2004 documentary. “Any alcohol use?” the doctor asks at the outset. “Now? None,” he replies. In explaining his experiment, he says: “I can only eat things that are for sale over the counter at McDonald’s—water included.”


I'm in full agreement with Jonathan S. Tobin that it's time to stop paying ex-presidents. It's a long way from when Harry Truman's poor economic situation after he left the presidency led Congress to establish a generous presidential pension as well has health care and money for an office and staff and coverage of Secret Service protection.
But 60 years later, the law no longer makes sense — with the obvious exception of the need for Secret Service protection. The notion that those leaving the White House resume life as private citizens has been rendered obsolete by the celebrity culture of our age.

Ours is a very different world from the one that enabled the Trumans to take a cross-country road trip without a Secret Service entourage after he left office. Indeed, without great personal wealth to fall back on and with his honorable notions about how to conduct himself, Truman might have been our last citizen-president.

Now former presidents and their wives can count on multimillion-dollar deals on books that are ghosted for them. They can also routinely score vast sums in honorariums from corporations and institutions whose leaders want to hobnob with a former president. And, as Bill and Hillary Clinton demonstrated, they can also pose as philanthropists while living the high life by skimming money donated to faux charities created in their names.

Each ex-president also now benefits from the creation of a presidential library and museum. While originally conceived as a way to preserve their papers, these institutions have taken on a monarchic aspect. Like Egyptian pharaohs building pyramids to honor their own memory, each succeeding president’s museum is bigger and more elaborate than that of his predecessor....

Some ex-presidents have behaved more egregiously than others. The comparison between the greed and sense of entitlement of the Clintons and that of both the older and the younger President George Bush is telling. The Bushes’ more seemly patrician-like restraint after leaving office has helped rehabilitate their reputations after exiting office with low approval ratings. Looking to the future, the mind boggles at what we have to look forward to from an ex-president Donald Trump.

But what isn’t in doubt is that being an ex-president has become the best job in America.

In the 19th century, the Founders’ ideas — influenced by the ancient Roman republic — about presidents being merely “elected magistrates” whose hold on power was transitory was taken seriously. Ex-presidents returned to the status of private citizen and, without exception, left the trappings of pomp behind them.

Now former presidents are treated like dowager empresses to whom the nation owes not merely deference but a living in spite of the fact that their status as an ex-commander in chief has become an ATM machine with no withdrawal limits.

We can’t go back to that quaint and more egalitarian era. But Congress can repeal or amend the Former Presidents Act so as to end the outrageous situation in which ex-presidential families living the lifestyle of the rich and famous are also being subsidized by the taxpayers.


Now Morgan Freeman is hit with #MeToo allegations. Whoa! I didn't see that one coming but, apparently, his behavior wasn't that big a secret.
A young production assistant thought she had landed the job of her dreams when, in the summer of 2015, she started work on "Going In Style," a bank heist comedy starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin.

But the job quickly devolved into several months of harassment, she told CNN. She alleges that Freeman subjected her to unwanted touching and comments about her figure and clothing on a near-daily basis. Freeman would rest his hand on her lower back or rub her lower back, she said.
In one incident, she said, Freeman "kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear." He never successfully lifted her skirt, she said -- he would touch it and try to lift it, she would move away, and then he'd try again. Eventually, she said, "Alan [Arkin] made a comment telling him to stop. Morgan got freaked out and didn't know what to say."

Freeman's alleged inappropriate behavior was not limited to that one movie set, according to other sources who spoke to CNN. A woman who was a senior member of the production staff of the movie "Now You See Me" in 2012 told CNN that Freeman sexually harassed her and her female assistant on numerous occasions by making comments about their bodies.
It doesn't sound like his behavior was as egregious as that of some of the other men who have been accused, but it does sound like his behavior was not a secret.
A young production assistant thought she had landed the job of her dreams when, in the summer of 2015, she started work on "Going In Style," a bank heist comedy starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin.

But the job quickly devolved into several months of harassment, she told CNN. She alleges that Freeman subjected her to unwanted touching and comments about her figure and clothing on a near-daily basis. Freeman would rest his hand on her lower back or rub her lower back, she said.

In one incident, she said, Freeman "kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear." He never successfully lifted her skirt, she said -- he would touch it and try to lift it, she would move away, and then he'd try again. Eventually, she said, "Alan [Arkin] made a comment telling him to stop. Morgan got freaked out and didn't know what to say."
Freeman's alleged inappropriate behavior was not limited to that one movie set, according to other sources who spoke to CNN. A woman who was a senior member of the production staff of the movie "Now You See Me" in 2012 told CNN that Freeman sexually harassed her and her female assistant on numerous occasions by making comments about their bodies.

"He did comment on our bodies... We knew that if he was coming by ... not to wear any top that would show our breasts, not to wear anything that would show our bottoms, meaning not wearing clothes that [were] fitted," she said.

At 80 years old, Freeman is one of Hollywood's biggest stars, with a movie career that spans nearly five decades. His starring roles in movies like "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Shawshank Redemption" in the late 1980s and early 1990s made him a household name. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for 2004's "Million Dollar Baby," and has earned four other Oscar nominations. His voiceover work has also become iconic, including his narration for the Academy Award-winning documentaries "The Long Way Home" and "March of the Penguins."

In all, 16 people spoke to CNN about Freeman as part of this investigation, eight of whom said they were victims of what some called harassment and others called inappropriate behavior by Freeman. Eight said they witnessed Freeman's alleged conduct. These 16 people together described a pattern of inappropriate behavior by Freeman on set, while promoting his movies and at his production company Revelations Entertainment.

Of those 16, seven people described an environment at Revelations Entertainment that included allegations of harassment or inappropriate behavior by Freeman there, with one incident allegedly witnessed by Lori McCreary, Freeman's co-founder in the enterprise, and another in which she was the target of demeaning comments by Freeman in a public setting. One of those seven people alleged that McCreary made a discriminatory remark regarding a female candidate for a job at the Producers Guild of America, where McCreary is co-president.

Four people who worked in production capacities on movie sets with Freeman over the last ten years described him as repeatedly behaving in ways that made women feel uncomfortable at work. Two, including the production assistant on "Going in Style" whose skirt he allegedly attempted to lift, said Freeman subjected them to unwanted touching. Three said he made public comments about women's clothing or bodies. But each of them said they didn't report Freeman's behavior, with most saying it was because they feared for their jobs. Instead, some of the women -- both on movie sets and at Revelations -- said, they came up with ways to combat the alleged harassment on their own, such as by changing the way they dressed when they knew he would be around.

CNN reached out to dozens more people who worked for or with Freeman. Some praised Freeman, saying they never witnessed any questionable behavior or that he was a consummate professional on set and in the office.

Several other times during this investigation, when a CNN reporter contacted a person who had worked with Freeman to try to ask them if they had seen or been subjected to inappropriate behavior by an actor they had worked with -- not initially even naming the actor they were asking about -- the person would immediately tell them they knew exactly who the reporter had in mind: Morgan Freeman. Some of those people were sources for this investigation while others declined to comment further or did not want what they said used in this story.

The pattern of behavior described by those who spoke with CNN shows another example of the systematic problems that exist in the entertainment industry. The allegations against Freeman are not about things that happened in private; they are about things that allegedly happened in public, in front of witnesses -- even in front of cameras. Before #MeToo, many men in the industry could behave without fear of consequences, because many times when a powerful man did so, it was the victim who suffered repercussions.

Freeman's response is rather underwhelming.
After this article was published, Freeman released a statement in which he said, "Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent."
That whole line of non-apology apologies saying that he's sorry if anyone was offended is so tired. When people say that they're not acknowledging that they did anything wrong but rather putting the onus on others if they were so misguided as to have felt uncomfortable by whatever innocuous behavior he may have demonstrated.

Gee, it's almost as if Hollywood stars aren't the moral arbiters of decent behavior that they aspire to be.


I'm off this afternoon to drive with my Quiz Bowl team to Atlanta to compete in the national championships there over

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Cruising the Web

Ben Shapiro identifies Donald Trump's superpower.
No, it isn’t the ability to engage in four-dimensional chess, or even to mystically connect with the “common man.” It’s simply this: He can make Democrats defend anything.
They're so convinced that he is Satan incarnate that they'll go to the mattresses about every single thing he says or tweets. In the process, they just make themselves look silly.
If they were smart, they’d stick to Trump’s obvious heresies, of course: his Twitter foolishness, his inane rants. But they can’t muster up that kind of discipline. Instead, they simply oppose anything Trump does, which leads them to the rather uncomfortable conclusion that the worst people on earth are preferable to even temporary alliance with Trump himself.

In the last week alone, Democrats have embraced the terrorist group Hamas and the vicious criminal gang MS-13. There’s a meme making the rounds on social media that conservatives will do [FILL IN THE BLANK] to “own the libs”: sign off on corruption, engage in the most vile insults, etc. But the Democrats will similarly do anything to “own Trump.”

Thus, even after Hamas admitted on Al Jazeera that they were attempting to use civilian marches as a shield for paramilitary action, the media and Democrats insisted that Israel was targeting innocents; even after a senior Hamas official stated that 50 of the dead in the Gaza riots were “martyrs of Hamas,” and even after Islamic Jihad identified another three dead as members of its terrorist cadre, the media continued to promulgate the myth of indiscriminate Israeli killing and American provocation. Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) stated, “Over 50 killed in Gaza today and 2,000 today wounded, on top of the 41 killed and more than 9,000 wounded over the past weeks. This is a staggering toll. Hamas violence does not justify Israel firing on unarmed protesters.” Democrats, meanwhile, continued to blame President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem for the violence, even though Hamas had been engaging in slow-rolling riots for weeks on end, and brutal terrorism for decades.
They'd be so much smarter to go along with Trump on a few things and praise him every once and a while just to make their other criticisms seem more legitimate. But if they are reduced to defending MS-13 just because Trump called them "animals," then people will just shut them out. They're calling wolf too often. There is plenty to criticize Trump about; pick your battles.

And here's a good example. There is no one else worthy in West Hollywood to honor other than Stormy Daniels?
The mayor of West Hollywood, Calif., will join city officials on Wednesday to present adult-film star Stormy Daniels with a key to the city and a city proclamation, according to a media advisory.
In the press release, city officials recognized Daniels for her "leadership in the #RESIST movement" and noted that the city has previously passed resolutions calling for articles of impeachment to be introduced against President Trump.

Daniels, the release reads, has "proven herself to be a profile in courage by speaking truth to power even under threats to her safety and extreme intimidation."
The city will also proclaim May 23 "Stormy Daniels Day" in her honor, according to the press release.
So this woman, known only for starring in pornographic films and sleeping with a married man and then accepting over $100,000 in exchange for keeping quiet about it, but then decided to try to make more money by breaking the NDA is worth celebrating? Yes, her story makes Trump look bad, but it doesn't look all that great either in this whole story. Are we really at the point that anyone who embarrasses Trump is worth celebrating? What a stupid standard. Aren't there worthy teachers, doctors, founders of charities, volunteers at non-profits, police officers, fire fighters, or anyone else in the city that they could honor? It's taking Trump hatred a few steps too far.


It's pretty sad when this is a defense of the President of the United States. Jim Geraghty writes,
Anyone who has watched Trump over the years knows that what he says may or may not reflect what actually happened, and what he says will happen may or may not happen. (The most infamous New York Post headline about him came from his calling up Post editor Jerry Nachman, complaining, and nudging Marla Maples to concur with his own superlative self-assessment of his amorous skills.) His explanation of why he fired FBI director Comey changed several times. He suddenly became a fan of the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE. He announces steel and aluminum tariffs, then exempts the biggest exporters. He tells advisers he wants an immediate pullout of all troops from Syria, then orders new airstrikes in the country. He threatens to veto the omnibus spending bill, then relents and signs it into law....

I’d rather not have a president whose words don’t really mean much, but the people chose him, and until he’s defeated for reelection, impeached, or he heads off into retirement, he’s the president. If a having a bad temper and lashing out through furious words was enough to justify impeachment, Lyndon Johnson would have had a short presidency, Richard Nixon would have never served six years in the Oval Office, and Bill Clinton would never have served eight....

Finally . . . yes, it would be better to live in an America with a president who had a verbal filter, who had impulse control, and who didn’t relish denouncing anyone who criticized him in the most incendiary manner. But I’m not sure I believe that our character as citizens is so easily shaped by whoever’s sitting in the Oval Office at any given moment. We’ve had moments of great charity and grace with not-so-great men serving as president, and we’ve had worsening social problems and egregious scandals with honorable men serving as commander-in-chief. To blame Trump for the moral climate of the country is to let the general public off the hook for its own decisions and actions.
So I guess the Trump defense is that we can ignore all the stuff he says because no one believes him anyway. Lovely. Just what we want in our nation's leader.


Trump does seem to have surrounded himself with some truly sleazy characters. And it's coming back to bite him.
The BBC's Paul Wood reported today that Cohen arranged a June 2017 meeting between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Trump at the White House. And Wood's reporting suggests that the Poroshenko-Trump meeting was arranged after Cohen was paid between $400,000 and $600,000 by Ukrainian intermediaries linked to Poroshenko.

Cohen was not, as would be required by federal law, listed as a foreign agent for Ukraine.

Wood points out that there is no evidence Trump was aware of the payments. But Cohen's conduct here may lead to serious criminal charges for the lawyer who is already under federal investigation.

Even if Trump has done nothing wrong himself, this incident lends credibility to the argument that the president's affairs and those around him at least deserve the scrutiny they are now receiving. If nothing else, it strongly suggests that Trump's argument of a "witch hunt" isn't exactly the whole story here....

One final point from Wood's story. The highly respected BBC journalist (Wood is no hack or biased reporter) also notes that Ukraine's anti-corruption investigation into former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort came to an end shortly after Trump met with Poroshenko. You can bet that special counsel Robert Mueller will look into whether that was just a coincidence.
That's just the sort of report that should be investigated. Just ask yourself if there were a similar story about the Clintons. Republicans were outraged over reports that money went to the Clintons right as the Clinton State Department was making decisions about the American uranium industry which ended up giving control of 20% of the American supply to Russia. If that outraged Republicans, we should be similarly outraged that the corrupt individuals around Trump were taking money from foreign leaders to influence foreign policy. There's a reason why Trump's bragging during the campaign that he would be hiring "the best people" is now just a punchline.


What a peculiar experiment in sexism.
A STEM professor at the University of Akron in Ohio was trying to boost his female students’ grades — just because those students are women.
On Monday, the professor, Liping Liu, sent an email to students letting them know that three groups of students may see their grades raised a “level or two,” according to a screenshot of the email that was posted on Reddit.
The screenshot has since been removed because it contained recipients’ email addresses, however, a redacted copy of it was provided by a student to Campus Reform. It stated:
The following categories of students may see their grades raised one level or two:

1) Female students (it is a national movement to encourage female students to go to information sciences)
2) Students who had earned scores in exams (especially final exams) demonstrating a higher performance than their calculated ones
3) Students who attended class but missed reporting attendance (as long as I can tell)
Liu told The College Fix that he was well aware that his attempt to raise women’s grades could be “questionable,” but that he decided he wanted to “test the water” anyway and see if the grade raises might “attract female students into future classes.”

In a win for sanity, however, the plan didn’t work. The Fix reports that an administrator contacted the publication to say that Liu’s idea was “unacceptable,” and that no one’s grades would be raised.
What a patronizing attitude toward his female students. Such a policy would just stigmatize them as inferior students who can't succeed without grade manipulation. Katherine Timpf adds,
What’s more, if Liu’s idea became a popular trend, it could make it even harder for women to actually get hired for STEM jobs. Think about it: If employers knew that women routinely got higher grades just because they were women, they might start to assume that any woman with a STEM degree may not have actually deserved that degree. Passing a class is great, but the entire purpose of school is to prepare you for the workforce — and Liu’s idea could make it even tougher for women to make that ultimate goal a reality.


Here's an argument for body cameras for police.
A woman in Texas made a startling claim earlier this week accusing a state trooper of raping her during a DWI arrest, but a newly released body camera footage has exposed her claims as lies and prompted her high-profile lawyer to issue a public apology.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement on Tuesday that just after 1.30am on Sunday, Texas highway Patrol Trooper Daniel Hubbard saw a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu traveling south on Interstate 35 in Ellis County and pulled the vehicle over for a traffic violation.
During the traffic stop, Hubbard arrested the driver, identified as 37-year-old Sherita Dixon-Cole, of Grapevine, on a charge of driving while intoxicated and took her to the Ellis County Jail.

Civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt representing Dixon-Cole said on Monday that the trooper offered to let her go during a field sobriety test in exchange for sexual favors.

After the women declined Hubbard’s advances, he groped her and forced something into her vagina, Merritt claimed.
The lawyer called the arrest ‘prolonged' and said the assault took place inside and outside the police vehicle.

The story was picked up by several news site and bloggers, chief among them the New York-based activist and writer for The Intercept Shaun King, who tweeted about Dixon-Cole's alleged ordeal.

'This woman was kidnapped & raped by a Texas State Trooper - OFFICER HUBBARD,' he wrote in his original tweet, which has since been deleted from his page. 'She is now being held hostage in Ellis County Jail.'

King claimed that Dixon-Cole passed field sobriety tests, but Hubbard decided to arrest her anyway because he didn't like her 'attitude. He also quoted the trooper as telling the woman: 'why don't you just give me some of that sweet p***y you have been given [sic] your fiance and then you can go home.'

The Texas Department of Public Safety pushed back on the woman’s claims of sexual assault and official misconduct, calling her accusations ‘spurious and false.’

DPS officials reviewed body camera footage from the traffic stop and concluded that the video ‘shows absolutely no evidence to support the egregious and unsubstantiated accusations’ against Trooper Hubbard.

‘The Department is appalled that anyone would make such a despicable, slanderous and false accusation against a peace officer who willingly risks his life every day to protect and serve the public,’ the agency’s statement read.
I hope the police charge her with making a false report or for whatever they possibly can for such an odious allegation. if all police wear body cams, they'll be protected from such dishonest accusations and accused criminals will also be protected from police misconduct.


This is an absolutely amazing story. Sports Illustrated is reporting that the lead FBI agent working on the case of the NCAA violations for bribery and money-laundering involving top recruits was actually misappropriating funds. That puts his testimony in grave doubt. This man posed as Jeff DeAngelo, an investor who was purportedly trying to set up a sports agency business and wanted to land top NBA draft picks. He provided the money that was to be used to bribe coaches. He met with several of those who were later arrested. But now, as the prosecutions had to provide the defense with materially exculpatory evidence, the defense is learning that Jeff DeAngelo was himself siphoning funds.
Referring to the agent by his true name, the government conceded that the operation’s central figure stood accused of misappropriating investigative funds earmarked for the operation and spending the money on gambling, food and beverages during the probe. Reverse engineering the dates, this alleged misconduct occurred during the July 2017 trip to Las Vegas. Later, “DeAngelo” had not flown to visit his ill mother. The undercover agent had actually been removed from the case due to accusations about his own allegedly illegal activity.

According to public documents, the lawyer for Gatto filed a motion requesting specifics on this agent and his alleged corruption. “We asked the government for additional information regarding the circumstances of that misappropriation, including how much money we're talking about, how precisely the federal funds were used, and more information about their roles in the investigation,” lawyer Michael Schachter complained during a March pre-trial oral argument before Judge Lewis Kaplan. “The government declined to provide us with that information, rather standing on their initial disclosure.” (Schachter’s request is pending with the court. The U.S. Attorneys declined to comment to SI.)

Schachter also asserted, “Your honor, the government disclosed to us that the undercover agents and the case agents in this case are under criminal investigation for misusing government funds.” His use of the plural—implying that multiple agents are being investigated—was not challenged by either the judge or the prosecution.
This puts the entire case in doubt.
Mike Cassidy, a professor of criminal law at Boston College Law School and former prosecutor, is not involved with this specific case, but is familiar with the fact pattern. “The question for the government: can we structure the case so we can prove this without this guy, without putting him on the stand?” says Cassidy. “If so, you can argue to the judge that it’s not relevant. If not, it’s a challenge because he’ll be impeached and cross-examined. He’s a liar and a thief. Why should you believe him?”

The FBI declined to comment on the investigation. The extent to which a potentially corrupt FBI agent may undercut the government’s case will be borne out in the months to come. But the irony is unmistakable: might a case predicated on the seduction of easy money, of trust betrayed, and of misappropriated funds, be undone by a rogue federal operative who, himself, could not resist the same lure he was tasked with exposing?
Ironic indeed. And the FBI had the flamboyant arrests knowing that this guy was dirty and that his testimony would be in doubt.


I like this idea for what the NFL should have done instead of the policy they announced yesterday on kneeling during the anthem.



I see that William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection has had a similar problem as I had with the Amazon Associate program. He was terminated, as I was, without any satisfactory explanation from Amazon. I don't buy that it is an ideological thing with either of us. However, what is similar is the lack of real communication from Amazon as to why, after many years as a Associate, we should be terminated. It's pretty depressing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Cruising the Web

I don't know what the DOJ and FBI were up to during the 2016 election with the Trump campaign, but why is it so outrageous to want to find out? If the accusations of the Trump team and others in conservative media are close, this is very disturbing. We can't have our legal investigative agencies secretly spying on the campaign of a major party nominee for president. Imagine what the Trump DOJ might do in future campaigns if this were a precedent that escaped any clarification and accounting?

On the other hand, if there were significant and believable indications that members of the Trump campaign were either working with or being used by the Russians, that is something that should have been investigated. Would Republicans have wanted anything any less for the Clinton campaign? Right now we seem to be operating in a field of competing leaks, innuendos, and sometimes wilde conjecture. Is it really so bad to have the DOJ Inspector General looking into all of this? And it is indeed the responsibility of Congress to exercise oversight over the Executive Branch. The DOJ and FBI don't have the authority to stonewall Congressional investigations. There has been so much leaked already; let's figure out what really happened. As David Harsanyi writes,
If the Justice Department and FBI are, as we’ve been told incessantly over the past year, not merely patriots but consummate professionals incapable of being distracted by partisanship or petty Washington intrigues, why are Donald Trump’s antagonists freaking out over the fact that an inspector general will assess whether political motivation tainted an investigation into the president’s campaign? The American people should get a full accounting of what transpired during 2016. Isn’t that what we’ve been hearing since the election?

You believe Trump is corrupt. I get it. But surely anyone who alleges to be concerned about the sanctity of our institutions and rule of law would have some cursory curiosity about whether an investigation by the administration of one major party into the presidential campaign of another major party was grounded in direct evidence rather than fabulist rumor-mongering. Otherwise, any administration, including Trump’s, could initiate an investigation for whatever cooked-up superficial reason it wanted.

Then, when a constitutionally empowered oversight committee demanded information about that investigation, the DOJ could accuse it of “extortion” and stonewall for years.
We're told all the time not to trust local police when there is some horrific shooting that takes place and that local authorities can't police themselves. Why shouldn't we cast such skepticism toward federal authorities? After all, as Harsanyi points out, it isn't as if some of the folks who were in charge in the previous administration haven't lied to the American people before.
I don’t know if there’s a big conspiracy by the deep state. But it’s pretty obvious to me that leaders of our institutions aren’t above engaging in spying. John Brennan spied on the legislative branch and lied about it to the American people. James Clapper spied on the American people through a domestic surveillance program and lied about it to Congress. Although the Obama administration never tweeted nasty attacks on journalists, it did spy on and prosecute them. It’s completely plausible that those in the upper echelon of law enforcement saw Trump as a threat, then used wobbly evidence as the pretext to investigate his campaign. If not, it’ll be good to clear their names....

Perhaps all of this will lead to nothing exciting. Perhaps the competing narratives that have sprung up around Trump and Russia will end far less dramatically than either of their champions hope. But when “rule of law” enthusiasts keep arguing the DOJ is “independent” of the president, then turn around and argue that a congressional oversight committee shouldn’t have the right to ask the executive branch for documents pertaining to their inquiry, one begins to suspect that perhaps some of the hyperbolic rhetoric we’ve been hearing over the past two years has been little more than partisanship....

Presidents ask the DOJ to do all kinds of things all the time. If the attorney general doesn’t like it, he can resign. If the folks running the DOJ or FBI don’t like it, they can quit. If Congress doesn’t like it, they can impeach the president. That’s the “constitutional system” every president, including Trump, functions under.

Is Trump pushing the issue for political reasons? Of course. If Mueller doesn’t come back with any evidence of collusion — and all the other indictments and criminality he’s found matter, of course, but they have nothing to do with the impetus for the investigation — it will be all the more important to figure out what the previous administration was up to. Precedent and history matter.

(See links in original.)
If everything they did was clean and by the book, they should want their names and their organizations cleared. At this point with so much having been leaked, it's not as if the Russians don't know what was going on. It's time for the public to also get a full picture.

I was just practicing with my Quiz Bowl team for the national tournament this weekend and there was a question on the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre and the names of the people involved. My students didn't know it so I was going over it with them and one thing that struck them was that the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General both resigned rather than carry out an order they felt was wrong and that Robert Bork carried out the order even though he thought it was a mistake, but wasn't an unconstitutional use of executive power. They seemed struck that there were people back then in government who would resign their jobs over an order that they thought was wrong. It's a shame that even the idea of resigning a job because of a difference in opinion while working for a president whom they'd agreed to serve should seem so remarkable to kids today.




Hugh Hewitt takes a bit of a victory lap
celebrating the impact that Donald Trump has already had on the federal courts even beyond the Gorsuch appointment.
Trump has appointed 21 of the 167 current full-time judges and intends to fill another 20 or more vacancies by year end. The president and the GOP-controlled Senate have thus already put one-eighth of the federal appeals bench in their seats. Each of those new appointees — all principled “originalists” in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia — will have more than 400 participations in 2018 alone. There are 10 more appeals court nominees in the queue and a dozen other vacancies awaiting nominees beyond those, and Senate Republicans have made these positions their priority (unless there is a retirement on the Supreme Court). With the age of initial appointment dropping and retirement age advancing, we can reasonably expect Trump-appointed judges to average 20 years on the bench. Expect a total of 40 new appeals court judges by the end of Trump’s first two years.
This couldn't have happened without Harry Reid having gotten rid of the filibuster for appellate and district court nominations as well as executive branch nominations. I don't think the Republicans would have had the guts to have done that; they refused to do it under Bush. There are enough GOP senators who opposed such a move. In fact, it was only the Democrats' recalcitrance on Gorsuch that led the Republicans to get rid of the filibuster for the Supreme Court. The Republicans who opposed getting rid of the filibuster under Bush would point out that there would come time when the GOP weren't in the majority and it would come back to bite them. The Democrats took that gamble under Reid and it has, indeed, come back to bite them. It makes this achievement for judicial nominations under Trump all the sweeter. And it's going to be sweet for a long time.
The Trump judges on the 5th Circuit and their new colleagues on other federal appeals benches across the land will be busy long into the future. Review the math presented above, and extend the trends into the future, including another 20 or so more federal circuit court confirmations expected this year. By 2019, Trump judges will be participating in more than 15,000 decisions every year, and almost all those decisions will be the law of the land. There will be no less than 400 crucial case votes and dozens of signed opinions, each year, every year for most of the Trump judges. If the judges sit for an average run of 20 years on the bench, that’s 8,000 key votes per Trump-appointed judge....

Looking forward, I’ll bend the famous Carville phrase a bit: “It’s the judges, brilliant people” works for me for the midterm message of the GOP. Republicans should run hard on this record from now to the fall and promise much, much more of the same. Trump has not merely nudged the direction of the law, he has turned it decisively back toward limited government, not just through deregulation, but by seating judges inclined to look askance at the progressive idea of a “living Constitution.”
Another reason why Trump is so successfully nominating judges is that he's outsourced the choice of nominees to conservative groups like the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. If only he would outsource his trade policies to true conservatives.


Ah, so typical of our elected representatives.
If you've been paying attention to the news cycle since the 2016 presidential election, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been screaming about the need for election security. After all, Russia flooded the internet with election propaganda but did not physically change any votes. Because the midterms are just a few months away, politicians have claimed this is an urgent matter.

Today, lawmakers were expected to show up for a briefing on election security with the Department of Homeland Security. Hundreds of them bailed.
Well, it was at 8:00 AM. I guess members of Congress are like college students - they don't show up to do their work if it's at 8 AM.


Oh, geez! Can't Trump learn from some of the mistakes that Hillary made? What is going through his mind?
President Donald Trump uses a White House cellphone that isn’t equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield his communications, according to two senior administration officials — a departure from the practice of his predecessors that potentially exposes him to hacking or surveillance.

The president, who relies on cellphones to reach his friends and millions of Twitter followers, has rebuffed staff efforts to strengthen security around his phone use, according to the administration officials.

The president uses at least two iPhones, according to one of the officials. The phones — one capable only of making calls, the other equipped only with the Twitter app and preloaded with a handful of news sites — are issued by White House Information Technology and the White House Communications Agency, an office staffed by military personnel that oversees White House telecommunications.

While aides have urged the president to swap out the Twitter phone on a monthly basis, Trump has resisted their entreaties, telling them it was “too inconvenient,” the same administration official said.

The president has gone as long as five months without having the phone checked by security experts. It is unclear how often Trump’s call-capable phones, which are essentially used as burner phones, are swapped out.
Please, Mr. Trump, don't get stuck on stupid. If following national security protocols is too "inconvenient" for you, just resign.

Allahpundit comments,
The good news: Thanks to Russia and Wikileaks, we’ll eventually get to find out what Trump and Hannity chat about before bedtime.
I bet Trump's aides were so fed up with his carelessness that they deliberately leaked this to embarrass him.
Politico’s sources for the phone scoop are “two senior administration officials,” which is what you’d expect when it comes to info as closely held as the president’s phone practices. Unless you think his staff is now so dysfunctional that they’d lie about something like this purely to embarrass him, this is probably their version of an intervention. Just as some of his aides reportedly try to get themselves booked on TV when they have a point they want to drive home to him, believing that he’s more likely to absorb it if it comes through via the boob tube (which is itself freakishly dysfunctional), leaking to Politico to sound the red alert publicly may be the only way to get him to change his habits.
What a way to run the government!


What an excellent choice!
The Cato Institute has awarded their 2018 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty to the Ladies in White. The award is well-deserved. A Cuban civil rights group, it was formed in March 2003 following the imprisonment of Hector Maseda Gutierrez. Gutierrez is a Havana journalist who was arrested by the Castro regime and sentenced to 20 years in prison for the crime of criticizing the government.

Since Gutierrez’s arrest, the Ladies in White have only grown in numbers. They have a clear message of remembering the men who’ve been locked up by Cuba’s communist government, whether they be their fathers, sons, brothers, husbands, or friends. The Cato Institute's decision to give the prize to the Ladies in White is important for two reasons.

The first is that it raises international awareness of a country where change may soon come quickly. Fidel Castro retired as president in 2008, and his younger brother Raul has now handed leadership to Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel. Born after the revolution, Diaz-Canel has the opportunity to make significant reforms in Cuba....

The second reason has to do with how Americans, particularly in the millennial generation, have been remembering the scourge of communism. The number of people in the Western world who believe it is essential to live in a democracy has been declining with every generation. Communism, socialism, and fascism are rising in popularity among millennials, according to a poll by the Victims of Communism Foundation. Communist terrorist Che Guevara is considered a hero by 26 percent of millennials, Karl Marx has 18 percent, and Vladimir Lenin, 17 percent.

The lack of faith in democracy and capitalism, institutions that have brought freedom and prosperity across the world and lifted billions out of poverty, has been partly spurred by leftist politicians in the United States. When Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., thinks of Fidel Castro, he only thinks of how he “educated their kids, gave them healthcare, totally transformed society.” Paul Soglin, the mayor of Madison and one of the Democratic candidates for governor in my home state of Wisconsin, remembered the late Cuban dictator as “a popular leader who inspired generations of Cubans.”

What they all omit is how Cuban exiles have actually described the healthcare system as a catastrophe, recently plagued with medicine shortages. The transformation of Cuban society entailed the genocide of tens of thousands of people and the imprisonment of many more. It also required Soviet assistance in defeating an anti-communist rebellion in the Escambray Mountains. Soglin seems to have forgotten the many Cubans who have fled their homeland and risked their lives to escape and enter the United States.


It's astounding to me that this common-sense, humanitarian bill would have been opposed by so many.



John Hinderaker
links to this story from PJ Media that may pose difficulties to all those insisting that it should be illegal to deny service to someone just because a person has religious objections.
Earlier this month, a male-to-female transgender filed a $50,000 human rights complaint after a Muslim woman refused to perform a Brazilian wax on his genitals. The unnamed transgender person has repeatedly claimed that he called inquiring about a leg wax, but the owner of Mad Wax, the waxing studio based in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, insisted the request clearly indicated his interest in a genital wax.

"She never once asked for a leg wax [from] us," Mad Wax manager, president, and CEO Jason Carruthers told PJ Media. "She said, 'Women have penises and women have balls and if your staff is not comfortable then they can look for another job.' That is clearly referring to a brazilian wax, which involves the genitals."

Carruthers added that the transgender complainant "only mentioned 'leg wax' after the story got out. My guess is she was embarrassed to admit she wanted a Brazilian."

The female Muslim employee refused to provide the service, based on her religious convictions not to physically touch a man outside her family.

The anonymous transgender person filed a $50,000 complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) two weeks ago, seeking compensation for "immense harm to my dignity," CTV Windsor reported.
The business is getting slammed in Ontario.
Carruthers said 98 percent of the spa's clientele is female, and he employs no male staff. The spa has waxed the arms and backs of male clients, but has never hidden its inability to accommodate a Brazilian wax for a male.

"When we've been asked about a male Brazilian wax in the past we tell them we're not able to provide that service and they move on," Carruthers told the Windsor Star. "It's never been an issue."

The anonymous complainant referred questions to his Toronto lawyer, Megan Evans Maxwell. Maxwell admitted, "There's not much I can say right now because the matter is before the tribunal."
Should a woman have to wax the private parts of someone who is biologically a man? Just imagine that transgenderism didn't enter into this and it was just a man complaining that a Muslim woman wouldn't wax his private parts. Wouldn't we be outraged at toxic masculinity or something like that? Should being transgender trump her religious objections? And how is that different from refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding because of religious objections? It's not so easy, is it? Which minority has more pull - the Muslim woman or the transgender woman?


There is a metaphor here.
Reporters attending this week's White House press briefings noticed a concerning new feature of the lawn: a sinkhole.

Voice of America's Steve Harman tweeted out this photo of the developing basin on Tuesday.










Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Cruising the Web

Bernie Sanders thinks that those who warn that Democrats might be picking candidates who are too progressive to win the general election are just whistling past the graveyard. In his view, the nation is ready for other self-identified socialist candidates.
Sanders did not single out a specific person or institution, but argued Sunday the public is ready for more progressive candidates.

"I think that they are wrong, and I think they are misreading where the American people are at,” Sanders said to "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd's suggestion that "national Democrats" are uneasy about Kara Eastman's primary win in Nebraska’s Second Congressional District.
And why shouldn't he think that after his success in 2016? Of course, just like the questions about Trump, we don't know how well Sanders would have done against a less unpopular candidate.



The left still hasn't given up on their unreasoning fear of the Koch brothers. A pair of guys who are libertarians and fund conservative candidates seems the ultimate threat to leftists. Somehow, when two guys on the right side of the spectrum funding their causes and candidates who are in accord with their positions, as well as charities and university programs, it is beyond the pale to leftists despite leftist multi-millionaires who do the same for their side. Daniele Struppa, president of Chaman University, writes in the WSJ about the newest efforts to prevent the Kochs from donating money to universities.
We recently received a $15 million grant to establish an institute dedicated to challenging the perceived tension between economics and the humanities, reintegrating their study in the spirit of Adam Smith. The institute is the brainchild of my distinguished colleague Vernon Smith, a Nobel laureate in economics, and his collaborators. Appropriately enough, the institute is called the Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy, where “Smith” refers to both Adam and Vernon.
This has led to an effort called "UnKoch My Campus" as critics of the Kochs are going to the mattresses to prevent universities from being polluted by the "evil" Koch money.
Ultimately, the critics’ complaint is that the gift is a challenge to academic freedom.

But here’s the paradox. The UnKoch people and their allies want universities to decline Koch money, and in so demanding they are asking administrators to curtail the academic freedom of faculty like Vernon Smith and his co-workers.

As president, I am being asked to turn down donations from the dreaded Koch brothers, even when, as in this case, the proposal for funding was inspired, developed and fully fleshed out by my faculty, in the most important exercise of their own academic freedom. The demand that research funding be declined because of its origin poses a grave threat to academic freedom.

The protesters want administrators to exert ideological control over the kind of research that can be funded and which donations are acceptable. That would establish a very dangerous precedent. Those who really care about academic freedom must protect the freedoms of those with whom they disagree.
It's the same mindset that wants to shut down any conservative voices on college campuses. I don't know why they are so afraid of any contrary ideology having a voice. Don't they have confidence in the strength of their own arguments?


Robert Weissberg, a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois-Urbana, has a very good recommendation for university administrators faced with unreasonable demands from angry leftist students. As such students win any victory, they demand more and more.
Even a middling campus activist might over a semester demand the university divest from companies producing fossil fuels, recruit more students of color, eliminate offensive names from school buildings, require mandatory anti-racism training for all faculty, increasing the penalties for sexual harassment, offer racially segregated “safe space” dormitories, eliminate homophobia and Islamophobia, drop racist sports symbols, or monitor micro-aggressions against stigmatized, marginalized groups.

Moreover, since no central control exists over this menu, options continually expand and cannot be anticipated. This is a far cry from when campus Marxists had to toe the party line. Nor is there any rule that requires demands to be financially or legally possible. Impossible demands may well signify a higher commitment and can be incomprehensible — for example, hiring counselors for those anxious over their “inter-sex” identity.
Administrators are faced with giving in or being labeled racist or sexist or something else equally dire. So how can administrators cut down on these demands? Make the kids fill out forms for their requests.
Let me now offer a concrete suggestion, one even feasible for spineless administrators. In a nutshell, ending the current PC mania will only come when the costs of “doing good” are dramatically increased. Let students think twice about offering up their non-negotiable nonsense. Here’s how.

When social justice warriors arrive with their usual dog’s breakfast of airhead ideas, the university apparatchik will immediately hand them “University Form 101, Request for University Intervention to Solve a Pressing Problem.” No different than the typical paperwork necessary for, say, creating a new major. Fifteen or so dense pages filled with IRS-like terminology will suffice. Note well, university administrators may be spineless, but when it comes to imposing paperwork, they are world class!

Form 101 will require the names of all those pressuring the university, their personal information, a brief (500 word) statement of objectives, a detailed listing of how the university is uniquely suited to accomplish this worthy cause, the value of this endeavor vis-à-vis already existing university and non-university ameliorative measures, potential sources of public and private funding, a specific project time-table, a history of the past successes (and failures) of comparable measures elsewhere, a legal analysis of the proposed initiative, and time-specific benchmarks necessary to calibrate success. A separate Form 101 will be required for each list item, and if social justice warriors are perplexed by the paperwork, the administration will happily provide workshops to complete the form-filling. Even though this paperwork nightmare is familiar to anyone on campus who has attempted to accomplish any policy change, the research and interviews necessary to complete Form 101 are a valuable learning experience.

If social justice warriors object, they will be told that if their quest is really that important, completing Form 101 is hardly an obstacle and, most importantly, the university is powerless to act unless all forms are properly completed and submitted. Until that time arrives, all demands will be put on hold.

Naturally, submitted forms may be returned with requests for additional information and clarifications. Alas, it takes time—perhaps an entire semester– before anything can happen but the smart money will bet that the passion for saving the world will wilt a day or two after receiving Form 101. The bureaucratic blob wins again.
I love this idea. Adults know how daunting filling out such bureaucratic forms can be. Students don't like writing papers and homework for their classes; they'd have to be really dedicated to fill out such forms which sound similar to what any professor petitioning for a substantive change in university policy would have to fill out. They could still scream and protest, but the administrators would have a nice fallback position allowing sympathy for the students' position, but shrug their shoulders in the face of the all-powerful academic bureaucracy.
In other words, who needs courageous deans to resist the PC idiots when you can just stop them with mind-dulling paperwork. And, as any academic can attest, university administrators excel at this task.


Gil Troy puts forth his thesis as to why the left hates Israel and "buys into every anti-Israel smear." There were so many of these anti-Israel stories just in the past few weeks of attempts by Hamas to break through into Israel so that they could send in terrorists to kill Israelis. Yet, the media and the left seemed to swallow every story without doing the barest research that would reveal what is actually going on.
It’s striking how easy it is to discover the truth — or at least see some complexity behind these stereotypes. You need not be a pro-Israel fanatic to assume the story must be more complicated — just as you can be a pro-Palestinian critic of Israel without caricaturing Israelis as Nazis or Ku Klux Klanners.

When people so willingly engage in self-deception, something deeper is taking place.

While in the Middle East and Europe, Jew-hatred still fans the flames of anti-Israel ugliness, Gallup polls consistently report that over 70 percent of Americans sympathize with Israel. Such numbers, despite negative media coverage, suggest something deeper fuels this pile-on and mass misconception.

Call it “what’s-wrong-with-us-ism.” If in the 1940s and 1950s, America suffered from too much “what’s-right-with-us-ism,” since the 1960s, we’ve been overcompensating. Our culture — and especially our media — emphasizes our social flaws, political failures, moral defects.

Such self-criticism helped encourage some reforms. It opened society to necessary protests, especially from African-Americans, women and other once-disenfranchised groups.

But this sensationalist New Nihilism has also shaken American confidence, undermined faith in our institutions, treated many of our leaders as punchlines — long before this president.

And, while the breast-beating appears to be a mass act of humility, there’s an arrogance to it, too. We take blame for much that goes wrong, for the same reason we used to take credit for much that went right: If the world revolves around us, we dismiss others as bit players and cast ourselves as the main actors.

While that sense of “us-ness” is mostly “we Americans,” it extends to our closest allies. This explanation, then, uncovers two mysteries.

We have been conditioned like smokers to nicotine; we buy into the obviously simplistic, one-sided, sensationalist media narrative about Israel because we have become too used to buying into similarly crude, finger-pointing stories about ourselves.

That explains the bigger whodunit: Israel has suffered such harsh media coverage yet remained popular with most Americans because, as Pogo’s cartoonist Walt Kelly famously put it, “we have met the enemy and he is us.” We criticize Israelis because we identify with them, citizens of the Middle East’s only democracy, forced to make difficult calls in defending themselves against dictatorships and terrorists calling for their destruction.

Sometimes criticism is a compliment.


Just be glad that we aren't experiencing what Indian voters experience in election season.
For Gurupad Kolli, a 40-year-old lawyer who lives in a remote Indian village, the torrent of WhatsApp messages surging to his phone a few weeks ago meant one thing: election day was near.

They’re at turns strident, angry, buoyant, informative, misleading, gripping and confusing, he says. Some days he received as many as 1,000 of them through the popular messaging service. Pleased to no longer “depend on the mass media like newspapers,” the resident of Ramapur village in the southern state of Karnataka nonetheless also conceded “there’s so much false and fake news going around.”

....India is home to more WhatsApp users than any other country, accounting for more than 200 million of the 1.5 billion monthly active global users. That rivals the popularity in India of Facebook Inc., which owns WhatsApp. Tens of millions of Indians of all ages have made the messaging service, which is simple to join and use, their entry point to the world of digital communication, especially in poor, remote areas where users are flocking to the internet for the first time.

Neha Dharia, a Bangalore-based analyst with research firm Warp Speed Reads, estimates some 13.7 billion WhatsApp messages are sent every day in India, up about 50% from last year. This year began with Indians sending more than 20 billion New Years messages to each other on WhatsApp, a record, and more than any other country, according to the company.

Other big emerging economies such as Indonesia and Brazil have seen a similar pattern where new internet users sign up for WhatsApp first and use it often. In India, the messaging service is at the forefront of a wave of connectivity that is beginning to change how these communities do everything from entertain themselves to how they buy and sell things.

And how they vote, if India’s hyperactive political parties have their way. Always keen for the attention of the masses, India’s politicians have been among the first globally to systematically exploit WhatsApp—including ways that even the service itself is unable to keep up with or control—to get out their policy message, counter with a retort, or fend off an accusation of “fake news” to voters.
Imagine getting a thousand political text a day! I'm afraid that we'll be heading there in a few years. It's just a step ahead of the sort of microtargeting that campaigns are conducting these days.
WhatsApp, based in Menlo Park, Calif., doesn’t have Twitter’s ability to blast out a message publicly to tens of millions in one go. It doesn’t host content itself like Facebook or promise a Facebook advertisement’s ability to target audiences based on their own expressed preferences and profiles. Messages are relayed from person to person, or from an individual to a relatively small group of no more than 256 members. WhatsApp makes only limited information about a user available to contacts, such as their phone number and profile photo.

Yet India’s campaign operatives say they use computers to automatically send messages to tens of thousands of groups that are carefully managed and monitored by campaign staff and volunteers. Those recipients forward them to other groups also managed by campaign workers and from there onward to reach either a narrow list of recipients with shared traits—such as location, gender and language—or a swath of tens of millions of voters.

How do they get personal information about WhatsApp users to organize the groups? Mostly the old-fashioned way, offline through campaign volunteers gathering it in person or by hiring companies that do the legwork, according to campaign workers.
Ugh. Something to look forward to.


An interesting question.

Put that question to those who are making arguments today about the "independence of the Department of Justice."